Once there were three,
brothers all, stepping stones,
sailor suits and Easter caps,
proud papa patronizing,
harried, harridan mother.
Suddenly the matriarchal patriarch was gone,
by a weak heart,
over-work, heat stress
and weak genes.
The three brothers grew gangly,
all kneesles and elbows,
home in the country,
roaming field and forest,
mighty conquerors of fishing lures,
steel traps and arithmetic.
Questing minds sought answers
to insect riddles and clouds,
sand, sea and surf; idyllic times.
A badly broken turkey leg and endless urinals
foretell a life of ill-health and struggle for one;
broken wings and shed skins
an abiding love of all creatures,
great and small, for the little one.
Senior-most scouts the way,
but never finds the path.
A president felled in the prime of life,
while a mother returns from near-death
in New York City(!)
heralds the beginning of the end for Momma.
Mexican moves bring unexpected trouble,
seizure disorders in one,
ulcerations and tribulations for the matriarch,
falling into death so suddenly, it seemed.
But all the signs were there to the hindsight view.
Great upheavals, what's a father to do?
Raise three boys alone?
Seventy years young grandmothers lack the strength,
their own griefs to nurse and nurture.
Halt, lame, one-eyed – no, the red-hats
must focus inwards on their own dates with death,
only a few years hence.
Remarry? With grief so fresh?
Free at last.
Or so he thought...
Puberty, unbeknownst to a distant pater,
takes one after another,
wrecking havoc with concentration,
giving grief a terrible strength and depth
hitherto undreamed of,
causing sleepless nights, torn sheets,
rending great forests of tissue
as relief is sought in onanistic release and
deep plunges into the troubled waters
of bourbon and branch.
The three went their separate ways after
the eldest graduated to college in Vermont;
middleman to seminary;
baby brother atop The Hill,
Barcelona, European travels
and Greyhound travails,
knocking up fallen angels.
“Tune in, turn on, drop out” Leary said.
It's the 'dawning of the age of Aquarius' sang another,
mud was epiphany at Yasgar's farm,
Hendrix setting the world afire by guitar.
Dylan the voice for a disaffected generation of ne'er do wells,
Vietnam, a very public private hell.
Old friends dead, Martin, John and Bobby.
The times, they are a changin'.
Stuck, was the eldest, head in a bottle,
but the view was clear, so he proceeded
as though nothing was wrong,
for nothing is wrong
when you can see the strait and narrows,
College graduate, medical school, extern, intern,
Bellevue hell and Veteran's Administration horrors,
all stuck out, inch by bloody inch,
despite every considerable obstacle placed in his path,
until only his own body could torpedo his success.
Bombs away! Full steam ahead! There lies madness:
abandon all hope, ye who enter therein.
Medicine didn't kill him, bloody-mindedness did.
And a cruel streak a mile wide,
passing for caring in a careless society.
And a weak heart,
another genetic legacy
in a body already blessed with
more genetic misadventures than any two people
should have to endure.
So it didn't.
Then there were two.
Baby boy blue,come blow your horn,
sheep's in the meadow, pigs in the corn.
Lose your family through shameful neglect,
head in a bottle,
Wasn't THAT stupid?
Almost as bad, baby brother,
working all hours,
all week, all weekend,
for next to no money and major headaches
“Three ducks fucking” and bouncy basketballs.
What do you get?
Another day older,
deeper in debt
and a stent in your chest.
That's what baby brother discovered.
After the big crash and burn,
the family elder, clean and sober,
and miserable as hell,
put nose to grindstone
and drowned his sorrows in work.
Discovered you can't go home
to old loves and older lovers.
Meanwhile, the artistic one builds his strength,
bides his time through a period of
outrageous slings and arrows of
but finally sees the light,
tells the Robber Baron to “get fucked”
and gets on with being an adult web master
(whatever the fuck THAT is).
Making more money,
than he'd ever dreamed possible,
he set new rules,
rules of moderation.
“Works all well and good and I like it a lot ...”
“But play time is good, too.”
Weekdays for Mammon, weekends for fun.
That was his plan and he was sticking to it.
Then “dumbass” -- the elder,
having married again, despite cautions to the contrary,
suddenly discovers that
mended broken hearts aren't something you can count on.
Open-heart coronary by-pass grafts times three later,
and he emerges a new, old man,
one lung along for the ride,
sleepless in “Sandman Land.”
But dodging the bullet, given reprieve,
able to breathe and take nourishment.
Just breathing can be a gift some days.
But life is inexorable.
God is an Iron.
Mother Nature gives neither
hoot nor holler
if you live or die.
One hot, muggy summer afternoon,
much like his namesake,
baby boy leaned too far,
fell over dead in his office;
And then there was one.
“One is the lonliest number that you'll ever do.
Two can be as bad as one,
it's the lonliest number since the number one...”
This little piggy is going wee, wee, wee,
all the way home...
For once there were three.
Then there were two.
Now there's only one.
This is going to end badly, I fear...
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Note, this is a work in progress, subject to change and modification.