what didn’t cousin leslie know and when didn’t she know it?

sucking on her cig
in an early 60’s english-lit-meets Connie Francis
cha-cha fashion, my cousin leslie, the first teen
legit in the family, she even

brought over a BOYFRIEND!,
skinny, had frankie avalon
hair but worse he wore a creepy
tie ANYhow, i think he looked at me
funny when i crawled under my
blankies with my AMAZING beatles puppets,

(well ok acceptable if not borderline
behavior for a 8-yr-old and maybe
we’ll figure this out some other time) but

for now/then, cousin leslie cooly tossed
a bobby rydell 45 on the phono and
I SWEAR TO YOU this: she then exhaled
her ultra-urbane smoke rings curly curly to
the ceiling, accompanied by some kinda
VERY clippety-cloppety words: “oh the
beatles? definitely a fad, i giveth 2
years, tops” soooooo,
wow ok so? then i clamped my hand
over my mouth, they were starting to

notice snarky giggles of not merely
boy-nephew but maybe boy-way scarier?, that,
this lil’ me might multiply into
a LOT of beach-blanket-bingo fugitives-
to-be and oh!!
and in such big big big numbers
did we ever grow to be.


Mom’s Place (for Mom)

In your apartment, an endless
hodgepodge of opened books and
magazines and articles, all duly
noted, highlighted and clipped
for some special time, place,
or person. “Whatever will I do with this mess?”
you lament, and yes, the funny thing is in
some funny way, it all does matter.
Take note: no worthy thing or
one will be slighted or
overlooked, not if you can help it.
Keep dancing with Richard, Mom, and
keep rooting for the
underdog. You know no other way, and
if there’s a particularly outstanding Charlie
Rose show on tonight we’ll most likely hear
from you. It’s all so rare that the heart and

the mind are such soaring, steadfast, even
glorious, companions. Your love of all of these books
and articles and workshops and operas compose
not a mess but a masterpiece. It is a work you
have woven all these years through curiosity,
compassion, and an almost invincible conviction.
You may misplace a newspaper clipping or
two but never your love of all of
this and all of us: this is your light,
and this is you: a work in progress because
you care and you actually work at being a
work in progress. So very few embrace
this high art. And so, in your place,
there really is a place for almost
every thing, and certainly every
one of us, so lucky to be in
your gentle heart.