Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Anniversary of a Date with Imaginary Significance.

Alright, so I've been gone a while, persona non blogga, but you can call off the paramedics as, yes, I am indeed already dead... dead tired, that is! Tired of packing all this goddamn stuff! Still more than two months shy of moving, our home has become an obstacle-course tangle of furniture and boxes. Many once-simple tasks such as going to a window to lower a blind are now a gymnastic challenge of Pitfall-like maneuvering. We'll be having a moving sale one of these weekends coming up, so the dining area is now crammed with stuff earmarked for that.

I have a billion VHS tapes that I have acquired over years of buying old-looking unmarked ones at garage sales in hope of finding something interesting. Most of them weren't, so I'm dubbing other stuff onto them for proffering at our own sale. Right now, even as I blog, I'm making an awesomely eighties Christmas tape, with 1988's "Rock n' Roll Christmas" from Fox (hosted by Dennis Miller) paired with "Motown Merry Christmas" from '87 (hosted by the smooth-as-barium Philip Michael Thomas), both shows with original commercials that just ooze oily 80's cheese. The Motown show has a couple of Michael Jackson's Pepsi ads (tied in with the Bad album), including the one where a little blond boy sneaks into MJ's dressing room and plays dress-up in his spangly clothes. When Jacko creeps in and grins at the naughty lad, I swear it sends a chill so far down my spine that my asshole freezes shut. Other than that, the tape makes for swell yuletide viewing, so swing by and pick it up some time...

I'm really posting because I just now realized that today's date is the very one I randomly chose as the title of a poem I wrote forever ago which is on my old MSNtv site. I don't think I've reprinted it here before, as I didn't think it needed much more in the way of explanation. Here goes anyway.

The poem commemorates my acquaintance with a kid whose name I will probably never recall again. He didn't go to Saint Pius X, but I used to see him at Plainview Park when I tagged along to watch my brother play baseball there. We were both about seven years old, and although we got along great, we never made arrangements to visit each other outside of those games. Many years later, when I was fifteen, I was reading Newsday and recognized his picture. He had grown up too, but wouldn't anymore.

july 19, 1976.

i can see the boy now in his teened face.
we, playing games alongside the field
at our respective older brothers' ballgames,
only met at those games, friends
for a few summer evenings, longer than lifetimes.
i wouldn't even have remembered his name
if not for the quarter-page story.

something about how he was planning to
beat on someone with a wrench and ended up
getting shot himself. the picture shows a gentle, unsure grin and when i try to picture him
brandishing a wrench, i see only a baseball
bat almost as long as he is tall.

i can smell the sweet dirt, the cut grass,
the leather gloves that wobbled on our small hands.
i can see a lanky boy with as much anger
as will fit into a fifteen-year-old's eyes.
were our brothers on the same team?

i wonder what i've lost, what of mine has died, and
how to put it into words to place alongside his obituary.
but even with the light as long as it was,
i only knew him for a handful of days. there are others
trying now to write their own obituaries, beside
that of their friend, their son, their brother.

i'll take a guess: july 19, 1976. that may have been
one of the little league evenings. it's as good a night,
as gone a night, as any other.

this is why i hold my childhood so tightly--
one tiny piece is as long as someone's lifetime.

here lies that kid
in occasional memories
as a part of childhood
and as a part of death

That kid's been gone almost twenty-five years now. Maybe I still think of him because I've been seconds away from a fatally bad decision a number of times myself. And if I still think of him from time to time, I'm sure those others I mentioned do too. Probably a lot. So here's another goodbye, kid. I hope wherever you are, you're seven and it's summer.