Quiet Nights on St. Tristan’s – The Quiet House


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The Quiet House

 

i

 

you remember it like it was yesterday
the old house on the quiet street

magnolia trees blooming in the yard
and a wild thicket growing in the back

you lived in the basement
a bunch of guys just out of high school

a damp musty cellar with stone walls
painted brick-red and whitewashed

a window in the kitchen; yes, you had a kitchen
with a large mahogany table—you called it the “round table”

many conversation took place around that table and
the bottle of Sauza passed around like holy communion

—as the nights slowly melted into dawn

                that old house on St Tristans’s
                —it sure holds a lot of memories

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Quiet Nights on St. Tristan’s – Selfie – circa 1972



 

Selfie—circa 1972

 

ii

 

Nick
he attended Wagner
his girlfriend Megan (she was cute)
used to visit and you’d play cards
all night

Sharkie
was a good friend too
sold you the hat you wore
those days

a French beret
he bought
in Paris

pulled down
over your forehead
like a cabby hat
you looked
road-worthy

a hip beatnik
a few days’
growth
and your
gold-rimmed
glasses

you took a selfie
with Nick’s 35mm
black and white

Nick set the aperture, f-stop
you held the camera
at arm’s length

click
it was the best photo
you’d ever taken

one day
you’re going to ask
for a copy

Quiet Nights on St. Tristan’s – The Hoodlum


 

The Hoodlum

 

iii

 

he was the type
you’d see in movies
black hair greased back
white tee-shirt
a pack of cigarettes
rolled up in his sleeve

“the hoodlum” you called him
he introduced you to the loading dock
behind the mall

diamond-shaped nubs on the steel ramp
kept workers’ boots from slipping
while loading/unloading
trucks

you’d sit and drink like hobos
back when it was cool
to be
a bum

you talked about
— rambling cross-country
visiting hobo jungles
spinning yarns
hopping boxcars
dodging the “bulls”

“don’t let
the bulls catch you” old movies
the Great Depression “they’ll break your skull
leave you for dead” quite romantic
you thought

you talked about
—hitting the road


Quiet Nights on St. Tristan’s – Cold Creek Park



 

Cold Creek Park

 

iv

 

she moved to New York
from somewhere in England
Scotland
you think

you’d met her in school
when she was just a kid
her friends
said she had a crush on you

she used to hang out
in South Beach
with the gang

in the winter
you’d all
huddle together
outside and shiver
in the cold

but you’d stay
all night
drinking
and talk


Cold Creek Park
is about five or six
blocks upstreet
from St. Tristan’s

it’s an old reservoir
you all used to skinny dip
in summer
at night

yeah
a reservoir
but
then
you rarely drank water
so it didn’t matter

you went up
to spend the afternoon
it was a nice day
the ground busting with Spring
mud clinging to your boots

you’d bought a pint
of Richard’s Wild Irish
in its flat bottle
it looked
just like whiskey

or maybe
it was
that Swiss-Up
that messed
your mind up
so numb

you drank
to take the chill off
in the winter
fighting the cold winds
of youthful
folly

you drank at night
because it was cold
you drank during the day
because you were bored

beer in the summer
because it was hot
you always
drank

anyway—
as you walked
the gravelled path
around the lake
you saw her

you called
her name

Quiet Nights on St. Tristan’s - A Bit of Brute


 

A Bit of Brute

v

she
a bit older now
auburn hair
eyes the color
of the sea

 

face
freckled
a dusky rust
of sunsets
a bit of brute
and a lovely smile

 

recognized you
right away
“Hi” a bright smile
but didn’t call you by your name
maybe she’d forgotten it

 

you refreshed
her memory
“South High?
American History?”

 

“that’s right!” she paused
a moment

 

you remembered
she had a crush on you
you brushed her off
you made her upset

 

“waddaya meen ah’m too yoong?
How auld doo ah afta be than?”

in her Scottish brogue

 

you talked about
the old gang
hanging out
—the cold nights
behind the mall

 

 

Quiet Nights on St. Tristan’s – Row Boat



 

Row Boat

 

vi

 

after a while
your chit-chat
dried

they
rented boats
on the lake

“shoor” she agreed
as loong as I
doon’t fall in

you ventured
to the far edge

the nip
in the air
biting

you
shivered
“better head
back”

—suddenly
in her brogue
she sang

an old folk
song about bells and
coal mines

an eerie thought
crossed your mind

of all the folk songs
and all the folk singers
in all the world

were they ever  out
on a whimsical lake
like this

rowing
—like
there
was
no
tomorrow?

Quiet Nights on St. Tristan’s – How Good Does It Feel To Be Free?


 

How Good Does It Feel To Be Free?

 

vii

 

the magnolias
were blooming
the house had a Victorian air

she with her Scottish accent
lent a flavor of realism
to the scene

your reverie
broken by a sound from the kitchen
"you guys hungry?"

home fries with butter and rosemary
flipping the skillet with the confidence
of a chef at the Tavern on the Green

you got into a conversation
about the song she'd been singing
on the lake

you picked through a pile of albums
cranked up the record player
Loud


"My friends from the prison
they ask onto me
how good
how good
does it feel to be free?

And I answer them
most mysteriously
—a bird is free
from the chains of the sky way"


Bob Dylan Ballad in Plain D

(To be left unfinished…)

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