A Poem for Winter’s Lingering Grip

The calendar may say April but Old Man Winter is still holding on in central New York, refusing to step aside and let spring take over the scene. So while temps fail to crack 50—at least for now—I will offer a fictional, cold weather-themed poem from my latest collection.

Winter Morning

The woman in 309B rolls over on her side.
She reaches across the bed,
seeking the warmth of her lover’s body.
But no one is there.
And she remembers sending her man away.
She recalls a conversation filled with words
like freedom, space, and separation.
At this hour, though, she would trade them in
for flesh in her bed,
the presence of a person she no longer claims.
She can accept failed love, a relationship fizzling.
The end is not so awful
when examined with the passage of time.
She does not need the man.
She can excel on her own.
But with soft light entering her room,
and the radiator wheezing as it releases heat,
she realizes no remedy exists
for the empty feeling of being alone
in bed on a winter morning.
So she gets up,
makes a half-attempt to straighten the covers,
then goes out to the kitchen to fix a pot of coffee.
And the tasks of the day will help her
to shake off the loneliness, keep it at a distance,
until the following morning, when the yearning
for someone else nearby will return.
But let tomorrow take care of itself, she thinks.
She resigns to stop wasting time
on these cold mornings, replaying her regrets,
and bemoaning the absence of a man in her bed.

©2017 Francis DiClemente
(Sidewalk Stories, Kelsay Books)

I also wanted to mention that poet Elinor Cramer, author Jo Lynn Stresing and I will be reading from our recent books on Friday, May 4, at 7 p.m. at the YMCA’s Downtown Writers Center in Syracuse. The DWC is located at 340 Montgomery Street and you can find out more information at its website.


The Old Man’s Morning Ritual

I have a short nonfiction story that appears online in this month’s issue of Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. The text of the piece follows:

The old man leaves his nursing home in the grayness of early morning, walking up the steep incline of South Crouse Avenue in Syracuse, as a stiff wind smacks him in the face. He swings his right arm out to the side—pumping it in rhythm—almost as if he is matching the beat of a marching band playing in his head. He has gray-black hair, balding in the front, and he wears a light blue jacket, tan pants, and gray sneakers.

Looking southbound along South Crouse Avenue.

Looking southbound along South Crouse Avenue.

I often see him sitting on the steps outside Bruegger’s Bagels near Marshall Street, sipping a cup of coffee and smoking a cigarette, a blank expression pressed to his face. What does he think about as he sits there and watches the world rush by? What goes through his mind as he observes college students chattering in groups, nurses starting or ending their shifts, and cab drivers pulling over to the curb to pick up or drop off a fare or grab a quick cup coffee?

Despite his age the man asserts his independence as he escapes the white walls and the fetid smells of the nursing home. Each day he goes to Bruegger’s his creaky legs carry him up the hill and his lungs circulate oxygen. He remains alive, connected to the outside world as he savors the simple pleasure of a drinking cup of coffee and a smoking a cigarette in public.

No one seems to notice the man sitting there; he’s a faceless figure taking up space on a crowded street. I see him, recognizing his existence, and I am tempted to stop and talk to him, to find out about his life. But his blank expression dissuades me, as I don’t want to disturb him or cause him to become frightened, thinking that I may want something from him.

No, I do not say a word to the man. But I preserve his image in my mind, recording his likeness in detail. I do this because I think he foreshadows my existence 20 to 25 years from now, if I am not already dead.

A fence located on South Crouse Avenue near an apartment building serving senior citizens.

A fence located on South Crouse Avenue near an apartment building serving senior citizens.

If I am still able to walk then, I hope to mimic the old man’s movements, making an attempt to cling to a normal life despite being confined to a nursing home. I too will leave my bed in the morning, walk to a coffee shop nearby, grab a cup coffee or a bagel, and then sit down somewhere and say to the world, or only to myself, “It’s another day and I’m still here.”