Our Children

Image courtesy of Slate.com

I wrote this in response to seeing the protests organized by the students who survived the Parkland shooting. I was hopeful that their anger focused in this positive way would bring about some positive change. But today, with 19 elementary school students and 2 adults now dead in Uvalde, Texas, I felt it might be time to revisit this in tribute to the students who have lost their lives in these continual senseless acts of gun violence. We must all say, “No more.”

Innocence, a fairytale idea,
Sacrificed along with safety-
Burned as sweet, bloody incense
On an altar to the Second
Unrestrained, unrestricted
The true worship contained
In this strange amalgam
of green and gold,
Gunpowder, lead, and power
Causing some confusion
In steel tongues touting
The sanctity of life
And rights to any guns in prayers.

Our children, now are
Born in a skin of fear,
And do what we have not—
Stand up and say
No more.

No Lexicon

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There exists no lexicon

For the echoes of emptiness here–

Where the azaleas bloom

Purple, pink, and white,

While dusty looking

Lavender sends up

Multiple spikes,

As roses yield up

Open, thirsting mouths

To the sky.

Though the soil here

Nourishes color and green

Growing things,

While life appears

Apparently abundant,

Although neighbors smile and wave,

The soil remains absent of truth, of meaning,

Of love—of a spirit—of a soul.

No lexicon exists for the emptiness

Echoing throughout the soil

In this place.

 

My Mother’s Stories

Image courtesy of Pinterest

I do not care if my daughter

forgets all my empty stories

of blank cityscapes,

of colorless times,

of limping struggles.

 

My daughter must remember–

remember, keep alive

stories of her grandmother,

stories of lineage, of place, of era,

of strength in women, in family,

of struggle containing meaning

like Jacob’s struggle by the river—

stories living in her DNA,

strengthening the helix of her history.

 

She must remember,

pass on to her progeny with pride

in her spirit living, not here in this place,

in this dusty Lonestar state,

but among those mountains

bathed in stained glass colors

at sunrise and sunset,

or smeared gauzy blue at noon,

or at times, shrouded in grieving fog.

 

So many times, I have watched my daughter sleeping,

a toddler she seems still at twenty-three–

I marvel at how that can be–

Her lips parted just a bit, slightly swollen in sleep,

her lashes long, thick, and dark against her cheek,

so like her grandmother’s lashes,

a trait I did not inherit,

her breathing whispers youthful innocence,

her tousled hair that of a child wearied from play–                                                

And I— I believe I see some ghost umbilical cord stretching

from her, leaving the house, and could I travel it,

follow it—I know where it should lead me–

a black cinder block house on stilts somewhere

miles outside Charleston, West Virginia—

so far up into the mountains

that as we drove the one time I saw it

I felt tilted back as if for

a rocket take off to some distant star—

my aunt’s eyes send a flood down the valleys of her face,

my mother gasping at sight of that tall cinder block house,

narrow and black with four small windows in the front,

unfriendly and uninviting it appears to me,

as it stands in the dirt yard

with a single clothesline, tires,

some chickens pecking the dirt around the stilts,

contrasting the lush green mountain top

touching the sky behind it.

My recalcitrant 13-year-old self thinks–

How the fuck does someone build

a cinder block house on stilts like that? 

And black?  Why black? 

This is where the ghost umbilical cord

leaving my daughter leads me,

this place, this link to the earth—

to the spirit within this earth

where her grandmother,

my mother grew,

nurtured by the dirt, the green mountain tops,

the harshness of poverty in harsh times,

coal mines and cave ins, winter fevers,

spring forest escapes from ideas

of death and survival.

 

Where I too am linked,

bound even as I struggled

to free myself for so many years.

Now, at this age, I know it was this spirit, this link,

that poured its strength into me

when I needed it though my youth

scrubbed me of the wisdom to recognize it.

 

My daughter must know her grandmother’s stories,

of how hope lived in an election during the Great Depression,

her great-grandfather forbid even his wife to take a switch

to of one his children on the day of FDR’s election,

of how death can be heard walking the floors of empty rooms

when the family gathers round a dying toddler,

of how potato sack dresses itch,

of how her great-grandfather built the cinder block house

after a snow melt flood washed away the wood house

and nearly killing himself thinking he had lost his family,

of how to hunt rabbits and skin them,

of how squirrel tastes better than possum,

of how to hold your head when you

ask the company store man for credit,

of how grief over the death of twin toddlers

can turn your mother silent

of how your father explains the death of children

kills a mother’s heart,

of how an orange for Christmas is the greatest of all treasure,

of how it is tedious work to darn socks,

of how joyful it feels to go without shoes in the summer,

of how rich and important you can feel

when new shoes arrive in the fall,

of how when a boy asks to escort you home from church,

you better not walk more than six feet in front of your mother,  

of how to watch for your shoeless mother walking home

in the snow from the Post Office in Charleston because

you know she only wears her shoes to church to keep them good,

and how to warm her feet so she doesn’t lose anymore toes—

 

All these stories and more,

my daughter must know

must remember,

breathe and bleed life

in the telling of them to her children

for they are woven, a tapestry,

double helix patterned within us,

our earthen souls.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Melting

image courtesy of southernexposure.com

Spring threatens to melt into us. 
Summer follows soon enough.

Birds will return, seeking seeds and worms,
Building nests for the young to come.
Will the birds remember the songs they sing?
Songs of summer, songs to mate?

Flowers will emerge, warming their petals 
And leaves under a brilliant sun.
Will they remember how to open
Their blossoms?
Will they remember how to dress themselves
In glorious color?

How can the birds or flowers remember
When the world walks a tightrope
Over the abyss
And sunflowers may never grow again
Tall enough to bow their heavy heads to God?

Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket – Annette Kalandros

I am honored to be featured on Braveandrecklessblog.com

Brave & Reckless

Today a woman went mad in the supermarket.
All too much for her, you might say.
No one with a mask, then the jeers and the insults.
It proved too much for her sensible logic.

They say it was due to this pandemic.
But she railed against the idiotic
Who kept us on this carousel,
Going round and round and round
With their circus clown theories
‘Bout reasons for variations and this virus.

“5G waves,” she screamed as she used a frozen turkey
To smash the glass where the frozen chicken nuggets
Stood, waiting to be grabbed by anxious parental hands.

“Designed by big pharma for profit,” she yelled
As she used a frozen cry-o-vac of pork ribs
To smash the deli section all to hell.

“Wonder why there’s no Polio?!”
As she overturned the endcap of Velveeta.
“You wear a damn seatbelt. Don’t you, fool?”
As she threw oranges…

View original post 168 more words

All That She Carried – Annette Kalandros

I’m honored to be featured on braveandrecklesblog.com

Brave & Reckless

She carried the weight of being told

Young girls didn’t ride the school bus into Charleston.

The wages of sin rode in the school bus

When left unsupervised that long with boys

And their untamed hands pushed and held

Girls under the Devil’s sway.

Seventh grade was good enough

For a girl of the mountains anyway.

She needed to be hired out to a family for pay.

It was time to learn the ways of mountain women,

Time to stop all this wanting of books and play.

 

She carried the weight of escaping the mountain,

Leaving her mother and family to struggle.

She had the wonder of electric run to the house,

Bought an electrified ice box for her mother too

With the wealth she earned in the city.

Yet she could not escape the weight of escape.

 

That was the start, the birth of her dream–

Held…

View original post 224 more words

Masquerade as Spring

Image is my own taken at Houston Arboretum

Leaves half dead brown
half living green dappled
with the gold of hope,
sparkling, dangle from the tree
as if life clutched within
holds a secret 
on this wonderful warm winter
afternoon—
masquerading as a spring day--
joyous—these leaves
reflecting light like crystals
of a fancy chandelier--
yet the leaves,
fragile as they are,
will fall upon the forest floor
with tomorrow’s cold winds
which they cannot withstand
and my heart, like the leaves—
not green enough
to withstand
assaulting winter
but today, today—
chooses to clutch 
at the hope
in this masquerade of spring.

A Cave We Build

Photo by Erika Osberg on Unsplash

https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/category/weekend-writing-prompt/

Close the blinds 
against the grey light.
Prepare a cave for the soul 
in cold January
as the wind rages.
Contemplation, prayer
like John of Patmos?
This cave
readied, awaits
the apocalypse
devils wish.

Seven Years of Visits to the Garden

image is my own

Each new year brings 
Now this garden grief
Nourished by regret

Each year, this day, here—
Standing, kneeling, sitting—I
Spend tears, words, wishes

All meaningless now,
In the barren garden grief
Flowers never bloom

Seven years gone now--
Nothing roots, though it has tried,
In the garden grief inside