Poetry: Big Red

When I first wrote this, I intended it for Sammi’s weekender. She had set a  prescribed limit of 88 words for the prompt word downpour, “no more, no less.” I was 95 words over. While Sammi has loosened up some of her rules, not that one. So, let’s call this poem, “A Second, Longer Downpour.”


She was a hog, bitchin’ red and heavy,
a real dresser on our outings.
Rider down, I could not lift her load.
I never gave her a name.

Straight pipe loud till I fixed her,
but on road trips, she was
my sweet ride. No hyperbole to say
she hugged road from between my legs.

Headin’ up busy highway north of
Fort Walton Beach when Ma Nature
hawked a torrential loogie thunderstorm.
As we headed back south, we got soaked.

The downpour first felt cold in my crotch.
With soaked windshield, visor, and glasses
I couldn’t see shit. I knew they (cars)
could not see me, or us, maybe not each other.

With us in the middle and idiots in cages
driving seventy while blind, we finally got home.
I cut her motor and dropped her stand.
Lovingly I leaned her left, slid off, and stopped shaking.

Walked into my garage, stripped naked, and
dropped soaked biker cloths right there. Yolonda
asked, “What happened to you?” The storm had passed.
I look at her and said, “I think I wet my pants.”


Look both ways. See and be seen.
Mind the gaps. Mind everything riding your hog.

 

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 29)

Day 29 prompt: write a paean to your pet.


Hey, Cat

The mice at the vet’s
always made me feel guilty
when they’d ask me your name.
You were abandoned, neutered,
declawed, and basically fucked
by previous pin-headed possessors.
A bit of a nutless dick,
you bitched and whined
more than any dog, but you were
my cat. I was your human.
We understood each other and
those whiny-ass special
snowflake syndrome sufferers
of your name at the vet’s office
couldn’t believe we appreciated
each other on a level no man’s
best friend could understand.

Your name was Cat. You were The Cat!
Any Salem or Heathcliff worth knowing
would hang with the moniker, — Cat.
Clear, concise, and common.

You were my cat cuz
no one else wanted you. I did.
And you me. (Sort of.)
Rest in peace, Cat.


Look up, down, and both ways for cats and dogs.
Find and mind the gaps in every relationship.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 28)

Day 28 prompt: describe a bedroom from your past in a series of descriptive paragraphs or a poem.


Noreen got Married

Circa 1899, a row of ten two-story homes were built. On the second floor of the third house down from Madison Street, toward Washington, we had four bedrooms, and one bathroom like the other nine, faux-fronted; leaky, flat, black-tar roofed, wood construction row, or block homes, in local vernacular. Now townhomes go up for sale.

Mom & Dad had a front bedroom. Danny was ten and had the other. Down the hall Shirley, about 14, had a room to the right, next to the one small bathroom. The largest room was Noreen’s, who was twenty. I cribbed in my parent’s room.

The house to the left had 11 (9 kids, mostly girls). To the right, a multi-generational family group of about eight, depending on who died or committed suicide. We were a lucky few.

I got Danny’s room when Noreen married and moved three blocks away, and Danny moved to hers. I recall feeling special. My own room, one size up from the bathroom, but mine. And a bed. No crib.

My room had a window but no closet. A chest for things and a small brown metal cabinet. I recall the room larger than it is. I don’t recall the wallpaper. Dad used a steamer to remove it. He painted over bare plaster and lath walls with textured green or blue paint that scratched if you rubbed against it.

Each second-floor room had one lightbulb hanging down in the center with a pull-chain. The only wall switches were push-buttons in the hall stairway, dining room, and going down into the cold, wet, filthy cellar. Electricity was an afterthought.

Rooms had capped, stubbed, pipes sticking out of a wall from when gas was used for lighting. Stubs were convenient to hang things but were live gas lines.

Wood plank floors were covered with linoleum in designs and colors I forget, but all showed traces of wear and the plank flooring beneath. Each ended about a foot from walls.

My room was directly over our living room, or parlor as they liked to call it. It had a vent for heat from a nineteenth century, coal-fired furnace in the dirt-floored cellar.

An old, unused chimney stuck out from my west wall. That prevented my bed from being against the wall, thus leaving a gap on one side, a place to hide magazines and things I did not want Mom to see. They were not nudes or porn, but risqué enough for me as I recall. I never told the priest in confession about the hiding place or what I stashed there.

The street was close below my window and Packy’s saloon was only two houses up, making noise a constant when my window was open, only a bit less loud when not. After we got TV, I’d fall asleep listening to the music of Perry Mason or whatever they watched.

When Danny finally left for the Marines, I moved to the back bedroom – a rite of passage. It had a door to the outside used to sneak out at night until I got caught. But my first bedroom has many stories, some remembered, most forgotten, many denied. It was a big deal in my life, until it wasn’t.


Look both ways in houses with more past than future.
Mind the gaps for cold drafts and loose boards.

Sammi’s Weekender (154): Fabric


It was almost olive drab once,
now faded OD, but green,
the back says, Nothin’s Easy.
A well-worn tee from my days
running or trekking Government
Canyon, near San Antonio. It’s
not a canyon at all.

On the front you can make out
the drawing of the hills,
the name ends with, State
Natural Area
. The crew neck fabric
is tattered from use and washes.

It’s size large to hang loose,
but no longer does.
Do you think it shrunk?
Or have I expanded
my physical surroundings?

If I had a favorite tee,
this might be it,
but I don’t want others to feel
helly-jelly. It’s just a shirt.
Like the brown one I’m wearing now
from my second Cowtown Marathon
that says, opposite the front,
I’m Back. Cuz I was.


Look both ways for ties to tees and memories.
Mind the gaps or it’s the rag bin for sure.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 25)

Day 25 prompt: write a poem using Hymn to Life, a long poem by James Schuyler as a guidepost while following the prompted suggestions of Hoa Nguyen. Write for at least 20 minutes.


The Big Event

It is morning. Friday morning. It’s the day. The day when I risk my life.
Sitting up, I remove my c-pap mask. I walk to the master bathroom.
After peeing I wash my hands. I walk to the living room.
Yolonda says, “It’s going to be 94 today. Walk outside soon to be cool.”
I make coffee, black, with a red wine-colored maker. I add milk.
I move things in the sink and on the counter. I wash my hands.
I say, “We must complete the list. I go to the store today.” I take
the last orange. A happy fruit for a poem. I sit and type on my laptop.
The sound of The Price is Right is distracting as I read about oranges.
Back in the kitchen, I do inventories of shelves, fridge, and freezer.
She rewrites the list, an orderly plan for the store. I add milk.
I don’t see her list vanilla ice cream. I wash my hands.
I review the list for items and order. I plan movements and wonder
if alcohol or disinfectant will ever be there again. I take morning pills
with coffee and pour frozen blueberries into a bowl, then some granola
I made yesterday, and I top with sliced half-a-banana. I wash my hands.
I check the list for frozen blueberries. I go back to my lappy to read more
about the fruit and the word for the color of orange while eating cereal.
She comes in and we talk of things like food, adult children, grandchildren,
politics, and humor. I take my empty bowl to the kitchen and rinse it.
I wash my hands. I look at some sketches. Draw lines. I look at my painting.
I add green, purple, brown, and blue. I wash my hands. I get dressed.
I inventory my pockets; wallet, handkerchief, pocket-knife,
notebook and pen, keys. I put on gloves to retrieve the trash can
from the curb, leaving the still full recycling bin. I remove the gloves.
I wash my hands. I wash my glasses with shaving cream.
In the car I notice the full gas tank is on week three. I don sunscreen sleeves
and sunglasses. I back out and drive to a grocery store. I park.
I wear a blue surgical mask and darker blue, almost purple, surgical gloves.
I pull up a bandanna-like scarf over the mask. I notice others
with masks and gloves. I feel like a team player. I retrieve a cart.
The young man at the door hands me a wipe.
I wipe the cart and trash the wipe. It begins. I risk my life // for food and drink.
No rubbing alcohol or disinfectant. Too many close calls // less than six feet.
I see men without masks. Republicans, I assume. Why do they believe that?
And not this? Which checkout line is shortest? I follow the rules. I thank them
and go to my car. I load it and return cart to a stand. In the car I remove masks,
realize I wore my sunglasses the whole time. I carefully remove gloves. I wash
my hands with sanitizer and drive home. I put on different gloves
to check mail, carry in deliveries, and retrieve the recycling bin.
I remove those gloves, then I remove store items from plastic bags into cart.
Yolonda takes the cart into our house. I open delivery boxes. I wash my hands.
We discuss the overall condition of store, the virus evasion, what they had,
and what not. We buy real food. Ice cream is real. It’s too hot to walk.
I write and sketch and paint. I didn’t see a text she had sent.
I feel like I cheated death one more day, one more time. I wash my hands.
Our internet and cable TV are down. I write anyway. It is Friday.


Look both ways while shopping.
Watch for people, carts, and items on lists.
Mind the gaps before they fill with carts and shoppers.
Wash your hands.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 20)

Day 20 prompt: write a poem about a handmade/homemade gift.


What Matters

For the man who has everything
or who could, if he would,
make (don’t buy) to please.

Amazon does not have your heart
nor your hand, and Bezos does not
need your money. In the end, it’s you
that is my gift, so keep it simple
and easy. Go underboard, if you’re able.

Spend less. Write or read, sketch or draw,
don’t buy me a book. Read one and tell me
all about it. Write me a four-line poem.
Sketch a joke caricature of me.

Write a note that says you love me,
put on lipstick, kiss the paper, and send it.

What I want from you is a bit
of your time and attention. Just briefly.
From you to me is all that I need.

Here, let me hand you this notebook
and this pen, in the time it would take
for you to scribble a quickie phrase…

I’ll be happier, no internet search required,
a treasure like no other will I have,
and you will feel better too. Trust me.
It’s not that I ask little,
it’s that I want you. I know what matters.


Look both ways and slightly behind.
Be safe. Mind the gaps in your masks.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 19)

Day 19 prompt: write a poem based on a “walking archive.”


The Spring Draw

Spring replaces Winter’s browns and grays
with shades and hues of green, some pinks
and whites in the trees. And more rain,
and wind to help insects spread pollen,
the whole point being new life, hope,
and promises of Summer to come.

Even the trails lay a carpet of green grass,
soft to my steps, comforting. To the sides
more color and tones of red and blue,
orange and proud yellows mixed with white,
every color and shade seems bright.
Both quiet and loud, and deer appear,
rutting passed soon we’ll see fawns running.

I pause often to photograph or admire
this gallery of natural art, walking on my trail,
some path remains, limestone rock
for stepping or tripping as creeks and washes run
wet with rainwater, animal prints in mud,
views obstructed by leaves fresh and green.

There is beauty even in the old dead trunks
of former mighty oaks, with knots and holes,
still standing tall and proud, some down
yielding to stormy winds, the promise still
of awakening even the soil of the Earth.
I sit to rest and to ponder or brood,
to drink and to stare and admire,
and to pity many who have seen
neither tree nor forest, nor felt the happy
heart of a Spring calf.

I walk Texas trails in Spring before
Hell sends Summer to scorch, and it calls
for cream to screen the rays of sun. Before
wet clay turns to dust and water runs rare.
Before the prickly pear cactus turns
its brilliant yellow flower, then to an apple red
bulb, then to a new cactus head. So long
as I am, and I can, out I shall go to treat
my senses to the many glances of nature.

“Me imperturbe, standing at ease in nature.”
Or, at attention, as I want to miss none of it all.


(Quote: credit Walt Whitman)

Always look both ways and all around, up and down.
Mind gaps and ravines in natural beauty if you seek pleasure.