Songs of Love, But Not for Her by Dick Altman

Songs of Love, But Not for Her

by Dick Altman

They made me/named me when they were thirty.

Nineteen years after they met, fifty years before she

stepped suddenly out of the dream. And he four years

later. By then it was too late for me to ask if love songs

he wrote for Sinatra and decades of others were written

for her. Or patterned after her. Or the two of them.

His lifetime of composing sang of love’s uncertainty,

tumbling off its peak, trying to climb back up.

I can tell you their love was not the love of popular song—

jukebox memories stitched/sung a hundred different

yearning ways. None of which would have been true.

He didn’t quite live on the street where she lived.

He didn’t discover her some enchanted evening.

Or across a crowded room. They were first generation

Americans, escaping only from childhood.

No hint of love songs to come. No hint of endless hours

writing, singing at the piano. I don’t recall lots of laughter

between them. Theirs was a love of bickering,

non-stop chirping—to this ear, a song of love.

And they sang it to each other beyond anything Ella, Frank,

Billie or Dylan sang of his. Play my one love a rhapsody goes

the line of his first hit, at 23, and he did, and she was.


Dick Altman writes in the high, thin, magical air of Santa Fe, NM, where, at 7,000 feet, reality and imagination often blur. He is published in the Santa Fe Literary Review, American Journal of Poetry, Haunted Waters Press and many others, here and abroad.  He is a poetry winner of the Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition.  His first collection of poems, Voices in the Heart of Stones, is being considered for publication.

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