The Note

What can you  know at thirteen
of letters of love, soft words
of declaration – pouring forth
gushing admiration for
a high-school Adonis?

I was vulnerable, feminine,
soft – everything you’d expect
from a girl-child in love.

Too sappy, sincere, honest,
she told me —
He’ll show it to everyone – No,
not this note. But…

sad-broken humor
the only way to avoid ridicule –
You MUST
play the jokester,
not the lover,
she said.  

(I acquiesced.)

Later, in dark rooms,
I re-read
the first note
that would have told you
I was enamored, in heart-felt awe,
of the boy-man you were becoming.

I thought of old stories –
how we laughed together
as children. Side-by-side,
uncommon neighbors,
toddler playmates – until
the time-memory slipped away
and We were gone.

~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~

Apology was the first step
those few years later – us
technically grown, adulthood –
failed marriages, our own children,
lessons learned and learning —

Living in dark places beneath
burning turmoil, we were Us
for a millisecond, a moment.
— Then, the dark night shifted
fell from place —

The Muses laughed,
threw complication
into the mix, Fate
danced through the shadows
bumping into Us
jostling Me and You — then
the time-memory slipped away
and We were gone.

~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~~

We speak without voices —
typed-letters on a screen,
new notes
written twenty years later
in real time.

Now we are friends
as we were playmates – some
strange connective-bond built
in a sandbox —

before we could know
the game we live in,
the jokes Life plays
and the roads we would choose
to follow.

And, I am still thinking
about the note
I should have given you —

 

September 2011

 

Artwork: Chiaro di luna by Escha Van den bogerd. You may find more about the artist and other works here.

 

 

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Husband

I live you
breathe you
love you, but
seldom write
poems about you.

The sun shines
without being
written.

The air moves,
invisible life,
never seen.

You
are the flow
of these
necessities
through me.

You are soil
holding my roots
in place,
nourishment
written
in your name.

Your face –
my memory.
Your arms –
my home.

Otherwise, my
spirit filled with
gypsy blood –
too crazy, too unorthodox
for the masses –
burns.

You are
all the deep-true
things that carry
me. I thought
it was time to
write a poem
for you – So
this is yours,
husband.

Perception

 

I am
a question mark written
on the pages of your life.

You are
a melodic song
I will hum on lonely days.

We are a question,
a melody forever playing ~
water to thirsting strangers,
food glorious to starving men.

I am a child dancing
too close to the fire.
You are a roaring flame
licking the edges of my soul.

February 2011

Revenge Served Cold

Excerpt from RAIN: A Collection of Short Stories (1999).

The gentle summer rain danced like poetry across the old tin roof of the trailer. Most of her life had been spent in trailers, or “mobile homes.” It was a fact she despised. It seemed like she would never escape the trailer parks that marked a poor person in the south. She always thought there would be a better time, a time when she’d live in a fancy house on a large, open piece of land. That was the dream inside her brain and heart so many years. The dream that pushed her further and deeper into perfectionism and goal-setting. The dream that, when it failed to materialize, pulled her backward into a spiraling depression unlike any other dark thing she’d even known.

She reached those pinnacles of success at different times. Lived in nicer apartments and even a few houses through the years, but it never seemed to last. There was always some disaster, an unexpected health issue or a job loss, which led her back to the less expensive dwellings and lower-middle-class neighborhoods.

The trailer park was its own special phenomenon. It existed under a thousand different names in a thousand different small towns, but Sasha knew the truth, it was the same creature underneath. You could always count on the basics: a drunk living down the road, rebellious teenagers wreaking destruction on nearby mailboxes, a few pedophiles and peeping toms, angry spats between the neighbors that had slept with one another’s mates, and at least a few old people relegated to the mix, usually without any family that visited – unless there was still some money to be had or a car to borrow.

Sasha (more formally, Sashuanna, an Indian name that no one could manage to pronounce correctly) realized she had become the very stereotype she’d always hated. She was now the 50-year-old, standing on the back porch of a trailer, a cigarette held between her long red nails, wondering how the hell she ended up back where she started. Luckily, she knew the bitterness that came to mind in the vision of the stereotype didn’t really belong to her. At least, not yet. She had a plan. Her lips parted in a half-smile as she thought about the future. This would end…in just a few more days, she’d say goodbye to trailer parks forever.