Happy Birthday to my beautiful mother, 81 years young today
the warm door sweeps across the holiday welcome mat
light spills out the snow-stained windows onto the walkway
it’s cold in the dark
gazing back over her small shoulder
familiar laughter escapes the dried glass seals
happy voices are chimes in the wind
tender images tuck into the deep pockets of her travel coat
the warm door gently closes behind
moonlit bells accompany her slippered feet
she walks above the snow
her thin, petite hands glide into her bulging pockets
caressing the beautiful memories
she slips away into the night
as the walkway disappears
this post was previously published last year for my Aunt Nina (my Godmother and namesake-Ann)
it has been edited quite a bit this evening, I hope for the better this second time around
she would have turned 83 this Saturday and dancing sweetly on her cake
I hope all the folks along the Atlantic coast, especially FL are spared catastrophic damage as Matthew strengthens
time, is his friend
an entire life
to flourish and decide and dream
he was born
with an old soul
warm and caring
those eyes of his
speak in softness
two more years
then he will fly
all that resides in him
all that is good
all that is still mystery
he’s thinking pediatrician
a tender spot for babies
cares about children
while looking in the mirror
trying to see the man
he will one day become
Max portrait painted about twelve years ago
15-years-old in detail photo above (at his sister’s 2016 high school graduation)
A leisurely stroll on a cool morning. Anastasia Lane is tree-lined with bodacious curves like his wife’s. He is not quite sure where the road will take him. This is a new neighborhood. His heavy patrician brows, salt and peppered over time speak to old-school character. Harder working, forthright decades. Maybe. Broad shoulders once home to a leather holster a bit concave now. With a surgically fixed hip, he perseveres upright and true. A firmness beneath those size fourteens beats the pavement, nothing aged in that step. He’s thinking about life. He’s a thinker. His brain will never stop cycling. Unlike the right arm that sometimes gives him bother.
He is passing a grand home on Anastasia Lane, a compound with ornate gates around its perimeter. Behind the black iron rods–in stark contrast–a large, white German Shepherd paces. The walking man’s flecked grey eyes shift. Having owned several of the black and tan variety, he admires the GSD a moment then continues on. His mind wanders back in time–a bleaker part of NYC. Two murderers hiding out on the ninth floor. Blocking the hall’s entrance, a hulking Shepherd with raised fur and glistening canines. In the stairwell, two agents plan a regroup, when the grey-eyed agent comes up from behind. He moves to the front and simply growls more loudly than the dog. The next moments complete another story–one that becomes legendary at retiree gatherings.
Continuing along Anastasia, the grey-eyed man is passing the expansive lawn’s last wrought iron post when from behind, silent teeth sink into his upper thigh. He reacts immediately whacking the white GSD’s head with his good arm and his large hand. His trousers are torn and blood is trickling down the back of his leg. Charging across the monstrous lawn, the GSD’s owner bellows, “RELEASE, RELEASE!” The dog owner’s voice quickly turns contrite. Sweat trickles down his ample exposed chest onto his jogging suit. His combed back hair is shoe-polish black and his endlessly dark, Sicilian eyes remind the old agent of someone.
The bite only broke surface skin. Within minutes the two are sipping Sambuca together in a flamboyant Mediterranean room. Above the gilded mantel, looming larger than life hangs an oil portrait. The old agent stares through the intense frozen eyes. He’d remember that gaze anywhere. Decades ago, Enzo Rozzoni was painted into a nice jail cell with canvas bedding. The grey-eyed man helped put him there.
The old agent and the Sicilian empty their shot glasses. Then the grey-eyed man points to himself and states with a grin, “Franco Rozzoni, I knew your father. FBI–”
Smiling equally as wide, Franco Rozzoni parlays, “No wonder my dog bit you in the ass.”
The old world neighbors share a laugh over another round of Sambuca.
I’d like to extend a very Happy Birthday to my father, Vito, newly minted 85 today and by far, still the most intimidating man I’ve ever met.
In the photo above he was just entering the FBI.
they say you can never go back
she did, at 79
the magic of optimism
in her breast
returning to Coney Island
for the ride of her life
a young man locked her in
brave nana, kneecaps knocking
beneath that padded bar
she didn’t look back
at the dropping parallel lines
stomach lifting steel
smiling, laughing, screaming
on this Halloween
she leaps another year to the right
considering each 365, a dazzling gift
nothing about her has changed much
her remarkable passion
her boundless spirit
why, in 80 years
the only thing that has changed
is the ticket price
her first ride cost twenty-five cents
last month, the Cyclone was twelve dollars
she adored shoulder pads
tucked beneath her brassiere straps
the eighties rage
her build was delicate
not like her niece
who resembled a linebacker
if she didn’t slice the shoulder pads out of her fashion finds
Nina appreciated how the foam pieces squared-off her petite form
on her body, clothing draped as it was meant to
she had style and a talent for accessorizing
my aunt lived with grace, style and beauty
she remained dignified and lovely
even near the end
gorgeous, dark and wide
unlike stacked boxes of jewels
and endless drawers of shoulder pads
I miss their soft, elegant glow
When I was little, Nina had a little fox stole that sat on the top a cushy chair in her bedroom.
Happy Birthday, Nina. Today, she would have turned 83.
We cannot protect our children anymore than we can make ourselves less vulnerable to life. The best we can do is arm them with self-confidence so when their young, conflicted minds step into those ‘precarious’ fields the mantra, “I’m better than this…,” whispers like a gentle school bell, muffled beneath piles of internal clothing.
The big son is still young. He turns fifteen this week. Like many others of his ilk, he enjoys sports. ‘We’ made it through another wrestling season uninjured and now it’s on to football. The big son is a gentle soul by nature–a pacifist at heart. I know it’s impossible to ask for such a divine favor as to keep one’s child completely safe while playing competitive sports, so I’ll just ask that he has fun and only requires a Band-Aid from time to time. And of course, I also ask that every child participating in sports this year remains safe. I know it is a tall order and a selfish prayer.
Last year the big son said to me, “I’ll feel bad if I hurt anyone, mom.”
I responded quite motherly, “Then tackle your opponents with love, son.”
Happy Birthday, Max!
back when men were men
silent pain and strong hands
I remember other agents gathering around him at parties
women telling him what a handsome figure he cut
he smiled in his broad shouldered frame of 6’2
eyes piercing as was that deep voice
terrifying as a child
listening to his life stories
mesmerizing in detail, poetic in delivery, exciting in fact
an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation
as a kid staring up at him
I believed any criminal in my father’s path
immediately surrendered themselves
rather than deal with this larger than life, slice of human
friends called him Bill, the rest–Vito
judicious and fair before earning the law degree
an amazing and prolific career
mafia cases and colorful gangsters
the temper, he still has it
no patience for silliness, but all the time in the world for family
not a day goes by
when I don’t think of him
of the exceptional driving force
his charismatic personality has infused
and continues to…
Happy 84th Birthday, Dad
top photo – Brooklyn Tech, 2nd – Coast Guard, 3rd – firearms practice, 4th – my mother-in-law on left, dad center, mom on right
Shy Party Dog created last year for his 83rd B’day 🙂
Every year I call my youngest brother who was born on Lincoln’s birthday. I ask if he’s had his birthday cake. Each year on February 12, I think about Mr. Lincoln too. I often (more than I care to admit) pretend I’m part of the crowd in Sangamon County back in 1832 when a tall, awkward man delivered his first public speech. I wish Mr. Lincoln and I could have shared a slice of birthday cake.
“…But if the good people in their wisdom shall see fit to keep me in the background, I have been too familiar with disappointments to be very much chagrined.”
Your friend and fellow citizen – A. Lincoln.
March 9, 1832
Thank you. May you dream of tall men wearing tall hats speaking of grand possibilities.
I created the computer portrait above using Adobe Illustrator and a mouse. At the time, Prentice Hall hadn’t purchased stylus pens or tablets. And as I mentioned in my previous post, I was learning enough with Adobe to be dangerous. This was done many years ago.
I’m the proud owner of a little sister. Those of you that own little sisters know full well that as much as we age, our little sisters remain little in our hearts forever. They often keep us young. Mine keeps me laughing. She has a wry, wicked sense of humor. Whenever she tells a joke – which is often – her blue eyes sparkle and she wears the impish grin of her pig-tail days.
My little sister is an avid dog-lover. She keeps two dogs as friends. I used one of her pet portraits as inspiration for my artwork below. The eccentric pooch – Shamus – was adopted many years ago. Shamus has many issues and enjoys dressing in my sister’s lingerie. The other one, Jamie – adopted a year ago – is black as night and as crazy as a bat in daylight. Jamie is a ninety pound pooch who believes his work office is on the nearest person’s lap.