Won’t Blow Away

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The dart of movement along the sheet of snow caught his eye and distracted him from the words he held. Animal? Bird? No, of course it’s another oak leaf, one that forgot to book its flight to iced-over oblivion back in November.

So much has been smoothed and erased by these winter days and nights. Some of it will be remembered when Spring takes its muddy brush to the blank canvas, like it paints his memories, in muddy tones of gray and brown.

He sighs, his own echo to the wind’s tune, as he sits by the window. Another leaf runs across the edges of his consciousness, derailing this train of thought, for which he will be grateful until March finishes its work.

Then this leaf gets snared in the bramble bush, coalescing into a book of others, all pages of memories that refuse to blow away. He closes the blinds and draws the curtain, but the recollections still run and the winds still sigh.

And April, with its mash of rain, soil and memories yet-to-be, April is still two months away.

This one’s strictly free write, unedited, because nothing else of the thoughtful variety would come today and I’m feeling brave.

Going Fast

When I was young, fasting meant
PBJ or grilled cheese at lunch,
creamed tuna or fish sticks for dinner
on our meatless Lenten Fridays.
The priests and nuns said God
willed us to change up the menu,
but never explained why, just that
once it was complete we earned our
Easter candy and a week of ham.
Now you tell me you’re forcing
a spiritual, a physical hunger
upon yourself, because you long
for some abstraction, an ideal,
not something tangible like
a Coney Island hotdog
or carne asada burrito.

Maybe if I knew how hunger
would bring about “better,”
I’d understand how this sacrifice
of gustatory satisfaction works.
Will you recognize it on
your tongue when your sacrifice
brings the fabulous prize you seek?
When your fast for a greater good
is finally sated, when the world’s
bêtes noires negated, could you
please tell me one more thing?
Peace, does it taste like
chocolate bunnies?

The Breakup

In its latest relationship,
ice stays the silent type,
until it cracks a sinister smile
on its baby-smooth face,
hissing a warning
to come no closer.
It’s a devoted lover.
The cold-hearted river’s
only too willing to let ice
lie to you behind its glassy stare.
It’ll ignore you if you ask,
while faithful ice keeps
the river’s secret ways.
But eventually the waiting water
grows impatient,
breaking the silence of winter,
pushing aside its intimate,
forcing it from its bed,
battering the secret-keeper
while it rushes down
to bully more than just ice
and the shore.

His Final Offer

“I’d give up my life for you, you know,” Ben Sawchuck eventually whispered into Connie Aldrich’s ear.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, okay?” Connie said, looking straight into her glass.

“I’m just saying, I’d give you my last kidney if that transplant list lotto thingy doesn’t go your way,” he said as the afternoon fundraiser began petering out and the regular bar crowd began warming up.

“Seriously, you’ve weirded me out and I know this just a bid to get me to go to bed with you, so thank you for coming and good night,” Connie said, and huffed away from the bar toward the door where her friends waited.

“So what’s the deal…I’m not your type?” Ben called out, establishing a new record from the social high board at Brickhouse Grill for a backward double entendre with two twists, one of stupidity and the other of tone-deafness.

A horrible five sentence fiction attempt based on Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word: OFFERING.

We Hawks

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The other day, while the freezing winds
swatted starlings from ground to air
and from here to there, I spied a hawk
in a tree next to the interstate.
Along the way, I saw five more, morose,
hunched in shadow-scanning readiness to strafe
some shivering prey. I thought this quite odd,
seeing six hawks in one day. All kept
to their own solitary company. Like me.

Now those starlings, they group in a murmuration,
humming wings oozing their number
through the air like some feathered amoeba.
But a collection of hawks is called a Boil or a Kettle.
A poetic birder thought they resembled
something swirling in a cauldron as they circled
above, riding earth’s warm exhalations.

I think they are more like me, who perches
in this chair, stoop-shouldered, searching
for the shadow of a word to poke its head
into the sunlight of this lamp. Today,
when I found no prey upon which to swoop
with rapacious intent, I thought of those
shivering raptors with their tails of red,
like this poet, with his eyes to match.
We carve a line from the city to Halfmoon.
We Scribe of hawks.

Shoddy Possibilities

You said you never knew.
But it’s something one doesn’t confess
to a suit, a wall of fabric behind which
hides something like a real person,
the mourner and the mother,
and the weave of all others.

You never heard the words,
those threads holding together
a couture life you wished to wear.
Back then, the rules wouldn’t allow it,
when you still believed in rules, too.

You decided to break some anyway,
threads or rules, it doesn’t matter now,
allowing others behind your wall
to what you wanted touched. And lives,
slippery-skinned and angry,
stood raw in the light.

So now we’ve slipped away,
maybe one day to reach for
these lapels of shoddy possibility again,
on this buttonlesss suit that
I wore just for you.

An “I’m desperate to write a poem” free write.

Fresh Horses

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A white sun beat down from a white sky onto the alkali landscape, where the only primary colors to be seen for miles were the dust-covered blue uniform and bright pink face of Lieutenant Barrow Bigbee.

“Think they’ll have fresh horses for us at this Gonzalez Station, Zeiter?” Bigbee asked Mule Zeiter, his scout and guide to his first posting here in Arizona Territory after graduating 80th in the West Point Class of 1872.

The alkali-coated Zeiter turned in his saddle, scanning 360 degrees of horizon, never taking his eyes off the bleached distance, and said, “They sure as hell better, Lieutenant Sonny Boy, or we’ll be hub-deep in the shit pile should some Cibecue Apache boys decide to have us for lunch with their afternoon tizwin.”

“Am I to believe your magical Apache warriors can stalk and hide in ambush for us behind this stuff?” Bigbee laughed, pointing at the barren white landscape, broken only by a wide scatter of scrub creosote bushes.

In that instant, the pure whiteness of the scene was marred by the blood spattered from Lt. Bigbee’s head after a .50 caliber bullet from an unseen Cibecue’s Spencer carbine passed through it and into the shoulder of Mule Zeiter, who spurred his spent gelding for all he was worth, hissing in answer, “Yes.”

Yeah, another five-sentence Western. This one inspired by Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word FRESH. Oh, and tizwin is a corn-based beer-like drink historically brewed by Native people in the American Southwest.