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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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

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

 

She was a collage

a random spattering of life
over more than one canvas
every do-over leaving a mark

she spread sunshine
unwittingly with her
cutting sense of humour

based mostly on fact
but the ridiculous-ness of it all
made people smile

like a clown, dance for us
make us laugh and dance
and forget the day’s burden

her collage of reds and blacks
and too bright yellows
when she was seeking pure gold

her own heart of gold she did not trust
her thimble-full of hope
she brought out on holidays

What’s it gonna be



The images have all but faded
from my body of work
the proverbial sex buffet
they call life, that smorgasbord
of longings, dreams, and
anticipations

You were born out of September
like a newborn baby dinosaur
all hands and teeth and craving
wind chimes outside the window
apologizing for the weather
small insistent cymbals

Let it not be said
I cannot forgive-haven’t I
lived on this bed of nails
for years-cycling ’round
Lenore and Jane
save me once more

Like weekenders-we put life up
in the garage-on blocks
every day is Monday now
and no break in sight
in the eye of the twister
in this alien land

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

On the horse, endlessly spinning

loosen-tie

Over a lifetime of thrill rides
men find their way onto the carousel
sometimes tossed clear, of the
mechanizations and the infernal map

Some men alone-early morning respite
from wifely nags and to-do lists
others in booming baritone, sure-footed
and laced with bravado and beer

Men in worn sweat pants and hoods
in their early Saturday morning slouch
a man scratching, paces behind his woman
her soft voice heard-summoning

Men who walk head and shoulders first
those who build bridges and empires
men strangled by neckties
their shoes reflecting their dreams

Spinning, a few content to stay aboard
others ready to leap-holding fast to a friend
who will likely fall into the same dumpster
or whichever new world lies beyond

flowers die in the vase but she is quite alive
despite reports that she won’t pull through
the stronger they push her towards the dust
the greater her resolve to live well
pizza every night even on Saturdays
when they shake the earth for fifteen minutes
then slide a tray of pepperoni pizza and
ice cold Budweiser over the stain

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.