An old Polish neighborhood in Autumn…

he’d look out the window at trees changing colors over night…one day green…the next gold and red with rust as well…kept a diary about it…called, Leaves…

and every day the old man would check to see what new colors had come…marked ’em down beside the date…a record of Autumn’s splendor…

this was the time of year pop looked most forward to…chilly nights and sweater days under cloudy skies…sippin’ coffee…listenin’ to children play over at the Catholic school…dodge ball…flag football…kids runnin’ and laughin’ on the blacktop playground…girls linin’ up for hopscotch…bandaids on their knees…

alone he would sit and witness the season passin’…cross guards stoppin’ cars…yards bein’ raked by old women in long skirts and stockin’ caps…ankles thick…Polish and Lithuanian accents from them in broken English…oxtail soup will be served tonight…

he watches from his upstairs rented room…a neighborhood wrapped in Fall…given to him by a god who still listens…for this he is thankful…for he knows that winter will come soon…bare trees…snow shovels in hand…and again his favorite season has come and gone…

and the days dwindle down to a precious few…oh if November could last forever….

I’m done with this…

it was never a matter of right or wrong…things got pretty gray…couldn’t tell from one day to the next if there was any love left…maybe more black than white…

they stopped kissing each other…stopped talking…didn’t even hold hands anymore…twelve years together and all affections were tossed aside…just took it one day to the next…scared to be the first to say…I’m done with this…

they used to talk on the phone everyday on their lunch hours…long chats while sitting in the park watching women push baby strollers…joggers clinging to life…hot dog vendors yelling out…,get your red hots here…,with all the conviction they could muster…

these talks slowly stopped…they’d both eat their food in silence…not thinking of the other…just wondering how to make it one more day…knowing the end was inevitable…

she would move on and look for love…dating sites…the bar scene…maybe the workplace…while he stopped caring about love completely…not wanting any part of it…

all because one day she said…I’m done with this…

Front row seat…

he’d drive all over town at all hours of the night…couldn’t stand bein’ in bed by himself…tried to sleep…took several different kinds of pills…nothin’ ever worked…so he’d just drive…

drove over to the Walmart out on Lima Road…sat there in the parkin’ lot lookin’ at all the different cars…beat up Chevys…old Fords…rusted out SUV’s…some newer cars too… Hondas and Kias…shiny pickup trucks…he sat there in his old white Dodge…rollin’ cigarettes from a bag of loose tobacco…chain smokin’ the whole time…

and he was amazed at how many shoppers there were at midnight…mom’s pushin’ babies in shoppin’ carts…men carryin’ bags of groceries…filled to the top with deep fried chicken and frozen pizzas…case of Pepsi in the other hand…he just sat there lookin’…just lookin’…

thought ’bout goin’ inside and fillin’ out an application…bein’ a Walmart greeter…standin’ at the front of the store all proud with a blue vest on…sayin’…,Hello…Welcome to Walmart…,smilin’ real big…he thought ’bout it…then he’d pull ‘nother PBR from down below his seat…sipped on it with his hand wrapped ’round the label…lukewarm…

there were all these thoughts goin’ through his head…thoughts he couldn’t get rid of…pictures cluttered his mind…like a movie showin’ different parts of his life…high school girlfriends…chippin’ away ice onna basketball court down the street from where he grew up…old friends he didn’t see anymore…passed away parents…an old dog he got at the pound…

he’d talk to himself and sometimes sing along to the songs on the country radio station…an old Merle Haggard song…some song ’bout loosin’ love…watchin’ it walk right out the door…right out the door…

that’s what he did…long time ago…she said let me be free…so he did…never to fall in love again…never…

just drove ’round town pickin’ a different parkin’ lot every night…sometimes Safeway…other times Piggly Wiggly…and on some nights when the moon was right…he’d park at the Walmart…and just let the purple sky turn orange…

Little Dave…Godspeed…

I’d watch him drink all evenin’ long at Henry’s Tavern over by Pearl Street…he’d buy me shots of rye…hated to drink alone…hated to drink alone…

and we’d sit in that dark bar ’til the moon came out and made Main Street glow…talkin’ ’bout dreams of goin’ to Venice…New York City…checkin’ out museums in Paris…the little man dreamed big…was always dreamin’ big…

everyone in that bar knew him…he was a local hero…a real character…they called him Little Dave ’cause of his height…always wore hats to cover his baldness…with piercing eyes and always smilin’…Little Dave smiled more than anyone I ever knew…tossin’ ’em back and talkin’ of H.G. Wells…Ali…The Rolling Stones…and always some documentary he’d seen on PBS…

the little man knew peace…a real sitting Buddha…knew history…art…literature…and women…he’d raise his glass to women…always in search of beauty…and to him…it was all beauty…

alone…

looking through window blinds at two in the mornin’ with memories of you runnin’ through my head…

I laugh at the way life used to be…love…what I thought was love…never was love…just two lonely people in love with the idea of love…

thoughts of mornin’ walks and moonlight strolls…car rides through country sides…kissin’ in front of a fireplace on a cold Winter’s day…takin’ turns makin’ dinner…dancin’ in the kitchen to songs of our youth…dreamin’ that these dreams would come true…one day…one day…

and this is what we wanted…to awake intertwined…a love affair to last a lifetime…bottles of wine…Sunday brunch…a dog named Floyd…was this love…was it…what did it matter…nothing lasts…

hey girl…don’t kid yourself…, I said to her…, listen…we’re all going to die alone…and that you can count on…that you can count on…

and she went her way…and I went mine…