It was on the 20th of January that Lillie’s Victorian Establishment—on West 49th Street on the blessed Isle of Manhattan—found me. Above the entrance there is this message: “Celebrating friendship the old-fashioned way,” and that’s exactly how I came to write the bit of verse below.
Roland Caldwell was tending the bar when I entered, and he enjoined me at once to sit at the bar with him. Right away I felt as if we were friends of good long standing. We began to talk about life and its various aspects. That’s not unusual. But when Roland exclaimed with passion, “I miss carpentry!” he gave my wandering mind a focus.
So here they are, the fruit of my focused mind below and, at the top, Roland himself, to whom I dedicate and offer this bit of verse for the continued strength of his inspiration and passion. May he live long and love well all that he does and all whom he knows.
Aye, Miss Carpentry,
It is Orlando, your ardent admirer from slightly younger times.
I am estranged now, and sadly so,
For I am no longer privy to
The cold-blooded shriek of your hot-bladed saws, and
The teasing their fine edges committed on the rough tips of my fingers;
Nor am I neighborly now with your lathe, the lathe that so gracefully turned
My life around you.
My life around you
Brought to me that rich heartwood, a stuff of great hope,
Hope that this love would never die, never decay!
How I long for the misty dust,
The dust which covered my floors and softened my heart,
Filling my very breath with your magic—
But was, alas,
Bound only for the lowly dust-bin,
Mere evidence of an act not meant for repeating.
Thus do I lie
Bereft, in truth, of your
As I stand, waiting,
On one side of a rather ancient bar made, ironically, of