Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Just a Mistake

Her brain feels numb, on hold, like a child who has run away from home and wants to come back but isn't sure of the way. She looks up from her computer to watch the light slip slowly across the rug, marking the passage of the afternoon.

She thinks about the phone call, a spillway of words, strange accusations that shift the moment from balance, clear blue perfection to confusion.

"He doesn't want you to see her anymore." The words flap, just outside of understanding. She wants to cry or scream or just hangup and pretend it didn't happen. That it's just a horrible mistake or maybe she's just woken up in someone else's dream.

Friday, November 19, 2010

No One

No one ever told me
that life alone would not be lonely
that breakfast laid for one
NPR instead of conversation
and an ornery cat for companionship
would fill my life right up to the top

No one ever told me
that pruning roses
slashing dead leaves from the banana plant
and discovering a long-forgotten bed of gladiolas
would restore my faith in rebirth and renewal

No one ever told me
that I really can fly
that money does grow on trees
that all roads do lead to pleasure
and that I will live forever
in my granddaughter's memory

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Name Calling

She lifts the tiny bundle from the white bin and holds her up to face the father. Now they must choose a name. 

Anna after the grandmother? No. 

June? Not June as in the month, as it's September and no one is named September. But June, like the mother, and June like the smell of cut grass and the crick-crack of grasshoppers and the warmth of long days and stars so close they drop in your lap. 

No. One June is enough and June isn't an easy name to call from the back porch and it doesn't go with Kay, a name that you can say with one light breath. Kay who lives on the pages of all the women's magazines, waiting for her soldier to return. Yes, Kay.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Marik returns from the market with one basket empty, the other filled with small loaves of stale bread. Most of the stalls are closed, fresh vegetables gone for weeks. She breaks the bread into small pieces, ladles a cup of lentils for each child. 
The baby lies quietly against her breast, sleepy from nursing and weak from the fever that has visited each family in her village. She watches the bones of her son and two daughters grow more visible each day. She wonders what they have done to deserve this.

Her neighbors talk of the foreigners who promise help, who will arrive soon in green trucks with boxes of dried milk and bags of flour. Gathering the thin shawl around her thin shoulders she wraps the baby tighter and kneels to say her evening prayers.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mahogany Dreams

Harold slowed the car to an almost stall, then gunned it as he passed the driveway. It was already past midnight and he wanted to get to bed. But the red and black Buick sitting in the driveway was proof that Rufe was still waiting inside. He could just go on in and walk right past him to the bedroom but he knew that face-to-face he wouldn't be able to hang on to the advantage he had by staying out of sight.

"Come on Bubba, you gotta help me out," Rufe had pleaded at breakfast. "I've already lined up the Bailey twins to ride inside and they've promised to take off their shoes."

Harold knew Mama would kill both of them if she found out. But after hours of listening to his stepbrother's half-baked reasons for why he just had to have Mama's mahogany casket for the 4th of July parade, he couldn’t think of anymore reasons to say no. He laid the receiver on its side and slipped out the back door.

Mama was out in California visiting her cousin Marlene and wouldn't be back until after Labor Day. But Harold knew it couldn’t-and wouldn’t-be as simple as his brother made it out to be. Besides, everybody in town would know where it came from. It wasn't like you could just find a casket laying around somewhere. And Pearville folks weren't exactly known for keeping their mouths shut.

He couldn't understand why Rufe didn’t just use crepe paper flowers to cover the flatbed like everybody else did. But he did have to admit he just might stand a chance to take first place and that'd sure be worth some bragging rights.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Long lines of customers wait at every register as closing time nears. Moving the video rental to the Lotto counter has been a disaster. No one sees the drop box on the corner and most customers just toss their returns on the coutner. They'll blame her, of course, if they don't get checked back in and they get hit with late fees.

Worst of all, now she also has to mess with the Lotto tickets.The guy at the counter keeps fumbling to find seven cents so he won't have to break a dollar bill. She wishes she could just say "don't bother." What would it hurt if the register was short seven cents?

Her feet ache and her back hurts and all she can think about is getting home to her son and daughter. They'll already be asleep but she'll check in on them and maybe sit beside their bed for a while, listening to their shallow breathing. Maybe Rachel will wake up for a moment, turn over and open her eyes with a "hi mami" before dropping back into the sweet sleep of childhood.

She longs for the day when she can get a day job and be home for dinner. They can watch tv together and she'd read them a book at bedtime. And maybe, just maybe, she'd never have to watch another person dig for change.

Friday, November 5, 2010

On the Street

Being on the street made him feel better. He didn’t have any place else to go until the shelter opened. And there was always something going on downtown: somebody with a harmonica or a beat-up guitar and a cardboard box, looking for spare change. And you could usually count on the drunks to give you a show, shoving each other around. 

Guys he'd known for a while asked about his daughter, the one who lived down in San Pedro with her husband and their two kids. He used to take a bus down to visit every once in a while but it was just too hard. They had their life. He had his.  

Monday, November 1, 2010

Identical Twins?

Go Giants!
Thanks to Aaron Gallegos.

Poetry in Motion

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words!