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February 11, 2010

PTSD

hands around her neck
put there long ago
for years she escaped
the spiny grip
and put on a lovely show
until her running was in vain
and there was nowhere
left to go
a demon rising
from hot ashes
never takes its time
only hers
these glimpses
steal her mind
makes the wrong one pay
she falls to her knees
begs for the day
light
to burn her memories
out of sight
her heart may not be
able to survive another
adrenaline dump
she might pull a trigger
her nerves could shatter
flashbacks
a belt snaps
always
this open wound

February 2, 2010

Ease on Down the Road

Everybody knows that a fairytale starts out once upon a time,
but a truck driver’s tale starts out you ain’t gonna believe this shit.

~Teri Horton

She finds her Pollock while looking for any old gift
in a thrift store on a California corner. There it sits,
among seventies lunch boxes and ceramic Buddhas,
on the wall with an eight dollar price tag. (She pays five)

The relentless Horton, a long-haul truck driver,
seventy three, with saucer-size glasses, a permanent
aqua net, and a voice that rakes across driveways
covered with hot ashes. Proud and dignified she

sits in her chair cock-eyed but lady-like still,
this little bitty gal with a trashy mouth who lives
in a trailer crammed with claimed salvation
and redemption found in a green dumpster.

She comes from the heart of the Ozarks, a tough
life on the farm, children taken from her and then
a dead daughter who was only eighteen. One day
Teri takes off her good boots and walks into the sea,

and comes out with nothing left to lose. So when
they say her painting is a fake without any proof
she tells a tall tale about John Wayne, Joan Crawford,
a bartender named Pops, and calls it provenance.

(Some believe it all, one even says he knew pops.)
Now for inspection by the critic, he tilts, he twirls, he squints
and stops It has no appeal, dead on arrival, she knows
nothing, so does it matter to me? I’m an expert, she’s not.

Next she calls the scientist in, he says he found Pollock’s prints
among those bended rays of life. Soon a collector comes round
with a low two million dollar pitch, but Horton just laughs and says,
Before I let them take advantage of me, I’ll burn that son of a bitch.

January 31, 2010

Mankind is in a position similar to that of a set of people living on a frozen lake, surrounded by cliffs over which there is no escape, yet knowing that little by little the ice is melting, and the inevitable day drawing near when the last film of it will disappear, and to be drowned ignominiously will be the human creature’s portion.” ~ William James

He stands
on a softly frozen
lake, the egg

white glaze
surrounded by toothed
steep jagged and barbed

cliffs unrelenting
prison bars escape
although constantly

aware of certain fate
he glides and spins
and hides and seeks

while life warms
the surface
which dissolves

slowly under
his feet, always
day after night

no option but to wait
for the last of the thin
film to crack.

January 29, 2010

Will Power

The room was dry air and decay.  And Leonard Talbot lay there dying.  He was in the metal hospital bed they had brought in along with the hospice nurse and a morphine drip.  Next to the bed there was a small table where Leonard kept his glass of water and a book.  Although he had become too weak to read, having the book there made him feel like living while dying was at least a possibility.  Across the room, each in his and her own winged-backed chair sat his children Margot and Leonard Junior.

“How are you feeling, father?”  Margot asked as she continued to turn the diamond ring on her angular finger.

“Lovely,” Leonard answered.

“Father, we’re here to try and talk some sense into you about your will.”

“I know why you’re here.  And why you’re not,” Leonard said, trying to push his voice into something beyond a weak crackling.

Leonard Jr. stood up and walked over to the window.  He would have rather been anywhere other than in the room with his father and sister.  They didn’t know him.  And they didn’t want to.  He was a performance artist who went by the name Toblat, which was his last name spelled backwards. He had been arrested for stealing a child’s wheelchair for one of his installations.  He was given to self-induced heart palpitations, and he thought he might feel some coming on.  “You know, I’m sure you’re enjoying yourself, amusing yourself, with this plan to give everything to the zoo.  But you’re running out of time to make things right.  I mean, I think I would feel at least a little better if you were giving our money to the mangy mutts at the humane society instead of the zoo.  At least I could feel like your joke on us did some good somewhere.”

Margot, agitated by this suggestion, rose out of her chair and walked over to her brother.  She knew she had to take charge.  She knew she was the only one capable of getting anything done the right way.  Steel your spine, she told herself.  She leaned into him and through clenched teeth she whispered in his ear, “For once in your life would you please stay focused?  We are running out of time here.”

Out of nowhere, Leonard knocked his hand on the slate-gray metal rail on his bed.  Margot and Toblat were startled by the force of the sound coming from their father’s corner.  When he knew he had their attention, he let the silence hang on the heavy air.  He wondered to himself how he could have possibly brought such miserable creatures to life.  Clearing his throat, more like a soggy gurgle, he said, “Well at least I know you’re not over there plotting my death.  You need me alive so you can change my mind.  Maybe that’s reason enough to keep saying I’m going to leave all my money to the godammed giraffes,” and with that he was once again exhausted.

Toblat let out a tiny whimper and Margot flared her nostrils.  Margot turned to her father, and smiled.

“I understand we have not always lived up to what you wanted us to be, father.  I, we, know we have not been perfect,” she said, glancing at her brother, “Far, far…far from it.  But we have always tried.”

Leonard rolled his eyes.  He was struck by the amount of energy it took to perform this simple task, which in the past was part of his daily repertoire of outward expressions of emotional discontent.

Margot, unfazed, kept going, “If you won’t reconsider this insanity for us, why not for your grandchildren? One of us has given you three of them, and so far they have managed to not do anything to screw their lives up.  Why punish them and force them to go around being beggars?”

With that, Toblat broke.  What a twit you are, he thought as he shot his sister eyes like slits.  “Oh for god’s sake, Margot.  It will only mean they will have to get a job.  Something you may not be familiar with, but hardly begging!  Besides, it may do the horrible little brats some good.”

“Shut up, you deviant!” Margot hissed from under a curled lip.  Why you didn’t just die at birth you freak of nature, she thought as she twirled and twirled her ring.

Leonard was on the verge of breaking in, just as he normally would about now.  Cutting his children off at their weak little beggar knees.  But this time he thought he would try something else.  This time, he didn’t care if they killed each other.  In fact, he thought to himself that if they actually preceded him in death, he might actually leave all of his money to the grandchildren.  And as a bonus before he drew in his last pathetic breath, he would get to see those two monsters claw each others little black rat pellet eyeballs out.

Leonard laughed to himself and said, “Do you want to know something funny?  One of you miscreants was adopted.  If you figure out which one before I die, I’ll give the entire fortune to the other.”

January 29, 2010

Invisible Men

The cost of war goes well beyond visible wounds and the tragic loss of life.  The cost of war can also include loss of identity, dramatic shifts in perceptions of the world, as well as the life-long and horrific invisible wounds of trauma.  In J.D. Salinger’s short stories, A Perfect Day for Bananafish and For Esme` – with Love and Squalor, Salinger brings the reader into the lives of two men who suffer from these invisible wounds.  Both men’s trauma is ignored by the adults who should be helping them to recognize and deal with the pain, and both men are moved by the innocence of children and how that contrasts with the innocence they left on the battlefield.

What was once called shell-shock is now identified as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  In the story A Perfect Day for Bananafish, we are introduced to Seymour Glass and we are told about his post-war experience through a phone call with his shallow wife, Muriel, and her probing mother.   Muriel’s mother expresses concern regarding Seymour’s mental stability and tells Muriel that her father has consulted a doctor on the subject.  Her mother says:

He told him everything.  At least he said he did – you know your father.  The trees.  That business with the window.  Those horrible things he said to Granny about her plans for passing away.  What he did with all those lovely pictures from Bermuda – Everything.

In a somewhat hopeful sign, Muriel follows up with her mother and asks about the doctor said.  Her mother tells her:

Well, in the first place, he said it was a perfect crime the army released him from the hospital – my word of honor.  He very definitely told your father there was a chance – a very great chance, he said – that Seymour may completely lose control of himself.

Tragically, Muriel is far more interested in fashion, gossip, and the color of her toes to take interest in her husband’s mental health. Read more…

January 28, 2010

I’m fairly new to #FridayFlash, and right now I don’t have near enough time to devote to posting here.  But I have to say reading the Friday Flash entries has become a great source of enjoyment and relaxation.  And that’s coming from someone with two kids who is in the last semester of an English Major facing 700 assigned novels and thirty essays which must be written about them.  (Okay, it just feels that way.)

I have also enjoyed reading outside of the genres I am typically drawn to, such as fantasy and maybe even a little spooky stuff  here and there.

One of the wonderful writers in the group recently gave me this little blue badge to pass on.  So thank you Skycycler, and here are five writers off the top of my head who I look forward to reading more of.  Five among many.

@Dijeratic,   @markerstetter,  @LauritaMiller,  @chadredden, @3S_Stories

I would have included several of these writers, but skycycler beat me to it:

Linda Simoni-Wastila @drwasy,  CJ Hodges MacFarlane @h0jp0j,  Christian Bell @christianbell37,   Marc Nash @21stCscribe,  DJ Kirkby @djkirkby and
Shannon Esposito @soesposito

January 24, 2010

Taken by the Sparrow

Alone,
in my crumbling, one room apartment
in the seedy part of any city.
I’m listening
to my vinyl record of Edith Piaf
the tenth time in a row,
feeling her more each time.
I’m covered in paint just the same
as my otherwise bare wooden floor
and yet another ruined canvass.
I’ve not eaten in a day,
my hunger made worse by the scent of garlic
from the restaurant below
permeating air that serenades my open window.