Tag Archives: pain

Three Drops of Claret

Three drops of claret stand out against the faded grey wood
The aged and weathered pole supports the buzzing electrical lines

The drops could be roses
The drops could be blood
This is the Trail of Tears
The saddest place on earth

This is Highway 51 south in Clinton, Kentucky
This is Washington Street in Clinton, Kentucky

The three drops of claret on the weathered old pole
Serve to remind me of one important idea
History is written by those who survive it

Slippers in the Snow

She wears slippers in the snow
Her ankles are raw and red and angry
Her smile fades as she puffs out thin steam
Across the frozen air between them

She wears slippers in the snow
Grey slush as cruel as her childhood
She remains defiant of the weather
The weather remains indifferent to her

And her slippers in the snow

Philadelphia 1977

I was never beautiful even when the illusion of my own beauty seduced me
And I carried that illusion – used it as a shield as I navigate my mortality
The illusion has let me down like an underfed love connection in Philadelphia – 1977

The philanderers and the charlatans of my dreams have finally caught up with me
They have taken my legs out from under me – as if there was nothing I could do about it
They did me a favor – they have stripped away the artifice that held me safe since 1977

I will never be beautiful but I will be honest – I will be out on the limb reaching for fruit
The best of what that old tree offers – that appears to be just out of reach – that fruit
I will not let myself down like bottle of vodka and a stranger in Philadelphia – 1977

The Rise and The Fall and The Loss

I feel the weight of the loss of my county’s history
And my soul sighs for what my child will never see

This isn’t a diatribe against the epic leaps of progress
This isn’t a diatribe against our country’s growing pains

This is a search for the less amazing things we grew up with
The things we never knew we’d one day miss only now we do
The things that are lost now – lost to time – lost to decay – lost to life

My country’s history is not always an inaccessible concept in a too heavy book
Sometimes my country is simple in its story – unfettered by class or by nationality
It can be a phone with a dial and a party line shared with the upstairs neighbors
Or a one-piece clothes pin that snaps when mother is hanging sheets out to dry
But makes a great milk-bottle game to play at your birthday party

My country’s history is a brilliant tapestry of rich colors and dazzling hues

Much of my country’s history is crumbling before my eyes and no one seems to care
These aren’t renewal projects that signal the advance of a civilization – these are different
These are decay and apathy and a shameful loss of vision and potential
These are anger and spite and the idle hands that are the devil’s pleasure

Mother doesn’t even hang the laundry out on the line anymore
Mother doesn’t even host birthday parties anymore
I’ve had enough birthdays – I have enough history

Pig Iron

The rusted rickety shopping cart rolls down Fulton Street
The conductor’s eyes are cast down and his shoulders slump
Shards of architect’s ideas weigh him down in scraps and snips
He senses the presence of the foreigners – but still will not look up

These people will never push a cart full of pig iron across these pot holed streets
These people will never dig into a dumpster on south Ashland Avenue for food
These people will never feel the burning pain of hunger or the reminders of failure
These people don’t belong on Fulton Street west of Ashland on recycling day

September Birds Revisited

Your eyes flit across the page landing on the words long enough
To extract the pollen of my emotion
You are reading about birds – doomed birds – but you don’t know it yet
The coffee on the iron bench beside you is starting to get cold

I can see by the sparkle in your eyes where you are on the page
You are still here in Chicago – you love the child and his mother
I love you for seeing my family in them – seeing me and seeing my own mother
My coffee is perfect – crisp like the pages you hold in your hand

As you turn the page I am with you all the way to the small village in Italy
You stop to let something sink in – I think you might have an idea where this is going
You sip the coffee and look at me as if to ask the question you don’t want me to answer
Then back to the page as I pivot restlessly poking through my pockets for a cigarette.

I see the tears welling up and rolling down your perfect face and I feel bad for a minute
I know how the story ends so I’m not sad about the old man -I just don’t want you to feel conned
You know me well enough to know how it is going to end – but you’ve been tricked before
You place your hand on your chest and hitch once – twice – then you look up at me and smile

Later – at the bar – I am pouring drinks for the families at your engagement party
Your face is so tragically twisted in sadness it forces you to apologize to me
You look me in the eye – and through your tears – at your party – your big night
You ask me to understand – you tell me it was just one of those things

One minute we are sharing coffee and words and thoughts and love
The next minute we’re back on opposite sides of a chasm that is only a few feet wide
But it may as well be a few miles wide – you can’t even look at me anymore
And we are back in 1976 a low-rent Romeo and Juliet with nothing and everything to say

The Sun Struggles Up

The most natural feeling as the sun struggles up is my bones grinding against yours
You are jarring and crushing and breaking your promises to the ghost of my childhood
Still a whispered breath trapped within your vena cava keeps me cold and you alive

The ribcage forged of your love protects the soul of my past and memories of my father
Washing the bony joints of our crippled fingers the dirty water runs down the baby’s face
The weak understand this is a baptism of desperation and consolation but not redemption

The charred remains of a dream I couldn’t afford and you couldn’t live without haunt us
Our bones have been put up for the first thaw and there’s something burning on the stove
We argue His presence in the room but we don’t deny it as we watch the sun struggle up