Today, for something a little different, I want to share two poems with you from the collection Flying for the Window, written by Charles Coté. Charles lives in Rochester, NY, where he practices as a clinical social worker. This collection is his first published collection, poems about his son Charlie, who died of a malignant melanoma in 2005 at the age of 18, right after graduating from high school and while the front man for a popular Rochester-area band, Fivestar Riot.
More importantly, Charlie, as I call him, is a dear friend and has been my guide and counselor for the past several years through my own challenging times. Often we talked about poetry, and he coached me on my writing. Flying for the Window is available on Amazon, or you can find the book on Charles’ blog. I post these poems with his consent.
Here are two selections.
On the Car Radio
Every song a melody
you didn’t write,
played by those
I didn’t lose.
Take this moment
wherever I go,
you aren’t here either.
I love this poem. From the first reading it’s pungency and brevity hit me like a ton of bricks. The turn at the end is magnificent. This poem speaks so well of how I felt about my own loss.
Sitting in His Empty Room
Three years I watched his body
waste away, radiation burning the hair
off half his head until he shaved the rest.
So no one would gawk at the scar and ask
questions, he wore a knitted skull cap
and a drooping smile on the left side
after the surgeon removed his parotid gland.
Still, he lit up the room with that smile, and dark
brown eyes, eyes like no one else in the family.
Picture a high school gym filled with classmates,
a red carpet, his girlfriend holding his right arm,
black velvet crown on his glad head,
a poster child for the happy, raucous
cheers from the crowd. Later that evening,
a show at Water Street Music Hall, his band
Fivestar Riot opening for Dysplastic Revulsion,
he’s still wearing the same crown, the homecoming
king’s cape, singing Better, his best song.
That was a year before he died.
See me now, sitting at the foot of his bed
the night he left us, asking, Are you scared?
No, he says, the knitted skull cap
tossed on the wheel chair, Just curious
about what’s next.
I am touched by the recollection of a parent, and I think about sitting on my boys’ bed and the kinds of answers they give to my questions – often very unexpected answers, like this one: “No, just curious about what’s next.”
How do these poems speak to you?