Sunday, February 28, 2010

160 - kiss off wedding crasher

my lips caress
pink puckered flesh,
a line across her neck.
where they took the lump
the week before our wedding,
whispering breathless
it is gone.

What can you say in 160 character? (spaces included) Go see Monkey Man.

Just in case you thought it was only my boys and I in our family who wear our scars proudly. T had surgery the week before our wedding to take out a cyst on her thyroid. Nothing to mar her beauty though. Smiles.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Brotin Tale: Carrying the Weight

It's that time once again, to journey into the twisted minds of Otin and Brian on another Brotin Tale. This month it is my turn to open, and I look forward to seeing where Otin takes this one. Sit back and enjoy...

her head snakes, fists pushed firmly into her hips for emphasis. though muffled by the window where i watch, her voice cuts like a knife into old memories as i feel my head dipping low against my chest, mirroring his.

inhaling deeply, i turn back to my empty classroom, busying myself with gathering papers to take home to grade in front of the television. an inadvertent smile slips across my face, seeing the hot pink flier for the science fair.

so many of my students could care less, yet a few would find this their time to flourish. not blessed with athletic talent, they would turn themselves over to the mind and let their imaginations run free. some would even go on to be teachers. yes, i look forward every year to the surprises they bring me.

tomorrow will be a good day, my finger finds the switch without a thought, leaving behind the weight i felt at the window.

i know i should not, but i indulge myself in a steaming sup of sumatra, black, no fru fru, but i want to be fully engaged as the kids pour in with their projects today. windshield wipers whip back and forth in a frenzy to keep up with the rain, each sip of coffee leaving a hint of steam at the edge of my glasses.

gravel crunches as i pull into the comfortable familiarity of the school parking lot. few cars are here this early, but a shadowy form lingers by the door, my lights play across the front of the building, highlighting tommy holding a heavy cardboard box.

dashing between puddles to avoid getting completely soaked, my key rattles in the door, saving questions for drier confines.

tommy, what are you doing here so early?

just excited, i guess, he mumbles into the box, eyes cast guiltily away from me.

did your mom drop you off?

i brought my project and wanted to show it to you, he avoids my question deftly, offering an easy distraction. after yesterday afternoon, i am sure he needs a break.

go on in the cafeteria and set it up, i will be along shortly, just let me drop my things in the classroom. tommy is a good kid, i have no problem leaving him unsupervised for the few minutes it takes me to return.

wow, what is that? my mind races as the lights and components, briefly wondering where tommy could get such equipment, quickly lost in the wonder of his brilliant device.

its a happiness machine.

a happiness machine...what does it do?

it will fix things, like my family. making them happier...

the first inkling of concern pulls at my conscience, he sees it on my face, his finger flips the switch without a though, leaving behind the weight he felt while i was at the window...

Now go check out Otin for the rest of the story...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

55 - finger, finger...

leaving his finger in iran,
dangling by his wedding band
on the soiled yellow tooth
of a front end loader scoop,
he dances the others
before our wide eyes,
poking in pockets, asking
which of us stole it,
forcing giggles to erupt
from our adolescent faces,
trading smiles for the
ghost that could haunt him.

Tell a story in 55 words. Give it a try or just read more, go see g-man.

based on the life of my great uncle bob.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

coke bottle kisses

glass coke bottles
from the brittle slender weeds
by the railroad tracks

dirty fingerprints
across their smooth reflection
in the afternoon sun.

(all for a nickle)
when we let them go,

conveyor rollers
carry them out of sight
leaving nickles to buy another

and we kiss the lips
of that glass bottle,
and get carried away
laughing and joking
our hearts light
with fizzy carbonation

until they put them in plastic,
which just isn't the same
(but we drink it)

and then New Coke
(what were you thinking)
but we drink it
wishing it was just the same
as a glass bottle coke.

real love
ruins our taste
for any other,
though we try to
recreate, repackage, reformulate,
it just isn't the same.

For other takes on the theme, visit my friends at Theme Thursday.

Thanks to my fellow poets and jingle for another Poet's Rally award for last week! I nominate Lauren.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


the rains came that year lashing the earth, scouring her clean like a mom with a washcloth wearing out her children's ears, washing away all that was not secure...

rivers run
fat and swollen
a silent army
carving new borders
pillaging yards
dragging everything
into its gullet

out the window of my dad's rust red truck, my attention is lost in the smooth surface slipping by, brown with mud. little whirlpools spin on its surface, dancing lazily around trees, collecting frothy bubbles. the back of a lawn chair pokes its head up from the current, reaching from its prison, only to be pulled back under.

trees stand
somber and tall
a captured audience
watching patiently
waiting for
the river to
turn on them

color draining from my face, i see her pinched tight against the solid trunk, clinging for life as her oppressor's grip tightens, threatening to take her again. she quivers, losing, stop the truck. before it's too late...

arriving back at the house, we towel her off, feeling the coolness of her skin through the terry cloth. scrapes and scratches tattoo her, telling a violent tale, and i know we will be friends.

i am five when i learn that good things can come from storms, just like my first big wheel, found the day the rains stopped. when the rain comes, as it always does, so do her memories.

Monday, February 22, 2010

magpie tales: initiation

schrik...a match flares brilliantly in the thick ink of a recessed door off the alley way, settling into a warm glow exposing only a jagged mouth and chin.

what are you looking for?

he waits for specific words that will let him know i am here for a reason. my lips spill them before they leave my addled mind and he allows me to pass, his cold grey eyes following me each step of the way. his lips purse, blowing out the flame with the howl of a great wind.

course hands grab me, forcing a hood over my head, binding my wrists. voices whisper from all directions. a firm grip pinches my upper arm, pulling me through a river of twisting passages, up and down stairs, prolonged stops where they leave me, only to find me again, moving. my head swims, breath hot, pushed back in my face by the clothe.


concrete chews my knees, my eyes pinch tight, blinking, slowly becoming accustomed to the light, hood rustling off my face. the only thing visible is a worn brown skull, surrounded by crimson candles on gold pedestal holders. voices boom from the shadows, as i stare into the empty sockets, a litany of responsibility and secrecy.


working myself upright with arms bound takes effort. achieving the task, a hand snakes out of the shadows, pushing me backwards, others lower me into a plywood box. darkness envelopes, a lid is placed and hammers begin to pound, sealing my fate.

fingers become my eyes, feeling the cramped space for what they can see; nothing. the coffin rises from the ground, swaying with movement as muffled voices begin my eulogy. ropes hum against the wood and i feel myself lowered to a jarring clomp on the ground. earthen smells seep in through the cracks, heavy thumps of what i can only assume is dirt rattles against the lid.

i don't know if i can bear this.

nails scream, the lid pulls free and they bid me rise.

you are one of us now.

i see their faces, now in the light, smiling. i smile to keep from crying, my heart skipping with excitement and relief. it will be two years before i realise some matches can't be blown out so easy, once lit. eventually the secrets begin to burn the tips of your fingers, and they won't let you drop it.

they may even be reading this now.

This was written for the picture prompt at Magpie Tales.

Monday Male

I have the honor and privilege of being the Monday Male over at Gillian's, which strangely makes me feel like a picture on a calendar. Actually, I was pretty excited when she asked because I have never been to South Africa, except through her words. Do check out her site.

And remember, I never wore tights.

Thank You Gillian!

Comments are off, I'll be popping in over there throughout the day and see you tonight with more Magpie Tales.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

160 - Pig King

raising his snout
in obstinance,
he builds castles
of his excrement,
just to remind her
he was right,
and she is wrong,
though now he is
lonely, but
he is king.

What can you say in 160 characters? (spaces included) Go see Monkey Man.

For kicks and giggles, here is the original 160 I wrote in my notebook at the book store a couple weeks back that eventually turned into the piece above. Sometimes I wonder is it more important to be right all the time?

you know
you are right
which means
she is wrong...
he is wrong...
which leaves
you king
of a very
lonely castle
upon the hill
that you built.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

the day she left me

the house sits
in crowded silence
around me

i find
bits and pieces
of her everywhere
left in the wake
of her leaving.

in red
lipstick letters
on the mirror where
i stare into my
hollow eyes

on my
pillow,as i
am about to slip
between the
frosty sheets.

the next clean
page of my journal,
dominating the

she plays
hide and seek
with my heart, knowing
just where i'll look
for her.

love notes
left to remind me
of the man she sees
inside me; her love
is a feeling and
an attitude.

T and the boys are off to visit Pappaw, leaving me alone for the weekend. She hid a bunch of little notes around the house for me to find along the way. Just one of the reasons I love her.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

55 - superficial (snikt, schup, click and sigh)

silver razors
slide sharply
releasing love letters
bills or
discarded neatly
in wicker baskets
by her Lay-z-boy.

some say
she's crazy,
only the envelopes,
like facebook friends,
in brown
cardboard boxes,

but they
keep her insulated
on cold
winter nights,
talking to them
about things
they won't
even read.

Tell a story in 55 words. Give it a try, or just read more, go see g-man.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

the bell

the black bell stands,
resolute in its watch,
behind the house,
atop the hill,
casting shadows,
pull rope twisting
in the breeze.

we pause,
in the crinkly grass,
beside it, watching
the golden sun
recede slowly,
across the valley
into night.

he listens
for the sweet toll,
to call him home,
across the fields,
to dinner
one last time.

i yearn
to pull the
weathered cotton cord
to ease his mind.

For more takes on this theme, go to Theme Thursday.

Today we also ring the bell for Barry , who will be ringing the bell at the end of his final chemotherapy. Listen for the clang-a-rang of celebration at 2pm Thursday.

Also, thanks to jingle for the wonderful Poet's Rally Award. I nominate Yousei Hime.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

magpie tales: shine

polishin's sumpin'
mah daddy taught me
when i's young, on
sundey mornin's and
special 'cassions.

an ole red box,
made o wood
and wondros things;
soft brown rags and
respect n'a
flat round can.

we'd rub it roun n' roun
n' put on a shine.

silver'd be saved,
all put away,
for dem special days;
family a comin'
or jist
ta celebrate.

we'd rub it roun n' roun
n' put on a shine.

n'every other day
i'd jist be me,
nah worry bout
bein' fancy, cept
sundey mornin's and
special 'cassions.

ah n'er did unerstand
why'd have ta polish
jist ta hide mah tarnish.

This was written for the picture prompt on Magpie Tales, a new story meme by my good friend Willow.

Monday, February 15, 2010

512 Calhoun

feeling the cool ribbed texture of the rebar entwined in my fingers gives a small sense of security, as i watch drawers fly from their holes in the cabinet, clattering loudly on the kitchen floor. tin measuring cups and blue stirring spoons join the growing pile of debris around the ankles of the men ransacking my apartment. they don't even bother wearing masks, this can't be a good sign.

i can hear summer singing in the last rays of sunshine slipping over the mountains, calling and end to the school year. exams are but memories, long forgotten stress drained, here on the front deck of our house. my roommates have fled for home, leaving me straggling behind, packing up last minute things before i find the road myself.

growling like a rabid dog, the tires of an old brown El Dorado drag to stop in front of the house, leaving angry black lines on the grey asphalt. his red and black shirt flaps in the breeze, over a white wife beater as the driver rounds the front of the car, his henchmen pouring out the passenger door. stepping back to watch from the cool shadow of the door, they meet me there driving me back to land squarely on the couch.

don't move.

one heads instantly for the stairs, another to the kitchen, while the leader sneers, casting his cold shadow across me. my stomach knurls in the aloneness that floods my body with each thump and crash. hands hanging limp and useless by couch touch the hard metal rebar that has slipped under its edge, that would untimely go into the windows for added security. no sense in being discrete i place it in my lap, his lips curl into a crooked teeth smile.

an avalanche of footfalls pour down the steps, words bark from their mouths, my eyes never leave them. pausing by the door, a hand rips the phone list from the wall, balling it in a pocket, and then they are gone.

it takes a few minutes to convince my legs to move again, then they propel me constricting walls onto the deck, lungs burning for fresh air. breathe. breathe. a thousand "if onlys" cackle at my weakness, but "if only" i might not be here. it does not make me feel much better.

the sun is gone now, a discarded yellow orange couch sits by the dirty green dumpster, my only companion, turning grey in the encroaching darkness.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

160 - isolation ward

fingers probe
the lock, learning
its contours
here in this
cold concrete room
wondering if i locked
everyone out or
myself in?




then you
walk in.

What can you say in 160 characters (spaces included). Go see Monkey Man.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Love met me when I least expected it. May it find you today.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


the sound of a thousand heartbeats sends vibrations, like small earthquakes through the crowd that waits for that first string of music to come floating on the air. eyes meet, but don't see, everything blurring into one big finger paint abstract art piece. all the colors of the rainbow.

there, i hear it, and we make our way onto the track, breath leaving our lungs in a rush as we lift our heads high, some with wet trails down cheeks, some showing teeth in large cheshire grins. for this one moment all is right in the world, at peace on the playing field together.

these are the Olympic games.

i walk behind him, letting everything wash over his face. the excitement, the energy...intoxicate. seeing his mom in the sea of people, it bubbles over, as he yells, screaming, lost among all the others yelling and screaming. but he know she hears.

she is there, when he needs that last little push to make it to the finish line, when he wants to fall to the rubber race surface and quit. her tears and adulation, mix into a balm to sooth his hands crimson and raw from each step. we dance in endless circles, to celebrate, medal sparkling on his chest, pale beside his heart. arm raised high in crooked wonder, his lopsided smile threatens to swallow the rest of his face, and he believes anything is possible.

tonight, as regal music pours from the small television perched on the bar, athletes following the procession wide eyed, lost in its current, i think of him. of a weekend shared fifteen years ago, when i volunteered to be a coach, and just happened to be paired with him. i wonder does he ever still run his finger across that medal and remember just how special he is, and that the possibilities are endless, even in that wheel chair.

i di jit...

yes, you did buddy... did it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

55 - lingerie & edible things

rocky road ice cream melts
in thick brown puddles, soaking
deep in the carpet
by the chaise lounge
where she lies in
sexy lingerie, dozing,
dreaming of prince charming,
as he sends one more email
from a desk miles away
picking at cold noodles
in a styrofoam container,
oblivious to flowers wilting
from loves inattention.

Tell a story in 55 words. Give it a try or just read more, go see g-man.

Just a few days until Valentine's Day, but why wait. Tend your flowers, like you want them to live!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Theme Thursday: Mirror

i watch as she
pulls a silver backed brush
through the knots in her hair
making them smooth,
like her mother taught her,
wishing she could do the same
with her life,
filled with knots
slipping tighter
each time she pulls
and while she talks
i do not speak, only listen
because i have seen
all she has to share
and can only reflect,
on her, truth as i see it,
no matter how much
she wishes to break me.

if i could talk
it would only be
superficial anyway,
but what do expect
when you talk to mirrors?

For more take on the theme, go see my friends at Theme Thursday.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

black & white

the world is
black and white
with shades of grey
where epitaphs are chiseled
to remember the day
you last brought
color to my

i miss
your plum lips
breathing rainbows
across my horizons.

how much longer
will it be before
you are home
from the grocery store?

Monday, February 8, 2010

the day they dropped the bomb

i was there the day they dropped the bomb, watching it whistle as it broke the air before it, all the way down to the concrete.

stark white purity lay across the field, unmarred by what was yet to come. breath becoming solid, fresh out of our mouths, clattering to the sidewalk; drum beats stirring our hearts to battle. heavy words taunt us into action, first one shot, then two, excitement spilling over into madness, as laughter fills the air with each fallen comrade.

it began as a small skirmish, between families defending borders, laying claim to the land between us. soon cousins and brothers, then acquaintances spilled out doors, down paths to join. the air became crowded, buzzing like hornets, our boots sucking deep in the snow as we dive for cover.

soon none of us remember how it even started, only marvel at the hundreds that have joined some unknown cause. setting right, some wrong that was never intended. my hands ache, my legs are stiff, but i press on.

what else is there to do, when they cancel all the classes because of snow, finding yourself trapped on campus? a snow ball fight for the ages, and then...

men in black armor, bearing shields follow a megaphone mouthed man issuing orders to cease and desist, which are lost amongst the clamor, until they drop the bomb. this scream captures all of our attention, we pause staring slack jawed at he red and white casing pirouetting through the air from thirteen stories, plummeting down...


crumpling like an accordion, the coke machine implodes, sending cans of pop whizzing like rocket propelled grenades, spraying sticky brown mist across face and bodies, dripping down to our fingers.

looking at our red ripe hands, wet and shivering, we seemed like a good idea once, but now we just walk slowly away, back to dorm rooms...pondering the bomb. and all that it takes away.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

160 - sweet & sour paper airplane trashcan memories

on a soft cotton sheet
by the open window
she lays in
silent repose,
his hand
it tightly
against the clouds
slowly erasing her memories.

see you soon, mom

what can you say in 160 characters (spaces included). go see monkey man.

This one was the completion of the trilogy of 160s the last couple weeks. Here together for your pleasure...

on a Chinese takeout menu,
under a brown stain
she writes in
angry letters
an apology.
it neatly
she flies it
out the window to the world.

i forgot you

on a soiled paper airplane
beside a steel trashcan
he reads in
heavy tears
her words,
it absently
among the debris
in the alley out her window.

i never did

on a soft cotton sheet
by the open window
she lays in
silent repose,
his hand
it tightly
against the clouds
slowly erasing her memories.

see you soon, mom

Friday, February 5, 2010

simple things

when i was younger
i wanted elaborate things
giant houses with endless rooms,
fast cars and bling
so i worked, worked, worked
chasing the American dream
from airport to airport
missing the first year
of my son's life, barely
dating my wife...

oh what a life...

sitting here, now
in the soothing shadow
of the grape arbor,
sipping black coffee out of
a brown barrel mug
(that cost a quarter
at a yard sale)
watching my boys
throw snow balls
at my wife...

a simpler life...

guess i better
put down this notebook and
go defend her honor.

Enchanted Oak is doing a Simple Things Challenge on Saturday. Post about simple things you cherish, link up and for each post or comment on her blog $2 will be donated to a medical clinic in Haiti. Perhaps it will help provide a few simple things.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

55 - origami

it all starts with
a clean white page
flat on the desk...

fold, fold, fold
fold, fold, unfold
unfold, crease

admiring my paper dragon,
all the intricate maneuvers
that sustain him,
opening wide he
consumes me

chomp, crunch, munch

my day begins
with a clean white page
flat on the desk...

Tell a story in 55 words. Give it a try or just read more, go see g-man.

Looking for something to write that will make a difference? Enchanted Oak is doing Simple Things this Saturday and for each blog that participates her family will donate $2 to a medical clinic in Haiti. For complete details, check it out here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Theme Thursday: Red

smoke tendrils rise
round her face
catching in creases
left by life.


another butt rings
on the rusty coffee can
by the concrete stoop
where she sits.


sounds from memory,
phone receiver bouncing
on mustard linoleum
dangling by the cord.


beautiful once, now
staring through cars
careening through intersections
ignoring the signs.


red neon vacancy
flickering overhead
pointing furiously
at her faith.


no one notices
this forgotten valentine.

For more takes on the theme, go see my friends at Theme Thursday.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

end of the road

from the dark shadows
living in basement corners
at the edge of light
the tattered map finds us,
breathing new life
into the afternoon sun.


up the step we fly
before our new wings
collect the weight of dust,
slowing us down, nor
dashing our dreams
into the afternoon sun.


down forgotten roads
rising to kiss wetly
black rubber bike tires
we follow our finger
along drawn dotted lines
into the afternoon sun.


at the end of the map
dangling our legs over
the edge of the world
we look down on the clouds
on their way to tomorrow
into the afternoon sun.

i dare you to jump.

and so we do,
before we get to old
to wonder.

Monday, February 1, 2010

inside man

cold steel cranks around my wrist, pinching at the hinge and i can't help but smile. i always wondered what this was like, as the blue man group leads me away.

brushed concrete floors clap to the tune of steel toed boots as we march back and forth, truck to shelf, unloading the cargo. furniture. baby seats. clothes. box after box. after box.

jewelry and electronics go into lock-up, up the freight elevator, clang, clang, clanging as it rises into the darkness between floors. little white button on the wire mesh cage...buzzzzzzz...i have today's shipment to unload.

this is where he makes the deal, in hushed voices, out of sight of preying rotating eyes mounted high in the corner. they will never know what hit them. his eyes hit me with the left hook of seriousness.

how did he come up with the idea? are you sure you did not just get cold feet? what do you hope to get out of telling us this? white walls seem so cliche, like they watched one too many cop shows, before they decorated the interrogation room. shiny gold badges delight in my confessions.

here is how it will go down...stale coffee breath lays out his plan.

rubbing red ringed wrists, i watch him lay out the story in his own little white room, pushing stick pins through my wings like a butterfly for his transgressions. little does he know, they heard me story last week, before he ever hatched his plan.

i was the inside man.