May 2008 - THE POTOMAC

Senior Discount
   Robert Cooperman

Now I can sympathize
with an older friend—depressed
as a stepped on paper bag—
over turning sixty-five.

“Sure you don’t need
a senior discount,”
the cashier helpfully smiles
at the sign that says
I can claim one, at sixty.

“I’m sure,” my smile cold
as the call of a winter crow,
not caring to admit to him,
or myself, I’ll be eligible
in less than a year.

Still, while that kid of less
than thirty shrugs at my vanity,
I want to snap back at him—
like a wet, locker room towel—

“You could lose some weight,
young feller, if you want
to reach my advanced age.”

But I just collect my change,
stare at my face in the rearview
mirror, grieving every wrinkle
and the few gray hairs left
that I’ve let grow long, swearing
an oath on the music
we’d dance to all night long
that I’ll have enough
for the ponytail I once wore.


The Old Country

I never heard my father
voice any enthusiasm
for visiting Israel.

“Too hot,” he’d flick
his wrist in dismissal;
“too many terrorists,
and religious nuts too damn
sure of themselves.”

“How about Poland?”
I asked, once.
“My father and mother,”
he spat, “had it hard enough
escaping that hellhole,”
referring to the pogrom
and their steerage
escape to America.

When he and my mother
did vacation outside
our comfortable country,
a tour group to Spain;
she lolled on beaches,
he played pinochle.

“Nobody spoke English,”
his complaint, and swore
he’d never travel farther
than the Catskills again,

but soon to make the journey
to the farthest Old Country,
the one where every language
is spoken, and none.

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