Herbert Nehrlich

Rookie (04 October 1943 / Germany)

Coming Home - Poem by Herbert Nehrlich

It had been overcast
forever, in God's own country.
That's what you said it was
when you lured me, to see
to climb the Spaceneedle,
and look at the Harbour,
like two birds without wings.
And I, the believer knew
that it would be the place,
because the magnet that was you
had once again beguiled me,
you had become my little Evergreen.

That Greyhound bus had style,
you waited at the gate, all in blue,
a dangling Leica resting between them.
Low cut to perfection, flat Birkenstocks,
nails painted the redness of arterial blood.

I could smell the Ambush now from here,
knowing you would not forget those days,
the banks of old man Mississippi at St. Paul,
when we would come in from the snow,
you heating spiced red wine, mugs waiting
while we undressed to snuggle in the big bed,
watching the Black and White, oh that fragrance,
'twas always Ambush, nothing else would do.
And, perfect as it was, straight from the factory
you did enrich it, no one else had what it took,
(I know because I tried a couple times) .


Those cold and wind-whipped nights ended in dreams,
of someday travelling, going West, out to the coast.
Pacific Ocean, man, nothing comes close,
clean air and friendly people, and eternal green.

And so you did it but, without me, why oh why?
Took someone by the hand who had no reason
to stay behind and study in the arctic world,
he kept you warm and did so wallow in your Ambush.

All those years, though, late afternoons most often,
I'll talk just to myself a bit, cruising on memory lane,
Dinkytown and that cantankerous caretaker,
at Luther Hall who was an aging ugly wanker.
The job you got me then, at Briggs, your drunken uncle,
and the long weekends in St. Cloud down by the river.
Remember how your Dad tought me about the Highball,
and Jamie did explain the joke about the carrots
and the pees, in the same pot, and my first marshmallows...

And when the memories came back,
like floods of bitter sweetness,
like salty tears and crystal sticky honey,
I would say those things about the warmth
of loving arms around the two of us that time,
dreaming the dreams of all delusions all at once,
it got me going and the pleasures stayed a while.
It was and is about no one but you and me,
all others gone, dead, wasted, laying no more claim,
dumbshits they were with my explicit blessing.

After all frequent flyer points, the cold and snowy nights
trotting the bridge to Augsburg College, job was great,
seems everyone was into learning German.
Yes, my love, those truly were the days,
and all the lonely years on top of those.

This morning, waking up to you and drizzling Seattle,
shaking my disbelieving head and focusing red eyes
onto your dimples, either side of that exquisite bush
of graying pubic hair, I ask myself, how could I doubt
that a much higher being does exist somewhere,
exclusively for us, and come to think of it, my love
I do suspect She takes a special interest, in you and me.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, July 11, 2005



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