Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #475: By (mode of transportation)

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By Car:  Before We Loved Lucy

Before we loved Lucy, we loved Lila—
a 1992 Cadillac DeVille, owned only by the aging Poppies.

Lila was our first car together—$500 and pristine as the sugar white sands
of the Emerald Coast
with red-leather seats and curves of shiny chrome.

She took us to Heaven and back—
Heaven being the surf and sound sides of Pensacola Beach.

We never pierced her with cigarette ashes or tattooed her with bumper stickers,
however strategically placed.

Come morning, her top would be sprinkled with the crepe myrtle
and moist with the dew.
Lila’s character became more dear with every ding and scratch,
the chip in her windshield like the dimple of Shirley Temple.
Sometimes her perfume was Chick-Fil-A;
at others, the darkest roast at Starbucks.

She was there when we found our first home
and when I went back to school.
She was our shelter from the summer thunderstorms,
our cool respite from the oppressive, breathtaking humidity,
and the hearth that kept us warm during the icy, snowless cold of Southern winters.

She was our metal parasol from the golden globe that warped our milk chocolate bars
like the timepieces in Dalí’s, The Persistence of Memory.

She brought us home from our simple little wedding,
her rearshield saying “Just Married” in soapy, green paint,
and carried us away to our honeymoon at home, for home was Paradise.

She shuttled me to the hospital when, after a jalapeno burger with Cajun fries at Five Guys,
I went into labor and gave birth to our baby girl—our Hannah Banana Beth.
She was there to pick me up,
cradling our newborn like a porcelain doll.

The interior panel lights with her emblem were like the tusks of elephants
and added to her beauty;
her functionality was in her large trunk where we often packed fried chicken and potato salad
and glass bottles of RC Cola on ice.

She was the vessel who sailed me over the Three Mile Bridge
to the sparkling town of Gulf Breeze
where I would meet up with my WriteOn! Pensacola group—
a scenic drive during which I would listen to the local radio host
who was like a friend I had yet to meet,
the windows down, tangling my hair.

For my birthdays, she brought me to the boardwalk at the Cactus Flower Café;
for Christmas, she bore gifts only she was large enough to hold.

Like a priest, she heard all our arguments and make-ups and worries about the future.
She knew what we ate, the kind of music we liked, the things that made us happy or sad.

She was independence and the first car I owned who completely belonged to me.

She passed from her second life as an auto,
donating her organs to the local junkyard to be recycled,
though we still have photos of her and some of her jewelry in a shadowbox above our mantel.

Though we’ve moved on in different directions,
we, with another addition to our family and she, with a repurposing of her life,
we will never forget you, Lila, for you were our first.

Love, The Richards family, circa 2014

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Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #346, Theme: Coordinated

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Coordinating Couple

Jess and Kate McNally,
both living the Dream they did not share.

Every day, he’d wake up to ham on toast
wrapped in a napkin in the microwave
with a note that said,
“Have a good day.  Love you, K.”

Though she never forgot him in the morning,
she thought little of him in the afternoon,
so busy being productive—
“not merely busy”—
as she liked to say.

Ryan and Paige would be on their way to school,
in her shiny, candy-apple red Mini Coop,
and he would enjoy a few hours of solitude,
watching infotainment and luxuriating in a cup of “Average Joe”,
as Kate called it.
(Fourbucks was her thing.)
Then he’d be on his way to work his split,
so he would be there for the kids when they got home.

The evenings would come,
and they would cross paths;
she would be coming home to
help the children with their homework,
while he was going to work overtime—
a means without an end.

The kids needed them,
but Jess and Kate had their own lives—
lives that scarcely intersected.

Sometimes he would open up her strawberry shampoo,
just to remember what she smelled like,
for she was always asleep when he got home—
a stack of open books in a tower on the nightstand,
an empty glass,
hinting of Chardonnay,
beside it.

She would be laying on her stomach,
her chestnut hair covering most of her face,
and with one finger, he would draw back that silken curtain,
as if to peek at the sunshine behind it,
but the windows to her soul were shuttered
with lashes like fans.

He would gaze at her in the soft lamplight,
trying to remember the exact amber of her eyes,
and would often find himself going to her profile picture,
just to remember.

Late in the night, he would find himself scrolling down her wall,
learning about the promotion she had forgotten to tell him about,
or the latest memory of their children he was not there to share.

He would think about taking time off,
but they were building up their future, Kate would say,
by paying for their pasts.

He couldn’t remember when they began to have their own lives,
no longer sharing, no longer building something great together,
like that Lowe’s commercial,
but just fitting into each other’s schedules,
becoming strangers.

And it was when Elise Carpenter came to work alongside him,
so like it once was with Kate,
that he left early to find that which seemed lost and unfamiliar.

When he saw her at work,
in her element of gray suits and high heels,
made-up like a corporate wife,
he realized he didn’t know her anymore,
until she saw him and smiled.

The man beside her didn’t look happy,
but she went to him, giving him a hug, and said,
eyes shining wide open,
“Have I ever told you how much I’ve missed you?”.

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Submission for Birkenstock scholarship

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So I found this scholarship opportunity on Chegg:  “Write about the best shoes you have ever had or your grandmother’s beautiful toes. Just be interesting or educate us in 400-1000 words,” and this is what I came up with:

The Red Slip-Ons:  A 5-Minute Memoir

I’m a flip-flop and bikini top kind of woman (meaning I don’t do bras or high heels).  I’m five four with a size ten foot.  I’d been a size nine till I had my daughter Hannah.  Now I can’t wear my shoes or my clothes.

Every woman has a favorite pair of shoes.  Big feet don’t make you cry in the dressing room.  No woman ever asks, “Do these shoes make my feet look fat?”  However, I won’t wear those with pointed-toes—they seem like corsets for feet.

It was a day that Target was having a clearance sale.  It was the end of summer, and their flip-flops were all half-off.  A ruby-red pair with red sequins had caught my eye.  A combination of retail therapy and Starbucks caffeine had made me heady, and I wondered if they’d put something special in my brownie.

It was starting to sprinkle outside and the smoky violet sky made me think of Liz Taylor’s eyes.  I’d tossed my crappy flip-flappies into the receptacle out front (near the big red balls some teenage girls were bouncing on) and worn these out.  They matched my retro red toenail polish.

I went to the car and rolled down the window, letting my feet dangle over the side, the cool breeze blowing through my toes.  The new shoes felt great.  Now I just needed a pedi.  That was the problem with open-toed shoes, they required foot care.  No mangled pinky toenails or hairy halluces.  I must have spaced out for a minute, for the next, there were a couple of guys passing by, chatting about Emerald City, rather animatedly.  I called out, unable to help myself, “Are you going to see the Wizard?”  They looked at me like I’d lost my mind and said, “Lady, you’re in the land of Oz.”

They walked off, laughing.  When my husband came out with our daughter and a bag of Moose Munch, I told him of the exchange, and he laughed.

“Oh, that’s a gay bar downtown,” he said, and I shook my head.  “They have great drag shows.”

I looked over at Pensacola’s self-proclaimed Moses on one corner, holding up an Israeli flag, and then over at some creepy ass cracker on the other, holding up a cardboard sign saying, “Cracker needs help”. Only in Lower Alabama (or L.A., as the locals call it), I think.

“You know something, Brian, there are times when I think we really are in the Land of Oz.”