One Kind of Love Story

Carlotta wore yellow on their first date
which made her appear jaundiced
and a bit on the puny side.

Garth picked her up in his VW.
He made a poor impression with
his floorboard fast food trash.

She was sweating profusely.
The new powder wasn’t holding
up its promise to save face.

He didn’t mind her drooping
red corsage or the black
smudges under her nervous eyes.

The palm of her sallow hand felt good
when he touched it timidly
while making the next turn.

When Carlotta smiled and Garth saw
red lipstick on her front teeth,
he knew he’d found his treasure.

Before Darkness

Before darkness came,
I thought I understood
what the sun was saying.

Up every shiny morning,
not hearing what the moon
whispered while it waited.

Darkness has light that
knows a different language
that only your soul can hear.

Going Up

Rising to the fourteenth floor of the posh hotel
in the center of the cold city,
the beep of each passing level took me back
to the screams of life giving machines
that doled out survival with sighs and repeated
tones, monotonous and vital.

Here I am ascending to a place in the sky
you will never experience.
I’m looking at city lights and animated gestures
that strangers below exchange–smiling, linking
hands and hearts this side of the eternal.
I am comforted by the faith that you
have moved to a castle above it all and
wish this rising room would open its doors
and reveal the place you now call home.

December 22

Above all, I remember your purple toes–
a sign of the dead end you were approaching.
The seasoned nurse lifted the sheets
and showed me your long suffering digits
that used to bruise from toe shoes
in dance lessons in pink with ribbons.
Swollen and left behind, no longer required
to spin or point in first position.

Sister, I should have stayed beside you.
But your last anguish and your empty shoes
were more than I could bear to remember.

I Try Not to Think About #15/24

I Try Not to Think About

the private jokes we shared
our favorite pink pajamas on Christmas morning
sleeping in the old white Chevy
touching tongues because it felt funny
giggling till we couldn’t catch our breath
fighting over the blankets at grandma’s
your morning grouchiness
getting caught with boys in the house
dancing to Three Dog Night
sneaking down the television antennae
and into the freedom of a summer night
late bonfire bashes at “the tree”
sneaking in drunk after curfew
sharing the stick shift, dark green Vega
locking the keys in the car at the
Steve Miller Band concert
crying together after your abortion
holding your head in my lap
while you sobbed over something
I couldn’t change
for the first time
of many more to come.

Creative Writing Basics #14/24

Creative Writing Basics

When I was an undergrad
writing my candid poems
under the tutelage of minds
well-versed in the creative
process of expressing
personal experiences
of relevance
of weight.
I learned to create
tension in a scene.

The young woman stood
with wind blown hair
her makeup running down
the hollowed cheeks
behind her opened mouth
that quivered silently
under shattered eyes
full of blame
for someone
already gone.

The Love that Won’t Let Go #13/24

The Love that Won’t Let Go

It utterly amazes me that we can still love the same
raw way we did back when we were both less tired,
less torn up by the falling down lives we’re acting out.

Whatever magic your eyes let go in the dark barroom
a quarter century ago, still has power over my breathing
and your strong hands always find what belongs to you.

From the screaming passion that turns physical
to the hushed relief in a hospital room the day after
I tried to leave my life because you had led the way.

I can’t say why we are tied together; karma or
willed by some god, or the destiny we’ve chosen
for ourselves: to love the other to a strange madness

that is always undoing itself, spiting it’s own validity.
But I cannot unlove your eyes that are home to me.
I return to you like a warm fire on a bitter night.

The Day We Pulled the House Down #12/24

The Day We Pulled the House Down

Dad had purchased the lot next door
and the weak old house that set on it.
Old neighbor Annie had lived there
and left her pieces of memories behind.
We combed the forgotten place and
found what we thought were treasures.
Two small green bottles with aged labels.
One for me and one for you.
Keepsakes of a day we’d remember
with vivid detail like a video loop
that repeats for an eternity in the mind.
We were all there, the family.
Dad, mom, all three siblings.
Dad and brother securing the thick rope
around the home and to the truck.
The truck’s grunting and pulling
until the house seemed to go up
in a puff of smoke, but it was dirt
and the house was falling,
folding in on itself like an unnatural bloom.
Five of us watched it die a loud dirty
long unsettling human-like death.
It left us each shaken in some odd way.
We couldn’t know then that it was a metaphor
for what can happen to regular people
like us in the huge crap game called life.
Our family became a house of abandoned
rooms, cobwebs hanging in dark corners.
Someone took all the trinkets we left there.
Nothing was costly; just precious to us.
It didn’t even feel like home anymore.
Then the house that was home was pulled
by the thick rope that surrounded it.
The foundation crumbled in surrender
and the walls gave up the good fight
It fell with the cry of a valiant, but tired soldier.
We all shed tears as we watched it happen.

Now, home is not a place we can go
by taking a particular road or certain turn.
But the house of the mind has countless rooms
full of lovely things to smile about.

I Used to Know A Guy Named Steve #11/24

I Used To Know a Guy Named Steve

Steve was a black man of thirty-five. He was greasy and had dandruff. He dressed very badly in black denim and cheap stretchy pullover shirts with three buttons center, top. He wore too much Drakkar Noir in an attempt to cover up the smell of sweat that clung to him always in the south Texas heat. He’d had a bad acne problem in high school. The scars were quite deep. His thick glasses were always smudged with fingerprints because he was always pulling and pushing on them. It was a nervous habit. And when he talked about his life in the music industry and how he’d just come from rehearsal, it was all a lie. He was really quite convincing with his musical knowledge, but someone had seen him slinging burgers at Maggie’s Restaurant on Blanco. Can’t say I was that surprised. I never brought it up. Steve had enough strikes against him for one guy. I decided to let him live his dream with me since no one else was buying it.

Ode to San Antonio #10/24

Ode to San Antonio

I remember backyard barbecues
by downstairs neighbors
Tejano music blaring for hours, infiltrating every inch
of the apartment on floor number three
where I’d sit stoned and spaced out.
Becoming overtly disturbed when I caught
my toe tapping happy to distant festive
relentless accordions.
Songs from a place I’ve never been
in words I can’t know
filled my empty downtime
daze of nothing pressing too hard.
Nothing really pressing at all.
The siren symphony never ends
in this fix-it shop city of specialists.
The sound became comforting to me
during darkest times inside my own
bleak landscape of sad pretty girls.
Starting distant then growing closer, louder.
Help is on the way.
Someone is coming now to save you.
They’ll know just what to do.
I’m not sick enough to call for sirens,
only suffering from a disease of lifestyle.
A fever induced by choices.
The heaviest of shameful baggage
hangs from my shoulder
because I’m packed and ready
for someplace simpler