These poems and stories have been highlighted on the POETIC BLOOMINGS blog.
Labored and shallow,
a respirator kept the last vestige
of breath on a regimented pace.
Inhalation and exhalation mechanized;
keeping the plane of life still in view
for eyes closed and mortified.
All sense of pulse was just
a faint memory, and suddenly
the sound of a father’s voice was hard to recall.
The strength of it nestled in a heart
so deeply that it defied fibrillations.
The ashen hue of his drawn cheekbones
made the vision of him indistinguishable.
Erratic and broken now, each gasp begged
to be his last. A faint squeeze
of a clutching hand flashed the image
of your “hero” walking you across the street
for the first time. Now as he crossed,
it was your grip that led the way.
There came a gurgle; a guttural gag.
And suddenly the room fell silent.
(c) Copyright 2010 – Walter j Wojtanik
Bend through a curl and pull it on back,
Twisted and conjured this twine to a knot,
A hitch for to carry,
A cap for a nest,
A sigh from the spirits that we neglect,
Make wishes on bracelets, on pearly beads,
To knotted string, wearing our trinkets
And soft jangling bling.
(c) Copyright 2014 – Marilyn Braendeholm
“A Man in His Life” by Yehuda Amichai
– Read by Walter J Wojtanik
to have time for everything.
He doesn’t have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes
Was wrong about that.
to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
to make love in war and war in love.
And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
takes years and years to do.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.
is very professional.
Only his body remains forever
an amateur. It tries and it misses,
gets muddled, doesn’t learn a thing,
drunk and blind in its pleasures
and its pains.
Shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
the leaves growing dry on the ground,
the bare branches pointing to the place
where there’s time for everything.###
written and read by Walter J. Wojtanik
Nathan Shell was a good man, to hear his Mama tell it. “My son, the screenwriter” she would proclaim. But, all the same she loved her Nate. Unfortunately, Mama wasn’t around to make proclamations any more.
In the living room of his lifeless abode, Nathan Sheldon Jr. sat, staring at photographs on the wall… the grandfather clock… the sunbeam that danced across his morbid hardwood floor. He exhaled deeply, trying to expend every last breath of grief from his worn, tired chest. Nathan’s gaze focused on one last portrait. “MY SON, THE PUTZ!” he shouted loudly for no one to hear. “That woman loved you! You bastard! Not even for her funeral?” he hissed.
He missed his son as much as he missed his Reva. She had been buried only a few days; Nathan only made it home once a year since moving to Los Angeles. It may as well have been an eternity.
“I need to be close to the business, Papa.” Nathan begged off during their last conversation.
“She’s not a well woman! She needs you around.” Sheldon pleaded. “I need you” he admitted inwardly.
His son perplexed him. The senior had gotten over the fact that he changed his name to “Shell”. No one but Nate really minded that his name sounded “ethnic”. But he never had time anymore. No time to visit; too busy to call. Never time to write something for which he wouldn’t be paid.
“Who has time?” the elder resigned.
“REVA!” he called out, “This house is so empty without you.”
“Your memorial service, it was nice, no? So many friends. Important to so many people. They loved you. They respected you. Important to so many! But not to THAT SCHLEMIEL! YOUR SON, THE SCREENWRITER!”
Nathan’s anger boiled. He leaned over his armchair and spit, soiling the magnificent Persian rug Reva took so much pride in. No sooner did his sputum hit the floor covering that Nathan recoiled in regret.
He fell out of his recliner and to his knees, handkerchief in hand, blotting at the stain. Tears streamed from his sad eyes as his pleas for forgiveness fell upon the deafness of his vacant home.
“It’s only a rug” he heard in his head. “Only a rug.” Reva’s words came back to him hauntingly. Like the time he had spilled his coffee and soiled the arm of his chair.
“It’s only a chair, Nathan. Only a chair.” she always repeated. Words so important they had to be said twice.
The tears came freely now. Loud shivering sobs overwhelmed Nathan. He hadn’t cried like this since he was a schoolboy. Not when his Poppa died. Not when his younger brother Sol was consumed by the cancer. And this, the first tears that finally came for Reva. Loud shivering sobs.
He hadn’t noticed that the spot on the rug had vanished. He paid no attention to the fact that the sunbeam had transformed into the street lamp’s luminance. Nathan did not hear the resound of his door chime. There was knocking now.
“Papa?” the door voice called. “Papa, it’s me. Let me in?”
“Who?” the elder Nathan replied. “What do you want?”
“Papa, it’s Nate. Please Papa. I need to talk.”
“TALK! MR. FANCY BIGSHOT HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITER WANTS TO TALK! WRITE ME A SCREENPLAY BIGSHOT! TELL ME WHAT A BASTARD I AM. TELL ME HOW BUSY YOU ARE TO STAY AWAY WHEN MOMMA NEEDED YOU MOST! TALK! Talk, until you’re blue in the face, you’ll talk…” Nathan’s rant continued.
“Papa?” Nate said softly now.
“What do you want? WHAT DO YOU WANT?”
The sound from behind the bolted door came almost as a whisper. Humble. Serene. A hint of shame lacing his expression.
“Forgiveness, Papa.” Nate apologized. “I’m sorry Papa, please forgive me.”
Nathan swiped a meaty hand across his brow, furrowed and spotted with flecks of brown. Again, with the voices, his head spun. Memories flooded. Reva filled his thoughts.
“Nathan, your brother Sol is here.”
“What does he want? I have nothing to say to that SCHIESTER!”
“Nathan. Your brother. Your own blood. He has something to tell you. Talk to him.”
“I have no time for him. I have no time for… talking!”
“Nathan?” she pleaded with her stubborn mule.
“WHAT DOES HE WANT?”
“Forgiveness, Nathan. Sol asks your forgiveness.”
“I have no time for for…” Nathan began, only to be silenced by her bony finger pressed against his thick lips.
“My sweet man. There is always time for forgiveness.” She smiled, now caressing his cheek.
“Always time for forgiveness” Nathan muttered, as he touched his face where her gentle hand once landed. He reached for the deadbolt.
His hand gave the doorknob a slow turn, opening to reveal his son. Nate stood contrite; literally with hat in hand, eyes lowered to the floor.
“I am sorry, Papa!” he demurred. “I am sorry.” he repeated. Words so important they had to be said twice.
“So, now you can make time for me in the time I have left?” Nathan prodded through squinted eyes.
“I have time for you Papa. I’ve put you off for too long. I have all the time you need. I’m home now, Papa!”
They came together in a thunderous embrace. Together again, for Reva’s sake. And it was about time.