July

Image courtesy of O’Conner Mortuary

 

I’d nail all the windows in that month shut.

Board the place completely up.

All closed and shuttered,

Leaving it to the dust and rot.

July—the only summer month

I’d abandon

The month forced me to abandon you—

How is a starving  child forced to leave

A mother who sold herself

So the child could eat?

Thus, I cared for you

Until I had to reach out and close your eyes—

Then I dreamed

Dreamed–

I nailed the windows in every room shut

And I boarded up every room.

I took a hammer to that floor to ceiling avocado green tile

Of the kitchen tomb,

Shattering every single inch

Of mirror green shine.

I brought the garden hose in

And hosed down all our scars

Until yours and mine

Nearly disappeared.

Then I woke

And buried you

Under roses

In hot, steamy July

Shuttering you away

Until I thought there’d

Be nothing left of you.

But you are always here.

I pick the good of you

From the rubble,

See little bits of you

In each of your grandchildren.

I see bits of you in my daughter,

And our legacy is not only

One of scars.

Washed

At the Beach – Image by KL Caley

https://new2writing.wordpress.com/2021/06/03/writephoto-beach/#like-5743

( An older poem written in 2015 while in Provincetown, MA.  Revised for this week’s writephoto challenge.)

At sunrise over water,

        Remembering as if in a dream  

The child and you and me

As we stood by a sea

Half a world away.

Both of you now baptized differently by my tears.

 

And for and from you,

I am left with things neither given

Nor felt in years,

 Linked by all the fears

To form over a decade of a life

Lived like a stranger

In my own shrinking skin.

 

I have stood

Since the dawn

At this ocean’s edge

Waiting, waiting.

And now at noon

The rain begins.

Fierce pelting blows

Washing me clean

Of all I know

Or dare to dream.

 

For living continues

Within my own skin

 

Baltimore

Image courtesy of Johns Hopkins Medicine

Pulled my anchor from this harbor
Years ago.
Yet the current pulls me back,
Some irritant speck,
Yet to yield a pearl,
In the soul,
Some rough edged
Needless need chafes away
Until confession is made
And a pilgrimage to graves
Must be paid—

There is no why to this–
This steel wrought laundry list
To be run down and checked through

A visit, a meal eaten
At the landmark restaurant,
Where new owners chiseled hieroglyphics
over a history of years when
the landmark lived across
A narrow brick paved street
And my family lived upstairs,
Erasing my mother’s sacrifice
Of bloody fetal tissue,
My fraternal twin,
On the bathroom floor there
While I hung on to be born.
But such bloody sacrifice
Doesn’t sell cheeseburgers,
Greek salads, and over easy eggs,
A fairytale of family ownership-
Sells well and makes for spots
On reality television shows.

A drive by the childhood home,
Sentimentality at its highest,
Revisit the torture chamber
It became—
A wooden yardstick and when it broke,
A metal one I had to buy to be taken
Across my back by a drunken mother
Until the skin broke open to bleed.
.
Why the drive by?
Who the hell knows?
When all I’d like to see
Is it all disappear—

Then the statue of Christ
In Hopkins Hospital lobby, a must see.
Where I stood as a teen
Confessing the darkest
Thing upon my soul—
A part of me wishing
My mother had died
In that surgery of fifteen hours
The other part thanking Jesus
she had lived.

Then the graves,
To place some flowers,
Talk a bit to the air,
Turn my soul inside out
To find it dusty and dirty again.
We can think our souls clean
Until turning them inside out—
That is where we find the grime
Of all the living done.

I visit my brothers,
The man who was my real father,
Then on to the man I thought was,
And then my mother,
The saint she was,
The monster she became.
At her grave, my soul aches the most,
Tweezing thorns left from her old rose bushes and my own,
Turning itself inside out,
Leaving all the grime and dirt behind,
Or so it feels.

Then on to visit with what is left of the living.
And though, I love the living,
There is little, so little–
To charm me into staying.
But the currents, the tides
Of some blood element,
Like an ancient memory,
Bring me back
From time to time.

This is Baltimore—
for me.

 

Song of My Sisters

Image courtesy of Storytrender.com

A daily battle with memories,

Offering emptiness,

Even the sparkle of gem like happiness,

Leaving small smiles for the moment—

Before tears begin.

Standing separated

From the ashes and earth

We once kissed and touched so tenderly,

All we embrace now—air,

Some ephemeral being of memory

As voice and smile and laughter fade.

Some of us,

Too many, told too often,

By those once precious, counted family,

Our grief, less than, less meaningful,

Really nothing more than dust,

Containing no rawness of a bloody heart.

Thus, I voice, singing the lament

Of my sisters in widowhood,

As we wait for our souls to soar–

To take flight once again.

When each in her turn is ready,

Able to begin,

Renewed,

Emerging, uncurling, however slowly,

From our blanketing storm clouds of grief,

Wings wet, drying in the sun.

The Sixth New Year

The year ends with heavy rains

As if to wash us all clean

Of the leavings and grime.

 

Now, standing with each year

For each foot of earth

Between us forever—

I gather to me

Broken pieces of colored glass

And think of—

 

Just after midnight,

An early morning

Long before dawn—

The third day of a new year six years ago,

You left in blinding, flooding rains.

 

If only on this third day

Of this new year—

I could open the earth

And roll a stone away,

Bringing you back from under

This six feet of earth.

 

But I have neither the strength

Nor the talent

For miracles great or small

When most days

There is not enough

Left over to become

A mosaic of brokenness.

 

Autumn Dawn

Image is my own
https://freeverserevolution.wordpress.com/2020/10/19/oct-4-ripples/

Ignoring the ripples doesn’t work,

Beautiful though they may be

In the early light of an autumn dawn.

 

The ripples return.

Their warmth long gone,

Drained of blood.

 

Injected with colors of autumn’s dawn,

They look full, alive with mysterious meaning.

 

But cold these ripples remain

In their return to me.

 

Time shifts,

Tilting beneath my feet.

 

I shutter and stare, a moment only—

I cannot weave these cold things

Into a useful thing, resembling you.

The Second Commandment

image courtesy of daily verses
https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2020/10/10/weekend-writing-prompt-178-asinine/

I take the truth

for it is mine,

rolling myself in it until

protected from the acid of the asinine

that drips from the pens, the tongues

of many and power,

of those we call elite,

of those we once called—

friends.

 

I grieve the words spoken

by asinine tongues

and actions taken

by hate filled hearts

that do not comprehend the words

we were taught—

“love your neighbor as yourself”—

The second commandment.