On occasion
in the wee hours
when a memory falls out of the wild blue yonder
right into my lap
I wonder about my high school classmates of 1971
Peering at all those happy moments in graduation photos
and the candid moments of mischief
for which yearbooks are famous
Right before we would move out into the world
as women and men on a mission
so ready and willing to burst upon the scene
we knew all there was to know, man              or so we thought
champing at the bit
even while the nation waged war
moving into that long summer
that still had some peace and love left.

I wonder about my classmates of 1971
I wonder where in the grand scheme of things
they all landed
Have they finally wised up
caught their dream by the tail
are they basking in luxury                  or barely getting by
but getting by they do                         one way or another
Are they taking a drink                       inhaling a quiet smoke
or using their willpower to stay away from both
trying to squeeze in some more time on the planet
convinced there’s so much more to do            and there is
Making a list as they go out for a walk               getting rusty bones to move
while watching for pitfalls
and watching what they eat
finding joy in the here and now?

I must confess that now and then I worry                 
might they be victim to disease
maybe a freak accident
or did true crime come to call       
did some perish way too young
in the killing mayhem of Vietnam
or its aftermath that has never ended
Over the years word has come of dear classmates falling
resting in peace in cemeteries
or their ashes scattered in the wind and waves
drifted to somewhere from whence we all came
and all will go            
Let these lines find them all
and hang here in the air to show
they will be missed                 a perpetually whispered amen and fare thee well.

But then I take a deep breath    
and would much rather imagine all of my classmates
of that time and place
enjoying a sunny life still
on some beach                        in some paradise
out for a meal with friends and kin
rehashing all their triumphs
laughing and clapping
dancing to beat the band
just generally living it up
playing poker perhaps             drawing just the cards they need          
loudly ecstatic for their winnings at the casino
or lotto lightning finally hitting in just the right spot
or quiet here beside a river with a dog
in the sweet dark woods in Pennsylvania
in the shadows of a hill
or on a train winding over a mountain
reading a book
and stealing long looks out the window
listening to echoes of Woodstock in their heads
where the best of memories reside like a non-stop hit parade.

May we gather here to celebrate all that we gave
and all that we were
and all that we are still
still turning pages       still making marks      still holding hope high
still making mischief and chasing dreams
It’s not true what they say about learning new tricks
My classmates of 1971 and I
calmly carrying on
until we can no longer
and may that date take its sweet time getting here.


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