I will Listen

“If they don’t hear you, say it again.

If they don’t hear you, again, a third time.”

They didn’t hear me.

What language do you they speak?

It must linger in the nether zones;

Where stars hover adjacent to the sun,

Or heaven even, kitty corner within sight.

I feel hot breath from my mouth,

I hear a deep resonance from my chest,

My low voice is perhaps like the pluck of base,

And they only hear banjo picking voices?

It’s getting serious, I’m concerned.

“I said I’m bleeding heavily”

“drink more water” they told me.

That feels wrong?

I’m not a worrier, my mother is.

In contrast I never worry,

If they don’t hear you

You need to hear you,

You may need to be transfused

By days end.

You cannot make them hear you,

But you aren’t alone when you hear you,

I do trust this language that only I speak

I hear me,

I will listen.

 

Joey

 

“And I don’t have to be that person”

I heard you say

Perhaps reaching;

Hopes to get through the day.

I believed your words,

And now you’re dead

Your pain resonates,

Still, and all you said.

 

The musings of God weren’t enough to prevail,

To pull the battle from the soldier,

Would take a hurricane force gale.

They set you “free”

Or so they said,

Did they even care

In a year you’d be dead?

I picture you in Iraq

Crouched, readied; dust and dirt

Pointing a gun another

How could that not hurt?

 

 

The Author, the Liar and the Badminton Champ

 

 

It was sunny when she finally finished that book she was writing.   The one that danced under her skin like nerves on a first date.   The one she dreamed of writing while scratching out rhyming poems with her stubby pencil the words neatly centered in the middle of colored 3 by 5 index cards when she was 5 years old.

The book came to her at the urging of God, a Catholic intervention perhaps?  It was CCD at 6 am on a Thursday where she learned that her knowledge of the bible was next to nothing and not all donuts  were equal.   It was there she made the stifling realization  that Mathew, Mark, Luke or John would be awesome characters in a black comedy or a cult film….. and that they mustn’t have had scissors back then cause Jesus desperately needed a haircut.    The one story she knew was the fish and the loaves of bread and the other that priest told without speaking any words, that wine drinking in the morning is encouraged so long as you pretend its blood.  Yeah this was alright, this could be plot worthy?

Life went on, years went on, wine drinking went on, not a whole lot of writing went on unless it was on the back of a coaster at the bar.   The book had occupied her mind like the flutter of a shuttlecock, dictated by the winds.    It was to be published by age 40 and at this time of writing she was 46…….and a half.

The book, the one she is writing, is the tale of 4 friends and parallels the story of her struggle, a work of fiction, “no, God NO, not a memoir!”  she surmises that a memoir is simply an extension of the thick narcissism which runs high in her  Sicilian DNA, like gambling and a thirst for wine.  What she is writing is a work of fiction.

The story is beautiful, the same way there is beauty in a  heavy weight champion’s bounce,  and beauty in a man tending to a man, quick work of a team doctor’s dab, beauty in the lack of concern as he butterflies that gushing split brow,  beauty in that there is a sport that encourages a knockout,  and highlights it on CNN.

The book she, okay I am writing came from a nugget that was both spiritual and devastating.   It came like a vision through stained glass, shining only on me.   I knew I’d write it at age 21.  I sat in the pew next to only family and  listened just after they played that god awful song “The Wind Beneath my Wings,”   the pain in Bette’s voice mirrored ours,  made our hearts porous and the song somehow sounded less offensive.    We sat in our suits and skirts with the eyes as big as toddlers, staring at the priest fixed and ready for the next song and hand motions to go with it?     It was my brothers funeral he was 29.  He said it twice maybe three times, “his life was taken from him”    but the only words I left hearing were “ We will see him again” said the priest.  I left inspecting every face of every person I passed by for the next week straight.  Cause I believed him.

It took a while to trade playfulness for recklessness.     It often got caught up, that story in me……tossed back and forth, back and forth, over the net, in the net, suspended, lifeless; trapped.    No one views a shuttlecock with much value, I needn’t explain why, the name says it all.

The more the busyness of life and college and marriage and babies, took root, the more I couldn’t get to that story.  And the more I couldn’t get to that story, the more I needed to.   I needed to write, to feel it, to tell it from my own lips with the care of a parent at bedtime followed by a forehead kiss.     I needed to tell it to the child in myself, the one who still believed in love and fairy tales and Santa Clause, the one who believed in the worth of children who were never told bedtime stories.   I wanted it still but it was inaccessible like a Chinese delicacy.   I wanted to taste it but I also knew after I did, I could never taste it again.

Her story; my story, was her only friend, like the drunk and the bottle.   She wanted it like that.   Most writers subconsciously channel pain to make for richer writing.  But this way,  At least she could decide for herself when to write the chapter of disappointment.         “I’m writing a book,” she would tell people- just to hear the words.  Soon they stopped listening.   Was it a truth or lie, whatever it was, it was as anxiety producing as a muffled scream.  It was as ridiculous as holding in a sneeze.

It was the longest badminton game in history.  It ended up in the Guinness book of World Records.   It was described as the game that divided doubt from belief, dreams from wounds, love from hate.     She could still recall the day she had to stand on the sidelines and decide first where to stake the net,  she practiced  her swing for years, pictured the perfect volley, down to the smell of faint BO and sunscreen, roasted peanuts and beer.    The stadium was filled with people; Brad Pitt and Channing Tatum, Jon Hamm, Joyce Carol Oates and Alice Munro.   She could swear she saw Lucia Berlin, her ghost anyway.  They were watching, they were really watching!    With another sip of water, she swallowed hard and looked around, there was only silence  then the chirp of a single bird, there she was in her back yard alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother


Rouged cheeks, legs crossed

Composed;

Green and glistening; like a salad

Perfectly tossed.

Pinkies skyward, florally citrus abides,

I can still smell the cigarette on her- I know that she hides.

Leaning in…excitement grows;

“I’m pregnant mom, do you like the name Rose?”

“I thought marriage, maybe- weddings are nice?”

I can see her coping face;

Yep- here come fairy tale mice……

A storybook mouse, his jet engine revs,

Or is that the scooping air of tea being sipped?

“If you’re going to sew- honey-don’t just sew what is ripped!”

I carefully stretch my words, my whiniest voice “you were my good child?”

I mock her…..then hollow Silence.

“I am VERY glad you’re you.”

“I almost forgot,” she says “I’ve a secret too.”

“I did it…-I CAN’T show you, I got a tattoo!”

Smiles abound “Today I’ll be the mom,” or tomorrow “she quipped”

….Yes it’s cheesy and forced, a Hallmark Too doo,

But it is fun, Mother’s Day, “we’re proper ladies, acting;” lips pursed

“Okay Jane”

“Okay Sue”

“ if Dad doesn’t like it, well whoop dee doo!”

“Poise with grace like a mom- when you tell him-let’s not kid, he’s lucky he stayed,”

Like a synchronized swimmer, we’re all on display?

“Keep smiling, keep nodding, “keep birthing?    “ew….?

embossed metal tongs like a stork

deliver a cube of sugar to my tea,

Plunk, a poetic splash, like a mother, she puts one in my cup too

“Remember dear, FORGIVENESS is motherhood glue.”

All I wanted

I never wanted to be famous

I didn’t want to stand out,

but I knew these thoughts had relevance,

their torment stifling;

like a restrained shout.

I didn’t want my heart to beat so frantically;

or to dip so low in the cave of my 2yr old chest,

I just thought a father should want me-

but we all know, a child doesn’t know best?

I counted the days you were missing,

I wondered,  “was it cause I’m not sweet?”

I felt your absence in a near rhythmic way,

the way a drummer feels a beat

I just waited for you to find me….

For you to realize, yes I am quite sweet…

all I wanted was you to find me,

so that my world would be complete.

Goodbye Daddy

if you’d fished or golfed or wore a tie,
would it feel different to see you die?
instead you tinkered under the hood
and gave us that look
our only option
“be good!”
I can hear the sound as you spit bits of brown
from your Pall Mall
I can still see your Jammie pants
coming down the hall.
Some daddies took their daughters to a baseball game,
you took me to the junk yard
it was fun all the same.
if my elbows found their way on the table at a meal,
the silver ware jumped-then we got the manners schpiel
although you were gruff, mean; not the preferred “daddy type”
there was so much love just knowing
you were there, as we slept each night.

Greener Seas

An excerpt from YA Novel (In the works)

The Strait of Gibraltar had never crossed my mind before a few hours ago.    It should have.    The Iberian Peninsula marks two vastly immense bodies of water intermingling, I mean; it’s like Romeo and Juliet in the form of oceans.  The Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; remarkably elusive, powerful bodies.  And then there is little old me.   Here I was floating on the boat deck, as innocent as a cheerio in a bowl of milk about to reach a place where they may not even eat cereal and I didn’t have a care in the world.   We’re all just people, and this is all just water?     I mean it it’s no Puget sound, it’s the Mediterranean Sea….. vastly sexier, saltier and heavier than the the Atlantic Ocean, submissive and shy, an ocean proper, like Ella Fitzgerald compared to Beethoven’s Fifth?    In people, just like in nature, one simply must lay down and take it like a…….less saltier,  less sexier entity?     There comes a time, one must accept it’s the weaker one, submission is inevitable.. naturally a power struggle ensues.  With Gibraltar-The struggle can even be seen by radar.  Individual undercurrents are real but we cannot see everything.    Looking closer to anything is very revealing.  By radar we see undercurrents, dominance, mystery it can leave us daydreaming idiots and forget the very real fact were headed to Northern Africa and we’re 18.    Taking a boat across the Strait was a bigger deal than I thought,  where the others lost confidence on the boat over, we all gained a greenish palour to our cheeks as they drained of blood when we stepped foot in Tangiers.  The Very moment they stamped our passport Arab Emirates should have clued us in- maybe we were in over our heads?

Soccer Mom

Nylon shorts, shoes that grab the turf,

Suited up or not, a team feels your worth;

with a perfect white stripe

Framing that still growing knee,

You’d think it’s plain for all to see?

A sport, a practice, what lives within, what needs free,

A lesson in play is for the child, not me!

It’s to tease out a serendipitous love, discover…..

Summon a romance…..a first mouthful, like a fresh summer peach,

but still there are some that don’t practice, they just preach,

“You pay fifty bucks when she finds the net?!”

Life’s not a gamble, on that you can bet?

You rob her when you fill her head and yours ”

Go ahead-tell yourself, “MY player is best”

But it’s messy when the ego bursts

…..or when you don’t pass life’s test?

We hear  it all…..

what you do and don’t say

And, it ain’t about you mom,

Sorry, not today.

I do More When I do more

The nuggets,

they are always there,

just need to stop,

pan for them,

slow down, inspect them,

respect them.

Perhaps you too are a gulper?

Show me, show us…how to sip more.

I simply must let you show me,

Ask even, cause, I don’t actually know how?

Please…  imbibe without me,

for me it’s quite a different thing,

the feel, the touch, the swirl, the flicker,

it’s always there,

flipped in the up position,

always.

But, if I observe from a quiet corner,

honor truth, I am not you, nor will I ever be

but good will come of me.

I just do more, when I do more.