LifeTime

It was the child who wiled away the time
reading under a blanket with a flashlight
& the student who stole time from sleep
to study under fluorescent lights;
it was the unscrupulous sort who made time
with married women,
the couple who shared their time
as they shared their responsibilities,
& the returning soldier who tried to make up for lost time;
it was the patient who killed time waiting in recovery
& the amnesiac who lost time;
it was the disgruntled worker who stole time;
it was the blackmailer who set the time
& the person being blackmailed who tried
to buy some time;
it was the firefighter who raced against time,
the cop who got there in the nick of time,
& the prisoner who served time
or was awarded time served;
it was the saint who gave their limited time,
the sinner who took their sweet time,
& the martyr who sacrificed their time forever;
it was the millionaire who saved time
& the poor who spent time;
it was the keen who used their time wisely;
it was the photographer who captured time,
the writer who documented time,
& the historian who depicted a time;
it was the parent who invested their time,
the mother who made the time
like she made everything else—
with love—
& the father who found the time
that his father had given away;
it was the grandparents who passed the time,
even as time passed them;
and it was the lover of life who made the most of her time
by having the time of her life,
for she was the patient living on borrowed time.

Micropoetry Monday: Hymns of Motherhood

Hymns of Motherhood

The Shutterfly Edition

For her,
motherhood was spent
smacking tags on clothes in the store
& plush animals at home,
on spinning pennies
& Minnie Mouse by the tail,
on “crashing the checkers”
of Connect Four,
only for the tray to be filled up again
with what she called gold coins & pepperonis.
Though such activities became
repetitious,
the payoff was in her smile
that lit up her face like a gloriole
& with the laughter that filled a room
with mirth.

She taught her daughter about Dreamland,
Tomorrowland,
& Never-Never Land that was always, always there.
She taught her about the Land of Shuteye Town,
of Oz, Narnia, & Wonderland,
& the Queendom of 40 Winks.
She taught her practical magic
& made realism magical,
which came from the imaginations
of those under the Heaven that was
beyond imagination
& surpassed all understanding.

There were oohs & aahs
over the goos & gahs
as the parents & grandparents
gathered round
in fascination with this new life,
bearing pink, plushy presents,
while the little child who had preceded this life
stood back & watched in the cool shallows,
thinking her star had dimmed
when it had only matured,
not understanding
that her co-existing co-creators
had wanted this life,
in part,
because her ever-so-wonderful life
had come first.

Below a Hole in the Universe

Mom: Rota, Spain, 1984

For my biggest fan since the day I was born

Who will be there to read the latest story I wrote, however unaccredited?
Who will be there to share my newest find from the bookstore?
Who will be there to listen to me at a poetry reading when Dad cannot?

Who will be there to call, worrying when I haven’t phoned in a couple of days?

Who will be there to binge-watch Big Love with me when I finally have the time?
Who will be there to say, “If I hear that one more time . . .” when I claim I am the Energizer bunny?
Who will be there to keep me company on the deck while Hannah is being a leaf-gathering and nest-making mama bird?

Who will be there to make lame-o “mom jokes” that were only funny in the way that Alice from The Brady Bunch is funny?
Who will be there to give me a reason to pray the car doesn’t break down somewhere because she’s wearing her zebra housecoat?
Who will be there to shake her head at me when I brag about not having tan lines?

Who will be there to yell at Dad about his driving when no one else is in the car?
Who will be there to yell “Be sure to tell them ‘hot fries!’” at Dad while he’s in the drive-through?
Who will be there to yell at Dad when he tries to pull the bait-and-switcheroo with off-brands from the grocery store?
Who will be there to yell at Dad?

Who will be there to eat Dad’s overcooked and underseasoned food?
Who will be there to ask me to get her a cup of ice because she doesn’t know her way around the refrigerator?
Who will be there to try my Grandmother Bernadean’s chocolate roll recipe, when I’ve finally perfected it?

Who will be there to outnumber Dad when he insists he’s right about some obscure fact?
Who will be there to remind Dad on how he’s hardly ever right about anything because he’s as stubborn as a Missouri mule? (We come from the “Show-Him” State, you know.)
Who will be there to ask, “Is there an echo in here?” when my dad and I say the same thing simultaneously, being on the same wavelength and all?

Who will be there to go with me to the World of Coke and the Campbell Peach Festival?
Who will be there to stay with me in the hospital when I am sick while my husband takes care of our daughter?

Who will be there to tell me I am beautiful, just because I am theirs?
Who will be there to tell me about myself, before I remembered myself?
Who will be there to tell me about Dad, before I was a gleam in his eye?

Who will be the proud mama when I finally graduate from college?
Who will be there for the Hannah Boo birthdays yet to be celebrated?
Who will be Grandma to my Hannah Banana?

Who will be the other mother to see me bring my Ryan or Madeleine into the world?
Who will be there to see them not only be good but do good in it?

Who will be you?

There were so many roles you filled
that no one will be able to play
the way you did;
some, no one will be able to play
at all.

There will just be your empty chair,
for you are neither here nor there,
but elsewhere.

Yet the distance between us,
between hello and good-bye,
is simply a wrinkle in time—
a wrinkle that will be ironed out
someday,
after I have lived my life—
the one you taught me to live.

*I read this poem—originally titled “Who Will Be You?”—at a student poetry reading at Pensacola State College in March 2018, one day after my mother, Betty Ann, was buried.

Micropoetry Monday: Education

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Once upon a long time ago,
it was understood that the men
went to the College of Liberal Arts,
run by men
& the women,
the School of Domestic Arts,
run by women.
But then a Mr. & Mrs.,
well-versed & quite dexterous in both arts,
showed the world that it was better off
when men & women
not only learned from one another
but when everyone was educated
& knew how to do things for themselves.

She was a kindergarten teacher,
he, a college professor.
She taught the phonemes,
he, the 100-dollar words.
They both saw the value
they gave to their students—
she, in their beginnings,
& he,
in their ends.

She took numerous DNA tests,
only to fail them,
her cat was always upchucking
all over her homework,
& she was often accused of plagiarism
by a TurnItIn bot
who had twice the intelligence
but not half the talent.
When she sneaked into the Student Lab
for a prescription to unknot the stress ball
that was her life,
she realized that she knew who she was,
even if she didn’t know what she was,
that maybe online classes were for her,
& that in-text citations were a student’s best friend.

The Last Temptation of Christal Lord

Christal had grown up as the replacement child,
the third of Mr. & Mrs. Lord,
for their first had been taken & given back to God.
When Christal broke that barrier & turned back time
to have a chance to rescue the girl whose death
had given her life—
she saw her own life floating away before her eyes
& drown out of existence.
She thought of all the memories that would be wiped out,
even her very existence,
but in that last second,
she knew it was better to save a life by curing a death,
even if it meant preventing a birth,
& so she pulled the girl whose face she knew
as well as her own,
but whose face had remained frozen at the age of eight,
from the dark waters that now engulfed them both.
Flooding in tandem
with the memories of living in her dead sister’s shadow,
Christal had lived,
in another life & dimension,
in her living sister’s light,
where she was no longer the replacement child,
but the surprise one.

Micropoetry Monday: Absurdity

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When Lefty Lucy conspired with Tidy Whitey
to sneak into Diamond Jem’s
to steal the family jewels,
rather than lay in wait in nooks & crannies,
they were burgled & busted
by crooks & nannies.

She was a comedienne—
the queen of comic relief—
with a crown of tangled hair
that never looked so great.
He was a tragedian—
a king of tragic grief—
whose crown tended to slip
from his bald pate.
When this Life of the Party
& this Death of any Party
decided to crash the
Prosperity Gospel sheep
& the Dale Carnegie peeps
in an old jalopy
at 90 miles an hour,
they scattered wool & feathers
all over the Take-a-Wish Foundation hall—
the taste of charred chicken
& the smell of singed mutton
lingering in their wake.

Lucinda was a witch
who was always casting
a hot spell;
Lucien was an irksome fellow
whose allergies
often resulted in a cold snap.
When they crossed paths
(& one another)
at a climate change
singles mixer
(no breeding allowed),
they saw each other’s grass
as greener
& decided to make it work:
“in rain or shine,
in hurricane or blizzard,
for as long as their planet
shall live.”

Micropoetry Monday: Absurdity

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Sunnie Mooney had always said
that she’d never retire
till she became a millionaire,
but then she got starstruck in the kisser
by a meteor in the shape of Alec Baldwin,
knocking the day & night lights
out of her.
To upcycle
what his mother had self-deprecatingly
referred to as Ivory Rubbish,
her son, Moon Pi,
donated her body to science fiction,
& she made more money as a sideshow prop
than she ever had as a freakshow character—
finally reaching that million-dollar milestone
after she’d reached for the stars.

Dangerous Curves Ahead

Judy was hauled off to the fat farm
while Janey was rolled away to the funny farm.
When they connected through group therapy,
they realized that one man
(ex-husband to one, ex-lover to the other)
had driven Judy to try to eat her way to oblivion,
the other, to check into it.
And so, these 2 women done wrong
decided that the only cure to their troubles was Joanie—
a leggy, blond nymph who would turn their ex’s eye
& empty his head—
for Joanie had driven all her husbands
to buy the farm.

When Fanny Took a Load Off
Fanny Bottoms (nee Derriere)
was the butt of many jokes
because of her Spoonerisms,
but she got the last guffaw
when she turned the other cheek
on those anal asses
by showing them the
dark, unwaxed side of the moon.