Tuesday, August 31, 2010

stinking fish & bullets

i ate a stack of flapjacks,
just tall enough to see over,
maple syrup smother,
butter dripping, reading
headlines, online
when i saw what he said
& thank goodness
i got no tv
or they woulda turned
to shoe leather in my mouth,
as i watched,
trying to choke down your
cause if you gonna be a leader
you gotta learn to take a bullet...

click clack
draw the hammer back
(hope its not a head shot)

...cause you know they're coming,
but instead you hide behind
some bureaucratic flunky, (& lies)
letting him fall on his sword
for you, flip flopping like a fish,
we all know stinks
from the head, anyway
& they'll give you a medal
call you hero instead yellow,
spineless, better mind this;
jellyfish is on the menu
and they eating you alive...

click clack
draw the hammer back...

This is for One Shot Wednesday. Write a poem & come join us. It begins at 5pm.

Is it just me or do some leaders seem to spend more time dodging bullets than giving straight answers? and is that really leading? hmm....

Monday, August 30, 2010

uncomfortable moments

my boys were the first to see him, as i focused on threading between the cars, their hands clenched in mine, as we cross the asphalt expanse toward the relative safety of the discount store.

half hidden between two coke machines, shopping cart pulled across the opening, for modesty, a man stands, shirt tangling in his arms, collar still sucked tight around his head as he pulls it off. his back is pitted and pulled, a skin map to hardship. shorts slung low by a too big belt, the first yawnings of his crack peek over the waist line.

still facing the brick wall, perhaps pretending we would not or could not see him, he reaches into a white plastic bag emblazoned with the store logo and spins the cap off a bottle of water. lifting it high he spills it over his grease strung hair, across his face, round glittering beads capturing in the brambles of his beard.

"dad, what is he doing?"

"taking a shower, it seems."

his thick fingers work into the cracks and creases of his face, then slip into plastic bag again, removing a new maroon t shirt, obtained in the two dollar sale bin by the checkout. we are almost upon him, as he wraps his old shirt in the plastic before stuffing it into a large duffel by his feet.

passing him, the automatic doors woosh open, swallowing us into the safe confines of the store, but my boys stop, turning to look back through the glass. following their gaze and i see him looking back at us. the skin around is eyes is pale and puffy round, but through the slits i see the man and his fat bottom lip turns in a smile before he picks up his bag and walks away, toward the road.

"dad, why..."

there are numerous questions, many i don't have a good answer to, but you can see it has crawled under my oldest son's skin, an insatiable itch he needs to scratch. he falls silent as we move up and down the aisles of the store and even after we are back in the car on the way home. i let him think, because maybe his generation, if they are uncomfortable with the answers we provide, will come up with better ones.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

160 - rollin dawn

shadows ripple,
an eager crowd,
in the black & white moments,
before dawn breaks
out its airbrush,
graffiti on the horizon.

i see your tag
& know
You are here.

What can you say in 160 characters? (spaces included?) Do it, then tell Monkey Man!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Magpie Tales: The House in the Woods

my son runs through the green grass chasing butterflies, his giggles creating a breeze to stir the warm mid day air. i watch him, thinking it was only yesterday he was born and already he is nearly old enough for school. soon i will have the talk with him. the same one that my father had with me, about the house through the woods.

the first day i saw it, a day much like today, we were playing catch and my dad's throw flew high rolling into the weeds by the edge of the woods. i darted after the ball and he started yelling my name. at the time i did not notice the anxiety in his voice, but as i play it back, every time i play it back, in my mind, it is more pronounced.

it was as if the house just appeared, through a hole in forest. i could not believe i had never noticed it. i started to push further into the trees to get a better look at it, i needed to go there, when his hands grabbed me from behind, spinning me to face him. his face was so close i could feel the heat of his breath, the coffee drank that morning coating each word. he was yelling, though it sounded a whisper, waking me from a dream.

he marched me to the house, everything a blur, we were moving so fast and then going down the stairs into the basement. the cool darkness clinging to the corners, as he clipped on the light dangling by a chain in the middle. it danced there at the end of the chain, following him as he paced back and forth before me telling me how his grandfather had warned him about the house, but he did not listen.

late one night, this boy, that would become my father, snuck out to go see the house in the woods that came to him each night when he lay down for bed, closing his eyes. in the dreams, he saw a beautiful woman standing in the window, her hair flowing in an unfelt breeze, skin pale like diamonds. he raced across the lawn into the woods, limbs snatching the legs of his pajamas until he stood inside the puddle of moonlight that bathed the house.

he saw her there in the window, just like his dreams, but now he was frightened, as her crooked finger beckoned him to enter, the door swinging slowly open, noiseless. he started to shiver, bladder releasing down his leg, as he saw her for what she really was. she became furious, thrashing in the window and he ran, screaming all the way, back to our house, where his father stood waiting as a shadow in its open door.

in telling me this, he knew she would call me as well and i would face her just like all the men in our family that had lived in this house, passed down through the generations. just like i know that one day i will tell this little boy of mine and though i will warn him, he will face her. perhaps, even in fear, he will run, like his grandfather.

i have thought to move away, to remove the opportunity for this to happen to him. every time i put the house up for sale, i end up taking the sign down, placing it with all the others in the garage. my own selfish desires winning over, knowing that if i leave, i can never again go through the doorway, like i did the night she called me.

This is a Magpie Tale.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

55 - this boy will be...

this boy
this boy
barely eight
had a stroke
lost his legs &
one arm
half his fingers
before life really began, but...
don't you dare
don't you dare
pity him
give up on him
he will be
he will be
an artist
a painter
of life
and is
Tell a story in 55 words. Give it a try or just read more, go see g-man.
Posting early, as i have pretty much all week, because my computer is in for a tune up. I get it back tomorrow though. Will try to get back on in a bit...if not I will catch up with you tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

on being mary & forgotten

cresting the small rise, i can already see her, sitting on the porch, blue mountains rising to either side as stoic companions, waiting for me to arrive. it is tuesday, our day, and her name is mary.

gravel crunches as my tires drag to stop and i unfold my body from the car with a great stretch, the air seems cleaner, more refreshing here. a gifted painter's hand is evident as each of nature's colors adds more to the next.

she is attentive to something and missed my approach, so i watch her from a distance, seeing small joys light her face; a butterfly dancing on a wildflower, a lady bug slowly crawling across the toe of her shoe. her fingers rub at the arms of her chair, the only sign of her impatience.

clearing my throat, she lifts her head, overly red lips smiling. she says nothing, she does not need to, i can see she is happy i have finally arrived once more. she takes my hand in hers, her skin like milk, soft, yet firm as if i might flit away like the butterfly. she wore a dress today, just for me.

we stroll down the hall, her showing me off in her silent way, all the way to her room, where she lays down inviting me to sit. her eyes say all she has and she listens as i spill out my life before her, telling stories she has heard before. no words part her lips, but i understand her and after a while we just sit, until her hand, on mine, gently loosens, her breathing becoming a whisper.

slipping out of the room, i smile at the others. few remember my name week to week, but they know i am mary's. some visitors may wonder why a young man would spend time with an elderly lady, that he is not even related to, but i would say we both have much to give and took away our equal portions.

nestled tight between the mountains, there is a home, many have forgotten, whose ground now holds a lady, i once knew, whose name was mary.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

as above, so is below (the neck)

intimacy begins above the neck, not that all men realise this, relying too heavily on sexual prowess, leaving them flaccid and snoring & their lovers reading romance novels just to warm the bed.

on the couch, we sit, nothing touching but our feet. usually, i don't like anyone touching my toes, but you know this, and are gentle. you know me. we talk about whatever and everything and nothing, not to fill the space but because we are interested. even in the nothing, that needs to be said.

we don't even have to touch, sometimes it is as simple as washing the dishes. you find it sexy when i help around the house. i know this, so i smile as i scrape leftover bits of dinner off the plates, water rushing into the sink. i don't mind dish pan hands and apparently, neither do you.

these are all intimacies, but when the time comes for even more, it begins above the neck, that tender flesh behind your ears, nibbling a trail to your collarbone. these things i know, because i know you & you know me.

then, intimacy is all the more sweet, when it is time to descend, below the neck.

written for One Shot Wednesday - no theme, just write a poem and come join us. it opens at 5 PM, tonight.

also submitted to 10DOM, a bi-monthly writing contest, whose theme this time is "below the neck".

Monday, August 23, 2010

first day of school & i, a broken cantaloupe

this is the day that my world changed
our world changed,
still to be decided
for better or worse
i put them on the bus

i put them on the bus
& their mom is at work
crying at a desk because
she can't be here
on her baby's first day

i watch them drive away
holding my breath
then sit in the driveway
to write this poem
to keep from crying myself

plunking the cantaloupe
which screams not ready yet
so i plunk it harder and it cracks
all these words spilling out
and i can breath again.

my youngest now faces
the world on his own
without even a sling shot
(you will be locked away
if you bring those to school)

but he will be okay
he completed the first several grades
through his brother
as we helped in art &
story time & field trips

he will have fun &
at 3 o'clock ride the bus again
to a near strangers house
while i work, getting home
about the time he goes to bed &

i'll kiss his head &
say a prayer that friday
comes soon.

this is the day that our world changed
for better or worse
i put them on the bus...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

so i was born (a couple 160s)

Today is my birthday so i wrote a couple 160s...

160 - 37, just numbers

so i was born
one o one

thirty-seven years ago
thirteen thousand five hundred and fifteen days
each one a gift

it's been good
but it's only getting better.

160 - big bang theory

sharing space
with 8
stuffed green peppers
will agitate
you to vacate,
so i was born explosively;
this answers
those questions about
what is wrong with me.

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

I am going to be a bit scarce today but i will catch up with you tomorrow & promise I will take a bite of key lime pie just for you. smiles.

Friday, August 20, 2010

magpie tales: don't look back

the rush of water into the bathtub, a gentle roar, provides a nice soundtrack to the end of the day. my fingers work the buttons on my shirt, letting it fall to join the tie, and slacks, once pressed, now wrinkled and soiled, in a pike on the floor. pausing at the mirror, i run a hand down my face, pulling the skin, to stretch my eyes. what a day.

water seers, my legs bursting with sensation, spreading as i lower myself so all that is below my neck is massaged by its warm wet fingers. scratches on my arms and legs, sting at its touch and the day slowly leaks out of my pores, allowing me to breath once more.
hugging the curb, we sit as comfortably as possible, seats reclined in my car, just enough that we can keep an eye on the house. my partner chews the end of one of the thin cigars he likes to smoke when we are on break, but he won't light it, giving away our presence.

earlier we spoke to neighbors, casually, gaining information about the family we were looking for. you would be surprised the information a smile and a helping hand with the groceries will get you. Mrs. Kelly, two doors down from their house, would have given us their genealogy, as well as their schedule, if we would have let her.

in the rear view mirror, a black SUV rolls the corner, the heat off the asphalt smearing the license plate, until they get closer. my partner groans, shifting his cramped legs, returning circulation, in case we need to move quick.

as the vehicle passes, they are smiling, talking, perhaps returning from the grocery, or a kid's soccer game. we watch them pull into the driveway, unbuckling kids so they can chase each other into the house. the husband takes his wife's hand and they disappear through the door.

we are moving, shoes scuffing the sidewalk, closing in on the door before a neighbor can call, telling them two suits were asking about them. climbing the three steps to the stoop, my partner stretches out his lanky arm to knock on the door when it swings open.

a little boy, maybe seven, stands there looking us over, measuring us. trailing from his fingers is a red leash, attached to a black and brown Rottweiler that must weigh as much as me, outweighing him, four to one.

my partner turns on the the syrup in his voice, "hey buddy! is your mom or dad home?"

his eyes travel our length, the breathing of the dog deafening, and the boy smiles and says, in a cool even voice, "sic 'em."

the dog launches from his prone position, a buzz saw of teeth and fur. i flip over the railing backward into the bushes, sharp prickly limbs scratching furrows in my shins and arms as i eat dirt, ears ringing with growls and snarls. finding my knees, i see my partner on top of the car, the dog's nails peeling ringlets on paint and it scrambles for purchase on the hood trying to get at him.
really i am little better than a thief, scoping out houses, talking to neighbors, finding people who would otherwise want to be left alone. if you want to play, you got to pay though, or they send me to take it away. the looks on their faces when they realise i am there to repossess their things, you can tell i rank a little bit above the crap they scraped off their shoes after walking their dog.

some days, that is how i feel, especially when they tell me how hard they are working, all the troubles they are having, as i watch the baby dangling from a mothers arm, while dad tweaks his thousand dollar stereo, working up enough steam to tell me off. it's my job though, and some days it sucks, when the answers seem obvious, but they don't want to listen.
the dad calls 'sampson' from the door. sticking his tail between his legs, he heads toward his master, checking over his shoulder at the tall man in a suit cowering on the now concave roof of my car. we get the keys, after the obligatory shame and blame and i follow the black SUV, driven by my partner, out of the neighborhood, eyes only on his tail lights.
the water is cold, all warmth stolen by my mental confessions. i try not to think of the little boy, the babies...but this baptism rarely works as well as i hope. rising i work a coarse terry cloth towel across my body, then wrap it around my waist and go in search of something to eat. tomorrow is a new day, and i will need my energy, if nothing else to keep looking forward, and not look back.

This is a Magpie Tale. It was also inspired by Betsy, who wrote about her experiences repossessing people's stuff, which brought back memories of the days I spent doing the same.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

55 - 1:45, McDonalds, east side

burger halfway to my lips,
he rears back
to bitch slap
his baby-mama
over cigarettes,
son's eyes wide,
but over familiar,
when dad & my glances meet &
he freezes before
walking out the door.

she smiles,
behind veiled eyes,
as they eat in peace,
but we both know, i
won't be there later.

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

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

making art (with you)

i do masterpieces
in fingerpaints,
leaving my prints
where colors come


you like brushes,
so paint me,
stroke by stroke,
taking time with
fine details...

(do you think we should
put down a drop cloth
or just not fuss
about the mess?)

you bring the brushes,
i'll bring the fingerpaints,
let's find a canvas
& get all artistic.

This is a Theme Thursday post.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

beyond the see

under the leaf laden arms of trees,
by the long iron lane of the railroad track,
river rolling in the background,
providing gentle music
against the rocks,
he sits
on a three-legged wooden stool,
before a paint dappled easel,
swaying gently as he
colors here and there,
until he births a
majestic scene,
even more beautiful
than what lay before him
(or me),
of the the city rising, as fingers reaching
to touch the sky,
by the banks of serenity &
i can't help but ask him
how he does it, only to find
he has no eyes, &
replies, "i just ask
others who stop
by what they
then he
"what do you see?"

& the scales
fall away from my eyes, as a
sandy haired
blind man
teaches me
to see again.

This is for One Shot Wednesday. No theme, just poetry. Write a poem & come join us.

or perhaps you like some imperfect prose...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Magpie Tales: Red Rust

old pipe
red rust
a slice of light
from a door somewhere behind...


old pipe
red rust
concrete & dust
harsh fluorescent light
popping and flickering...


the hallway, wrapped in shadows, perfect squares marring its obsidian from sunlight streaming through windows. rough stubbled chin rubbing raw against my forehead, his blue shirt collar smells of sweat and pungent chemical. strong arms beneath my knees and shoulders grip me tight, carrying me further.

this was before.


he sits at the desk in the corner of the room, ruffling papers, his broad back to me. black rubber soled shoes squeak against the concrete floor, moving the chair forward and back on rollers in impatient rhythm. a till of chewed pencils sits on the edge of the desk. the air tastes damp.

i am on a cot, covered in a rough blanket, springs beneath the thin mattress squeal shrill at my movement. his head swivels slowly from what he has been working on, the shadows and light crawl across his face, accenting the hollows, below his ragged hair line.

i grip the cold metal pipe by the head of the cot, for strength, feeling flakes slip, painting my fingers red, as i draw my body up, for protection. where am i? who is he? confusion, fear, the walls are tight. my eyes scan for a door, a window, shut...a window, too high to reach.

"you took quite the fall. how is your head?"

pain lances my thoughts as i try to recollect a fall, anything...vision slurring...i see him coming toward me...


"...please report to OR2...how is...think he...round...hello...are you..."

clean, antiseptic, the smells are the first indication i am here...awake...breathing...it is hard to understand and bright, so white. i feel gentle pressure on my wrist, a smiling face looms into view, "welcome back."

"wurami?" my tongue is think with thirst.

she puts a cup to my lips, i catch the word hospital in her rapid explanation.

"what about the man?"

"what man? they found you in the emergency room lobby, your parents stepped out for a minute to make a few calls. you have a pretty bad bump on your head..."

i stop listening and just look at the red rust still embedded in the lines of my hand, particularly the one representing my life...

This is a Magpie Tale.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

160 - count it all joy...

wave after wave,
they break upon us,
threatening to scatter our line,
but holding firm
we fire staccato bursts of laughter...


...until the day is won.

just having a bit of fun. this was a bubble pit the fire department created for a local festival...the waves were three feet over my head at one point...what can you say in 160 characters? (spaces included) say it, and go see Monkey Man.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Brotin Tales: American Mess(iah)

Welcome to this month's Brotin Tale. Periodically my good friend Otin and I get together on a story...this month he sent me the first part, so jump on over to his blog and read the first part, so that what you are about to read makes a little more sense...then come back over. Don't worry, i will be waiting right here...smiles.

Tongues of flame lick the battered can, leaving black trails on its surface, the label having long become ash. It is rare to receive such a blessing of food from among the rubble that once was our proud nation. It was pride that became our undoing, mine in particular. If only I had listened…

Kill Michael Parker, that is what God asked, and I answered. It was not as if Michael Parker was unknown, if anything my questions came from who he was, particularly in relation to God. I am sure at some point, you watched him on television, teeth gleaming above the sharp pressed suit, pleading the masses to turn their hearts toward the way, the truth and the life. He was God’s messenger, and God wanted him silenced.

Ironically, it was the silence that came after that night, when God spoke to me, that convinced me it was true. Many would have waited to hear from Him to clarify His wishes, but the quiet worked like a scalpel at my conscience, a parasite coiling inside me. Retrieving the gun from my bedside table, I stared at it, contemplating whether to use it on myself or follow through on God’s command. Either way, it would end the silence.

A peace you will never understand, washed over me those brief moments when my finger hovered over the trigger, and I knew this was good and right….and just. I watched crimson flowers explode across Parker's head and chest, before I lost sight of him as a wave of security guards broke upon me, driving me into the concrete sidewalk by the crowd barriers, where we had waited to meet the celebrity pastor. Sirens wailed, ambulances racing the inevitable toward the hospital, as they loaded me into a police van.

How do you explain God told me to kill His messenger? Zealots on the police force worked me over, leaving me beaten and bruised, blood pooling on the cell floor beneath me. They mocked me, spoiling my food, calling me Judas.

When Michael Parker died, the nation was thrown into a state of mourning. Protesters circled the penitentiary calling for my head. Their voices were piped into my cell my small speakers the guards set up just outside my door. Doubt crawled upon my back, as I pleaded with God to save me, though He had forsaken me, or so I thought for three days…

Curled on my bunk, to protect my ribs in case they came for me again, I heard the rattle of the cell door. Men in black suits stood as shadows in the light streaming through the open bars, resembling angels. They bid me come and I was allowed to walk out of the penitentiary to an awaiting limousine, sleek and black. Opening the rear door they motioned for me to enter, so I did.

My skin crawled at the sight of the man. His smile spread in a thin line from ear to ear and I imagined rows of needle teeth behind them. Michael Parker placed a hand upon my knee, and hissed “Thank you. None of this would be possible without your help. I knew you were the one, Brian. I have watched you for some time and knew you would believe.”


“Divine right. Intervention. Destiny. Whatever helps your simple mind wrap around it, Brian. And now we are on the way to tell the world that I have returned...dead three days, the stone rolled away. I will forgive you publicly, of course, though some may still harbor ill will. Their eyes will be open in the coming days.”

I felt the vehicle moving beneath us, but that did not deter my fingers scratching at the handle trying to get the door open. I wanted to escape the cold presence of this abomination. His laughter was hollow, “ You can not leave Brian, this will be our moment together.”

“I knew as the instrument of my rebirth you would be able to see me for who I really am. You will be my silent witness in the coming days. They will love me more, turning over their countries to the new messiah. Only you will know, that they slowly march toward their doom, unable to warn them.”

He grabbed my throat in fingers that seemed to wrap front to back and I felt a part of me leave in that moment. When he released me, I could muster nothing, not even a squeal. His laughter consumed everything….

Using a stick, I push the can from the embers of the meager fire. Letting its contents cool, I survey the remnants of a the city I once called home. After the announcement, they turned me out, destitute on the streets. No one would help the man who tried to kill God, so I watched as they flocked to him.

He ushered in a new age of prosperity, what you want, when you want, with absolution and cheap grace for how you got it, a true American God. Years of unbridled consumption eventually led to scarcity, then dependence. This is when He came calling for all that he had asked for in return, their souls.

Stirring the thick steaming contents of my can, I watch a line of harvester transports wind its way through the streets, a great steel dragon, looking for those left alive, so they can face their judgement. His laughter still rings in my ears, mocking my inability to listen and discern the true voice of the One. It is this voice I now listen for, and wait...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

55 - passionate nature

plunging deep the shadows
of her gaping maw,
raucous echoes ring
our every step...

her walls smooth,
her moss damp,
she leaves us slick
with glistening sweat...

bodies trembling,
her apex reached,
where rivers gush,
we join her torrent...

until she spits us,
breathless on her shore,
above her throaty roar
we cry, "once more!"

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

and in case you thought i would let them have all the fun sliding down the waterfalls...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Odd Todd (palm)

todd was odd. not that he looked any different from the rest of us boys, all arms and legs, in that uncomfortable season when our voices squeaked, but before hair began sprouting in places left unspoken. he had plenty of friends as well, at school at least. it was when he went home that things changed.

when school was out for the summer and postcards kept me sane with visions of far away lands, we did not see todd all that much. he lived in another subdivision, down the road and behind a hill, where few children lived. it was a prim and proper place, where children within its confines were best seen and not heard.

one year, in the waning days of summer, i wanted to have a camp out in the back yard for my birthday, inviting all my friends. my mom was not too keen on a city of tents being created in the backyard, so we settled on three friends; johnny, eric and todd.

we pitched an old canvas tent, securing the ropes to fat yellow tent pegs that took forever to bang into the ground. hearing the click-whir of Mrs. Lilly's camera, preserving the moment, we figured it would be sent along to whatever agency she belonged to, surely flagging us for further investigation.

the trouble began shortly after the lights in the house went out, the neighborhood settling into relative quiet. the four of us lay on the soft bed of grass, staring at the stars, hoping to see little green men or the warp trail of the Enterprise, when todd began talking to himself.

his voice was quiet at first, though he seemed to be carrying on a lively conversation. eric, who was never at a loss for something to say, asked him who he was talking to, capping the question with a snicker. todd grew quiet, crickets filling the gap with their melody, then sheepishly introduced us to a friend he brought with him.

it was a bumble bee, that we could not see. he anxiously told us how the bee had come to him one day when he particularly needed someone to talk to and how it had been his confidant ever since. he shared his reluctance to bring the bee on the sleep over as he was afraid we would not understand. i shook my head, thinking of my postcards.

johnny, having none of it, snapped like a twig, smacking todd's hand where the supposed bee resided, calling him sissy and wienie and other things for which my mother would wash my mouth out with ivory soap. todd cringed, his eyes darting frantically for the invisible bee that now was missing. eric and i just sat there dumbfounded, until the lights snapped on in the house.

knowing my father was on his way to the door, we forgot everything, burying ourselves in our sleeping bags, feigning sleep, as we listened to the door open then close. after a few moments night sounds resumed and i listened to todd whimpering in his bag behind me, until i drifted off to sleep.

"agh!" johnny yelled, rousing us all from of bags, the beams of our flashlights careening around the tent to ward off whatever alien was attacking him. finally they settled on johnny, who sat grimacing, clutching his hand to his chest. slowly he opened his fingers, allowing us to see the throbbing red welt in the middle of his palm, that looked surprisingly like a bee sting.

my dad came all the way to the tent to scold us this time, striking fear in our hearts by invoking Mr. Wilson's name and thoughts of what might happen if we woke him. then dad took johnny inside to tend to his wound. when johnny returned, he crawled right into his sleeping bag without a word...and never made fun of odd todd or his bee again.

years later, i visited todd, in the one bedroom apartment, where he lives alone. while he went into the kitchen to fix drinks, i sat on the end of a ragged brown couch, letting my eyes wander around the room. in the corner, halfway up the wall, protruded a tree limb, with a round grey beehive hanging beneath and i smiled. todd is still odd.

This is a Theme Thursday post. And I could not help revisiting my old suburb again.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

yesterday, today & tomorrow

i picked the last grapes of the season today, those not devoured by the sun that once nurtured them & i thought of you...

sitting & staring at all your yesterdays, arranged like sun faded polaroids on the dashboard of your dreams, color bleeding, around black oval fingerprints, surrounded in blue & green, where you held on too tight, trying to make it fit your reality...

the Cortez in me wants to build a raging inferno & hold your still shaking hand, as you scatter them among the hungry flames...burning ships laden with memory, so there is no way back...freedom rising in the ash, on smoky tendrils...but you've left the wood damp with your tears...

so i wait & squish grapes between my tongue & cheek, tossing the seeds in your general direction, until one takes root...

a new day will come, with a sun not so harsh.

written for One Shot Wednesday. Write a poem today and come join us.
Gates open at 5 pm EST.

Monday, August 9, 2010

movements in poetry

on otherwise grey days,
when my muse takes vacation &
i am in need of a poem
i like to check the walls of
fast food restaurant bathroom stalls,
where people leave love letters &
phone numbers...

(sometimes i am tempted
to call, just to see if they
really are having a good time)

and some are quite witty,
their word choice quite...

(i was going to use the word
etched three inches to the
left of the toilet paper holder
but thought it might offend
your tender sensibility)

...relieving, but that is poetry,
unloading all the extra weight
you have been carrying,
most times only good enough
to flush, though just getting
it out, you can't help but sigh.

(just be sure to wash your hands
when you are done writing...
and perhaps once you finish reading.)

This poem is dedicated to Daniel, who commented on my post about being sick, asking "whats next a poem about using the bathroom." This one is just for you my friend.

On another note, T has gone back to work after 8 years of being home with the boys. I am proud and humbled to be married to one that is willing to sacrifice. Our schedules are all jacked up so I will try to be around as I can.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

160 - dirty old man

summer sun caresses
your face,
painting freckles on
your cheeks
& i
catch a glimpse of the girl
i fell in love with,
years ago
& i
feel like
a dirty old man.

What can you say in 160 characters? (spaces included) Give it a try and go tell Monkey Man.

Just another little love note for my wife. smiles.

Friday, August 6, 2010

magpie tales: the living, the dead & those in between

my shoes ring on the cobblestone aisle that leads through the wrought iron gates of the city cemetery, then crunch on the freshly mulched path to the left winds through monuments to our city's history. a mammoth white column from the first baptist church, the old well cap, venus slowly oxidizing in teal, they, and many others, stand silent watch to the passage of time, to the coming and going of the living and the dead.

entering the children's section, i find the wooden swing hanging from the great tree gently rocking as if one of little spirits is taking a final turn to reach the sky. i sit, begging their pardon as i take their place. i come here for peace, and this section is my favorite place among the acres of the dead. it is on the highest peak, overlooking the remaining area.

i pendulum forward and backward, the old ropes creak as they bite into the limb that supports us. tilly, a pixie bob cat, guardian of the cemetery, winds her way up the hill, past the koi pond and old chapel, to greet me. she will follow me, as she does with most visitors, anywhere i go within her domain. her cries are tender, providing what comfort she can.

on the next hill, in the newer part of the cemetery, one grave catches my eye, seeming draped in color. tilly and i meander in that direction, through the tight packed regiments of identical marble tombstones where the civil war soldiers lay. as we draw near, i stop in the shadows of an old oak, leaning against its strength to watch what we now realise is a woman.

she lay prostrate across the green grass below the head stone, twisting her fingers through it as if it were her lover's hair. she is talking, though i can only hear small caches of words. spreading herself across the whole of the plot, she embraces what can only be the one to whom she is speaking.

retrieving clippers from a canvas bag, she delicately trims and shapes the turf, with the same care and intimacy of shaving another. i feel like a peeping tom watching her love making with whatever spirit still haunts her, but my feet refuse to uproot from their position, or my eyes avert from their attention. with a spade she bites into the soil on each side of the stone, turning it so she can plant fresh flowers, adorning her love in living jewels.

she accentuates and feeds them with glittering diamonds of water from an old metal watering can, spilling the remains across her hands, rivulets running brown with soil of her labors. now clean, she presses her wet hands to her face, absorbing the cool of the water, though doing little to quench the passion that still coils within.

again she covers the hallow ground with herself, then rolls onto her back staring into the cloudless blue sky. the spell is broken, and i slip once more back the way i came. i have found my peace for the day, though i am not sure about her. i don't know whether to pity her loss and the chains that bind her to it or to be happy she has that anchor still in this world until they meet again

my shoes ring on the cobblestone aisle that leads out of the wrought iron gates of the city cemetery, back to the land of the living.

This is a Magpie Tale

Thursday, August 5, 2010

55 - the music we make

recorder to our lips,
we blew songs
like 'hot crossed buns'
before we knew
double entendre or
been to Daytona
on Spring Break,
gaining experience,
enough to understand
subtle meanings
behind words &
things &

our music, like
our conversations,
was simple & easy

(nothing hidden
in between)

as simple as

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

Do they still teach recorder in school? I guess I will find out with the boys. This was inspired by my blog friends claudia, steveroni and j, who play and write so eloquently about it. the capital letters there at the end are the notes for 'hot crossed buns'.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

a spot of brown

nothing cools the summer heat like an ice cream cone and if you happen to be in Lynchburg, VA that means Mr. Goodie's. there are other places where you can get any kind of process candy swirled into your stone slab treat in the air conditioned comfort of a pleather cushioned booth, but at this little shack, accompanied by four rainbow umbrella-ed picnic tables, you can get a small cone, ice cream rising seven inches out of it, for less than two dollars.

it is worth the wait in a line that stretches through the back lot of the CVS parking lot, and that just gives you a good reason to talk to a neighbor you have yet to meet. it is also a pretty good place to watch a homicide.

they are sitting at the second table to the left, she eating a sundae, he a chocolate dipped cone, which he is mashing into his five year old face as if he could capture the taste through any orifice. this is how the spot of brown chocolate found its way to the oasis of skin right beneath the dimples on his cheek, prompting her like many a mother to spit on a napkin and try to achieve flawless perfection in his face.

"now sit still and let me get this," her two lumps of sugar voice prompts him.

he is having none of this though, as he understands each second you take your tongue from the tasty treat, lines of gooey goodness drain down your fingers onto the table leaking through to the asphalt below. he does what any sugar crazed boy would do and tries to keep the cone in his mouth.

"just stop it! why do you have to..." the sugar has been replaced with bullhorn authority.

desperately she pins his cone gripping arm with her left while swooping in with the spit soaked napkin on the right, but he leans into her stretching his lips over her shoulder, dragging his chin across her shirt, leaving a three inch skid mark, on what must be her favorite blouse or at least one that was relatively clean.

"now look what you have done, don't you know...," really what she has to do this evening is of no importance to anyone but her, and we are all trying not to look as she sets in on the nature of his heredity that she was so stupid to sleep with, though it seems his father comes from the canine variety and the apple has not fallen too far from the tree.

his arm still pinned behind her, gravity is beginning to do its work on the once frozen mass of frozen chocolate, though he has retreated his lip quivering, the spot of brown on his cheek dancing up and down, while her crimson face keeps blowing steam, adding humidity to the already hot day. this is the moment that with a great sucking release the whole mass of ice cream tumbles out of his cone, rolling down her back, settling on the waistband of her pants, which are slightly distended from her leaning over to get the spot of brown.

i must say i have never quite heard some of the words, which i will assuredly look up online just in case i ever need to eviscerate someone, pinning them like a butterfly behind a glass case. no one is talking at this point, except her, but she doesn't really notice because she is busy trying to drag the "ungrateful whelp" across the parking lot to their four door beater. it's obviously all his fault, he should understand this of course, being all of five and having the audacity to ruin a perfectly good summer evening.

as they squeal out of the parking lot, we all recover at once from the shell shock of what just happened, though most of our cones have melted in wet, sticky rivulets down our fingers and now taste of battery acid. a line forms at the trashcan, no one saying much as we head to our cars, hugging our children, saying silent prayers for the boy with the little spot of brown...

...hoping not to see our reflection in her tail lights.

This is a Theme Thursday post.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

girl on the 7:15 train

across the body packed aisle
of the 7:15 train,
unbelievably, our eyes meet
and i read a poem,
in their endless green.

i would write it for you
but then it would be
open for interpretation,
twisting what makes them
truly spectacular, into dross.

that's what we do
with poems &
other beautiful things,
deconstruct them until
all that's left is old
shoeboxes full of
miscellaneous parts
and no way to put them
back together again.

doors swish open with a hiss
of compressed air & we
exit, going our separate ways,
me to work, you
snuggled tight to your
mother's shoulder &
i twiddle my fingers,
deciding to keep your eyes,
an unfathomable green,
only for me.

One Shot Wednesday - Write a Poem, Come join Us...the party starts tonight @ 5 PM EST

Monday, August 2, 2010

butter & squirrels

schook...schook...the knife leaves a trail of butter across the face of the toast, small crumbs embedding in the remnants along the blade. rather than allow it to foul the tub, she runs it across her tongue slowly, savoring the creamy goodness. what he does not know will not hurt him, not that he ever notices.

movement in the window nips the edge of her attention drawing her to the sill. two squirrels scampering after one another beneath the bows of the oak trees, darting in the dappled light streaming through the tree limbs, they seem to be playing a game of tag. smiling at their ardor, her mind drifts to him.

richard had been quite the romantic the first twenty five years of their marriage, finding new ways to express his love for her. love poems scrawled in his hand were found regularly in places he knew she would look. she once handed one to the check out lady at the grocery store on accident, because he had written it on a dollar before secreting it away for her to find. . her favorite surprise had been the hike they took to find a candle lit table set for two in a clearing, strumming minstrels filling the air with soft music.

damn it all! why had it all been taken away? the inferno that was once their matrimonial bed, left her frostbitten and shivering each night, next to the cold slab of his body. lips that once whispered soliloquies bore a stillness found only in the dead. what had she done to deserve this? what sin had she committed that God would curse their household and what amends could she make. the last five years were like walking through hell barefoot.

tears spill freely across her cheeks, burning warm trails of conviction, blurring the scene through the window to a mottled green and grey. she had remained true and dutiful, never giving thought to another. when she made an oath it was forever. richard was still there, just locked away in some cell, his Ch√Ęteau d'If and if only she could find the key, he would love her again.

backing away from the window, she notices the toast she had prepared has grown cold and soggy with butter long melted. for brief moment, she ponders, once again, if he would even notice before dumping the contents of the plate into the trashcan by the cabinet, retrieving instead a portion of yogurt from the refrigerator.

guilt crawls around her shoulders for her weakness, thoughts running rampant like wild horses through her head, poisoning her heart. you do not deserve the richard you once had, their whispers fall heavy on her ears. perhaps not, perhaps this is all my fault, she answers, her confusion overwhelming her. she had taken their love for granted, and this was her penance, to live out her days under his shadow.

placing the bowl of yogurt on a tray with a gleaming silver spoon, she faces the hall that leads to him. it stretches before her, a long lonely mile, upon which she holds her breath for what seems inevitable.

"don't i always eat breakfast at 8:00?" his voices strikes her as soon as she pushes the door open.

"yes, i am sorry i am late," she shrinks, "i brought you yogurt today."

"well i like my breakfast at 8:00," he declares, then softly asks, "do i like yogurt?"

"yes, and it is strawberry, your favorite," she replies, an ease gently settling across her. slightly bowing, she places the tray in his lap, lifting her eyes to meet his expectantly.

"can't i have some juice as well?"

"i will be right back," she says, hoping to hold out what little peace she can.

turning toward the door, she hears, "i love you helen." her heart leaps as she looks back at him, her richard returned. she smiles, then watches his face twist into an angry grimace.

"who are you!? what are you doing in my house!" he yells, "helen call the police, there is an intruder! get out of my house...get out of my house..."

she can not flee fast enough, the clatter of the spoon on the floor, followed by the crash of the bowl and tray, chase her down the hall. entering the kitchen she collapses to the floor, sorrow gathering in damp puddles beneath her. wracking sobs shake her body. it is too much, the glimmer of hope snatched away only to be replaced by the sharp knife of his dementia.

if only this love could be taken away. it is easy when it is convenient, the catch is that love seldom is. clutching herself, she hums prayers to anyone who will listen, to bring richard back and give her strength until then. the cool floor lulls her sleep, where she dreams of happy things, like butter and squirrels.

this is a 10DOM post.