Henry was handsome, tanned
and newly rich. He liked fine cigars
and the shine of other men’s wives.
While the men tended to their money
Henry lent a gardener’s hand
to the slender reeds they’d married.
Henry was sunshine in their bartered lives
but Henry didn’t come from money.
He’d stumbled into its pocket.
And when he did he weeded out
the middle-class wife, the sometimes sex
and split-level house he called his life.
He wanted to live like Sinatra.
He wanted the Cadillac, the pinky ring,
nightclubs where you slipped the maître d’
a fifty and he memorized your face.
But Henry wasn’t Sinatra.
Seasons changed. The money withered.
Desperate to keep his tan, he planted
himself in Vegas trying to win it back.
He bet the pinky ring. He bet the Cadillac.
When the loan sharks took everything
but his life, the garden emptied,
the wives went back to their husbands
as if the weather had never changed.
My father went to see him after a stroke
left him broke and broken, not a soul
left to impress. He cried and looked away
when my father took his hand.
Henry , my father said,
there’s no shame between friends.