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Life After Curfew

Life After Curfew

by Geffrey Jones

Sweetness… I got the shakes… And my

Nerves are shot…  And curfew has come

And gone… It’s somewhere north of

Midnight and I’m still hanging around…

Purposeless… Without a clue… And

Where do we go from here when the

Sun no longer rises for one of us… If you

Go first I’ll be right behind you… Period…

End of story… Hard stop…

 

It’s all a dream to me now… As I toss

And turn… I’m driving home to Jersey…

From here…

 

From this place where lives have been

Merged and purged… And fortunes made

And lost over the decades… Wonderful

Lives… But something is calling me back

East… And I wonder…

 

Is it Jersey I miss or the youth

I misspent there…

 

Maybe it’s both…

 

Who cares…

 

***

 

I can’t tell anymore the truth from the fiction

The Jersey shore rumbles a few blocks away

A maelstrom of time washes over its beaches

Where the damsels and the prowlers array

 

Hotels and casinos with frayed cotton sheets

Stand among ruins where dreams went to die

Pink cotton candy on a boardwalk at night

As kisses were stolen and vows were denied

 

***

 

One last trip around the bases as I sprint

Past third while heading for home… A swan

Song… A final bow… And I’ll be fine… No

Matter what…

 

Absurdity and folly… And ingratitude for

Blessings and miracles… Earned or gifted…

As life was lived here… Two thousand miles

From where it began…

 

It can be painful to look back at your

Reflection…  I should be thankful for now…

But never mind… Home is home no matter

How long you’ve been away… And there’s

Nothing wrong with diving headlong into

History…Or cross-examining the past…

 

***

 

It was just the beginning of where life began

As nothing appeared as it otherwise might

I can’t quite remember the exact time of day

When the future appeared so bright

 

But something is wrong in the land of plenty

A national conscience worn tender and raw

As breeches in conduct and wretched traditions

Threaten a nation and challenge the law

 

***

 

I wrestle with my pillow while struggling

To achieve balance between the only

Places I have ever lived… Each unique…

The same but at odds … A birthplace…

And a place where I came of age… I met

You here… Where our sons were raised…

But I came from there… And for fifty-one

Years I’ve been stranded somewhere in

Between…

 

From blizzards to heat waves and back…

The pluses and minuses… The victories

And the viruses… That reward the guilty

And afflict everyone else…

There’s a house on a hill with ebony

Shutters and a cranberry door… I loved

It there…

 

There’s a two bedroom flat in Montrose

Where we got stoned and listened to

Music… We were happy…

 

We’re happy still … But wary of the next

Day… The next hour… The next minute…

There’s a tug and a pull… A tug-of-war…

The waxing and waning of celestial bodies

And conflicted emotions… The pull of the

Moon on different realities… An ebb and

A flow… As life is lived in different places

And in different tenses… As orbits and

Philosophy collide when lives are lost in

Time…

 

My granddaughter cries out from the

Nursey… She wants something… And little

Does she know that there’s nothing in

The world I wouldn’t give her just for the

Asking… If only it were mine to give…

 

 

And there is no Jersey anymore… At least

The way I remember it… It’s no better or

Worse… It’s just different… That’s all…

There’s a here and a now… There’s no

Turning back… And the people I loved

There are gone…

 

But wait a minute… Halt… Stop dead in

Your tracks… Who cares about such

Things…

 

Apparently no one or so it would seem…

Nothing changes from one day to the next…

It’s business as usual as mantras and mottos

Ring hollow… Talk is cheap… But rhetoric

Is worse as loathsome statues fall hard

To the ground… Appeasement without

Satisfaction… Words without value and

Gestures without weight…

 

***

 

A farm in Nebraska or a factory in Flint

Burned out or shuttered as families survive

On promises pledged in wanton deceit

Forgotten or measured in lives

 

***

 

An infant in a nursery awakens us… And

Reminds me that clinging to the past does

Nothing to alter fate… Or delay the future

And what it may hold… And besides…We

Have more pressing matters at hand…

 

Granddaughter is rescued from the crib

And placed between us in bed… She stops

Crying as you cradle her in your arms…

And I’ll never make it back to Jersey… I’ll be

Thrown out at home while trying to score…

But I’m awake now… And I walk the floors

At night… Solving mysteries in the dark…

Searching for direction without a map…

And Jersey is beyond my reach…

 

But it’s here that I belong after all…

 

 

 

 

 

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