Crescent Moon Journal - Fall 2003

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  A Message From The Editor   Table of Contents
  Dear Readers,

   Our thanks to Tracy Estes, for his engaging theme and editorship of a fine contest and edition. Tracy is the fourth volunteer editor, along with Paul Henry, Tamar Silverman, and Jeff Taylor, all of who have won a place of distinction on Desert Moon Review.
   I extend my congratulations to the prizewinners and placers in the contest. All the winning poems carry unusual power and evocation. We are also pleased to present the poetry of the Desert Moon Staff.
   It is our hope that you will find as much enjoyment in reading the poetry as we have in judging and presenting the results of the contest and this Fall 2003 edition of Crescent Moon Journal.

My best to all,
Jim Corner, Editor


The Desert Moon Cellars

   Tracy Estes
The Winners
   Margaret Griffiths
      Remembering the Grapes
   Dierdre Hendrie
      Now and Then
   Russell Bittner
      Your Search
   K.R. Copeland
      Should I Marry a Cannibal
The Judges
   Charles Cornner
      To Go Miles In
   Matthew Rouge
      My Clothes
Staff of the Desert Moon Review
   Jim Corner
       A Long Season of Disconnect
   Christopher T. George
      The Kingfisher
   Jeff Taylor
   Scott Smithson
      Three Simple Words
   Mustansir Dalvi
      Sunset at Bardem
   L.M. Wolf
      The Door Left Open
   Tracy Estes
The Desert Moon Cellars
Tracy Estes
     Almost simultaneously, two guests step outside, gathering their thoughts and some fresh air. The Fall Ball at the Desert Moon Castle is the party of the year and it’s in full swing inside. Classical strains drift out of the open French doors toward them, as they stand shoulder to shoulder on the balcony.
   Inadvertently, their eyes keep straying to the gibbous moon rising over the desert. Their conversation turns away from the beauty of their surroundings towards the wine and their mysterious host.
   “This wine is marvelous. I’ve heard he has an extensive collection of wine. But why do you think he supplied his best for this party? It must have cost him a fortune.”
   “He does have exquisite taste. This is the best wine I’ve ever had. I would give anything to see that cellar.”
   “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on your conversation,” a stranger says, standing slightly behind them. He is a silver-haired gentleman, dressed elegantly in a white tuxedo, with an impish quality escaping from blue eyes.
   “But, as I am your host, I want to thank you for the compliments you’ve just paid me. It is true that I collect the very best. I have for years. If I heard you correctly, you both would like to visit my cellar, no?”
Both guests quickly affirm that they would.
   “Then, won’t you follow me?” he asks, sweeping his arm toward the French doors. He starts away and adds over his shoulder, “My guests, yet again,” a small grin, flashing perfect teeth.
   He leads them along the side of the huge room, avoiding the throngs of partygoers. He continues down ornate hallways until they stand in front of a massive oak door, strapped and braced in iron.
   The door has three symbols carved deeply into its surface. A Joshua tree and a saguaro are carved on the right and left sides of the oaken door. In the center, engraved above these carvings, is a sphere.
carved wooden door   The host takes a skeleton key from a small pocket in his cummerbund. Turning it in the well-oiled lock, he shoulders open the door.
   “This is the Desert Moon cellar. I store many valuable items here.”
    The guests follow their host down a flight of stairs carved from rock. At the landing, they sense a vastness that is confirmed when the wine cellar’s owner flips a switch.
   Intermittently spaced light bulbs, hanging down from wires, attempt to beat back the darkness from what is essentially a cave with forests of wine racks. The racks bristle with bottles of differing shapes and hues.    The light gives iridescence to the bottles; they are jewels glistening from a treasure chest.
   Dazzled, the guests follow the impeccably dressed man to the center of the room. A round table and four chairs are waiting for them. They appear to be carved from the same tree as the door at the head of the stairs.
   “Let us sample some of my collection so that you might compare it to the wine that impressed you upstairs,” he gestures toward the chairs. “I’ll go and retrieve some of my best vintages. You will find glasses in the wooden boxes under your chairs.”
   He steps into the shadows while the guests settle into their chairs. When he finally appears out of the gloom and into the concentration of light around the table, he is carrying several bottles.
   “These have been judged as the best of my collection by connoisseurs, whose wisdom I trust. Once sipped, the taste will be yours to enjoy forever,” he proclaims, setting the bottles on the table.
   With eager grins, the guests wait as he goes about the solemn ritual of opening and decanting samples of each bottle.
  “Let us sample some of my collection so that you might compare it to the wine that impressed you upstairs,” he gestures toward the chairs. “I’ll go and retrieve some of my best vintages. You will find glasses in the wooden boxes under your chairs.”
   He steps into the shadows while the guests settle into their chairs. When he finally appears out of the gloom and into the concentration of light around the table, he is carrying several bottles.
   “These have been judged as the best of my collection by connoisseurs, whose wisdom I trust. Once sipped, the taste will be yours to enjoy forever,” he proclaims, setting the bottles on the table.
   With eager grins, the guests wait as he goes about the solemn ritual of opening and decanting samples of each bottle.
   Now, wouldn’t you allow that these vintages far outshine any that you have ever sampled?”
   “Well, yes” the guests agree.
   “I have to return to the guests upstairs. But don’t despair. If you would like, you may remain and sample any of the bottles contained within this room,” flourishing his hands around the cavernous cellar.
   “That is very generous of you, sir.”
   “Are you sure.”
   “It would be my pleasure, I assure you. Great works need to be shared to achieve true satisfaction from them.”
   The host turns away from them , and begins to ascend the stone steps. At the upper landing, he raises his voice slightly, so his guests won’t strain to hear him.
   “Please try to watch your footing. And remember, I collect many different things.”
   “Thank you again, sir. We won’t be long,” floats up the stairs toward him.
   He smiles as he walks through the opening, pulling the massive oak door shut. His smile grows as he fits key to the door and locks it behind him.

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The Winners

      First Place
      Margaret Griffith

      bottle and glass of wine
Remembering the Grapes

He sucks his finger thoughtfully,
running his tongue over fresh ridges
where briars snagged his flesh.
A strong, handsome lad, arms and shoulders
shaped by working the Umbrian soil,
now he thinks of the vineyards, and curses
the day he took up the sword and the standard.
Not that it's any disgrace to uphold
the Pax Romana, but sometimes he misses
the smell of rich damp soil in this parched land,
feels weary of an alien place full of dark religions
fermenting like grain under the sun, Zealots
and priests all gabbling beardily,
eyes bulging like barrel-bungs.
Tomorrow he will offer a pair of pure white doves
to Jupiter and ask to be posted back
to his green hills. Who can feel at home
in a land where the sky grows dark in the eye
of a bright afternoon? He never wanted
the bloody execution detail; daily splinters
were bad enough, but the thorns crowned his discontent.
Leave them to it, he thinks, and dreams
a burst of red grapes in his mouth,
first draught of the new vintage.
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Margaret Griffiths (1st Place)
Margaret was born in London, but now lives in Dorset (Thomas Hardy's Wessex). Her father was Welsh, and she values her Celtic roots. Her favorite poets include Donne, Marvell, Yeats and Larkin, and she enjoys participating in online poetry groups. At present Margaret edits a poetry e-zine called WORM, which includes a mix of formal and free verse.
  Now and Then

I bend to pick up a shiny chestnut.
Its smooth lustrous covering
brings me back to a time
when the green velvet cloth
draped over the dining room table
formed a dark mysterious cave.
I would stare transfixed at my face
distorted in my father’s silver golfing cups.

On misty morning windows, I would write
“Hello” with my forefinger.
In the bath on Saturday night, I would die
in boiling oil to defend my religion.
With wooden bricks bought to build castles,
I would rough out the ground floor of a school.
Then I would marshal all of my chestnut pupils
and start explaining multiplication.

I tuck the chestnut in the pocket of my anorak,
a talisman to see me through the day.

Second Place
Deirdre Hendrie

bottles and glass of wine
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Deirdre Hendrie (2nd Place)
Deirdre is editor at Desert Moon Review for members' publications, which go on “The Wall” and for poems “Noted on Desert Moon.” She teaches developmental education at Selkirk College in British Columbia, Canada. Deirdre’s hobbies are people-watching, walking, reading, travelling, and Desert Moon Review. She has two adult children, a husband, Gordon, and a dog Finn.
        Third Place
      Russell Bittner

wine bottles
Your Search

The tides rise up and clamor for your coastline.
   Your fortune’s lost its clear liquidity.
The lovers you have crippled all have specters,
   and ghosts possess uncanny memory.

You held too long to an image ill-begotten,
   of hard-earned and repentant piety.
But now one loud-mouthed sun, one moon too precious,
   announce, through smirks, your pilfered pedigree.

Your field is still a place of friendly fire.
   It’s time to stir the weeds for enemy
for who’s read the rules of the Convention,
   and knows to cut your heart out mercifully.

For all your noise and claims to high ambition,
   it’s not your name we see on that marquee;
so take your time now strutting down the boardwalk,
   the salt air’s good for wounded vanity.

What’s left then is to find a real companion,
   someone who knows from Skid Row-by-the-Sea,
who’ll lend to you his rounded bones as cushion,
   and share with you the last of his good tea.

To find just one who knows life’s simple pleasures:
   a wider bed; a mate of fair esprit;
a jug of wine that sometimes wants refilling;
   and, yes at the end of day, fidelity.

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Russell Bittner (Third Place)
Russell, a poet from New York, has a personal motto: A sheaf of paper, a good pen, and a loving Muse. Nothing more. I work. I sleep. I dream. I write. And live life at the cutting-edge essential. A less cluttered intake means (I hope) a less trashy output. Publications to date include “Turning Point in the Affairs of a Nation” (in The American Dissident), “Not Enough” (in The Barbaric Yawp) and “Uneasy Traders” (in The Lyric).
  Should I Marry a Cannibal

Things would be alright for a while
provided I kept him well-fed.
Bodies dredged in seasoned breadcrumbs,
deviled shells of persons past,
lifted from the city morgue or local cemetery

then chopped and carried home in zip-lock bags.
All the filets and John Doe casseroles, but what,
I ask you, what of all those bones?
And should I tire of the shenanigans, the schlep
and preparation of such flesh,

would he be forced to then divorce himself
from vows? Sow-tie me up and slit my gut
to stuff with peanuts, spit
and roast me like a golden locust, lovely
thought, imagining that crunch.

Honorable Mention

bottle and glass of wine
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K.R. Copeland (Honorable Mention)
K.R. is a prolific poet residing in Chicago, Illinois, who admits to having an inordinate fondness for the well-written word. Her poetry has appeared in numerous venues including, The Absinthe Review, Mipo, Snakeskin, Miller's Pond, Niederngasse, Paper Tiger, Snow Monkey, The American Muse, and Unlikely Stories. K.R. is also one of two judges for the Beginning’s Magazine poetry competitions 2004.
The Judges
  To Go Miles In

There is fortunate air tonight. Not a hint
of choking gas; canaries sing
that truth. Earth rumbles the vein,
creaks the locust poles that stand

between us and the world.
We cough black dust and prophecy.
Helmet lamps round our sight
and narrow our view. At dark day's end,

the squeaking elevator lifts us to the night,
to dump our pickax and shovel in a box,
and walk to the company town to close
our eyes to still more black.

Charles Cornner

    Charles Cornner is Associate Editor of Desert Moon Review. He performs the roles of Editor of Moon Notes, our monthly newsletter, and of Registrar. His poems have been published in canwehaveourballback, Pierian Springs, Miller's Pond, and WORM. Charles is a full-time church musician in Scottsdale, Arizona, and lives in nearby Cave Creek, with his wife Hope. The poem we publish here, “To Go Miles In,” won second place in the Inter-Board Poetry Competition for November 2003.
  My Clothes

You say, "Take off your clothes,"
but I don't know what you mean by that.
They could be clothes I merely found
or a gift from a vagabond.
What makes them really mine?

I might have made them myself
had I had the time.
I might have bought them myself
had I had the funds.
So when your hand moves to unbutton me,
there's not a stitch of mine to touch.

Now you make a shirt-over-the-head motion.
You signal "togetherness" and "love,"
but I'm worried about the harmony.
You might telephone later and say,
"So long, my beautiful man";
you might abruptly move to the street and whisper,
"Goodbye, brave being, you'll fare well without me."

So when you say, "Take off your clothes,"
I'm not sure what you mean.
With so much of everything else in the world,
what makes them really mine?

Matthew Rouge  
Matthew Rouge is a writer living in Japan. His favorite poets are Lord Byron, Oliver W. Holmes, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and James Carroll.

wine bottle and glass
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Staff of the Desert Moon Review
  A Long Season of Disconnect

I've long waited for more than wayward
letters and Verizon chats.
Flights of mail and cable conversations,
like "B" movies, portray little
with minimal art.

What seems a lifetime spans two brief hours.
When the show is over
there are lasting rumbles, at the middle:
a face off by sweating necks,
at the ending what is not expected,
but most often life.

Take a risk, choose a movie,
say how it will begin, live out the middle,
then skate to the end.

Jim Corner  
   Jim Corner has B.A. and M.A. degrees from University of Tulsa with work at Phillips University. He also earned the Certified Financial Planner degree from the College of Financial Planners in Denver, Colorado. He was ordained to the ministry in 1967.
   He has served churches in Oklahoma and northern California. Jim has written poetry since his days at Tulsa University, his thesis is “Affirmation in Four Contemporary British Poets,” and he began writing poetry full-time shortly after he retired in 1996.
    He is currently published monthly in Disciples Today, e-zine of the Christian Church (DOC) in America. His poems also have been published by Arizona Republic, Phoenix's premier newspaper, The Disciple (hard copy), Bethany Guide, and Crescent Moon Journal. Jim resides in Apache Junction, Arizona, with Kathy, his loving wife, and Trudy, the dobie-mix. He is also the benevolent father of Desert Moon Review.
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  The Kingfisher

Put your hand in mine,
your artist's hand that sculpts,
the calluses on a hand that works.

Take my hand, my writer's hand.
Sit with me on the porch swing
as fall flows by. A kingfisher dives

from the silver birch,
into the hidden river,
dark river of trout,

emerges flashing a silver fish.
A moment stolen between careers,
juried shows and competitions.

The swing creaks in the silence,
and we sit hand in hand.

Associate Editor
Christopher T. George
   Christopher T. George was born in Liverpool, England, in 1948. He is now a U.S. citizen and a 35-year resident of Baltimore, Maryland, where he lives with his wife Donna and two cats, Mamie and Leonard, near the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus. He works as a medical editor in Washington, D.C. His poems have appeared in numerous print publications including Poet Lore, Bogg, Smoke, Lite, Pudding, and Maryland Poetry Review, and on-line at Melic Review, Pierian Springs, Crescent Moon Journal, MiPo Digital, Worm, Triplopia, Electric Acorn, and Painted Moon Review. Chris is also a published historian and a lyricist for a new musical about Jack the Ripper written with French composer Erik Sitbon, Jack-The Musical. He is Associate Editor at Desert Moon Review and an Editor at Writer's Block
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I left her crying,
with little kids dancing in halls
and TV’s that’ll only play the wrong station.

Today I left her
to smoke cigarettes alone, on a cold porch,
because I couldn’t stand not loving her tomorrow.

Today she cried for me.
All she wanted was me
to stay and hold her,
but I left her, crying,
in the arms of lepers,
bucolic walls
and lights that don’t make any sense.

Poetry Board Monitor
Jeff Taylor
Jeff is a poet/performance artist from Malden, Massachusetts. He’s the founding member of the avant-rock performance group TheValoureProject. He has poems published in,,, Side Reality, and The Poet Tree. Jeff is a past editor of Crescent Moon Journal. He has performed at Tribes Gallery- NYC (Peoples Poetry Gathering), AS220- Providence, Bergen County Community College- New Jersey, MassArt, The Middle East, T.T. the bears place, O’Brien’s Pub, Roxbury Community College, and Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway Theatre.
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  Three Simple Words

To be your Mayakovsky,
a bedbug to make you itch
I'd write a longer sentence
and throw it into Yeats,
who'd take it in his gyre
and free this falcon from
the talons of the Captain's Verse
where I will drown my song.

To be your Mister Thomas
a summer boy in ruin,
I'd climb a single Coleridge
and play upon his harp
where Kubla Khan himself could spear
my doubt to call your name
and deliver to this Waste Land
a lesser cruel angst.

But I am not your butler,
and no sonnet fills my ears
I wish my silence into harbors
where Neruda whispers words.
So be it thus, I resign,
I'll write three separate strokes
on this piece of paper
and will them out to speak.

Poetry Board Monitor
Scott Smithson
    Scott Smithson is a disgruntled generation X corporate hack with a serious passion for bicycling, Russian literature, and AIDS activism, sometimes all at once. He can be found riding around Seattle when he's not living out of a suitcase in hotels across North America.

wine glass
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  Sunset at Bardem

Jesus the fisherman walks half a mile
west in open water, works nets
at day’s end, appraises a catch
much reduced. Nipponese trawlers
now carpet fish the high seas outside Goa.
He doubts even his Father will arrange
for the meagre sardines and mandeli
to be divided amongst the congregation.
Southwards, the apprehension of an incoming
grey line that might make him lose even this.

Two hundred feet above the shallows,
Christ ascends the high altar of St. Diego’s.
His Plaster of Paris finger follows
the storm beyond his iterative flock
kicking a football outside the narthex.
Fra. Aubreau keeps goal as assiduously
as he tends to his laity. He pushes the hair
from his face, spies the moving finger
and rubs his eyes as it points to the sky.

This vindication of his faith fleetingly
overcomes his skills as a keeper:
he misses the penalty and takes the ball
full frontally on his crotch, belief
systems are compelled ephemerally
onto an entirely different focus. Aubreau
suffers the extreme barbs of piety,
as he rolls in the dust like a supplicant.

Above the belfry, the squall slows.
The sun brings absolution, lighting
at the last instant palm fronds
that line the beach all the way
to Sinquerim, revealing a gleam
of His heavenly kingdom.
Christ postpones resurrection
to keep the rain at bay, enough
to convey the fishermen and footballers
of Bardem to vespers. A Bodhisatva,
the messiah has a job to do
and pits compassion over destiny every time.

Poetry Board Monitor
Mustansir Dalvi
  Mustansir Dalvi is Professor of Architecture in Bombay, India. He is currently Poetry Monitor at Desert Moon Review. His poem "Peabody" was awarded 1st Place in the December 2002 InterBoard Poetry Competition (IBPC). Mustansir Dalvi's poems are published in the e-zines Snakeskin, Octavo: Poetry Quarterly of the Alsop Review, MiPo Digital, Writer's Hood, can we have our ball back, Pierian Springs, Crescent Moon Journal, and Bakery of the Poets and in print in The Brown Critique, Poetry India: voices of silence, Poiesis: A Journal of the Poetry Circle Bombay, and Poetry India: emerging voices.

wine bottles
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  The Door Left Open

he squats
with the black leopard;
his urine running beneath
the chonta palm.

He knows this is the moment
when raiding parties strike
having named a tribe
through the visions of a wishinu
" bearers of death, bringers of misfortune".

He has hunted heads himself
lifted gored throats, avenged deaths,
brought peace to tortured souls.
Tonight the jungle breathes
its warm, narcotic breath nearby.

A spirit
regards its own head, another
piked and danced around,
menaced with tongue and lance.
A host of spirits roam

turning leaves in a storm,
smashing clay pots
into petals,
following feathers
out of place.

He has tended the pits today,
tipped their points with fresh poison,
covered them with care.

He takes the safest route back
weaving among the tall trees,
hurdling the rope-like lianas
tied to bent saplings,
quietly covering the distance to the clearing.

Nothing stirs.
Even the river seems to have stopped flowing.

A lance shatters a rib.
A stone axe cracks a clavicle.
He reaches toward the door.

Poetry Board Monitor
Les Wolf

    Les Wolf is married, with three children, and lives in Southern Michigan. After a four-year stint in the U.S. Navy, he worked in the home improvement industry. He worked at a book factory for a while, and he currently does maintenance work at a private college where he recently remodeled the library. Both establishments hemorrhage books in prodigious quantities. His basement is full. His interest in poetry ranges from Ai to Zaranka, and he likes to fish. Oh, and he used to work out.

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  Crescent Moon Journal Editor
Poetry Board Monitor
Tracy Estes
     Tracy Estes, a working-class poet, began his love affair with the written word at the age of four. That love affair has continued for many decades. He is the father of two, Zack and Chelsea and a husband to Sandy. He serves as a monitor at Desert Moon Review and as editor of this magazine.  
  Canto I

In this twilight, my eyes gape upward.
Darkness seeps around the edges
of my vision. The texture of everything
is beyond my grasp.

My cessation on this plane
liberates me. I am weightless, unyoked.
Awareness and imagination
are still fellow passengers,
slowly releasing their grip,
paling toward nothingness.

A blur of color bends over my vacancy,
I remember that, earlier,
those pastels belonged to
faces that loved me.

Harmonious silence and inner questions
on the matter of souls
flood my fading ken
with snapshots, memories.
I imagine what comes next.
I await.

Canto II

When I first looked upward
I saw tethered figures
cavorting to tinny music,

surrounded by a multitude of colors
impossible for me to comprehend.

The pale, blurred blobs of color,
the only important ones,
brought sustenance,
eased my discomfort.
When my understanding grew,
those blobs resolved into smiling faces
full of love and somehow,
I knew those faces belonged to me.

Settled comfortably in my barred crib,
I imagined what it would be like
to be one of the tethered figures;
one of the incomprehensible colors
or one of the smiling faces.

And I waited to become…


Canto III

Nine years old, laying
atop the old wooden picnic table,
gazing at the stars, full of imagination.

Stationary on the right bench; my younger brother,
   the left;
Dad on top. A pyramidal family observatory.
Described as precocious, and since I didn’t need
to look up the word, I half-believed them.
Not usually communicative or expressive,
Dad pointed to constellations, doused for satellites
and expounded on theories of space-time,
all suddenly important to him that night.

To share that imaginative evening,
alternately filled with spirited discussions
and harmonious silences, to experience my father
animated, inquisitive, youthful; was a semi-truck
passing within inches,
concussion tearing the wind out of me,
leaving me numb.

I imagined travel among those stars,
writing novels, what it would be to be a father,
whether I’d make a good one,
and what my Dad was thinking
when he looked at the stars.

Canto IV

Staring upward at twenty-two
the glowing dot of a cigarette
dangled between fingers.
I pulled it to lips and dragged.

The cherry would stoke
a hellish aura of red
that exposed the girl next to me,
snoring in post-coital slumber.
I concentrated on the ember
and a face it occasionally revealed.
I picked at the scab of memory,
wondering at her last name.
My only real concern:
not wanting it to end up being mine.

Threadbare in parts, rusted in others,
my armored suit of sex, drugs and alcohol
needed alteration.

I imagined what a forever girl would look like,
signing autographs of the great American novel,
how my new armor would fit,
what I’d be like as a family man,
and what to do if there really were
such a thing as an unredeemable soul.

  Canto V

Reclined in a favorite chair,
fingers wrapped around an imaginary beer
I hadn’t drunk in ten years,
my fifty-year-old eyes tried to unravel
the amorphous swirls in the textured ceiling.

The living room echoed all my dreams;
children escaping every time I let my guard down,
a wife’s interests, that didn’t include me
and an unfair sobriety that never sank in.

Middle age was the dream-hallway;
the end, my goal, always just there in front.
I’d rush headlong, noticing side doors but
never averting my eyes. When I reached the end,
     I could see those doors,
but didn’t remember where
     they led;

I imagined myself as a grandfather,
living in retirement heaven with the wife,
finding time to finally write,
the oily cool of a gin and tonic
and the ability to live forever.

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