My list is my own list

 

 

My body is revolting. It is telling me things about the life I have lived and the myriad of ways I have abused it. I am 54. I could easily live 30 more years or more based on my health as I saw it 30 years ago. But now, I get warning signs. I lose friends. Friends younger than I are dying suddenly. I am surrounded by cancer.

Why have I written all these very not-cheerful words? Because we all have a time when we face ourselves. For some it is at 40. For others, 70. For me it was 50, but I ignored it until this past year. I became overly sentimental and mawkish about the smallest details. Everything meant something. A cough, a twinge, a sudden chill.

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Insufficient

I don’t know what else to say, except I love you, Manchester

*****
I have said nothing to anyone about Brussels. I have been
silent, as I was after Paris. (I should have said something)
(anything)

What is there to say-how much is enough?
(Mumbai, New York City, Cameroon, Boston, Ouagadougou,
Jakarta, Manchester, Tanta, London, San Bernardino,
Istanbul, Oklahoma City, Chicago-
do you have time for a complete listing)

I know that anything I say will be insufficient and vague
in comparison (to the truth)
[put up next to what they need
more than words]

If it were me, if I was there, I imagine
I would be as silent as now, wanting to
scream but instead- zombielike- tidying up
walking through what is mundane and useful
and cleaning up the atrocity of violation.
[(This is not yours. Why
do you insist on breaking it to pieces)
is as close as I have come to words]

Are you not tired of the raging?
I weary of the anger, the pure hate
that does not end
always simmering, sometimes boiling over
yet constantly being refilled, that tank-

What can I say? Who am I? I am your neighbor, weeping for you.
My words feel small. My anger does not feel
sufficient

It wasn’t nice calling me silly

just because
You can’t figure me out
how I could be so hot in your ear
then give you a chill every time you rub me the wrong way
weren’t you the one clinging to your teddy bear
every time the wind changed
If I am to die in the summer
pick me up in your truck
and take me fly fishing
because I never learned to fish
and I will feel I have failed at this life
if I never bait a hook
beyond the figurative
the one I carry with me everywhere
a smirky mouth all painted up red
watching the vampires
that come around during the day
eating up everything holy
they can stuff into the pot- pie
grabbing at something pink and wholesome
and smashing it to bits
taking my pretty little lips
to the dark side of town near the freeway
where love is cheap and
no one is thirsty
and they stand in line for hours
to get a glimpse of the king
I heard was still alive and well
and scalping tickets on Sundays
in front of Our Lady of perpetual coping

Caught

The screen door is open and I walk in. Jeremy likes it open so I don’t nag anymore. I smell spaghetti. He cooked? I hear his voice and call out to him. He walks out of the den as if he has not heard me, his hand resting at the small of the back of a blonde who looks familiar. Is she Jack’s teacher? I duck around the corner. I want to catch him in the act. I am furious when I see my favourite red pumps dangling from her fingers, as they walk through the kitchen and out the door. He closes and locks it and I run out the side way to watch from around the garage. They take off in -presumably-<em> her</em> burgundy BMW and I grab my bike and hop on, hurrying to keep abreast of where they are headed. They don’t go far, turning off the side entrance of the old arboretum where we used to walk. I am crushed. Why would Jeremy cheat on me?

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The fog came across
the hamburger joints and parking lots
and covered our path-
Kicking at clouds
we talked about what we wanted
in 1989. As we walked I said
how I feel no confidence
some days, and he said
‘time will give you confidence,’
But what if my time is short

 

Too soon

Scene from 1983:

Me: I don’t think I’ll live to be 25.
Mom: Don’t say that.

7 a.m.  on a Sunday morning 1997:
Dad on phone: She’s gone.
Me: It’s too soon.

It was you, it was you
gone too soon
so cliché
pardon me if I don’t
come up with
golden lines
at times like this

I would say you were
ripped from us
but it was more like
a fade-to-black
with screaming
your face melting
into the wallpaper

Don’t go yet
it was supposed to be me
hanging out with Peter and Paul
you, oh you
were supposed to earn
your old age in your rooms
in your house
beneath the pines

Threnody

(2016)
For Mom

I remember the day you told me
it was no good
the end was coming
and all the miracle hopes
and treatments were done

you were calm
you were ready
and I wasn’t
skidding my heels
dragged to the church a month later
baby in my belly
to see something that was not you
you were gone already-

then later
in the garden when
summer came again
I saw you alive in my son’s eyes
then again in a field
of clover and cornflowers

Do you fear the fire

(2015)

For Mom

Walking through the woods
you spoke of fire.
Of course I had noticed it
the lack of green
the scent of the foray
of pitiless flames
and the ash beneath our feet.

A dream, perhaps, upon
opening my eyes and
seeing your feet again
walking amongst the flames
a frantic dance for life
and after, the renovation
your attempt to cover it up
with a smile and a flower.

I was so happy to see something
colorful, blooming, my jaw
went slack – when the flower fell
from where you had taped it
to the scorched vine.
Yes, you fooled me
this little comfort of red petals
among the endless black.
“But black is your color.”

Black was the color of cool,
and calm in a time when I
could not settle myself. Tailor-made
for me, the crisp lines of black silk
and white cotton was enough
to blur the smudges of
soot on your cheek and forehead.

I was not there for you.

Here, let me.
And grabbing at the rose, I
moved too quickly, the thorn
piercing my finger
a reminder to wake up.
“You have blood on your
shirt”, you said, “wake up.”
There is work still to be done.

Spring cleaning

DSC00130.JPG

For years I felt superstitious about Spring
inheriting this little quirk
due to the early deaths of Grandma, Granddad, and Mother
and her grandmother
on dates of the third thrice, then the thirteenth

Spring on its own swept away such fears, this year
with green, with growth, and with hope
looking upward through apple blossoms
at clouds and endless blue skies
watching nature pair off in love

and despite my dark thoughts
I may not die on the third

but I will shave my legs on the second
just in case

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

I dislike epilogues, especially when they are longer than the poem, but I felt like sharing this, to explain. Years ago my grandmother’s mom died on December 3rd, and my grandpa died on March 3rd 7 years later. After that she became very morbid and superstitious, feeling dread the 3rd of every month. When she died on April 3rd seven years later it really got to me and I inherited that superstitious nature on the 3rd of each month, and really dreading the spring. My mother passed away on April 13 several years ago, and that laid me outright.

Last year, some things I thought would never improve started to get better in my life and I found some new hope. I owe it to God because I would never have climbed out of that deep pit on my own. Spring became so beautiful and I just couldn’t stop taking pictures. I felt real joy, even handling my mom’s death anniversary in a ‘normal’ way, whatever normal is. I used to kind of disappear on that day.

I love that spring has come back to me. Autumn is beautiful and will always be my favourite season, but despite the beauty it is a season when things die, and I have started to appreciate life, which spring illustrates in countless ways. We’ve only been into spring 5 days, and it’s cold here, but I am excited as the season is starting again. I feel hope. That is the cause for adding humour to the last part of the poem. It seems that every time we pull out of a bad time, humour is part of the healing. So I cling to it. Smiling, laughing, hopeful thoughts. Thank you for listening.

-Rose