(in memoriam, Eugene Lawler, d. January 29, 2012, aged 83 years)
You fancied yourself a singer,
and indeed you were.
What songs we heard from you
you had made your own,
and you gave them freely
to all who would listen
(though we were just a few
who were, at times, inattentive.)
Time and remembrance may color
the images you left behind,
and the sentimental songs
you sang (and scribed on silver disks
for us to hear when, and if, we will),
may prod us to recall
your willful, dour demeanor
which could bloom into benevolence
or darken further in stormy sneers
at tardiness, or at perceived
maltreatment of any sort.
You were your own arbiter of behavior
who kept before you expectations
of what was appropriate, for yourself
and for us, the others of your kind.
We were few (still fewer now),
who flocked together on occasion
to celebrate, in quiet fashion,
whatever anniversary we chose --
perhaps your passing date
will become another to be marked.
And your voice, reproduced mechanically,
amplified, may remind us of our loss,
and of yours.