Category: Uncategorized

Back on Planet Earth

I wrote this some time ago as a poem, but I think it works better as prose…maybe. I suspect it should be longer, but I don’t have it in me to produce long pieces, be they poems or prose. Once upon a time, yes, but those days are gone, and I suspect they won’t return.

“I ate a butterfly,” my son confessed late one night when the moon hid her face and the stars had twinkle-toed their way into the Great Beyond where giant creatures soared through interstellar space, a comforting prospect for me and my dutiful, sky-gazing, only child.

“I’ve heard worse,” I told him. “Hell, I’ve done worse, though butterfly eating isn’t the best thing in the world. You’re mom would have had a fit.”

I remember the time she cried in the backyard and I kissed her eyes until she stopped. She told me about memories she couldn’t have had, images of a past life she lived under violet clouds and three moons. We agreed that she was from another planet, and we acknowledged how terrible it was that she had to die on this one.

My son and I think that she must be one of the space creatures now, her cavernous mouth agape as she drifts in the cold darkness, lonely until she bumps until another creature she hopes is me or our son. Perhaps one day it will be, but for now she sighs an alien sigh and flaps her dark wings.

Back here on planet Earth, we struggle on. We etch our memories in sand, knowing they will fade with rushing water and wind. Some of us eat butterflies. The rest of us learn to forgive such things and try to smile.

Survivor’s Guilt

I quoted the first line of this poem the other day, which is actually a quote from my therapist. I’m sure I’ve posted it before, but I don’t feel like searching for it…and I want to share it again anyway. I feel myself located quite strongly in this poem. Not sure what that says about me about (probably nothing good).

 

Survivor’s Guilt

“Pain seeks its own level,”
you tell me as we look out

over the ruined city, eerily
beautiful in the moonlight.

I can hear the screaming
from here, or so I imagine.

You hold my face in your hands,
and I feel your breath as you

whisper, “You did not cause this.”
Far below, in the rubble, a hand

moves once and then stills forever.

Norm Reddick was from Nebraska…(freewriting)

I don’t write fiction much these days because it comes out as a garbled mess, as evidenced below:

Norm Reddick was from Nebraska but he died in South Carolina, where no one should die…or live, for that matter. 

It was July 5, 2019, about a year before corona-virus fucked us all over. Norm would have done fine with quarantine and isolation, because he was one seriously solitary dude. He died alone, in his kitchen, where by all accounts he was making mac and cheese and Vienna Sausages (a meal fit for a king, if you ask me, but no one asked me). When a neighbor noticed, three weeks later, an odd smell emanating from Norm’s place (in the middle of July, in South Carolina, where the mercury hovered at 98 degrees that entire week), she said to her friend Curly Cue Wilson, “It smells like that time my grandmother died and we drove up for a visit and the smell hit us as soon as we climbed out of the car. Lord Jesus.” She called 911, and they hauled Norm Reddick out on a gurney, covered by a sheet. The neighbor—Judith McLaren—shook her head and said to Curly Cue Wilson, “That’s a shame. Norm Reddick was halfway handsome. If he’d bothered to comb his hair once and while, he couldve been someone’s sweet dream.”

Curly Cue nodded but kept silent, and not just because she was a selective mute. She was thinking of Norm Reddick and how Judith was right. Even with his unkempt hair, Curly Cue thought Norm Reddick was a strikingly handsome man.He had been her sweet dream, and now he was gone. But had he lived, would he have ever noticed Curly Cue ?(real name of Ramona Piddle, but called Curly Cue on account of her pig-like nose and her affinity of all thing porcine, not including Norm Reddick who, if anything, had resembled a deformed whooping crane…but all things being equal, a deformed whooping crane that, even without minimal effort, met Curly’s definition of attractive).

“Well, that’s that,” Judith said and brushed her hands together as if ridding them of dirt. “Time to get back to our own miserable lives, eh, Curly?”

Curly nodded her assent, and later, dreamed that she and Norm were at Morrison’s cafeteria together, eating trout almondine and drinkng sweet tea. A waiter, who was missing an arm and had a spectacular gold tooth, approached them and ask, “Is everything to your liking?”

That was one clue she was dreaming; waiters never came to your table at Morrison’s or any other cafeteria. Curly wasn’t even sure why there waiters there, except they could carry the trays of the old people who couldn’t manage it. The other clue she was dreaming was that she talked freely and effortlessly. She often sounded like Lynn Redgrave in dreams, and that was okay with her.

“We’re fine, thanks,” Curly said in her dream.

The waiter smiled. Norm Reddick cleared his throat, and the waiter’s smile slipped. “Actually,” Norm Reddick said, “this fish is cold.”

“You’re eating it, sir,” the waiter said. “With gusto, I might add.”

“I’m also going to die soon,” Norm Reddick said, “so could you be a pal and heat it up again? Just nuke it, that’d be fine. You don’t need to fool with oven.”

“It would be my singular pleasure, sir,” the waiter said with a certain note in his voice that told Curly heating up Norm Reddick’s trout almondine woud actually not be a singular pleasure. And then Curly began to cry, because Norm Reddick said he was going to die…and her dream-self knew it.

When she woke up, she was still crying.

The Black Record

The Black Record

“I’m listening to blackness
and getting lost in it,” you say
showing me the record.

“Play it,” I say, and you
place the needle gently
in the groove of the first track.

“I’ve only listened it once all
the way thro—” you begin to say,
but we both slip into that night space,

that infinite shadow, where language
and thoughts have never existed,
just wave after wave of blank silence.

A Portrait

 

As previously noted, clocks appear rather often in my poems.

A Portrait

It was he: master of the nondramatic
handshake, non-functioning plumage,
and reasonless flicks of the tongue.

He was a fan of asocial sunset parties
and slick, adamant monotheism.

He was known to drag his eyelids.

No one sniffed when he parceled
out a spit of land for his dreams and lunged
for the kindest security he could find,
a maiden of gray habits and uniform grins.

Together, they invented wild secrets
as they quietly crept into small clocks.

Road Trip

Road Trip

My shallow breath should be
a giveaway, as it rattles in my
lungs and does its best to fog
up the windows of your car
but it can’t quite manage…

like so many things about me,
it’s only half-right, functions only
at a diminished capacity–my broken
thoughts, my shrunken confidence,
a puzzle missing key pieces.

You turn the the car back on and
drive through the night without
headlights, taking your chances,
chain-smoking and listening to oldies
while I try to convince myself I’m real.

The Going Rate

I’m going through old poems and editing them since I have so little time (or energy) to write these days. I think this poem appeared on this blog at some point.

The Going Rate

She was dog-ass drunk when he asked her,
“What’s the going rate for damsels
in distress these days?” and slid closer
“Not a lot,” she said, eyeing him. Not too bad,
probably even better with the lights off.

She wobbled off her bar stool, grinning,
remembering when she was younger, hoping
for more than one AM nights and a double
vision Prince Charming, his horse a weary
Dodge pick-up, barely street-legal.

They meandered to a Haggard tune,
kissed and groped in the dim wattage
that eventually bled into night.
She greeted the morning with a black eye
and he, late for work, drank breakfast.

Differences

She spreads her hands
toward the gray sky and
tells me to look closely
that I might see some
hope amidst the clouds–

perhaps in the sunlight
as it tries but fails to break
through and shine on us.

“I much prefer the dark,”
I tell her and disappear,
leaving only traces of myself
behind, small memories
she will struggle to recall.

Fire, Sun, Sadness

Fire, Sun, Sadness

Can sunshine be sad? she asks,
poised atop of a pillar of flame and
none the worse for it (amazing what
young people get away with these days).

I check the wreckage around me
and find the sun’s dire reflection
in the dents of twisted metal, spidering
tendrils of steel spread far and wide.

Sunshine is always sad to me, I say
and watch the flames dance around her,
filling me with dread but also envy,
knowing I could never face the fire as does.

Relocation

I’ve probably posted this one before…too lazy to check.

It was supposed to be a country move,
but it quickly became continental,
and the girl with the chess-game past
moved into a foreign town with glass walls
and dagger-teeth folks who told stories
by torchlight and prayed away their hunger.
“Will I die here?” the girl asked.
The man with blood-spotted hands replied,
“By and by, young lady, by and by.”