in the car


when i get in the car, 

i have this vision 

of my death 
maybe it’s the news 

on the radio – but

the sun is shining

and then there’s that
hurtling rush of 

darkness and sound,

then frozen silence – 

and the sun is shining.

sunday evening harangue

somehow, every single couch in the house was claimed by some other being /not her

she had even spent an afternoon rearranging the living room /feng shui be damned

so that the couch no longer gave the dog a good view out the front window /triumph

and now that couch contained a smallish girl with long bony legs /back to square one

and in the TV room the sofa had already become an oversized dog bed /who’s in charge

dreaming in vignette

I sat completely still.

My mother brushed my long hair slowly and carefully, and I closed my eyes to better feel the love in her hands.  She said she was going to trim the ends of my hair for me, cut away the dead and old, leaving crisp new edges against which I could cup my palms.

While she brushed, mother told me she had heard on the radio of a new world. That the once powerful landowners had lost their rights when the water came, and now people like us were starting new lives above the water, high up in abandoned buildings.  As she spoke, I imagined our life in this new place.

Mother finished talking just as she clipped the last strand of my hair, and I opened my eyes.  She put her hands on my shoulders and looked me in the face.  Tears troubled her gentle brown eyes.  “This new place sounds promising, doesn’t it, child?  I will not be there for this part of your life but I know that it will be quite an adventure for you. Now, go.”

I wasn’t sure what she was saying.  But then I saw all of my hair, a thick dark mess on the ground – and under my mother, a growing pool of red – and I knew.

I slipped quietly into the dark water near me and sank downward until I had no more mother.

in memoriam peggy

she was looking but not looking

just beyond the naked boys
being beaten by their mother
an angry monster
with a smoker’s cackle

and in this way the
boys looked only like
twisted shadows of pain
cast against the wall

she was listening but not listening

to the sounds of abuse
a dark tune in her head
the steady beat of leather
against broken flesh

and in this way the
piercing wails seemed
more like high pitched echoes
ringing from afar

she was there but not there

bearing witness to nothing
anyone cared about –
was it a secret if no one
wanted to know?

and in this way it
never really happened
not even when she tried
to mention it to her parents

she learned but did not comprehend

years later, the allegory of
the caves, which for her classmates
was just a theory, but for her
was her childhood, her world

quavering shadows on a dim wall
distorted echoes of reality
her place among the darkly chained
what she knew about life for so long

and even now, she knows but does not really understand

Note to world #5645

I am on the road with my older daughter, hoping that all the time in the car together might bring some reparation to our tense and strained relationship. Instead, we bicker over where to eat and quickly gather heady momentum toward more hurtful territory.  Then, with tremendous hostility, my daughter pops in ear buds and keeps her eyes focused on her phone.  And poof – I am alone in the car on a trip for someone else.

I am alternately grateful to have a quiet moment during which to process my many layers of mother guilt and saddened that there is no one to whom I can point out roadside absurdities or wonders I spot along the highway.  After a while, though, I’ve been stewing in my own juices too long and some of the most homely roadside destination start to look pretty alluring – places where I imagine myself abandoning my motherly duties and hiding out as a crusty hermit – at least until my old dead body is discovered several months after my demise.  After we pass a few broken rusty shacks, the idea sours and instead I begin fantasizing that it would be better to hide in plain sight – in a thriving bustling metropolis – where I admit that I could still possibly die without being noticed for at least a few weeks.  But that could be a less smelly option with the potential for some good jazz concerts in between.

As though I might care about my hygiene when I’m dead.

Note to world #2435

She stood in the very long line to the bathroom and pondered whether she could sneak into the “handicap” stall. 

After all, some days she did consider her gender to be a handicap …. of sorts.  

But no, she waited instead behind the transgender woman for her turn at the “female” stalls.