when i take my mother-in-law to the cemetery
i remember to bring along a small handful of gifts

a guitar pick to leave behind for Uncle Rocco - 
those are special for him to come by

he can play his mandolin and the others can dance
oh man - the bounce of his younger year
spry arpeggios - now an angel's flutter
about ears, naught to do but butter the air

Uncle Rocco enjoyed a smoke and a glass of red wine when he played,
he wore a gray wool vest with a white shirt, sleeves rolled up,
spectacles at the bridge of his nose, sight-reading the lead-sheet off the stand

Uncle Rocco's playing invited people to sing, 
although he never sang himself,
he left the space to chime in

I once left him a Marlboro Light and a fresh book of matches

for my mom i bring dark chocolate nonpareils,
cherry cordials, and a Whitman sampler of assorted
delights, how excited she is to push past the fancy paper and
the sponge-board to the hidden candy underneath

she also likes Irish creams

i bring my dad the racing form, especially on sunny dry days
when the track is fast and chalk horses fly past the wire with profitable regularity

a beer and a dog at the paddock-concession for old-times sake

and my Grandfather loves his TV Guide, the gateway to viewing pleasure,
a grid of events aligned to time and channel coordinates, 
a study in multiple dimensions

cc: Chagall 2021