Category Archives: Prose and Poems

Poems from my children, my friends, my colleagues, and my grandmother.

Verge of a Dream: Picture of you

You are not the
Sky unable to decide to
Drop its grey clouds to
Just below the edge of
The planet. You are not the
Planet with plates
Cracking, I think I mean
Laughing at feet above
that won’t
Maintain their balance
And monuments shed
Their riders in the
Middle of a park once
So peaceful in a
Month ending summer.
You are not a burning
Need to have crowds
In awe though they
Gasp at you and
How you wake each
Sunrise only to create.
A piece of van gogh’s afterlife
Or wish to say in words
But cannot, what
You are. Anyone
Can reach for an
Expletive in frustration
At a missing piece in
The picture of you.
Anyone can search
For a figure of
Speech that has
Not been heard
On the runway and
Dance floor. Anyone
Can hope to sit
Not caring if
The world spins
lawless
Or if the movie at
The drive in ends.

Verge of a Dream: A gentle tumble of pins

Life, it started
Not in a burst
But in a gentle
Tumble of pins
A click, not a
Crack.
It was as
you straightened
My collar
The feeling
Of light rippling
On the spine.
As you stood
Close to me
Behind.
Life, of it,
Less is known
If seen close in
Place and time.
Looking for
Meaning,
The meaning is
Clear of your wave
Despite any dust
In the way
As the
Observation car
Disappears from
Sight.

Verge of a Dream: Two letters

There were two letters
You had never shown
To me. Two letters
On the back of a
Charm I guess
You’d say. I don’t know
The names of ornaments.
Of gold pieces worn on
A gold string of links.
A rosette fairly finely
Made with two letters
On back of the
Rose to
Lay
flat below the
Neck and above
All, the heart.
The letters
Began a name.
It is too clear
To ask how
Despondency
Comes from
The heart with
Sense unengaged.
The name,
from
The two letters
Engraved upon
A heart that
Was never shown to me.

RLB 02-08-2024

Verge of a dream: from that day forward

At work everyday,
almost, the
Tie you bought
I wear
Though there is
No reason to
Believe but it is hope
Which Has no equivalent.
That you will like
me more.
A clip for the
Tie, I’d ask for
Just ask, nothing
Is less useful
Than to beg but
It must be
Unquestioned of
Weight and
Solid gold.
So pure no one
Would try and
Scratch their
Way between us.
Or a pearl shirt
I wanted,
For you to
Give
made from
finest cloth
And though from
The loom it
Was unmarked.
I wash anyway
The bleach
Undoes the past
And there
my care
is sure that
You may like me
each fresh warm
tropical morning
Worn for you
From that day forward

RLB 02 06 2024

Verge of a Dream: How I met you

Near the block where
I grew up
I don’t know where I’d
Meet you
Across the gym
In your prom dress
With someone
Else
At work knowing
More than I could
Hope to.
I don’t know where
I’d meet you.
Without asking since
Asking brings rebuffs
Though they’re little
As if in a cart
Marked down.
Every one is sweetly
Given, no comment
of reservation,
Then, maybe to
Remember, you play,
The notes
Reminders each of
A moment between
Uncertainties that
Was happy. Now
You are not unhappy
But not like me
Blessed and blissful
In the moments
Remembering how I
Met you.

RLB 1/29/2024

Verge of a Dream: Friends for Life

That red brick grammar
School is no longer there.
A lefty, steve hit a soft
Ball firmly off its
Upper level wall.
Only knowing him
slightly, thought he’d
make something of
himself with that
hard high drive that
went farther (it was not
further.., there’s the
grammar learned at
Levitt avenue school). I
thought he’d do
something in life though
I only knew him lightly.
Not even the house he
was raised in
the small town pretending
To be of Scottish descent
I guess
I have no sense of what
success is…or whether
it is sweetly fragrant
though a bust
of burt Lancaster in
a hall of fame would
be titled, my friends
from childhood are
friends for life.
I know that hitting
A ball apparently
occasionally hit well
seems to be a substitute
for success as memory
substitutes for kids
I didn’t know well
enough to still be friends.

Verge of a Dream: Last thought

If caught unaware by
What might be taking the
Last breath, I don’t want
The thought to be the word
no. No, It Must be a picture
that you can be wearing
anything when you look
that good.

Maybe some
things learned and some
things not; one falls neither
there nor not there…some
things like when is and
what is
that last thought and
breath. But, there
are no buts. I do know
I am saved not by me,
by someone
Else, by how in the midst
Of it all…all the cursed
Failures, and wishes, those
Horrible wishes, by how
You look so good.

The obvious is ignored
In the struggle,
In the lists and
Priorities…they
Will disappear and
Really aren’t worth
Passing before,
As they say,
Your eyes. Though
I want to have
What is in that
Last breath is,
Solely about me,
so to
never and I mean
Never
For a second,
Less than a
Moment, ignore how
Good you look to me.

Christmas 1942, by Dan Hogan

CHRISTMAS 1942
Dan Hogan

Fall had faded and December meant Christmas was near. The Christmas season was always a special time at our house and my mom and dad made sure we were the first ones in the neighborhood to put up our tree, which was always decorated with too many lights, which put a strain on the electrical circuits in our old rented house. Pop always had lots of fuses on hand through the Christmas season and we all tried our best to turn off any unnecessary lights before plugging in the tree lights. We’d forget and, oops, the house would go dark and Pop, flashlight in hand, would head to the basement to replace another blown fuse.

This Christmas was one I’d never forget. It all started when my Dad called me from his basement workshop. “Hey Danny, come on down here, I want to talk to you for a minute.” Geez… I hoped this wasn’t going to be about the birds and bees. Nope! That would come later.

“Look son, I know you don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore but your brothers still do, right?” I just nodded…yes. “This year your uncle Matt and I have something special planned and we need you to help us out.” Again I nodded and said, “Sure Pop… what’s up?” “Your uncle is gonna play Santa on Christmas Eve for you boys and I want you to go along with it. Can you do that?” Before I had a chance to answer, there was more. “When we finish here, Santa will be making a second stop to a family about a mile from here and we want you to go along with us and do a little play-acting to make it all seem as real as possible, you wanna do that?” I suddenly felt a bit more grown-up than I really was and blurted out a resounding, “Yes…yes!”

Pop then filled me in on the details. The father of this family worked at Uncle Matt’s plant as a janitor for very low pay and this Christmas was going to be a tough one for the youngsters. Pop continued, “Santa is going to bring a couple presents for the kids and we want you to give a turkey to the mom and dad for their Christmas dinner. What do ya think?” I don’t think I’d ever seen my dad so excited about anything before. My answer…I jumped into his arms and gave him a big hug followed with a soft, “I love you Pop.”

As Christmas drew closer, things got more and more exciting at our house and Uncle Matt was around more than usual as he and Pop planned Santa’s visit to the family on the edge of town. Since I was Santa’s helper this year I was included when my two younger brothers weren’t around. They had no idea what was going on. This year Santa would be paying a visit to 1915 Quincy Street in person. I couldn’t wait.

December 24th finally arrived and a fresh snowfall had started as twilight slowly faded to darkness. Mom had managed to get the tree lights on without blowing a fuse, which meant Pop needn’t make a trip to the circuit box in the basement tonight. Uncle Matt and Aunt Loretta had arrived and it seemed our house was bustling with activity a bit more than usual this year. My younger brothers, Stuart and Jerry, didn’t notice when Uncle Matt slipped away to put on his rented red suit and hat with the fake white beard… but I did. Mom gave me a wink and said, “Okay boys, time for bed. Santa’s on his way. Get up to bed now!” That was my cue and I led the way to our upstairs bedroom.

We had been in bed for only a short time when downstairs Santa arrived with some loud “Ho-Ho-Ho’s” and sounds of sleigh bells ringing. I made sure Stu and Jerry were awake and hearing Santa wishing everyone, “Merry Christmas!…Merry Christmas!”… over and over again. Uncle Matt sounded great. He must have practiced a lot as he didn’t sound at all like his normal voice. Aunt Lorretta called out, “Hey boys, get down here. Yer going to miss Santa.” This time Stu and Jerry beat me to the stairs and I happily followed.

I couldn’t believe that Santa was our uncle Matt. He really looked and sounded the part and I’m sure my brothers were totally convinced he was the real deal. Years later Jerry told me he believed in Santa Claus much longer than most kids his age did.

Santa gave us each a few unwrapped gifts to go along with the many that were already under the tree before he headed out to his imaginary sleigh and his next stop. This year it was Uncle Matt’s 1937 Chevy that was parked out front.

When I was sure my brothers were asleep I quietly dressed again and went back downstairs. Santa had one more stop to make this Christmas Eve and Pop and I were going with him. Matt’s Chevy was already loaded with Santa’s sack of gifts and I was in charge of the now ready to cook turkey in the very bottom of the sack.

Off we went, Pop sitting in the right front seat with me and a sack of toys in the back seat being driven by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. It was still snowing as we parked and walked up to the front door. Santa knocked twice and just walked in, followed by me and Pop. There was a fire burning in the fireplace that was probably the only heat for the whole house. A small fir tree decorated with a few ornaments, but no lights, stood on a small end table in the corner. I couldn’t help noticing that there were only two small gifts under the tree.

Two very excited youngsters were overjoyed and were jumping up and down as Santa asked their names as he reached in his big red bag and handed them two gifts each. Then…Santa turned to me and said, “Danny, I believe you also have something for this young family.” I was supposed to say, as I handed the turkey to the mother, “From our family to your family…Merry Christmas.” Instead, I just froze as I extended the turkey in both hands and just said…“Here!” Followed by a very soft, “Merry Christmas.” Oh well. I got part of it right.

The young mother smiled while holding the turkey in one hand and gave me a warm hug with the other and softly said, “Thank you Danny. Merry Christmas to you too.”

The father hadn’t said a word but was clearly moved by this unexpected Christmas Eve visit from Santa and his helpers. Who was this person wearing the red suit and the fake beard – someone he knew? How did Santa know where his family lived? He just couldn’t figure it out. And the best part…He never did!

Pop and I took our cues from Santa, who picked up his sack and headed for the door, proclaiming he had many more homes to visit this Christmas Eve.

Once back home, Mom and Aunt Lorretta couldn’t wait to hear how Santa’s visit had gone, as they rattled off questions one after another, which Pop and Matt answered in glowing detail. Finally, I headed back upstairs to bed for a second time. This time…for good. It had been quite a Christmas Eve. One I’d never forget. Do I believe in Santa Claus? How could I not? This year I’d been one of his helpers.

Verge of a Dream: Confession

I want to
say something honest
And true, to confess
Not to others to
Hear but don’t care
If they do.
It might be a
Death bed confession
But it won’t be
Known until
We are at the same
Table in heaven.
Or if anyone hears
It or thinks it matters.

Finally I want
To hear my voice
With words and
Chords making you
Understand the way
From the woods of
Mistakes and
Misdirections. From
The cuffs and ropes
And wounds
from misunderstandings
That have kept me
From finding my
Way through the
Streets through
Neighborhoods I
Don’t belong in and
Expectations that were
Not met though when
I try to finish I realize
They were never started
Or I reached them and even
That was forgotten.

RLB 11-26-2023