THE PLEASURE OF OTHERS

Sometimes the only pleasure here
is hearing of the pleasure of others.

Thanks to our laptop and our telephone
often we’re  made aware of distant pleasure.

Of course, we have each other —
a quiet plesasure denied so many folks
we know.

There are books, of course
and television offers.

But usually
 we through our simple dailyness
sharing little in what you’d call “excitement”.

The sun goes down
 and we’re surprised
that yet another day has passed. 

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I STILL DON’T KNOW

The other day, at dinner time
I was chewing some asparagus
and, after a time, my mouth felt a bit strange.
     I moved my tongue around and bit down
      and encountered what felt to be a little stone.
I chewed again, as gently as I could
and encountered a tooth:
my tooth — a molar that had come loose.
     I carefully removed it.
That molar had been servicing me for most of my life
and I should have been thankful for its years of grinding.
     But, instead, for a moment, I felt I was falling apart.
I caressed the space where the molar had been
with my curious tongue, and I was not pleased.
     I wrapped up that little piece of my life in a handkerchief
      and put it in my pocket and waited until dinner was over
     and I was back in our apartment.
What was I going to do with my poor lost tooth?
     I still don’t know.
I don’t think my dentist wants it.
      My wife doesn’t want it. 
 Neither do my children.
     But I cannot throw it away.
I suppose  that’s being silly.
     Well, I’m being silly!

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AS LONG AS PROVIDENCE ALLOWS

Most every day
I am exposed to man’s evil
and to his greatness
thanks to television’s eyes.

Most every day
I think of how I fit
into the scheme
of life’s unfolding.

Otherwise
there isn’t much for me to do
except to deal with the days’s minutia:
food and medication — 
sleeping and awaking to 
thinking about things that matter
only to me and to my loved ones.

The days move on
and I am set to wondering
how it will all turn out —
for me  and for the world.

That I can still scrape some words together
to make a sentence
still pleases me
and I will share a thought or two with you
as long as providence allows.

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AN OPPORTUNIY

They say that soon men will be going to Mars
and I can’t even see the stars from where I sit.

The moon we’ve landed on but I can’t see it well
from where I dwell. 

But what the hell, who am I to complain? —
a man who can’t grasp how folks can figure out
the speed of light.

 I’m dazzled by the little I know of earth
and of how much has happened since my birth.

I’m not a twenty-first century man —
even the stuff of the twentith I scarcely  understand.

Yet even in the midst of my great ignorance 
I’ve had a chance to be. Life amazes me 
and at the same time baffles me.

And what an opportunity I’ve had to wonder!

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A BOOK

READING A BOOK
THAT’S MAKING ME THINK ALOT
ABOUT HEAVEN.

I USUALLY DON’T THINK MUCH
ABOUT HEAVEN
BUT OLD AGE MAY BE DRIVING ME
TO THINK ABOUT IT MORE OFTEN.

I AM BRINGING TO THAT BOOK
MY DOUBTS AND MY BELIEFS.

THEY HAVEN’T CHANGED MUCH
BUT THEY HAVE BEEN STIRRED UP.

ENOUGH SO THAT I PLAY WITH THEM
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP AT NIGHT.

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JUNE

It may be the middle of June
yet it’s too soon to tell
how summer will unfold. 

A hurricane may bring us
 heavy wind and rain.

I’m told it may be very hot
but that’s  not any more
than one’s prediction.

It may be cool and wet 
and we will get weary 
of the dreary days.

It may almost cook us
and we’ll fuss.

We may get a touch of fine weather
and we’ll weather that with much  pleasure.

The time will go so fast
and soon we’ll be guessing about the autumn
and many will be be raking leaves.

If one is too old  to rake, then try remembering.

And then remember winter, too —
about when it’s November.

Some time ago I sold my snow blower
and moved south —
with few regrets — but some!

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OLD AGE TRAVELING

I do my traveling these days
either through the dreams I dream
or watching my television screen.

i control the television screen
and can change the channels
any time I wish.

When I want some quiet
I command my clicker with a touch.

The dreams are harder to control
snd offer me a panolpy of sights
I never dreamed of
but often try to figure out
before they vanish.

Life isn’t over yet
and I still travel some.

I appreciate the possibilities I have
to wander and to wonder —
though this happens in my shrinking world.

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HE WHO PARCELS OUT MY DREAMS

The old man in my head who parcels out my dreams
came up with a good one the other night.

I was with my highschool basketball team
and we were losing — losing big.

The coach sometimes let us poor players
come into a game that we were sure to win
or sure to lose.

“Get in there, Russ — center forward.
See what you can do”.

Unexpectedly, I turned into a star —
droppimg baskets in so fast we won the game.

I, who talents on the court were few
amazed my coach — amazed the crowd.
Amazed myself as well.

I woke up being cheered and feeling great.

The bedside clock read: “12:13”.

The dream seemed more appropiate for a teen —
yet I held that distinction
three quarters of a century past.

And who am I to judge the mystery of the one
who parcels out my dreams?

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I AM NOT WHO I COULD HAVE BEEN

There was no grandfather there to watch me in the cradle —
no grandfather to pick me up and hug me and whisper in my ear.
Nor was he there when I became a toddler
when he could have bounced me on his knee.
Later on he might have told me stories about when he was a boy
and reveal his life to me because grandfathers can be good at such things.
But he was not there as I began to be a boy
and so when I started to be one his presence could not impact me.
Thus as the years called on me to grow
I did it unaware that there were other ways to become what we become.
What kind of man would I have turned out to be had he been there for me?
In fact, there could have been two of them
had the contingencies of life come out in a different way.
But I know that I am not who I would have become because of this
and I sometimes wonder how I might have been different.
Would I have fallen in love with words sooner than I have.
Perhaps I would have written a book or two
or maybe I’d have been satisfied to only read —
or maybe not even that.
At any rate I think I could have been another me
but I’m not complaining.
My deprivations may seem strange to you.
They seem that way to me.

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HOLES REMEMBERED

It took two hundred astronomers
with telescopes scattered over the world
to photograph the now famous BLACK HOLE.
Their fete will be long remembered
in the annals of astronomical history.
I who read about it on a newspaper’s front page
may think about it every once in awhile.
My recollections are likely to grow dim.

But there are holes I will never forget until my dying day:
MY GRANDMA’S DONUT HOLES
crafted by her for me in the 1930’s.
She’d create a mass of dough
from flour and other things sprinkled in.
She’d pound it flat on an enamel top
and then with a donut cutter
she pushed and twisted ’til she had what she wanted.
Meanwhile, a black pot filled with grease
bubbled at her side.
Picking up the centers made by the cutter
she’d drop them into the pot.
THERE THEY BECAME DONUT HOLES.
We’d watch those holes get rounder and brown.
The moment came for her to ladle them out
and place them side by side on what I don’t recall.
She warned me to wait for the cooling
but it didn’t take long for me to test the tasty creations.
Though I didn’t know it at the time
indelible memories were being created —
ones that I taste every now and then.

 Russ Peery    April 2019
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