The tram passes by the palms;
The sea behind I could touch
If I reached between the blocks
Blotting out the red sunrise.
If I only stretched my hand
Past the beige-coloured sand
And drowned out the noise
Of the drills and grinders
With their rough reminder
That enough is not enough;
Maybe I could hold back
The crazy relentless race
To fill each and every plot
Until we edit out and lose
All sight of sky or beach
And never more may reach
And never dream to touch.
Everyone here has a story,
and we discuss it all like old maids
at brunch. I haven’t actually felt the sun
on my skin in fourteen days now. I trace water droplets on foggy window panes as they race towards the bottom to be the first
My roommates from old money— Boca raised, and coming off another booze-hazed bender. This is her fourth time here
—and still, she uses our bathroom to vomit
dinner—no mind who cares. I watch
thick clouds turn into old silent films,
a tapestry of sky under a backlight
of moonlight. I miss the bloom
of my mother’s favorite—
outside the window of my childhood bedroom. It’s violet-blush—violent, against the rest of the winter-dead landscape. I’m five hundred miles away— getting drunk on old cartoons—liquid tv afternoons,
and I think:
I’m getting down with this disease—now.
I eat my Cheerios pre-portioned, from a Styrofoam bowl—raspy to alert
everyone when I take a bite
—with full-fat milk.
I try not to think about the physical action, spoon-to-mouth-thirty-two-times, before I’m allowed to stop—
I think about that fat-bellied iguana
I saw out the bay windows yesterday—when everyone else had visitors—
and I sat alone,
with focused gaze—
a full admirer of his strut across the plush
St. Augustine. He wasn’t even aware
he owned a body.
The nurse wakes the almost dead
first—every morning at five
with a courtesy-hard knock,
and demand: Vitals in five!
I join the rest of the herd who linger —strange ghosts in wait.
We line up, unnamed cattle—ready.
To be weighed and prodded
and pushed down the conveyor belt
—with buckets of chalk-tar Ensure to cushion the landing.
Fattened like pigs ready for slaughter
—I’m allowed outside, but tears are rolling down the window panes again, and the suns still missing.
My white hospital gown billows—
Clair de Lune in the Dead of Winter
Every Sunday when the sun started to bud
its head through the canopy of dead—speckled dogwoods, coffee-tongued
and morning medicated, she’d peel
back the dust covered fallboard
on her time-stained Bechstein,
like she was lifting the lid
off Pandora’s jar.
Her fleshy skeletal instruments—
just bound bone in flickered white eggshell bounded off, across the rosewood soundboard. The glass-latticed sunroom where I watched, and she rarely ever spoke—quivered with a gusto as she warmed up
her nimble fingers. In her criticisms—
she was Monsieur Croche.
She would grab my hands and place them on the bare-polished mahogany and say: Close your eyes.
Feel the music, first.
Then you can play.
Behind paneled gold-floral,
with eyes shut wide.
She became Claude Debussy
in his third movement of Suite Bergamasque. Each note shivered my skull—as tiny-felt covered hammers
inside the belly,
struck steel strings.
A player piano sits in its place now—
The capriccios and concertos
that once throbbed
throughout this house
are all lost with their host,
to the hollow harmonics
of frozen clocks,
I am imagination
blazing flashes of imaged light
soul caught on fire
silence in hush of day
discreet gentle feet
I am imagination
framing your love
reaching for our yesterdays
closed eyes seeking hope
past unfolding into butterflies
I am imagination
upside down reality
daisies of your smile
flight through winged sky
garments of pink sand
I am imagination
surreal dreams with no limits
shadows of infinity clinging
drops of clear water on tongue
holding hands of summer hues
I am imagination
wild with infatuation
throbbing with need
tasting the sweetness
guided by pale moon
But are you just my imagination?
Sitting it out
So we might sit this one out
Not because of fright
Or an outbreak of humbleness
Or because the weakness
Of common sense has
Sapped the ferocity of
The armchair generals
But because we don’t have the numbers.
Politics is ephemeral
So its not about what is fair
It’s about what is possible
And those in the know
Know that right now we have
No stomach for war
Except war with ourselves.
It didn’t start with Kosovo
But that righteous interlude
Reawakened the sense
That we were masters of events
And we knew what was best
Not just for ourselves
But also for others.
The others were multitude
And we were like lemmings
Called by unseen forces
To lend our arms and voices
To what was correct; to unite
In spreading the light.
But that light was very bright
And when we look back
At the flash bang moments
It seems we often acted in error
And on reflection
Long shadows from Irak
Leave burned on our retinas
The after images of terror.
So, even though evil in Syria
Should be worried about
And we are not dealing
With dodgy dossiers
But rather the facts
And the pathetic scenes
Of children being hosed down
In Douma after another
Heartless chemical attack
Launched by Russia and Assad
Rightly makes our blood boil
We need to learn the lesson
Of not going to worse from bad;
That’s history’s curse.
So when the old war horse snorts
And the ears prick up
And we wake from our slumbers
To the gunfire’s shout
Calling us to the front
I’m glad we don’t have the numbers
And we might sit this one out.
“Have thy tools ready and God will find thee work,” Pa yelled, as he removed his belt from his britches and walloped my hin’ end. “I’ve told you time and time ag’in that you that you has to git the tools clean after you uses ‘em.” Pa was a big ol’ giant of a feller and I cringed as he backhanded my mouth, causing a little trickle of blood to run down my chin.
“But Pa,” I said, “I was goin’ to clean ‘em but you was in town fer a spell so I stops choppin’ the wood, thinkin’ I gonna clean the axe after I goes to the ol’ swimmin’ hole with Bubba. It was so dang hot! I thought I’d scrub it afore you got back!”
“There aint’ no excuse for sloth,” snarled my Pa. “If you want to be ‘round here a little longer, you has best learn to min’ your manners and take care of yo work if you be wantin’ some vittles."
Well, I shore was hongry so I decides to do what he tells me until I be grown. I’se already eight so thas only ‘bout six more years. In this here country, tha’s considered ol’, fer sure.
I bides my time, doin’ mos’ all of the work, cleanin’ the tools and tryin’ to make ol’ Pa happy or at leas’ not stompin’ mad all the time.
But I’se angry inside, I kin feel it boilin’ aways. One day I decides I can’t take it no mo’ so I do what I has to do! But I clean the tools after, until they shines, not a speck of blood, jes like ol’ Pa always sez to do. I had my tools ready and God did find me work so hallelujah and Praise the Lord.
I Don’t Understand Why (Challenge)
I don't understand why you don't listen to me.
I don't understand why you don't hear me.
Why don't you?
What are you doing that is so much more important than me?
Is it your job that consumes you?
Is it your job to sit on the couch all day, on your phone, staring from screen to screen?
I don't understand...
Isn't it your job to take care of me?
I don't understand why you ignore me.
I colored a picture for you, but that was months ago, and it now seems to have dulled in the dusty light coming through the dirty kitchen windows.
I don't understand why I have to do the dishes.
I don't understand why I have to do all the cleaning.
I can't even reach the fucking sink.
I don't understand where you went?
Somewhere far off where all you can see is what you want, which is not me.
That much I understand.
Mommy? Oh Mom.
I don't understand why Dad left.
Was it me?
I don't understand why my little brother James isn't coming back from the hospital.
I don't understand....I'm still here....I'm still alive.
I don't understand why you don't love me...
Why don't you love me?
Why can't you understand me?
MOMMY?! I AM STILL HERE. UNDERSTAND THAT. I NEED YOU. WHY CAN'T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE GONE I REMAIN AND I'M STILL A CHILD THAT YOU NEED TO LOVE. A-a child you need to care for. A child you need to take places and hug, and punish and reward and-and.....and.....
A child you can understand.
Why can't you see that everyday I'm aging past my own body and soon I will be too old, my bones becoming dust, blowing in the wind, mimicking your love for me. Gone.
I miss you.
I love you.
I don't understand why you can't come back....
I don't understand why you can't miss me.
I don't understand why you can't love me...
Why don't you?