I think more now of those dead:
the slim sax-playing therapist with
his perceptive spouse – my parents’
neighbors in late life and nearby graves
the glinting black-caped architect,
wax-moustached and just north of crazed
by standards of the day, who built
curved structures and would blast walls
unpredictably with baritones
ex-Reds who strolled in, trailing wives near
twice their size, to wander through my preteen
home among attentive brokers,
G-men, flacks for unknown causes
and mysterious mills, beside the limber
couple who learned cha-cha first
and taught them all.
Martini eves where I, half up the stairs,
watched elders in pressed suits and cocktail gowns
put drinks and cigarettes aside to twirl
across our blue pile rug in Latin time
to spinning forty-fives. Just folks: a
comfortable group ascending on a
Fifties tide, as though in pantomime.
Yet in that crowd were some who carried hunger
far past seventh grade, and some who worked three jobs
to grasp degrees, and veterans of the Bulge or
Lawyers Guild; and some who proud as kings
refused to testify.
Dance nights, astonishing
and rare, when I joined awkwardly the slinky
glides of those who carved their profiles, deeper
than they knew, in smoky air.
What Rough Beast, Aug. 17, 2019; reprinted in The Spirit It Travels: An Anthology of Transcendent Poetry (Cosmographia Books, Summer 2019)