Suburban Patience

Each spring, we watch as the house up the street rips up
dead palm trees and replaces them with new ones.
In the winter,
during freak snow storms,
we gingerly drive up the street, past this house
One of us will shake our thumb towards the pale gray house with white shutters and Grecian columns
“Look at this asshole.
every year, the same thing.
When is he going to realize
palm trees don’t grow here?”

The answer: never

Our neighbor across the street has a sprinkler system
that drenches his dead grass
golden like hay
crispy like leaves crinkling on dead branches during a drought
Tonight,
i noticed that one of the sprinklers is pointed into the street
the pavement needs washing too, I suppose
(because the rain is never enough)

Not to be forgotten,
our house
the proverbial mullet:
fine in the front, disarray in the back
with tree limbs laying about, lazy in the baking spring sun
which fell from grace
during one of those southern snow storms
“the devil’s dandruff” as we say

the deck has been missing railings since my husband and his father
were out there, “just power washing it”
until I glanced out the window and saw my husband, sledgehammer in hand, demolishing rail by tiny rail
his eyes glistening behind clear safety glasses
and
sweat, beading on his forearms
dotting the lining of his hat
“Don’t worry!” he screamed over the roar of the power washer.
“It’ll be fine!” he mouthed as my arms flailed wildly from the other side of
the window in the door.

That was five years ago? Maybe seven?
my father in law has since passed away
and
we still haven’t figured out what style of railing we’d like

Frequent guests are familiar with the lay of the land
yet when new guests arrive, I arrange the patio furniture so that no one falls off the side
cracking a rib
or losing  tooth

we’re used to it

it’s the lull of the suburban life:
lawnmowers
cars parked in the street
the faint shriek of children on trampolines; somewhere, someone is breaking an arm
the overgrown shrubs that line the curb,
that tap the passenger side mirror,
in front of the house,
where the elderly lady once lived, but she’s gone now
the mom who smokes a cigarette on her front porch
while her toddler squeezes himself between cheap blinds
trying to figure out where she went

the SEC flags, the Big 10 flags
and
the lady who
keeps Mardi Gras beads hanging in her trees
all
year
long

the suburbs are patient
like boys
who are eager
to have their first kiss

 

 

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Bookmarks and Coins

Soon enough,
there will be handfuls of two cents
being shoved your way:
tiny offerings with the most heartfelt meanings
extra large “because I said so’s”
big bowls of emotional soup
piles and piles
of cents

take ’em all,
toss them over your shoulder
or
file them to a folder
in your mind-
because actual folders full of loose change makes
no sense.

eventually, you’ll count them all
(not at once mind you)
there may even be a select pile where you got 4 cents, 8 cents and yes, even twenty-five (because conversations tend to drop off mid-sentence; those are your half cents or unfinished cents)
roll the coins-
make your own purchases
look back
those coins,
flip them over in your palm
when you need them most
remember the moment they were given to you
remember, if you can, who gave them to you
conversations will begin
fanciful throwbacks to
how it was,
new age findings of
how it should be
current affairs on
how you should go about it

oh yes

take it all in stride
smile with grace
tuck them away
little feathers in your hat
because there will come a time
when you may need those two cents
the reminders of how it was will play out like a well-produced musical
I promise

on an afternoon when you’re standing in a store
with a cart full of nothing
yet busting at the seams
when you can’t stand the sight of the paint on your wall
the way the carpet doesn’t fit just quite center in that room
or how you suddenly can’t recall where you set your coffee cup down
you’ll feel a scream rising up from your stomach and into your throat

stop for just a second
(maybe two)

pull those dulled coins out
to remind you that we understand
we’ve repainted rooms
thrown away carpets
and your coffee cup is probably on the bathroom counter
and let the scream escape,
you’ll feel so much better afterward.

Drip this

It’s just a simple two-page paper
Times New Roman
size 12 font
on Jackson Pollock

drip
drip
drip

have another drink

He was bullish
mad
brilliant even

Yet I cannot string together
eight sentences at a time
that will form tiny squares of letters
blocks on pages
that contain cohesive
thoughts

to accompany
a recreated painting
I’ve done
and
I
am
so
tired
of
working on this
project
weeks
months
here we are now
two days from
deadline
and

all I want to say in this paper is that:

Jackson Pollock was a painter. I’ve seen his works in museums around the world. They’re interesting, yet I was not moved.  He died in a drunken car crash. Jack the Dripper. Gone.

Two pages.
I just need two.

This is my letter

I thought I had my halo straightened just a bit
so that the glare from the sun
coming in the front window could bounce off one side
and blind you in your eyes

A fitting annoyance, considering
or maybe I should’ve tilted it completely sideways
so that it would eventually snap
tumble to the ground
and i could kick it off into the side yard

that way,
I could focus how I really feel-
kicking dirt, with pouting lips,
hoping that the bottom of your pants get wet and stay wet
the next time it rains

but I saw my reflection in the window and realized
that everyone’s halo is probably crooked
or maybe your devil’s tail isn’t as pointy as it should be
and you know, that’s supposed to be okay
if you don’t want it to be okay, you can change that too

I hear it’s a new day with every sunrise
in the evening, at sunset, you can tuck in your worries
whisper in their ears, “just fucking stop”
or whatever you want to tell them, it’s your business,
not mine

some afternoons though, when the sun is extra bright
and extra hot,
I tilt my halo and sharpen my tail

best of both worlds
that consume me.

 

2/30: Time

You wanted to smother me
Instead, you ruined me

I spent seven hours crumpling
piles of paper
and
seven more hours ironing them back out
because I forgot to scribble
all the best parts
that mentioned
the unmentionables

If I could, I’d bore a hole in my skull and shake you out.

JB

 

NaPoWriMo Y’all

April is National Poetry Month!

Thirty days of poems. Of words. Jumbled into a secret code that might be for you, about you, remembering you or forgetting you.  Or it could just be, y’know, whatever I make it. Typically I write down snippets of thoughts on receipts or in a pinch, on napkins (I don’t recommend this, especially if you only have a marker in your purse). I’ve committed to logging into my site for thirty consecutive days to work on poems. Maybe you’ll pop in and visit.

I miss writing poetry. There’s another blog saved somewhere on the internet that details the unraveling of my life in poems.  This will be a fresher start- my life finished unraveling about eleven years ago and it’s been hanging in a perfect balance for a steady amount of time. It’s kind of nice.

So here’s what I have:

You feel
like
freshly shaved legs
on cool cotton sheets
and I hate you for it.

xx

The Garden, The Gun, The Hive

about the 2000m mark while
on the row machine at the gym
Tupelo Honey came on the radio

i stopped

Have you even tried Tupelo honey?
you probably buy yours at the grocery
holding a hand basket-
carts don’t exist where you are
there’s not enough space

but in your hand basket,
there is enough room for
that
little honey bear with the orange
cone top

You buy it, don’t you

Then again,

maybe you splurge for the
“organic”
in a mason jar
version (because everything in a mason jar is all the rage).
i bet you two hold hands and giggle
thinking of how much toast
you’ll eat now that you have
the good honey…

and then i start to row again

thinking

you haven’t been to the south-

how would you know about
the delicious,
heavy taste of honey
from Mississippi

let alone how to be nice
let alone how to be
let alone

 

 

Plaster of Paris

At some point
between the late news and the infomercials
i became unconscious

we were in your new home
which was a castle
or maybe the living room
just had stone walls-
you wanted me to marvel at
the masonry work

all i noticed
was that you continued
to pull plaster off the rocks
and the floors
were thick pieces of wood

tree trunks shaved
into long strips
the way you shave a brick
of fancy hard cheese
with that kitchen tool
when the nice company
comes over

but you kept on saying,
‘this is the best part,’
pulling more plaster off
the heel of my shoe got
caught in a knotty circle
on the floor

i looked down
then back up

you’d already walked
into a long, willowy corridor
and I stood there,

my heel stuck

while i stared at all the
piles of white, chalky
plaster
a cross breeze kicked up
some dust and i started to
cough

you didn’t look back
to check on me
and I remember
the way your blue tshirt
was fitted across your shoulders
fading in the sun
a window into another room
was caressing you,

i see now

and this is where
the story ended
and the morning
news began

Nobody and Thursday

The past few weeks have been difficult for me. It’s an internal thing, peppered with some outside forces. The struggle is real. The sads are deep.  It’s not PMS either. It’s PMS’s punk ass step sister.

The peppered outside forces crept up onto my shoulder this morning and I tried to brush them off. I was met with resistance. Deep breathing helps, but I still feel their weight. I logged on and into my workload for the day. My mind feels empty- but full of heavy, wet, fog.

I opened another tab in my browser and stared at the screen.  I closed my eyes and this poem flashed in my mind:

the laughing heart

your life is your life.
don’t let it be clubbed into dank
submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the
darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you
chances.
know them, take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death
in life,
sometimes
and the more often you
learn to do it,
the more light there will
be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have
it.
you are marvelous.
the gods wait to delight
in
you.
-Charles Bukowski, 1993

And with that, I felt the resistance give way, just a bit.

 

Threadbare

I have become

the thread that hangs

from your sleeve

the blue shirt

that you wore for brunch

the one that brings out the

madness in your eyes

and the ice in your veins

I am

tickling your wrist

a panic

that perhaps it was a spider

crawling higher up your arm

to perch on your collar

and whisper

that I’ve hated you for so

long

maybe I’ll be the dead

grazing your flesh

to remember

to forget

to know

that the balance of all

that we were

hangs on a thread

that you’ll eventually

pull

and discard

onto the floor-

but what else

is

new?