Crow

I’ve never told you, but the common crow is the amulet of writers – not poets.
No, the crow belongs to the writer because the poet was born first and chose the raven.
That is why the poet suffers.
The worst is dryness. The worst is no moisture, the worst is salt in all the wrong places.
Wounds, specifically.
I pray for you continually.
Perched upon my giant, tiny spy machine I watch you and listen when I have the courage.
Fickle thing courage and I’m damned demanding.
Not you dear, me. What good is broken to wounded?
I wade out hip-deep into Superior and the ghosts rise to greet me.
None are polite all are demanding and don’t think I’m not frightened – I am.
Raven black and metallic ice blue the crow, brilliant and never alone. The treetops here
Are their village and they call to me – hope.
Literally.
Thieves they are, as am I stealing a glimpse of you and writing novels while the birds bring me
Tiny, shiny trinkets.
I put them in the offering every Sunday and wonder if it is possible to mix heat and cold without
Destroying one or the other.
So broken but that is always where I start. I don’t think you would believe where it has taken me.
Talking crows, kneeling faith, the study of purity, the dryness of words and a simple light breaking
The grayness of Superior.
I’m so gloriously tired and the crows have left dreams of you upon my pillow.
Ask me my favorite poetry and I’ll tell you.

 
Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

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Marrying a Friend

“Dude, are you in love with this chic?”

“No, no.  I’m not.  We’ve been friends since our freshman year in college.  We were paired up together in Spanish class.

“So, then I asked for some guacamole.”

“Why?”

“Because I was hot.  Hot.  You have no idea how hot it was in there. “

“But…guacamole?”

“It was a Mexican restaurant and I needed something to cool me down, so naturally I ordered some guacamole.”

“Naturally.”

“So, this waitress, she asks all sweet like if I want chunky or smooth.  Now, I’m hot and the thought of anything chunky made me wince, so I said smooth.”

“Wait a minute, why didn’t you just get up and leave?”

“I couldn’t, I didn’t pick the restaurant.  While I was begging for smooth, cold guacamole and sweating into my clothes, she is sitting across from me as cool as a cucumber and happy as can be that she only spent $10 on her dinner.  I shared my guacamole.”

“Why did you share your guacamole?”

“Because it was room temperature warm and tasted like they opened it from a glass jar.”

“Well, they probably did.  How many times do I have to tell you not to go to a cheap restaurant and especially on a week night?  If you want to go cheap go on the weekends, at least the microwaves are in good order. “

“I’m telling you I didn’t pick out the restaurant I had nothing to do with it.”

“Dude, are you in love with this chic?”

“No, no.  I’m not.  We’ve been friends since our freshman year in college.  We were paired up together in Spanish class. “

“Spanish class.”

“Yeah, we needed to learn as partners.”

“Man, you are monkey shit crazy. “

“Why?”

“You’ve been putting up with a friend who gets happy over spending only $10 for a meal?  This is a friend?  Someone you are supposed to be happy to see.”

“Well, I was sort of happy to see her.  She actually spent $10.18”

“Okay, I’m leaving. “

“No.  No.  Don’t leave me, man.  I told her I was with you tonight and couldn’t meet for coffee.”

“Coffee?  Checkin’ out the coffee at McDonald’s?”

“It’s not bad.”

“I’m gone. “

“Listen, don’t leave me.  I’ll buy the next brew, not a problem.”

“One’s my limit on a week night, you know that.”

“Then help me forget about that meal, I would do the same for you.”

“Dude, how do you want me to help you forget a meal?  I have no words to describe the idea of you sitting there in the blazing sun, expecting guacamole to help your predicament and you eating a quasi-cold Mexican meal that probably came out of a box.”

“I’m scared of her man.  She orders water with lemon and no ice.  No ice.  Then she had a plate full of food and I spent $17.58 plus a four-dollar tip because I had lemon aid and guacamole.  What if we get married.  I’ll have to retire early with a woman like that.”

“You just told me you didn’t love her.”

“Yeah, but I’ve got to marry someone one.”

“Okay, this is what I’m gonna do.  For you, I’m going to have another beer and I’m going to pay for it.  Then I’m going to take my time drinking it while I describe for you the excruciating torture I will put you through if you ever propose to that woman.  They’ll never pin your disappearance on me man because your Mom loves me more than she loves you.  Then we are going to get up from these chairs and go make idiots out of ourselves with that group of women over there as a sort of cure by fire; a cure for picking terrible dates and for even considering marrying a friend.  You got me?”

“I got it.  Thanks, man.”

Photo by Pawel Kadysz on Unsplash

Dear Fate,

A letter to my enemy of nonexistence 

I hate you.

Before you lift a lofty and proud head, I would like to quantify this letter even more to “you.”  Though the Ancients gave you a face and the Medievals underscored their brilliance by mimicry, I do not flatter you so by designating to you any sort of persona.

Neither do I in any way give you any sort of gender.  I know, just as those worthies above (please note, no sarcasm is applied, I very much revere and respect both the Ancients and the Medievals) that many if not all the world would engender you with that of the female persuasion.  I refuse to pander my own sex concerning you.  Neither will I allow you to claim that of the male gender; hard, flinty and without mercy, a masculinity without pity.  And though many may scoff and sneer at my refusal to describe you in terms of the crone or with haggish mannerisms so associated with you, I refuse to stoop to describing you as a person of any sort.

Fate, you are so much more than a metaphor to either of mankind’s beleaguered genders and oh so much less…and that is the very reason I hate you.

You Fate are the very fabric of a larger and misty concept.  Like the air, mankind breathes (oh and by the way, a feminist may check out now for again I repeat mankind – humankind clanks upon my old ears) you oh Fate is deception.  Lies are your own personal underlings.  You are the fabric of Deception – the very tool of Evil.

How many cultures, how many souls have endeavored to thwart you?  You who are nothing?  How many have whispered in surrender “God’s will be done,” and that statement the only evocation of God in their plight for they surrendered in their heart through teachings and philosophies that only endeavor to build defeatism?

The ancient Greets, the Romans as well, so enmeshed in flattery and brilliance, have fought the stone wall of you.  What have you accomplished other than the idea that you have passively defeated us all?  A man lies, belly down, in the dust and returns to his likeness upon an idea of you.  Damn you.

Yes, indeed Fate, I hate you.

Even this letter is too much a tribute to you when the greater demon that props you up and gives you voice, like a great puppet master, is greater and deserves more respect than you.  Yes, Deception is the life’s breath of you.

And what in the end does this letter prove?

That you Fate deserve no more than a snap of my fingers? Hardly, you have deceived the timeline too well for too long. But I will not leave you without a breath of the name that sizzles upon your ears: Faith.  Why is it that the human soul cannot insist that Fate is indeed not in the same league as Faith?  When will we kill the concept of fate and reach out to the very souls that Faith endures preserving?

Actually, the idea of death, or killing you puts you well into focus.  The very reality of death (Death, whatever you please) puts you in the crosshairs of near extinction.  You are, Fate, in reality too minuscule to kill – and unlike Faith, you prove no bridge to peace for those who live another day beyond catastrophe.

So I will take up the metaphoric kerchief of my own Dulcinea – a child perhaps or my own embattled Western culture – and tilt against your shadow, charge through your cloud of fog-like confusion and demand with my last breath that my brothers and sisters renounce the very concept of you.

In Stern and Cold Disdain,

Your enemy

 

Photo by Stephen Di Donato on Unsplash

Now I Am Finished

Each face I see is marred by years of loveless existence.
I do not shudder to meet their gaze and I do not withhold my smile.

Now I am finished.
The wind blows a song of desolation and I do not mourn,
I do not covet the glimpse of your image in my mind, nor do I grieve.
The sun is merciless and I do not long for your shadow over me.
The clarity of vision is now the courage to focus on the world around me.
Each face I see is marred by years of loveless existence.
I do not shudder to meet their gaze and I do not withhold my smile.
No pity wells within me, no camaraderie do I endeavor to convey.
Yes, indeed I stand through Grace alone and with no boasting of self-confidence.
So need is not to be spoken of in my heart anymore.
I sleep the sleep of peace and do not long for what was never mine.
I long to hear the desolation of a world in turning and in death believe only good.
In these final moments grant me the ability to recognize what is best for those left behind,
A word, a scrap of wisdom, a plea to listen.
Listen:
I left what I wanted and focused on the sound of God’s voice
And the wind opened its song of longing for me and the sun spread warmth into my skin
And I ceased to be sorry for the years upon years of could have been.
The voice of God sings vibrato that pierces my mind to ecstasy and breaks my chains of self-slavery.

 

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash
I do not shudder to meet their gaze and I do not withhold my smile.

Read It Twice

Yes, he was going to reread a novel, that was a start.

He woke up one morning with the idea that premarital sex was indeed wrong.  What would his life have been if getting a woman into his bed also included signing an oath in front of clergy and family that he was committed to just one woman?

The idea was outrageous, but he did feel guilt, on this particular morning, when he realized that premarital sex was the only type of sex he had ever had.  So, the startling conclusion awoke with him that morning which prompted obvious questions.  If premarital sex had not been so easy if condemns and birth control had not been so readily available what would committed sex have been like?

He wasn’t a moralist but if a sane man couldn’t think of another reality what was the world coming to?

So, he stretched deep and felt his muscles tense and then release.  He concentrated on the thick, cool sheet that draped neatly about him and encased his king-sized bed then thought of the different lovers he had known.  There was one who would want to curl up next to him and talk until they both fell asleep.  Another who insisted on watching him fall asleep and yet another who curled up by herself and didn’t want to be touched which made his heart hurt even to think of it all these years after.  There were those who were loud and those who even cried and one or two who had the sexiest moan he had ever heard.  Each had their own diabolic quality.

Each had their own diabolical fault as well.   A clinging lover was simply too much.  By the very nature of the act, you had to put some distance between yourself and your lover for at least a few minutes.  Wanting to fall asleep in a quasi-pool of love wasn’t something he was willing to face night after night.  He also didn’t want someone watching him sleep.  He felt that she was gloating over him, that she somehow felt smug after another strong climax.  It was creepy.  Then there was the one who curled up by herself.  She looked so small and helpless over there on the other side of his large bed.  He couldn’t remember falling asleep that night, and with a pang, he remembered that she wasn’t there the next morning.  His one and only one-night stand.

All the rest hung around for a month or two.  There was one who lasted a year.  They had met at a New Year’s Eve party and parted at the very next New Year’s Eve party.

He sat up suddenly with an idea.  Committed sex would be like reading the same good book over and over.  He had read a few novels but had never read one over and over.    It would be like reading one of the great novels of Sir Walter Scott.  Think of the discoveries; the lines he’d read over, the nuance of sound and cadence that escaped him with the first reading.  It would be like knowing what to expect and discovering he had read over or misread something for years.

Yes, he was going to reread a novel, that was a start.

“What are you thinking about?”

She walked in with nothing but his shirt on and a copy of East of Eden in her hand.  He realized that his idea had come from his latest partner in “this is getting too easy.”  She was a lit student and had the strongest thighs he could remember on a woman.

“Is that novel any good, would you read it twice?”

“I never do anything twice.”  Her smile was diabolical.

Hollow

She knew that going wasn’t necessarily allowed.

She could not stand another moment in her small apartment – not with the carnival going on.  The carnival had been in town for three days – tonight would be its last.  She thought, with regret, of the workers waking up on a Sunday as she walked to church, silently unhinging their mechanical rides and sweeping up the small pieces of litter that escaped the trash receptacles.  She did not want to hear the squeak and rub of peopleless rides before she had a chance to enjoy a Saturday night at the carnival.

The town welcomed the carnival every year but she could never attend – the carnival was too worldly for her family – still was, but her family need not know she found the lights, the noise, the smells so fascinating. Besides she was on her own – she needed to make decisions on her own. She would be up early in the morning and get to church early, but tonight she had to know what the carnival was all about

She hesitated at the gate, five dollars was a lot of money to walk around a carnival.

“Half price, half price now until we close down.”

A sign she felt and so put her money down.

She would simply be careful with her milk and eggs – they could last the entire week.

She ducked her head shyly as a gust of wind pulled and fluttered the canopy at the entrance and the ticket taker gave her, what she thought was a wicked grin.

She hurried along the carnival grounds and listened to the sounds of young children shouting with delight as the mechanical rides twirled black against the red-orange sunset sky.  A small family of four walked ahead of her laughing and sharing pink cotton candy. She smiled at their compact and secret ways of knowing each other; the dip and sway of the candy making its way to sticky fingers all, in turn, the smiles upon each face.

She was careful to stay away from the rides but watched the Ferris-Wheel glided several times around against the then darkened sky.  The last of the summer warmth curled about her in a soft breeze that lifted her hair in a gently swaying lift that seemed to keep rhythm with the music being played.

“Do you want to ride?”

His voice was deep and directly behind her. She jumped and turned, then stepped back.  He was tall and slender and she was sure he had some sort of makeup on his face. His eyes were startling brown, golden flecked and when he smiled at her and tilted his head she thought for a moment that they turned red.

“You’ve been watching that wheel for some time. I own this little place – I’ll make sure you have a ride.”

“No thank-you.”

“Why not? This is our last night.  We’ve done very well – I don’t think we will miss the price of one Ferris-Wheel ticket.”

He glided her past smiling and paying customers and walked her up the back stairs, where weary workers, not much older than she, dressed in black and white shirts, stepped aside as they walked by. “She’s next,” and she went inside a small cage seat that swung precariously back and forth and she was lifted up into the summer night sky.

She came back down and he was still there and laughing at her frightened face. “Look straight out, not down, child.”

So she did and gasped at the sight.  Her small town was all alight. She saw the church steeple, the town square and felt she was level with the flag on the courthouse tundra. She twisted around carefully not wanting the seat on which she sat to swing too precariously – yes, just there but barely, the small farm where she was sure her family sat upon the screened in porch.

She swung down and felt her heart lift, she was sure that she could fly forward to whatever direction she chose.

He was standing there again, now smiling and she was lifted away gazing at his countenance.  This time she stopped at the very top.  She tried not to think of the small summer breeze slowly pushing the wheel backward and forward.  She closed her eyes the rest of the ride until she felt herself arrive within the well-lit exit.  A tired young man opened the gate and allowed her to step away unaided.

He was at the bottom of the steps. “Are you glad you went?”

“Yes,” she gasped and felt herself turn red to the tips of her ears and down her neck.

“Come I’ll buy you some cotton candy, looks like you could use some.”

“No, no please, I don’t really care for it. We had a cotton candy machine at church and I thought the stuff too sweet.”

He laughed aloud and she jumped, then smiled not comfortable but liking his laugh all the while.

“What’s your name,” he asked.

“Laurel,” she whispered feeling ashamed – this was no proper introduction.

“Well, Laurel, would you like to see the two-headed chickens or the trapeze act in the big top?”

She looked down and whispered no thank you and hoped he would believe her.

“Well then,” he said soft and low, “why don’t you let me make sure no one follows you home.”

She looked up into his face, somehow kind, somehow not.  He seemed without age and her heart pounded in her ears and her hands clenched around her waist.  She liked his stare and was very afraid.

“But you would be following me home.”

His face softened in the green, then yellow, then red glowing lights.  Touching his fingertip to her soft cheek, she felt a shiver deep down. He had found a hollow place within her brief existence.  She knew he would take and keep it.

Alien Maiden

I was married once and for a very short time.  I’m not sure what made me decide to get married.  I hated every moment of it.  I missed my solitude, and I hated meeting all the people that came with letting one single person into my life.

My brother-in-law was dating a dog.  I’m sorry but the girl was painful to look at and she had the personality of a soggy wool blanket.

So, I tried to befriend her.

I wanted to champion her, actually.  Yes, she was ugly, and she had no charm but I simply hated the way my sisters-in-law rolled their eyes when her back was turned.  My wimp ass brother-in-law was too cowardly to dump her.

That’s when I was certain that everyone in the room hated me including my husband.  I mean he smiled when I showed up in white and he seemed happy to put a ring on my hand but he seemed unhappy that I sympathized over the girl.

I excused myself during one family gathering and went into the bathroom and looked at my face.  No, I wasn’t beautiful but I wasn’t ugly.  My hair was done and my makeup wasn’t smudged.  I heard laughter outside in the room where everyone was having fun without me.

They were a clique that’s all.  I and the ugly girl had walked into a tiny little house where everyone knew each other and we were lumps next to the guys.

When I arrived back to the party, I looked at my husband who was talking to his best friend from high school who was now dating his ex-wife.  I felt a little sick why hadn’t that bothered me before?  The room began to swim.  I excused myself for some air and wondered how many eyes rolled as I walked out into the tiny backyard.  My skin began to crawl, I wondered what it would be like to grow old and live with a cat.

I walked home. When he came into the house he was shouting and yelling at me that everyone was looking for me; they thought I had been abducted.

“By Martians?”

“What?”

“Did everyone think I was abducted by Martians?”

“Where were you hiding?”

“I want a divorce.”

I have two cats, Athena and Artemis.  We live in a different town, with a big red maple in the front yard.  I pay the local neighborhood boys to mow my lawn in the summer and shovel the walk in the winter.  I plant inpatients in the shady areas around my little house and listen to the whispers coming from the sidewalk.

“She’s someone’s mistress.”

“She screened in her porch for her cats.”

“She may have loved once, you know like one of those old dame movie stars.”

“I hope she doesn’t die in that house, she’d be the type to haunt it.  It’ll ruin the neighborhood.”

“Oh hush, she’ll hear you!”

“Do you think she’s an alien?”

“That’s enough!”