the things we do: for Jimmy

when you asked me
to be best man
at your wedding
I didn’t realize
I had to embellish
the wild stories you told your niece
in my speech
but being your friend
I told of how you saved all of us
on the tour bus
from an alligator attack
in the Everglades
and on a fishing trip
battled pirates single-handedly
and thus saved the ship
Jimmy, old friend
the things we do for each other
so okay, the alligators
I can understand
I mean there were dozens of them
sunning themselves
and there could have been a feeding frenzy
the tour bus occupants being lunch
and you gallantly saving the day
bopping them on their snouts
kicking them back into the swamp
but pirates, Jimmy
outside Miami
that was a stretch
I did out of loyalty
for you
I did bring up those parking tickets
hundreds tumbling out of your glove compartment
back in BG
and you snickering
in that car of yours
you insisted I broke the rods
in the roof
while climbing on top of the hood
with alcoholic fueled bravado
a year later though
you got even
by driving over my foot
with your “mean red machine” van
one night
on our way to Lucy’s Burritos
which we could only find
drunk and at two in the morning
did we really drink that much
in those days
with you pulling on the beards of Texans
arguing with cops on Sunset Blvd
over the definition of jaywalking
and who won that race up the hill
in Malibu
Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy
my dear old friend
I miss your wit
your insightful comments
that sparkle in your eyes
just before trouble starts
how sad it is for me
to know we are both settling
ten thousand miles apart
me between Asia and Europe
you on the coast of Mexico
my only hope
one day
is to meet somewhere in between
so you can save us all
from the barbarians
for the first time
once again

things change to remain the same: for Maureen

it was some fish restaurant on the coast
you knew the owner, I think
and a TV star was romancing some starlet
a few tables away
while you told me about the man
in your life
and I spoke of the woman
in mine
yours a success story
mine one of loss and pain
and we drank two bottles of wine
then I switched to bourbon
you to white russians
and it was close to dawn
when we weaved our way to our cars
you off to Venice Beach
me to Santa Monica
all the guys at I&L would fantasize about you
and ask my permission
to ask you out
Vimal said I was protective of you
and I suppose I was
you were always a bit vulnerable
and me, your protector
the long island kid
you still have my denim jacket
and high school letter
one day I’ll have to travel back in time
to retrieve them
and as you read your poetry to me
this summer in Dorsoduro
I couldn’t help wondering
what was wrong with those California boys
to let you go
your smile
dear friend
it is the same
a thousand years later
and sitting in a restaurant
that night in Moda
I saw the same beautiful girl
you always were, are
no matter how things change over time
some things
you old friend
stay the same

these days

the heart sinks under memories
of other days
and I get to thinking
which is not necessarily a good thing
about those faces I see in the dark
try to remember names
personality quirks
the smell of a wet field
the sun breaking through the clouds
for instance
a dog gingerly picks his way along a beach
there are shells everywhere
and is it Gene or David
who stoops to pick one up
the dog looks up expecting a game
and that long haired woman with the green eyes
who will break my heart
in ways, at times
too numerous to mention
will make the world stop
and time
here in Istanbul
moves forward
just the way it’s supposed to
dragging my mind along
but gently
to where it needs to go