Love in Ten

McPherson, KS: Mother nurses me with a warm bottle in the Pontiac GTO as I watch the windshield wipers wipe.

San Antonio, TX: Carlos, our next door neighbor, throws a party where I taste frijoles for the first time and love them so much that he gives my parents extra for me to eat mãs on Sunday.

Denver, CO: It’s our first family vacation, and I order a cheese omelet with green peppers while Pike’s Peak mountain keeps an eagle eye on me through a giant picture window.

Abilene, KS: The household ban on spaghetti is lifted for my 12th birthday.

Manhattan, KS: Dad and I sit on the back of his beat-up Ford tailgate taste-testing my new college delight: Gyros.

Sterling, KS: Study break run to Kwik Shop for Jiffy blueberry muffin mix and M & M’s with new guy.

Bastanchury Hill, CA: This guy again with port wine cheese and crackers in his car overlooking Orange County.

Greeley, CO: Richard Scott’s grilled hamburgers every Wednesday night in the Nazarene church basement (put your money in the basket).

Wrightwood, CA:  Fernando, who is the best summer camp cook ever, reveals his secret guacamole recipe to us. Of course we write it down.

 

[For Krissy at Kneal1Poetry]
If you’d like to write 10 sentences about love, click the link and consider this your invitation to love. <3

Would You Believe

Would you believe yesterday’s rain, and how we first heard it? Bubbling up, then falling down. So unusual, like a reversal. That’s the only reason I mention it. That’s the only reason we shot up in bed before you called it — a sudden shower. Looking out the window you swore it poured wholly for us. So sweet and so stupid, your exclusive supposal, yet not withstanding I came to my knees and lifted my hands to claim it; our secret slice of sky.

5am

I wake up feeling a long way from home.
Chiding the good-natured old lady for
worrying so god awful about that dark-
haired child because it will come to pass
that youth will outlive her by a long shot.
And the old woman carries a clear plastic
bag filled with hundreds of pill bottles
slung over her shoulder like Santa Claus,
only she’s not happy. And I’m not happy
with the doctor because he’s a real dick.
Insisting “this time” you’ll have to pay
more than your co-pay. And I’m wearing
shorts in public that show too much leg,
still steaming over the twenty dollars
that dick demanded. And all (of this)
has detoured me from going shopping
with you at American Eagle Outfitters where
today we could take an additional 60% off
leggings made to wear any / where. And
now I get it.  I’m a long way from home,
where even ‘there’ was never a hiding place
for too much leg, and not enough youth,
for too many pills, and not enough cash.
This is what I know when I wake at 5am.

Written for OpenLinkNight at dVerse Poets

You Smiled Because You Knew

prom was a pageantry of pink
so obscenely beautiful
one could almost forgive
those mouths, those lips
so full. satin skin
crushing rental tuxes
as the room swayed.

the flushing, girls blushing
after mr. english toasted
every good girl’s grasp
of romeo and juliet.
and the boys like that.
fortuitous fuel
for soft pink fledgling flames.

For Real Toads Flash 55

Small Boats, No Ocean

Us valley folk don’t know Whitman
only an actual place, or a whiff
of salt you and I pass every day
on the way to school or on the way
home after work. We keep alive our
impulse to sing in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise
from the hard clay, from the lacy
white flowers Mama used to call
wild chicory, from the milkweed,
from the rye, and from the broom.
We don’t see the ocean, not ever,
but we believe something is waiting
7 years from somewhere — a song
beyond the Pacheco Pass in simple
diction and narrative style where
no words are noticed, because you’re
thrilled and terrified by the
mountains that you begin to believe
know everything. And we are walking
through a fig orchard we think of
as divine, we think of as blown
roses spreading their private charms,
we think of as a woman’s memory
awakening on a late Saturday morn.
If we’re quiet we might hear something,
a local police station, a bungalow,
a traffic light stuck on yellow.
You have to remember the main focus
is closer to simple song than speech.
Us ordinary folk find ourselves
in the dust, in an actual city,
in a place that isn’t our land.

All words can be found in Philip Levine’s  poems “Our Valley,”  “Homecoming,” and his biography page in The Poetry Foundation. philip-levineLevine died February 14, 2015, at the age of eighty-seven at his home in Fresno, California. He was the U.S. poet laureate from 2011 to 2012, and Pulitzer winner in 1995 for “The Simple Truth.” Levine’s valley is the same one where I live, work, and play. Prompted by Blogging U.

The Author Reflects on the Process of Writing

breadcrumbs1.jpg

It’s getting easier in the light of the sun to follow that trail of crumbs to the unlit oven to tussle with the clear confusion of losing oneself, and to settle the score with witchy words until . . .

even those start to shine.

[Swingline Sister]

Of steel and coil
my [little alligator]
who held me gently
in your right tight jaw
that first year of college
when I was clearly unfastened
and needed a good buttoning down.
[Your mouth], my dear, rarely vengeful,
yet definitely sure & pre-loaded to shoot
me [straight and silver] in a precise firm
gripped way. You, [my sister], outlived my
lamp with his arthritic arm, and my scissors
who suddenly made herself callous and scarce.
[Swingline sister], you saw me through to my first
job, to my first house, and through all of my children
who took you and slightly abused you with their small
uneducated hands, with wild paper airplane plans, and baby
doll designer duds hooked together instead of sewn. [Swingline
sister], when I opened the drawer in the kitchen today and held
you, [my little lady], I discretely removed a scrap of scotch tape
from your belly, fearing exactly how long it might have been there.

Written for Blogging U

Flesh and Bone

I don’t remember who told me the story of Aunt Debbie’s tangle with chicken wire under the floating dock at Kanopolis, but I’ve often wondered; would I have done the same flesh and bone tearing in order to live, because we are not fish, you know, even though Debbie got hooked. And for a while I couldn’t stop looking at her hand of four fingers, how she showed them off with a row of pretty polished rings that sparkled as much as her heroic tale. I think somebody tried to fish her finger out from the bottom of the lake, but something tells me she doesn’t even miss it.

Written for Blogging U

Day 6: While I Was Sleeping

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He moved the mountains
Like footstools
For his feet.
While I was sleeping,
He wrapped up all mystery
All knowledge wide
And deep.
While I was sleeping,
He was all time
Ipso facto
Before the beginning
Before I took to breathing
He knew me
He drew me
He made me
Self-evident
While I was sleeping.

Written for Blogging U