Friday, January 18, 2019

This is not a poem


You will say this is not a poem
You will say there are no similes or metaphors
Like a line of crows
    sitting on a telephone wire
    a murder to all that pass
    afraid to fly on your own

You will say this is not a poem
You will say that there is no form
    That my words
        travel on
the page like
a path that
has faded
from the poems
of the past

You will say this is not a poem
You will say that the words mean nothing

That I’ve not said a thing
That there is no reflection of truth
    or painting of nature
    that there is no reason to read this page

But I write anyway
    Because I know that the best way to survive
        a murder
            is through poetry


Friday, November 30, 2018

To The Woman Painting


It is 12:30 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon
I am sitting at the drive-thru of my locally owned pharmacy
    with my five year-old daughter in the back seat
        waiting for antibiotics for her strep throat

Your apartment is on the second floor
    I see you standing in the window
    You are wearing a blue sweater
        decorated with what appears to be snowflakes
    A brush with white paint in your right hand
        You step up on a ladder I can’t see
            to paint above the window
        You are wearing grey pants
You step down
    keeping the brush pointed up
        A bare light hangs behind you
I guess your age to be 50ish
    Your hair light, short and curled
You move the unseen step ladder to your left
then step up to paint in the corner
I only see your elbow, now

What is your story?
    Why are you painting a room on a Thursday afternoon?
Did you cradle children in that arm?
Are you recently divorced?
Maybe a widow?
Or did you move to this town to be close to your grandkids?
    You step down
Walk across my view
        only to return a second later
            brush held up, fresh paint on its bristles

Your elbow is the last I see of you
As the pharmacist
        instructs me on how many doses my daughter can take today
I drive away
    I only see the ceiling of your newly painted room
        as I turn onto the street
        heading home with my sick daughter
        ignorant of your story
            but hoping that today’s chapter ends well

Thursday, November 1, 2018

For My Children


Believe

Believe in handwritten letters
    In firm handshakes that state who you are
        Make eye contact
            It will reveal more truth than words

Believe that the sunset is just a transition to the dawn
    For we all have to deal with darkness
        But don’t turn on the TV
        Or fall asleep to the sound of a fan
    Open the door
Lie down on the driveway
        Notice the stars
            Feel small
            Feel connected

Believe in books

Believe that when people speak loudly against you
    Their voice is just a worn dirty band aid
        Trying to cover a wound bigger than you can see
            Their attempt to scar you is
                Just a scream filled with pain from the past

    Walk away, though

Believe in sunflowers

Believe in Sunday dinners with trips for ice cream

Believe that tomorrow is just a reflection of the way you lived your life today
    Time is the greatest liar in this world
        It promises everything like a carny
            Calling for you to try your luck at a game you can’t win
            Because tomorrow is never a guarantee
                No matter how persuasive the carny calls to you

Believe that you are enough

Believe that dreams come true
    Just not on a shooting star
        Your hands have to become dirty
        Your lungs short of breath
        Muscles will ache
        That is how dreams becomes reality

Believe that

Believe in tears

Believe in joy

Believe that I love you
    Even after I leave for the heavens
    lie down on the driveway
Notice the stars
            Feel small
            Feel connected

            Feel loved

But most importantly

Believe...

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Walker



10:37 p.m. Tuesday night.

The back road was empty next to the neighborhood that was developing about a mile away from the city. Light could be seen from a handful of windows and street lamps scattered across the the cul-de-sacs. A single streetlamp at the intersection of Maple and 87th Ave., one of two roads that brought people to the neighborhood, created a cone of light that revealed the farmland filled with corn stalks on the west side of the road. It was quiet. It was safe.

10:39 p.m. Tuesday night.

In the cone of light created by the streetlamp at the intersection of Maple and 87th Ave., a man appeared as if he walked out of the darkness instead of walking on the street. If anyone saw him, they would assume he was old, homeless, and lost. He wore three layers of t-shirts underneath a vest you would find on someone who was fly fishing. He limped with an up down motion on his left side. His fingernails were dirty. His hair was white, messy. If you had the chance to talk with him, his eyes would wander, never making eye contact. He slowly walked through the light toward the city.

A set of headlights appeared in front of the man. Derrick was heading home from Sonic. He had stopped to get a slushie after playing basketball at the YMCA. A group of school friends were hanging out, so he had decided to stay for a while. He texted his parents to ask if he could be home by 11:00. They were fine with it. Derrick was feeling good, music a little loud.

Derrick was surprised to see the man walking down 87th Ave. He released the gas a little as he moved over to the left lane to give the man space. As Derrick passed the man, he made the assumption that he was homeless and forgot about him as he turned right onto Maple, then right again onto Spruce Ct. Which was one of six cul-de-sacs in the neighborhood. Derrick’s home faced 87th Ave. There was an empty lot between the his house and 87th Ave. As Derrick reached up to push the button on the garage door opener, he saw the man, still on the avenue, but now facing him. There was just enough light from the streetlamp to see him. Derrick never noticed that he could actually see all of the man, even though the light should have only exposed the man’s left side. For a second, Derrick thought about locking his doors. The garage door was slowly opening, revealing the light from the garage door opener. Derrick’s attention moved to driving the car forward. The idea of getting ready for bed and the homework he probably should do before going to bed replaced the man in his mind. Derrick started to take his foot off the brake when motion outside his window drew his attention.

Derrick looked quickly outside the driver side window to see the man standing there. A slight smile on his grimy face, eyes still unfocused, and his hands moving up toward the window. Derrick had just enough time to register everything before the shattering of glass made him let go of the steering wheel to shield his face. His car moved slowly forward into the garage to bang into the fridge the family used to hold drinks like Gatorade, water, and sometimes extra beer. The impact was loud enough to wake Derrick’s mom, June.

June shook her husband, Robert. He grumbled then turned over. June got up, grabbed her robe from the hope chest at the end of the bed. She assumed she would run into her son in the hallway, but the house was still dark and quiet. She thought she could hear Derrick’s car still running in the garage. June felt that motherly instinct in her gut that something was not right. With the bang she heard, and the car still running, she sighed heavily as she considered the possibility that Derrick might have been drinking. She had worried about this moment since Derrick started junior high. June could feel her cheeks get warm as she unexpectedly felt anger gripping her heart. It was a Tuesday night.
June continued through the living room to the hallway with the door to the garage. June could definitely hear the car running and hurried to the door. June’s anger gripped tighter around her chest as she turned the knob.

June hurried down the three stairs to the floor. Anger was replaced with panic as soon as she saw the car’s grill pressed against the refrigerator, heard music playing, and saw the shards of glass around the edge of the driver side window.

    “Derrick! Robert come here!” June yelled as she pulled open the car door… to find the front seat empty.

10:43 p.m. Thursday night.

A single streetlamp at the intersection of Vine and 26th street created a cone of light that revealed the well maintained lawns. A single bark breaks the silence.

10:46 p.m. Thursday night.

In the cone of light created by the streetlamp at the intersection of Vine and 26th street, a man appeared. If anyone saw him, they would assume he was old, homeless, and lost. He wore four layers of t-shirts underneath a vest you would find on someone who was fly fishing. He limped with an up down motion on his left side. His fingernails were dirty. His hair was white, messy. If you had the chance to talk with him, his eyes would wander, never making eye contact. He slowly walked down Vine Street. Three blocks away a set of headlights appeared.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Fade



As I walk away
With goodbyes still echoing in my ears
I smile with a frown
Knowing that each passing minute
hour
day
month
and year
As others hear the same goodbyes
my name will fade into stories of “Remember when…”
Then to “What was his name…”

Because we all fade away
We all

fade

away...

Thursday, July 19, 2018

I Know the Devil Fancies Me


*inspired by a line from the song, “St. Ideas,” from Macklemore (in italics)


I know the devil fancy me

When the light fades from my heart
Walls are constructed in minutes
Doubt, in a hard hat, bossing the workers,
    megaphone turned up
Fear laying down bricks after anger applies the mortar
I guess Love is on an extended coffee break
    because the truck sits empty

And there is the devil, smiling over the blueprints
    of the house we will live in
He dreams of family dinners alone
Drinking his favorite spirits in a dark living room
“Oh what a life we will build,”
    he whispers into my soul
“Think of all the empty photo albums we will fill
    with what could have been
The minutes, the hours, the years recorded with just a dash
    on a headstone that no one visits
I promise you these will be hurtful years”


But that don't mean that *****  gets to dance with me

I grab a backpack, fill it with a few books,
    past love letters, paper, and pens
Turn toward the devil to throw him the keys
He rolls the blueprints tightly in his hands until the ink
    flows like blood between his knuckles
Hate drops the iron door he was preparing to hang
All construction stops
The devil takes my hand as if to dance, inquires
    “Where do you think you’re going?”
I pull free, declining the invitation to move
    into a house that isn’t home
“I’m joining Love for coffee,” I say as I walk away