Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We're losing the light, M said, pulling a folding chair ahead of creeping shadows.
Ideal daylight brushed by treetops and melted across a quiet backyard where a couple of pros edged the not-so-pro along with photo lessons.

Even a snapshot is worth the world...

In another backyard almost 30 years ago sat a chubby-faced kid on her dad's lap. He reached around her to pull a steamed clam from its shell, and as he dropped it in butter someone took a picture.

Behind my father and sister is a long-lost backyard where I played in the dirt, jumped off the garage, fed my rabbits and then saw them die as a neighbor's dogs tore through, hid in a fort, crashed my bike into cedar trees after hitting a jump, learned to laugh, and learned to be scared.

Behind them I see the old stone driveway with my grandmother's car. Gravity had pink and white peony blooms by their heads, and a bike sat on its side with rusted handlebars.

My sister's puffy kid fingers rode along on my father's thumb when he fished his steamer out. Happy Birthday Kara!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Street lamps punched holes in the damp summer night and cut gauzy rings on a lingering dusk as I walked to the truck, tired.

I would have gladly cried and bled for a few more words as I sat there in a 44 year old Ford with my head on the wheel, looking across a tilted landscape's shadows and painted lines.

A stray thought buzzed and I wove my pen across the page. A strand of Neil Young skipped through, and I remembered my father's mother in a dream. She wrote a note and left it under a magnet in the kitchen. Hours ago as I slept I read the note, but the words have gotten lost.

She died at home in bed on a sunny day smiling. In the days before, she had lifted her head to smile at her sister and had once waved to Gertrude who had been gone for years. The woman who had cared for my grandmother left the house, crossed the street and leaned against the bridge rail as water flew by beneath us.

Once someone dies, I can't go back in the house, she said. In my dream last night I had gone back, and my grandmother was home. I wish I could see that note -- red letters covered by a magnet holding the small scrap in place.

Lily is with me. She is made of unforgettable things.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

With the books' lessons wrung out and love notes written and torn

Romances kindled over popcorn then burned over missed phone calls

They whipped through school halls chasing one another and grabbing at dreams

That surged closer at dawn as imagination gave them everything

And inhibitions soon took it away

They learned algebra, history, longing and achievement

In time to graduate from high school as the future waited outside the classroom doors

Monday, June 20, 2011

Twenty years ago

They walk side-by-side, hands brushing together with summer’s hot thoughts in their hearts.

Their shoulders bump. Their shadows blend behind them.

I glanced back twenty years as they passed me, the house, the mailbox.

In twenty years they would remember, when a boy and a girl walk by with summer’s hot thoughts in their hearts.

Lily and I chased Hershey to the brink of a dried vernal pool’s gray leaves. Puddles after a storm wrapped around Hershey’s feet. Bandit settled his too-big belly into the mud. Free from her leash Lily is a veil of shadows and pockets of light. Back with a stick and panting in the swath of stone and grass between fallen trees, I see Lily again. She is just a tan and black dog staring at me. Good girl Lily.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Try living in a basement that always smells like fresh-swept dog shit and old coffee while across the street every leaf, branch and pebble is perfect.

These dogs can be hell.

So, leaving hell behind me I walked down to the camper that overlooks Lawnmower Man's yard. Every Saturday at 8 am he starts his routine with the weed whacker and does his pattern around shrubs and trees. Then the lawnmower starts...

Swallowed somewhere in the camper's shadows Jerry says, I had an idea.

It happens, I said.

From behind a wall between the dining area and back bed he leans out: I want to go on vacation with you. Just you and me.


On the floor are last year's folded lawn chairs and picnic coolers. In here hidden by vacation junk is a bottle of tequila, which might be more helpful than the lanterns, unopened peanut butter, and hardened iced tea mix.

Where do you want to go?

Well, what about the dogs?

What dogs?

From the hell I left temporarily I hear Ozzy blaring. Back up at the house I wonder why anyone would leave hell anyway. From that second on you start wondering when your fleeting freedom will end. A lot less worry if you just stay put.

So, as of last year and dog number four, I stand in the driveway and wave bye bye as Jerry takes his daughter on vacation. She'll sit in the front passenger seat where I should be and they will disappear.

Soon it will be a week with just me, the dogs, and Lawnmower Man.

They are going to Delaware and I am going nuts. Bye bye.

Oh Lily. Somewhere in my heart I did not want to go on vacation anymore anyway. A lot less worry if I just stay put.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

He doesn't need another drink or advice or thanks, he just wants his empty pockets to make sense.

Out on the sidewalk with a beer, a stranger says, get in here. Get in here with your beer.

Back at the bar underneath hard light he says, I can walk home. Don't worry about me.

I worry about everyone that stays until closing time, greeting a new day at the ATM waiting for cash to pay a tab.

My friend turned 40 today and we had a cake and booze. None of us have done much since 18, when we thought we would get to everything.

I remember greeting each weekend with a six-pack and hope. Maybe someone would be at the party. Maybe I would have fun. Maybe there is something here for me, but I went home and woke, hung over.

I found sandalwood-scented bottles and fit one into my purse. It's the best thing I ever stole.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

This note started off about Paul and the day he yanked the microwave out of the break room just to be a contrary, pouting ass. Then I thought the lightning might provoke something. Next I wandered into my imagination tugging at a strand of conversation …. writing is so much more than moving your pen around on the page … but who was I talking to? So I trudged back to the beginning where Lily pushed the words out of me and I tried to write about her, but without the starvation and diarrhea she is so much like a normal dog. I often forget she is the terror and heartache that escaped from the woods and threw herself at my feet. Really.

So I sit here with ideas starting and stopping. Typing and deleting. I have erased more words than I have written and in a broader sense, I either regret or have forgotten much of what I have said, but only because I spoke pointlessly. I blabbed at any set of ears. I try not to waste so many words anymore.

Most people treat their words like change rolling around in a linty pocket. I am not sure when words began to mean so little and their currency became too light to matter, but my words are worth so much more than a can of soda. I am not going to fit them in the slots to pay for a pool game either.

Except for pennies. If I ever receive change that includes two pennies, I will leave my two cents behind wherever possible.

Frustration is casting shadows across my imagination. I am just waiting for the storm to pass.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grandma was one of 16 children…

In her pantry squeezed between cinder block walls of adjoining apartments were magic ingredients hidden inside ordinary cans. Everything tasted like a treat covered in tomato sauce.

I would sit in a pale green wooden chair at her kitchen table facing the living room and its view of factory smoke stacks beyond a baseball field. From his easy chair grandpa's pipe smoke swirled in its own shifting plume. Mysterious and pungent.

Sometimes I got to sit on the other side of the table and would look at the kitchen's front windows. Grandma had taken regular bath towels, red, embossed with roses, and sewn them into curtains.

In New York we visited grandma's house where she grew up. I stepped inside and saw a king-size bed covered with a white summer comforter of thin cotton. It was wall-to-wall hand-made raviolis on that bed, no room for pillows.

A bed covered in drying, cheese-filled pasta made me wonder. In the foyer as I poked through a glass candy dish and peeked at strange adults in the den, I asked, where did everyone sleep as kids?

Four to a bed, she said.


Lily has her head on my lap and grumbles as her eyes shift to the doggy door.

We should get her fixed, Jerry said.

Well, I always want to have her with me though.

Puppies? You want her to have puppies? What if she has like, eight?


Maybe that's why I am thinking of my grandmother. If her mother could happily raise 16 children, what's a few puppies?

But seriously, I have enough trouble remembering to stop for gas.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Maybe my thoughts are a bit scattered, but a harder shake tells me my head's empty. What do you call a writer with nothing to write about? What do call a writer whose purse has emptied of words?

Do you picture some scruffy kid staring at his ice cream on the pavement? Do you picture some elegant queen at the broken window of her stolen treasures?

The echo in here is killing me. It's my own voice way at the bottom.

With her head on my leg, Lily looks up and blinks.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Maryanne loved to slam doors in my face and the months before we smiled were hard.

Days of anger passed before I asked, Maryanne, why don't you like me?


Talking to J at the bar I told him about someone like Maryanne. The hostility does not come from me, I said.

I asked him to think of all the people he didn't like. Is it coming from you? Or is it them?

It's me, he said.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I sit here because I really, really want to write something.

I feel I would have better luck with a stick and a beehive.

Who has deep insights at 11:29 pm? Or before then, or after?

I think of the goddess watching her reflection shrink in a drying vernal pool as spring slips away and summer dries up her promises. Her eyes turn to tadpoles and her hair blends with the muck. Stupid goddess.

Much is lost in the time it takes to watch small life flourish. And you are nothing to them but a breach in the sky blocking the sun.

I just need to keep these fingers moving in time with my thoughts. Just doing the motions. I have friends that spill their hearts into these empty blog spaces, but I can't manage a peep.