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JV Beaupre May 2016
Selected Memories Of Then and Now

Canto 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, my first day. A guy came  in and said: "Who wants my horsecock sandwich? ****, this first beer tastes good." We never knew how many he drank. 1962.

At grad school, when we moved into the basement with the octopus furnace, Dave, my roommate contributed a case of Chef Boyardee spaghettios and I brought 3 cases of beer, PBRs.  Supper for a month. Ames. 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. Aachen, 1969.

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.

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

Hard work, good times, difficult times. Not fully digested. 15 years in Huntsville and counting.

The golden Lord Buddha radiated peace with his smile. Shots in the distance. Bangkok. 1992.

Accomplishment at work, discord at home. Divorce. Huntsville. 1994. I got the dogs.

New beginnings, a fresh start, true love and life-partner. Huntsville. 1995.

Canto II. In the present century....

I started painting. Old barns and such. 2004.

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.

Here's some career advice: On your desk, keep a coffee cup marked, "No Whining", that side out. Final retirement. 2015.

I occasionally kick myself for not staying with physics—I’m jealous of friends that did. I moved on, but stayed interested. 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.
Kyle Kulseth Sep 2014
I know the contours of your face
just like the streets of my hometown
          you'd squint your eyes
                 when laughing
     at the corner of Main and Dow.

Blacktooth Brewery
               on frigid Friday nights
frosted glasses, fogging breaths
and laughs caught up
               in tightening chests.
Kendrick Park can keep its towering trees
                                   and midnight charms
if I can keep your laughter with me
                       when I sail for newer shores

Something in familiar signs,
          buzzing blackened Bighorn skies,
keeps us just above the water line--
          afloat for one more night.

Sheridan Iron Works
Red, rigid lettering a raised, distant hand
Watch it wave from on the hill
above the Kendrick boardwalk,
soak December in our smiles
choking back our April cries.

Snake's head yawning
          from the I-90 exit
slithers down Coffeen and tails
          our icy footsteps
     Rattle. Rattle. Rattle.
Shake this town to its bones
with our Thurmond Street jokes
and our glowing Gould Street hearts.
I hope
          this is enough
          to buoy our ***** up
          against the weighty ballast
          of this tiny, yawning town.

Settlers of Catan
played on a windy Wednesday night
over another drowning round
of clinking Wagon Box pints.

The contours of your face,
icy streets of our hometown,
our squinting, gasping laughter
on the corner of Main and Dow.

Blacktooth Brewery.
               Frigid Friday nights.
Fogged up glasses. Frosting breaths
and laughing, clutching tightening chests.
               This freezing town
               will test your mettle.
               Settle up and bring your friends.

— The End —