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Dec 2013
Shouldn't we all be studying?

dedicated to M M Jones from Montana,
where I guess big skies make people think
about big questions and young poets thrive.

the butterflies of child-awakening
to the certainty
that school and
shame and embarrassment
were only minutes away,
once again,
is as fresh as
the flowers my love
buys every Friday,
fifty plus year later.

I would awake,
climb into bed with my mother,
telling her I did not feel well,
that my
stomach felt gray.  

I could not tell her that
the mocking I received by
my richer classmates at the
multiple lines in the fabric
of my corduroy pants
where she let my pants down
made me cannon fodder
for what we call now

I could not tell her
of the heartbreak
when somehow the parents
of my supposed suburban friends
forgot to
pick me up for the weekly swim,
leaving me to watch
the sunset fall as I sat
on the stoop of our old house,
tucked away in an out of the way,
unfashionable street,
the shame still wet.

I could not tell her
of how two bothers tortured me
as I sat in the back seat
of their station wagon,
spitting seeds
on me like curses.  

Their older brother died of cancer
when that was still unusual,
and the mother wrote
a beautiful book
about his life.

I still hate them, those two,
fifty years later and it gives me
unusually great pleasure to
announce it to the world.

So I studied.  

Not my schoolbooks,
but lovely and ***** literature.
Friday afternoons, three children,
me the baby brother,
(anonymous, for they nicknamed me
brother as if  I was nothing but
checked off category)
to the library went.

Five, five was the max
they the austere librarians
and their coda of holy silence,
would let me withdraw.
(god I can see my library card still).  

By Friday night,
I had finished one or two,
ruining my eyes in
the lousy lamp light
in the living room,
falling asleep on the couch.  

this, reading addiction,
which afflicted the entire family,
I did well into my teens.

I have stopped reading
which amazes the very few
who know and care.

do let us re-pose,
let us repose,
the question:

Shouldn't we all be studying?

the answer of course is
yes and no.

my studying blue period
is long since ended.
now, my biographer,
will call this my red period.

for red are the memories that my remembrances
come back to me.
crystal is the clarity
of the indignities
I recall, though red,
is the anger
at the shame and
abuse I took.

now I can write what I have always held in my heart.  

those two awful brothers,
who loved to torture me,
I was glad their
wonderful brother died.

so this is my red writing period,
when the studying of a kind,
has long since ended
but the smell,
the memory of
fresh textbooks still can
make me nauseous.

Yet, I still study life around me,
as I clean countertops,
walk deserted beach isles
in early September...
this studying,
is the product of years
of studying the inside out
of me, and turning that study
fruitful into poetry.

why am I writing this at 2:00 am on a Sunday morning?

I did not pose the question.

but it posed me,
and the dialogue in my mind came
sugarcane fresh and tumbling out
and will be both
recorded and recoded
("in the truth will out eventually" file)
after a fashion.

these days I sometimes study
my older poems,
whose titles I recognize,
but whose content
I cannot recall.  

so double digit delight
when I
meet again old words,
wondrous and trite,
that make believe
that all my studying
somehow paid off after all.
When I stumble on a young poet on this site, whose poems delight me, I will bring them to your attention. When you discovered me,  they forgot to tell you about this bonus feature, I guess.
Written by
Nat Lipstadt  M/nyc
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