I recently read an article on the Internet about why older men have no friends. Okay, I didn’t read it. I just looked at the title and read the first sentence. It was one of those little clickbait ads on some website I visit. It was probably next to another clickbait ad that you can hit to find out what some formerly gorgeous celebrity looks like now. Whatever he or she looks like, it will make your jaw drop, I'm sure. The Internet is mostly about making people's jaws drop.
The article, which may well have been written by software, is probably on to something about older men and friendships. I turned 61 last week. I’m not going to whine and say I have no friends because I do. I have friends at work. I have friends I have lunch with now and then. Some who live across state lines and borders. But I don’t hang out with my friends. Next week, I'm going to an Explosions in the Sky concert and I'm taking my son-in-law. (I plan to embarrass him by screaming "Free Bird!!!" all through the concert.)
But, really, if I had more older male friends what would we do? Fish? Hunt? Listen to records? Talk about girls? Compare financial instruments and varieties of coronary artery stents? Watch football on TV? Talk politics?
We might agree on politics. We’d work each other’s outrage up into something that would put us at risk for a vascular incident. Or disagree and argue so bitterly that we would be at risk for some other kind of vascular incident.
Football. All I can think about is all those brains bouncing around in skulls, each hit another step toward early admission into assisted living facilities. Or worse.
And what about stents and financial products? Heart surgeons are now investors and financial advisors counsel about the longings of the heart.
We can’t talk about girls because the girls we might have talked about once are now grandmothers. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Listening to records? We still have our vinyl from college but we don’t have turntables. Anyway, records are now things auditors demand, which Judy in accounting shredded before we fired her.
Hunting is now only about the mass and speed of bits of lead. Lethal things, for us, aren’t so sexy. They have a whole new force.
But we can fish. No bass fishing in aluminum boats on manmade lakes. No lazy cane poles with plastic bobbers. We will fish from wooden boats, casting nets from one side into murky and acidic water. Drawing up something sad and meager. Then we will pause, close our eyes, and cast from the right side into a cooling sea. Clear and sparkling, with a healthy pH, host to a thriving coral reef. Naked to the waist, tan, hair and beards sunblonde and silver. Barefoot, full of faith and humor, hauling up nets straining with schools of living, leaping blue and pink.
Here is issue 109 of Right Hand Pointing, "Gallium, Chromium, and Palladium." The title comes from Kathy Douglas's poem, herein.
Thanks to the wonderful RHP team: F. John Sharp, F. J. Bergmann, Laura M. Kaminski, and all authors who contributed to this issue, which I particularly have enjoyed reading and re-reading. We think this issue is as good as any we've published in these 13 years RHP has been up. Enjoy!
Dale Wisely, Editor-in-Chief
Jeremy Casabella, Sudhanshu Chopra, Mark Danowsky, Jon Densford, Kathy Douglas, Lynette G. Esposito, Tom Fugalli, Howie Good, Andrew Graney, Yoni Hammer-Kossoy, John Haugh, Josh Huber, Bethany Reid, Monica Rico, Brad Rose, Claudia Serea, Sanjeev Sethi, Allison Thorpe
Contractor Bags as Blackout Curtains
Time to adjust
To the time change
Another new dosage
Incremental dog walks
Nightfall before a second meal
click on the hand to continue.
Copeland Creek Poem #6
I woke up walking
the opposite direction
a mile or so from my nearest
memory. Still without a place to go.
The drowsy flowers
hunch to search
a trace of their roots
beyond the bottle
and any of us
could be there sitting
in the body
of a man who sips
then sets his tumbler
in their shadow.
No more cigarettes
with everything closed.
We'd strip the discards
from overfilled ashtrays
and smoke the hotel Bible.
Snap Crackle Pop
Walking in the woods again now that hunting season
has ended, I come across a deer stand a hunter built
on high ground out of broken tree limbs. It resembles
a nest, one just big enough for a person with slaughter
in mind. Inside are a bucket the hunter had turned upside
down and probably used as a stool, and the shiny blue
wrapper from a Rice Krispie bar. Although I look all around
for signs of a kill, I don’t see any, no rotten deer hide
or forgotten bones, only Snap Krackle Pop, and the pale
winter sun sinking behind empty trees, and the trees
thrusting their shadows at me like dark thoughts of ruin.
How the Heart Hardens
You move around like a fish,
searching for possibilities.
You should invest in failing.
Invest in losing. You should
create a room to get lost in,
a room where you lose names.
Don’t ask why something meant
something to you. That’s actually
not such a nice way to grow up.
If you go to bed with French fries,
you will lie there, thinking about
what it means. You have to be
the beast. There is a child world
that needs to be destroyed.
A Small Truth
No good in doing much to them, no reason
to wear my pretty ring next to all this
dried blood and peeled knuckles, when there she is
beside the dumpster smoking. Something I used to do and somehow
beyond logic miss, watching her exhale with this winter
crawling over my cracked fingers that I stretch, once more
remembering what it feels like to be unaware.
There are words
Below every surface
Including the membranes
You act as though the supply
Is endless, but the truth is
There is only so much breath
To go around
This and other finite resources
Keep this space rock aloft—
The gallium, chromium and palladium in your cell phone
Are just some of the reasons Earth still spins
In the palms of our hands
The Plumb of Petal, Falling
From my balcony, I see it drift dusk,
a glide and hover conjuring—
envy of artist, dancer, mime—
its purple and white down
a plush swoon of bird envy,
random elegance in a darkening world.
This city view of concrete and pipe
has little room for rogue nature,
some hobo pansy hitching a windy ride.
a pigeon and I watch
the petal's twirling drama
as I wish us all this luck:
a captive audience,
such an elegant last dance.
Saturday Night Towel
Zachary placed the worn white towel into a rectangle at the end of his narrow bed as he had every Saturday night for the past five years since he was eight, abandoned and alone.
The parish matron was coming at 5 am sharp Sunday morning; she would see the towel and tap her palm on his thin shoulder to wake him.
The matron’s palm on his nightshirt, almost like a mother’s, made the week easier. At the group home, no one embraced or touched anyone. Rules. The price was church attendance.
He crawled between the covers and waited. He dreamt he was sitting at a table with a father, a mother and a brother. He was eating a hamburger with ketchup.
The matron woke him before he took a bite. Her smile was a pencil line, her eyes soft but dark. His dream was a memory of another place and so he rose and hugged himself against the morning chill. He tucked the towel under the mattress so he would know where it was for next time. Today was Sunday and there would be turkey for dinner. It was a good day to start again.
Lynette G. Esposito
In New Mexico, on the eve of equinox
when Fall quarters the celestial bulb,
we passed a pickup full of fruit.
One chosen melon was riven red
with its long halves - gleaming
bloody and black seeded -
propped up on the tailgate
above a red lettered sign:
Blessed by Jesus
Did He bless the fruit or the State?
Or both? Or the seeds or anything
ever split open and unfolded?
No price was stated; no cost implied,
as we passed by this offering.
My Father’s Hands
Even as I grip the steering wheel
at ten and two as he insists
is the only safe way to drive
it's my father's hands I see
from the corner of my eye
ringless and spotted
turned up and down like a question
his double-jointed thumbs
fidgeting impossible circles
before the light turns green.
Sleepwalkers block the bridge
to the city you dreamed of.
Someone next to you
whispers into a bullhorn:
What do we want?
When do we want it?
You never see
the approaching sirens.
The body pulled from the river
is always yours.
What I Liked About You
Lost in sleep’s dark river,
like a photograph of perfume.
And that’s what I liked about you:
like opium-soaked cloisonné.
If I were to be burned at the stake,
my mouth gaping to the falling rain,
you’d say, You must work harder at being lucky.
But it never rains on this desert.
On the horizon, against a knife-gray sky,
a fleet of white sails.
The ghosts departed before the funeral began.
You’d think they could have waved Goodbye.