Writing Like a Lawyer

When I decided to become a lawyer

After decades of scoffing

At bourgeois stuffy boring men

In suits with briefcases

Like my father

I enrolled in law school, conveniently just

Down the road.

My first class was Legal Writing because

You know

You have to write to be a lawyer and

Lawyers have their own bourgeois stuffy boring language

I thought.

So for my first assignment

I wrote fluently, cascades of fancy words

Whereas accordingly insofar ascertainable approbation and so much more

Wrapped around a meaningless core, all these Latinate


I was proud as a peacock.

I had written like a lawyer

Like my father.

When the professor returned my assignment with comments and corrections

She wrote in red

On the top of page one

This is gibberish.

So that is how I learned

The hard way

To write like a lawyer.

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Rule #2

All widowers are permitted

After a respectful period of mourning

To fall in love again

And be happy.

Except for Karl

When I die he can choose to

Immolate himself in utter despair

Or become a monk.

Those are reasonable options, no?

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Rule #1

These people are entitled to talk about me when I am dead:

My children

To their respective psychiatrists

That’s it.

Anyone else can think about me

Or plant a tree in my memory

On an as-needed basis.

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I Beg to Differ

I am full of quirks

For instance

I dislike people asking for money to fund

Life, art, a honeymoon in San Cabo.

Go fund my ass.

It feels like begging to me.

Although I once begged for a living

I admit.

It was on the streets of Haight-Ashbury

I was living in a commune around the corner with

Peter and the baby and some other folks

Getting by on welfare while Peter

Listened to music and got high.

So I panhandled for cigarette money, baby slung on my hip

And asked people walking by

Any spare change?

It was not a bad way to make a little extra but

Honestly it was a lot of work.

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I invented ghosting

I ghosted a man before there was even a name for such a thing

Back in the dark ages, like 1970 or so.

I even lived with this man and

Slept in the same bed.

So how can you ghost someone you live with?

You might ask.

Well, you get up one morning

Climb out of bed

Having surreptitiously packed a suitcase the night before

And left it in the hall.

You put on some clothes

You bend over the bed where

The man is sleeping all wrapped in an Indian bedspread with embroidered mirrors

Flashing colors, scented with patchouli.

He wakes and looks up at you with adoring eyes.

You say, I’m just going to the store for cigarettes, be right back

And he says, okay and rolls over.

I gaze longingly at the bedspread which I have to leave

Even though it is mine and I love it

But I don’t see how I can explain taking it with me to buy cigarettes.

So I exit, picking up my suitcase as I close the apartment door behind me

And get on a plane which will take me from San Francisco to Boston

That will save me from long arguments about why I will not stay.

So that was the beginning of the ghosting epidemic

For which I take sole credit.

I am a pioneer.

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When I say I don’t like funerals

And that I don’t want one when I die

It’s not that I am cynical

At least that’s not the only reason

It’s that those who grieve for the dead

Maybe even the ones who loved the dead person

Only actually mourn the foretelling of their own death

The thought of their own lives curtailed

When they too will end up a pile of ashes in a box.

So they cry

And tell anecdotes that are reminders of how lucky the dead person was

To be the mourner’s friend.

When you are dead you are only a catalyst for sorrow, and

At the mercy of other people’s


Your own stories are buried with you.

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I was feeling cold

It’s 15 below zero this morning

I closed my eyes

And out of nowhere


Holding my just born granddaughter

All swaddled

And how the warm of her

Warmed me

And vice versa

I am not sentimental, not a bit.

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