Saturday, July 31, 2010

160 - beyond yesterdays

on a bench by the river side
brown water rolling by
he looks far & away

rubs the stump
where he lost his leg
all those yesterdays

yet the sun
bows to his joy.

Say it in 160 characters (spaces included), then tell Monkey Man on Sundays.

Met this veteran at the park, he made my day just sitting and talking. He had every right to complain or be sour, but he was too busy living in the moment.

Friday, July 30, 2010

nudists in the quicksand

tires hummed on the road into town, everything green sparkling after an afternoon shower, when we passed a peculiar man walking through his yard in very little clothing...

"did you see that man?" i asked T.

"yes, he had on really short shorts and no shirt," she replied, not realising what was about to transpire.

"we saw a naked man at the gym (when we went) with grandaddy?" cole started it.

"was he in the shower?"

"no he was just walking around the locker room."

"did you point and laugh?"

"nooooo," drawn out with exasperation.

"did you know there are whole communities of people that don't wear clothes?"

"what?!?"

"where do they go to the bathroom?" obvious concern spurs logan's questions.

"well they have bathrooms, just like us, they just don't wear clothes."

"do they have a Target? and do they go naked?"

"they wear clothes when they go out of their community."

"are their pets naked?"

"oh cool. a naked dog, probably one of those naked cats. i wonder if their mice are naked?"

"no. i don't think they have naked pets."

"and naked snakes."

"i bet they do, when i grow up i am moving to a naked community to find out where they go to the bathroom and if their pets are naked."

"yeah cool. and i will be the police man to make sure everyone is naked," everything is cool to cole.

"you boys are bad," T finally chimed in, trying to save us from slipping further into conversational quicksand.

"but you will have to be naked if you come and see us."

"i will not be visiting. you will have to come and see me," and now she was stuck as well.

"oh look, there is a firetruck..."

"i want to be a fireman when i grow up."

traffic flowed into the Target parking lot and i was content in the knowledge we had averted raising naked police officers that enforced nudity on hapless people that accidentally took a wrong turn into their community, at least for today.

"wonder if they have naked firemen."

ok, maybe not.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone...and yes, these are the conversations we find ourselves in at times with Cole and Logan. If you are looking for something a little more poetic, I did a guest post over at Jumping Tandem.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

55 - keys, keyholes & other romantic training


boys learn lock picking
in middle school locker rooms
(the same day they
roll condoms down bananas--
inflating egos, as if...)
while dads umm and ahh
through awkward conversations
on living room couches
during desperate housewives
about things their sons
learned online by age eight;
no wonder there are scars
on so many lock faces.

What can you say in 55 words? Give it a try or just read more, go see g-man.
And for more keyhole musings, check out Magpie Tales.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

out of the shadows

it is safe to say, you probably would not have noticed me, huddled there beneath the stain glassed window, the words "i saw the light" trickling through to drip down the windowsill upon my head. the white washed boards bit into my back, hands crucified by the nails of their rejection.

i did not belong there. i was not the type, is what they told me.

so i sat in the shadows, mocked by their light, that would so easy leave me in foreboding dark. but the shadows, they embraced me fully in consoling arms.

rejection was nothing new, just weeks before she had slid the knife between my ribs finding the tender flesh of my heart with its prick. if only the silver blade had not been my good friend that she had just roused from between her sheets, i might have found hope once more.

all i had to trust, were these two hands. no, you would not have noticed me. only the shadows.

the shadows whispered sultrily of things that could be mine, if only i allowed them, things that would take away the pain. they promised much, so i signed the contract in crimson.

for a time the shadows renewed my strength with confidence beyond which i had never known, though some might have called me mad if they had noticed. none could resist the wiles they taught me. names were not important, that would be too intimate and intimacy was limited to what they could do for me. to let anyone get closer would have compromised the shadows that concealed me.

spirits dulled the pain, unless of course a stronger medication was required, of which i was a ready participant to stop the bleeding within. you may have noticed then, but it was not me, only a means to an end, of me.

for a time, the world was mine, until the illusion shattered within my grip, its sharp edges driving deep into the hands i trusted. then even the shadows abandoned me, writhing on the carpeted floor of my room. breath would not fill my lungs enough even to call for help and that is where they found me.

it was snowing the night i left the hospital, and i could hear the darkness howl as the pure white curtain was drawn across the landscape. streetlights formed halos and i started to whistle as i ambled toward the light, one step at a time.

the shadows still visit me on occassion, but i have only to light a candle to see through them.

"whenever you see darkness, there is an extraordinary opportunity for the light to burn brighter." ~Bono

This is a Theme Thursday post.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

in memory


before i start this poem
a moment of silence
for friends that have fallen...


japanese lanterns
hang lightly on limbs of trees
lining the road
winding through the cemetery;
those that fall,
burst,
scattering seed
that grow in their memory.

Its been a rather tough week in blog land. Two friends that I was priveleged to know and read passed away. I appreciate the time I had with them.
This is for One Shot Wednesday. Write a poem and come join us.

Monday, July 26, 2010

my name is...

i lied, the night we met,
telling you my name was Roman---
the anonymity felt good
after getting out of the hospital &
i was learning to breathe again---
putting my pieces back together
after breaking
d
o
w
n---
but by the end of the night
i let you in, scribbling it
down in orange colored
pencil on torn scrap paper,
because it was all we could
find & when you read it
out loud & my name crossed your lips
i wanted to poke it back in
with my finger
because it felt
like home.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

mourning after

"one day you will die..."

we were sitting around a wooden picnic table, in the middle of the park, kids climbing the monkey bars, slipping down slides, giggling into the arms of waiting parents. a group of teens stood to one side, comparing multi-colored discs, before their turn on the frisbee golf course. a few older men, grandparents maybe, pointed here and there at the children, making comments we could not hear.

our table was laden with orange and yellow wrappers of cheeseburgers and boxes portraying Ronald McDonald in fanciful colors, standing next to the propaganda for the next big kids movie. empty ketchup packets, drained of their substance, peaked from within the grease stained bag our lunch had been carried in.

the conversation, that had been light and fluid, ground to a halt, like overused brake pads against the drum, as i looked into the innocent smile of my seven year old son, his statement heavy in the air. the bite i had just taken of my burger, tasted like cardboard and stuck to my tongue like peanut butter, choking me. forcing it into my throat, it burned the whole way down, all the moisture in my body lining up on my eyelids.

coke chortled in the straw as i took a long pull, before managing, "yes, someday."

"can we go play now?," his question seemed so awkward, but right, as he stood outside of the shadows that crept into my thoughts.

"yeah, let's go play," i grabbed him by the middle, fingers finding the spots that make him wiggle, legs kicking, arms flailing, as he danced in my embrace.

~~~~~

Standing at the foot of his bed, i watch as they unfold the board game, Sorry, his little fingers placing the pieces in their starting circles. blue for him, red for mom and yellow...

"hey, why are you putting out three?" she asks playfully, tousling his hair.

"one for you, one for me and one for daddy."

"honey, daddy..." hot tears spill down her face and i am moving to embrace her, to take away the pain.

"daddy is right there," he points right at me, but when her gaze passes through me, i shudder, knowing she can not see me.

"no, your dad is..."

dead. two days after the day at the park. barely two weeks ago. yet the morning after i found myself here, and only my son could see me. he is one i have come for...

For the rest of the story, go see Tina.

This is a 10DOM post.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

160 - dingo ate yo baby

it was not
the dingo that ate yo baby
but you
tearing small chunks
with gnashing teeth
to feed your
self indulgent pride

now he's gone

still it's all about you

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

One of the boys I worked with...seemed every time we started making progress his mom would nip his heals and chew him up...he moved out when he turned 18, received his GED and is holding down a full time job...so there is a somewhat happy ending...

behind the scenes

it has been 367 posts since my last award post. i typically don't do them, (as was pointed out by the grantor) but i am making a special exception (because she got her cohort to bludgeon me as well...smiles) really, i have enjoyed getting to know these two wonderful ladies, through their writings...

Me... is a great blog friend and a reality check for me. she blends the everyday with some wonderful poetry and stories, particularly for 55's on fridays. she always has a kind word when she stops in, always leaving me me smile.

Kkrige...tells some of the most amazing stories about her trip to Africa. really you should go read them now. she also writes some wonderful poetry and has been a great encourager of mine.

i am supposed to tell you seven things about myself...i honestly wonder what i could tell you that i have not already...most of my stories revolve around what happens in my life...sometimes i do throw a twist in there...but 90% come directly from experience...even the creepy ones, i just crank it up a notch...it is all in how you paint the detail with your words...

i used to paint quite a bit...mostly watercolor...and won a few awards. i have always loved writing though...but i let it go dormant for about 18 years...which is about the same time i have 'gone commando'...but i think that had little to do with it...although it does bring up some great debates with the boys on why they need to wear underwear...i just don't like to be restricted...

kinda like not being able to sell our house and having to move back...i really struggled with that...sometimes i still do...and feel like my life has been in a long stall...it has given me the opportunity to explore my writing though...and the bills are up to date...not having reliable internet at the house though really bites...

i will eat just about anything, once...king cobra...hagis...matter of fact the only thing i wont eat is lima beans...force fed them as a kid...bleauck! my boys are about the same...they just cover it in a ranch dressing/ketchup mixture...which is a little gross when they put it on their green beans...
so i figure there are seven in there somewhere...just in case..i can touch the tip of my nose with my tongue...we will leave it at that...and i like to listen to music while i write...particularly the ONCE soundtrack and anything by pearl jam...and if you read all the way to here, you deserve an award...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

55 - dreams that sink, and some that fly

we broke cattails,
by the side of the pond
where the reeds grew thick,
their heads bursting in fluff
that spilled through our fingers
like dreams---
most fell into the water,
slipping beneath the surface,
but the ones that caught the breeze
we chased barefoot along the bank,
---until we grew up
and forgot to.

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

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

at the park

we were at the park,
the day the dinosaurs came back.

bright colored pterodactyls,
wings fluttering,
swooped down from the sky,
sending boys a'scattering
ducking beneath the slide
unfortunately, that's where
velociraptors like to hide.

they laughed & giggled
quickly running out of breath,
then sat on wooden bench
to eat a picnic lunch
chomp, growl, rip & tear
just trying to fit in,
with jurassic table manners,
much to mom's cha-grin

then with a great big sigh
and smack of their lips
they curled up with daddy-saurus
beneath a tree, to take a little nap...

...until the fun begins, again.

Just a silly verse today for my little dinosaurs...and Theme Thursday is at the park this week.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

granddaddy's hands

granddaddy's hands
(coffee & cream,
the texture of sandpaper)
smelled of wax
he twirled into his
handlebar moustache &
sooty singe of saving a life.

he saved each of us
in some way, me,
as the face i awoke to
on nights my body seized
in my sleep & my sister,
the day the hatchback
tried to eat her fingers,
leaving a mangled mess
of twisted flesh & as much
as those hands of his cared,
they were hard (when we
needed them to be) teaching us
respect, like waiting to open
presents on christmas until
all the dishes were done, so
all the family could be together,
the same respect he taught
the men that lined miles of road
in full salute as his pine box
made its last call & every
time i see a fireman, i look
and remember...

granddaddy's hands
(coffee & cream,
the texture of sandpaper)
smelled of wax
he twirled into his
handlebar moustache &
sooty singe of saving a life.


Ready to take your One Shot? One Shot Wedenesday, post a poem and come join us....it opens at 5pm EST tonight.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wild Ginger

i taste her on the lips of every woman i kiss, though it has been twenty years...

fire flies float lazily over the field, like stars fallen from orbit, come to play with us. the copse of trees that ring the field provide shadow that i wrap myself in, listening for their approach. we found this field a couple years ago, through the woods behind our neighborhood, and most summer nights this is where you will find all the boys in our neighborhood, playing manhunt or hide and seek.

twigs crack, sending my heart racing, as someone approaches my hiding spot from somewhere over my shoulder. too late to move, i quiet my breathing, pressing myself further into the cool dirt at the base of a thicket.

"what are you doing?"

"shhh....they'll hear you," rolling over to see whose sister is about to spoil our evening.

for a moment, i forget to breathe, not because of the stick not jutting into my side, but because her skin shines, smooth as alabaster, in the moonlight. a cough erupts from my chest, lungs aching for relief as a new sensation jumbles my insides.

"who..," my voice croaks.

"my name is amy," her's carries like a melody that fills the night.

game forgotten, we sit, our backs to the tree and talk. her family is moving to seattle and while her parents are looking for a house, she is staying with her grandmother at the house on the corner of our neighborhood. hearing our raucous laughter in the woods, she had snuck out to investigate.

our words fill the space in between us as the moon makes its way across the heavens, parting the stars in its wake, as hours slip away. the boys either forgot about me or seeing me with a girl, slipped away in disgust because we never saw them. not that i would have noticed.

she tells me about her life thus far, moving again and again with her dad's job and wonderful places i only dream of outside of my small town existence. i share my desire to escape and see the world. she talks of girlish things too, but i don't mind. what was an annoyance before, seems fascinating now. she is a new treasure that i turn round and round in my hands, exploring every facet.

too soon, the sun pokes its head above the trees at the far end of the field, casting a spray of orange and pink across the horizon. perhaps intoxicated by its brilliance or all that we shared, i feel myself lean into her. my heart beat shatters the still of the morning until our lips meet.

she tastes like honeysuckle, warmed by the sun. her hair plays across my cheeks and the ignorance of my first kiss is replaced by a new hunger. we hold onto the moment, refusing to let go, until voices calling her name, followed by the sounds of people coming, break us apart.

we separate, words clumsy and awkward, as we make promises to see each other later. she slips into the trees and an ache forms a knot in my chest, as if i knew, like the sun, the end would arrive all too soon.

the next few weeks, we are inseparable, as she slides into my life like a missing puzzle piece. we spend days at the creek and nights under the stars. even the guys accept her, when she comes to play with us at the field, though i imagine it is because she is a fierce competitor. then one day, walking down the sidewalk to her grandmother's house, i watch as a van pulls out of the drive, her face in the rear window, one hand pressed to the glass. my tennis shoes slap on the asphalt as i run, but it is too late and i watch until they turn left, heading out of my life forever.

...every relationship i have had since has been non-committal, haunted by a ghost of the summer when i was thirteen, and gave away my first kiss.

being in seattle, on business, brings all this back as i look out the window of the wild ginger, absently picking at my pad thai. the restaurant is bustling with the lunch crowd, conversations providing background buzz to my daydream memories, when she walks in the door...

Go see Amy at She Writes, for the rest of the story...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

160 - roar of the dandelion

others
think of their lovers
as roses
admiring their beauty

but you are a weed

carried by a
warm summer breeze
filling my yard completely

&

i like it that way.

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

Friday, July 16, 2010

Brotin Tales: Loose Ends; all tied up

Welcome to the twisted mind of Brotin. This time around I got to start the tale and can not wait to see what Otin does with it...

it was never supposed to be this way.

my fingers throb, raw from the effort to free myself, several fingernails torn, leaving red stains, quickly fading toward brown, on the ropes that bind me to the bed. this was supposed to be my honeymoon.

the last several weeks seem like a blur, all the last minute preparations for the wedding, making sure the day was perfect and reflected just who rob and i are, and who we were becoming. seeing him in the tuxedo, standing at the altar, took my breath and left me with dreams come true.

i haven't seen my husband since the taxi ride from the airport. the first day i was here i screamed for him, for them to let me see them until my throat burned from exertion. exhaustion weighs on my chest, even my eyes have run short on tears. not that the two men that check on me care.

the walls are rough cut timber, no windows, just an open doorway with a heavy blanket across opening. the bed is steel framed, to heavy to move. i tried everything i could think of to escape. i keep trying, fearful of what giving up means, hoping that rob is still...

when rob walked through the door, i knew he was the one. not in a superficial way, i think it was the way he carried himself that first attracted me to him my sophomore year at the university. he was with another girl when he came to the party, but he left with me. three years later we would marry.

they have left me clothed for now, the small floral day dress i wore on the plane, it clings to my figure, damp with sweat. periodically the men have given me water or some weak broth, but made no move to harm me other than what it took to secure my arms and legs. i plead with them to release me, but they hardly even notice me.

arriving at the airport, rob secured us one of the many taxis lined along the terminal sidewalk. as we drove through town, he smiled, anxiously pointing out beautiful statues or marvelous architecture. i could barely take my eyes off of him. at a stoplight, men wrestled the doors open, forcing a black bag over my head. that was three days ago, based on the number of times i have been fed.

i hear the men chattering in some language i do not understand, drawing closer. the blanket over the doorway pulls aside as they enter, standing at the foot of the bed, their eyes crawling up my legs to meet my eyes. this is the moment i have dreaded. panic twists in my stomach, forcing my body to thrash against the bonds to escape their gaze.

"where is my husband!", i screech over and over, reality slipping loosely from my grip.

"hey babe!", his voice draws me back, as he steps through the blanket, dressed in a suit, cigar tucked firmly between his fingers, tendrils of smoke slithering toward the ceiling.

the shock addles me, so the first thing that comes to my mind is, rob doesn't smoke. all three men smile at my confusion, sending a shiver running the length of my body.

it was never supposed to be this way.

What happens next? You will have to visit Otin to find out...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

55 - every little t'ing gonna be alright

sidewalk street band,

rasta man
got a drum
'tween his knobby knees

dancing lady, arms akimbo
shake, shake, shakin'
da tamborine

two singers sway,
singing a breeze

honk, honk
we add as we
drive on by

joining our voices
to the reverie

cept d'ose standing
wonderin' what
da hell's happenin'

come on ev'body
let's sing.

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

the memory of this random band on the way home the other day provided a much needed smile today, so i thought i would share it. have a great weekend every body!

brotin is back tomorrow night!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

when i was younger, so much younger than today...

down the diminishing length of her cigarette, she sits, sucking as if its her last breath. for it just may be. holding the warm smoke inside, letting it twist and mingle, she exhales loud, with purpose, as if she can blow it all away.

setting the cigarette aside, her finely manicured fingers tear her napkin into paper dolls, crinkles of contemplations furrowing her brow, as she chisels them to the right size, meticulously. a small smile turns her lips, in the taking away, for once it is torn, it will never be the same.

filter to her lips again, she takes a quick hit, anxious to move and arrange the little family she has created, pushing them here or there at a frantic pace. like some unseen goddess, she is in control, relishing it, even in its brevity.

free will wins out, they begin to move on their own, and she sits transfixed as they fall in love and multiply, covering the whole table in a little paper empire. then she recoils in horror as one bumps her cigarette, igniting a fire.

one after another they crumble into black piles of ash, nothing she can do but watch them blow off the table. once again her life spins, thin veneer showing cracks, she looks for the door, never once looking back.

on the sidewalk, she pauses, then throws back her shoulders, ready to persist, all in her own power. to ask for help would show weakness, she just can't afford, so on down the street she walks, disappearing around the corner.

taking one last sip, i cross to where she sat, like a mirror to my past, and tamp out her forgotten cigarette.


This is a Theme Thursday post. The title is an homage to the Beatles song Help, which is also the theme for today. And before you start worrying about the drugs I am taking, I did see the lady make paper doll people, but they really didn't move...I don't think. Smiles.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

boys, men & other lichen

if my boys ask
i would say
this world needs
more men,
not couch hugging lichen
with nothing better to do
than pick lint from
their navel
and play fiddle sticks
with what little manhood
they have left,
between their legs...

but since they are
five and seven
(and not ready for
such strong words)

if my boys ask
i would say
a man
loves the one
he's been given,
leads the family he has,
works an honest days sweat
and drinks deep
from life's chalice,
savoring every drop
so he can sleep well
each night...


but if my boys have to ask
i have failed already.

This poem is for One Shot Wednesday, a new gathering place for poets & writers to showcase their talents. Post a poem today and come join us. Mr. Linky opens at 5pm EST.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Icarus on the rocks

Across the desk, he sits, fingers steepled in contemplation as I squirm under the weight of this decision.

"Is it supposed to feel this way? Excited and scared mushed all together?", I wear my doubt on my sleeve, though I am sure of this step.

"Yeah, I think you got it right.", his smile is a balm to my twisted stomach.

"Alright, when do we get started."

This was my leap of faith.

Life had been relatively easy the last several years. Rising out of the abject poverty of our first couple years of marriage, I found success in the corporate world. In seven years, I moved though the ranks, quadrupling my income, creating a comfortably padded life. Then came the call, awakening in me the desire to give my life to something more.

Some would say it was crazy with a wife and two kids to take a $70,000 pay cut, just to pursue this pull on my life. The prodigal son, that had left the church at sixteen, returning to work in the church. Yes, there was irony, but we took the leap and for five years we never lacked, soaring on wings like eagles.
~~~~~
Across the coffee shop table, he sits, fingers wrapped comfortably around his mug, as I writhe in angst, at the circumstances.

"Is it supposed to feel this way? Empty and desolate mushed all together?", i wear my doubt on my sleeve, unsure of the next step.

"No, I don't think it is.", his knowing smile is a balm to my twisted stomach.

"I don't know what to do."

This was my fall from grace.

Life had been relatively easy the last several years. Ministry had been fruitful, seeing eyes opened to something larger than themselves and though my salary was meager, we wanted for little. Then the call came, awakening a desire for something more.

Some would say it was crazy, making a move like this in an economy that was struggling, but my pride answered and I followed. For months, I lived apart from my family, working for my faith, as the wax that held my wings together slowly melted in the sun, until I plummeted to the rocks below.
~~~~~
Coming home was one of the hardest things I ever did, and one of the easiest. My heart swooned at being with my family again, while at the same time breaking for all I had lost. Questions twisted around my mind...was it all a dream? why was it all taken away? Anger, pain, doubt, they swirled like a maelstrom, at the loss of my identity, threatening to take my dwindling faith with it.

It has been sixteen months, each day another step in the journey of re-finding myself, and while the step into ministry may seem like the greatest leap, discovering myself afterward and learning to fly again has taken so much more.

"Is it supposed to feel this way?"

"I don't know. I have never been here before."

"Then I guess we will see, as we round the next bend in the road, together."

This is my life.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

160 - Roots of my Poet~tree (for Kat)

nine
months ago,
i never wrote poetry,
until this kat came along,
scratchin' in my creativity,
at just the right time
to plant a
seed
that
grew
into
my
poet
tree.

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

It was about nine months ago that a blog friend challenged me to try my hand at poetry, in a comment she left on a post. There in lies the power of your words, as I have since been publish and recently started an online poetry community, One Stop, with several other artists. I guess I owe her quite a debt.
She has just recently released her first book, which I can not wait to read. Congratulations Poetikat and thank you for opening my eyes to poetry.

Friday, July 9, 2010

magpie tales: tomatoes, golfballs & wood grain

schuck. schuck. schuck.

there is a slight tension as the blade first presses the skin, then release as it gives way allow smooth transit through the meat to clap on the cutting board. a thin puddle of juice, pocked with seed forms around the base of the thick red slices of tomato, fresh from the garden behind his house.

through the window, i watch him stare through the screen of the porch, watching two squirrels at play. a slight smile crinkles the leathered skin of his face, the sun highlighting the sparse remains on his quicksilver hair. his days are drawing short, but he doesn't seem to notice.

clink. clink. clink.

rattling the knife in the glass jar of creamy mayonnaise, i spread it thick on a slice of white bread, untoasted so as not to bruise his toothless gums. arranging the tomato, i sprinkle them with salt and pepper, then place them on a plate with a folded napkin.

at twelve, i have tasted the sweet acrid smell of death, having watched three of my four grandparents pass beyond this world. i am here to watch his final days, to help him fade gently. we spend days in his wood shop, his long fingers, well calloused, tutoring me the feel of the smooth grained wood, saw dust and machine oil heavy in the air.

placing the plate on the glass table in front of him, we say grace for one more day we have been given and i watch as he draws a sandwich to his mouth. a trickle of juice runs down his chin as he presses his soft flesh through the textures. his joy is a halo around his face.

swock. swock. swock.

in the afternoon, i carry a steel bucket of golf balls to the field and sit in the shade as he peppers the landscape with white polka-dots. wrapping his hands around mine, he shows me the proper way to hold a club, patient as i send balls in every direction until they begin to fly straight into the blue sky.

it is not death he teaches me, but life, and pleasure in the simple things; the satisfying feel of sweat from an hard days work, a ball well struck and the taste of summer in a tomato sandwich.

This is a Magpie Tale.

Some of my long time readers may remember the stories i have told about my time with my great uncle Lawrence. He is the one I think of with each tomato sandwich I make each summer. This is am amalgamation of several of those posts.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

55 - ice cubes & chemistry

i like to bring ice cubes
into the bedroom
to keep cool
once you join me.

it's chemistry...
solid...
liquid...
vapor...

i am envious
of the drip
that slips slow
across your surface.

(your chill bumps
sure are cute.)

wanna see if we can
e v a p o r a t e
together.

(perhaps
we'll make rainbows,
when the sun hits us.)

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

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

the Ogre's ball

sun filtered through the window to the bed, where my well worn backpack yawned awaiting the things i would take with me. among the comic books, a piece of melted glass from the ashes at Mr. Wilson's house, one pack of Nabs (those orange crackers with peanut butter), a toy compass and my notebook to record my travels, i gently placed my rubber band bound stack of postcards from Sam. zipping the bag shut, i said goodbye to my teddy bear and my writing desk, and walked out into the world.

when i told my friends my plan to leave, the previous night, they were excited, but each had other plans for the day. Johnny said he saw an ogre sleeping under the interstate bridge and his parents had warned him never to go near it, but i figured it was just another way to keep us within the bounds of our neighborhood. i had saw Mrs. Lilly taking pictures there and she survived, so i figured my chances were good.

i stopped at the lot where Mr. Wilson's house used to reside. no one had acquired the lot, since the fire, so the cats had claimed the spot, lounging on black sooted timbers that had cooled. i could feel their emerald eyes crawling over me as i shuffled past on the sidewalk, and they cried a long farewell as i slipped across the asphalt, making the right turn toward the interstate.

approaching the underpass, johnny’s stories of the ogre itched at the back of my head, but were overruled by the desire to get out of the sun. it had almost melted me during the several hundred yard walk from the entrance of the subdivision and my energy was already flagging. the shadows massaged my shoulders with their cool touch and i lay the backpack at the base of the concrete incline that led up to the bottom of the bridge.

"who do we have here"...a voice thundered around me, gripping me in its thick fingers so that i was unable to move. i could hear a great rush of cloth and heavy feet sliding down the concrete, imagining any minute the ogre’s slobbering jaws would clamp down on my neck. the hairs on the back of my neck stood as i felt him draw close, and my legs gave way beneath me.

blinking my eyes, i saw a great mass of hair with aqua colored eyes staring back at me. what little skin i could see was bright red, and long crack nailed fingers prodded at my forehead. “sorry, i did not mean to scare you”, his chapped lips barely noticeable through the strands of his beard, “why don’t you just sit for a moment.” i watched cautiously as, what i could now see was a ragged homeless man, took a seat not far away and began bouncing a little red ball against the incline.

thwop. thwop. thwop.

“want to play?”, he asked.

we spent the rest of the afternoon, there in the shadows of the underpass, bouncing the little red ball in an awkward game of handball. i shared my plans to leave and he told me stories of how he grew up in the neighborhood, but left the first chance he had to escape. somewhere along the way, he got lost, things did not turn out the way he hoped and he found himself returning to the last place he felt at home, only to find it had moved on without him.

“what is your name?” my curiosity got he best of me, but his answer stole my breath, “Tom

unzipping my bag, i reached inside and pulled out the bound stack of postcards, “i think these are for you.” he stared at the picture on the first card for several minutes and I imagined he saw the same worlds i saw every time i looked at them. then he carefully slid the first one out to read Sam's message, a tear rolling slowly through his beard as he smiled.

he placed the little red ball in my hand and whispered, “thank you.” raising himself up, he tucked the postcards in his pocket and began walking toward the edge of town, whistling as he went. i watched him until he was lost in the haze rising from the road, then i turned to head back home, bouncing the little red ball the whole way.

thwop. thwop. thwop.

This is a Theme Thursday post.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

of boxers, dragons, angels & demons

what is it he sees
on the corner of 5th &
Rivermont, where all roads
lead in & out of town?

he shadow boxes
the street sign
with taped up fists
jab-jab-jab
haymaker
dancing round & round,
arms ripped, flying a'flurry
until the light
turns red &

he sits in a folding chair,
drug this morning
from the mission,
splashing water on his head
from a dirty blue bucket,
toweling off while
mumbling to himself,
waiting on green
to have another go...

is it angels & demons,
or fiery dragons of
his mistakes or others
that pull him here,
each day, to fight back &
do we just do a better
job hiding
our own struggles?

This poem is for One Shot Wednesday, a new gathering place for poets & writers to showcase their talents. Post a poem today and come join us. Mr. Linky opens at 5pm EST.

Monday, July 5, 2010

the last firework

slipping the fence behind the school we sneak through the woods to capture the fireworks show at the country club, thinking ourselves devious, only to find several families already arrayed on blankets and in folding chairs across the green fairway of fifth hole of the golf course. the boys join in with the other kids, kicking a soccer ball around the short clipped grass, laughing, some chasing them with sparkles, leaving trails of smoke in their wake.

there is a distance between those that frequent the club in their collared shirts and dresses, meant to impress their worth upon each other, and us common rabble. being nearly unemployed for a year in an ever souring economy, regardless of the improvements touted by those in power, daring to cross the border between our worlds becomes an easy decision, and well worth the risk of being caught.

the sun yawns once more before bed, leaving a yellow halo across the horizon as the sky fades to indigo, then black. families gather at their blankets, conversations blending into a hum of anticipation for the fireworks to begin. kids fidget, darting away to check on friends, before rushing back. my son twists his hands up into his armpits, dancing around, calling himself the firework monster, making an odd gurgling cluck.

phump...flash...BOOM!

the report of the first firework sends the young that have strayed ducking for cover in the arms of their parents. chuckles ripple across the small crowd that has now gathered, on the hill across the valley from the country club where the affluent watch from plush seats arranged in neat rows. i imagine the view is much better from where we lay.

the show begins in earnest now, fiery tales twist into the night exploding in enlarging balls of glittery light; blue, green, purple, red and white. the thunder of their explosion carries a few seconds later, rattling our chests. the hill is silent now, beyond the constant barrage of pops and sizzles. intensity builds as they come one right after another.... BOOM... BOOM... sizzle... hiss... whistle... BOOM... eyes wide, each new orb is captured on their surface, before winking back into blackness.

a fountain of sparks jutting into the sky, then crashing down, then up, like water gushing leads the finale. the night rocks in sound and light, stealing our breath with awe, boys wiggling deeper into our chests. BOOM... the world goes dark, whoops and yells erupt from the crowd, elation overflowing in the cool night air.

a brilliant flash, much like a camera only with millions of times the intensity, washes across us from behind, muting the darkness, highlighting the trees until the disappear in the white. everyone turns expecting an unexpected final display, only to find a great cloud rising from where our nation's capital once resided. the cloud knurls in on itself as it expands, burning a hole in the night, turning an angry red and purple.

no one is moving, just staring. cell phones start flickering like fireflies, unnoticed on the edges of blankets, and then a great rush of sound, like incessant children beating on sheet metal pummels us, louder and louder. hands find ears to block its force, mouths curling in screams, unheard. a warm wind sloshes across my face, wet with sweat and i gather my family, hugging them close, whispering silent prayers across drying, cracking lips.

thoughts dance briefly toward who could have done this; some country angry with our meddling, or is this the first salvo of the second civil war that has been brewing the hearts of our nation. this is not some satchel bomb, but something bigger, nuclear. what could be worth such utter devastation? these questions last only seconds as i realise either way, it is the work of selfish men subjecting their will upon another. enforcing the whims of their gods.

memories leak in rivers down my cheeks; my kids taking their first stumbling steps, laughter as we clean cake off our faces on our wedding day, riding a rope swing in the afternoon sun, my son making a terrible joke earlier in the night, annoying then, now leaving me with a weak smile. still i can not look away from the cloud now towering over us, until my vision is gone, though my eyes are still open.

i hold my family tight against me, whispering, until even they pass beyond and i can feel them no more. then i just whisper...

This is a Tenth Daughter of Memory story, for the muse of WAR.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

160 - in/dependence

we had a freeze out
windows down
A/C up
N the van
on the way
2 C flowers of light
explode N2 bloom;
freedom is the breeze
that blows through
barely noticed
til gone.

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

I am double dipping 160 today, drop by One Shot Poetry if you get a chance, and join us on Wednesdays where you can take your One Shot by posting original poetry and linking up.

Friday, July 2, 2010

what's cookin'

i am not
some fast food joint
name in lights
drive by window
where you can
get it your way
right away...

nor am i a
buffet where you
pick and choose
only what you want,
taking samples,
on overflowing plates...

no, i am more
pot roast simmering,
slow cooking in its
shared juices, set to
melt in your mouth...

but only if you
take your time
and let it happen...

i can promise you
it's worth the wait

and if you are
still hungry
there are seconds.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

55 - the constant gardener

by the mailbox,
at the end of the drive,
red flag raised,
she lingers,
watching her neighbor
(shirt off & rippling)
glistening in the sun,
pushing his lawnmower
in slow methodical circles,
wishing her husband
paid as much attention
to what grew
in his backyard;
weeds taking root
in her heart,
choking all of their
beautiful flowers.

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