John Has Dementia

by Tim J Brennan


Over coffee, we talk
circles and directions,
north, because I am
from Minnesota

John cannot remember
how to spell the city
he now lives in, nor knows
the zip code—

praise is between us, debt also,
my one palm open for us both

faith is still with me, he says,
a nod toward his wife

his own palms lie up,
floating, almost like
they are waiting
for each other

a semblance of answer
for this kind of madness.

He brought me champagne
for my first theater festival
in Lincoln Park, Illinois,
a basement theater
of story-tellers

he told me in a mentor’s voice,

when the first line is spoken watch
how the light is in each breath

of the actors—
how God empties his pockets
of all small change: a penny
and three nickels will roll
away during each act

  When his umbrella doesn’t open
  before we leave, John laughs,

  I wonder if it comes from China?

  it’s raining enough to darken streets,
  dryness disappears in a blink—

  Nancy told me to not take him far,

  …and for God’s sake, keep an eye out,
  he wanders in an instant these days.

  On the way to the cafe, store fronts
  flick by like a nervous twitch ~
  I tap-tap-tap on the steering wheel.

  At a stop light, an old man leans
  over a trash bin, face clenched,
  takes off his coat, puts it on,
  twice in thirty seconds

  Look at that, Sonofafabitch
  doesn’t know this day from last—
where are we going again?

  Coffee, John, it’s right around
  the corner

  And we both stare ahead,
  not another word spoken
  until we arrive.

Tim J Brennan’s poetry can be found in Minnesota Voices, KAXE public radio, Volume One, Barstow & Grand, Talking Stick, Bright Light Stories in the Night, RockPaperPoem, etc. Brennan’s one act plays have played across the USA, including Milwaukee, Colorado Springs, Ypsilanti MI, Waxhaw NC, Taos NM, Chagrin Falls OH, and Lexington KY; also internationally in England & Mexico.