Southern Fried Love, a poem

Crispy magic fried chicken

fresh collard greens

red beans and cornbread

sliced garden tomatoes

a chunk of yellow onion.

No one else can make it right

five years ago a hole was left in the world.

Grandma could make a silk purse

out of a sow’s ear.

Remnants from her job

sewing in a slack factory; dresses.

Aloe Vera for my burns

lemon juice to lighten my hair,

home remedies.

A strange red conglomeration 

she mopped on my sore throat.

A secret salve rubbed on my chest

feeding my cold

starving my fever.

On a farm in Palmer,
Texas,

her boys picked cotton.

Grandma sewed for neighbors.

Only one cow for milk

butter bartered for eggs

couldn’t afford chickens.

Grandpa,

worthless as tits on a boar hog.

Took the cow to town

sold it to buy liquor.

Grandma went to town and bought it back.

He died drunk behind the wheel.

She never remarried,

had bad taste in men.

A trait passed down to me.

But I raised two boys in our small
Texas town,

With no support from their father,

working two jobs to make ends meet.

Our house, a sanctuary

for mistreated waifs,

their friends and mine.

But a southern

gentleman,                                                                                                                                                 

hair spun with gold,

sweet ocean eyes,

came bearing gifts for no reason.

Calling on his lunch hour

to say he loves me.

He chops cilantro,

fresh garlic,

sautés in olive oil,

browns boneless magic chicken breast,

covers it with garden sliced tomatoes,

Monterrey Jack cheese;

and bakes.

Grandma,

at her haunted sewing machine,

red beans simmering

on her heavenly stove,

just in from picking fresh tomatoes

from her spiritual garden,

made a life size image,

a blue print sewn with golden threads,

stamped with spirits approval.

Shipped on the wings of angels,

To me.

The Years, a short story

“How do I look?” Millie asked, preening in front of the full-length mirror. She was wearing the new dress she’d bought today just for this occasion.

“You look fine.” Shane answered as he glanced at his watch.

“You don’t think this color makes me look washed out?”

He lit a cigarette. “We’re going to be late.”

She grabbed her purse. “You don’t give two shits about me.” Brushing past him, Millie shot her husband eye daggers on her way out of the bedroom.

“Why do you always do that?” Shane stormed after her. “Wait till we’re supposed to be somewhere to start an argument?”

Millie spun around and got in his face. “Start an argument?! I asked a simple question and that’s starting an argument?” She rushed out the front door, her husband on her heels. He grabbed her shoulder. “Don’t touch me.” she seethed.

“Millie, what is wrong with you?” He instantly removed his hand from his wife, followed her to the car and opened the passenger door for her. “I told you that you look fine.”

Tears threatened as she got in. “Just forget about it.”

Women, he thought, as he drove his wife of 25 years across town to their high school reunion. He’d made a few more stabs at talking to her, but she preferred sitting there like a bloated bullfrog, pouting. He didn’t understand what she expected of him. He knew she felt old, but she still looked good. And that new dress looked sexy as hell on her. She looked great in that color, the color of lust, the color of the heat Shane still felt for his wife.

As they parked at Milford High School –where their son Justin was a junior, where Shane was once a football star and Millie the head cheerleader–she turned to her him. “I’m sorry. I’m just kind of bummed. I’ve been so excited all day. I don’t know what came over me.”

“Did I tell you how beautiful you look tonight?” He asked, smiling, reaching over and kissing her on the cheek.

“Don’t lie.”

“I’m not lying. You look hot.”

“No I don’t.” Millie slapped her husband on the arm, but she grinned.

“Oh yes you do.” He smiled and slid his hand up her dress.

Breath, a short story

She didn’t realize she’d been holding her breath for 50 years.

Born into sorrow, she had lived her life as a vulture for love. As she grew older her thoughts seemed to dangle just above paranoia, her fight or flight always engaged, sometimes even in sleep. Her troubles felt like mountains, her heart the river rushing beneath them. Pebbles of happiness rippled the surface, but more often life’s rocks were thrown violently against what she would have preferred remain calm waters.

She stumbled upon her ability to relax while worrying an ancient stone of shame. Like a talisman, she’d rubbed this jagged rock to smooth glass. It became a mirror, and as she gazed into it she saw that the reflection smiling back at her had changed. She was safe. The furrow in her brow was gone, the hard, ever vigilant eyes softened.

Time had done this, time and love.

She breathed deeply, let out the long, contented breath she should have known as a child, and cried.

Poem on my teacher

Well, after the massive response to the poem I posted before, (insert dripping sarcasm here) I decided I’d give it another shot. This one is called, “Mr. G’s Creative Writing Class.” *yeah, I know I’m weird, you don’t have to tell me. :)

The bombast spouted by Mr. G,
his ridicule and snobbery
of her style, her ways, her speech
(even as the debonair teacher sniffed her heat)
mortified but intrigued the mathematical genius,
the normally complacent, the mousy but brilliant Miss C.
remnant of the person she used to be,
Miss C created a system,
a way to classify the quantum changes
that would be required to please Mr. G.
She measured the risk,
took inventory,
manipulated her internal abacus,
rearranging the digits
until she identified the plastic artifice
that was the true Mr. G.
She changed her curriculum immediately.

The Mom Who Did Not Follow Her Own Advice, a story

Dawn breaks in the small town of Kankakee, Illinois and a farmer rises to milk his cows. A mother makes her way to the kitchen to cook breakfast for her family. A mug of coffee in hand, a truck driver climbs into the cab of his rig. And a young woman regains consciousness in a basement, strapped to a toilet chair.

She is blindfolded, thick, sticky tape wrapped tightly around her head, a strip over her mouth. Her arms and legs are rubbed raw and bleeding. Off and on all night, she’d tried to escape the ropes that bind her.

She cringes at the squirting sound as her bowels release, but she has no choice. She slumps forward, quietly crying. She is afraid she will not make it out of here alive. There’s a sound and she sits up, rigid with fear. The door at the top of the stairs is opening, followed by the heavy clomp-clomp of footsteps. The footsteps draw closer, closer, and the young woman’s stomach clenches in revulsion at the hot, stale breath in her face.

“So how does it feel, being helpless like your little girl? You are going to go through everything she went through and much, much more. You’re just lucky I’ve got to go to work. But oh, aren’t we going to have some fun tonight! ”

Brutal laughter follows this onslaught, as suddenly the tape is ripped from the young woman’s mouth. Scalding gruel, like Cream of Wheat, is poured down her throat. She doesn’t care; she swallows in huge gulps, excess flowing over her chin. She hasn’t eaten since breakfast yesterday, in the roadside café where this nightmare began. She almost wants to laugh. How many times has she told her daughter not to talk to strangers?

Pills are shoved in behind the food, a small sip of water, and the tape is back in place. “Now you be a good girl while I’m gone, and don’t you go anywhere.” Her captor laughter is pure hatred.

The young woman hears footsteps receding, moving back up the stairs. She lays her head on her chest and cries until she passes out.