A Match

Everyone has pain.

But if my life is a little happier than yours, it is because I worked at it.

I changed my mind and learned what cannot be controlled and what can.

I control me.

Just my reaction to the tennis balls hurling over and over again.

I worked at how not to stand still gathering bruises.

I studied people whose tennis balls didn’t bruise them.

I practiced.

You can, too.

Or you can not.

 

 

 

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The Good Samaritan 

Steel rods jut out from his legs.

We shove another pad underneath to soak up the blood.

The tube taped to his mouth makes his chest rise and fall.

A Good Samaritan from another state, helping a woman on the side of the road, now alone in a strange place, breathing through a machine.

Two rooms down is worse. The dr pulls the sensor slowly from a hole in a young man’s skull. No need to keep track of his pressure now, she says in not so many words. 

“But he ran the red light?” 

The nurses shake their heads up and down, silently rationalizing. This one didn’t follow the rules. 

No one speaks of the Good Samaritan.

Listen Up

It took me twenty-five years

to feel what you planted

and how I wish that I had those years back

to feel confident

smart

loved

worthy

all the things you told me I wasn’t.

 

I didn’t know I had believed you

until I stopped.

When you told me I was nothing

worth nothing

knew nothing

deserved nothing,

my brain railed against it.

It threw wood at you,

defended me.

It yelled back,

even laughed.

I thought I had escaped.

Scotch free.

 

But,

turns out,

my heart believed you.

Sitting quietly at a table,

hands clasped,

looking at you with wide eyes,

then looking down.

 

You spoke the truth,

it knew it.

And I may spend the rest of my life

convincing it otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those Not Going Home Again

 

There’s one way into the hospital and

two ways out.

The morgue door is in a yellowish, old hallway.

Not the public shiny hallway with the gift shop selling watches and Get Well balloons.

A darker, dirtier hallway where housekeepers and the people who deliver trays of food to

the living scurry along with their heads down, pushing heavy carts, trying to stay to the right.

It’s loud.

 

There is a small window in the morgue door,

but you would need to stop and look inside on purpose.

It’s not large enough to catch a casual glimpse of those

who won’t use the front door when they’re done here,

waiting triumphantly by one of those large white pillars while a family member pulls the

car around,

but the back door, open to the alley and the hot sun,

where trucks drop off supplies and

load up

those not going home again.

Now A Symphony

That One Note played over and over,

longing, mournful, angry, desperate–

once or twice joyous.

 

War could whisper through.

And career, family, art, music.

But fleeting and peripheral because

One Note Banging

blinding

SOUND SOUND SOUND.

 

Now little laughters, the sun rising, our skins softly aging.

The edges of things!

where before blurry, if not imagined.

Thank you…time?

for lifting that monotonous veil of Self

to reveal the symphony beyond.

 

Why is Peter Gabriel being so quiet?

Marking life’s events by shootings,

I miss when pop stars sung about things that matter.

Didn’t Sting and Bono end apartheid and the Cold War?

Why is Peter Gabriel being so quiet?

 

We need your help, boys.

I think we are stuck here.

 

Anybody out there—could you please lend a hand?

 

Don’t let our stars & stripes arrogance fool you.

We are lost in a quicksand tornado eye of ignorance, fear, denial and confusion.

Our family has gotten too large to agree and lots of power is shifting.

Those who were high are low or afraid of being on their way.

Those who were low are mad and climbing out, looking up.

 

Don’t let our arrogance fool you.

Could you please save us from ourselves?

A Childhood Altered

At fifteen it was nitrous.

Just a tiny puff and the world goes black.

Little Kings, of course,

and,

always,

Marlboro Lights.

 

What would a house look like

made from all the rectangular packs of

Marlboro Lights?

A thousand square foot starter or a mansion with mother-in-law suite?

Weed came later,

from Byron and Colorado

til it got too “good”

and made me cry instead of laugh.

The eight balls,

the slips of paper cut into tiny squares,

the red red wine.

 

As the petrol fumes

creep into my nose at the station,

dutifully grasping the pump,

a familiar dizziness,

that old giddiness.

I do not turn away.

 

The Crayola markers

just after popping the top off

take me back to dirty apartments with

ashtrays brimming over,

clothing piled everywhere.

Then we color stars and planets.