Rainy Day Rememberings

The day wears its gray shroud protectively, keeping the clouds tucked in close and sending roaring gales through the alder in the front yard. I’ve just showered. On the walk home from campus, the rain soaked my pants until denim melded to my skin and my socks oozed with every step. Our neighborhood smelled clean. I burst through my back door in a fit of chills and irritation.

~

A month ago I was in California. The temperature climbed up into the mid nineties every afternoon, and we stayed inside where it was cool, basking in the breeze of an electric fan. Now indoors is where I go to warm up beneath a blanket. A month ago, the grass was knee-high and cracked golden from perpetual sun. Lizards were more common than squirrels, darting from the dust path into the refuge of grapevines when my footfalls interrupted their sunbathing.

~

I found a baby rattlesnake. Marcus was unhappy because that meant he’d have to kill it, but Pierre volunteered. He took a picture of the snake with his phone first. The shovel that I’d been moving garden soil with was used. Pierre advanced on the snake; it seemed uncertain and terrified, tearing along the planting bed edge and rearing up to expose its slender rope of a body. Then a swift thump against the wood. I didn’t want to look. The rattlesnake’s head snapped on the ground, feet from its convulsing body. Marcus held it up to examine the underdeveloped rattle, and dark blood was trickling out where its head had been severed off. My face was wet. Pierre hooked an arm around my shoulders and tried to pull me close. I’m sorry, he said.

Job Hunting

blacksuit-look1-shoes-664

Photo from hespokestyle.com

We become animalistic,

gnashing teeth and tearing off the hems

of each other’s shirtsleeves.

Resumés shoot out of our backpacks

like Olympians at the crack of an empty gun.

We drink our caffeine too fast.

Our eyes sparkle desperation.

Green is our favorite color,

unless yours is mustard yellow,

which we really love more.

Bleached gardenia is our

white-pressed shirt scent.

We walk the streets with migraines

and bright smiles because

we are just happy, happy, happy.

So… will you take us?

Birthday

after all of it,

the Dear Prudence chorus drowning out cricket din

chocolate-strawberry-banana layer cake, toppling sickly

a crystalline wine glass overfull of cider

I stray away, end up beneath the snow globe sky

drawn by bright pinpricks of Cygnus, the cross

a boy is here beside me, and later we will sink into bed upstairs,

crazed with lust, or boredom

grip each other’s cheeks between flat palms like long-lost relatives

assert wild limbs where there is no room for them

but for now I am altogether enthralled with night

our universe burrowing into my eyes

with the expanse of other-life

a Milky Way looking more like spilled soda pop

that surely shrouds my long-lost twin

whose birthday is

also today

Like So Many Sofas Left Out in the Rain

I tore open my fly in the dim-lit room

and shoved into her. Held up the damp

flowered dress. Hand compressing

the silky nape of her neck.

Now, where did that rage come from?

 

Walk, interrupted by the neon flash

of roadside packaging: McDonald’s cups,

fruit roll-up-stained paper, trash.

Napkins, straws, bags.

Where does it all come from?

 

Yesterday I kicked the dog,

a swift hit to his brittle ribs.

Gunner yelped. Terror in those brown eyes

and he slunk away to hide.

Where did that shame come from?

 

Quiet rag-men heaped on the sidewalk

like so many sofas left out in the rain.

Shake a tin can. Not much change left in

this wallet, but he’ll use it for drugs

either way, right? Avert my eyes.

Where does poverty come from?

 

Jeans dangle a little lower on my bones

today. Walk them all the way off.

We split a cherry chocolate bar and I

spit it in the toilet. Careful now, girl.

Where did this guilt come from?

 

Mommy, this water is like snow,

so cold. It hurts my toes. There’s

so much, and it keeps falling on

the ground. Where does it go?

Where does it all come from?

 

Can’t think straight, or sleep.

There’s a story beating inside me,

waiting to shatter my skull.

I scrawl a million lines. Unfinished.

Where do these words come from?

If You Want to Be My Friend

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Here’s a short poem for you, if you want to be my friend.

I’ll say it now (but just one time), and hope you understand.

 

At first I may be quiet, shy, or uncertain how to act.

Please know I am just nervous, a bit insecure, in fact.

But once I leave my shell, we’ll discover who the other is.

With people who are close to me, I’m much more talkative.

 

Now, friendship is a push and pull, always a give and take.

If we cannot find a balance, our bond will be at stake.

I can’t spend all my energy on someone who doesn’t see:

Friendships best endure when built on reciprocity.

 

I fiercely love my friends, and keep them by my side.

The make me proud and make me laugh; they keep me honest and alive.

We could be partners in crime, or mellow classroom pals.

We’d dance and drink, read and think, stay up as late as night allows.

 

So this is my poem for you, if you want to be my friend.

All you need to do is smile, say hi; extend your hand.

It Will Sting

It still stings to think of
what we might have been.

Will always sting, will
always singe my sense
of pride, knock ego off
kilter– upset my stride.

Will you forget me as I
shift under bedclothes
late at night, still filled
with your hazel eyes; will
you be awake with me?

Don’t let me leave your
memory. Don’t slip me
away. Remember the day
we touched and parted
ways. I can’t undo these
shades inside, shutting
out the light I want to find.

It’s true– you still flit across
my mind. Still heat me up
with toxic fire. I don’t want
to suffer here in vain; will you
join me? or; alleviate this pain?

I know it can’t be done, undone.
Now I pay for what seemed to be
play, and harmless fun.
I ache, but I’ve improved.
I know I don’t need you.
And yet– please,
remember me.

Waiting for the 240 (Yesterday’s Daily Prompt: Perspective)

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Photo from worldofstock.com

I’m standing here, not doing much but standing where I always stand. People come and go, lean on me, and stare at my midsection with furrowed brows.

“240 doesn’t come for half an hour,” a woman groans to the wide man panting next to her. They’ve been in a rush. Her carrot hair is twirled around the sunhat that’s nestled onto her scalp, spilling over hunched shoulders and bringing out the dim pockmarks that line her cheeks like sideburns.

The man wheezes and clutches me around the middle with a damp, needy hand. I’d like to flinch, but alas, movement is not an ability I possess. Instead I sigh inwardly and try not to topple over beneath his sweaty weight. The woman is peeved.  She attempts to smooth her wind-blown hair, straightens her skirt, and grumbles away. The hand releases me and hurriedly follows after her.

It’s only eight, but my stop is packed with commuters, townies, and the occasional tourist ambling by in search of coffee. Fog has begun to lift off the lake and dissipate into the morning air. The sun makes a brief appearance, then retreats behind an expansive cloud bank threatening rain. Another day in paradise. I typically don’t mind the rain, as it keeps me clean and cool.

As usual, I entertain myself by keeping track of each bus that arrives and departs on time. It is my reluctant duty. But what else have I got to occupy myself with? 60X is late today. Only two men in dark suits board 501. And 129 is being driven by a substitute this week. I heard the regular operator is on his honeymoon.

I don’t often see children at this hour. Children should be in school, practicing their letters and playing dress-up, drawing their lives in crayon. But today, a child has caught up with the wild-haired woman and sweaty man. She looks about six years old, and I can imagine has been through more than her fair share of stress with those two as parents. Right now they pay her no mind. The man is busy poring over a gleaming map that was folded wrong the last time it was put away, and the woman contributes a sullen gaze to his bumbling interpretations of the city.

The child wanders from the couple now, pink sneakers dragging as she makes her way towards me. She studies my charts and timetables with inquisitive eyes. They are amber like her hair, which is drawn back into a tight silk ponytail. I wonder if she got herself ready this morning, sifting through her dresser drawers before settling on the purple velour hoodie and sparkle-dotted jeans. Perhaps she’s not even the child of the adult duo at all; they could be neighbors or distant relatives, temporary caretakers. The girl taps me absentmindedly with her toe, and hums a television jingle.

When 240 arrives, early today, carrot-haired woman and her fleshy counterpart perk up like startled rabbits. The child is jerked along by one slender arm and hoisted onto the bus. The man fumbles with his change under the driver’s cool stare. A few dozen quarters race down the fare slot. With a rumble and hot blast of exhaust, they are off.

Bisous (Kisses)

Merci mon ami, mon chérie

You explained, accented, the difference:

Like ‘honey’. A music rolling off your tongue

Effortless bisou caught between our bodies

Until I mimicked your words one time

too many. You pleaded please don’t

Pourquoi? I apologized yet

yearned to repeat those Rs sliding

through your mouth

And the reflection at the bottom of my tea

isn’t nearly so neat as your whimsical murmurs

vienne, vienne and calling my skin sweet.

Our sun sets as it does– coucher de soleil

and in three weeks, what will I have to show for this

besides cool fingertips tracing my memory,

lilting phrases jumping hoops in my head?

Farmer’s Prayer

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Sweet dusty sagebrush

and sunrise mint breath,

wet tomato-leaf: scents

steep within my sun-warmed mug,

 

thrumming with a honey bee

hum. I want to be alone

this morn, heating up outside-in

and waiting for no one to begin the day.

 

Black oak, stretch beyond

the lonesome cloud house.

It’s Sunday; I would pray

if I knew how.

 

Instead I hold a mass of earth-

crumble damp clods of dirt

in palms upturned. I kneel in rows

of berries to worship in my church.