Old Man Lost

“Shh, old man,” Reggie mumbled to himself as he eyed the TV. “It’s not the end of the world yet.” He leaned closer to the television. “The end of the world hasn’t come yet, for we old soldiers still sit in purgatory uncalled. Surely that devil would call us if he knew we sat at ease.” The TV blared, for Reggie used the sound against the loneliness of his soul.
News reports troubled him: the president declaring war actions, kids dying, no one understanding why killing was so easy for the man, volunteers sent packing as democratic pigeon minders, told they got no business, old people dying and no one caring.

”Hush, Reggie, pray he doesn’t call you. You can barely keep time at a social dance with the old women down in the basement of the church. Not much of a social, all of us left by families that know our minds are going. Not much to be happy for, to care for, to do. Puzzles and number thingy squares. Old women knitting. Women ruminating like cows, no brains left. Young folks and nurses bugging folks to be active. Folks showing us computers, damned machines. Shh, damn it, man, don’t get so upset. Don’t call attention to your dark soul. You don’t want the attention of that type. They bury us with trumpets blowing and our service honored, but there is little honor in what we did. We killed, oh that we served as God willed. Oh, that peace was close, but it ain’t coming.”

The news flooded the room. Missiles launching from planes, children laying dead, yellow gas coating everything. Reggie looked down at his hands. His hands, beautiful hands, that had held a child when it was born, helped it learn to walk, paid with labor to send his child to school, and watched with pride at the start of the Great War III. Strong hands that had served him, that had held his wife as she sobbed at the telegram from the War Department, now sat idle in his lap. Sad hands that watched the news take his wife’s will to live, that buried her.

“Reggie, man, you have to keep quiet, man. Don’t say your thoughts too loudly, or they’ll have you out the door as a traitor. I’m you, you know, still you. I’m me. I was…I am, I get so confused these days.”

He moved the food on his plate around in circles. TV food, the folks next door brought TV food to him each night. They said it was okay he didn’t know them. He hated that. They told him names. They had no faces. The food was placed on his TV tray. One plate, one fork, one spoon, one glass of water. His teeth were worn and so his food was precut, mushed by him into the catsup. He took a bite, swallowed, and took another. Food had no real meaning, it just kept him alive. It all tasted the same.

“When’s it morning, old man, when’s morning coming? Not soon enough. Devils on the TV, devils in church, next it will be devils in my home.”

The door to the room he sat in opened and closed. Reggie didn’t bother looking around.

“What do you want now?” he asked. “You don’t normally come for the dishes. Got something for me?”

Whoever had entered the room hissed at him, “Good evening, Reggie.”

“Don’t know why you bother me every night. I’m an old man. Got a devil for president, a war to begin more wars, ain’t nothing going to ever be okay again.”

“Your pain, it seems worse tonight, Reggie. Shall I take it from you?” The stranger moved to the front of the couch. He pushed the plastic container of pills in front of Reggie.

“Pain means I’m alive. I’m an old man. Ain’t nothing going to matter ever again. Leave me alone. I don’t want nothing from you.” He watched the TV change to a game show. “See they roll that wheel and people guess words. Fools always take too long. You want to watch this show with me? I ain’t about to go out with all that fireworks on the news going on.”

“I can take your pain away, Reggie. I can ease the burden of your heart.” The stranger sat down and rested his hand on Reggie’s knee. “I’m worried about you, Reggie, you don’t do anything but watch that idiot tube. The news will make your heart stop, if you keep watching it.”

“Heart stopped years ago when the wife died.”

“Reggie, all you have to do is tell me that I can take your soul to a different plane. But you have to say it.”

“Hell, you think you’re the devil or something? Take my soul to a plane. A plane to a place where no-one gives a damn. Nah, you get out. I’m not going with no devil. I have my own devils inside me. I live my own hell, don’t need to go to one.”

“Heaven won’t come to you, Reggie, not ever. You’ll never find relief sitting here. Come with me, Reggie, you’ll be warm and with family.”

Reggie watched the wheel spin. “Hey, weirdo, you know that phrase right there? Daniel Webster said it.”

“Fine, Reggie, fine. What’s the phrase?”

Turning to the illusion beside him, Reggie laughed and said, “Get the hell out.” He leaned back in his couch and closed his eyes. “Devil wouldn’t want me, I’m too much of a grumpy old Gus. Close the door as you leave. Damn curmudgeon needs his rest.”

The devil stood and smiled. Reggie was one of his favorites. He could bide his time. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Reggie.”

Limerick Challenge: Week 46 Women

Limerick Challenge Week 46: Over The Years!

I haven’t tried my hand at a limerick for twenty years or so. My mother read us limericks as children and they were lovely silliness. Edward Lear caught all of us up in his style. His limericks and his Owl and the Pussy Cat were read more than once to four small children with wild vocabularies. Mom used the patterns of the poetry to calm us down and settle us in. We hated when she turned out the light, not because we were scared, but because we wanted the time to continue.

There is a strength to limericks that allows one to mock or support an idea. They are easy to remember, falling into the rhyming and syllable count. I loved the examples that this young mother gave. In fact, I was amazed that she is promoting the weekly contests out of her own pocket to give others the power to express themselves. She’s one of those young millennial that you find in the midst of thinking, writing, authoring. Strong women are the topic this week. So, mom, these are for you. (Oh, she’s Lois in the notes if you ever need to talk to her about me and my very normal insanity. Just peek at the bottom and like a jinni she’ll appear.)



My mother read books to us every night,
Teaching her children to read and write,
Her daughters so young,
Developed a tongue,
That made them unmanageable frights.

Okay, that was harder than it seemed. My mother did read to us every night if she weren’t falling over with exhaustion. And my sister and I are indeed frights for the women’s movement raising strong daughters. Hers in the hard sciences, mine in anthropology.

Genevieve's homework would nightly pursue,
The dreams of a dragon that would misconstrue,
That she was in charge,
With lethal energy large,
As her fictional writings of monsters she grew.

Limericks are supposed to be silly, but they don’t have to be. The syllables don’t have to be exact between lines, but the hard emphasis on the first grouping of syllables needs to be followed by two soft syllables. That’s no easy thing, unless you nap as mother reads.

My mother would spend her time counting sheep,
When she did global markets allowed her to reap,
Buckets of gold,
For the produce she sold,
As she took over bull markets and made them weep.

If you want help rhyming, there is a wonderful page called www.therhymezone.com that can help you rhyme almost anything. Balance your limerick on the tip of your tongue and see if you can find a pattern that soothes you.

Anyway, I’ll be posting more silliness later. Practicing formulaic poetry gives you the ability to change your style to match the need of the message you want to portray. I don’t see Limericks making it into my top ten forms, but then, I have a lot of practicing to do.


Politics 102-The List.

How is it that I am on every fundraising list in the US? I get the queries from both parties. I didn’t sign up. Someone must be making a fortune on selling the list. “If we don’t get a donation from you, we’ll never get the election. Terrible things will happen.” It reminds me of the rhino in the cartooned story “The Giant Peach.” But where it says wonderful things will happen, there is just a gap with the pleas for aid. They promise me destruction, death by checkbook, alienation, and damn it, why haven’t I paid my membership fees to join the party.

Firstly, no one told me I had to pay to be in a party. No one sent me a bill. I just got the dunning letters, pay now or never be in the party again. I hate that. Oh, I’m not a sore loser that my beloved candidate didn’t get enough votes. The system is corrupt, and it isn’t a federal system. There is no way a voter can get enough votes to outdo the super-delegates. Half of the votes come from those super beings living on top of Mount Krumpet, how can you defeat the Grinch?

I am suddenly apathetic about the upcoming election, and that’s new for me. I’m sure I’ll develop enough energy to vote in November. Women’s rights are very important for me. I have a beautiful daughter, raised to be independent and powerful, she’s my reason that I will vote.

I’ve become tired of the voices, screaming, yelling, lying. I’ve become tired of the media’s focus on the loudest voices. I hate PAC money. Money shouldn’t be needed in such grand amounts, but how else can you get face time with so many people. Voting should be a personal thing with the facts and figures having been clearly delineated. We have the internet, TV, radio, and the mail. I think the mail is the best way to get information. You can look at it or not, toss it or put it on the fridge. It supports the US Postal System, which needs those presorted rates. Why do we need millions to run a candidate? I’m not naive. I know that people need to be paid. Ads need to be paid for. Most of the people in a campaign are volunteers. The top hired staff get paid really well, and I resent that on a “I’m only middle class, why should I pay you  more than I make” basis. Give me a good platform and I’ll donate.

I want to remain apathetic about as long as a commercial lasts. I’m sending notices back to all of these fundraisers with a note, “I don’t live in your state.” It will relieve the weight on the “Internet tubes.” Look that up if you need a giggle.

So for today, I will trade politics for baseball and root for the Nationals and the Twins. I loved FP and Bob’s outfits last night. Very slick, gentlemen. FP, my dad had a jacket just like that, but he didn’t have the part. Johnson men in our family lose their parts early and replace it with a shining dome of intelligence. I hope the team does a good job, both teams. They have good millionaires playing for them, and they never charge me for their existence. They send me happy emails about silliness and jerseys. They offer, but there is no angst.

Happy Saturday all!