Hey, bud. You'll be here soon. Here's a little list I made up, you know, to read on the flight. I love ya.
A Mom's love, my own anger. Water gushing up my nose. Getting stung by yellowjackets by the tomato plants. My brother slicing open his tongue on a sled blade. My brother getting bashed in the face by an aluminum bat. Kissing a great girl who smelled like cake. My Mom-Mom's love. Getting pepper-sprayed in the eyes. Backing into a dipshit's car in the high school parking lot. The joy of hitting a RBI double. Becoming hooked on sleeping with a vaporizer until it gummed up the finish on the bunk beds. Standing in line for George Thorogood tickets in the 15 degree pre-dawn darkness. And running from black bear cubs on a trail in the spring forest. And stalactite welts on the roof of my mouth from pizza and impatience.
Someone splitting my head open from behind with a tossed cinder block. Finding my cat smooshed out on 9th Avenue. Kissing a great girl who tasted like Jager. Slowly forgetting what my Dad's voice sounded like. My mom crying/her nose all swollen and red and runny. Fresh bluefish scales all over our back sidewalk. Dogs. A baby chicken in a cardboard box under a lightbulb out on the porch. Knowing I wasn't ever gonna hit any homeruns even before the pitcher threw the ball. Playing the guitar. Playing the guitar on my back on the floor. Playing the harmonica. Playing the harmonica on my back on the floor in a puddle of spilt drinks. Looking at a lily pad on a Mississippi pond and throwing my buzzbait at it and watching the bass erupt. Getting seven teeth pulled at once/passing out in the dentist's parking lot. My Pop-Pop's love. Firing bullets into the slate sky at the end of the day when I didn't care anymore if there were any deer around or not. And meeting an airline stewardess in Chicago and going back to her place somewhere in her city.
Marrying your Mom on a gorgeous October evening. Red Lobster with her two hours later. The flashing cop lights out on Fayette Street when people got hit by cars. Walking around London by myself and happy about it. Trafalgar Square with your Uncle Dave and the pigeons. Pigeons all over your Mom's arm in Venice. My Pop-Pop saying 'nigger' like it was any old word. My Pop-Pop limping up to the streams he drove me to: to see if I caught any trout. Standing on top of the Empire State Building in a thick fog. Violet, your sister. The happiness your sister taught me. And all the happiness you're gonna teach me too, man.
Throwing a chip of rock into Walden Pond. Recording records in a sweltering garage. Inhaling (I inhaled). Watching the magical purple sunset over a west Texas motel parking lot. Getting hoagies and cheesesteaks at the deli with my paper route money. Our first VCR. Video tape spilling out of the VCR/the horrible hissing sound it made. My mom buying me books whenever I asked her too. Charles Dickens. Drinking moonshine with the writer Larry Brown at a house party. Your Uncle Dave beating everyone in the room at arm wrestling til there was no one left. Standing outside the gates of Graceland because it was too expensive for us to go in. Walking right past the ticket counter at The Norman Rockwell Museum and going in without paying. Emily Dickinson's bedroom/ the chest where she hid her poems away. Containers of live rattlesnakes in the back of a Texas liquor store. Pasta in Rome. And looking at the lights of Mexico from an El Paso highway.
Holding your Mom's hand as your sister was born. Throwing tennis balls into rough streams for the dogs. Eating a raw habenero and leaving work early. Getting hit, by men and women. Reading books on hotel bathroom floors. Signing people's yearbooks and never ever seeing them again. German rain. German pilsners. Whispering to my Mom-Mom an hour before she passed. Roller skating at Radnor Rolls. Asking the girl from Spencer's Gifts for a New Year's Eve date to go see my brother's band, Marah, and her saying no. Joining Marah over pitchers of Honey Brown on Spring Garden Street. Making friends/ letting them go. Making memories/ keeping them forever. Looking up at the stars from a rowboat on the Chesapeake Bay at four-thirty am. And playing air drums to entire live Genesis records until I gave myself goosebumps.
Cooking Thai stir-fry for your Mom in Philly. Watching my Pop-Pop's brown junker disappear around the corner. Christmas trees in all their forgotten December glory. Trees out on the January curb. A little piece of holiday tinsel in the front flower bed in July. Standing in the flooding river in Wales. French truckstops. The bored tired eyes of the French truckstop counter girl. Calling your mom from a billion miles away. Riiiiiiiiiiiiing. Riiiiiiiiiiiing. Riiiiiiiiiing.
And never forgetting the lonliness of the ringing when you just can't wait for the pick up.
And smelling pancakes cooking while I was still in bed.
And jerkoff Pete Rose rolling an autographed ball across the table at me without even a glance my way.
Adults screaming at each other.
The first notes of Backstreets rising up out of the humid night.
People waiting at Arrivals, nervous.
Me and your Mom and Violet and the dogs: waiting.