The House on the Highway (2017 early draft)

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transport1

Rain again.

Pre-school day.

The boy is sleepy

But becomes alert when reminded

Of school.

He’s dressed in minutes

His cowlick sprayed out

My shirt is stained

But I cover it with a sweater

That wasn’t tight last month.

 

Coffee.  The boy

Asks for a leftover doughnut.

We say goodbye

To a sleepy mama.

She Misses

Coffee but rubs

Her pregnant belly and Ooohs—

She mumbles something about having a lot to do.

 

Will the missus miss us?

 

We’re a mile away from her

And home when

The first red light stifles

Our progress

Toward timelessness.

I hate being late.

Rain hardens, stiffens,

Strengthens.

The sky sends pellets

And creates tension inside me

While each droplet is just doing its job.

Green light.  No movement.

The head of the driver in front of me is visible

In the side mirror.  He’s

Clearly looking at his phone.

I honk and say something

The missus wishes

I wouldn’t say when the boy is around.

Or ever.

Seconds pass.  The guy looks

Up and eases forward.

Waveless.

My tension heightens.

No recognition of fault.

No request for my forgiveness.

 

Another point-eight miles of green lights.

The next stop is my our turn.

The left-turning lane fills behind me

As the rest of the east- and west-bounders

Pound down the splashy path.

A long, loud transporter

Booms by on the right,

Bearing a modular home.

Look at that house, I say.

He of course looks for a stable structure

Off the road

Whoa, he says, in wonderment.

Is there people in there, daddy?

Not likely, I say.  But I can’t stop thinking about

Its future inhabitants.

 

Where are they at this moment?

Waiting at the lot?

A few cars behind?

Boxing up picture frames

And kitchen utensils in another area code?

Did they pick the color?

Is this their forever home?

<<EEEEEP!!!>>

Will this rain ever quit?

<<BLAAMMM—BLAAMMMM!!!!!!!>>

The impulse to turn around has never been stronger.

The missus misses us.

We miss her.  Work should wait some days.

Daddy?

Yes?

I’m glad you’re taking me to school today.

My son really says this just like that.

I stick a sleeve out my window

To wave my apologies to the cars behind me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Impromptu Poem (4/25/2017)

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Here.  Read this.

Read the part below.

The poem.

I’m reading–actually skimming–through student poetry submissions

It’s an expected lot hyphen hyphen (dash)

Some are printed requests for the healing to begin;

Others are verse about how quote funny unquote quote life unquote can be;

A handful of energetic pieces that st-

re-

tch imagination

(s) dot dot dot

So far just 1 has grabbed me

1 just slapped me upside my head.

The poet wrote

about how consumed we are with ourselves

and how little w-

e

talk

and

share

and

love

and

be

in this oneandonlyworld

You see there were 4 stanzas

And Line 2 of Stanza 1

Became Line 1 of Stanza 2

and so forth

while keeping the fl-

ow

and never losi-

ng or dis-

connecting

And I think it’s the strongest so far because that’s what poetry should do,

friends.

It should turn our chin toward the sun

And our eyes away from the coals

It can warrant warmth

And suffocate sadness

And it can be structured

or

not

Because poetic license allows you

to walk down the escalators sometimes

even if they’re pushing you

before you’re ready

 

Creative Writing Class – Week Five (Three Poems)

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This week, we were instructed to piece together three separate types of poems.  I’ve paraphrased the actual instructions below:

1.  30 or so lines in the POV of someone who has done something wrong

2.  40 or so lines from a non-human POV

3.  14 lines of 10 syllables each where someone is observed.

Here they are…

Poem 1

“Isolated Calories”

They never ask me what I want

And perhaps that’s why I do it–

Take it right from them when they think

I’m watching TV or even outside.

 

The boy next door always has Fig Newtons or Oreos

But I’m never allowed to even ask

If I can eat have some.

“It’s rude to ask, son,” my parents tell me.

“And if they offer, you tell them ‘No, thank you.’”

 

My sister says I’m just

Bored.  “Twelve-year-olds shouldn’t be

Bored,”  she says.  She rolls her eyes a lot

But doesn’t think about calling me her

“Chubby Bubby”

Every day.  I’ve seen her.

She eats ice cream in her room

And while on her bed.

She never gets in trouble.

Says it’s okay because she bought it with her money.

But she says she’ll hate me like everyone else

If I tell Mom or Dad she does it.

 

Mom’s purse today has just twenty-six

Dollars.  Just three flat bills stare

Back at me.  What will she do

This time, I wonder.  I shrug.

I leave the twenty and tell no one in particular

That I’m going down to Ronnie’s.

 

They think I have a friend named Ronnie.

But I plan to just sit there on the cold metal bench

And eat my cheeseburgers

And cookies alone

With no one in particular.

 

Poem 2*

“Dormant in the Corner”

 

Ironically,

I am constantly

Immobile, defeating

My manufactured purpose

To provide a place for my

Owner(s) to walk, jog, or run.

I don’t think they made me

To hold empty wire hangers

And boxer shorts worn

A week ago.  I remember

When they opened my box

And marveled at my features:

A book rack, two cup holders, and

A digital readout that accurately measures

Their health.  I’m supposed to be helping

Them all.  Well, maybe not the child,

But the larger two who talk

About me as if I’m not

In the room and make

Promises to visit that

Never seem to happen.

The little one hides

Behind me sometimes

And I have to think he does it

To draw attention to me

Since he knows I cannot.

Their bones and muscles

Deteriorate while

Soft dust rests

On my cold

Arms and

Feet.

 

When they’re awake in bed

On the other side of this

Room, I hear them,

Once in a while,

Discuss parting

With me and

Admitting

They

Don’t

Use

Me.

 

He always says he’s starting Monday

She laughs and knows he won’t.

At least she has the dignity

Not to lie as she balls

Up her candy wrappers

And complains again

About her

Back.

 

Poem 3

“Patience”

 

It’s possible that the woman beside

Me in this emergency room tonight

Has been here before, perhaps years ago,

For her own children.  She is calm and dressed

In layers as if she knew the winter

Would whoosh in through the automatic doors.

The chaos ‘round us is distant and she

Only looks up occasionally at

The television, where a popular

Syndicated emergency room show

Shows how easy it is for people who

Believe they will recover will do just

That. However, I only think of my

Wife and how I may not become a dad.


*I tried to have the lines from the treadmill look like the incline readout (at a 90-degree angle).  Too subtle?

Creative Writing Class – Week 4 Assignments

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Below is this week’s journal entry:  1) a three-paragraph story beginning with a Mad-Libs type character identification.  2) two paragraphs where a character’s garbage is analyzed, and 3) a free-verse poem about someone who is older but is still a kid at heart.  Lucky for me, quality is not scrutinized on these journals–but I have some new things to work with for later projects!

Scotty Rodriguez is a mischievous sixty-three-year-old sanitation employee who wants closure.  “It’s the worst timing, Scotty,” Earl said as he squeezed his friend’s flimsy shoulder.  The two men inhabited the cold, detached waiting room on the third floor of Jennings County Hospital.  Four hours earlier, Scotty had driven his wife of thirty-nine years to the Emergency Room after he had found her limp on their paisley sofa.  Their only accompaniment was the whirring of the generic soda machine.  The clock above Scott Rodriguez’s bowed head informed the otherwise empty room that the new day was ninety-six minutes old.  Earl glanced up at the clock and grimaced.  His eyes settled down on the apex of his friend’s head and examined the pale patch of uncovered skin.  A small island of bumps within the patch suggested the retarded recovery of a seemingly painful strike to that tender area.

Scotty wiped his nose with a yellowed handkerchief and sniffed.  “Can you believe we were just talking about taking a trip to South Carolina to look at property?”  His voice cracked at the final word, and Earl assumed there had been more planned.  Janitors, even those who served in Vietnam, did not typically have a bundled savings that would allow them to retire south.  Earl knew Scotty’s income because they’d been hired at the same time over a decade ago and have never been given anything but the same minimal raise each year since. . That said, it would have been in poor taste to contradict the possibility of moving.

“Look, Scott.  Sheesh, I don’t know what to do here, ya know?”  Earl attempted to lighten the mood–something he did at the lab every Monday through Friday evening.  “You know, Libby and I don’t have much, but I gotta say,” he trailed off.  His mouth was announcing things faster than he could control them.  Suddenly, before Earl could continue, a short lullaby played overhead, announcing a birth.  “Huh,” he continued.  “Another life comes into the world.”  He turned to Scotty, who was staring blankly at his handkerchief.  “Listen, it’s not much, but I’d like to help you.”  He withdrew several crisp twenties from his ragged wallet and did not count them.  “Go the Carolina on this.  Just go right after the funeral.  Libby and I can help take care of all the other stuff until you come back.”  He shoved the cash in his friend’s hand and remembered it had been intended for groceries the following day.  Without speaking–without even nodding–Scotty Rodriguez stood, shoved the handkerchief into the back pocket of his faded blue coveralls, and left the hospital.  When he reached the beachfront sixteen hours later, he knew he was not returning to bury his wife.

2.

The top layer of Larry Markum’s garbage does not surprise me at all.  Apple and banana peelings prove that he continues his habitual fruit intake to this day.  Pushing these aside, I notice a cigar catalog that bears his address but not his name.  This has been his residence for over three years, but he must have been too lazy to contact the distributor to inform them of the change.  The first really bizarre item here is a browned, cracked tennis ball.  When we were kids, Larry played catch with these with our dogs Frankie and Lizzie, but his building boasts a firm NO PETS policy on the front window.  Several wadded up paper towels and three granola bar wrappers only show me that he has yet to venture beyond his longtime affinity for the types of snacks that allow multi-tasking.  Digging a little further in I see two rather disturbing items that must have been tossed out at the same moment:  a child’s toy and a half-empty milkshake from a local eatery.  My brother does not have children, and he’s lactose intolderant.

Larry has been posting some very odd things online lately.  There was a time when we emailed one another once or twice a week, but that has all but subsided and been replaced with social media.  Nowadays, I learn things about him at the same time as the rest of the world.  Sadly, what he’s been posting could very well be misconstrued and even criminal.  He dodges my calls, and, well, here’s something interesting: his phone.  Like the rest of us, he’s abandoned a land line, but this old cell phone was in his hands all last Christmas at Mom’s.  Sure, it could have been replaced, but I remember my daughter and her friend Denise telling me that Uncle Larry’s phone was even nicer than hers.  The face is cracked.  Oh, my!  Here’s something I didn’t expect to see.  One, two, oh my God five pregnancy tests.  There’s no indicator readout, but who takes so many of these in a single setting?  And why is Denise’s senior picture torn in half?

3.

“Uncle Bob”

 

For years, my brother and I were told

That our humor must have come

From our Uncle Bob,

Our mother’s brother,

Because wittiness isn’t achieved over time.

It’s ingrained in our blood.

 

My uncle was a teenager

When his little sister,

Our mother, was brought into the world.

Just as the Second World War was beginning.

Their relationship only really began

When they were both adults.

 

I’m told, however, that only my mother grew up.

 

Once, when we visited them in Louisiana,

my uncle took us in his car

to get drive-through chicken.

He would have been in his sixties.

With the order complete, and his old Dodge humming loudly,

he informed the teen on the other end

That our order was “To go.”

It’s over two decades later,

And I remember our backseat laughter

As well as I imagine

His happiness in being a part of it.