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To be young and boyish was an easy thing
To be young and boyish was an easy thing, When balmy winds and carefree tunes Would greet each new awakening With promises of endless Junes. The scent of cake and cigarettes Arrived, as if from heaven, Filling the lungs of a bright-eyed boy Who’d barely just turned seven. Then strange and lovely puddings Would be set upon a tray, As if my each and every meal Took place on Christmas Day. The infant sun danced on the street, Illumining the precipice On which there sat a golden girl, Who’d sometimes let me have a kiss. A prince, I passed through porcelain portals To gaze upon my silhouette, And think of all the great events That simply hadn’t happened yet. And as it grew near time for bed, I’d put on my pajamas, To review my boyish triumphs In the day’s swashbuckling dramas.
To be young and boyish was an easy thing, p. 2 of 3 pp.
I often knelt before I slept, And prayed, as best I could, To the merciful and gen’rous God Who’d made my life so safe, and good. Toasted with tender, honied breaths, And swaddled in a hug, I’d watch the clouds swirl in the ceiling, While tucked in bed, all warm and snug. (The heart is a curious, thumping thing, Rapt on the cusp of dreaming.) Then guardian angels would fly from portraits To scatter blessings over meI’d climb on willows not yet weeping And sleep on pillows of ecstasy. Those dreams were strummed on golden strings Of hidden harps, unheard because My limbs were tingling so intenselyBathed, as they were, in a milky gauze. Then came the lust and dread-filled pipers, To brutally march me through Eden’s gate, To lock away my innocence, And seal my melancholy fate. How many times had I seen the grown-ups Grumpily grimace while donning their coats, How they’d vacantly stare through and past one another While salvaging gossip to store in their throats. Now all their faces bored through me like lavaI’d missed the volcano which had always been there, Simmering cancerous tea in its belly, Which grumbled and hissed as it blackened the air.
To be young and boyish was an easy thing, p. 3 of 3 pp.
(The heart contracts to a small still point, Where hope and trust grow dim and fleeting, When family ghosts who sit at supper Seem not to taste of the food they’re eating.) Plodding down stairs with a faltering step, His withered soul in a chest encased, Grandfather gazed in my eyes as he whispered, Impaled on a clock and hatchet-faced: “There will be no more carefree tunes, Not dancing suns, no endless JunesNo music’s left for you, apart From the battered squeezebox of your heart.”