Day 24 – One Day, While Sprinting to Check the Mail

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One Day, While Sprinting to Check the Mail

I spied a nonagenarian

struggling to our mailboxes,

sluggish enough

to be considered

still-life.

 

I offered to help him.

 

He unhurriedly

glanced my way.

 

“Young man,

don’t worry,”

 

he said with a wry

twinkling smile.

 

“None of us are getting out of here alive.”

** *

Written for dVerse Quadrille #31, hosted by Grace. The word for quadrille Monday is still.  

Drop by and check out everyone’s contributions to this prompt.

Day 18 – Greetings from Blessing My Heart after Your Betrayal

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Greetings from Blessing My Heart after Your Betrayal

Hi you, grinning with gentle malice

Vile intentions known, veiled thinly

Hiding behind wide-eyed finnocence

And letter of the law, perverted

 

Sup, you, symphonic syphilitic cynic conductor

I’m compelled to commendtalieate

Impressed, I will pat your twisted back

Before kicking you down the fucking stairs

** *

Written for NaPoWriMo’s optional day 18 prompt: neologisms (made-up words) and dVerse Tuesday Poetics: Wish you were here. (postcard prompt). Let’s just say that I’ve had to deal with some interesting personalities recently.

Drop by and check out everyone’s contributions to this prompt.

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Day 17 – Maritime Confrontation

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Maritime Confrontation

“Be careful,” my Workcenter Supervisor cautioned me before removing the cover to the seawater strainer. Training had begun on what was to be a monthly task in maintaining the ship radar’s heat-exchanger. Steve was stepping me through the process for the first time, cautioning me against the possibility of a poisonous sea snake popping out the strainer, biting me, liquifying my heart, making my blood boil, and writing a swastika on my lifeless forehead. (I may have imagined a few sea snake tendencies.) After I undid the last bolt, Steve slowly removed the lid. “Oh cool!” he exclaimed. “A tiny crab! Look, Barry!” On-cue, out popped a four-inch crab, claws brandished aggressively.

Fear is my lifelong companion. I don’t overcome it as much as I learn to live with it. My earliest memories involve being afraid. Of the dark. Of being different. Of being the same. Afraid of being teased for being afraid. Of the inevitable violence married to racism. Of getting my ass whupped over bad report cards. Afraid of dad beating mom. Of mom nearly killing dad. Of dad leaving and never coming back. Of mom nearly killing me. Of nearly being killed in gang-fight crossfire. Of mom nearly killing my brother. Of possibly being killed during nearly every pointless police shakedown for “fitting the description”. Afraid of failing. Of not trying. Of not being strong enough for Navy boot camp. Of drowning. Afraid of possibly becoming an addict like dad. Of possibly being a schizophrenic like mom. Of failing my wife and kids. Afraid of being exposed as a pointless muthaphucka with nothing substantial in my soul worth sharing.

But none of my fears prepared me for squaring off against a four-inch crab angrily defending his new saltwater strainer home.

“Aw HELLLLLLL naw!!!” I wailed, wheeling around, tearing through the hatch, through the junior-officer jungle, my slipstream waking the ensigns, narrowly avoiding turning my division officer into a speedbump, out the exit hatch, trying to control my rapid breathing, hearing my bemused Div-O ask Steve, “What the fuck was that all about?!?” which, after a beat, was followed by uproarious laughter.

The navy trained me to rely on my training when confronting fear, but my hilarious fight-or-flight antics must’ve hit Steve square in his empathy chip. He never even tried to assign me strainer duty again after that. And hell naw, I sure as shit never brought it up.

And crabs are delicious. Except for when they’re alive. And bite-sized.

the sea gently rocks

I breathe in her promises

centered and focused

** *

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday: The only thing we have to fear… hosted by Toni Spencer (kanzensakura, hayesspencer). Drop by and check out everyone’s contributions to this prompt.

 

Day 10 – Dessert

Dessert

You

my dark chocolate

sweet

earthy

 

when I nibble

you bite back

smearing tangy goodness

onto my sneering lips

 

within my mouth

I quest

cresting the center

of your melting point

 

drizzling down my chin

daring me to lick my fingers.

 

I crave more.

** *

Written for dVerse Quadrille #30, hosted by Mish (mishunderstood), where the safe word prompt word is drizzle. Drizzle made me think of candy for some reason… that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.  

Don’t forget to visit other poets’ take on this prompt.

Day 6 – Two Cats for One Hat (Or Snitches Get Snitches)

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Image source: Google

Two Cats for One Hat (Or Snitches Get Snitches)

The sun did not shine.

It was nighttime, you see.

So I sat with my book

Just as bored as can be.

 

I sat there with Daddy.

Mom slept and I sat

I hoped I could read her

The Cat in the Hat.

 

We were almost done!

My treat was on track!

For next we would read

How the Cat would come back!

 

I saw where she hid my new

Treat!

Treat!

Treat!

Treat!

If I could sneak a peak

That would be cool and neat!

 

I would not make a BUMP!

That would make Mommy jump!

I snuck!

In the bottom drawer it sat!

I snuck!

Out with the next book

Of the Cat in the Hat!

Half done with the first

Why did I skip it like that?

 

I knew I was wrong

Breaking rules was not funny.

But I wanted to peek

Before the sun was sunny!

 

“I knew I could get away with my prize,”

I thought with a smile

“And Mommy will not wake or stir

Not for a while.

 

I will take a quick peek

Like a bad little sneak

And once my sneaking has peaked

With not even a squeak

I will un-sneak my sneak

Oh how Momma would freak!

But my sneak-game’s on-fleek!

She will never know

Of her son’s geeky streak!”

 

I climbed up the couch

By Daddy I sat

With my major awards

Two cats in one hat!

Dad looked and said “Hey!

How did you get that?

How did you get two cats?

You did not read the first hat!”

 

But I whispered, “No! No!

Please speak softly, OK?

Or you will wake up my Mom

She would take it away!”

Then I heard Mom yell loud,

“Bring that book back, B.J.!”

 

I scowled at my dad

Who laughed with a wink

I was so very mad

At that foul Father fink

As my sneak was un-snuck

I thought isn’t this rich?

Never would I have thunk

Dad was a punk-ass snitch!

** *

Written for imaginary garden with real toads Celebrating Children’s Poetry – Dreaming with Stacie, and shared on dVerse’s OpenLinkNight # 193. The prompt was for us to write a poem that draws upon our childhood imagination.

When I closed my eyes to speak to my younger self, I was instantly transported back to the 70’s. True story! I was about four, or as I liked to call it, “Four-and-a-half”. Mom was teaching me to read, and I took to it like a duck to water. This is where my nerdery began.

I was nowhere near emotionally developed enough to deal with a cliffhanger, and Mom was too tired to let me read the first book to her so I could get to the second one. I took matters into my own hands, and Dad ratted me out real sneaky like and laughed in my face after I got in trouble with Mom. I swear, if I had been big enough to kick an ass, his ass would’ve been the first one I kicked that night. It’s like dude never heard the old “Snitches get Stitches” nursery rhyme, Knaamean?

So yeah, I wanted to kick my dad’s ass that night. Dirty snitch! May his soul rest in peace.

Read other dVerse poets’ OLN poems here.

 

 

 

 

Elegy of Laughing Duets

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Elegy of Laughing Duets

The officer smirked, trying not to laugh. After admonishing dad for speeding, he walked back to his vehicle with a funny story for his coworkers; a tale of my dad slyly lying about the urgency of momma’s baby, due to deliver my brother two months from now, and of momma over-selling the shit out of her non-labor, as I, a terrified six-year-old, observed in saucer-eyed, horrified silence.

We must’ve been quite the sight; dad explaining his urgency to the cop with a softness that matched the long shadows just after the sun dipped below the spring-sprinkled horizon; momma – unprompted, on-cue, and with a scenery-chewing overacting exhibition to make Shatner wince – unsuccessfully selling the urgency dad had just lied about with the authenticity of a wildlife film narrator; me in the back seat, wide-eyed and instinctively quiet, taking it all in; the patrolman’s flashlight, an impromptu stage spotlight for our three-person routine (four if you’re counting my brother, but the cop didn’t buy it, so let’s just go with the trio.)

After a beat of silence, our eyes finally adjusted from the shock of the cop’s harsh halogen giving way to soft shades of amber, dad shook his head, a grin growing on his darkened face. He looked back at me. “You cool, B.J.?”

I nodded, and squeaked out a, “Yeah.”

“Yeaaaaah?” he repeated, mimicking me.

“I mean… yes,” I corrected myself with a smile, relieved that dad sounded like dad again.

We didn’t have a term for code-switching back then. It just felt like Dad was bilingual and was training me to be too. I knew that whenever he broke out the Wildlife Film Narrator voice that shit just got real. He always used it when white people were involved, and always when those white people were in positions of authority.

I instinctively knew to get my shit together whenever he used it.

If anyone heard his everyday-people vernacular, they’d have a hard time reconciling the fact that both voices were his. When dad was being dad, he always reminded me of Shaft-meets-Sho’nuff-the-Shogun-of-Harlem; brassy, cocky, and cool-as-hell. I admired both voices, knowing that Sho’nuff was dad’s native tongue. Both were authentic in a way; Sho’nuff was my dad, the Film Narrator was the long shadow cast by dad.

Momma code-switched too, but it never sounded as jarring as when dad did it. Mom’s tone was always a hairsbreadth lower than frantic; it was like she was barely holding things together in her head. But momma always sounded like momma, even when she was performing. Her professional voice reminded me of how folks talked on Dynasty before someone dipped in diamonds got their face slapped; unnecessarily British and whatnot.

Dad shot an incredulous glare at momma. “Really, Terri?” he crooned sarcastically, firmly back in Shogun form. “Nooo, officerrr… I’m not in dayyyneger of laaabor, but it HUUUUUURRRTS!” Dad mimicked momma’s impromptu histrionics perfectly.

“Oh hush, Barry! I was just tryin’ to help,” mom shot back between giggles. “You didn’t get the ticket, did you?”

Together, their gallows-laughter was the greatest musical duet I’ve ever heard. My parents loved comedy. Our bad days were terrible, but our good days could wring sunshine from a rainy evening dusk just like it did that spring evening. Dad’s laugh sounded like a chorus of good-humored seagulls. Mom’s laugh was carbonated; starting low, and then bubbling higher, eventually meeting dad’s seagulls high in the atmosphere. Though I’ll never hear either of their laughs again, it just occurred to me that they are always with me. Whenever I’m trying to make people laugh, all I’m really doing is trying to recapture this moment, if only for a moment.

sunset ignites clouds

terrain perfumed by rainclouds

inhale deep, smiling

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All four of us! (Mom is pregnant with my younger brother in this photo.)

** *

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 3 prompt, an elegy. I was also inspired by dVerse’s Haibun Monday: The Shadow Knows, hosted by Hayesspencer. I didn’t share it on dVerse though, as this isn’t a traditional Japanese Haibun. I did enjoy writing it though. There were some laughs and tears during the writing process.

Want to see how traditional Haibun are supposed to be crafted? Go here.

Hot-Air

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Image source: Google

Hot-Air

Intervening breath

screaming at myself

At my lack of self-love,

Cash-above-health-love

Flashing no wealth, love

What are we doing here?

The venom’s ballooning here

The voice never knew me here

My choices undo me here

I’m better than this,

Head-checker remiss

Demanding reset-vector

Resist!

** *

(Warning: Video contains strong NSFW language… And perhaps one big beautifully-shaped bottom. The message clearly isn’t about the bottom though, pretty as it is.)

(Damn I can’t wait until April 7th!)

My second poem for dVerse’s Quadrille #29, hosted by the talented WhimsyGizmo. (The balloon prompt.) I wasn’t going to share this one, as I felt it was a bit too blunt, too negative, but WhimsyGizmo convinced me to give it another look.

 

Feel free to drop by and read other poet’s contributions to this prompt.

Air-Filled Pauses

GOODBYE-LOVE-LETTER

Image source: Google

Air-Filled Pauses

Our thought balloons

referenced one another

in past tense

even as

our flesh

presses

our present

spent in dark recesses

of hypothetical

bubbling imaginations

swelling with fullness

of what might have been

and what could be

if we

exhale

into crust,

breathing

lustful toxins.

** *

Written for dVerse’s Quadrille #29, hosted by the talented WhimsyGizmo. Today’s prompt is to write a quadrille using the word balloon. I wrote one other quadrille using the word balloon while I was at work, but I felt it was too negative, so I’m sharing this one instead.

 

Feel free to drop by and read other poet’s contributions to this prompt.

common tempest

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common tempest

raindrops

pooling downward

joining creak to marshland

ponds, streams, tributaries fed by

her tears

 

thunder

chasing lightning

sonic reverb transfer

potential, kinetic shudder

his pain

 

landslide

rushing downward

life uprooted, falling

order, chaos, all the same vibe

blending

 

river

churning, winding

carving stone like putty

flushing nutrients to deltas

mending

 

sandbar

what’s left behind

river lapping edges

touching, lingering at tidepools

softened

 

raindrops

chasing lightning

life uprooted, falling

touching, lingering at tidepools

mending

** *

Written for dVerse Poetics: The River. Paul Dear is guest hosting. The river theme is his baby. Feel free to drop by and check out other poets’ river-themed poems.

 

Tea for Two

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Image source: Unsplash.com

Tea for Two

Controlled nocturnal chaos.

Streamers painted onto charcoal skies.

Screams, squeals, shrieks pierce the void.

Neon-pink catastrophic, organ-grinding joy

spinning, twirling, lurching,

clutching the restraint bar

with a tiny left hand,

bracing for the spinning,

twirling, lurching,

that somehow hasn’t

spun us into oblivion,

spinning, twirling.

 

Lurching into another

seemingly random direction,

gripping momma’s arm

with a tiny right hand,

wondering how she

could possibly laugh with delight

at our pending deaths

from all the

lurching,

spinning,

twirling

into the blurred lights

as I willed my tears not to fall,

showing momma

I’m a big boy now

and could endure the

twirling,

spinning,

lurching

in stoic silence

while others my age

lost their composure and

sometimes partially-eaten

cotton-candy to the random

twurching,

spirling,

clurching

of this gigantic

many-armed neon demon,

spinning, twirling, lurching away from

our demons down the street at home

that smelled of reefer, whiskey, angry shouts,

and disquieting nocturnal thumps, inevitably

dimming to aural fragments;

haunting, lingering, lilting,

unmistakable sounds of

momma sobbing.

 

But she loves the teacups’

spinning, twirling, and lurching and

though I’m more of a merry-go-round

horsey-guy, well who knows how long

they’ll be down the street from us

spinning, twirling, lurching,

making kids my size sick with fear

and nauseous with motion?

All I know is

I ain’t never seen momma

crying her eyes out while

spinning, twirling, and lurching

on the teacups,

I get to show her how brave I am

lurching, twirling, and spinning,

and I get to eat cotton-candy

that’s bigger than my whole body!

That’s a pretty sweet deal.

And so I grimly endure the spinning,

twirling, lurching nonsense

as if it’s no big deal and

not the worst thing

that’s happened to us all night,

because it isn’t.

***

Lillian is hosting today’s Poetics over at dVerse. Today, we’re digging into our memories of amusement parks, carnivals, state fairs, and whatnot and so-forth.

I enjoyed this prompt, though my subject-matter might suggest otherwise. Sure it’s a melancholic memory for me, as most memories tend to be for me, but in that moment I was a small child who thought he was lifting his mother’s spirits by being brave for her. I haven’t thought of it in a very long time, and it probably would’ve remained buried if not for this timely prompt.

Feel free to drop by and also check out the other dVerse poets’ contributions to this theme.