Barry Dickson and Suzanne Eisinger
Barry Dickson is a retired Creative Director on Madison Avenue, where he worked thirty-five years. His poetry has appeared in a variety of journals, print and online, including North American Review, PEARL Literary Magazine, New England Journal, HazMat Literary Review and his favorite, AsininePoetry.Com. He’s been a finalist for the Hearst Poetry Prize and received a Pushcart Prize “Special Mention.” His work covers a wide range of subjects from relationships to politics to cheeseburgers.
Yet Another If-I-Had-Life-to-Do-All-Over-Again Poem
First, I would shut up more.
I discovered one cannot talk and learn at the same time.
Oddly, I could talk and listen. But it would always be me
I’m listening to. And never once, in all my life,
did I ever hear myself say something I didn’t already know.
This time I will not leave the hospital early the day my mother dies
just because I’m feeling fidgety. I will be there when she goes,
to say good-bye to someone who thought
all my ideas brilliant, all my jokes hilarious
and “Warren Beatty and Brad Pitt could only wish they had such a face.”
Most of us don’t get more than one of those in a lifetime.
Speaking of which, this time I will not let Lucinda Gluck go
because I thought her ultimatum was “too soon.”
Too soon for what, Barry? Too soon to be loved?
Too soon to have a best friend for life?
Too soon to go to bed every night with the smartest,
most beautiful woman in northeastern Pennsylvania?
Clearly it wasn’t too soon to be an asshole.
And if she ever reads this, I will be mortified.
That’s another thing I will do this time around: be mortified more.
This business of not doing because of what might happen
creates a life lived in place. Before life can go somewhere good,
it first must simply go. Like Yogi said,
“We’re lost, but we’re makin’ good time.”
“Yet Another If-I-Had-Life-to-Do-All-Over-Again Poem,” © Barry Dickson (2017), from Ebb & Flow.
Suzanne Eisinger was raised in Illinois and went on to obtain her bachelors and graduate degrees from Arizona State University and Ithaca College in New York, respectively. Besides Hilton Head, her adventures have taken her to California, Wisconsin and Virginia. Formerly a Speech Pathologist, she now spends her time keeping track of two teenage boys and a tween daughter, freelance writing and community service. Her articles regularly appear in The Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Virginia and on www.Kveller.com.
Legacy (an excerpt)
“Tell me the one about Uncle John and the hayloft,” I remember asking. The wide bristles of the wire brush slipped easily—too easily—through my grandmother’s thinning hair, so I switched to the comb that lay on the kitchen table beside us.
“You know that story better than I do,” Grandma laughed shortly. She leaned back against the kitchen chair, a bath towel draped around her shoulders and closed her eyes contentedly as I continued to comb her hair. She had absolute trust in me, though she had no reason to. It was the first time I had ever given anyone a haircut and, other than the few glimpses I had bothered to give the beautician when she cut my own hair, I hadn’t a clue how to perform the procedure myself.
She didn’t care, though. “Just take off enough so it doesn’t show under my wig,” Grandma had instructed. The wig in question lay in a small heap on the other side of the table, its usual resting place unless company came to the door. Then, she would quickly sweep it up and tuck it over her own locks, grown progressively sparser since the radiation therapy months earlier.
I stood nervously behind her, perched up on tip toes so I could get a better view of the crown of her head. The first cut was the hardest. I pulled up a length of hair with the comb and, after a lingering moment of hesitation, snipped off what seemed like an inch of pale gray hair. I took a deep breath, feeling almost winded by the accomplishment, although Grandma’s eyes remained closed. Ok, I decided. I can do this. So, I pulled up a second swath and then another, lower lip bitten in concentration, until I’d finished the job.
“All done,” I announced and only then did I realize that she had remained quiet for the entire haircut.
“Hey, you didn’t keep your end of the bargain,” I scolded her.
Grandma smiled drowsily. “How do I look?”
“Beautiful,” I answered. “But you owe me a story.”
“Ok,” she agreed. “Keep combing, though”
Grandma settled into her chair, her eyes open but now focused on a time over sixty years ago. “It was autumn and my brothers and sisters and I were helping out with the harvest. This was way before those big combines that all the farmers have nowadays. Back then, you harvested by hand. So, while our Dad drove the horse and wagon, we walked alongside and picked the corn and threw it into the wagon as fast as we could.
“Eventually, it started to get dark and Dad drove the horse at a faster pace. We were already pretty tired and this made it harder to keep up. Well, I guess my brother John had had enough. I looked up just in time to see an ear of corn sail past me and hit Dad in the back of the head. I suppose it could have just been a bad toss, but I doubt it. John had the best aim of all my brothers.”
“Legacy” © Suzanne Eisinger (2017) from Ebb & Flow.