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.

First published in What Rough Beast, Aug. 17, 2019; reprinted in The Spirit It Travels: An Anthology of Transcendent Poetry (Cosmographia, Summer 2019)