The streetlight was
outside my second-floor bedroom window,
about sixty feet away,
kiddy corner from me,
but right across from Packy’s Bar.
At night, it dimly lit my bedroom.
(I didn’t like the pull-chain single bulb
that hung from a chain in the middle of the room.)
There was another light
a block farther up on Main Street,
and another was down on Washington
where a traffic signal clicked
when it changed to another color (all night long).
It had to be late and quiet to hear.
I didn’t care.
When I pushed my bed next to the window,
I could feel and smell smoke-free night air.
I saw and heard street and sidewalk sounds,
I watched the glorious night rain,
and sometimes people who were quieter at night.
Summertime I could see bugs flying around the light
as I listened to the raucous people up at Packy’s.
The light was near enough
to work with my mind adding drama to boredom
as the nearby maple-tree limbs and leaves
silhouetted diabolical shapes and shadows.
That’s how I saw them.
Frightening then. Old friends now.
Along with rain, the streetlight showed me
falling snow or eerie fog on dark nights.
Streetlights comforted me.
Now, when I get up before sunrise, I look out
to see another lonely, bored streetlight father away
on a much quieter street with no bars (just houses with old people).
I recall the days when I looked out for the light to tell me things.
I still do.
Look both ways to see the light.
Mind the gaps, the bars, and the interesting shadows.
Old tractors can’t retire with much dignity.
Ours rests over yonder, near the barn.
With winter’s cold, snow, and ice,
or dry poundings of hot summers,
she tries to show well, just a little rust,
peeling paint, heavy worn tires.
Made to plough and cumber a heavy beam,
an ox of steel and rubber, she carried men to work,
sowed seeds, and tilled the soil.
A mammoth farm and ranch hand, she
pushed and pulled cultivators and harrows,
drug fertilizer wagons,
pulled mowers, rakes, and bailers
with tires heavy with water and mud.
I still remember the day I first grabbed ahold
of her wheel learning to drive and work hard.
Thank you, my friend, for teaching me
so much about life, work, sweat, tears,
and the weather. But mostly about how
to age gracefully and with dignity.
Look both ways but history teaches more.
Mind the gaps, find the truth, keep your pride and dignity until a tractor retires.
From New York it winds
nine hundred mudlarkable shoreline miles
through the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic.
Unlike Billy Collins, I fished it,
caught carp, sucker, catfish, perch; swam
polluted waters; climbed and walked
bridges and trestles. I grubbed its mud.
Remember disasters. Before mountains rose.
The Susquehanna is in my blood.
Look both ways when the river flows.
Here it comes, there it goes.
Mind the gaps, the pits, the whirlpools, and vermin.
Poetic license: The Susquehanna River is 444 miles long from New York, flowing through the State of Pennsylvania (where I knew it) into the Chesapeake Bay. That’s 888 miles of shoreline. I rounded up. Disasters include the Knox Mine crime, Three Mile Island, pollution and environmental catastrophe on an epic scale, and many devastating floods.
Many thanks to the wonderful Rochelle for herding us cats on Friday Fictioneers. We write micro-stories inspired by a new photo each week, provided by very creative and imaginative compatriots. Here is the photo and my story for this week.
Word count: 100
Title: Krumpas Coop
Excruciating pain shot from my foot to my brain. I yelled, “Those damn Legos are diabolical. That hurt!”
Mary yelled back, “Are Steven and Julie there?”
I said, “I think the Krampas got them. The window is open and no sign of them.”
Mary walked in, “Well Krampas knows how to write.” She handed me the note.
I read aloud, “The ransom is a bag of M&M’s, a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream, and two new ponies.”
As I handed the note back, we heard giggling coming from the attic.
I asked, “Do we negotiate with terrorists or Krampas?”
Look both ways and mind the gaps. Especially when Legos are involved.
Lorry, was so apropos,
most correct old maid aunt
in navy blue turban with pin,
self-assured in sensible shoes,
purse over left forearm,
her small portmanteau
I loved Lorry, now I know.
But then one day,
I had to let Lorry go.
what the hell did I know,
long, long ago?
Look both ways, to the past for memories,
to the future for better days.
Mind the gaps in memory but hold on to what you can.
The boy hid quietly in the back,
never raised his hand, got low grades
for lack of class participation. A shy,
quiet, introverted mama’s boy—
a child, it was his nature.
Adults criticized that he cried too easily.
He cared too much.
Felt too deeply. For a boy.
They would not let him be.
His siblings knew
and encouraged another side.
He learned to deny
his own deep-felt emotions.
Authority ran his life,
maybe his spirit.
He listened, learned, observed,
and grew; first, into a troubled teen, then
he became a young man.
Gradually, he moved
closer to the front, like a warrior
toward danger. Down range.
Today, an old man walks in and sits
front and center. Sharp tongued,
the quick-witted septuagenarian,
with a grin of secret wisdom,
is ready to advise any damn fool
playing games of authority.
Look both ways in the spirit of the young
and the eyes of the old.
Be careful what you wish for,
watch your step, and mind the gaps.
Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.
We see and seem to know nature from first smiles
to the sound of a baby’s giggles
there is a special happy glow in the hopeful eyes
of helpless, needy life.
And as years pass over, our senses tell us more,
who they are and who we’ve become,
and we learn there is light because of darkness,
that happy grows from sorrow and loss.
When the child looks back
do we see through the years, the fears, and the tears?
Into the now aging eyes to find the hopeful baby,
still there, now aware.
When we look upon others, do we see with humanness?
Do we look both ways to either a distant history or a promising future?
Look both ways to the very young and very old.
Mind the gaps where perfection is a trap.