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JV Beaupre May 2016
I. Long ago and far away...

Under the bridge across the Kankakee River, Grampa found me. I was busted for truancy. First grade. 1946.

Coming home from college for Christmas. Oops, my family moved a few streets over and forgot to tell me. Peoria, 1961.

The Pabst Brewery lunchroom in Peoria, a little after dawn, "Who wants my sandwich? ****, this first beer tastes good." I won't tell you what he really said. 1962.

At grad school, when we moved into the basement with the octopus furnace, Dave, my roommate contributed a case of Chef Boyardee spaghettio's and I brought 3 cases of beer, PBRs.  Supper for a month.1962.

Sharon and I were making out in the afternoon, clothes a jumble. Walter Cronkite said, " President Kennedy has been shot…” 1963.

I stood in line, in my shorts, waiting for the clap-check. The corporal shouted:  "All right, you *******, Uncle and the Republic of Viet Nam want your sorry *****. Drop 'em".  Deferred, 1964.

He electrified the room. Every woman in the room, regardless of age, wanted him, or seemed to. The atmosphere was primeval and dripping with desire. In the presence of greatness, 1968.

US science jobs  dried up. From a mountain-top, beery conversation, I got a research job in Germany. Boulder, 1968.

The first time I saw automatic weapons at an airport. Geneva, 1970.

I toasted Rembrandt with sparkling wine at the Rijksmuseum. He said nothing. 1972.

A little drunk, but sobering fast: the guard had Khrushchev teeth.
Midnight, alone, locked in a room at the border, why?
Hours later, release. East Berlin, 1973.

She said, "You know it's remarkable that we're not having an affair." No, it wasn't. George's wife.  Germany, 1973.

I said, "May be there really are quarks, but if so, we'll never see them." Truer than I knew.  Exit to Huntsville, 1974.

II. In the present century....

And what have I learned? Here's advice for the next ones: On your desk, keep a coffee cup marked, "No Whining", that side out. Final retirement. 2015.

I quietly admired a Rembrandt portrait at the Schiphol airport. Ever inscrutable, his painting had presence, even as the bomb dogs sniffed by. Beagles. 2006.

I’ve lost two close friends that I’ve known for 50-odd years. There aren’t many more. Huntsville. 2008 and 2011.

I started painting. Old barns and such. 2004.

I occasionally kick myself for not staying with physics—I’m jealous of friends that did. But I moved on, and came back. There is still problem 12-19 in Becker's mechanics and it still needs solving. 2016 and continuing.

Honest distortions emerging from the distance of time. The thin comfort of fading memories. Thoughts on poor decisions and worse outcomes. Not often, but every now and then.
Every now and then
I go deep inside my mind
Just to have a little rest
And see what I can find
I don't go in there often
It dark and I must say
That sometimes I'm afraid
That I may lose my way

There's a little corner café
Where Groucho sits alone
Stan Laurel sits there writing gags
And Greta Garbo sits and moans
Sinatra sings for all of them
John Lennon talks to God
Brian Jones gives swimming lessons
There's Liz Taylor and Mike Todd

Over in the distance
At a table in the corner
Hemmingway sells movie scripts
To mogul man Jack Warner
Elvis does a hip shake
Ruth and Gherig playing catch
Bud and Lou do Who's on First
Humphrey Bogart lights a  match

Charles Dickens playing darts
A red balloon comes floating by
Andy Warhol sits with Nico
Where German pop songs go to die
Marilyn and James Dean
Sit quietly talking on the stairs
John Kennedy and his brother Bob
Just pretend that they are both not there

Chico  plays piano and
Harpo  with his  harp
Bad jokes float around the room
being told by silent stars
Phil Everly and Phil Ramone
They're new here so they're woozy
Sit talking of the songs they'll miss
Rick Nelson sings of Susie

You see it is a mad mad place
in my head when I may wander
I don't go in too deep
And I've  met Henry Fonda
There's images, and icons
Family, and  friends
on a little street inside my head
That's a circle with no ends
Dan Filcek  Apr 2015
Munich
Dan Filcek Apr 2015
their recent deal met with shouts of betrayal:
the new Neville Chamberlain,
The refrain quickly sounded on Capitol Hill.
sympathy should be qualified.
speaking in accurate French
This is our moment ... our chance to join together
But then when is it not a moment?
repeatedly mispriced and misapplied,
often with disastrous consequences.
A complete list would fill a book,
but here are a few items:
the spectre of war
the American invading forces
the border with China
the British appeasing ******
the whole woeful Suez adventure
the occupation of the Rhineland  
the Cuban missile crisis
the fire jobs, in which hundreds of thousands civilians were incinerated;
the saying “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”
the hailing of Ngo Dinh Diem, as the Churchill of Asia
the Kennedy administration giving a nod to the coup
the latest culture of appeasement
the drawing of Jimmy Carter carrying an umbrella.
the mirage of a peaceful alternative to war
which is really a defeat,
peace in our time?
Why do I think that isn’t going to happen?
This year for Poetry Month, I decided to post a "found poem" every day. If writing a poem is like painting, a "found poem" is like sculpting. - source https://newrepublic.com/article/115803/munich-analogies-are-inaccurate-cliched-and-dangerous
F  Jul 2018
massachusetts
F Jul 2018
you talk like a kennedy.
east-coast americana.
salt spits from your
weaponised mouth.

go back to your compound
and lie on the surf
from whence you came.
chunky sweater man.

i’m not your jackie,
nor will i piece your head back
together. your old-world
dreams return to the sea.
i’m jackie o now
David Adamson Feb 17
The place smells the same. Garlic, undergraduate angst, oven flame.  The menu hasn’t changed. The Antony and Cleopatra.  Italian sausage and snake meat. The Macbeth. Cooked in a cauldron.  Blood sauce won’t wash off. The Julius Caesar.  Served bottom side up.  You have to knife it from the back. The Timon of Athens. Only bitter, separate ingredients, overcooked to black. The Frankenstein.  Assembled from ingredients at hand.  Served smoking from a jolt of high voltage. The Dramatic Irony. It’s a surprise.  Everyone at your table knows what you’re getting while you cover your eyes.

You said tragedy means playing out a ****** hand. The game has to end badly. Bigger Thomas. Joe Christmas.  Hamlet.  Everybody dies.  No choices. The end. I said, no, it means you have a fatal flaw.  Macbeth and Ted Kennedy—ruthless ambition.  Gatsby—pride. Lear—vanity. Richard Nixon—douchebaggery, deep-fried. Bad choices.  

“Can’t be both,” you said.  “One is character, the other one’s fate.” “What if character is fate?” I asked smugly. “Then we’re *******, Heraclitus. It’s late.”

I smoked a pipe.  You wore a beret and severely bobbed hair. I wrote sarcastic love letters to the universe. You wrote hate lyrics to Ted Hughes, love notes to Jane Eyre. We kept relations on an intellectual plane. You had a set of big firm ideas, dark-eyed principles, and a dimpled scorn of life’s surly crap. My eloquence was tall, square-jawed, curly, tan.  Together we solved the world’s big problems as only undergraduates can.

“Can pizza be tragic; or is it merely postponed farce?” I wondered. “Here it is clearly both, though not at the same time,” you said. “Does tragedy plus time equal comedy?” “Sounds right.” “No, tragedy plus time is any order in this place on a Saturday night.” After what seems like decades our orders finally arrive.  

“What did you get?” I asked.  “Looks like the Double Tragic,” you replied. “Flawed choices and fate. I leave you. You were unfaithful to every love sonnet you ever wrote.  Yet you are the first man who makes me feel loved, the only one who ever will.  I strain for that feeling again and again but it becomes a boulder that keeps rolling back down the hill. And fate—my beautiful ******* that got so much attention from men will **** me.  The only thing they will ever nurse is a cancerous seed. You?”

“The Too-Many-Choices, done to perfection. Choosing everything means choosing nothing. Loving too many women, I love none.  I follow a simple path home but try to stay lost. Living in the space between lost and found has a cost.  My life becomes a solitary pilgrimage to no place.”

“Let’s not reduce our lives to a Harry Chapin song,” we agreed. So we toasted the beauty of what never was. I went back to my hotel to write, found my way to a few easy truths, and called it a night.
It looked like just another stinking day @ the sewer plant, pretty much the same old ****. Now that summer was here perhaps, w/the heat, the texture of all things would thicken. Joe had manned pump 2 for nigh 20 years & he'd seen it all: clogs, clogs, big clogs, little clogs—experience dictated he keep handy a pair of swimming trunks. Boy o boy the stories he could tell—all of 'em fictional like the time Sen. Ted Kennedy killed a woman. Run her right off in his big limo, sinkin' her in settling tank one. And the time Pres. Clinton took a **** on top of ol' Joe's hat, fortunately he wasn't wearing it at the time. Yes, it was indeed the effects of sewer gas what scrambled Joe's memory except for the part about Clinton of course.
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