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Wednesday, October 11, 2017


by Bob Stanley

Stock vintage photo.

I didn’t forget about the old photo of Nicolai,
or what grandpa said about him,
that tears came easily to his eyes,
and that his oils of snow-capped mountains,
with rivers running behind blue pine trees sold well.
Grandpa told me Nicolai loved men instead of women: he always did.
The Nazis had taken him one evening
as he was going out dressed for the theater,
dressed in a long black coat and fedora.
They took him to camp Mauthausen,
robed him in striped pajamas and gave him a pink triangle for a name.
At the end of the war,
the allies liberated the camp,
but Nicolai was found naked and dead,
nothing left of him but a winter’s husk and dead raven’s eyes.

I often wonder looking back,
if Nicolai and the men he loved
were as happy as the men I saw dancing,
on the paper mache float in the Gay Pride parade:
with their asses exposed in black leather chaps,
red jock straps, green feathered boas, lipstick and heels
and sun-tanned smiles?

Grandpa died last week.

So now, looking at this old photo
of Nicolai and Grandpa at the beach as young men
I’m left to wonder
how I shall pour out what is left of my life.

Bob Stanley lives in Pickerington Ohio and works for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles as a civil servant. Personal heroes include brother Joey, brave companion in the fiery walk of the family past and what is to come, and his late mother Lillian who demonstrated both the healing and destructive power of imagination, and his father Jack who instilled the value of hard work.  Bob is currently working on his first novel and his first collection of poetry.  Bob likes to remind people that Franz Kafka and Herman Melville were also civil servants.