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?
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.
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
We who hear poorly
often pretend that we grasp a word
or comprehend a sentence
when we don’t.
and knowing what they mean
requires not oppnly linguistic knowlege
but an ability to discern —
an ability that some of us are losing.
We often feel excluded
by our unseen impairment
even though those surrounding us
are unaware of our discomfort.
Electronics has enabled us
to increase our ability to hear
but sound’s clarity
often remains a blurr.
Sometimes I feel
that this particular impairment
impedes the making of new friends.
Sometimes I push myself
when I should
and pUSH myself
when I shouldn’t.
But I don’t always know
when I should
and when I shouldn’t.
I try to obey my body’s instructions
but sometimes they seem so vague
I cannot hear its messages.
When there is clarity
and I’ve diminished all confusion
I do the best I can to tend this man.
When there’s nothing I can do
but yield to the ravishes of time
In dreams sometimes I replay my past edited in ways that change it so that it may be only only close to my actual history.
There are also dreams of matters that must have happened to me when I was someone elseand the replay baffles meand sometimes amazes me.
I pay more attention to my dreams than I use tofor they connect me to a familiar past and also to a past that may not be mine and yet I own it somehow in the revelations that I explore at night and play back when I awaken with wondering and and with awe.
I feel that I am more than I am and that I will continue to be that even when I am gone.
There are also dreams of matters that must have happened to mewhen I was someone elseand the replay baffles me and sometimes amazes me.
I pay more attention to my dreams than I use tofor they connect me to a familiar pastand also to a past that may not be mine and yet I own it somehow in the revelations that I explore at nightand play back when I awakenwith wondering and and with awe.
I feel that I am more than I am and that I will continue to be thateven when I am gone.
When we go into the Brookdale dining roomI usually get behind the chair my wife has chosenand I push while she lifts her chair slightlyand jerks it forward to the tableuntil she is positioned as she wishes to be.
I call this effort “buck-slide”.
Then I sit in my chosen chairand I make similar motions to place myselfin an ready-to-eat position.
I often look about the dining halland see others “buck-sliding” into their comfort zone.
Most folks wince a bit as they do it.
Since I must wait for serviceand there is little else to doI find a certain pleasure in seeinghow the old folks pull themselvesor get pushed into the placeswhere they are expecting good food.
And occasionally it is.
I had three uncles — was named after two of them:
At first I was called by both names.
When I reached school age my parents settled on RALPH.
By the time I joined the Navy
I thought better of RUSSELL.
Then that soon became RUSS. That’s what I wanted.
It seemed sexier to me.
My Uncle Russ saw be for the first time
when I was two years old.
I assume that I saw him also.
When I was ten I saw him again.
The second encounter was likely as brief as the first.
When I was fifty I decided another visit would be ok.
I knocked on the door of his apartment
He opened the door. I just stood there and so did he.
“What can I do for you?” he asked.
“I’m RUSSELL PEERY” I responded.
We stared at each other for a time– and then he said:
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT?
After hesitating he invited me in.
We talked awhile and as I left
we promised ro keep in touch — but we never did.
What stayed with me after our encounter was:
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT?
I’ve remembered that for forty years
and I’m still counting.
It was 3:53 a.m. when I awakened
from a most delightful dream
about a group of little dogs
sniffing at me and wagging
with their whole bodies
and begging me for love
from my fingertips.
I savored the dream for a time
and then began to get silly:
Dogs can be dear but they can’t be deer.
Deer can be dear (I assume) but can’t be dogs.
And you could respond
to this early morning silliness: “Oh dear.
such nonsense from a poet!”
Eventually I rose from my bed
but I still feel some residue from my dream.
There is nothing I can do about it, I think
but take my fingertips of affection
and hope they can translate the love I felt
into my laptop and then on to you.
I was probably seven or eight
when I got to “work” my first “machine”.
I was intrigued by the gears that moved
when I made the little handle
go “round and round”.
That made the beaters go “round and round”
but the two beaters always missed each other
no matter how fast I made them go.
There was the day when I poured cream into a bowl
and then plunged the beaters into the bowl
at my mother’s instruction.
In the whirl I saw the cream begin to thicken —
and then it thickened some more
until it was whipped just right.
“Add a touch of sugar and beat just a tad more” she said.
When I was done I knew that I had made whip cream
and I was delighted with the new mass.
I tasted it and it was the best taste in the world.
Those days that I made whip cream
and spooned it onto ice cream
still yield delightful memories.
Nowadays the cans with the long stems
that offer whip cream
with a slight press to the right or to the left
are fun to employ.
However, they have made the egg beaters unecessary.
and my grandchildren will never know of the thrill
I still remember.