Herman

Originally published April 5, 2019:

I meant to do something specific with this piece, but then I left town for Las Vegas and spent my week talking with a lot of smart cannabis growers about how this intoxicating plant could play a role in human empathy and in the very process of death, and then I got sick and spent a night drinking at the Wynn with good people and then I came home and figured I’d share it anyway. It’s about what happened after the 2016 NBA Finals.

“Herman”

It’s easy enough
To walk cracked concrete walks on 69th
Herman
65th to Lorain and back
Pleasant, even, when the day bears no aim
No sunrise wisecrack game
No need to be any more
Than being

What day is it again? (What year is it?)
No feeling in my feet
For all the fleeting footsteps
Baked into the street, the memories
“The Block”
And that one time the kids down the street ran the play
Over and over
For decades, it seemed

I used to live there, there, there
Nodding along to past summers
And time spent listening to hymn
From Mt. Carmel, ringing in our ears
Bells,
I mean, the chiming
And Forrest the hound was always there
To lick a wound or a child’s face

When the train comes through
You’ll feel it in your eyes and in the windows
Rattling Norfolk Southern
Like your dad used to talk about
A glass of whisky on the kitchen table
Neat,
Of course, the way you drink it now
And you drink it deep

The lake’s still there, I see
Nothing changes
Water’s warmer, I suppose
I see
Pleasant, even, before you get to thinking
And rolling the idea in your mind
How it’s all different in the end
Even if the sunset comes again

Back up the hill
Twisting ‘round and through the tunnel
Stars are out now
Shining on a map of the United States of America
Shining on a map of a life splayed outward forever
69th and up a set of stairs
A comfort, a home, bespoke
And then – gone!

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