Ear Buds

google images:earbuds

 google images:earbuds

There’s a whole world that travels

from computer or smart phone up the thin

cords through the rubber ear buds

where it bursts into life and dance and frolic

that careens around the gray matter of my brain.

 

I’m wrapped in the swirling strains of Beethoven

and Adele and Liszt and the Beatles and Shostakovich and 60’s Doo Wap,

my imagination freed from the blare of the cooking show

Mother watches on TV, freed to the music,

alive with moods,

images,

words

and letters afloat.

 

The music pulls me into dank, deep forests of

unrealized goals where I wallow, gasping for air,

until weak armed I reach for lofty peaks

of hope in the strife to survive,

until I’m caught and gathered up

on the wisps of daylight

of tomorrow’s possibles.

 

They press glimmers

against the drag of the schedule of care

for this ancient house,

this fading generation,

this memoir to a way of life

that seems stilted to great-great grandchildren;

or to anyone with energy and stamina enough

to venture out into the frantic rush

of the city traffic that’s still alive

in its bustle of existence

and that continues

without either Mother or me.

 

These ear buds keep me tethered

to the expectancy that life won’t always be this.

Be here. Be staid.  Be constricted by age and frailty.

 

The ear bud wires hum,

my ears tingle,

the floating fragments settle

gel and ooze

down my arms

out my fingers on the keyboard

to live again in words on the page.

Handyman – Protector

image:Mother's flower garden

image:Mother’s flower garden

 

Rock strength rescues fearful female,

bug halts in skitter across the floor,

spider loses its web

faucet leak, blown fuse, garden weeds

coughing carburetor, flopping slapping tire

dead battery, stopped up gutter –

no match for Daddy’s prowess.

 

Yet, not quick enough

or rescue sufficient

for Mother.

She fussed

worried

nagged.

 

Resolution required but patience,

Understanding carved from busy schedule;

Payment a smile, a hot meal,

cool lemonade.

 

Their dance of need and service

swung round and round across the decades.

 

Until he was gone.  Until I stepped into his

too big shoes.  Until I flopped around

unbalanced, sagging

under her “honey-do list.”

 

Her slightest whine, her merest look

should telegraph her need, right?

It did for Daddy.  I demand she ask.

I demand of myself that I wait for her to ask.

 

“Oh, for a man!” she laments when

anything goes wrong.

 

She lost her handyman, her dance partner. I lost

my pillar of strength, bedrock

who had freed me to wander far away,

secure the foundation would never waver.

 

She wobbles without him.

I carry on.

We miss him.

Bloom

Bing images

Bing images

Pretty color.
I reach out, entranced.
The thorns prick.
My blood disappears into
the scarlet Bougainvillea blossoms.
I’m not fond of blood.

I slide off
the dizzying height;
past white striations on grey slate
that run southward and meld
with dark cave holes.
Grotesque shaped arms reach
out towards me.

I pick up speed and fly on.
Stop. Ahead.
Where sky
merges with Terra.

“Are you watching?”
She said as she
stirred the gumdrops
into the batter.

Instead of the
promised soar
I lie broken,
my bed a dry creek,
with pillows of brown dust
that billow and settle
into my cracks.
I turn invisible.

Whiffs of orange blossoms
stir the dust, tickle my nose,
and carry me back
to cool spring nights
under the backyard stars
where tiny pebbles in the ground
under the blanket
get on my last nerve.

“Be careful, or you’ll
end up burned,” she
worried.

“I believe in you,”
he smiled.

I was torn.
Caught in the middle.
I couldn’t believe
either of them.

In stops and starts
I ventured out,
flitted and floundered;
afraid to soar.

You’re not promotion
material,
he justified,
ticking off his boxes,
unless you can play
the politics game.

I gripped the ink pen
so tight it bent.
Not willing to
go so far as to
mortally finish
him or me,
I smiled.

A smile that never
reached my eyes.

Open up to the
decay, the
putrid slime
and drink in.
Smile the grin
of the damned
with Bougainvillea red
dripping teeth.

To accept
or not to accept
such an invitation?

I try.
Come on in,
the water’s fine,
they call as they
go down for the
third time.

Why is it not
that simple?
Just finish it.
Just do it.

Some primal urge
to survive wells up,
and drags me back from
the precipice.

Scarred fingers
pull against ragged
crags. Hands reach
out and pull me up.

At last I stand
on the jagged mount,
love healed,
my Bougainvillea bracelet
a scarlet reminder.

The Hole Inside

Bing Images

Bing Images

Couldn’t branch out at tender age
were it not for the hole inside;
Couldn’t risk a verge to the unknown
were it not for the hole inside;
Couldn’t risk propriety’s dress parade
were it not for the hole inside.

Painted on eyes,
colored up lips,
feather soft cheeks
façade for drab,
shriek out for worth.

Couldn’t learn to twirl debris
were it not for the hole inside;
Couldn’t dance in battered sighs
were it not for the hole inside;
Couldn’t sink beneath life’s heft,
were it not for the hole inside.

Painted on eyes,
colored up lips,
feather soft cheeks
façade for drab,
shriek out for worth.

Couldn’t embrace my solitary
were it not for the hole inside;
Couldn’t reach life’s reason
were it not for the hole inside;
Couldn’t find solace in the crush
were it not for the hole inside.

Painted on eyes,
colored up lips,
feather soft cheeks
façade for drab,
shriek out for worth.

Couldn’t escape the putrid pit
were it not for the hole inside;
Couldn’t seek deep healing lift
were it not for the hole inside;
Couldn’t evade death’s cold rattle
were it not for the hole inside.

Painted on eyes,
colored up lips,
feather soft cheeks
façade for drab,
shriek out for worth.

Couldn’t have a far view
were it not for the hole inside;
Couldn’t have found solace,
were it not for the hole inside;
Couldn’t have met the cure,
were it not for the hole inside;

Couldn’t fly on joy’s wings
were it not for the hole inside;
Couldn’t learn love’s embrace
were it not for the hole inside.
Couldn’t have known my soul’s lover
were it not for the hole inside.

Shining eyes clear,
smiling lips and crinkled cheeks,
love and beauty merge at last
with wisdom’s perfect love;
my hole is day by day healed.

Disappearance.3

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

I peel the pages of
memory
like an onion.
Transparent and
dense.

The first boy was cute.
Blond hair,
blue eyes.
We played
tether-ball.
We were eleven.

I moved away,
out of state.
I wasn’t sad.
I had high
hopes. Years
to discover
boys. Right?

Hope was intermittent.
Longing reared its
head; two
pronged with its
twin, loneliness.

Once, I counted up
the boys to men
between grade school
and menopause.

Seventeen.

Most were crushes.
One heated lust.
One love.
One tighly
grasped
dream that
when soured
revealed fake
promises
guaranteed to
disappoint.

Whew! Dodged
that bullet.

Now the seventeen
swim
in a fog that
thickens.
Their draw seems
so far away.
They’ve nearly
disappeared beyond
the horizon.

Is this the meaning
of stability?
This no longer caring,
is this a release
from angst or
just the death of
fertility?

I pry,
I dig,
I concentrate.
I pull at the onion
layers.
I bleed.

Names and times
come.
Feelings pricked
rebound.
I remember the drive,
the longing,
the desire,
the hope,
the fuzzy-headedness;
the frailty
when unrequited –
as it mostly was.

This disappearance
of that urge;
this disappearance
of need, is it
maturity?
Or disappearance
of life?

I don’t kid
myself that
I’ve grown beyond
the need to be loved.

Who has?
Who ever does?

To be honest,
life is easier since
the longings for
boys to men has
disappeared.

I’ll take love
through friends,
through family,
through what I
create;
through the one who
created me and
never left me
for a crush on
some one or
some thing
else.

So, sail away
old crushes
old flames
old loves
old dreams
old desires
old passions
old longings
old pains –
disappear.

I’m fine without you.
I’ve disappeared
into a new me.

Disappearance.2

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

She meets no
strangers;
pulls every heart
close.
Sees every ding
in psyche;
wants to hold
them tight to
stop their leakage.

I need a breather.
I have to get some air.
Just for a moment.
I need to disappear.

Does she think I’m
unfeeling
when I don’t
clasp every waif
to my
schedule?

I need to disappear
to recharge.

He pontificates;
bonhomie
expands.
Every task,
large or small,
he has the cure.
Just ask him,
he’ll tell how it’s done.
Oh, wait,
I won’t have to ask.
He’ll tell me how
anyway.

I’m ok with his
solutions
just don’t try to
make them
my solutions.

I don’t need him
to fix me.
I need to disappear.
Back into my
core.
Solutions are
there.
Solutions
unique for me.

Do they think I’m
helpless?
Can they not see
the strength
that comes
out of my
disappearance?

She thrives on
challenge.
She rises up
to surpass
‘it’s impossible’
naysayers
in their
rational talk.

Does she think
my accomplishment
should rival hers?
Should equal hers?
In effort,
if not in exact
duplication of
the creative?

I need to disappear
into my
creativeness.

There’s no point
to a duplicate
snowflake.

Each
is unique.

It’s their
coming together
their melding,
their disappearance
into the snowbank,
the snow capped
mountain peak,
the ice cap, that
makes them
thunderous.

I’ll come
with you.
I’ll meld.
Just know,
I’ll bring my
disappearance
with me.
Just know I need
my breathers.

I won’t be her
or him.

They’re the
extroverts.
I’m not.

Disappearance
is part of me.

Disappearance.1

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

We heard today
our friend went
into hospital.

Bed sores,
disoriented,
blood sugar out of whack,
anemic.

They noticed,
I guess.  Anyway
they called an ambulance.

I remember her
at the piano,
smiling her toothless grin.

The piano was silent
a Sunday
or two while she
won in a bowling league.

Nice retirement,
if you can get it.
Especially for one
in her mid-sixties.

Young, right?
Why, these days,
90 is the dying age.
There’s a whole
new world after
work’s decades.

Her knees said no.
The pain took over.
Her hands rebelled
with the extra effort.
The pain grinned
and dug in.

She disappeared
little by little.
Gone this day,
gone that weekend,
gone for a month,
gone over a year, now.

Comfy in her chair
and in bed, she said
via the phone.
We never see her
anymore.

Isn’t there hope?
What about knee
replacements?
Steroid shots?
New procedures?
Laser surgery?

I ask into the void
of cafeteria
medicine.

Is there no hope?
Why, 70 is
young. Right?

I know others
her age and
older,
still productive,
still active,
still interested,
still moving,
still excited.
Not disappearing.

Why, she’s just
a few years older
than me.

Is there no hope?
Bedsores and
disorientation,
why, these are
for the elderly
infirm,
for the terminally
ill,
for the disappearing.

Disappearance
looms like a black
cloud,
threatening
to maim.

Give in,
it whispers.
Let go,
it breathes.
Accept,
it calls.

My fury rises.
Is there no one
who will fight for
her life,
her independence,
her purpose,
her productivity?
Does no one care?

I look at my
elderly Mother,
older than my friend by
maybe fifteen years.
Mother knows pain.
Mother has to fight
to win;
Mother has to
determine to
make everyday
count.
Mother has to
push through.

To think of Mother
disoriented,
with bed sores,
blood sugar out of whack,
I see red.
My ears steam.
My ire rises.
No disappearing
on my watch!

Who fights for
my friend?
Do her daughter
and granddaughters
see her elderly
and infirm?
Do they think
her productivity
is past?
Do they
recognize the
disappearance?

I’ve asked.
I’ve called,
I’ve pushed,
I’ve prodded,
I’ve tried.
I can’t force
her choices.
I’m not family.

I’m sad.
Perhaps it’s time
to accept
my friend
is embracing
disappearance.

Storage Closet

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

Boxes of envelopes;
envelopes small.
Could conceal in the
palm of my hand.
Envelopes long
from wrist to fingertip.
Once white,
grayed;
once red,
paled.

Years stuffed
in little envelopes.
Dust motes fly.

I bend to
drag the boxes
from under the stairs;
trail
across asbestos
tiles.

History’s trail.
Years and years and years
marked by envelopes.
Decades
of effort
of sacrifice
of giving
of planning
of believing.
It’s down to this.

I run my hands through
my hair and ceiling popcorn
kernels dance in the air.

Pretty precise tiny handwriting
floats across the envelopes;
the gift marked,
the giver denoted,
the register
straight,
documented with deliberation.

I recognize some of the names;
Mother’s tales of
busy church life.
I recognize Daddy’s method.
The stuff he stored in neat, tight
packages.
Earlier years
dumped humble-jumble,
before his time here.
No one’s done storage since.
Did organization die with him?

The ghosts of worship services,
classroom flannel boards,
babies and toddlers nursery,
men’s softball teams,
Women’s Dumb-M-U,
Vacation Bible School,
Christmas pageants,
Easter cantatas,
they’re all here.

This life has nearly ground
halted.
The old guard, anyway.

The generations
who began,
succored, labored,
loved,
gave;
now gone.
I’ve seen
epitaphs,
visited grave sides, sang at
memorials.

Yet, life goes on,
similar,
tho’ different.

These old walls
to be painted,
asbestos tiles
replaced,
choir loft converted
to worship band stage;
failing pews faded into
sturdy chairs,
their rows march.

It’s a whole new world.
Strange to Mother’s
ears and eyes.
Different name,
different affiliation,
different heritage,
different style,
yet the same
point.

Worship
Train
Give
Love
Tell
Believe.

So great a cloud of
witnesses
smile,
applaud,
know they
laid the groundwork,
ran their race well.

This place is temporary.
This life is temporary
I remember.

Still, I’m comforted by the
sameness,
the continuity.
I like the purpose I find here.

I know
one day someone will
clear out my
storage closet.

I’m headed for the eternal
just like the generations before.

Grass Green Blade

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

Dig deeper, plumb
the depths.
Pull out all the nasty
black pieces that
lurk
in dank, covered, pitiful spots.

I’m told, go, go.
Find
great inspiration
there.

I resist.
I lean back against
the pull, dragging my heels.

Must I go?
Do I have to?

My heels furrow-plow the green
back lawn,
trenching straight between the
house and the
fence at the alley.
I stop
under the
pink Nectarine bloom.

I look down. The pit yawns.
Come in. Take a dip.
Dig through
the mire.

What’s the harm? We’re there.
All of us.
We’re there. It’s our common –
ality.
Who is not touched?

There sensitivity waits for
embracing;
understanding yearns
for hugs.
Acceptance replaces
transformation.

My toe slides in, just a bit,
just to speak to humanity’s
need.
Numbness slides up my toe, touches
the ball of
my foot.
Cramp grabs,
tightens. I can no longer see
my ankle.
Writhing snakes touch.
I hear the rattle.

I remember the throb.
I remember the blush.
I remember the shame.
It’s me looking for
satisfaction.
Can’t get no satisfaction.

There’s no joy there.
There’s no overweening
love for another.
There’s no self-sacrifice.
There’s just self.
Grasping,
groaning
self.

Can I go there? Would it help?
I dig; tentative.
Too soon the worms
start across my flesh. My
breath catches,
coughs, sputters, dies.
The pressure
tightens around my heart;
the band constricts.
Panic pushes
red in my ears.
The beat booms, booms,
booms.

My wings are caught.
My flight stuttered.
Any beauty is splayed shattered
on the grass.
It reflects a cracked
splintered gleam.

Where did hope fly?
Where did beauty die?
Where did joy drown?
Did they ever live here?

In desperation I grasp the blade
of grass.
The green life pushes up.
Up.
Not down.
The down knows only sorrow.

I guess it’s my choice.
Which direction
will I push,
will I look,
will I reach,
will I live?

No. NO. N. O. I won’t
take that dive. I
don’t want to drown,
all breath shallow and tight.

I don’t want to
lose all softness of
sweet skin
and come out
shriveled and darkened.

I swim faster,
ploughing through
the air that hovers over
the green lawn.

I look up;
up into the blue
above. It stretches wide.
I see promise, not fracture.

Perhaps I could
tell my perception of the
black cesspool;
maybe I could
say I understand because
I’ve felt.

Must I feel it again?

My ears are
too sensitive to hear
the retelling.

My heart too
damaged by the black to
re-live
it’s drag.

My senses too tuned to its lure.
Pavlov speaks.

I run across the lawn
as a child
squealing to cover the sound
of the chasing hoard.

It shouldn’t be thus.
I had wings.
They weren’t man-made. Their
iridescent glitter reflected infinity
and eternity.

Free me. Give me upward reach.
I stretch my arms up and wide out.
There’s a prison break
waiting, else why
would I even know beauty exists?
Love lives? White purity floats
its banner in the
breeze?

Give me back my wings, great creator
of all. Move
me above the lawn,
above the pull of
life’s undertow,
above the dark
into the light.

Light.
Light.
Jesus said,
I am the light of the world.

You left heaven’s brilliance, Jesus,
You stuck more than your toe
in the morass;
life’s bloody mess.
If I must go into the pit,
show me how to keep
my wings;
keep them shining and pure.

Keep me flying free.
Whole; not factured;
a conduit that points upward;
points to you.
Points with the grass green blade.

Purity vs Perversion

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

Soft downy baby fuzz
cherubic dimpled cheek
tiny curled fist flailing,
tugs her heart,
fills her soul,
twinkles her eye,
brightens her smile.

Or so it should be
for a Mom.
It’s understood.

Curled at her breast,
imbedded in her heart –
his aroma, his suckle,
kicks against her ribs,
delight at mother’s
milk. His drowsy
relaxed satisfaction.

When did he stop being
her baby, her boy, her son?
When did he become
something to possess?
When did her weaning
not take?

Did she lust after his
toddler chubby legs?
Did she need
to imbed in his
pubescent skin,
to taste his man-ness?
How soon?

Was her bed too
cold, too empty
too stale after the
sperm donor left?

How did she think
it acceptable?
Forget normal.

Were they a mother-son
tied together,
invisible
strings to the hollow
inside spaces;
once caught
held tightly, webbed,
firm, unable to
separate?

Would he agree?
Or does his hollow
inside cave howl
to be free?

It hits the light of day
and the mother cockroach
scuttles out away from
the light.

Not me!
I could never!
It was her,
or him
or
I don’t know
but don’t look at me!

Did no one glimpse
his fragility
his frailty
his betrayal?

Perversion attempts
swallowing purity.
The stubborn black stain
pushes back against
whitewash
cover-ups.

Purity holds fast.  Doesn’t give up.
Purity’s deep river
demands full immersion.
Red, rich blood shed
on the cross – the
only antidote
for black stains.

Will he find hope?
Will he throw himself in
its flood?
Will his vision of love
recover,
transform,
heal, or is
perpetuation inevitable?

Even so, Lord Jesus, come.
Come and heal.

Why does my heart
ache for his victimness
and discard her
in her perpetration?

Are both not offered the
same cleansing flood?

Even so, Lord Jesus, come.
Come and heal.

I find myself hoping
it’s all a ploy
to deflect truth from
a sexually active
fifteen-year-old boy.
Boys will be boys.

As if mere handing over of a
soul and giving away
the gift of sexuality
to the first taker
at youth’s
tender age
is healthy;
carries no consequences,
buries no pain,
deflects all wounds.

Don’t confuse typical
or common
with right,
with healthy,
with purity.

There’s so much pain,
so much dysfunction,
so much sharp sticking perversion.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come.
Come and heal.

Our only Hope.
Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

Spotlight truth so
false promises of fake
satisfaction peel away.

Revealed is tender baby skin,
soft fuzzy downy hair and
cherubic grins.

Perversion fails.
Purity lives.