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Mark M Lichterman

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  What If:Vol5-5:What If
by Mark M Lichterman
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Rated "G" by the Author.

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Recent poems by Mark M Lichterman
•  Elderly Woman
•  November
•  Words, I Need Words!
•  Really, What If
•  Sex Now
           >> View all 410

What if I never lied?
What if we parted in 1952 and never saw each other again... until?
What if we did meet again... sixty years later?
What if we never met in the first place?
What if?
Vol 5-5 can be found following Vol 5-4


What If: Vol 5-4

10/8/52: Goodbye


Finding it all but impossible to sleep on this

his last night at home,

sleeping but a few hours,

awakening before dawn

the young man felt the anticipated loneliness

as a factual weight upon his stomach…

as a factual weight upon his heart.

With hands crossed behind his head

he stared into the shadowy darkness until

daylight mottled the ceiling and walls.

Coming off the bed,

sitting on the floor before his dresser,

taking it from the bottom drawer,

holding the luxurious folds of the

cranberry-colored cashmere sweater

tightly across his face he closed his eyes

and the emotion of the past four months,

along with the knowledge that in two hours

he’ll be leaving his home and all that has he loved

ripped through him as dynamite upon a floodgate and,

sitting cross-legged on the cold linoleum floor

with the softness of Susan’s sweater tightly held against his face he cried.

He cried until there were no tears left to cry,

then replaced the cranberry-colored sweater into the drawer.

Lifting himself from the floor,

going into the bathroom,

he brushed his teeth and washed and shaved.


At 6:40 a.m., five days after taking a physical exam and a written test,

after signing papers and swearing to defend the United States of America,

the young man gave his car keys to his mother,

and after tearful hugs and kisses goodbye to her and his brothers

waving goodbye from the curb,

his canvas bag held in one hand

and a manila envelope containing

indoctrination papers in the other,

the young man was driven to Union Station by his father.


Waiting for the call to

 “All aboard”,

they stood at the same platform that

four and a half months ago

he had stood

when he awaited the train that was to take him to

Rochester for the entrance exam that,


brought him back to this exact place,

at this exact time.


The father and son waited in silence.

Each smoking a cigarette,

both tried to think of appropriate

words to say to each other.


“All aboard!

All aboard!”


Dropping their cigarettes to the concrete,

grinding them beneath the toes of their shoes.




“Yeah, Dad, I guess…”



as though pushed by some unknown force,

their arms about each other

the young man felt the roughness of his father’s unshaved cheek

as, his eyes moistening,

“Dad, I love you.”


Saying what he had never said,

“Me, too,”the father said to his son,

“I love you, too.”

Breaking the hold of their arms,

“Take care of yourself.”


“I will, Dad.”

Turning from his father…

but turning back,

giving him one last, fast hug,

he saw something he had never seen before:

his father’s eyes were bloodshot and watery…

Turning away,

without looking back,

he ran to the train,

up the steps and into the coach.


The train left Union Station at 8:05 a.m.


What If: Vol 5-5

10/8/52: What If?


The train chugged through Chicago,

out of Illinois and across Indiana.

It went through Ohio, Pennsylvania

and into New York state

arriving at Grand Central Station

in New York City at 9:50 p.m.

The train departed

Grand Central Station at 10:08 p.m.


The overhead lights off,

the coach was bathed in a soft, orange glow

that did not reflect onto the window so that

his forehead resting on the vibrating window

the young man was able to see out as…


The train sped through the dark countryside

where the only visible pinpoints of light

came from distant farmhouses

and vehicles running on roads parallel to the train.

Rushing past hamlets and sparsely populated areas,

the scattered lights became brighter as they came closer…

until they blurred past the window reminding him of the

old radio advertisement for his

Captain Midnight Atomic Ring:

“Like a shower of shooting stars.”

The young man chuckled to himself,

then remembered with each rotation of the steel wheels

with each passing second he was being taken further

from everything he had ever known

further from everyone he had ever known

and loved

 —which really was why he was here in the first place —

In his mind’s eye he visualized his mother, asleep, and his father

—glancing at his watch which was still on Chicago time—

watching Morrie Amsterdam on “The Late Show.”

And his brother,

sleeping in what was,

up until today…

his room.

His thoughts returning to Susan

he philosophized:

At any time you can turn a corner,

or cross a street to get a hot fudge sundae and “bam”,

your life is changed forever!

Further thinking:

What If I didn’t lie?

What if I told Susan’s parents the truth?

What if I told Susan the truth?

What if?

Staring out the window,

straining to see what was to see in the black night.

What if dad didn’t want a cup of coffee at that time?

What if we didn’t cross the street at that time?

What if we didn’t go into Walgreen’s at that time?

What if?

I wouldn't be here!

Sighing deeply,

an overpowering maudlin feeling came to him and

becoming unbearably sad and

unbearably lonely and,


Willing himself not to cry,

shutting his eyes tightly…


the feeling passing,

opening his eyes,

he looked out the window…

Looking out the window,

becoming heavy,

his eyelids drooped…


and within seconds were open again.


seeing nothing but the rushing black night,


what if,

the young man crossed his arms across his chest,

sat back

and thinking,

what if ?

Turning his head…

asleep now,

the young man rested the side of his face against the gently vibrating window.

Asleep now.




©February 28, 2012 / Mark M. Lichterman







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Reviewed by Donna Chandler
As always, perfect and intriguing.

Reviewed by Laura Fall
A remarkable story and enjoyable read as always my friend Laura
Reviewed by Rose Rideout
Great work as usual Mark.

Your #1 Newfie Friend XOXOXO Hugs, Rose
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