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.