Tuesdays with the Ghost
Some rituals might be afraid to die.
You’re here allowing emptiness to do
Doom’s work, reminding me emotions, rage,
Regrets continue in the afterlife,
Kinship’s bond scarred like walls where family
Portraits, removed, left ugly holes behind.
Your shoulder shrug’s suspicious silhouette –
Felled untried wings – had been inherited
From grandpa, whose Aeolian nature
Had cultivated fortitude, aware
Volcanic force can be a ruinous god.
Some rituals, like Sicily, run dry.
Inviting death to a staring contest, you
Assumed the posture of a guillotine,
Betting against the beauty of your life,
Daring it to expire – or to apply
A tourniquet, compress pain’s blood red rain.
Our weekly ritual survived, stood by.
We’d meet for lunch on Tuesdays holding hands
En route, which calmed you after therapy,
New York’s vehicular va-room our song.
During one meal, amid those chin-cupped sighs,
Forlornness wrote dark scripture down your back.
You’d just seen Mauna Loa’s volcano.
A flirty guide lured you to the gift shop.
With his communion on your lips, you bought
A hideous Hawaiian souvenir,
You’re cursed to wear in perpetuity.
Cute hula girl, displayed on red shantung,
Saluting tiki gods, mid-dance, alone:
Was she your last embrace, strained neck tied, noosed,
As hula girl surveyed the upturned chair?
You did not call me on your way to ash
As angst unbuttoned from the terrified
Fist your heart had become, swung loose, released.
Today is Tuesday – but no lunch is served.
You can’t escape woe’s blacked out page because
My memory’s the urn I’ll store you in.
My cousin, who ended his life in 1977, is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY.