Peter Mladinic

Love and Marriage

Frank and Eileen’s divorce was nasty,
as many are, but I wasn’t in court,
hearing court, I imagined, had a film
in my mind, though I didn’t see lawyers.
He wanted the divorce.  Eileen had strayed
with one man, but likely more than one.
Men I never met.  She told me last time
I visited, their marriage falling apart.  Then
the divorce I heard about from her,
from him.  I was two thousand miles away
from these two close friends.  Gradually
he silently accused me, not saying outright
I wasn’t there for him.  What could I do, 
holding down a job at times overwhelming
as jobs can be.  I tried to be a good friend
but wasn’t good enough.  He retreated
into silence.  But she and I stayed close
enough for me to know that they in time
fixed their problem.  They didn’t remarry
but resumed the friend part of marriage.
Both living in the town they lived in when
they lived on Castlewood, with their son
and daughter.  Very recently the daughter
Lori reached out to me.  Frank was living
in her house, with her family, and passed
after a long illness.  I texted Eileen, told her
I connected with her daughter.  That’s cool
was all she texted back.  When Frank
became ill she texted brief texts; like I
got a report of his decline, but that’s all. 
Once he was like a kid brother to me,
and she a sister.  We met in Mr. Gilmore’s
World History, which met a two, Monday
and Wednesday.  They were a couple.
He had a red Volvo wagon, the Frank
Mobile, I sat in back while we rode long
straight country roads buzzed on the joints
we passed, some nights high on acid.
Flash forward, best man at their wedding
I raised a glass to a long happy marriage.
When Frank was ill, I thought about him
often, but what could I say, I’m sorry
you’re dying.  I didn’t ask if I could talk
with him.  There was the fact of his dying
nothing could change.  I feel I’ve lost her
but what is a feeling compared to the fact
dead is dead.  At least Lori reached out.
Their divorce she took hard being a kid
but I guess she got past it, as Frank
and Eileen got past it.

Heart’s Desire

I marvel how such a beautiful song
came from such an ugly place.
I’m thinking of the Avalons who sang
and recorded this iconic R&B ballad
some call Doo-wop, and Newport News
where the Avalons came from.
I stayed there briefly.  It was rows of
dark wood rooming houses, movie
houses with triple X marquees, a police
station.  One late Saturday night, one
of two shore patrol, I saw a drunk white
guy tear up his fingerprints,
his bloody face and head after white
cops clubbed him.  My Newport News
clashes with this song.  You’ve
likely heard “soul on fire” in some song.
When the Avalons sing it in “Heart’s Desire”
I feel it down to my toenails.

Peter Mladinic’s poems have recently appeared in Ariel Chart, Bluepepper, the BeZine, Detour Ahead and other online journals.  He lives, with six dogs, in Hobbs, New Mexico.

Flights. Issue One, June 2021