I knew when I thought it might be a short piece that you might say, “I don’t do no short pieces” but then I’d have to remind you just cause you big and pretty don’t give you the right to discriminate. Big and so damn pretty. Smile that sly smile just once more so I can go home and remember it. That’s what I be missin baby That’s what I be missin.
Bil Wright is a novelist and playwright. His is the author of Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy (Lambda Literary Award and American Library Association Stonewall Book Award), When the Black Girl Sings (Junior Library Guild selection), and Sunday You Learn How to Box (New York Public Library Choice for Young Readers and Coretta King Celebrating the Dream List). His plays include Bloodsummer Rituals, based on the life of poet Audre Lorde (Jerome Fellowship), and Leave Me a Message (San Diego Human Rights Festival premiere). He is the Librettist for This One Girl’s Story (GLAAD Media Award nominee and La Mama Playwriting Award). BilWright.com
Researchers Have not defined old But they all agree Once you’re over 40 You are no longer young
Older men I used to prefer them Now I’m one of them
Remembering cheers From liked poets Lines delivered Haunt you
Dancing in clubs Hearing music Knowing all the lyrics Remembering the first time The artist performed at Club Car Storage
All your primary references are now retro Replaced like the PanAm sign on the MetLife building
Outliving Martin Outliving Malcolm
Talking about people because You here and they ain’t Every line ain’t really yours But you use them
Only experience is down to the drenched sweat Because you here And they ain’t
Bryan and I ride the F Train Remember the Bus Boycott in Boston Remember Roy Orange line on Washington Street Mass Ave with the hole Eyes sparkle Pain freshened
Mother says She’d never go back to Pensacola Her birth home To her Pensacola is Black men dangling from ropes attached to trees
But I go back to Boston Holding dreams still fresh Yesterdays Still fresh
We live long enough to see folks Git right with God Family find Jesus Circles survive the Plague Look in hindsight
Ask your mother While she’s still here Secrets to survive Codes to daily living Grasp at old folk Real old folks The old old Not the young old Like you are now
This time You know too much Parents seek your advice Venus got her Grams with her Celebrating her 80th In and out making decisions It’s not a burden You ain’t reliving your childhood trying to make amends It’s just the circle of life You just doing your part Taking your turn Getting up with the sun Taking back the daylight Marvel at the joy of being The sound of crows Watering plants in your urban garden Flowerpots on a sill The window clocks your favorite time of day
Denise used to say Some people read books to experience life; I live a life that’ll be written about in books. Are you going to read life Or live it?
Over dinner We talk about our fathers Politics Lovers Ancestors
We get to apologize for past pain Caused by casual conversation We get to wonder what time will bring Ten years past the first date When we thought We’d be old
Plotting toward new centuries Tomorrow’s possibilities Grateful To be celebrating The remembered
“widows overnight” refers to three people who lost husbands that year: John and Bert’s friend René Astudillo (Daniel Scott Strano), Olympic figure skater Ekaterina Gordeeva (Sergei Grinkov), and actress Candice Bergen (Louis Malle), who played the title character on MurphyBrown, a favorite television series of Bert and John.
The “30-something-brother” is artist Ronald Harris, for whom Bert wrote Dew Locks.