New York-born, and a former business executive, Cantor has lived and worked in Japan, Europe and Latin America and now resides on Plum Island, north of Boston on the Massachusetts coast.
His poetry has appeared in Measure
, The Formalist
, Dark Horse
, Iambs & Trochees
, Texas Poetry Journal
, The Atlanta Review
, and many other journals and anthologies.
--Back to Poetry Contents--
There was a time when mornings were defined
by bicycles, and sturdy girls who rode them
to their office jobs through cold, damp, still dark
Flanders winter mornings: full of laughter,
as they lingered in the downstairs hall;
sweater sleeves pulled down to fingertips,
bare, unshaven legs chapped flaming red.
A time when colleagues all took pains
to call each other Mister in the paneled rooms;
suit jackets buttoned, wool as thick as armor;
protected so, they moved among the odors
of tobacco, coffee, leather binders,
strong cologne, themselves; and shook hands mornings,
and at lunch; again to mark the end of day.
At night, on Lange Herentalsestraat,
a billiard table sat in every bar:
the players, still in sweater-vests and neckties,
maintained a thoughtful distance as they paced
and squinted, cues held tightly to their chests,
while they lined and measured through the smoke
that seemed to cling to every cautious shot.
And there was laughter from the RubensBar
where women wearing low cut camisoles,
who overflowed within the window seats,
would kiss companion’s cheeks, and flirt in French
or Flemish, English, German, Swedish, Dutch;
in thicker air than ever was or was before,
with distance, and with manners, and with care.
A time to pass the shell-pocked fronts of houses,
and see, and yet not see; look past the scars,
wash blood from clotted blood, put stone on stone,
restore the earth, rebuild and resurrect,
and do not ask whose blood, what earth, which God,
but hope that something had been learned in blood.
There was this time, one time, and then it passed.