June 20, 2012


A man wearing one hearing aid, which hangs
around the top of his right ear, stops.  He pulls out
the clear plastic piece embedded in his ear canal.
The robins in the yard take no notice.
The pewter color of the device does not catch their eye
nor has he walked within their danger zone.
He tugs at his earlobe, as if uncertain.
His brow creates furrows in which a layer of oil
mixed with grit, dust, and sweat create a field
where nothing can grow.  He digs his fingernail
into a small notch and tugs, exposing the silvery
battery.  One robin hops away from him.
The other does not.  The ringing sound
the man hears doesn't reveal itself to them. The wind
does not cause it, nor do the buzzing insects
over by a bed of flowers, their wings unseen.
Sparrows arrive, and the robins chirp, but the man
takes no notice.  He flips his aid over until
the small round battery falls into his hand.  He dangles
it before his left eye, and squints hard.
He sighs.  The ringing, so constant and precise it is beyond
measurement, is soon forgotten.  He sighs, again
feeling the air passing out of his lungs, warm and humid.
Fuck! he says.  Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
Lifting his head skyward he sees the birds scattering
into the haze.  Sweat drips down his face.
A door slams.  A fan blows.  He walks off, as we all do
one leg lurching forward, then the other
in a perfect series of controlled falls, slapping the soles
of his shoes on the concrete sidewalk,
his weight stressing the joints of his hips, knees, ankles.
His bones ache, his chest heaves.  When he turns
the corner, the blinds of many windows close. 




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June 14, 2012

They come and go


At two, the voices – were they are own? –
came willingly, slipping in and out of our poor thoughts
and feeble vocabularies.  They had their own language
-- just you and me, they said -- and we believed
every soft word, each clamoring tone.
Later, we learned of demons and fled faraway, afraid
of red eyes and honey-combs.  The voices ran away, too.
The music of doomed ages entered into our own,
and the days of sun, dew stained grass, big skies filled
with cotton, were scrubbed off by the Chinook gusts.
Desert years, with holes that plunged deep into the earth—
what else to call them? – came and went.  We invented
our troubles from etch-sketch pads, rotating the dials, never
getting it right.  Shake and erase, shake and erase - our motto.
Kicked in the head, we spun in furious spirals, unbalanced.
We must find again those playful voices, and listen to them.
The light comes and goes, the tunnels run through all the years,
and men and the women always search for something new
in the other, in each moment that blooms, before the past
pulls the petals off that rose – and the next. 
Watches stop, they tell me, but the light – it keeps moving,
radiating into a febrile decay so far in the distance
we can only have faith that what's left will be sucked into the
expanding vacuum and come out the other side,
a newborn phoenix unwilling to contemplate endings.






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May 18, 2012
a sensation of many things
the sky has shifted, its golden moment vanished
in a puff of smoke.  a magician is smiling
    at the trick.  & then --
it returns!  the audience applauds, & a small boy
 jumps to his feet, & then his mother,
& then a man in the back row, white and bronze flecked goatee
shining in the reflected glory of the boy, just before the crowd
  -- this is how standing ovations should be --
organically, explosively, thunderously alive to the pleasure
of surprise!
the same light once hung over a woman in love, her hair
  a halo framing her fear, the frantic lover
she knows now interrogating her silhouette, shouting
accusations, to which she confesses.  You can smell the vaporous
slipping out from under her skin, white, smooth, tender
 --the scent of a candle wick as it is snuffed out by
a sudden gust of wind-- she will hear no lullabies tonight,
for a black -hooded shape rises and a voice speaks.
  in this spectral form she imagines the return of her guilt
and with a reaper's blow she jumps
  and dies five stories below, broken neck askew;
perfection no more
                --her beloved too shocked to weep,
standing in the open archway of the bell tower
  no longer dizzy, but not ready for a lesson in grief.
  he cannot hear the oboe as you do, even though it has
been centuries since anyone imagined the melody
  playing over a landscape green with trees, white with
waterfalls, ever changing yet appearing the same
year after year.  a small plane flies overhead
   -- the sky spotted with tall clouds through which the light's
golden rays slip, curving against an azure background --
 its propeller noise washed away by the water falling below.
a small boy's hand thrusts itself out an open window
  & waves, so you wave, too.  the oboe plays on ...
as water rushes over the bed, a piano accompanied by
 violins -- a repeating theme -- rushes into your dreams, &
then -- that very moment -- a decision is made to live,
    to return to the boy, to bear the girl baby to term;
though the author must choose someone to die, a poor soldier
  wounded where no wound can show.  why?
oh, these questions have no answer, not even the plot
 requires the leap of this man to the street below
or the tears of his Italian wife, the imperious callousness
of doctors, the ruined gaiety of a party held
  for no reason other than the desire for festivals
among the flowers
       --lilacs, and other blossoms, but lilacs most of all
growing on hillsides, sprinkled over graves.
    they ring with the tone of bells, one solitary note following


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May 15, 2012


red shift
... the man is talking. the man is talking quickly
he injects you with the hypnotic sedative through a vein
that delightedly pops up after the vein in the crook
of your elbow
refuses the honor of making an appearance.  you are intoxicated
as the cracking noise, quite sharp,
of breaking the broken tooth
resounds inside your head, a small charge of dynamite echoing
in a canyon, a red canyon
for the west is red -- red dirt, red dust, red rock, red sun --
  & so you are not surprised by the taste of iron on your tongue ...
hours later, tongue no longer numb, cold water washes over
your cotton thirst, rinsing
a lot of bloody gauze, but that comes later
  after the crack, the explosion , the blood gushing up from the depths
   of bone ...
the man does talk constantly, and you do as well
 when able, and the clatter of dishes falling on a marble floor
is visible in the clamor of your discussions
bereft of all but trivial meaning because they are not red,
not red like the grin you see later in the mirror
  the grin of a cannibal, which is your grin
dark red rimmed teeth, darker than burgundy
    & you know
they will frighten the children & so you drink from the waterfall
& it cools your blood, washing all traces away
  so no stain remains, only the aftertaste of iron oxide
but you are sedated and do not mind ...
you are still sedated, & sleep comes--
  little men with fedoras and women in bright calico dresses
fuss over you, adjusting your sheets, placing the healing
flesh of their palms on your brow, pushing against
the side of your eye, & you see the black center
of a mirage surrounded by grey--
   a mirage that changes, the black flickering with diamond dust
dark as obsidian --
   a cartoon-ish image
not unfriendly, not symmetrical, but pleasing
  -- the shifting shapes it assumes -- shiny black and dull
black with irregular borders that form hearts, ragged
triangles, the unfinished circle that cannot round
    itself ...
in the evening the night stars are randomly present
 & and you count them, but stop because you will never
count enough--the city lights have snuffed so many out--
   and you would weep at their loss
the vast sea of shining lights upon the wave of infinite--
  were you not preternaturally calm,
as calm as red & black porphyry where each fleck inflames
delusions and hallucinations of the most happiness
  discovered in heaven or
     possible on earth, possible for mammals
with their heat engine fueled bodies, burning black beneath
the surface, boiling red with the combustion of love,
 one atom for another, one complex catalyzed molecule
after another
(this goes on for a while) ...
and then, the present that refuses to not visit you
brings you back up from the depths
     the cool waters, the pink waters,
merely at the sound of a small voice, fragile, brittle
stressed near to breaking, a voice scented with sticks
of cinnamon and beans of vanilla,
  the hushed voice, the child's voice, forever
five years old, forever lost and abandoned,
a voice heard on the air above and to the right
of your head, slow, meek, shimmering
 in the light of hollow fear.
is it your voice?  no, no, not today, and yet ...
the man calls you on the phone.  he talks quickly, he speaks
many words, not all which you can assimilate
into the fire.
get rid of the gauze he says
  & obedient as always, you do what he requests
& the conversation is brief
& the wound heals
the marble floor shines
the porphyry flickers, each crystalline shape embedded within it.
& the candles in the sky continue to burn
  the city has not snuffed them out
for the city is not eternal and will vanish long before
the stars are extinguished, the oxygen is consumed,
the red, red blood turns to dust
& you are not concerned
--the small voice may be, but you are not--
for the voice has faded, cannot be heard, cannot be
  observed ...





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May 12, 2012
Fairy Tale
Humming birds have wings that whir,
small ruby throats, & green feathers.
I saw mine in Carolina, under the pines
next to a bush with flowers.  Blurring the air
it stopped all movement, except its own,
that flit, flit, flit from bloom to bloom.
Even the honey bees let it feast alone
its narrow beak thrusting in and down.
Did minutes pass, or were they years,
as I stood frozen, my blue eyes open
a child of six who'd wandered off & lost
herself without any crayons to document
her rare good fortune?  Those wings
I could not see, they buzzed & swept
all other sounds away from me.
I cannot remember the voices shouting
my name echoing from tree to tree,
but the hummingbird, disturbed, knowing
its fragility, vanished on the breeze, before
I understood the magic behind its mystery. 
A drizzle began and then a thunderstorm
& though I shivered, I still felt warm.
My mother found me looking at the sky,
& its murky clouds, with my dim, wet eyes.


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A Clear View
The lone dove’s white wings brush over the blue.
The sky is its canvas to paint on today.
The fog is now gone. I remember you.
The organ played furiously.  I do—
I do.  Soft words we spoke on our wedding day—
above, a white dove on stained glass of blue.
Now it is dry, but at six a cold dew
drenched the dense grass; a thick mist from the bay.
Thar fog is now gone. I remember you.
As I grow older, my past I pursue,
but hours are fluid, and it flows away.
The lone dove’s white wings against that stark blue
are easy to see; no clouds to pass through.
Not like my lost friends; their images decay.
Yet, still, through my fog, I remember you.
It’s been many years since our love was new.
The dead do not leave us. That’s what some say.
The lone dove’s white wings ride over the blue.
When the fog fades, I believe he is you.


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May 2, 2012


The rain falls under a dirty milk sky
 and I am searching for the scarred man
with the burned face, the story of which no one 
ever speaks.  So horrible, his nose eaten away,
& red rivulets that run down past his neck to
 the hidden world beneath his shirt.
I looked away, at first, the day we met
 by his bikes, mountain bikes in many colors,
but no one rents a bike on rainy days, no
 one wants the muddy tracks covering
their shorts and shirts thrown up by uncovered
 wheels.  "He's weird' says the local
wrapped in tight spandex, speaking at
 the resort bar, its unpolished pine rustic, with expensive
beers on tap -- blueberry lagers, stouts, red ales --
 a melange of heady scents and foam crushed
smiles, the laughter reaching up to
 the boundary where insults transmute into
                 alcohol-fueled comedy routines
always aimed at the outlier drinking alone
 someplace else, where other people say
that yes, it's true, he is a crosshatched man, 
 & not because of the scars, not that,
but an oddity caused by internal strangeness,
 his own storm cloud twisting upon itself, unseen
in the wilderness.  I find him outside, the rain
 running off his face, refusing to be intimidated
by water.  I am rude.  I ask what I wanted
 to ask since I first saw him, a week ago
on a day of bright sun and red skin:
 How did it happen?  He turns.
              Have you ever caught a rainbow
 trout? he asks & I say yes, a large one --
15 inches long -- when I was 13.  He smiles
 his jagged smile.  Did you let it go?   No, we took it
 home and froze it, and the fish was forgotten
and my mother threw it out. 
& so it was never eaten. Freezer burn.
   But it was beautiful once, shiny, the red stripe
and the silver and green scales & I was sad
 when it was ruined.  I cried real tears.
So it was with me, he said, so it was with me. 
  Just the same.




Troy Pickens | 05/25/2012

Loved it. Everything about it was perfect. Keep writing.

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April 22, 2012
The Red Motel


 The red motel's parking lot was full of blob cars
of many colors, the color being the only distinguishing feature
 in most cases.  Toyotas, Fords, Kias, so many alike,
   and through the walls comes
 the sound of a baby crying in the evening as the sun descends.
You had forgotten the noises a baby makes when hungry
or in pain, or in need of a change of her diaper, or simply
 when she is tired, so very tired of all the sights and sounds
   and smells,
hungering for the heartbeat of her mother
  that one pulse to tell her she is safe, she is one
re-joined to her creator again.
The instant oatmeal was tasty, its artificial flavors of maple syrup
mixed with real brown sugar,
   dry and old, it is true, but it still melted
when you poured the hot water from the tap
over it in your plastic disposable bowl. 
   You were so pleased as you ate it
with a white plastic spoon, even though it was slippery
 and kept falling off as you ate, falling on your chin
and throat, warm and wet and sweet.
   The light through the ragged green curtains has bathed the room
in a curious shade of teal, an unexpected blessing.  You sit,
naked on the bed, wet from your shower, towel wrapped on your head,
   the sheet pulled up to your neck, the damp air
and the light and the baby's cries  lulling you into a trance, 
a waking trance, and you wonder, if it ended now, would you die happy?  
Is this what happiness means
 to have run away from home, from the husband
waiting by the phone, waiting for your call, perhaps calling you,
not knowing you turned your phone off, and now lie on cheap cotton sheets,
but clean sheets
   not caring that he is alone.
For you are still marveling at the teal light from the curtains and the setting sun,
the color of the sea by the Cayman Islands,
  an intimate, friendly light, full of charisma, full of the  voices of
an unknown future.  That light comes through the branches
of a dying willow tree, over the top edge of the red motel's sign
  straight through those curtains and thus changed,
 it has changed you.  Yes, you say, yes, I am happy!
The baby still cries.  Whimpers.  Falls asleep, just as the stars come out,
so few, so very few, Venus and those that form Orion and his belt
  and the dippers, big and small, Ursas major and minor. 
That is how the sea light leaves you -- to the stars
and the sign wrapped in red neon standing on a metal pole
by the motel office door, and street lights that buzz like insects,
  like small bees.
  You remove the towel, pull your fresh yellow t-shirt, extra long,
that you had washed that morning, over your head, slip into your jeans,
and walk out the door.
  There is a lake nearby, and a path along its shore, waiting. 
It calls, and you hear the words happy! happy! happy!
   and you know it must be so.



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Meditations on Tom Andrews and related topics


on weather
The season's changing. I know this by looking
at my arms and hands because they're breaking out
into that red bumped rash that I get.

Even the palms of my hand itch.
The belly also swells. Everything in tandem,
all the symptoms. I'm a barometer.

And it is warmer now.

on self control

Tom Andrews was a hemophiliac poet
who refused to accept limits on his activities.
He raced motocross. Once set a record
for clapping his hands continuously. Recklessly.

I understand that attitude. It makes perfect
sense to me.

on my child rearing technique

Mercury is a planet of volcanic activity
my daughter says.

Just like the earth once was
my daughter says.

I'm afraid of it happening to the earth, again
my daughter says.

I see the connection only after tears run
down the cheeks that I kiss each night
as I put her to bed. Kiss asleep.

Antartica is melting. There'll be a flood. I don't want to die.
Said while she cries my kisses away.

on music


The mixture of certain sounds cannot be described.
They are beautiful and terrible

and something else I'm searching for -
but it all starts with my daughter's voice.
That's the only constant variable.

Tom's best poem

St. Augustine had a son with his mistress. Because
her name wasn't good enough, he sent her away
so he could marry someone more properly
suited for him and his station in life.
He never saw his mistress again
nor did he marry. Instead, he
converted to Christianity.
Wrote his Confession
and City of God.

Tom tells it so much better than I,
but then this is only an epitome.

narcotics we both have known

Too much codeine causes my head to buzz
unpleasantly. Too much morphine
and my head begins to swim and sway,
and spin the room into a whirlpool.

That’s how I experience vertigo. Like I'm being
spun dry.

on performance art

When I awake
my skin at all the pressure points
is the brightest of pinks.

I still stare each day, and
marvel at all this beauty. My skin
is a canvas brush-stroked by illness.

I wonder if Tom ever saw his body
this way - a sacrifice
for art's sake


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here is a pome


or a poem or whatever
you choose to call what it does
of your senses

eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and lips
and more than whatever those represent
to you, or so i presume

to name you
but mean it affectionately,

for we are a pair, the two of us,
but who is the soldier, who is the leader
can you answer me?

do you dare say the answer?

can we begin again, begin
over, begin
at the beginning
shall we start over?

we shall pretend
we are familiar, we shall
dance and sing songs,

stumble when we drink until drunk,
kiss and makeup after hardships
long, long after the sun sets
over the arctic of your lamp,
in an expansive time

for kissing you, telling you
i am the one that you must remember
musk scented arms and damp
and wet under
don't disappoint,

keep reading me

or should we fight, be enemies
demons and derelicts, scum
to be squashed by each other

eradicated, debilitated
simply O! so simply
and hated

i could hate you
if that's what you need
me for

hate you cold
with a vengeance or hot
with a fury

or tepid and lukewarm with the fiercest
indifference, painted white
like a dead movie screen

but why not love

i will love
too, i will breathe

cinnamon dreams from your lungs
scale the alps, keep you

in the pages between my book on your nightstand,
my pages, this

poem, or whatever
it is,

just don't end me, keep reading and reading and reading
and i'll write to you, write for you, write everything
and we shall have



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A poem about things I do not understand


I have seen people at the beach who stare at the ocean all day long
and I can't imagine what they see, for the waves and the foam, and the shells
and the flowing sand, I know
these things do not change. The rain, yes, and storms and gale force
wind that tear apart the dune grasses, and batter the weathered piers
but that is not when they appear.  No it is the calm days with sun
or clouds or both, and that lazy rhythm of water
even when it dashes against rocks and the spray touches their faces --
that is when they sit or stand there, always alone, eyes fixed to the hazy horizon
-- that attracts them, until their skin is eroded and scarred and discolored
and their hair becomes stiff from the salt air.  The rest of us
are ghosts, imagined creatures from fairy tales, dreams they no longer care
to recall.  They may answer a question if asked, or speak and pretend
to converse, but I can tell, they are not in my world, they merely
deign to notice the possibility that I am real, if only to myself.  They look
and what do they find?  Not themselves, sisters and brothers
not that.  They are looking back, seeking what was lost, what grieves them
and cannot be forgiven, cannot be re-discovered, cannot be
again.  It's terrible to see such beauty on their faces, terrible and I tremble
when I bear witness to their glory, their grace on those long days when the noisy surf
slows time to an infinite moment of blues, greys, bright rays
of light, glistening bubbles bursting, grains of tiny rocks and silicates polished
over the millennia for this single stillness in time, when they
are allowed to feel their solitude, to know the spell of oblivion as it floods
over them, and they wallow in its bliss, alone.



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A tableau of many broken fragments randomly arranged



Equilibrium cannot be created
only destroyed which is why
I think any history of my life
would be the antithesis of creation.


I ask myself as I stare
(with corrective lenses well placed)
Is my face symmetrical?
Is my body symmetrical?

Knowing my asymmetry,

I ask these questions
to test whether randomness
can exist, but I think not.
I think chaos is merely complex,

because I believe in patterns,

and I believe in critical states

like my bedroom
where at some point
I must clean up all the clothes
that gather dust on the floor.

Because like a sand grain
that falls on a sand hill,
you never can tell when one tiny event
will trigger the avalanche
which will force a change in the paradigm.


It is time to do my laundry.

The revolution of the spin cycle
is compelling to me.
Soon, it will become
and shake and pound
like a gigolo
when he can't watch
the women he services
underneath anymore.


I watch all my critical states
waiting for catastrophe.
I am passive, knowing
that I cannot avoid this fate
for it is a power law

and cannot be changed.


The dog barks. The children whine.
The TV drones. The phone doesn't ring.

This, this is inevitable,
and it really is ubiquitous.



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The return
you are driving home, to a farmhouse, in Iowa,
through rolling hills thick with grass and weeds, and new corn
so damn green, in straight lines guarded
by windbreaks of trees, green and lush
so early, too soon, some say.  you pass
telephone lines attached to birds, small brown birds
--you know the kind--
and the wires run through and around the trees
their poles weathered and grey, dead wood
waiting for the next strong wind to test themselves
against whatever power exists
that likes to batter them.  you are so very
tired.  you still taste the coffee stains on your lips
from every gas mart at which you've stopped,
coffee cups you filled with artificial creamer laced
with the flavor of vanilla.  such a lovely smell--
hot bitter coffee, cheap and cut with spice
and that sweetness with which you are familiar.
heaven really, that warmth in your throat,
the aftertaste on tongue and lips,
the odor of the car--canvas, polyester,
vinyl, two day old crumpled newspapers, their ink fading
in the sunlight through your window, where your arm
burns red from an unseen light.
all night you drove west, from Philly, through the
forests and what they call mountains
of a wounded land, large trucks in packs
on I-80 your only companions.
you last slept--when?  you can't say.  adrenaline
has altered time.  it's that life on the road
that you cannot predict, that is always different
despite that sameness of the asphalt, the painted
white dashes and lines, the construction
vehicles standing silent as you wind down corridors
between large concrete barriers.
it's late afternoon the sky tells you, the color of it
a calm, sleepy yellow light that bleeds into
orange and rose splashes as evening arrives.
you have enough gas in the tank, only an hour more
to go. its nearly eight.
the world is not what it seems when you view it from
your seat, your hands clutching the steering wheel
wrapped in leather (a present from your wife),
and you see the landmarks you remember. you drive
right though town, past the diner, past the roman
edifice style post office that's been there forever,
turning now off the main road, a back way
to your home.
there it is, can you see it?  the deep blue sky
and the ocean of stars, and that light filtering out
from the kitchen window, and next to it, a weaker one
from the lamp that hangs down over the dining room
table, pine with a veneer of maple you rescued
from a flea market six years ago.
you turn the car into the driveway, all gravel,
crunching little pebbles and rocks into soft dirt,
passing your mailbox on the way.  the big apple tree
is blooming.  you see some petals at a glance
on the ground beneath it, a glimmer of white
rimmed in pink.  their aroma catches in your throat.
you park the pickup, turn the key, listen to
the engine slowly sputter and die, the old rusted metal
frame shuddering to a stop.  the key chain is in your hand
and you open the truck's door, close it with dull thunk.
you hear voices.  you stand and take a breath.
did they hear you?  how could they not?
it's over.  just walk through that door.
it can be done.  anything can be done.
try to believe that nothing is written.
you know the way to the front porch, how to
pull open the screen, turn the tarnished handle,
and enter in. so say a little prayer and go.



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The day is clear of wind.
 That's what Bill said
 and I couldn't argue
for it was bearable,
 the air I mean,
cold, but not crisp, not fragrant
either, just streaked a bit
with that light one sees through
 an unwashed window.
Clouds, I told him, pointing
them out as if teaching a child
a word for the odd shapes
 she sees when looking up
at the sky.
Yes, clouds, he agreed,
the layered kind. What's
that color called?  I think
 it starts with a P ...
Lavender.  It's always
 Lavender.  Shades and shades
of it.  They blend, see?
 I stopped talking
and the sun beams hit my face
and I looked away.  The whole
 thing was painful.
That's all.


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Vacation time

The pier creaks, the wood ancient,
its color washed away, grey as the
sweater you wear, as the flattened
clouds that go drifting off to the east,
small wisps curling away, bending to
the sea, but never touching the white-
caps, no never, not today, not ever.

No ice cream cones or cotton candy
vendors are around just the old black
man who was here yesterday, his fishing
pole lying beside his withered arm, held
tenuously by his hand. You nod, raise a
hand to him, and he acknowledges your
gesture with a toothless smile.  Back again?

he asks, already knowing your answer.
You shrug, lift up your old paperback
novel, its corners frayed, its water
damaged, wrinkled pages the shape
of waves, stiff and beloved.  Yes,
you say.  Again. And you? Any bites?
No, nuttin.  Early yet, tho.  Fish, dey
come when dey want, take da hook

when dar' time's up.  Take care heah?,
Take care. It's his standard goodbye, so
you walk to the end of the pier where
the railing's broken and dangle your feet
off the edge. Back and forth they swing,
canvas shoes catching the breeze.  Just
sitting, acting like the kid you were fifty
years ago, the sea the same as it was

back then, rolling in to the beach below
white bubbles crushing the light brown
sand, day after day, clouds or not, wind
or not, just being itself.  You read awhile
the same story you've read every year
for however long its been since you began
to return, playing pretend for a week, trying
to recapture what once was, who you once

might have been, before the boys and then
the men, the mixed drinks, weed and beds
you fell into in a haze of kisses and hands
groping for hidden treasure they always
seemed to find.  The husbands and lovers
are now gone, the children, too, and its
only you with the salt air, the clouds, an
old sweater, and the same old black men

who have always been here, sitting like you
lost in thoughts or dreams or memories they
can't really recall, or maybe lulled by the rhythm
of the waves lapping against the old pier, which
may have changed or not (you're not sure, not
anymore).  Tomorrow you leave, go back
to the place you call home, for you still have
that freedom--the right to call things whatever

you wish them to be, telling yourself half lies,
perhaps, but who cares?  You lean back, steadied
by your locked arms and spread palms, and toss
your hair, such beautiful hair, still, until you feel
dizzy as a toddler being swung in great circles,
swooping above the ground, grass or sand, your
tiny arms held by a father's callused hands
and by the laughter, his and yours, both of you

gasping for air.  Yes, like that, so damn much
just like that.  You slip and fall on your left side
giggling.  You can't stop, because it feels so
funny, falling down on rotting wood planks. Your
belly aches, but so what?  You are that little
girl again, lying beside your daddy on the beach
again, being tickled until the tears come and he
cradles you cooing in your ear everything's all

right, baby, everything is just fine.  Daddy's
here. Daddy loves you, baby. Don't cry now
cuz Daddy's here and everything is just fine,
baby, just fine. Just fine.  Don't cry. We're all
fine now.  Daddy loves his little punkin-poo
you know its true.  And he always will, baby, he
always will, cross my heart, baby and hope to die
if I lie.  Just like that, yes, it was just like that.
Copyright T. Birch


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