Angry at the Lies of the Right

Insolvent and angry, you promised.
You lied, and you stole our lives.
Confronting lies isn’t easy
In the face of the opposition,
the political correctness..
But the world froze and turned,
Turning and frozen, it thawed
And the heat blazed freely,
A cancer in the souls
Of the poor, simple, lifelike
Golden people. The masses lead easily.
The cancer, a mass of anger,
For those without medicine,
Without a doctor.
Your lies grew great.

You scoffed at the students.
Who were learning to learn.
Scoffed again at those
Without your reckless faith.
Scoffed at me, the poet,
Who knows you, Lucifer, man.
Not a fallen angel but a construct of
Bullies and armies.
Lucifer, you celebrate my bruises,
while I lick my wounds.
Your dreams are follicles of ignorance.
Come for you?
I shall. Burning the way to your truth,
To your service without serving,
Oh Lucifer, you should have died,
At your own lips posturing
.
I dream truths. Dreamt dreams of truths.
Your violent words are no God’s words.
Your simple outlook, fraud.
A detective would mock you,
Wait for you to try again,
To deceive again.
Then the police shall find your lair,
And if one honest officer
Appears with the truth,
Hold that officer as a hero.
I shall chase your hypocrisy
Around the Circle of Willis
Cleansing as I go.
Your globe a bathtub handle
While my globe holds mystery
and vindication.
Oh, Lucifer of man, your republic of
Small minds will melt from the heat.
Lesser humans will smirk, but the compassionate will
Watch you fill the world with lies.
They will ignore your fallacies, shake their heads and begin
The work of cleaning vegetables
for the poor who hunger.

My Snow

This morning the sun shown on a grey receding cloud, and the winds didn’t arrive. I’m sure they will later, but for now, my small dogs are not pretending to be kites when they go for an outing. My garden is finally, and officially, dead. Well, some of it will be back in the spring. I love perennials, they are repetitive, tough, colorful, changing and much less work. I water them, feed them and ignore them. That’s also my recipe for orchids and african violet care.

The annuals of winter are frosted leaves on a forest floor, snowflakes (if we ever get so lucky), and neighborhood children still in the snowsuit phase. The laughter they give sounds like pearls, or tinkling icicles, or even perhaps, silence. Silence of a winter fog makes the world shake. People rush for their covers, but not me. I like to stand outdoors with the wind in my face, a sweater, sometimes even my shoes on. It’s bracing, something some will never understand. I grew up in Minnesota. Winter was magic. It was pure, untracked (until school kids and dogs created trails), and I felt at home. The cold has always been a sign of peace for me. Trouble goes indoors, fighting takes too much energy, and there is hot chocolate stirred with a candy cane.

I like the end of football. The pause before baseball is only momentary, but that pause gave me skating, sliding, and skiing. I watch other people have fun doing these things these days. The contemplation of the rules of winter never bothered me when I was young. Coat, hat, gloves, scarf, hood, layers of layers beneath the overcoat, lined boots and double socks were my attire back then. San Francisco was tempting wonder which had all of these things within a few hours drive. Virginia was an even greater surprise. My first winter in Virginia, it was in the 50s, like this year. There was no ice, snow, bracing air and I wondered that there was a place on earth like it. Then came several winters of note, two with the high mounds along the community roads that reminded me of snow forts, snow ball fights, walking the ridge to see if we had to touch the pavement on the way to school.

So, what did I do for Virginia snow? I shoveled sidewalks for fun. I was one of the first out the door, if it was light enough with a broom. I actually had to find a shovel to buy. It was bright orange plastic, easily shattered and didn’t live long. It was a needed winter sacrifice. It took me until April to find a good sturdy shovel that would last.

My husband hates snow if he has to go out. He drives a truck, with two trailers usually. He can plow through the snow, but it is amazing at how many small cars rush to get in front of him only to panic because they can’t see, found ice or found fear. Huge brown truck, itty bitty cars. SUVs are worse. They think they can outrun and out perform anyone else on the road. Some are 4 wheel, but not all. They forget that for an SUV to stay on the road, all four feet should be on the ground. I meant four tires, but you get the picture. I loved the old commercial of the “living” SuuVEE giving instructions on how to survive. I loved teaching when there was snow. Feet up, fire lit, eyes on a new book or grading papers that all too often I had fallen behind on. I kept the TV on a music channel. My boisterous children went out to play and returned an hour later for board games, cardboard box castles, and dragon attacks. The dogs were the dragons, my daughter a princess of the castle, and my son a knight in shining armor. My daughter saved the dragon, the castle and my son laughed. He always laughed. He was golden sunshine, but my daughter, she still is her own mystery. Snow.

I have so much to do to be ready for snow. It’s a good thing it isn’t in the forecast yet. I have the removal of the holiday decorations, cleaning, sorting, throwing and napping. The naps are most important because I dream of winter. My past is filled with winter memories. My father leaving at 3 am to make ice for the city children to skate on. It had to be freshened every night to create a safe place with no toe holds dug in. My first ice skates that had been in the warming trailer for over a year with no one claiming them. You rolled up socks and put them in the toes so they wouldn’t slide on your feet. Sliding on ice in the street on the way to school. Stomping through slush that made me feel like a giant. My high school hockey team making the playoffs one year and the band going to play to support them. My mouthpiece and horn never did warm up completely. Walking to college classes with a -20 degree F wind. The campus closing for an entire two days because of 30 inches arriving with wind and a bad attitude.

I’ve been told I live in an alternate universe from the rest of the world. That’s okay. I was always a bit of a dreamer. No, not true, I was always a dreamer. Winter didn’t require friends to make me happy, it just did. It still does. Sleeping dogs and a feisty cat keep me company when I am alone. One catches snowballs. One tunnels. Frankie, the cat, lifts her toes as she walks onto the deck and turns with a sigh of disgust. She doesn’t like cold feet. I lift her, hold her close, and she and I watch the birds. First thing in the morning is the bird food. Then the cat and dogs find their feasts in ceramic bowls I made with love for old friends now memories. They like the bowls.

The sun will set before I am ready, tonight. I’ll keep an eye on the weather channel. I’m hoping for a winter wonderland.

Staring into the Abyss

You left me for work, you say, screaming as you went out the door. Your words are filled with hate, confusion, disgust. The throwing ceases with the door slamming shut, and now it’s only a matter of time. The phone will ring, and you will cry, “I didn’t mean it. I’m so sorry. You know I love you. I’ve always loved you. I’m so sorry.”

My part of the conversation will go as usual, “Hello? It’s all right. It’s all fine. You have to stop yelling now. Stop it. Take some deep breaths. It’s not so bad. Calm down, I’ll see you in the morning. Everything will be just fine.”

Everything I dreamed falling in love would be is only a pipe dream. They say only fools fall in love, and it is true. I was a cute little blond full of energy, wanting someone to love me. I was a first class fool.

Our marriage started with you drunk and disorderly. It started with my denying there was a problem. I was fine at work, where the guys would tease and try to cop a feel. I could out dance, sing and play them into the ground. You could come home from work, cursing that the road was wrong and you couldn’t pay for the apartment we lived in. You didn’t make enough. I was pregnant before we knew it. You told me that someone was trying to kill us. I lost my job, the apartment upstairs where the MP dropped only one shoe a night, and my dreams. I couldn’t go home, and the throwing started then. The door did hit my face.

That day you called me from the payphone. “Honey, I’m so sorry. I’m so very sorry.”

I ignored the pain, used the powder, and looked into your eyes trying to see my dream. Dad would have killed you, but I couldn’t go home to hear about what foolish childish dreams I had had. No, my mother would have been too much to bear.

In part, my mother modeled this for me. My father yelled. He split the kitchen table in half with a butcher knife. He yelled as he threw her across the room for having loved him. I couldn’t go home there. I pick up the phone, “Hi mom, I need to go back to school. There are no jobs for me here. Tell Dad I love him.”

It was something not spoken of in polite society. Your mother let us move to her home. It lasted a whole month. You smoked, lied, drank and ignored your mother who was ailing from having teenagers at home. She was as polite as you, “Get the fuck out of my house.” So I did.

We didn’t have food to eat. When the baby came, I walked to the social service’s office five miles away. You stayed home and drank. I had the baby. I had only enough bus fare to take the bus one way. They belittled me. Everything must me my fault. Ignorant woman that I was to have gotten pregnant so early. They thought I was a teenager, but I outgrew you by four days. On the way home, I hawked my wedding ring so that we would have a bit of cash. Thirty dollars for a cigar band. On the way home, I stopped to buy food for us. Orange juice, frozen pizza, formula, salad: these were for us both. I was starving. You ate the pizza while I showered and put the baby down for a nap. I drank the juice.

You took care of the baby while I found a job. Minimum wage to fold household goods. The manager told me I had one month to fix the department. I finished in one day. Everything tagged, Everything in its own place. He offered me a management job if I could move to Tennessee. Our car was dead. The company closed at the end of the month. Your parents blamed me for our poverty. How could such an educated woman live in squalor? You were expunged from the US Army’s roll call.

My aunt and uncle tried to straighten you out. They fixed me. I could smile at their house. I cleaned, worked for my aunt, and the second baby arrived. They gave us up.

We separated. I was to return to the Army, but they told me I had to give my children up for adoption. That wasn’t going to happen. I worked at a bank of hopelessness. It didn’t cover our rent or childcare. You drank and slept while the baby slept on your chest.

I pulled us together. I set rules, worked my way through a graduate degree, got a teaching job. Your son failed first grade. He called his classmates, “You little shit birds.” You got detention from his teacher, a minister’s wife. Your daughter had large eyes, a timid nature, and fear.

You got a job, and all turned into sunshine. Your boy worried us to death, your daughter fought at school. She swore like her brother. I took care of the swearing. I had power.

Then like a fool, I broke. My brain fried. I had trouble walking. I would sleep through teaching. Your mother told me to slow down. Your father drank. Your mother cried, and I bled for her. It was too much for her. She died. He drank.

You stayed sober, but despaired. Everything I did wrong, you looked at me with leaden eyes. I kept telling you I loved you. Tonight was the last.

After you called tonight, I went to the park and looked across the Potomac. As the sun went down, I did the only thing I could do to let you know how much I loved you. The water was cold.

Haunting Memories of Life

Waking up in with a mouthful of mulch and blood wasn’t the way Lois had thought her girl scout picnic would end. She glanced up at the slide, remembering giggling and playing for the first time as if she weren’t the weirdo in her neighborhood. It had been to much to believe that the other girls had finally accepted her after three years.

The blood slipped out of her chin, down her neck and soiled the uniform blouse that she had been taught would make her part of a group of friends. No, dirty hands moving up to hold her chin, which suddenly and painfully had made her aware of what had happened. No, she should have known better. She should have sat on the sidelines and watched the other girls play.

“Push her, push her!” The laughter of the girls when she had fallen the eight feet to the ground. She remembered that now, just as she remembered them calling her a baby and telling her she was faking when she hadn’t gotten up. She didn’t remember anything else until the taste of blood and mulch had woken her.

If she could find someone…Lois staggered away toward the picnic shelter where dinner was supposed to happen. It was empty except for her mother and father. “Where have you been? Mrs. Johnson called us, she said you had disappeared.” Lois took her hands away from her chin and passed out.

“Grandma, wake up, wake up. You’re dreaming again.”

“Damn it.”

Her eyes closed heavily again. Sleep returned but so did the dreams. Four months after her chin had been broken and she had been accused of lying about being pushed, even her parents had not believed her, applying a bandage and ignoring her pain. She’d kept her mouth shut, and didn’t argue. There was no sense to it.

Her birthday, she remembered. It had been her birthday. All of the girl scouts had been invited. She had worn a pretty dress, handmade by her mother. She loathed it. The other girls had heckled her since second grade. “You’re poor. Haha, your parents can’t even afford to buy you decent clothes. You’re poor.” The party went better than she had expected. No one came.

Her parents were furious, starting to believe that the scouts weren’t as scoutlike as they should have been.

“Grandma, wake up. You’re crying.”

She didn’t open her eyes. There was high school. The winter king and queen were to be crowned and her name had appeared on the ballot. She had even made it to the final round, not realizing that it was a huge joke. Another put down from a crowd of hateful girls and their all to compliant boyfriends. She should have known better.

She rolled onto her side. Another spook of the past appearing before her. Then another and another. She was a fool. How did she manage to keep believing that she would some day find a place to fit in and be welcome? It would be better if she died. The memories were too much for her. She was aware of tears, and voices.

“Come on, Grammy dear, keep breathing. The ambulance is on the way.”

“Grandma, don’t leave us. We need you.”

Her last thought was, “No, you don’t.”

The Drunk’s Protector

I was nineteen, full of life,
student, musician, believer
and happened upon 
A wall flower, sodden but sweet,
A drunk, full of his nectar.
 
A peaceful drunk
Leaning upon a concrete wall 
Near the overused metaphor of a 
Greyhound Bus station.
Of a bus stop occupied
By the rushing middle class.
Of a city overcoming change.
 
A drunk, a target of easy mark
Was found by another mark,
A pointed mark.
Perhaps needing ease from his demons.
The voices listened and 
He took a knife, leaned, put it 
On the old man's neck.
Close enough to shave.

The audience breathed drama,
Turning slowly, waiting for buses.
Standing full of wisdom
As far as they could go. 
Time froze.
They were mannequins.

Needs,
Simply a phone in need of quarters,
An operator call,  
But locked into movie reviews,newspapers,work,
They were motionless. 

I was nineteen then. 
Full of life, a 1945 wooden case 
that protected my heart, 
Holding my horn.
My weapon of choice.

After years, why a decade of years,
Of playing, of lugging miles, building brass muscles,
Of practice at spinning, 
I launched myself  
Pushing my horn between the two.

I was a shield maiden,
Because I was nineteen, descended
From blonde Vikings and grim Scots, 
I became a piper of sound
With the bottom of my lungs. 

Somehow, instantly, incredibly,
Unsummoned, the infantry arrived.
A squad car, blinking red,
Drove up upon the curb.
Collared the knife, the shield maiden,
Slipped the men apart.

I was nineteen, set to
Activism, driven in hopes to 
Change poverty, racism, anger, hate. 
The men in blue sent me on my way, 
Part fool, part human. Head patted.
Reform suggested for my safety,
After all, I was nineteen.