She didn’t live the Greek life,
but she lived her life.
She didn’t have a big fat Greek wedding
but a little skinny WASPy wedding.
She called gyros
& thought Greeks were Grecians
who had invented the urn.
When her mom found her long-lost husband
in Athens, Georgia,
she began to study her long-lost father’s
mythology & methodology
but soon went back to saying, “Mama, mia”
& putting too much parmesan cheese
on her spaghetti,
for the half that was Italian
included her whole tongue—
in speech & taste.
She had triumphed in 2 battles—
the enemy having left behind a battle scar
that she wistfully referred to as her breastplate;
the first battle had taken her left breast,
& it was only after she had beat the cancer
that she saw the road warrior in front of her,
blazing a burning rubber warpath at 95 miles an hour,
ultimately losing the war that everyone was fighting in
without even knowing they were a soldier.
As the fortysomething
took a stroll on Redemption Road,
she wondered about her purpose,
for in the child,
there was innocence,
& in the aged,
there was wisdom.
She told the angel beside her,
who neither guarded her nor waited for her,
“I am not so innocent,
nor am I so wise,”
& the angel answered,
“Yet you take care of them both—
protecting the Innocents
while preserving the dignity of the Wise.”
She mourned that Kristy, Dawn, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey,
Jessi, & Mallory
had been pulled into the future via the graphic novel—
a glorified comic book—
for their childhoods didn’t belong in this Post-Millennial world
any more than her adulthood would have belonged in the years
before 24/7 cable news.
He was a gust of hot air,
she, a breath of fresh.
He inspired people to exhale,
she, to inhale.
When they expired,
they knew they had lived
a purpose-driven life,
for they had energized a generation
of stressed-out people
with their deep-breathing exercises.
She missed the days of quiet libraries
rather than “media centers,”
focusing more on STEM
than the humanities
that humanized people,
of getting Christmas cards in the mail
with a 10-dollar bill in them,
and browsing video rental stores
She was born in the perfect time:
no social media or cell phones.
As an adult old enough to handle
an instant audience,
she found her voice in the blogosphere.
When Generation X
met Generation Y,
2019 went out with a bang;
9 ½ months later,
Generation Z was born,
& Gens X & Y,
who had heretofore
watched the ball drop
dropped their ball of fun
in her crib at 8 o’,
wishing they could go out
with a bong.
She had jumped into relationships,
leaped at every opportunity,
& thrown herself into projects
she knew she couldn’t finish.
She was self-destructive in her inability
never knowing that she had already met
the right man,
found the perfect opportunity,
started the right project—
she simply hadn’t become
the right person for them . . . yet.
She’d grown up hearing her mom come home every day
& talk about the itch-bay from ork-way,
tell Daddy to shut the front door (when it was already closed),
& get her to come running at the prospect
of indulging in her favorite confection,
only to be told that it was not that kind of fudge,
for it had 4 characters rather than 4 ingredients;
however, when she became a mom,
she realized that motherhood came
with a built-in filter,
with her boss being the ick-day who never shut the fudge up
& where she & hubby went to an in-house ball game twice a week,
where extra innings were based on the quality of the first
& peanuts and Cracker Jack meant something else entirely.
The Shutterfly edition
It wasn’t that she wasn’t adventurous—
it was just that she lived all her adventures in bed—
under the covers & between the pages,
where she didn’t have to worry about dealing with anti-Americanism,
or diseases she’d thought didn’t exist anymore.
She was dust jackets,
they were bullet-proof vests.
After a childhood of climbing over mountains of forgotten Amazon purchases,
wading through an ocean of every free tee-shirt they had ever received,
walking through the labyrinth of towers of cardboard boxes,
& pushing aside stacks of unopened junk mail
to find a place at the kitchen table for the TV dinners they never ate together,
Pamela Comstock eventually tunneled her way out—
only for her husband to never understand why
his wife was always throwing things away—
receipts in the store rubbish before the groceries even made it home,
cardboard boxes he tried to save for their next move,
& junk mail he never got a chance to look at.
He never understood why they had to give away an old sheet set
whenever they bought a new one,
or why they could only have 8 forks & not a tine more,
& why reusable gift bags gave her anxiety.
He did not understand her addiction to containers
for those things she could not give away—
clothes for the next baby,
non-virtual photo albums,
& Christmas decorations.
For Pamela spent her time not acquiring things
but stockpiling memories, stories, & experiences
so that her head became that place
where she dumped all her clutter—
a place where no one could see
& no one could judge.
He was a book reviewer,
she, a food critic.
He loved trashing the words of others
with his own,
with words of her own.
But when the writers threw their words
back at him,
& the chefs turned the dining tables
back on her,
they discovered that he couldn’t write
any more than she could cook—
that they were nothing but alphabet soup
right out of the can.
The Shutterfly edition
They were the invisible children—
these homeschoolers that came in a batch
known as a baker’s dozen.
Under an opaque bell jar,
numbered like players on God’s team,
they were but paper flowers
left in the attic to disintegrate.
She had come from a broken home
of broken bones,
& when she conceived,
she feared for the softness
of those bones,
& hardened her heart
so that she could give
those bones away.
The parents sacrificed themselves,
so their children would have a better life,
even as those same children, like adults,
sacrificed the future for their convenience.
that last semester,
was spent in a sleepless blur.
Like a shimmer above hot asphalt
was the filter through which she saw
the endlessness of her life as it was—
as if God Himself had slowed down time
to make it last,
fortifying her to make her last.
She relished the days,
having passed the exhaustion stage,
by knowing that if she could do this much
for so long,
she could do almost as much
for the rest of her life.
She was 30 when she began her teaching ministry—
of life after infertility & divorce with
18 undocumented years “about her mother’s business”—
finding herself resurrected through the youthful hope
of her student disciples.
She was a woman of 20-dollar dresses
& 5-dollar lipstick,
who loved fried chicken & cheap wine.
She checked out novels & rented movies,
her ideal date night a shared pizza
& fresh breath.
Her favorite painter was Norman Rockwell,
her favorite book, Confessions of a Chocoholic.
She was more fiddle than violin,
more Encyclopedia Brown than Murphy Brown.
To her, any meat below well done
was positively revolting—
no matter what the TV chefs said.
(They ate bull balls, after all, so
though they had the latter,
they were still full of the former.)
She didn’t need a big house—
just a bit enough house.
Even if she won the jack of all pots,
she would still come stamped
with a certificate of authenticity.
The Shutterfly Edition
He was pulp fiction with expletives & explosions,
she, Harlequin Christian romance
with exaltation & exclamations of everlasting love.
They gave their fans what they wanted,
& though their work only endured
till the next author came around,
they made a good side income
freelancing for the local newspaper—
he, covering the grit & gristle of hard news,
& she, the cream & fluff of soft news.
When Comma sailed on a scholarship to Oxford College—
in nothing but a pinafore & saddle shoes—
having unearthed her earthly purpose at Harvard,
she discovered her divine purpose through her thesis on clarity,
& thus became
the Oxford Comma.
They Couldn’t Take it With Them
When Miss Grammarly & Miss Writerly—
2 spinsters who unraveled yarns
& whose punctuation rained
on a mathematician’s parade
like music notes in a sour serenade—
passed on to that great Writing Lab in the sky,
they found that their favorite mark,
the non-committal Semicolon,
had not made it past the mother-of-pearly gates,
for when S.C. had reached the end
of its life sentence,
it hadn’t known whether to pause
or stop altogether,
& so it chose to continue
to haunt English majors
& thus remain,
of their earthly existence.
Tippi was a blond out of the bottle,
Dagny, a blond with brunette roots.
When they decided to fleece a couple of black sheep,
these fun girls realized that
with a drop of a hanky
& just the promise of panky,
blondes may have had more fun,
but brunettes got away with it.
He was all that was wrong with men
when it came to women,
for he felt entitled to take
whatever one he wanted,
only for Bubba Edmonds in Cell #9
to feel even more entitled to pick him
as his newest Turkish delight.
When Comb met Brush,
they encountered a hairy situation,
making Brush bristle
& Comb lose all her teeth.
The Shutterfly edition
Her lawyer read over every email,
& every employee handbook,
looking for loopholes she could fall through.
When she found the humdinger of them all,
slipping through it like a cheaply-wrapped stick of hot butter,
she spent her way through America,
redistributing her wealth by patronizing restaurants
so that all her fat was not redistributed but freshly-distributed
in what was now known as “Corporation Up Front.”
He practiced law
but didn’t follow it.
She practiced Christianity
but didn’t preach it.
They practiced medicine
but wouldn’t take it.
When they found each other,
they found the one thing
they could take—
each other’s inability
to do themselves
what they told others
He was a playboy,
she, a working girl.
Though they were in the biz,
they were also camera shy,
but what they believed
would be their undoing
would have been their alibi.
When Stuffed Shirt met Fancy Pants,
they realized they coordinated perfectly.
When they crossed the beaten path
with Mr. Overalls,
feeling like they were better than him
because he said y’all rather than
whatever the hell it was they said,
he, with his denim wisdom, told them
that at least he didn’t need no belt
to keep it all together.
When Brookie Crowney,
as part of her parole,
joined Chocoholics Anonymous
for chewing up BonBon Bailey’s candy ass,
the support group was forced
to change its name,
for Brookie just wouldn’t
shut the fudge up about it.
When Cursive met Print,
Print lamented about feeling disconnected,
to which Cursive replied,
“At least people understand you.”