normalizing

pronounsOn June 26, 2015, that historic day when the Supreme Court decided that same-sex marriage would be legal in all fifty of the United States, I sat on a bus stop bench near Macy’s on 34th Street waiting for Bob to come out of Sketchers. We had just finished meeting with the lawyer who was preparing closing documents for the sale of our apartment and Bob wanted to look at tennis shoes.

The mundane character of how we received the news was poignant. I was now granted the unfathomable freedom to marry the love of my life who was shoe shopping as I sat on a bench among the unaware Midtown tourists only a half a mile (but a world away) from the epicenter of the impromptu celebrations popping up outside the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.

Continue reading “normalizing”

back to school

1963
school picture, 1964

I have spent nearly my whole life either enrolled in a school or working for one.

So, August is always the beginning of a new year for me—the hours of anticipation, the new space full of new supplies, the fresh start, the fear of failing, the return to routine and assignments and work.

I’m resurfacing three of my essays that live in that back-to-school world and the anxieties of beginning again:

bridalwreath

IMG_1195antique lace
skirts garden steps
the train of a gown
still brightly bleached
and pressed
despite palpable dust
on fingertips
and faint fragrance
of ancient talcum

on swayed branches
catching my eye
each year
an unassuming
mid-May surprise
halfway between
the giddy parade of
spring’s confetti blossoms
and summer’s sizzling
thick green canopy
marking the memorial
of my first breath Continue reading “bridalwreath”

nyc recommendations

img_9871I was asked recently on Instagram for my NYC recommendations. They aren’t what you’d expect:

whatsup.tony
Hey jimkempster! Are you based in the NYC?? 🙂 I’m heading there to make Facebook videos and was wondering if you have any recommendations?! Thanks!

jimkempster
@whatsup.tony Recommendations?

Explore every minute you’re here. Eat whatever smells good. Attend anything hosted by artists or groups of artists.

Come up with the most idiosyncratic list of unique, bizarre, exotic, uncharted, beloved things you’re interested in and then Google them with “NYC” attached, and you’ll have 100 days worth of things to do.

It’s all here. Continue reading “nyc recommendations”

symphony

 

city dawn sq

It starts with a soft hiss
in the dark
that percolates into a jangle
like chains
being pulled through pipes
which, in turn,
complain
of growing pains
with loud clanks and bangs
as they learn
again
to radiate heat.

The sheets
and the dog are warm.
The bathroom tiles will take
a little longer to comply.
I lie awake and watch
the dark blue silhouetted peeks
wink open
as windows light
one-by-one
to the rhythm
of my radiator
symphony.

marcello’s lullaby

img_1529

Oh, how I love my sweet ‘Cello bello boy!
I love him right up!
Did you meet my sweet ‘Cello bello boy?
That rascally pup!
How I love Marcello.
How I love Marcello.
How I love my sweet ‘Cello boy.

On the street, my sweet ‘Cello bello boy
is growly and gruff.
If you greet my sweet ‘Cello bello boy,
he’s rowdy and rough.
But at home, Marcello
is my sweet Marcello.
How I love my sweet ‘Cello boy.

Watch him run, with his feet flying, ‘Cello boy,
a wag in his tail,
and the wind ‘neith the ears of my ‘Cello boy,
like flags on a sail!
On the run, Marcello.
(Cutest bun, Marcello!)
How I love my sweet ‘Cello boy.

Go to sleep, my sweet ‘Cello bello boy,
and dream of a day
when the squirrels and the wheels, ‘Cello bello boy,
have all spun away.
Go to sleep, Marcello.
Dream sweet dreams, Marcello..
How I love my sweet ‘Cello boy.

Lyrics by Jim Kempster, based on the melody of a waltz by Vince Guaraldi.

Continue reading “marcello’s lullaby”

my trip with burt reynolds

Burt Reynolds Deliverance_why

I fell in love with Burt Reynolds in 1972 on a CYO field trip.

An eighth grader at the time, I was too young to wonder why the Catholic Youth Organization of St. Catherine’s Church in Kansas City had included among their schedule of mixers and amusement park field trips, a few outings to the local theater for first-run films like Deliverance and Cabaret.

Continue reading “my trip with burt reynolds”