In this enormous room
photos of the dead and the dying
brighten the walls.
Maybe it’s the glass frames.
Without names, without dates,
there is no telling which is which
or who’s who.
Within this population
there are the ebullient ones,
fiery spirits who cover the planet,
spread the word through their neighborhoods,
juicy news to keep the blood up.
The dying practice from the start;
their last breaths copy their first,
while the dead, framed as they are,
compose the room.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR YOU (AND ME)
Bereft of company,
check the mirror, pucker up,
and blush for shame
before I report you.
Find a friend
and climb the ladder.
Look around and then come down.
Mount the mountain
Return to the ground
and don’t say a word.
Listen to me – a better angel,
your best bet in times of fury.
Come winter and the first snow,
make a snowball
tighten it icy hard
and let it melt in your hands;
go home and feel better.
Hold to your pricelessness.
Wake to your meager weight,
squeeze what is into a thimble,
fondle your likeness to the worm.
Alight to the nearest tree;
see the next person
seated on the branch.
Fly off together
over the lake’s rim.
Land and climb back to the branch
alone, equal even to coming down.
He vowed to the crowd
to put some mileage on his legs,
and the concomitant parts
with all the weight they carry.
He walked from bed to table,
changed from house slippers
to high tops – well-cushioned
and leading him on.
He stepped out into the city
with long-strides and a steady pace –
from south to north – west to east
saw storefronts, lamp lights and all.
There was not a bench he spied
that he didn’t regard
and then disregard
as he walked further on.
A ball game exploded in the park;
lost track of the score
and missed him walking by.
Undaunted, he walked on
tracking the miles –
a plan to stick to until the app fails
or the pedometer ages out.
Barry Wallenstein has authored many volumes of poetry
[I recommend starting with Tony’s World- Ed.]
as well as CDs and LPs in performance with jazz
musicians such as Stanley Cowell, Cecil McBee, Jeremy
Steig, Charles Tyler and Vincent Chancey. He is
the founder of CCNY’s Poetry Outreach Center and its
annual Spring Poetry Festival.