Little bro

stevie

We often say
that time passes too slowly
when we all know
it slips out of our grip
way too quickly

I didn’t pay attention
and time has rambled on
and I remember
(don’t forget)
the old times
(don’t forget)
I remember some good times
(they weren’t all bad)
and I remember some very bad times
(but they weren’t all bad)

A birthday’s just a day
and today it is your turn
to be man of the day
little boy with a deck of cards
and a magic wand
grown up, come on little brother
show me some magic
because I’m feeling tired

Then let’s toast to the days coming
the ones we look forward to
and the ones that will lead to eternity
for there are many smiles left
daydreams
of your reflections
your golden faces looking up to you
for some good old days

Coyotes in their natural habitat

 

a haibun about siblings

The term ‘lone wolf’ is a misnomer. It is coyotes that rarely run in packs, and often hunt alone, around the clock. Yesterday I spoke to my brother on the telephone. He is older than I, and I have always looked to up to him, even when the facts told me not to. It was something that became part of me when I was a child. We were both abused by our father, and our mother loved us, but she did not defend us. Some would say that is not real love, but time and age have brought me to an understanding of different kinds of love, and people’s limitations, even our parents, whom we expect the most from. But that is not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about a connection between siblings who have been through the war together. A love that remains even after failing one another countless times. I have a vivid memory of my big brother cowering from a strike and protecting his head at sixteen. Ever since, I have seen the soft part of him inside, the part that gets angry but never fights back. Fight or flight? Could it be that simple as an explanation of why he is nearly sixty and still running away? He was taller and stronger but he never fought back.

I think on these things but not for long. Like him, I am choosing to look towards what remains of our future. I am the only one left in the family that is listening to his stories, and asks for more. I want to know what happened the first time he left home when he was seventeen and I was fourteen, the year Elvis died. Two losses that year. Did he miss me too–I want to ask–but I never do. He was my only buffer between myself and the parental bubble, and he is correct, when I call him my hero, that he was no hero. He did what he had to do for himself. When I had the strength to run, I ran too. But in my memory he will remain that way, just as now, the one that had the least to give and still let me in. He was grumpy but he wasn’t cruel. He is difficult and still scares me when he is out there roaming with no place to live and only so many dollars. I want him to settle down so I won’t be anxious. He will tell me not to worry, but that also was part of our picture, to continue watching the window for sight of him returning home.

you will not be tamed
time flies and you still run wild
tree canopy roof

 

us

there are things we say
when we are
a(part)

what we might not
have said

without the grief of

d i s t a n c e

growing words
loving words
extraordinary
kindnesses

remotely

I miss your face

Visiting

cafeteria.JPG

 

I went to a local nursing home to visit my friend. She turned 93 on her birthday yesterday. I hadn’t been able to reach her by phone. Bad timing and bad luck. I would call during a meal that was earlier than I expected, or she would be at physical therapy or a Bible Study down the hall. I could have interrupted, but it seemed best not to. Today though, I felt I ought to go find her. I hadn’t seen her in a month, and I didn’t want her to think I had forgotten her birthday. Her husband was there and told me she was in the cafeteria. Walking to the lunch room I saw faces I recognized, but could no longer put names too, familiar faces from my relatively small town that helped make up the quilt of a place. Seeing their faces again filled in the empty squares. I had missed them and didn’t know it. They were simply in this peaceful place, trying to get well. Some had family coming. Others have outlived their families and work the days as best as they can by reading or talking to the other residents.

When I found my friend’s table, she had a smile upon seeing me. Lunch wasn’t served yet, so we talked some, and caught up. She asked if I had remembered her birthday yesterday, and I told her I had, only I could not find her. She said that they had let her go home with her family for a few hours and enjoy her birthday there. I told her I loved her and gave her the fudge I made, her favourite treat, which she has told me many times that she used to make as a young girl after school. I kissed her and hugged her shoulders and left, again, seeing faces I had not seen in years, some ghostly now, others seeming to recognize me as well. Walking out into the sunshine and sliding my sunglasses from the top of my head to cover my eyes, I felt changed. It was a daily, mundane experience, but I was changed by the love of people for the rest of their town that is slowly becoming another town entirely.

like at your home
birds still sing at your window
sanctuary

 

mutation

all the rovers have become divers
all the merry maids in divers situations
are come to their ends in intricate ways
the hems of their garments falling short
of their plans, the hopes
of a privileged few fall to the masses
each wanton phrase passed from pop to son
enough to get the damage done
plenty well enough to bring the mama to justice
leaving her alone with every memory of trains
driving through her head with
the ferocity of the years
crashing into her dreams without cause

Answer: never

Jeopardy question: When is it ‘too little, too late’?

In 1989 I met a family that a year later I would become a part of. I had come from a place and family from the mid-west U.S. and was about to enter a very American-European family on the east coast. I was insecure about fitting into a family. Put me in a room with 30-100 strangers and I was the life of the party. Put me in a living room with 15 folks that were about to welcome me as sister, daughter, etc, and I had utter stage fright.

I came from a family where I had not hugged anyone in years, except a side arm hug at the airport and a bear hug from my mother who had longed for that for years herself. I entered a house where every face was kissing me and every arm was hugging me. But I still felt outside. Why?

I didn’t know how to express affection that way. I wanted it, but I was afraid of it. I questioned their motives, I assumed they didn’t accept me. Didn’t like me.

Didn’t get me.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Ticking

 

Every day I open another door
watching an old one close
turning my head for that moment
hearing the click of the lock
my soul in chains and it is He
who unlocks them-one by one
reminding me I am here
for a greater purpose
everyone hurting – everyone needing
and I have something still to give away

Getting to know my own heart
hiding it even from myself
I get surprised – appalled – scared-
by what oozes out of this organ
the hate and bitterness
the color of death
leaving me now
and I do not look away
at the horror of the decay to my heart
once pulsing and new

So many doors – I get
so easily twisted ’round –
a face from the past
darkening a threshold
confounding me –
what do I really want-
which to choose
and which to board up-
pain when the cells reweave themselves
new life where once was merely debris

It is safe to come out now
as the thunder is less
and the ticking is behind me –
the further I travel down this path
the more I have to learn yet
and I find myself astonished
as I become reacquainted with myself-
loins girded – helmet fastened tight
that others should know me better now
yet you know me less

monday supper

stewing a chicken is not about
individual ingredients-
on tasting the finished product
no one says,
‘oh, that is delicious rosemary’

nor is humble celery spoken of
at dinner table
dipping delectable dinner rolls
into the gravy
though without it
chicken would be the less

carrot and onion marry and dance
but are never seen on the plate-
does the garlic moan
lurking unseen in the essence
of the graceful flavour

even the hen
the crown jewel of the pot
ripped to shreds
its bones boiled dry
every drop of flavour
extracted
for the succulent sauce

and the people sit and partake
of fulfilling food and conversation
storytelling with smiles
as condiment
rich gravy of friendship
over all

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