Posted on Promptly 7/09
“Come on home,” my mother called,
“’cause supper’s on the table
with green bean hotdish waiting.”
My friend tried to warn me
that casseroles are deadly things,
and I laughed until I choked.
But I went home and ate it up
his words no threat to stop me,
eating creamy, crunchy beans.
I cleaned my plate
asking for more of what
the fates that day would serve me.
Leaning over to refill my plate
my mother’s breast revealing
a tiny tattooed skull.
And then I really choked.
We’re On the Road Again
After yet another argument about the direction of the air conditioner vents, I was looking out the window of our truck telepathically bringing the next power line closer. Four days traveling with the dog and the kids, and my powers were dwindling. A wet hacking sound broke my concentration.
“You shouldn’t have fed the dog eggs,” Tyler said a matter-of-factly.
“I can see that. Give me that toilet paper.” Overlooking the spilled Cheeto bag and scattered CD’s, I pointed to the roll stuffed in the backseat door of our Silverado. Kayla chucked it up to me over my headrest and I retrieved it just before it rolled under the gas pedal. I wrapped my hand with it before tackling the slime now oozing down my leg. I didn’t have to turn around to see the smirks exchanged in the back seat.
My husband drove tightlipped for a few more miles, but then on Lincoln Way West, he pulled the camper into the parking lot of the Sunrise Cafe. I stepped out still holding the dog’s leash, and he handed the kids a twenty. “Here. Order yourself some dinner. I should check the camper’s stabilizing bars again. This thing is really surging.” Tyler and Kayla got out of the truck and headed into the restaurant fighting over who got to hold the money. The dog was done heaving but took the opportunity to mark the spot again. When the restaurant doors closed behind the kids, we looked at each other across the hood.
“Get in,” he said.
“Come on, baby.” I hugged our spaniel close to my chest as I got back in the truck. He turned the trailer north to get to I 80, and on our way to Freedom, Pennsylvania.
We’re On the Road Again (Poem Draft)
After yet another argument
I was telepathically bringing
the next power line closer.
Four days traveling
with the dog and the kids,
and my powers were dwindling.
A wet hacking sound began.
“You shouldn’t have fed the dog eggs,”
Tyler said a matter-of-factly.
Overlooking the spilled Cheetos bag,
I pointed to the toilet paper
stuffed in the door of our Silverado.
Kayla chucked it up to me
and I tackled the slime
now oozing down my leg.
Backseat smirks were exchanged
as my husband drove tightlipped
onto Lincoln Way West.
He pulled the camper
into the lot of the Sunrise Cafe
and I got out holding the dog’s leash.
He handed the kids a twenty.
“Here. Order yourself some dinner.
I should check the camper.”
Tyler and Kayla ran into the restaurant
fighting over who got to hold the money
as the dog finished marking the spot.
The restaurant doors closed behind the kids,
and our eyes met over the hood.
“Get in,” he said.
“Come on, baby.”
I hugged our spaniel
as I got back in the truck.
He turned the trailer north to I 80,
on our way to Freedom,
Take it Like a Man
“Man, this sucks.”
“Kyle, we’ve talked about your language before. There are better ways to say that you don’t like something.”
“Okay, okay.” Kyle bent his head down to his paper. He started digging in his pencil bag for an eraser but couldn’t find one. Watching his frustration, I reached into my desk, found an eraser and handed it to him. He reluctantly took it and began erasing his mistake. He pressed hard, too hard, and his paper tore, but my mistake was in not turning away. I stood there for the time it took for the eraser to hit me square in the chest. You wouldn’t have thought that an eraser bouncing off cloth would make a loud sound, but every child in the classroom heard it. Twenty-six pencils were lifted at half mast, a respectable moment of silence for the dead.
Slowly, I reached down and picked the eraser up off the floor. The clock’s second hand kept moving, and I hadn’t realized that I was holding my breath along with the rest of the class. There was stiffness to my voice when it finally came out, “Thank you, Kyle. Most students don’t return things they borrow from me.” I walked to my desk, every eye on my every step, and I put it back in the drawer.
“I told you this sucks,” Kyle tried to justify his mistake. “I can’t write. Every time I have an idea it runs away before I can put it on the paper.”
“Kyle, from what I can see, you show a great deal of emotion. You know how to say what you think, a great quality for an aspiring writer. Come up and write your spelling words into sentences on the board. It won’t tear.”
“What do you want me to write about?”
From the back of the room, “Ooooooh, Teacher’s pet!” Kyle curled his lip as he gave his classmate the evil eye. Turning to my manual, I hid my smile as Kyle came up to the board.
Its glimmer sparkled at me
when I picked up the photo
showing me those years ago.
I had forgotten about that belt
a vacation gift from my boyfriend then
who later became my husband.
Ten years have settled themselves
into the space where I used to wear
that silvered buckled belt.
So I went to dig into my closet
and found it carefully packed
behind a jumbled pile of shoes.
I was just trying it on for size
when he found me, picture in hand.
“Who’s the girl in this picture?” he asked.
“It was me. I’m afraid it isn’t any more.”
Aghast, my tears fell instantly
along with the belt to the floor.
“But I don’t love that girl,” he said
as his arms wrapped around my waist
and that was worth a thousand words.
He dropped the picture as he kissed me
and I, overcome with dismay,
gasped for air, and him.
(Winner of Promptly Kick-Off Breaking-Block Challenge)
“What do you think you’re doing?” he said
with every word falling on a different suitcase
that I had stacked by the front door.
“I am getting out of here.”
My words felt cold and final
and if I had been smart,
I would have written them down
in a farewell note
propped up on the entry table,
for him to find hours after
it would have been too late
for him to stop me.
But I needed him to see my face
with my eyes finally filled
with confident knowledge
rather than overflowing with the tears
that I had shed for days.
“After all these years together
I thought I owed you
a final going away gift,” I said
looking him straight in his eyes.
His hand accepted the pliers
with a blue bow on one handle
and he turned them over and over
I laughed, “I didn’t think you would get it.
You never get it.
Pliers are for gripping.
Holding on with a tightened jaw.
I’ve been there. Done that.
It’s your turn.
Now you can’t say
I haven’t ever given you anything nice.”
I picked up my bags
and headed out the door
not looking back.
He came after me with his hand up
opening and closing the pliers in the air.
“That’s where you’re wrong again.
You should have been using these
to keep your fat mouth shut.
But I guess they don’t make pliers
big enough for that.
To hell with you. Go if you’re going.
Thanks for nothing,” he added
as he tossed the pliers over the hedge.
Skillfully, Mrs. Whitcom
who was diligently weeding
her prized petunias,
ducked at just the right time
as the pliers flew past her head
to land with a splash
in her bird feeder.
She picked them up,
tossing them into the metal pail
that held the other gifts
loaned with interest
from her generous neighbors.
Flattering, But Dangerous
“He was going to make them right
with a couple of pills or an injection,
and people took him by the arm
on his way to the sickroom.
Flattering, but dangerous.”
Even with the warnings
of her family and friends,
Carol’s adrenaline shot up
when he took her arm.
Flattering, but dangerous
was the way she liked her men.
He led her to a room
painted a calming periwinkle
and after she privately disrobed
he came to examine his client.
Flattering, but dangerous
was the way her breasts
With a dark marker
he laid out his plan
to cut, fill and lift
to a new and improved
Flattering and dangerous
set of curves.
Carol laid out the cash
and her money was in his pocket
before the dark marker
on his forged license dried
while Carol drifted off
to an induced dream
where she was dancing
with an adoring man,
Flattering and dangerous.
When Love Comes Calling
The phone rings and a low voice groans
“Because it is you, not me.”
You hang up.
Twenty minutes later,
it rings again.
“You made a mistake.
Didn’t you get my message?”
“I didn’t get any emails
or even your number on caller ID,
but there’s no mistake here,” you reply.
“I rewound and listened to your message.
All thirty seconds of it,
but it wasn’t enough to convince me.
I know what I’m doing.”
“Don’t be fooled by appearances.
You know you want me.”
“I don’t like your tone,
and remember, I’ve told you,
you have to slim down.
Face it. You’re just not my type anymore.”
“That’s cold. Looks aren’t everything.”
“I used to think so,
but things are different now
and I want adventure.
You never take me anywhere.”
“What are you talking about?
I gave you the world!”
“You have an outdated view of it.
I need more on my calendar than you could give me.”
“How could you even think that?
I gave you enough opportunities to fill a book!”
“I admit that it took a bit of effort to rip up.”
“What? You ripped up the record of my love?
Have you no respect for all that I have done for you?”
“Gee, I guess not.
To be honest, I am looking for something
more physical in a relationship.
I need to touch and be touched.
I need to grab onto life and play with both hands.”
“Is everything a game to you?
And if you remember correctly,
I did let you reach out and touch someone!”
“That line’s lame,
besides, my new love listens when I speak,
talks directly to me – even vibrates with a touch.”
“Your new love dies…”
“I’m not alarmed by your idle threats.
But I’ve had enough.
I can’t linger on like this.
I’m just going to make a clean break.
You bang the handset on the corner of the counter
and the dial tone throbs
until you finally pull the cord from the wall.
The old land line receiver hangs from its cord, limp.
To finally put an end to it all,
you pull out of your back pocket
your new slim LG Vu,
with its 2.0 megapixel camera
and snap a pic
of your landline’s dieing carcass
and post it on your Facebook wall.
Adding a cheerful MP3 tune
to harmonize with the demise
of your ancient relationship
your short video is posted to Youtube
as you retweet to infinity:
Technically, love is sweeter
the second time around.