Just A Man In Pieces

Just a man
wondering

where I am,
unsure

how I got here,
unsure

where I’m going,
knowing

I’ve lost something
on the way.

*

How I
miss

the embrace of
my friends,

my boys from
the Beach,

the intimacy
of our

Black Sabbath
bonding,

Ozzy speaking
of the Devil,

Western Civ
according

to Maiden
speeding

on 95 or the
Turnpike,

the neon Grove,
naked South

Beach, Pelican
Harbor smokes,

deep fried Raffles,
shows at

the Sportatorium,
ringing ears,

smoking, joking,
a roving

ruckus of 1st gen
American

boys whose parents
were

classmates
in Cuba

through the 50s
until Castro.

We had no
Castro,

but we had
the Beach,

the sun and sand,
the tunes,

the thousand tokes
and cars, spoils

undeserved, unearned,
bequeathed.

We careless
princes

availed to any
whim

no matter how
selfish

and always good
times.

I miss those
boys,

hugging
them

like taking hold
of memory,

its heartbeat and
heartbreak

matching
your own.

*

Where to
begin?

The beginning
two days

ago? The
beginning

two years
ago?

The beginning
two kids

ago? The
beginning

was two lives
ago.

Before and
after.

*

You were just
a man

and you know
none

of this about
me.

You never
asked

for directions
to me.

When we met, we found
we.

*

My face accuses
me

responsible for
you.

How I did not
say:

Don’t do this anymore,
stop,

this is not your path,
stop,

where will this go if you don’t
stop?

SOS, man, SOS, brother, clear as code,
stop!

Never asked: Is this going to be
your story?

Your brawny bro-hugs became real
hugs,

an embrace of brotherhood, an
Oss!,

a nod, a slap of hands, a fare
well,

without me ever saying
stop.

And so I’m just a man who failed
you,

forever failed you on the
steep steps

I tripped upon, those built by
rebbeim of old

who defended Jews with passion and
panache

to the Heavenly courts, true scofflaws and
leaders,

subjects of stories, myths, and legends all
true,

like the stories of you, all
true

about giving up fights for
Shabbos,

about entering the cage with Gd on your
lips,

about you, about how you opened your
home,

welcomed all to your table, to your circle,
and still

called me Coach even that last
time.

I didn’t know as much as I should
have.

I can find ten million excuses like
that.

Never lied to you and said it gets
better.

But I never begged you to try anyway.
I’m

just a man and I can’t be better than
I can.

*
Just as the Kohen
Gadol

wore vestments
gold,

a reminder of our missing the
target,

before us and not
Gd,

a change of clothes,
no

gold to remind Him
as

if He needed to
be

reminded of the
calf

born of collection
and

mass psychosis,
loss

and fear and wonder for
Moshe –

just as the Kohen
Gadol

gently admonished
us

with the golden imagery and
gloss –

the mariner’s curse my blessing,
so

to you I beg, wedding guest, next of kin,
hear

my plea: wear the gold for
me.