Piece of My Heart by Pat West



Tapping the yellow notepad in time with Wichita Lineman,
I try to figure out the eulogy for my friend’s memorial.
So far, I’ve shoveled burnt toast
and the whole morning’s writing into the garbage.

I think back to how we’d nodded at one another
for weeks in Grant Park, then he stopped
to introduce himself.  Harvey, the retired Marine
with a gray ponytail and his miniature schnauzer.
Right off, he asked where I lived.

There, I pointed to the white Craftsman across the street.
After that, he dropped by with his Seahawks travel mug.
We’d sit in weathered brown wicker chairs
on my front porch.  My mother would have called this
a coffee klatch.  One day he pointed to a couple
of young people in the park,  My guess, they’re doing it,
she’s on the pill.  That’s paradise.
The way he’d laugh so hard he’d snort,
made me laugh, too.

Over the years, he’d bring up Vietnam or Nixon
or the Democratic National Convention back in ’68,
a year that we both agreed rattled us to our bones.
Harvey, you lean any farther left,
you’ll fall off my porch flat on your ass.
He grinned a grin that began in his eyes
and spread everywhere at once.

A few weeks ago, after one of the primary debates,
he ranted a volcanic stream
against Republican candidates’ tough talk
regarding banning Muslim immigrants
and bringing back waterboarding.
I offered no argument, just sat there
and listened to this loud old liberal, this man
who could change gravity in any space he occupied.

Since the writing isn’t going well, I’m also making a mix-tape
with Glen Campbell, and the simple sex
of Simon and Garfunkel—
the professionals, the ones
who can translate my heart’s handwriting.

About the Author: Pat West


Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, Washington.  Her poems have appeared in various journals, including Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, San Pedro River Review, and Slipstream, and some have earned nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.