I held her hand tightly, because I could. It’s what she wanted. It was sure as hell what I wanted.

She was visiting me from out of state and I was showing off the city. We had been wandering around Manhattan all day and now long into the evening. It was New Years Eve and we had taken the train in from the Island to watch the ball drop. That would be later. For now we were just looking for things to do that didn’t involve being out in the cold.

So we lingered, here on the top of this tallest of buildings. Seeing the city spread out before us…the warm orange glow of sodium vapor lights stretching out in all directions…as far as the eye could see. It was pretty, interspersed with the dark tendrils of rivers and the blotches of bays and inlets. To the east it came to an abrupt end where the mainland gave way to the dark Atlantic.

Somewhere near, in relative terms, stood a twin. Just as high but you never thought about the other tower when you were up here. You were too awed by the panorama and the engineering marvel you stood on top of. The observation deck was dark and combined with the glow outside it had an intimacy. I was no fool…that is why we came here.

It was always quiet at night. For some reason no one spoke. Or at least they spoke in whispers. At the Narrows I could see the lights of the Verazanno Narrows Bridge. My grandfather, a union electrician had worked on that illumination; as he had done with the building we currently stood in. I never thought about it at the time. He had been involved in so many of the iconic public works around our city.

Now…now that place where Jenny and I stood is no more. Pulverized into dust. The soaring steel arches melted down to make warships and toaster ovens. We stood atop a massive structure that turned out to be as fragile as the egos of the men that built it. I’ve lost that memory of Jenny. But more importantly, those men, those zealots that flew airplanes full of people into the spot where Jenny and I stood, those men, took away the legacy of my grandfather. They took a little piece of me I cannot get back. Like so many New Yorkers, we lost a family member. An in-law of a cousin, a fireman trapped when the towers came down. I never met him so the grief did not touch me directly. My only loss was of memories and legacies and while those hurt, they can be gotten over.

Still, Lower Manhattan will never look the same to me. The imposing view from the Staten Island Ferry. The sweet memories of my Grandfather, and the night with Jenny live on, but they are tinged with melancholy. I miss the buildings. I miss Jenny. I miss my Grandfather.

© Glenn R Keller 2021, All Rights Reserved

Last Words

Image by Nile from Pixabay.

Some day

You don’t even like clowns!

I knew it. It had to be a woman

Swear you’ll call me

Call me

Call me

You had better call me

You were supposed to call me

We’re just too different

You don’t seem very upset

I don’t see why you’re so upset

He and I are serious

No. I can’t


I don’t understand

Try to write

What did I do wrong

I have a boyfriend

I’m married

I can’t come. My basement is flooded

Are you ever gonna hit on me?

Where are you going to church?

Can I wear your class ring?

I hope Elaine didn’t scare you off

Like you cared

Oh never mind

I think we’re done

Cold hands, warm heart

She is a complete addict…let it go

I guess there is no reason for me to stick around here

This won’t work

I hope I can see you soon

We left so many things unsaid

© Glenn R Keller 2021, All Rights Reserved

Lost In Time

Image by liggraphy from Pixabay

The Blue RIdge, hazy in the distance

Walls off the valley, bulwark against the outside

Cows stand like ancient sentinels

Waiting for history to happen again

Old schools float like islands in an ancient sea

Grounds still littered with grape and canister

They set their own rythyms

Cadences of a bygone era, steadfast

Bugles sing their songs day and night

Up and down the valley floor

Constant as the sun and moon

They are singing for ghosts

Reveille, first call, mess and taps

Melancholy, time upon time upon time

They call the ghosts of old soldiers

They grow fewer and softer

Sunday parades mollify the ghosts

Sabers flash, shakos flutter in the breeze

Drums roll, parents beam

Front Royal to Blacksburg, on all the islands

Pretty girls from fancy schools

Girls you can’t afford

Watch like girls always watch

Then dance with boys in blue and grey and green

The girls are perfect debs

The boys all spit and polish

Prideful and haughty

Heirs of a vanishing realm

The ghosts take us by the shoulders

“Oh Stop and listen to our tale.”

“There was good here. There was grace here.”

But they shot the albatross

The signs remained even then

The signs put the lie to it all

Unrepentant, put it all to the sword

“We reserve the right…”

And so the people were and they weren’t

And they did and they didn’t

And they would and they wouldn’t

Beautiful, she is marked with a scarlet letter

The girls walking on tartan carpets

Eating under crystal chandeliers

The boys polishing their brass

Drilling to ancient rhythms

The misty hills

The rolling rivers

Intoxicate you like a potion

You fall in love despite yourself

The girls grow old, they are your sisters

The cadets grow old, they are your brothers

The valley is eternal, bruised and beautiful

Easier to love with both eyes open

© Glenn R Keller 2021, All Rights Reserved

Running In Geneva

It’s pitch black out and the steady rain insures that it’s not going to get light anytime soon. It’s 5am on a winter morning in Geneva and I’m going out for a run in the rain without really knowing where I’m going.

I can remember small things…running by the florescent lit parking garages of a residential block. Towards the end of the run going down an airport road…working vehicles rumbling by me in the predawn rainy gloom. I don’t have a lot of specific memory points from that run but I wonder now if I ran by some places that my mind has confused with Richmond or Indy or something other place I’ve lived.

I’d never been there before and having arrived the previous evening, I’d never even seen the area around the hotel in daylight. But out I went, soaking wet the whole time. No distance in mind, just time. Was it an hour? Maybe.

The rain, the dark, the lack of orientation all magnified the experience. It’s why I still remember the feeling so vividly even if I can’t remember all the details. It’s a feeling filed where I can easily recall it. I’m feeling it now.