No More Unexpected Calls

For Doug Manning

No More Unexpected Calls                                                   (For Doug)


As he drives through Charlevoix

on the way to the UP,

where we searched for a cabin in the woods.

Years later he found one.

He first showed me this country some

forty years ago.

I need a buxom lass, he called out,

who is up for a swim, though nearly midnight

in Northern Lake Michigan.


We first met in Saint Louis,

two Michigan boys working on

the Mississippi River. Never missed lunch

at Hodge’s Chili Parlor down on Market Street.

Fast friends, and somehow we knew the bond would last

through friends and partners and moves and ups and downs,

through rag top bugs and pickup trucks.

Never argue nor refuse a good bowl of chili.


He grew up a man child of this north country,

a hunter, a sailor, a gregarious soul

who made me feel special each time we spoke.

Cards on the holidays in some exotic pose,

usually a hat of some proportion,

a smile to match his wit.

And on each November eleventh,

For nearly forty years,

an expected call no matter

where he was off to,

hunting elk or moose or whitetail,

Thank you for your service.


But it was those calls out of the blue

that I will miss,

expecting me to drop everything for a road trip.

And sometimes I did,

and I will never regret answering the call.