St. Mary of the Bay
We bought a decommissioned Catholic church on the East coast of Massachusetts in 2020. It was quite the cultural shock, having been a New Orleans boy my whole life. But the kids moved up here and then started reproducing, so I was granddoomed.
It's situated at the end of a little peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. The other side of the peninsula is Hull Bay, across from which we can see the Boston skyline 8 miles away, as the fish swim. We get the most spectacular sunsets over the buildings, from our porch.
The place has good vibes. I've lived in places before with bad ones, but this place is a friend.
It's a bit of a money pit, but that's OK. It's rock solid, on a hill of granite, with a lot of heavy mahogany inside, everywhere. When I tell people my place has cathedral ceilings, they don't think I mean 30-foot ceilings. Built and dedicated in 1927, the Kennedys and the Fitzgeralds used to go to Confession here. I still have the Confessionals, although one's a half-bath now and the other is a double bookcase with sides flanking the place where the priest used to sit. Oh, the stories they could tell! Sadly, no Kennedy ghosts.
When I see the sun through my stained-glass windows, the end of the day seems a blessing of calm from the cosmos. Sunset is followed by the cool ocean breezes and life is sweet. With all of the scary and horror literature coming out of old places, this place just seems to be, well, a hallowed place of succor. All 14,000 square feet, which includes a smaller chapel where the stubborn Catholics used to still prefer to hear their Masses in Latin.
Each window has a brass plaque with a name, in memory of loved ones who financed them. Many names, but no Kennedys. I looked. They're all long dead, of course; even those who paid for the plaques, to remember their dead, are all long dead, too.
We live with a cockatoo who, as I understand it, has a life expectancy in the eighties. St. Mary of the Bay will outlive me; my bird will outlive me. I wonder if I should pay for a little plaque for me right now in case no one wants to remember me fondly; or even just remember me.
Ah, but theprose.com will remember me. I hope. I wonder what their policy is of keeping material of people who go away for good? Shouldn't there be a section for those deceased that will allow their loved ones to read their material and clomp around in their once-thinking, once-witty, and once-relevant brains?
My agent once told me, "Great books die every day." That may be true in the writing vying for shelf space, but the Internet is--as they say--forever. It may be that once I'm dead and gone, as a five-time failed novelist and a Vogon-calibre poet, my only writing legacy will be here on Prose. It takes archival responsibility to a whole 'nother level. Even if not, the Sun I watch every evening burns out in another five billion years and nothing will last after that, anyway.
I try to write at least one thing each day before I see the sunset through my window or from my porch. It all becomes part of this church, my final resting place. I'm not being morbid when I say that. No, it's my fervent pledge to myself that I will NEVER NEVER move again. Imagine a time in your life where you know you will never have to move again!
I was raised Catholic, and although I'm semi-retired as one, I still value a spiritual side, which lately has been imbued with a quantum sensibility. I'm not ready to sing any swansongs yet, but if everything were to end right here and now, that would just about OK with me.
Just about. I reserve the right to update that sentiment.
Passing Clouds from a Car Ride
(I'm not really a poetry writer, but this is sort of like poetry without a structure? I guess? <3)
Another miserable day in this town of tears.
The dismal gray sky’s eyes well, somber knell and thunderous cries.
Its yell rings shrill on my apathetic ears.
It matters not who hears, for the cries will remain unanswered.
My urgency is substandard.
I listen, but don’t respond.
Cry as you want, you’ll not receive my pity.
Short supply, running dry, replenished by the tears of the sky.
Dark and dull, it looms above.
Wishing for a semblance of love,
Yet not a soul remains to hear,
The falling of the sky’s true tears.
I Love Lucy
Off The Record with Lucille Ball
The following expert is an interview with beloved comedic legend Lucille Ball, star of her own sitcom “I Love Lucy.” The interview was recently rediscovered in the vaults of Readers Digest Magazine and transcribed verbatim. It was originally recorded on an itty-bitty-little-tiny cassette tape created for Smurfs, sleuths, spies, and serious journalists. The sound quality is atrocious, and it’s presumed Lucy didn’t know she was being recorded. It’s pretty weird.
Readers Digest (RD) – Tell me something people don’t know about your show “I Love Lucy.”
Lucy – Ricky Ricardo doesn’t say “Lucy, I’m home.” He says “Honey, I’m home.” Soul crushing, right?
RD – Are you a natural redhead?
Lucy – No, I’m a natural grayhead. We don’t film in Technicolor.
RD – Do you own an adorable puppy dog?
Lucy – Yes. I named her Lucy after the best person I know…myself. Lucy loves eating miniature ducks.
RD – Where do you find miniature ducks?
Lucy – Lucy and I steal them from my neighbor’s pond. They’re regular size when we snatch them up. Then we go home and shrink the ducks with my ray gun. Lucy also eats caviar and kangaroos. She grows wings after midnight, communicates with the dead, and collects shark teeth.
The Unwanted Ring
My parents were young when they got married. I'm told that it was rushed. No ceremony, no extravagant gifts, no gowns or suits to be worn. They had instead decided to put that money aside for the child they were expecting- me. I was the inspiration for their promise. Every broken word they spoke to each other, every fight they endured, and every day they spent hating each other. Whether they had planned to or not, they had bound their lives together. They spent years sharing a roof, sharing a room. Their passion for each other always ran deep, but as I grew, I watched it turn from a desperate love to a burning mutual hate.
I was young when my parents got divorced. It meant nothing to me in the moment, but it changed my life in ways I am still discovering. I have had no real example of love- what it looks like, how it feels, how to express it, how to receive it. These are all foreign concepts to me. But I am glad they are apart. It helps me realize that they did not love each other, just the idea of belonging to someone. From the moment they split, my mom has tried to purge his existence from her life. Old belongings were sold or gifted to friends and family. Among all of their items, I received my mom's unwanted wedding ring. It has a dull gold band, and two curved rows of gems around either side of the center. The outer row, like the center, is a pale white diamond. The inner rows are sapphire. The ring has long since lost its shine, much like their companionship had lost its luster.
Several years later, this piece of my story showed up once more. It was found in an old moving box that had never been unpacked. I sat there for a while, watching the light reflect off of its many surfaces, and I thought about my history. I was made from two people who had never really loved each other. Expectations brought them together, and obligation kept them together. I set the ring down on my nightstand, thankful that I have not found myself in the same situation. It may be my history, but it does not define me.
poetry from the dining hall / an ode to my temporary housing
woken by the chill
autumn breathes on my neck,
a lover arriving just in time
prepare silently for the day,
feet on dusty hardwood
our big, empty house
is quiet and cold
I have let myself get distracted
by the loudness of it all
up late the night before,
reveling in the warmth of lamplight
imagine my roommate
warm and asleep
behind her closed door
leave the key on the railing
shut the door behind
off to live my life
but I pause
to watch the fog gathered low
clinging to the mountains
like ceran wrap left by a stranger
in our cabinets
breathe it in
the first gray day
I will never have it back
can only cradle
my gilded memories
On my phone is photographic proof my picture-prone sister
On my phone is photographic poof my picture-taking-prone sisterOn my phone is photographic poof my picture-taking-prone sister
Wanted for our father's birthday cake while he was away on business.
It's weird how no one wants to write their ages on their cakes.
I wonder when it happens.
When they stop celebrating with the giant numbers printed out or in wax form
"10s" and "1s" and the lot.
When does one go from wanting it known to feeling like it creeps on you?
My father seems so well put together sometimes
In his little human skin suit that it's
Only the cracks, at times
That remind me he is human.
He is critical.
He is a leader or whatever.
He is husband and father, hardworking son to some no longer alive people and every
Thing he does,
He does with the desire to be the best.
Or as good as he can.
He knows so much about
He expects everyone to act at least a little like him
But don't we all?
I don't tend to see him fall apart.
In the angry way, of course but never the sad way.
Man or not, he doesn't feel comfortable doing so.
He'd rather lock himself in his room with bread and water by his side when he feels extra upset,
Some little grievance
Take it out on someone else.
The man isn't perfect.
And I don't think I fully realised
Till recently enough that his own version of perfect,
The one he always tries to make us follow
And that he really is trying his best to adjust it...
The hurt he's done and will do still remains but
The past is hard to think about.
I drank from the River Lethe, yet the few sticklers left in my empty head are the worst ones
And he's aced some villain roles, I suppose.
But he's so... Old now?
He's survived so much?
Gone through so much psychological shit he likely won't ever see as "that bad" or
Like me, he cares sort of a lot about how people view him.
Not enough that it utterly swallows up his life
But enough to make too many choices based on the eyes...
I wonder if life gets better or worse as you get older?
I'm about his age divided by three so maybe I'm not one to talk
And he will probably always see me as a small child with very little to say
But I think it's a mix of both.
It will always be a mix of both.
And that sort of terrifies me.
I spent my entire childhood searching for happiness,
And the perfect formula for the perfect little girl.
Throwing that all away takes time.
Learning to rock with the boat as wave becomes ocean and ocean becomes wave again is
Kind of a lot.
But here we both are.
Ebbing, flowing, clashing, isolating.
Three times and three divided each other's ages.
Ralph was a good dog
He watched us play gin
and Dad pretend to get mad when he lost
I wrapped myself up in blankets through the New York winter
listened to the Beatles watched Howdy Doody
sat with Ralph and told him all my problems
and Ralph listened carefully, told me everything would be alright
and it was
Ralph was a good dog