Poetry: Boys Only

Jimmy and me, and his sister June,
all about the same age
of seven or eight were standing
in the alley behind my house.

On that day I did not know
that in seven or eight more years,
me and June would share the experience
of lost virginity, the one and only day
she did not spurn my teenage romantic advances.

We three friends were all shirtless and discussing
whatever pre-pubescent children talked about
in the 1950s, when the shrill voice of their aunt
Dorothy demanded June not remain shirtless.

June did not get a satisfactory answer to her ‘why?’
(did we ever?), only that girls don’t do topless.

I looked June over, brown hair to barefoot toes
and could see no reason but forced socialization
of such things was commonplace and
in some circles probably still is.

Jimmy and his aunt died years ago. June is
a great-grandmother and we don’t keep in touch.
That’s too bad. I wonder what June remembers.

Look both ways before removing your shirt in the alley behind my house.
Mind the gaps, not the nipples, and aunt Dorothy, too.

Sammies Weekend Writing Prompt 122 — Museum

Monet at Kimbell

Not a big fan of Claude,
I wanted the experience
of seeing his original later work
at the Kimbell Art Museum
in Fort Worth.

In Cow Town, I ran
marathons and we danced
at Billy Bob’s near the stockyards,
and went to see Elvis, Marty Robbins,
and two of our three were born there.

A shining light of cowboy culture,
the Kimbell is one of many
attempts to not be Dallas.
DF dubya is nearby and
Cowboys play football in Arlington,

where the Rangers play baseball
and Six Flags (over Texas)
amusement park resides.
But what is most important
is not the museum or foot races,
not the water garden or train station,

what matters most to me about Cow Town
are the memories. The comrades, the friends,
the scandals and the hanky-panky,
the music (up against the wall, redneck mother)
Oh Lord, I knew it all so well.

But gunna miss the Monet.

Look both ways between Dallas and Fort Worth (I love you).
Mind the endless gaps in between.

Be a Stranger to Death: Know his Work

A first funeral for me was in our church. I was too young and didn’t know him. But I cried—it was so sad. Others did too. My family all asked me why I cried. A man I didn’t know had died. They took me to his funeral, and I cried because I felt so sad. Why did they ask me why? It was a funeral. I saw others cry. But I felt sad for his friends and family, and for him. My family seemed to be telling me that I should not cry or feel sad. They were telling me how I should feel.

It was my first taste of ultimate reality and sadness at a level I had not yet known. Six decades later I still recall their questions and the implication that I should not be sad because some man had died. And since I did not know him, I should not care about his death.

They knew him. But none of my family cried. I was confused by their lack of sadness. How could they not feel it? I didn’t wonder then why we went to the funeral, but I do now.

I should not feel emotion or act out my feelings if I do. I did not understand why others didn’t feel as I did. Too young, but already being told not to feel too deeply—to not be a sensitive man boy (later a man). Stoicism was and is associated with strength and manliness. Strong silence.

Years later I attended an emotional funeral for two young children of a workmate (auto accident). Later, another workmate criticised the people who cried at that funeral. I wonder more about former than the latter. How could he not cry and why criticize those who did?

Now, I am sometimes spoken of as a sensitive man by some; as one who reflects sensitivity back upon people. They say so because they read my writings. Not because of how I behave.

But not always. I suffer fools poorly and bullies with quite limited tolerance. I am sensitive to violence toward others, but I can do what it takes to be just and fair.

I cannot ask why they tried to teach me not to cry, or not to feel, or to be not sensitive about those who died. And they cannot answer. I doubt any would understand why. I went to their funerals and I cried because they had died and I loved them.

I cried when each of them died. Nobody asked me why. But I still hid my tears. I cried when I was alone. They had taught me well, but they never changed me. Show them only the face they wish to see. Be the strong, stoic, liar.

I remain an emotional little boy society calls sensitive (or weak or worse). They, in their curiously socialized hearts and minds will never understand me—nor will I, them.

Why cry? Must you ask?

Look both ways and deeply into the abyss of human emotions.
Mind the gaps but be consistent. Be yourself.

Poetry: Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt

A song played on the radio
from WARM Top 40,
rock and roll—
sinful music station
in nineteen sixty-four.

Joe Dreier was driving when
I looked at the speedometer.
We’d not be doing a hundred
except Joe was drunk.

Me too. Maybe Ron
(who we called Dobbie)
Ganick wasn’t there,
he didn’t drink, but we did.

We all got home that night
of senior graduation parties.
Later when I was away in Texas
with the Air Force,

I learnt Ganick died.
His VW bug threw him in a crash.
I bet there was a song on the radio,
probably WARM 590 AM.

Look both ways for “fortune smiles on some,
and lets the rest go free.”*
Mind the gaps and wonder why.

(* from Sad Café by the Eagles)

 

 

 

 

Poetry: Kitchen Visits

Growing up, it was foreign land—
to me, yet, it was favored by all,
a magic kingdom of food and warmth,
a homework headquarters.

It had a coal stove for heat and
cooking. Mom (sometimes Dad) did laundry
there with a wringer machine filled and emptied by hose,
when new to the tribe, I was bathed in that sink,
perhaps after laundry and dishes were done.

Later in life it was (and still is) wife’s land.
Maybe it’s sexist, but barefoot in
the kitchen was her idea.
Actually, it was all her house
where we all lived. At home,
it was where the core of many lives
transpired—in the kitchen.
Meetings, parties, family dinners,
games and puzzles, some business.
It was our mother-ship’s headquarters.

When between jobs, I was given
the helm of house to navigate;
cooking, cleaning, laundry,
paying bills, and giving some homework
help. Dropping off, picking up,
taking to kid’s thingies. For a dad,
I believe I made a passable mom.

But the jury remains out.
Now those kids are gone
to their own kitchens,
it’s still the same in our lovely
(if mostly empty) nest. It’s her kitchen,
somewhere in the middle of
Texas. I don’t really
cook but would like to. I am the
dish washer, maybe replaced now
by a newer and quieter, a younger one
with fingerprint proof silver skin.

No man has ever been murdered
while doing the dishes.
Perhaps I
should be worried and observant,
or apply for the position of official
dishwasher loader and unloader.

It’s not my kitchen and it never will be.
Perhaps the laundry room?
Household poet laureate is a good job,
I eat well, and the beer is cold.

Look both ways, near and far.
There will always be gaps, in love and lust,
but in the kitchen, it’s Mom we trust.

Poetry: Maybe It’s Me

Chairs out behind the pump house,
the backs gone. They’d be about right
in a junk yard. A real find
when I was a kid—
for our club house.

Roofing tiles, black ones; a small
paint roller, slightly used, almost
worthless; long barbeque tongs—
dirty and slightly rusted; large
branch loppers with rusted
head blades; a ball and a dirty
red shop rag; pointless lawn art
(nice try) unfinished, broken, or
toppled over. All placed
helter-skelter and neglected.

Signs of good intentions;
orbs, artful things; lights
that come on at night; a small
one inch plastic skull;

wildflowers of the
post bluebonnet variety,
pretty yellows, reds, pinks,
some with brown eyes in yellow
bonnet-like petals; pine cones
on the ground among the needles.

I’m in a pleasant and lovely—
if very neglected, garden
of my family—

sitting at a plastic picnic bench
with bird shit, some dirt and
a roofing nail, slightly rusted;
I’m where mule ear prickly cactus
grows among mesquite trees
and bushes, thirsty pines or
some variety of xeriscape trees.

A green ornamental frog, fat,
a foot tall and lying back against a tree,
its foot or flipper broken, kind of a
chunky Buddha sort of frog,
neither smiling nor frowning.

Several cats, one dog; weights cuz
strong men live here with her,
the artist who doesn’t do much
art anymore. I don’t know why.

Vacant seats around empty tables
that the cats think are theirs. Lots
of green now with many
colored wildflowers that will
not last—it’s Spring in west
Texas—a tough country
even for horses, cows, dung
beetles, and snakes.

And for people. And
for flowers when it’s hot,
lucky cuz right now it’s not.

Took a break but
I’m back with wine, reading
psycho poems by crazy
poets (and sipping red wine
after I fish all the bugs out)
who delivered some mighty fine
poetry in verses that hurt.

The wind blows a bit of an
easy cool Texas Zepher. Some
long black chimes are hesitantly
singing with chirping birds,
who seem to be bitching
at something—

Maybe it’s the cats.
Maybe it’s me and the wine.

Look all around when in doubt, look both ways, cuz poetry is all about.
Mind gaps lest you step on a frog, a cat, or a big mean dog.

 

Poetry: Silence is no Coward

I am strong, but I am tired, Stephen, tired of always having to be the strong one, of always having to do the right thing.” Brenda Joyce, An Impossible Attraction


I’m not always much of anything.
I’ve been an old white man for a long time,
a branded stereotype with good teeth
and a bad attitude,

apparently not supposed to ask for
some things, cuz I am old and white.

It’s okay. Perhaps they’re fucking right.
Equality is in, unless you happen to be
old…
white…
and have what’s left of an old hard on.

Others were (and still are) treated like shit
by white guys. Nazis were, are, white,
male; no fucking idea how old fits.

Some old men are idiots, non-millennial
impotent bastards who hate everyone,
and everything, especially women.
Stereotyped, hairless shit heads
with nothing to do
but make mankind worse.

It’s a tough world, but we can try
to make it better each day.
To make it last.

©Bill Reynolds, 6/13/2019

Look and listen both ways for real equality. At least, don’t be unkind.
Mind the gaps like lifelines with stories to tell.