dedicated to my dear friend Thomas Steinbeck
(son of John Steinbeck)
August 2, 1946 – August 11, 2016

Whenever I stare into your deep blue eyes
I see what your life has stood for—
as son of one of the greatest literary figures,

enduring your own battles,
from the soils of Vietnam to New York law offices,
seated on knees of giants,
and on doorsteps of terror and resistance.

I sit here with all the missing jigsaw pieces
from your life’s pages,
as I feel your tug into past lives,

and my desire to pull a magic wand
to strip your painful memories.
But, as you know pasts cannot be erased,

as we now carve memories
into the minds of those left behind
neither obliterated nor glorified,

but left wrapped with tight elastic
and sealed into a pain-free box.

A long time ago, I decided
that there are no accidents—
just serendipitous encounters

with those who were meant
to be aligned with our karma.

Thus, our good fortune has united you and me
as our sensibilities hang on similar Buddhist clothesline
only separated by spin cycle hours.

Hues of blue during my midnight reverie—
those chocolate bars you brought me
cast shimmering shadows on my grief-stricken soul.

You are gone but always present.