Thursday, November 6, 2008

Friend and Neighbor

The freezer

My neighbor Dennis had to move out of
his mother's house when she died.

I liked him because he looked in on my grandfather,
and was a refugee of the drug culture

He told me once he was prosecuted for owning a marijuana
plant. The prosecutor in his case was brought
up on Murder One months later when
a cocaine deal went bad.

When his mother died, Dennis had to clear out.
"You want that freezer?" It was old and noisy.
"100 bucks, and I'll refund half your money if it
dies within the year."

I looked at Dennis's thin arms and legs.
Call it charity. That thing wasn't budging for
anything more or less grand.

The wheels rolled off the dolly halfway to my house,
a friend and I carried it the rest of the way
in humid rain, like a coffin, on its end.

Now it buzzes on my back porch, and even
though it sounds as if it is near death, it
keeps on.

I sit and listen while I write this
wondering what the hell this life
is supposed to teach us.

- Summer 2007

When I graduated college, Dennis came to my party. He gave me two frozen pork chops from his freezer. "Congratulations, Mr. Skarl," he said, and grabbed a Silver Bullet.

"How's it going, Dennis?" I might hail from my porch, from yardwork. "Buzz on!" Dennis might reply with one arm in the air. All was right with the world.

Dennis owned (I think it was) a 1967 Olive Green Corvette. It sat broken down in his mother's garage for years. One day, the tentative heartbeat of its powerful engine carried out to me. The Corvette was old, blowing smoke, but running. In his younger days he drove it cross country, from California to Ohio and back. The speedometer boasted 160 mph. "More like 140," he said, knowingly.

According to Dennis, the best defense against wild coyotes is peeing a ring around your campsite.

His cat, Tuscarawas, was black and white. He didn't own that cat. But he did feed it.

Dennis, here's to you.

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