Random Prompt/2014

Hunky armed men in heavy boots
Carried their shovels like rifles.

They were the finest workers
The municipality could afford.

Through the dust could be seen
The outline of the last ’70s piano bar,
The dusty ferns and jars of outdated antipasta
Waiting secondary demolishment.

At night, their lanterns
Were viewable for up to five city blocks.

And, next morning, the day crew returned
To clear more detritus of a decade
Of how politics got done.

(Note: this is my fifth hour poem, but my phone got wacky and I had to restart.)

Prompt 5/Holiday Bookmark

We've been floating
                            
                            for how long? Hours, but 
it no longer matters
                            
                           for the tourists we are
and travelers
                            
                           we pretend to be.
I make an attempt 
                            
                           at assembling a sentence
about an itinerary
                            
                           as remote as the pebbled
rooftops and forgiving 
                            
                           root path
we took to 
                            
                           reach the shore.
We waved off
                            
                           our guide,
who looked uncertain
                            
                           then splashed his way 
to us and climbed in
                            
                           to take over the steering wheel,
his crooked smile
                            
                           
                           as he did so
reminding us
                            
                           we had no chance
of finding our
                            
                           way back.
We might just have
                            
                           been another pair of lost
tourists, 
                            
                           our sunburned smiles
in a photo
                           
                           from an obliging waitress
the last
                           
                           anyone
would ever 
                           
                           see of us.
 

Genetic Reponse to an Interview Request

We see you reached out a while back
– TEN DAYS –
and we wanted to follow up
and see if you are a good fit.
(I can see him drumming his fingers if we were sitting across from one another.)
We have had time to weigh your consideration, or we wouldn’t be here.

I look at my screen and try to craft a reply
that barks my lack of hesitancy.

Between the lines of his spare reply:
I’m the guy with the name you see in my Email.
I have a fair amount of downward-inflected responses
to let you know I’m caring, I care, I’m listening,
(I know how to care).

It will take me all day to grapple with the nonchalant reply
and even longer before I answer myself:
Do you really want to hit SEND?

Their Seething Contentment

I wrote a novel
about
a couple
who won the lottery.
It may never sell,
but my mind plays with
the concept
of winning
and what that means
everyday.

It’s always at night
that I think
what a waste,
what a cosmic joke
could be played
by the universe
if the grocer
sold us a winning ticket
and on that same night,
someone’s hand grabbed
the nuclear football
out of nothing more
than being
miffed
by Denmark.

They always got better press.

Prompt 1/I Am a Working Conscience

At the end of every news cycle,
I sweep my mind
of the day’s detritus –
children in cages, election machines calibrated to confirm
our escalating doom, icebergs melting one broken treaty
at a time –
for a chance to scream out
all my responses
at once.

I am sorry.
I am angry.
I am spent.
I am frustrated.
I am alone.
I am nothing.

Every morning, I wake up to
a song
called
“Bird of Paradise”,
reminding me in its notes
that the exotic and curious
can reside in the middle
of everything.

I am hesitant.
I am hopeful.
I am engaged.
I am resolute.
I am not alone.
I am part of a collective pulse.

In the Headlights

A bad actor
always
looks down
then bluffs the idea
of what he’s supposed to say
while
everyone
scrambles
to catch up to something
they never
rehearsed

Like a student
who has written
the wrong answers
in the palm
of his hand,
the actor
smiles wide
behind his desk,
thinking himself
the victor
where
none
are
to
be
found.

In Situ

in situ adverb or adjective
in si·​tu | \ (ˌ)in-ˈsī-(ˌ)tü , -ˈsi-, -(ˌ)tyü also -ˈsē-, -(ˌ)chü\
Definition of in situ
: in the natural or original position or place
– Merriam-Webster

For an impatient person, which I admit to being, it seems I have accomplished a lot of waiting in my life. Much of this waiting came under the umbrella of procrastination, which is the lane from which there is little, if any, passing. Why move when it’s easy to ride along with one’s fear of failure in the backseat?

To take over the wheel, to move lanes, to be in place takes effort. Time and commitment aren’t cheap, and the landlord doesn’t care that you took a demotion so you could focus on getting published. But, I realize, if not now, when? I have let myself lapse, to be reminded by things, such as this marathon, of why I write. I write so that I can filter what passes through my mind on a daily basis. I write so that I can make sense of what seems haphazard. Maybe I search too hard for the right words. Inchoate is a byproduct of being so hemmed in by circumstance that to voice the truth becomes a liability to one’s livelihood. Or, worse, a danger to one’s sanity.

For the next 24 hours, then, I don’t have to play inside the lines of a structure designed to turn me into a shell to be moved at someone else’s will. I am “in place, ready to perform my original desire, to write.

Macedonia – Prompt 24

The streets are chilly
I can tell from the steam coming from Lake Ohrid
Still, as I get out of bed, I can pictures its teal depths
and its silvery rocks underneath,
I decide to wear shorts and walk to lake’s edge
with breakfast apple and hearty coffee in hand.

Linens

Bedding coiled around my boyfriend’s legs
waits for me to smooth it out and conform it to my own twists and dances with sleep
Dream State: I’m coming for you.

Soldier/Cook

It is just past five
and I have woken up my boyfriend,
who’s rummaging through another of
his endless cache of duffel bags
for the gym ensemble required
for his PT test.
Every second day
of every drill weekend,
he dons this,
after having intoned
“But I don’t want to play soldier today.”
Yet, when he returns home tonight, exhausted,
he’ll still make dinner for us
and I’ll clean up the chaos of his culinary creation.

For every year of his life –
ever since his Korean-born mother stood a four-year old Ron at the kitchen stove
and instructed him to watch, Ron has been a cook more than anything else – soldier, student, helicoptor pilot, behaviorist.

He holds me close,
assures me,
“You got this,”
then grabs his army backpack.
Before trying to grab a few minutes sleep,
I pour a glass of cold water.

We’re both tired this morning.