Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Some nights I’d pick up a jug of red wine, throw briquettes on the rickety barbecue, and grill a big ribeye for me and the dog. Most days I’d work awhile in the yard or the garden area. Once I came across a small snake hiding under a thick patch of Johnson grass. Deathly afraid of snakes, I called the Aromas Fire Department for help. “Is it on fire?” they asked.
Another time a red ferret raced into the garage and out again. Occasionally wild chickens would try to roost in the laundry area. Once I found a small greenish egg up near the box of Tide.
My life now is tamer. I miss the sense of adventure, the naive belief in unlimited possibilities.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
- Make sure everyone turns in their timesheets
- Turn in all the timesheet information
- Reorganize teacher assignments
- Notify teachers that are being "let go"
- Identify and punish students who are terrorizing bus drivers
- Find classroom space for two new "outside" programs
- Make sure everyone gets their picture taken for badges
- Make sure I get my picture taken
- Make sure everyone knows about the Jan 11 training
- Find out EXACTLY when/where/if training is taking place
- Reassure the principal that after school is under control
- Reassure my district office boss that everything is under control
- Convince myself that after school is under control
- Get all the staff authorizations in place for 2010
- Drink more coffee
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
White Fang was enormously popular with my 4th grade students. Enthralled with Jack London’s famous tale of the part-wolf, part Indian sled dog, I think they made connections on many levels with their own uprooted lives and limited, sometimes dangerous options. I like to think that reading this story helped them, in the long run, to better navigate their own tenuous paths.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Once she chopped the head off a small gopher snake, left it laying between the furrows, waiting for me to get even with the dead carcass so she could yell “SNAKE!” and laugh while I went leaping up and down the row, shrieking and cursing.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
1. Long Night
Damp skin to damp skin
she rocks gently
to the hum of the kitchen
the flutter of night birds.
His tiny hand wraps round her finger.
For now they are safe.
She prays for a long night.
2. The Kiss
Her heart is full of grief.
Her heart is broken.
The pain runs out the bottom.
Love flows in the top
runs out the bottom.
They let her dress him.
She touches his face, his body
checks to see
if he was taking care
He’s not skinny.
She feels better.
She kisses his feet.
Like the day he was born.
A menagerie of glass
a hummingbird with no feet
an apple with no stem
an angel with only one wing.
He sees past the missing parts
the sharp dangerous edges
scoops them up
gives them sanctuary
in the small drab room
where his dreams struggle to survive.
They crouch on shelves
hide in drawers
wait in boxes
to be discovered by someone else
a new savior
who can find beauty
where others see
4. April’s Sorrow
Wind whips against windows
rattles the glass
whistles up drain spouts.
flick roof tops with bare limbs
of the last dry leaves
prepare for spring rebirth.
an unwanted but expected guest,
slips quietly into the room
sits in the corner of her heart.
She presses fingertips
to the cool glass
prays for a cleansing wind
to lift the dead foliage
of guilt and regret.
5. What She Saves
Each harsh word.
Each time she made a selfish choice.
Midday calls from the school,
late-night calls from the police.
Relief when he leaves;
when he is gone.
He lives a life without rules
but with consequences.
She waits for visiting hours to begin
endures the silence
Later he refuses even phone calls.
sees the future,
is not prepared when it arrives.
She saves it all in a small box,
in the back yard
in an unmarked grave.
Starts a new box for
other things she needs to save.
6. Dia de los Muertos
Borrowing the custom from her neighbors
she builds an altar
covers it with photographs
birthday cards, his favorite book,
homemade calaveras and sugar skulls.
She reads that in Oaxaca those who
leave this world con violencia
return early, October 28th
perhaps to leave space for gentler
spirits who arrive on All Souls Day.
She buries herself in mindless work
glasses of tequila
until well after midnight.
The altar sits dark.
tissue paper flowers, papel picado
flutter in the draft of burning candles
lifting another layer of grief.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
There was a mom with two small sons. They all lived in a small house with one real bedroom and a pretend bedroom in the garage. On neighborhood clean-up night, they walked the streets, dragging home a blue and turquoise sofa and a dresser with a missing drawer.
Responding to a strange yearning, the mom saw small framed reproductions of famous artworks at the local grocery store. Choosing carefully, she brought home a Monet, two Van Goughs, and a Picasso.
Sitting alone in the dark, she looked around the room and saw that it was good.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
“So, how far along are you?”
Wanda is caught off guard. She tries to avoid looking directly at Marlene but knows that won’t work for long. She might as well get it over with. “About two months, I guess. I never was that regular so I’m not for sure.”
Marlene balances the plates of pancakes and eggs on her arm and backs through the swinging door. “Looks more like three to me.”
Wanda hopes Marlene is wrong. She also hopes she won’t say anything to anyone else, especially the manager. She needs to work as long as she can and she hasn’t told Jake yet. It could get ugly if he heard from someone else that she was pregnant.
Marlene swings back into to the kitchen. “You seen a doctor yet?”
“I don’t even know one. I’ve never been to the doctor since I left…” she started to say “home” but knew that wouldn’t be a good idea. “Since I left school. Do you know anybody?”
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
She's two-stepping with Daddy to her aunt's scratchy record player. Her family doesn't dance much. Mostly they play cards, smoke cigarettes, tell jokes, and drink coffee.
She knows they wish she'd go outside and play with the kids but she doesn't feel like a kid anymore. She doesn't feel like a grownup either but she's learned to play canasta perched on a stool at her aunt’s elbow. Sometimes they let her sit in on a hand while her dad goes to switch the irrigation line over to the other side.
Once, when her step-mother found out that she'd been smoking with friends out behind the school gym at lunch, she had to smoke a whole pack of Lucky Stikes in front of Uncle James. One cigarette after another, her eyes red from smoke and choked-back tears. Her aunt wouldn’t look at her, never said a word.
A couple of years later she saw her aunt with her dad in the parking lot of Myrtle Hill Baptist Church, their arms around each other, barely visible in the dark. She wondered if it was that day of smoke and tears that brought them together in some kind of shared understanding that it wasn’t good to humiliate a child, even if it was “for her own good.”
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
At night she’d pour herself a finger of Jim Beam and sit out on the back step to practice. At first it seemed hard and then easy and then it got hard again. The only part she could get right was the uh huh huh huh. After awhile it got to be more fun to have another finger or two of JB, forget about the book, and just let ‘er rip.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
She’s boxed in by sense of duty
responsibility to others
She’s boxed out by sense of duty
responsibility to herself
Her days are spent working out the former
her nights trying to resolve the latter
She dreams of pushing against the sides
but is confused
not sure if she is pushing in or out
She wakes in the middle of the night
in a warm sweat
wonders how long it will take to grow up
Up up up
Until she can step over the walls
Free, able to think outside the box
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Jake lies on his side, watching fat guys shove each other around. “Bring me a beer,” he growls. His guy’s not doing so well. Wanda wonders if he bets money on the wrestlers. Otherwise she can’t see why he gets so excited. She’d like to watch something different sometimes, maybe Dr. Kildare or I Love Lucy, but it doesn’t matter enough to get into an argument.
There’s time enough for that. She has to tell him soon that she’s pregnant, that they’re going to have a baby. She’s not completely sure, but she’s pretty sure. She hasn’t had morning sickness but she also hasn’t had a period since before Christmas. He’s never been that interested in using anything so, maybe he’ll be happy about it, especially if it’s a boy. Maybe he’ll think about getting a house or at least a real apartment.
And when she starts showing, they probably won’t let her waitress anymore. They might let her work in the kitchen for a while but Marvin doesn’t really need any help and neither does the dishwasher. She wonders if the other waitress will give her a baby shower. She wonders what her mother would think, Wanda being only seventeen and all, and not married. She smiles at the thought of what those old church biddies would say if they knew.
Staring into faded bricks,
glare of cheap hotels,
I ache for the smell of my own pillow.
Pack quickly, leave an hour early.
Waiting in a coffee shop
for the airport bus,
the rain begins.
Edging toward an empty table
a frail grey-haired woman
shrinks from the scowl of the waitress,
starts to leave.
“Sit with me,” I offer,
feeling lonely for both of us.
We talk of weather, of cities.
I give her my well-worn map.
She hands me a card,
a man’s name crossed out
hers penciled in.
“If you ever come to Miami
you can stay with me.
If I still have the house,” she adds.
Suddenly she pulls away,
pays her check, hurries out.
“Be careful of the wet streets,” I call.
Finishing my coffee, I leave for home.