Naughts and Crosses

He thinks of her from time to time.
Often during the nights, but
other times during quiet days
when dreams have greater access
to the doors both closed long ago.
Always, though, when he’s alone.
A certain loneliness was about all
they had in common. That and
the darkness which never strayed
too far from their shadows,
so close that it often impersonated
their silhouettes, perfectly
outlining them in basic black.
His knots and crosses could never
hold her, when it was flowers
captured her heart.
But seamen know naught of blossoms
and blossoms know less of the sea.

I’ve been away from home for some days, away from my creative function for longer than that. Here’s a mid-afternoon drabble I dribbled onto the keys on this day after I’ve returned to the cold and dark I know better than the warm and sunny. Would that it was the opposite, eh?


How Dark Our Shadows

Have you every noticed,
while others marveled
at the brightness
of the afternoon sun,
we were the ones
pointing out how dark
it made our shadows.
We were the ones
who talked and talked,
sharing so much,
giving so little,
caring not enough
and too much.
We were the ones who held
one another’s secrets,
even after some escaped
our pieces of night
into the light. Look,
how dark the shadows
they cast!
A pity how our garden
never bloomed, but
such an inevitability
shouldn’t surprise us.
You blinded me
with your light
and you said mine
hurt your eyes.

A Man Can Dream

His eyes were going,
but he said he didn’t mind
too much because he saw things
most clearly in the dark,
especially during those hours
he stared at the starless sky
of his bedroom ceiling.
His hearing was shot long ago,
owing to genetics and
a corresponding need to turn up
his headphones to 11.
But he heard the voice and music
no one else could hear in this dark.
His heart was failing him, too,
what with the stiffened scars
he hated to admit it bore.
Some were idiopathic etchings
of unknown origins, while others
marked wounds self-inflicted,
one way or another.
So now what? no one asked, because
no one heard him whisper through
life’s lightless vacuum.
Not even the one whose caress
he felt on his arm, his cheek,
his chest, when it was really
his own left hand in that meantime.
But a man can dream.

The Constant Shoulder

You probably don’t remember
when I would let you rest
your head on my shoulder.
Maybe you’d cry or yawn or
do whatever pretty heads do
when they come into contact
with that strong bit of muscle
and bone they could always count on.

And then you couldn’t.

It’s not like I lost it, though
perhaps it slants more downhill
with each year and beatdown.
It still teeter-totters on either side
of this head swirling with wishes,
what-ifs and why-nots, ready
to support your thoughts.

And now you don’t.

I’ve never had that kind of place
to nestle my bleary or teary eyes.
I shook off dreams and sorrows
like a Labrador loses the blue lake
he just emerged from, splattering
them in all directions. But
I’ve never been able to shake off
the blue I’ve swallowed.

And I’ve swallowed plenty.

So now you’re gone, grown and
different from when our heads
would share this bar from which
my embrace hangs for you. It waits
for some day when cooler heads
will bring ours back together,
when adults no longer act
like children and children don’t
suffer the acts of adults.

And this, dear reader, is officially Post #1,000 on A Thing for Words. I probably have written and posted more, but have deleted ones someone’s been kind, wise or unwise enough to publish or I collected in my own books. But the WordPress counter today says 1,000, so that’s what we’ll call it.

And I could never have accomplished this without YOU there to read and, in turn, encourage me not to stop writing. For that, I cannot thank you enough. Just your act of reading these ramblings has helped bring out emotions and words I never knew I could express. And you have no idea how close I am today to stopping expressing them anymore.

But I will wake up tomorrow and at least try to write one more something. Maybe there’s someone out there who may stumble on it in searching for words to help them smile or just let them know they’re not alone in what they’re feeling. So let’s just say as long as you’re willing, I’ll always try to shoulder my responsibility of giving you somewhere to lay your head. It’s what I’ve always done. And, despite all my personal “bleary and teary,” I guess I’m not done yet.

Thank you all. You and I know who you are. Thank you for helping me better know me.

What Is It We See When We Don’t Want to Look?

As I wander from my right ear
to left, the sounds sometimes
ring clear as a trumpet’s blare.
But sometimes, the sights
along the way don’t
stand so sharply defined.
I guess that’s okay, though,
if you consider yourself an
Impressionist with a notebook.
Yep, that sky’s full of swirling stars
and that’s the sunset on the Seine…
to my squinted mind’s eye, at least.
Memories give me the most problems,
though, how they appear so palpably
at the corner of my eye,
yet transparent right in front of me.
Perhaps life would be better
if I got out of my head and
directed all of my attention
into your world. But, while
my mind is full of whats
and whos and maybes, yours
looks like it might be full
of too much this or that,
him or her, definitely or clearly.
Perhaps that’s just what I think
I see when I focus, instead of
admiring you through the half-veiled
lids of my feelings, and perhaps
you’re as befogged inside as I am.
Humor me, and squinch your eyes
and describe the man you see
this last time before I fade away.
And then lie to me
just once more.

Full Stop.

He hates to think
he’ll reach The End and
never have the chance
to close their story
with a clean, contented dot,
punctuation connoting
the final exhalation
of a spoken breath.

Her draft still
bears that bold-face
exclamation point,
bolt-upright, indignant,
with arms akimbo…
if !” had any arms.

His version sports
what they once called
an interrogation mark,
a Quasimodo “?” questioning
something they still
didn’t understand,
only that he’s either
the clueless or callous
actor who prompted
her reaction.

They say he’s not got
much of a future
to look forward to
and his vision’s grown
too befogged to clearly
discern the past.
So he wonders if
some day she might
just say hello.

Perhaps then they
could bid goodbye to
the figures who cast
their shadows upon
what once was yet
never could be
and place that .,
a simple declarative
conclusion, on this,
a story better left

First-draft desparate free-write. Full stop.

Gentling Me to the Other Side

Today, I once more dove
into this river so cold,
to see what I’d find
on the other side.
It grows colder and colder
as I grow older and older.
So often I jump in and
almost founder, my body
and mind not willing
to endure this shivering
self-immersion again.

But you often appear
as I reach out and pull
the water close to me, and
I remember the warmth
of those embraces,
when last we embraced.
That touch of your cheek
always helps gentle me
to the other side,
where I find I’m holding
something warm and white,
though it’s never your hand.

Instead it’s a craft you
helped me lash together,
with which others might
float upon our memory
of close and apart,
as if we’re moored boats
banging against one another,
tethered by our shared history
on this river where
I’ll always fight
for whatever touch
we might share.

So often, this is how it happens. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I guess it just IS. By the way, only three more pieces to hit my 1,000th post on A Thing For Words right around its seventh birthday. I had no idea I’d been so inspired by whatever muse reaches out to me from time to time.