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ED
She was an argonaut
that paper nautilus discreet
where an edict for office
still home for a style
if their buzz did set a trend
that syndicated grams  
and lingered with a spruce Cabernet
while it torched their foray  
that whirred travel to the dale
of Welsh Mount Snowdon  
where I sought Kopechne
if squires didn't vaunt missions
with these measured students
and were really left behind!
a resume from chappaquiddick
I remember watching
Back in 1963
A Presidential funeral
There on my tv

My son watched his son
And he saw me cry
Then my son looked up and said
"Why did he have to die?"

Five years passed, a Memphis death
Was felt throughout the land
My son watched this and said to me
"I do not understand"

I looked at him, looked at the ground
And looked high into the sky
My son, said "Dad please tell me?"
"Why did he have to die?"

Again that summer, sixty eight
We stood along the track
We watched the train go past us
We knew he wasn't coming back

My son, a little older
watched as I tried not to cry
He said "it's ok to feel that dad"
"Why did he have to die?"

Years went by and he grew up
Got married moved away
I remember sitting watching
On that warm September day

Two Towers tumbled to the ground
My heart broke, and I cried
My son, went in to save them
"Why did he have to die?"

I'll never get an answer
Till the angel's song is sung
"Why did he have to die?" I'll ask
Why do the good die young?
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.
Robert C Howard Jul 2013
The bittersweet harmonies of
Barber’s song of ruing
carry me back two score years
to that day I sat intent on the bench -
Barber’s accompaniment on the stand.

Ben Walker exploded into the room
“Have you heard about the president? ”
My blankness answered,
“Kennedy's been shot! ”
My stiffened fingers lifted from the keys.
Dread-filled I stammered,
“Will he be all right? ”
Unable to utter the words,
Ben shook his head.

Scenes flicker on our mindscreens
like scratched newsreels -
tears staining Bernstein’s face,
Eroica and Resurrection
weeping our televised agony,
Oswald doubled over Ruby’s bullets,
a toddler's unbearable salute.

Watching motorcade frames
repeat in slow motion,
we careen on rubber legs:
a nation’s heart shattered in Dallas

The somber song plays on:
Housemans’s words
Joined with Barber’s melodies:

'With Rue my Heart is Laden.'

*April, 2007
I was practicing the piano part of a song by Samuel Barber set to a poem by W.H. Auden. I was to accompany Ben Walker, a baritone friend who was to sing it an upcoming recital when he burst in and gave me the horrific news.
I'm always playing music
Alone on my guitar
I don't think I'll be famous
I'll never get that far
I play because I love it
I go from bar to bar
I sure don't do it for the money
I'm living in my car

I'm not sure if I'll make it
The right person must hear
The music that I'm making
Must ring true within their ear
In the clubs that I am playing
They serve shots and luke warm  beer
So the ear for which I'm looking
Is not to close to here

If I wanna be famous
And give my life a lift
There's just one way to do it
And that's by datingTaylor Swift
We'll hook up and we'll break up
I won't be with her long
Then she'll put out a new album
And she'll put me in a song
The only way to make it
And to give my life a lift
Is to go out and start dating
That singer....Taylor Swift

I sit home and I practice
In the front seat not the back
Remember, I'm living in my vehicle
Beside the railroad track
I don't have much there with me
My clothes fit in a sack
Maybe one day I will make it
And I'll give fame a crack

I may not be a Kennedy
Or , a big time movie player
But, I sure as hell look better than
That pretty boy John Mayer
I can't write my own music
I just cover other songs
The streets of fame are littered
By folks like me who don't belong
But one day, I'll just make it
And I'll prove them agents wrong
One day I will be famous
I'll be the topic of a song

If I wanna be famous
And give my life a lift
There's just one way to do it
And that's by dating Taylor Swift
We'll hook up and we'll break up
I won't be with her long
Then she'll put out a new album
And she'll put me in a song
The only way to make it
And to give my life a lift
Is to go out and start dating
That singer....Taylor Swift
Brent Kincaid Sep 2015
We were the ones,
Self-chosen ones,
And we had seen enough.
And we had heard enough
To be tired of the drama;
The games that our mamas
And our Papas played
The plans they laid
That so often did not work.
The pensions and the perks
That so often left them bitter
Mumbling curses about quitters
As they argued over parking spaces
And carefully averted their faces
When people were denied rights
Because they were not white
Or sometimes because Jews
And non-whites could not be
Members of their sororities
And country club amenities.

They demanded no dark skin
And objected to what we dressed in
And wanted us to cut our hair
And go find a decent job somewhere
To start an acceptable career
And get a decent nine to five
To work as long as we were alive.
We knew they were trying to protect
To drive us to the life they projected
That would help us get a salary
And develop the kind of misery
And sense of hopelessness;
The exact kind of mess
They were living
And they weren’t forgiving
When we rebelled and fought
And shunned the trinkets they bought
That they thought would tempt us
To buckle on the harness;
The long-term promise.

We rejected the temptation
To join the workaday nation
And get into the drinking
Nine-to-five way of thinking.
We swapped the whiskey
For something they found risky.
We smoked our marijuana
And talked about nirvana
In our love-beads and batik
We left family homes to seek
And ultimately to find friends
Who wanted the same ends
And would work with us,
And they would walk with us
To the love-ins and protests
And help us pen requests
For marches and gatherings
To demonstrate our misgivings
About who got what
And who did not
And how and when
And which were not seen as men.
But we saw poorly disguised slaves
We knew we wanted to save.

We were going to fix the world
So, we waded into insults hurled
And high-powered fire hoses.
They broke our arms and noses
And trod on our signs
And drew a line
Between us and the public.
We were criminals and suspects
In crimes they invented;
We patchouli oil scented
Hippies wearing Birkenstocks
Without any socks
And jeans with protest patches
Singing our snatches of songs
Like “We Shall Overcome Someday”.
They couldn’t hear a word we would say.
They just cursed us and objected
And made sure we were subjected
To as much stonewalling as the law
Could put up against us all.

We were going to fix the world,
And we got LBJ on our side, like Jack
He went on the attack
And changed things for the better
Still not to the letter of the law
But a bit more spirit
Began to exist in it
Because blacks were acknowledged
And could finally go to college
In white schools
Adhering to the rules
The bigots had always ignored.
And unlike before, the police
Actually kept the peace
Unless it involved demonstrations
Against the crimes of our nation
Against another nation
That never attacked us
Never even threatened us.
These protest made us criminals
And that is what the cops thought of us.

Yes, by the time Nixon was going
After everyone began knowing
What a rat he was and because
He got caught, we saw
Him get on the copter and leave
And without a thought to grieve
We wanted our country to cease
Being some kind of insane police
In an Asian country few of us knew.
To stop what they put our troops through
And bring the people back here
So they could end the killing and fear
That our country was generating.
The debating was through
And the country started anew
By ending that situation.
Peace descended on the nation
And we took credit.
We did do some of it.
Then, we quit.

We started small companies
Selling handmade gifts and soaps
Not becoming the dopes
We fought our parents not to be
But more the people we ought to be
Living in hippie enclaves
That turned into yuppie enclaves
And we got fatter.
But that didn’t matter.
We had our memories
And we had our old war stories
Of marching, and protesting
And they were interesting enough
That we lost the will to be tough
And let the objections slide
And hid inside our mini-farms
And ignored when people were harmed
By many of the same atrocities
That fueled our animosities
Just a generation before.
We decided it was not our war
And sat on our hands.
And drifted like the sands.
A mythical reality
of Presidents and Kings
Oval Offices, Round Tables
And the power each one brings

A dream of unknown future
Of what we wished to see
A fictional creation
Of life not meant to be

Magical creations
That lived just in our mind
Families so cursed
There's just remnants left behind

A time of recollection
Be it near or long ago
A true tale of "what if?"
That we all will never know

Brothers dead, dreams vanished
Future Princes of the Realm
Plantagenet or Kennedy
Which son will take the helm?

A Mythical creation
A place we want to see again
Is there royalty in waiting?
To be the leader of free men
My world came crashing to a stop
Thirty four  years ago....on 8 December
I can tell you all just where I was
And I'm sure that you'll remember

I mourned the loss of a legend
I sat and cried for he who died
And like people the world over
Our emotions could not hide

Three years before, another
Died, but it didn't mean the same
He was found dead in his bathroom
A brand new image for his fame

I mourned the loss of a legend
One who died, but at what cost
He was a victim of his excess
I didn't feel the sense of loss

Two Men of peace in Sixty Eight
I was not yet seven at the time
Assassins changed the world we knew
It changed direction on a dime

The King of Camelot in waiting
His brothers shoes, this man would fill
But, for a bullett in Los Angeles
Would hit their mark and get the ****

The other man was destined
To die, because he had a dream
But he united those who heard him
It was a surreal as it did seem

Five years before in Dallas
A President brought down too soon
Was it a single snipers rifle
Or another on the knoll there in the gloom ?

For each of us, a moment,
When our world did change it's way
When we asked why did this happen ?
There was nothing left to say

Imagine or Remember
We all have that certain date
Be it November, or December
It was not ordained by fate

Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray
Sirhan Sirhan, Mark David Chapman
Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy
Martin Luther King Jr, Robert F. Kennedy
John Lennon....ask which ones we should remember.
The old man sat in the darkness
Taking in what he could see
He smiled, although slyly
And he leaned in close to me

He said the air is different
You can taste it here abouts
Listen close to what's around you
The air is different...there's no doubt

I didn't understand him
He spoke in concepts, not in words
He talked of feeling the emotions
Of people running 'round in herds

He said, I've been here sixty years now
Seen people come and people go
I used to be the barkeep
But, then that's something that you know

I've seen Elvis and The Beatles
Seen Presidents and Kings
I've seen hearts torn all asunder
And the pain that a war brings

I saw Kennedy on that TV
That, one behind your head
I watched him drive on straight through Dallas
And moments later he was dead

This place was just dead silent
On the day that that man died
And hand to god I'll tell you
I was all torn up inside

I saw soldiers in that Vietnam
Fighting for what? I don't know
I saw them on that TV there
I watched them lining up to go

I saw them having rally's
Taunting those who had the guns
I saw them bringing back the caskets
Of the now dead, teenage sons

That TV showed me lots of stuff
It never strayed far from the news
It always shows the Tigers game
I turn it up to hear the boos

I saw King and Bobby on that set
Taken way to young
God, it would have been a different world
To see what things they might have brung

I sat back and I listened
The old man, went on a while
He waved ******* skyward
And said, two more beers ...with his smile

My life has been a good one
I've been alone, except for here
I watch the outside on that set
It was then, we got our beer

I remember back when Elvis died
He was the best back in the day
But, me I liked Sinatra
Dean Martin, Bob and Ray

There was folks in here all crying
singing songs, and holding hands
on various occassions
from Lennons death, to Bobby Sands

I never really took part
In the lives of those who came
To spend their time here with me
I only knew a few by name

My job was just to serve them
Not to be their new best friend
I guess that's why I sit here still
Watching, waiting for the end

That set has shown me good and bad
That one, behind your head
It hasn't worked for fifteen years
We got a new one in instead

It's there as a reminder
more to me, than those still here
That life is for the living
And I'm alive while I am here

He rose and turned back to me
Said, it's time for us to close
I'll be back again tomorrow
To watch more highs and maybe lows

I watched the old man shuffle
To his room, and to his bed
Past the TV he saw life on
On the wall behind my head.
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