June 29, 2008

Bob Sharkey's Retirement Poems

[Bob Sharkey reading at the Lark Tavern, April 2006]

Well, I went to a retirement lunch the other day & a poetry reading broke out -- Albany poet Bob Sharkey recently retired from his day job with the State of New York. I was happy to be there, with a couple of other Albany poets ("the 2 Ks"). Perhaps giving his co-workers a hint of what was to come Bob read a couple poems. Here they are -- & everyone toast to Bob's new life --

Lost Poems
by Bob Sharkey

Rosella tells us about working
12-hour shifts, meals at her desk,
beside the wall of thousands
of names and photos,
some of people she’d recognize
when she’d walk past.

Rick relates how his brother,
still in mud-splattered fatigues,
went into a headquarters company
mess hall and upset a lieutenant
who sent him to a major who asked,
“what do you do here, son?”

Carolyn describes the scene
behind her house.
Wet, wind-driven snow
whitening every branch,
bush, stalk of tall grass
and a lone red cardinal.

Kelly listens as I carry on
about the years passing along.
“It’s really all one long day,” she says.
It’s all one memorable day.

At Dunkin' Donuts
by Bob Sharkey

There’s a scary looking guy.
His tongue’s hanging way out.
At least he’s taking his meds.
I got here in a lunchtime stupor
with the tumble of years in mind.
How had they passed so quickly?
As if I need some punctuation,
young hand-holders pass by outside.
I want to be them. Not just him.
Her especially. I want to be her.
From a corner table, three young cops
belt out a chorus of “Happy Birthday.”
The sun comes out unexpectedly after
days of grey, highlights the bright colors
of fruit and vegetables piled up
on a long table over at the intersection.
I head out past the big pink tongue.
There’s also a guy in a motorized chair.
He’s wearing a medical wristband.
Like a pair of abandoned wrecks.
I look for an attendant, for a van outside.
A woman on line’s doing the same.
The line’s long. She’s at the end.
The lot’s full. Everyone’s in a hurry.
Me too. I’d like to linger,
to uncover the mystery of the two guys.
There’s work and meetings. The sun.