Tag Archives: blue

She Hates Numbers

Leave a comment

Filed under women

Going To Sea, a poem

Apache, 105-foot D. Presles and J. Pierrejean charter yacht

illustration barry huplits high school photo

 

Going To Sea

(for Barry Huplits)

 

She is a great white boat, carved

of wood, lacquered to a blinding

sheen, her sails immense, floating

 

over my head like the wings

of a fearsome angel. I sit

on her prow, clinging to the slight

 

metal rail, and together we leap

over the waves like some illiterate,

dangerous god. I am a mermaid,

 

a brightly colored figurehead,

thrust into the salt spray to bring luck.

The power of the water flings me to and fro,

 

but I hold fast, panting, the rich smell

of the sea making me drunk. As we pass

the ragged rock walls of the inlet,

 

I see the towering dwellings of men,

though these quickly fall behind our path,

growing tiny, frail to the elements

 

I have momentarily harnessed. We brush

great clumps of weeds, then the color beneath

changes from murky green to depthless indigo,

 

the froth of the peaks suddenly

light, riddled airy like the childish,

gladdened heart inside my chest.

 

In my net are jerking glass shrimp,

Tiny, tassled fish that look like

bits of leaf, one lone needle-nosed

 

eel, sinuous even in his distress,

and when I have stared long enough,

I fling them back to their wet lives

 

without regret. Under the sharp

edges of the sun, skin grows heated,

reddened as if by love’s rough brush,

 

yet we keep on, moving into the horizon,

towards the vanished place of wildness,

full of an impeccable, golden light.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under ancient history, beauty, compassion, earth, eternal, eternity, god, good, history, identity, karma, kindness, life, love, mysterious, nature, poetry, soul, spirit, spiritual, truth, universe, warmth, wood, youth

I was thirteen the first time I had to lie to the police to protect someone I loved, a short story

illustration mom hit the boy on the bike

I was Thirteen the First Time I Had to Lie to the Police to Protect Someone I Loved, a short story

I was thirteen, in my first year of high school, and one afternoon I was home watching TV by myself while my mother went to pick up my little brother from nursery school. The doorbell rang: a police officer stood outside, tall and broad and scary. He had gleaming handcuffs and an oily looking gun buckled to his belt; a long black stick with ominous scuffmarks hung at his side. “Your mother’s okay, but she’s been in an accident,” he said. Less than an hour ago I’d seen the way her whole body swayed as she went out the door. Her empty glass was sitting right behind me in the kitchen, unrinsed and still reeking of Scotch.

Even now I see my mother’s face, soft and drunk, pale and frightful, moving through the darkness, soaring over me as mysterious and unreachable as the moon. Her affection waxed and waned, never constant. When she’d had enough to drink, she loved me, but the way she went about her mother love, pulling at me with sorrowful, clumsy arms given unnatural strength by liquor, made my flesh wither under her touch.

“She hit a boy on a bicycle,” the policeman said. “Do you know if she’s been drinking?” he asked. He shifted his weight from one leg to both legs evenly, spread his feet wider on the cement walkway and moved his arms from his sides to his belly, holding his hands together down low at his belt.

“No,” I answered the policeman, looking unflinchingly into his eyes, which was excruciating but imperative, I knew, if I wanted him to believe me. “She hasn’t been drinking.”

My mother had skin like rose petals, eyes like a fawn’s. There were the rare times when she forgot to be sad, if only when some equally sad eyed man noticed her. If a man loved her to the point of obsession, to the point of contemplating suicide, she imagined she might find the strength within herself to survive, but she eventually rejected all such suitors, wanting only those who were hard nosed and cold blooded, as her father and, later, her husbands were. Remote, a source of funds and orders and criticism, the closest men in her life approved of her external beauty but not her soul. They didn’t care what she wanted: they wanted her to be like all the other girls and women, to be beautiful and obedient. They broke her will; she broke their hearts.

She was memorable for simple things: her rose garden and her Scotch and water, her menthol cigarettes and her Pucci nightgowns, her ladylike hands and her A cup breasts, her bitterness, her resignation, her unending string of sentimental, alcoholic boyfriends. She taught me how not to be. How not to live. A psychic once told me she was my one true soul mate in this life and that my heart had been broken the day I was born, that first hazy time I looked into her eyes and saw nothing there for me. One normal thing I remember is hanging clothes out to dry with her in the backyard when the dryer was broken. Once, she even took me out to the movies.

“Are you sure she’s not drunk?” the policeman said. His face was a smooth blank, revealing nothing, but then so was mine. “She’s acting pretty out of it.”

“She gets that way whenever she’s really upset,” I said.

“We need you to come take care of your brother,” he said. “While we decide what to do.”

The policeman herded me into his car, and we drove to the place Mom had the accident. They’d already taken the boy away in an ambulance; all that remained was his bright yellow bicycle, its frame horribly crooked, its front wheel bent almost in half, sprawled on the ground in front of my mother’s car, a powder blue Cutlass Supreme. I glanced offhand at the front of the car, afraid to look too long, afraid the policemen would be able to tell something from the way I acted, but I didn’t notice dents or blood or anything. Even without that, the bike, obviously brand new before the wreck, was as frightening as a dead body. Mom was sitting in the back of another patrol car, and her eyes were red, her face was wet.

My three year old brother sat beside her, and I could tell he hadn’t cried yet, but I could tell when he did it was going to last a very long time. Then I wanted to tell the police she was drunk, yes, she was drunk today and every single afternoon of my life, but the way she looked — her beautiful hands trembling as she smoked — temporarily severed the connection between my conscience and my voicebox. I couldn’t talk at all, because I knew I’d cry. I’d protect her from the police, make sure she wouldn’t end up in jail, but later, I would coldly steal money from her wallet, cigarettes from her purse, clothes from her closet. In the end, the boy on the bike died, and she died, too.

Toward the end, my mother said she was on fire from the neck down. Her arms and legs felt like they were glowing, orange red, molten. But her head felt like a block of ice. She was emotionally or spiritually paralyzed, she said, and worried about whether the condition was permanent. She felt like the nerves from her head down to her body were cut, and she didn’t know if they would ever grow back.

Right before the end, she said she could not distinguish life from dreams; she slept little, ate even less. She didn’t feel mad, she felt terribly, irrevocably sane. Everywhere she walked the ground seemed on the verge of opening up into blackness, into fire. If only she could go mad, she said. When I found her cold and stiff on the living room floor, she wore nothing but blue nylon panties and her white gold wristwatch, given to her by her own mother in 1958.

A watch which is in my jewelry box, upstairs, right this second, and which I wore to the Palm Sunday service, yesterday, at Holy Faith Catholic Church. I took Communion from Father John, even though I am not now, and have never been, and never will be, officially a Catholic. My friend Clyde, my dear friend, mentor, and fellow lawyer, told me that he thought I would still be eligible for Heaven, regardless of what the Catholic Church, as an institution, might determine.

Because of all this, and a couple of other things which I won’t bother to mention here, I had to hold myself very still, and open my eyes a bit wide, during the reading of Jesus’s betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane in order not to allow the fucking tears to drop out of my eyes. Yes, I am a liar. So sue me. Good luck!

6 Comments

Filed under legal writing, mysterious, prose poetry, short stories

Jack, the Triple War Veteran, a nonfiction

illustration triple war veteran

Jack, the Triple War Veteran, a nonfiction

I met Jack, the 91-year-old, 52-years-of-service-including-3-wars, Army veteran on May 31st, 2013, approximately two months after I “woke up” from what was [then] my life, when I went to go fill my mom-mobile (white minivan) with mid-grade gasoline products (it may be only a mom-mobile, but i have a NEED FOR SPEED) at the Gate convenience store/gas station two blocks or so from my house.  I saw him sitting over by the vacuum/air/water station, on the round, concrete base of a streetlamp, his sleek, black, wheeled walker/chair thingie so piled up with odds and ends of clothes, shoes, and bags of snacks that it looked more like a shopping cart from across the parking lot.  His hair and beard were striking:  long, silvery white, shiny and silky and clean.  He looked like a very trim, fit Santa Claus, and when I first saw him, I would never have guessed he was 91 years old.  I approached him because I am what some people call a “bleeding heart liberal,” that is, my heart sort of sags and melts when I am confronted with people having needs that, to them, loom insolvable, and in actuality can be solved with a couple of $5 or $10 bills.

“Sir,” I said, “I don’t want to offend you in any way, but do you need anything?  Can I do anything for you?  Anything at all?  Do you need a few bucks, maybe?”

“Honey,” he said.  “I’ve been saving my money all my life!”  He took his wallet out, showed me a bunch of folded bills, and pulled a big stack of quarters out of his shorts’ pocket.  Jack was born in West Virgina, called himself a good, old hillbilly.

“Jack’s a great name,” I said.  “One of my grandpas was named Jack.”

“They named me after the dog!” he said.

“Well, they must have loved that dog,” I said.  “It must have been a terrific dog!”

“They still named me after the dog,” he said.  I have named pets after people, and wanted to do the reverse, just never had the actual opportunity.  (Wait for it!)

“I went to West Virginia once,” I said.  “I was in Morgantown.”

“The University of West Virginia!” he said.

“I know, it’s a beautiful town,” I said.  “And the state is beautiful, all those green hills.”

Turns out, he’s hanging out at the convenience store to get away from his daughter.  “She wants me to be the child, and her to be the parent, now,” he said.  “I’m too old for that!”

“I hear you,” I said.  “Does she know where you are?”

“I don’t really want her to,” he said.  “She lives right down the street, in a house I bought her back in 1972.”

He named his first rifle Miss Betty….

He was with Patton in N. Africa, at just 18 yrs. old, he was for a brief time Patton’s assistant?  Patton’s army was chasing Rommel, he and Jack started arguing over which way Rommel should to go; they disagreed (he & Patton) but Jack turned out to be right.  In a rage, Patton grabbed his (Jack’s) rifle once & shot into the air with it.  Yes, I could see General Patton doing such a thing.  Hahaha.

His daughter, whom he is on the lam from, is nicknamed BooBoo:  she got that nickname because as a baby she’d hide behind cabinets, furniture, poke her head out & say Boo, Daddy, Boo!

He is not married now, he likes it that way, nobody telling him what to do.

When I told him how nice he looked, how he didn’t look 91 at all:  “I take care of myself!  I’ve got to!  People say I’m a loner, but it’s three of us:  me, myself and I.”

God’s on his right shoulder, sometimes God tells him things, what to do or not to do:  sometimes he doesn’t listen, does what he wants, not what God says.  Later, he hears God saying, I told you so.  God has blessed him.  Every time we shook hands, me trying to exit stage right because my own 15 year old BooBoo was at home waiting for me to get back, he said, “God bless you,” and I said, thank you so much.  His eyes, the pale clear blue of a child’s, the twinkle of a child’s, the mischievous, rascally soul shining out of them.  But a good, good man.  Stationed all over the world and the United States of America.  The state of Florida was the site of his last posting.  He got misty-eyed thinking about one of his predeceased children, another daughter, however, he did not mention her name, and because of aforementioned misty-eyed-ness, I did not ask.

They once had a terrible episode of anthrax on the farm, when he was a child?  The cow had to get shots from the vet, they couldn’t use the cow’s milk for 6 weeks, then it was OK.  That cow gave so much milk, she had to be milked three times a day, not just two.

He wore dog tags, wouldn’t let me look at them:  “the last person that sees these is the one who’s supposed to bury me.”

“Well, I certainly don’t want to be the last to see them, then,” I said.

A student buying beer stopped & handed him a tall cold water bottle.  Jack thanked the boy warmly, saying “God bless you,” then after the boy walked off, he handed me the bottle.

“Aren’t you going to need this?” I asked him, concerned.

“I’ve got everything I need right here,” he said, pointing to his loaded “sulky,” a plastic grocery bag hanging:  was that the water?  “Besides,” he said, “that’s too cold.  And besides, I really like beer.”

“But you might need this water later,” I protested.

“Look,” said Jack, “he gave it to me, I’m giving it to you.  I’m just in the middle.”  I had to accept, gracefully, so I did, but I still felt a bit guilty.  The gift was Jack’s, but he wouldn’t keep it, he had to pass it along to me.

The store clerk, a young African American lad, came out to check on us; I think he wanted to make sure I wasn’t endangering Jack.  Jack handed him a huge pile of quarters, asked if he’d bring him out some beer.

“What kind?” the young man asked.

“O.P.,” Jack answered.

The clerk was confused.  “What’s that?” he said?

“Other people’s,” laughed Jack.

“I think he means it really doesn’t matter what kind of beer you bring him,” I said to the young man.  So he went inside with the money, came back out with a boxed six-pack & Jack’s excess change.

A woman, with a hard-lived look, came over to talk to us.  She knew Jack already, addressed him by name.  She was also a veteran, Operation Desert Storm.  She asked me if I could spare some gas money.  “It’s the end of the month,” she explained, “and I’m coming up short.  I just have to make it a few more days.”

“Sure,” I said, relieved that I could at least give her something, fulfill the impulse that had brought me over to Jack.  I went to my purse, grabbed a ten dollar bill.  While I was doing that, I saw Jack getting his money out to give her some, too.  He brought out a fiver.  Jack and I handed her the money, she shook my hand & thanked us both, and went to pump her gas.

Jack was dressed like a cool surfer guy; shorts with a nice braided belt, no shirt, his dog tag necklace, a pinky ring carved out of some sort of jade on his right hand, a couple of funky/hipster/hippy bracelets on his left wrist.  Quite fashionable looking, and I couldn’t get over the condition of his hair; silky & clean & shiny & sparkling silver, and the same with the beard, it grew to a natural point just below his breastbone.  The only long beard I’ve ever seen that looked beautiful!  His skin was amazingly smooth & healthy looking, considering the amount of sun exposure he must’ve seen!  I mean, he was 91 and he had very little sun damage, not many wrinkles, though of course a bit of sagging around the jowls.  No frown lines!  His only physical flaw was some missing teeth; it was apparent he could have had dentures or a bridge if he’d wanted them, but I think he was more comfortable without.

When I was leaving, I blew him a kiss.

“I’d rather have the real thing,” he chuckled.

“I can’t,” I said, “I’m married.”  We both laughed then.  If I had known that day, May 31st, that my husband was going to dump me, unceremoniously, in front of the yard man, in the side driveway, I certainly would have kissed him (Jack!), full on the lips!  Like, a billion times!

[If he’d had all his own teeth, not only might I have given him a closed-mouth smooch, but I probably would have tried somehow to fix him up with my former mother-in-law who live[d] in my attached guest house (that I built for her & her husband, who died 3 years ago, but who would be 91 now) (who was the only decent person in THAT entire FUCKING FAMILY).  Said former “mother in law”
was, and is still, an ignorant idiot and would have been put off by Jack’s missing teeth.  Plus, she is, as we used to say in middle school, “mental.”]  *ahem*  NO FURTHER COMMENT PERMITTED, BY LAW.  Did you know, that for IRS purposes, you can NEVER GET RID OF AN IN-LAW?  Once an “in law” for tax purposes, always an “in law.”  The law presupposes that divorced persons might still have attachments to one another’s family members.  Hahahahaha.  Isn’t that FUNNY?????

Oh, P.S.  I, myself, now have a dog named… wait for it… JACK, a rescue from the Dixie County, Florida animal rescue organization, a sweet one-year-old weimaraner/yellow lab mix!  Jack the dog’s eyes are yellow/green & deep….

Oh, and P.P.S.  And you’re not going to believe this!  On the way to present this piece at an “open mic” at Coffee Culture on 13th Street in Gainesville, Florida, the fabulous Tristan Harvey, emcee & manager of the joint, in any case, ON THE WAY TO THE FUCKING OPEN MIC, i ran in to jack, on the way!  it was raining, i pulled over & asked him if he needed a ride.  he said no, i said, isn’t your name jack, and HE LIED BECAUSE HE THOUGHT I WAS THERE CAPTURING HIM to take him back to his daughter!!!!!!

GODDAMNED TRUE STORY.  BELIEVE IT, OR NOT.

um, but if you know what’s good for you, you’ll take my written words as GOSPEL TRUTH.

4 Comments

Filed under health, humor, legal writing, mysterious, notes, poetry, prose poetry, science, short stories