The Backside

 

 

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The Backside

A hundred stories blew right by
Unseen by the naked eye, a hundred and one
If you count the one so wind-soaked, water-logged and beat down
There is nothing left to tell
Shreds of truth washed out to sea
Particles of memory swept up in the counter-current backside of the beast

A hundred years from now

Someone will dredge it up, tell it to a crowd of hungry men, women and children
Hovered on the edge of their seats to know about the day the wind raged
Again
History, a fan of repeating herself

At the hair salon
She said the waiting was the hardest part of all
Tell me your story
I’m beginning to try to listen again

Forgetting doesn’t help remembering
Warnings came from somewhere down the coast, farther south
Watch out for the backside,
The tail end
Every cliche, metaphor
You’ve heard them all
Listen up, for once, to talk of eyes and calm

While we wept for Haiti
I wept over Vascular Dementia, ALS and Cholera, hunger and disease
And Haiti some more
The Shirley May, The Mary Margaret and God’s Grace
They made it through, tethered to a wide and weary oak
Simple solutions mock me

Anticipating, we know too much of what we do not know
Wringing our hands over unknown outcomes
And then the shaming began
For the stayers and the ride-it-outers
Who know the nuances of wind and tide
But are certain of not one thing

The quiet dark of the blind preparation
Is a quiet we never knew

Run a bunch of models
Focus on the European One
Fine lines  wear the well-honed edge of a butcher’s knife
Lord have mercy plays on rewind and repeat
In sharp contrast
The Weather Channel, bless its heart
I thought I’d die if I heard one more warning of how bleak my future looked

When the wind blows
Echoes from my childhood
We are slowly prepared by  nursery rhymes
For what’s ahead

When the wind blew
At hurricane force
I sat on my backside

Resting up
No one named the raging storm in my mother’s brain
After one of the gospel writers

There is still a storm that’s raging
Though not at sea
For me
Waiting is the hardest part

 

 

A Gatherer’s Tale

 

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A Gatherer’s Tale

He dropped me off. Left me on a single slice of earth. Drove away in a watery wake. His back spoke a silent goodbye, good luck. I saw no one ahead or behind. Only the Oyster Catcher and the others. I had time. Space in all its facets, wet and dry. Solitude dominated the landscape. The sea, a metronome of well-timed lapping. The wind filled gaps of silence. Held me in his absence. Peace sat on her throne. Ruled the high seas. Reigned over me. While I began my gathering. The shoreline gives more than it takes. And offers more than the tangible. I heard cryptic murmurings to choose this and leave that. Pick this one and pass up that one. My small bag now filled with a story that would be written later. When puzzle piece meets puzzle piece. And the mystery makes more sense.Than not. I rinsed off my treasures with water, not from the raging sea. But from my quietude of fresh desire. To connect the dots of fractured wisdom passed from sea to me. Distanced myself from that slice of where I’d been. And read only what was in front of me. A dot dash dot, Morse code message made from collected things. Every symbol formed a word. Conjoined me to the shore, to tell me more of the world I’d gone in lonely search of knowing. I left parts of the story on the hemline of the world. They would wait for another day. But only if the tide has mercy. And lets them live to tell me more. He picked me up. And let me bring my bag of gathering home. Once heard and told, the stories never let you forget. The lessons they behold.

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What Will You Always Remember

What Will You Always Remember

There are no mahogany framed sepia photographs
Laced in chipped gold gilt, hanging by a thread of rust
Lining a narrow hallway by the newel post worn down
By palm and fist

No black and white, grey and tan or faded Kodak prints
With the look of Nashville filters on Instagram
We are not shown together much

Paired, twinning, con-joined or wrapped arm in arm
Serpentine limbs like Cherry Willow tree’s
Threaded through each other
In an overtly visible way

Not after those early years when
Nascent you
Held
Nascent me

But I will always remember
Tracing your blue-green bulging veins, pumping  crimson blood to the beat of  Onward Christian Soldier
(Or was it some other one penned by Wesley for the choir)
Running like rivulets down your pale underarm
The color of the underbelly of a flounder
Yours was smooth as the red velvet church pew in that
Methodist church
Where I did the tracing
You may have smelled of Jergens
And I may have smelled of intrigue

I closed my pre-mascara-heavy eyes
While your fingers played the piano up my arm
When your dangling digits like participles
Reached the bend
I was to tell you

Whisper that you were in the valley of the arm
While the preacher preached
And I wriggled in my seat

You may not recall at all
Perhaps you only remember the smell of Methodism
And the lingering scent of my wanting to know you more

 

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At The Goodwill

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At The Goodwill

This is how I remember it
Or this is how the poem demands the retelling.

You can break a word apart
Not unlike diagramming sentences.

(I loved that part of English class.
Chalk board, chalk, eraser, eraser dust, teacher

Back facing class, front facing board

All the tools for dissecting a sentence,
Splayed out on the operating table

They dosed off, classmates to my left and to my right
Unwilling participants, missing the point of the drill.)

The word is a brand, is an adjective, is a noun
Is too often lost on me.

Before I made it through the swinging doors
She snuck up on me in the parking lot

It was never about the bargain, the search, the thrill of the hunt
After all

It was never even about the monetary charitable contribution
(Who are we kidding?)

This is not the first time I have been tripped up
Just the first time
At the Goodwill

Blessed are the lonely
For they will go to the Goodwill in search of conversation

I give myself a C-