Poetry

When the Poets Run Out of Things to Say

The saddest word

I ever heard

I heard of just today

that loving her

was to defer

more love to self some way.

How crude,

how worn,

how deep forlorn

that view of love so flawed!

How evident

of life that’s spent

in vanity’s own fraud.

If only you

could see right through

that lie you’re holding close

then you might see

despairingly

it’s not love that you’ve imposed . . .

Occasional Prose

Human Nature (Things Heard and Said)

I was just headed to my car when another car slowly pulled up behind me. It was an older woman behind the wheel. She had a prominent frown on her face but you know what they say about the books and the covers and such.

Where’s the car wash around here?’

‘Which one?’

‘The car wash!she reiterated.

‘There’s two that direction,’ I explained to her, pointing north. ‘One on the left and one at the right.’

‘I’m looking for one called the Spa.’

‘That’ll be on the right,’ I said. ‘Alright, see that light right there?’

She nodded.

‘You’re going to go straight through that. When you get to the second light, you’re going to take a right.’

‘So go through the first light, turn right at the second?’

‘Yes ma’am. There’ll be an Aldi up there by the Spa.’

‘I’m not from around here so I won’t be looking for that,’ she assured me with a hiss.

‘Fair enough. Hope that helps. Have a good one.’

‘Yeah,’ she muttered and drove slowly to the end of the lot. She had to turn around and headed out of the lot just as slow.

I got in my car and started towards those two intersections too. I was headed to the left though. I figured she would already be at the car wash since I didn’t leave the parking lot right away. But sure enough, we met at the first intersection.

You realize how incredibly boring this story is, right?

I do.

Okay.

I was in the left lane, she was in the right. The light turned green and we started for the second light straight ahead. Couldn’t miss it if you tried. I looked over a couple times to get her attention but she was like a horse with blinders. She was on a mission. And when we got to the light, I made my way to the left turn lane.

And she made her way to the right?

Nope. I watched that grumpy old woman haul ass through a yellow light, headed straight.

Occasional Prose

A Most Dangerous Game (Things Heard and Said)

“Heads down!” they commanded. We all put our heads down and covered our eyes. Of everything that could happen in these situations, we always expected the worst. That was for the simple reason that the worst always happpened in these situations.

Their feet shuffled over the floor, any secrecy done out the window with. It seemed like each one would get closer and closer, only to tag their victim and move on. You could hear the exasperated sighs and heavy breathing of anticipation around the small room.

One of them drew near to me. Even with my eyes closed, I could tell who it was. The heels of his boots were too recognizable. I wonder if he even had to think about it. He came over and hit me over the head with unnecessary force, yet there was obviously a bit of restraint involved. Maybe I would live to see another day . . .

“Heads up!” a voice commanded. The room looked like a dozen souls just woke from heavy sleep with weary eyes adjusting to the lights once again. This was the moment of truth.

“You didn’t see anything?” somebody asked one of the others.

“No,” he replied.

“Well, then, who did it?”

He looked around at the lineup, unsure. Several pairs of eyes looked intimidatingly at him. A few seemed to tempt him to give them up, just so they could torment him even further.

“I-I-I don’t know,” he stumbled, eyes trained on Sally.

“You have to give an answer!” he was told, threateningly.

“S-s-sally!” he pointed. “She did it.”

“No.” With that one word, he sank down, defeated.

Now all eyes were trained on me. “Well, C. Who did it?”

I looked at the lineup. Sally was still in the running but I knew it wasn’t her. She wouldn’t risk a cooties epidemic. Al had a mischievous look on his face but it was obviously a distraction; he had figured out how to psychologically manipulate others early on.

That left two. The first was Woodrow. He sported a fancy pair of cowboy boots and would’ve wore the hat if permitted. He seldom had a mean streak though, just a penchant for orneriness. It wasn’t him. Not even close.

It was Mickey.

He smirked, knowingly. It was killing him not to laugh. I must have had a bump on my head or something. It certainly hurt, but watching him try not to laugh somehow hurt too.

“You guys have to start answering faster! We’re running out of time!” There was urgency in the teacher’s voice. There was betrayal in mine.

“Woodrow.”

“You’re out!”

I imagined how I would fight Mickey later on, use my size to my advantage. I would not hold back. Maybe punch him? Kick him? Tell him how he was a damned bully and I was going to lay the hurt on him?

After a few rounds of Heads Up Seven Up, the rainy day activity came to a close. They sent us single file down to lunch. Mickey and I sat together, of course.

“I wish they’d let us play outside in the rain,” he complained.

“That would be more fun,” I agreed.

“You know I tagged you, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Good,” he said, taking a bite out of lukewarm piece of cardboard masquerading as a piece of pizza. I sipped a chocolate milk, realizing that vengeance may not be the best option. The table was already pretty lonely.

Poetry

Independence

The only things people could tell me about Independence

involved Truman or the Oregon Trail.

True. They sometimes forget the other trails.

Folks came there back in the day

to get back out again.

Maybe that’s why they called it

Independence.

For a smalltown boy it just seemed neat

that someplace so close to home

had some history

you could talk about without the usual

feelings of uneasiness

one might feel talking about our town.

Independence had history.

Independence had a bookstore.

Why, they even had some businesses in that town,

a foreign sight from the outside.

I heard recently that the bookstore closed,

don’t know about anything else around there.

Left a while back. Took the gateway out west.

Try not to look back.

Out west, the likes of Wyatt Earp

or even Marshall Dillion

might kick you out of Dodge.

Don’t know, don’t care.

I just look up and enjoy the nothingness.

Funny.

Even the nothingness has more to offer

than the festering wounds

of a heart that moves

because of feasting maggots.

But I failed myself and looked back.

That is what I saw. Not Independence. Not the cities.

I only came back

to leave again.

.

.

.

.

.

.

This and its companion piece “Midwestern” were spurred on by something general but not responses to anything in particular.

I grew up in Missouri (not terribly far from Kansas or Iowa) and ended up in the Dakotas after several years in Wisconsin. I find it necessary to preface both poems by saying that I have no ill-will toward the Midwest. I’ll call anyplace “home” that God has brought me to.

There’s good and bad in all places. But we can always do better, and so can the communities we know.

“Midwestern” can be found on my Instagram page. It is also included below.

Poetry

At the End of the World, Turn Left

Nowhere has to be somewhere

but somewhere between here and there

we lost our way again.

You joked that you “know where”

this nowhere was

and I smiled with a bloody lip.

We didn’t know where we were

or where we would end up

and the map we drew

cut off the roads to Rome.

Was this the beginning or the end?

No, where was this going?

Know where this was going.

The path lay straight ahead

but the ditches looked like fun.

Poetry

When I Tried to Think of Her

The streets are wet with tears,

the roads dry with apathy.

At the intersection

there’s a yellow light

blinking at the speed

of dying dreams.

Above, above the radio chatter

is the singing stars,

coughing in the orange glare.

I walk along the gutter

and pass old friends and foes

in tandem.

It’s a long way but a short trip

and I haven’t seen you yet.

Poetry

Mheall Sí Lena Glórthaí Mé

I don’t miss the days

of being young and dumb

when I am just a bit older now

but sometimes when I hear a note

on the old piano

I hear that French tune all over again,

played by an inexperienced player

who made it her goal to learn it,

who played her heart out

even further

than its usual place

at the opening of her sleeves,

who dared to be herself

and smile all the while

they told her not to,

yes,

only sporadically do I wish

to step back in time

that I might let her know then,

or earlier,

or later

that her voice carried through life

and it carries through time

with grace and charm and admiration.

Not just the song. Not just the one time.

Not just the words

nor the words of this poem.

It was everything she did,

and she enticed me with her voice

Poetry

Puzzling

Can’t quite call it puzzling

if I already know the answer.

Still, the how keeps me up some nights

and the why perplexes me.

It all falls into place

as I watch bewildered.

It all connects

as I wildly wonder

about the chaos.

I can’t piece the peace together

or place the picture properly.

Can’t quite call it puzzling

when the finished work

is there.

But could it be complete?

Like a corner piece

with four connecting sections–

joy amid the turmoil.