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Sid Gold, five poems


I awoke just past dawn,

pillow-headed, the lamp still

burning from last night’s read,

my neck a rusty hinge.

Then I remembered my dream

of loss, peopled by a cast

of former co-workers I barely knew.

Today, I promised,

I will love no one & no one,

nothing, shall love me in return.


If, exhausted by the blunt ironies

of the highway, you stop late

some afternoon at an old cemetery

laid out in a churchyard alongside

an unmarked two-lane, you may be

the only visitor walking the rows.

The caretaker, hearing the metallic thud

of the car door slamming shut,

the hurt-kitten whine of the front gate,

might stroll over for a look-see.

He’s an old-timer, lanky, white-haired,

his face a bit flushed from two hours

of raking & sweeping. He will fiddle

with his pipe & give you the once-over

but he won’t interfere. He’s seen

his share of lone travelers drive in

to wander among the headstones,

parsing the passage of years

from the dates on the family plots.

He’s learned the dead, speaking

their own enigmatic tongue,

have much to say to the living

& although he grasps more & more

of their buried lingo each passing day,

that is a conversation he will not interrupt.


A gust of wind rises

at your back & takes your cap

with it down the street

& you have no choice but to chase

after it, your favorite cap,

a newsboy's, tweedy & broken in.

It is mid-day on a street lined

with small homes, the neighborhood

hushed in silence but for the March wind

keening through the trees

& somehow you're strangely happy

running after your cap, happy

it stays just a few yards ahead

yet easily within your reach.

In a few moments, you think,

my cap will be safely on my head

where it belongs, none the worse

for the wear & more fitting

than any dead monarch's crown.


He sits in a rocker on the porch

waiting for patients, stoic & abiding

as the cosmos, the shade

darkening his face like a veil.

His method is the laying on of hands.

It hurts here, he tells the first.

And here. Then a long silence.

Open up your heart to the wind,

the patient is told. Let it blow through you

until your bones become crystal.

That’s it?, questions the man.

I ain’t paying for that.

You already have, answers the healer.

By now, a crowd has formed.

The entire town—a hamlet where strangers

are unknown—is wrapped in a cocoon of pain.

Conversation is muted, although the words

miracle worker and saint can be heard.

It’s been a tinderbox of a summer, yet today

storm clouds scent the morning breeze.

No one has forgotten how to pray.


Lew the Barber claims

he is semi-retired; pondering

his options but all done

with cutting heads. Still,

he rummages through

dumpsters for aluminum

& whatnot, rolls his own

from a wrapper of rough-cut.

Returning home

from your daily round,

you may spy Lew crumpled

face down in the stairwell

like an old handbill,

the bright shards of a half pint

scattered like chicken feed

at his feet.

Come sunset

he will take his leisure

in a beach chair just off

the entranceway & smoothing

his graying hair with the edge

of a creased palm, hold forth

on past loves so pretty

they could tear the skin right

from your eyes while insisting

he is a genteel drunk,

a sit-down drunk, not some

stumbling-down wino who makes

the alleyway his home.

Stop to chat

& Lew, intent on recalling

your name, may proffer a swig

or two from the six-pack

of long-necks at his side,

growing silent as you raise

the bottle to your lips.


Sid Gold is the author of three collections of poems and a two-time recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for Poetry. His work has appeared recently in Flock, Free State Review, Gargoyle and Innisfree Poetry Journal. His fourth book, "Crooked Speech", is forthcoming on Pond Road Press. A native New Yorker, he lives in Hyattsville MD.

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