Friday, February 11, 2011

On My Birthday

Today is my birthday
And as luck would have it
All of the women
Who still remain
As semi real shadow figures
In my life
Managed to call me
Or to contact me
One way or another via
Or by
And one even sent
a hand made birthday card
With a present enclosed
Consisting of a CD
Of her song writer son’s collected works
I was quite surprised
By all of the attention
And, yeah I admit it,
Not a little pleased
With myself
That at my current age
there were still
some women out there
any women
Who still remembered me at all
Let alone on my birthday
So I had not been
expecting to have heard
From any of them
After all
I did manage
to burn my bridges
quite well
Thank you

Still, you never can really tell
Who might still be carrying
Some remaining embers of desire
For old time’s sake
If for no other reason

I also received a belated
Phone call
From my older brother
Who could always
Be counted on
To throw in a few taunts
And zingers with every phone call

“So how’s your love life?”
he asked
right off the bat
knowing full well
that I was still divorced
and still living alone
all these long years
save for my two
aging cats
and some cock roaches
and some gold fish
and two glum parakeets
and a canary that never sings

My older brother had recently asked me
The very same question
Not too long ago
during a very recent
brief conversation

I am not sure
If I called him
Or if he called me
But no matter
There was sure to be some taunt
Or zinger added to the conversation
Before the call would end
You could count on it
You could take it to the bank for deposit

Sometimes I am the one
Who calls first
Just to see if he is still alive
And sometimes he calls first
Primarily to see if I haven’t committed suicide
Or admitted myself to an insane asylum
As he fully expects me to do
At some point in my life
And all because
I have chosen to write
Poems for a living
An activity fit only
for pansies and poofs
in his book at least
Proof positive
That I was indeed
A misfit
and highly unstable

As far as he was concerned
who in his right mind
Would waste his time and his life
Writing useless poems
Surly not my practical minded
CPA brother
Who knows all the secrets about money
And how to file
Income taxes
That go to engorge
the coffers of the IRS
(His true alma mater)

Got to hand it to him though
He sure knew how to
bring home the bacon to mama bear
to feed his brew
of miscreant hatchlings
including me
after mom died

we were all being raised
to mirror his own life
and middle class value system
according to my brother’s
way of thinking
that did not include
writing useless poems
which he considered to be
an act of absolute insanity

Sometime he would call
To find out
If I was in dire need
of yet another
financial hand out
as I have so often been before
when I would have
to call him
to borrow a few
(or more than a few)
wrinkled bucks
just to tide me over
until I got back
on my own two feet
however long
that might take

In the not so distant past
I was often
In need of his grudgingly
generous help
I was as dependent on him
as Vincent Van Gogh was
On his brother Theo
And I often had to go to him
Hat in hand
many times
forced to eat crow all the while

So I guess that makes us even
Though I know his occasional
Taunts and zingers
Are meant to remind me
Of my lowly financial status
And, just in case
I might ever forget
The fact
That I was still
very much divorced
And still living alone

“So how’s your love life?”
he asked again
waiting patiently
for his pound of flesh

“Oh, you know”
I managed to mumble
Trying to sound
As non chalant
As I possibly could
“It’s the same old story
of love in all it’s glory.
You know, the same old, same old”.

“The same old, same old?”
he repeated
“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Yeah, the same old, same old”
I mumbled again
Something that he surely
Had to know something about
having stayed married
To the same woman
(I was tempted to say broad)
for nigh on sixty tumultuous years
with every
anniversary kiss
a triumph
as they say
over revulsion

“Well, try to have a happy birthday anyway”
he said coldly
with all the sincerity
that he could manage
to muster
knowing full well
that he had reopened
all the old wounds
drawing whatever small satisfaction that he could
from the sarcasm
that was his strong suit
yeah, he could really be one sarcastic
son of a bee when he wanted to be

“Yeah, I’ll try to do that,” I said
hanging up the phone
without seeming to slam it down
for you never know when
you’re going to need
another hand out
or have to phone again
to ask for another
desperate bail out
“Yeah, I’ll definitely try to do that” I said
“And a very happy birthday to me.”

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

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