Before I crossed the railroad tracks
I stopped to gather myself, to make sure I noticed the feeling of crossing when no train was coming.
I looked down the tracks for the ghost of River Phoenix.
Thoughts of my Mama Jo flew by, the tracks up on the hill behind her house
Pennies my brother and I placed there; we waited, excited to see their fate.
On the other side, I stopped again, to make sure I noticed how it felt to want to see something.
Something that would spark a spark if I sent you a picture.
Or had nothing happened, and this is who you are?
On my walk the next day, I didn’t look for things to show you
I walked and looked for no one but me.
And I saw a chimpanzee painted on the side of a freight car, it must have been more than 10-feet tall.
I don’t know what the fuck that means.
I could have shown you things you’d never seen.
What did I manifest?
What did I couple to the goodness and light?
The cat that God, tired at the end of the fifth day, phoned in as calico.
A centaur, a mash up of men Frankensteined together.
A tangle of thoughts but the comb rakes my heart.
Remember when the house was new to us still?
When we returned our final offer on our first home, I had wanted the thrill of a deal.
To ask for something more exciting,
more mogul than a 12-month home warranty.
So I asked that the garden ornaments convey.
All of them.
Never mind I liked none of them.
Remember when the yard was unfamiliar to us still?
You stood tall and young, looking out the window filled with night
Your hands in the kitchen sink.
I saw you look twice.
Eyes big, you waved your hand and called me over.
(How I loved it when you said my name.)
Pointing, ‘Do you see it? That glowing, do you see it?’
I did. I saw it. But had no idea what it was.
A small spaceship? The eyes of an animal? A piece of the moon?
I didn’t venture out alone to investigate
Or send you into the dark by yourself
Nor mumble, ‘It’s probably nothing.’
We went outside together,
Tip-toeing around the catawpa tree, its limbs so low you had to duck.
Closer now, giggling.
‘No, you go.’
‘I’m not going. You go.’
We approached the glow together, an army of two.
You nudged it with the tip of your shoe.
Nothing, no movement.
I bent down and poked the mystery on the ground.
‘Oh my god,’ I said, no more whispering.
The glow was from an extension cord set outside to power the small lily pond,
it’s illuminated end, once hidden under the mulch, now exposed.
The glow was nothing we expected it to be. Like so many things that would come to the surface.
Is the sting of me
The buzz of me
The me of me gone?
Have I worn off?
I’m not sure why, but I keep thinking of vinegar when I think of you.
Maybe because I started a batch of drinking vinegar a week ago.
The jar on my counter
vinegar and raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
At first, the concoction the color of a dehydrated person’s piss.
Seven days later, a deep ruby red
the berries degrading, becoming something different than how they began.
Two elements, graced by time and science, combining
to make something unexpected, good and palatable.
Or is vinegar on my mind because I busied myself with a how-to-make kombucha workshop this past week?
I wanted to tell you about it.
I would have told you about it
and how my friend and I misbehaved the entire class, how we laughed at the questions the men asked, the two of them so earnest, their wives so pleased.
I would have told you how I went back to the hardware store and had them recut the glass for the front door.
How I got two panes just in case I broke the first when I tried to place it back in the frame.
I would have said to, ‘standby for pictures,’ of the completed repair, of my sloppy solo work.
I would have told you I read at an open mic, my first.
I recited the poems I wrote about you, about us.
When I read the last line of the last one I sent you, some people in the audience inhaled. Some said, ‘damnnn.’
I wanted to invite you and told my friend as much.
She said, ‘Not yet, not this time. It’s too soon.’
Too soon for what? For me to miss you less? For my love to fade?
What day is that, when it’s not ‘too soon?’ One week and two days since we backed off and away, that day feels like an eighth day the Almighty forgot to create.
It’s been nine days of vinegar. Nights you kept me awake.
Sticking with the 500-words a day, here’s a list in no certain order of things I wish someone had either told me or I had figured out on my own earlier than I did. These ‘things’ may well not apply to all!
1. Store tubes of toothpaste and icy-hot, pain-relief ointments away from one another in the medicine cabinet. The latter does not make for a pleasant brushing experience.
2. Dogs do not appreciate nor respond well to being the subject of an experimental, ‘Let’s see what happens if I make them kiss.’
3. Getting drunk at the circus is a bad idea.
4. If someone you’re meeting for the first time has a scratchy, gravelly voice, don’t assume they have a cold or have been screaming ‘PULL,’ while shooting skeet all day. It could be that their unique vocals are the spoils of surviving throat cancer.
5. Children are not stupid. They know the difference between a back massager and a vibrator from an early age.
6. Do not approach or attempt to move a cat without first providing it some sort of visible warning or alert.
7. Your gut is your true north star. It does not lie and should not be ignored. When you have no one to ask, trust your gut. It will guide you. (Doesn’t mean you’ll like what you hear.)
8. Everyone is as insecure as you are.
9. Not everyone likes dogs.
10. Seminal fluid in the eye stings. It is mother nature’s pepper spray.
11. Pass on gerbils as pets, especially the white ones. The day will come and you won’t know when, but the gerbils who have lived in peace in your kids room for years will have a death-to-the-end cage match. Your child will forever be haunted by images of bloody gerbils that look like Stephen King’s, ‘Carrie’ onstage at the prom.
12. Don’t lend money to a model, no matter how good looking they are or how pretty they say you are.
13. Sometimes that dish of potpourri is just that, an eye-catching assortment of miscellaneous forest and woodpile gatherings, not a fragrant snack mix.
14. You can drive on ‘E’ longer than you probably think you can (but shouldn’t).
15. Not all bowls of mashed potatoes are what they seem. Sometimes they are mashed turnips.
16. When contemplating marriage or any long-term commitment with a partner, ask yourself if you could tolerate their most annoying habit x 500. If you can honestly answer, ‘Yes,’ proceed. If not, well…
17. Pick up your dry cleaning in a timely manner. They do not mess around and will give your things away whether it’s silk or not.
18. Don’t worry so much. Breathe and check for perspective before you freak out or lose faith. This applies to what others think – chances are they’re not thinking about you anyway.
19. Orange tabby cats look a lot a like. If yours goes missing, be sure the one you find is really yours. They are a wiley, needy bunch.
20. No one completes you but you.
21. There are no such things as comfortable shoes at an all-day trade show in Las Vegas.
22. When you flip off someone behind their back, make sure they are not facing a reflective surface.
I want to write all the things for you
Search for all the songs
Carefully mine all the lyrics
All the verses
All the passages.
Package them, deliver them all at once
Trot them out once a day
For all the days.
I want to stop stealing what is not mine
Accumulating you piece by piece
Adding to a stockpile that doesn’t grow.
Each day at the baldest hour of want o’clock, the grains slip.
A sieve, the finest holes through the ventricles all the way to China.
A carpenter ant through my belly
Around the stalactites that intersect my breastplate
Around the bunion on my right foot out the tips of my toes.
I want to bury all the hatchets
Mend all the holes
Remove all the blinds
Dust all the shelves with only my bare hands.
Finish off the cornichons and toss all the olives
Stacked, treading oil in the jar
Trapped in an underwater chicken fight.
I want to add not subtract
Yet I most definitely do not want to divide.
Canned beef stew an actor’s fake vomit sprayed over the walls
A dog’s breakfast that you can’t eat but are served for years
seated in a folding chair at a folding table, the surface covered in spots of paint
Splatters of pink white blue yellow
Memories so pure and true and good
You’d eat the folding table you really would –
Screw by screw nut by nut
Each plastic-coated aluminum leg including the hinges –
If each swallow would erase every lapse.
That’s not how it works.
At least not from where I sit
In a wooden chair at the laminate-topped table that I got to keep.
It’s not possible to nibble around the good times
and gobble swill smoke and chew the rest.
Something’s got to give and it’s me
I’ve got to go.
Yesterday I was so hungry I almost mistook a makeup sponge for a cookie.
Yesterday I was so hungry I almost mistook a makeup sponge for a cookie.
It was noon and I’d stayed out and up late the night before. Breakfast was long gone and I woke with a grumbling stomach. Coffee in bed – prepared and delivered not by me but FOR me – was divine and a fabulous way to start the last day of the year. As I accepted the extended mug, I contained my zeal but admit I did let an, ‘Oh my god,’ slip out, because coffee in bed is like a sixth lost love language.
(This is post one of a 31-day, 500-word writing challenge. In the span of publicly declaring on Facebook my commitment to the challenge and writing the above single line and paragraph, I have committed the following acts of procrastination:
Ran a word count. 96.
Lit incense that I’ve not burnt in more than a year
Put on a winter hat because it’s like a blanket for my head)
The coffee and company was great and although I bragged I wasn’t hungry, I needed to head home and get some food. And more coffee.
I usually avoid fast-food, but I was starving. Drive-through dark roast and what the hell, I won’t lie, a reheated bacon gouda hard roll went down easy but did not satiate. Was it ever there? Because suddenly it was gone. Maybe I’d eaten only half of it. I checked the paper bag.
But wait! What is this little delight I see peeking out from beneath my driving leg? A little gingerbread cookie? Isn’t that just the most darling thing ever. I’ve never known Starbucks to hand out free cookies. That barista must have had the holiday spirit too and felt my vibe back at her through the drive-up window and did a little pay-it-forward move, slipping a cute spicy molasses goodie in my bag. That book, ‘The Secret,’ was right – everything I need and want is here for the taking. So yeah, I’m gonna put you in my belly you bonus, surprise cookie. Continue reading “Cookie-colored lenses”