POEMS FROM A PENWAY NOTEBOOK

BY

ROBERT WALLACE PAOLINELLI

I

LOOK ALIKE TOO LATE

I saw a young woman today;

her face was so familiar

For a moment I was shaken.

No, how could this be?

Had it been the one I

thought she was, she would

now be a grandmother.

It's so easy to fool one's memory.

II

A full belly and

a satisfied palate

are better than

memories of

former repasts.

Life in the present

is ever so much more

satisfying.

III

In my youth I

used to write long

love poems for my

sweethearts.

When I was married

I wrote poems for my

wife.

After my children were

born, I wrote them

poems.

Now, fifty four years old,

I still write poetry

but for no one in particular

IV

I don't like super

patriots; they only

believe in blood, lust

and tyranny.

These super patriots

invoke God to give

them strength to

overcome their enemies.

I am an enemy of

the super American patriots.

But I don't invoke

God to help overcome

those who would chain

my mind.

They would kill me--and

others because we do

not invoke God to help

us kill enemies.

V

There was a time in

my life when my

innocence blinded me.

As I grew older my

blindness diminished and

I was able to see

that my innocence had

fooled me.

Maturity gives one

great insight into the

foibles and deceits of the

human condition.

Alas, I think I prefer

innocence.

VI

I miss an old

friend who has

been dead for

many years.

I visited her grave

several years ago,

but I was over come

with emotion and

wept over her grave.

I never went back.

Today her image came

to me and still I

wept. There is no

end to my mourning.

VII

The moon is my best

friend. I have never been

disappointed by this old

friend.

It gives me light and

poetic inspiration. I

can talk to the moon

and it listens, but never

judges. A man couldn't

have a better friend.

VIII

I have been living alone

for many year.

At one time I had a

family: Two sons, a

wife, a house, even a

small business. That was

many years ago.

At first my renewed bachelor's

life was not easy; I fit well

into domestic life.

Now I am just

a little afraid of

such an intimacy,

Living alone does have

its good points; but it

can make one not want

to give it up.

IX

Once I believed in chance

and co-incidence. Gradually,

however, I concluded there is

neither chance nor co-incidence.

Yet I do not believe in

predestination.

I have no definite idea

of why things happen, but they

are not predetermined. If

they are we have to ask:

By whom?

There is no proof for a

god or gods; and there is

no winning argument one way or

the other to settle the question.

So things don't happen by or

through the will of a god or gods,

either.

How do I know this?

I offer no proofs.

It is that I just know--

which is just as good

as chance, co-incidence,

predestination, god or gods.

X

A beautiful, modest,

soft-spoken woman

came into my life.

I was smitten by her.

I could spend the

remainder of my life

with this woman.

But she is now gone.

She left last night and

by this time is

three thousand

miles away.

The mystery of why

people come into my

life and that they go

away will ever be a

mystery for me.

XI

And the dream.

The dream and

only the dream.

Wisps of it as

I stand amid the

cacophony of five o' clock

traffic. Ah, the

diaphanous images float,

tarrying for a moment

in my mind's eye.

Ah, I forget the

world and its noise

and the bus transfer

in my hand flutters

indifferently to the

ground as I stand

on the street corner

jostled by the rushing

crowds hurrying across

the intersection at the

command of the lights.

For a few moments I

stand alone: One man

with the remnants of

his last night's dream

overwhelming him.

The clash of sirens

and diesel engines.

The fire department

hurries across the

street. My moments

of left over dream

bliss shattered, and

I am left alone with

a memory of (oh) such

wondrous and mysterious

things and events.

A crowd gathers once

again at the corner. I

am brought back to the

world and the exigencies

of the pushing throng

dragging me off the

curb and across the street.

Just another automaton without

a bus transfer.

But the dream...oh,

the dream and the

dream and the

dream.....

XII

Waiting for a woman

who may never

show up.

I wait for her

every day. I have

been waiting for

her for a long

time.

How long? A long

time. I know she

will show up. I

just don't know

when Nonetheless,

I wait for her.

Why do I wait?

Because I love her and

she loves me.

We, however, have never met.

XIII

Baking bread.

Ah, the smell of activating

yeast and the combining

of salt, oil, water:

A holy trinity.

The yeast bubbles.

The flour combines

with the moisture

into a living mass

of potential life.

Strings of gluten

appear with each

beat of the spoon.

Baking bread is an

act of creation.

XIV

It seems that park

pigeons are always

hungry.

No matter how often or

how much they are fed, they

keep coming back for more--

just like people.

And like people, pigeons

crowd around the tossings,

pushing one pigeon or another

out of the way, greedily

pecking and swallowing

what they can.

Physical form and

function aside,

pigeons and humans have

much in common--

except a pigeon can

never harm a

human being.

XV

Birthday Poem to

Myself

November 3rd

Fifty five and still alive.

Still a struggling

writer and poet

who is broke.

Divorced many years

and my kids far away.

What can I do?

The world is mad--

and I continue.

I see injustice and

greed and war and

hate and poverty

all around me, but

I am helpless to

stop any of it.

A poet with boxes

full of poems no

one wants to publish--

but I continue.

I love life in spite

of every thing.

That's important

for this day.

XVI

Birthday Poem the Second

A soft autumn

day and I am filled

with the joy and

mystery of life. Were

it otherwise, this would

be a sad day.

Having been born

put me on the path

to physical extinction.

But I don't care. There

are yet flowers, poems,

music,loves and unknown

pleasures enough

waiting for me.

XVII

How empty is

my life. Empty

because my heart

is full of love

yet no woman to

whom I can

give this love.

I have love and

compassion for all

creatures; but in a

secret compartment

of my heart sleeps

this special love

for the woman with

the key to that

secret place.

Come, beloved, come

with the key and

release this sleeping

love.

XVIII

Singing the same song at

the same time: That's an

indication of being

in love.

Singing out of key and at

different times: That's an

indication of extreme

disharmony. There's no

love there.

IXX

There can never be a time

when the possibility of

loves does not present

itself. To deny this

is to be cold-hearted and

unwilling or incapable of

loving.

There's no great secret

about love, being in love

or the possibility of love.

Love is plain and simple.

Be open to love; be kind

to love; never abuse it;

use it judiciously and

it will always treat

you fairly.

When love is cold, keep it

warm; when love is hungry,

feed it; when love is

thirsty, give it drink;

when love is over-heated,

keep it cool; when love

is tired, let it rest;

when love is dead,

bury it without rancor.

After an appropriate time,

love will return. Repeat all

of the above and love

will always be

with you.

XX

Alarmed by the insensitivity

of her materialistic words

and dollar sign eyes, I

fled her midnight apartment

without regard for the

down pouring rain and lack

of an umbrella. I missed the

bus. I was wet, cold, a little

sad--but at least the mask she'd

worn was torn off and I was able

to see she was not the woman she

pretended to be, but just another

matrimonial real estate agent

with a deceptively sweet smile.

XXI

She'd just move to San Francisco

from New York.

Aside from a few acquaintances

at work, she had made no new friends.

Then we met. In so many words, she told

me she was lonely and she lead me to

believe she wanted to see me again.

She gave me her particulars without

my having asked--although I was going

to before we parted.

But when I did call her she had to

be reminded of who I was and where

we'd met.

Apparently she suffered from amnesia.

XXII

I'm a man alone. No

special woman in my life.

"Special" is the

key word. Of the millions

of women in the world,

there must be one for me.

I'm a good catch. Were

I a woman and I met me,

I would jump at the chance

to have me in my life.

XXIII

I appreciate my standards and

expectations. After all, if I

am willing to spend the rest of

my life with a woman, I need to

be particular about the kind of woman

I want--and I hope that she would

feel the same way.

XXIV

I sit and wait

for eternity which I

know will never come

in my lifetime or any

one else's--yet I wait

because there is nothing

else to do. If I wait

at a bus stop long enough,

a bus will come; I get on and travel

some blocks, but eventually

I must get off.

Waiting for eternity is not like

waiting for a bus ride.

XXV

Every time I pull a match

across its smooth striker

and hear the pop of ignition

and see the flame

come to life from the tiny

match head, I think about

the struggles of our remote

ancestors striking

rocks together for a spark

or rubbing wood together

to create fire. Our ancients

understood physical laws

without science: Where there

is motion there is friction;

where there is friction, there

is heat.

I sit here and have no

problem with creating fire.

How much easier is my life

from that of my early ancestors.

Yet they had an innocence I lack.

So I ask: Who is better

off--books of matches

notwithstanding?

XXVI

January 1st 1996

First day of the new year

with a bright sun on my back.

Ah, how I appreciate the sun's warmth

on this day.

After 365 days, this new year

will be old and end.

But, ah, the sun is

ever with us.

XXVII

11:49 A.M. Musing

With a hot coffee and

cigarette, I sit outside

this cafe musing. Daydreams

are the stuff of a poet's

life; they are what makes him

a poet. Fantastic things and

situations are the meat of

the poet's meals. Sitting

here, a little broke, but

'happy, I imagine myself a

very rich man spreading his

largesse to those in need--

especially all my friends who

have been struggling artists

for many years. The flight

of the muse takes me to

far places, exotic places

that exist only in my imagination.

I am the only person to ever have

visited these far off lands.

They exist only for me. I cannot take

anyone else with me; therefore,

I am a solitary traveler--but

I don't care. The poet is

ever used to solitude--even

among throngs of people.

Musing of a beautiful woman,

a wife of extreme grace and

charm, a living muse to

comfort me when the tribulations

of the human condition hang

heavy in my heart;

and she, my wife, my friend,

my lover, my refuge, takes

me into the warmth of her

arms and transports me

to that special place in

her heart and I am made

free of burdensome thoughts.

A! An eighty cent cup of

coffee, a comfortable chair,

a notebook and pen--these are

the riches I have.

XXVIII

Through the fog a hazy

sun; cold winter's day.

The wind blows; more fog;

the hazy sun is covered.

The wind blows; ah, bright

sun' I feel its warmth.

The wind blows; a hazy sun;

cold winter's day...

THE END

San Francisco, 1994-95