A Tailwind for Sisyphus

So many wants sit within me,
but inertia and headwinds negate
any attempts, starts or begins, see,
what I once hoped would be my fate.

But Fate she’s a mistress most cold,
one who’d just as soon leave me crying.
Muses turn that way, too, I’m told,
and if I said “Oh, not mine,” I’d be lying.

There’s been more than one pushed my pen,
each gave my heart a stir and a taste.
I thought I loved each, and yet then
they left my poetic heart still chaste.

Now my wants have grown old and dusty,
not lost, but neither kept well oiled.
Such desires are wont to grow rusty,
and without fulfillment they become spoiled.

That’s why these lines squeal so loudly,
like cogged gears spent years without care.
Oh, I cared, but never so proudly
as a man believing in himself might dare.

So my fate remains unrealized still,
and today’s step was just mere mumbling.
While writing this was a Sisyphean uphill,
Sure, two back, but one up without stumbling.

I’m going to keep writing these until something clicks within me. I’m one hundred typewriting monkeys with a not yet totally broken old dream on the other side of this door. And I’ve found the sound of thousands of keys clicking an inspiring song. Who knows? Maybe one of those keys will be the one that unlocks it

The Struggle Continues

I think of you too much and not enough,
these days and nights since you left me behind.
The “thinking” is something that feels so rough,
while the “not” just makes me feel so unkind.

But kindness is like beauty to a beholder,
and beholders can wear glasses of rose.
My flaw was choosing when to be bolder,
but too often instead of choosing I froze.

That’s how I lost what was a thing unique,
and now I know it’s more than that I’ve wasted.
But this is what comes from being so meek,
not daring to take Prufrock’s peach and taste it.

So today I just sit here and fritter
instead of sharing some time, just you and Joe.
If I’d spoken up would I still be bitter?
Perhaps, but I didn’t, so we’ll never know.

But I like to think this poem you’re reading,
and it’s collecting some transcendent due.
Someday, again we’ll share two souls beating,
since just one heart’s left whole instead of two.

This is such a struggle. The writing, the creating, the imagining, they’ve all gone away it seems. Too long under the pall of my losses. Even though one’s now somewhat mitigated. But I keep trying. If I can’t keep lit that old candle, maybe I can strike a spark and start a wildfire with the dry leavings of what once was so verdant and alive.

Crumbs

Photo by Jody McKinney

Becky loved her brother, Ben, but hated how he’d chase guys off from dating her.

“He’s not good for you, Becks. You deserve so much better,” he’d say.

So Becky would look for solace in the kitchen, baking — and eating — cookies and cakes that would drive Ben crazy with their seductive aroma.

“Oh, man, Becks, that smells incredible. Lemme have a piece,” Ben would say.

And Becky would slap his hand, replying, “It’s not ready yet. It needs time before I can make it pretty.”

“But, Becks, it’s pretty enough now.”

“Sorry. And Coach Babbitt will pitch a fit if you can’t make weight this week. Besides, it’s not good for you,” Becky would remind her wrestler brother.

After a match, he’d burst through the door looking for whatever Becky had made. “Did you leave anything for me?” he’d always say. But, inevitably, he’d find Becky had finished most, if not all, of her creation.

In April, Becky started seeing Art Linski. He was looking for some of Becky’s delights, too. Just not the baked kind.

“No, Art, I’m just not ready,” she said.

But Art wasn’t to be denied and violently took what he could.

In an alley the next night, Art Linski looked up with his one good eye at Ben Stenson, and whined through swollen, bloody lips, “I’m sorry. Please, please, no more.”

Then Art heard a girl’s voice from the shadows. “Thanks, Ben. Did you leave anything for me?”

“Just a crumb, babe,” Ben said.

A super-quick flash story in response to this week’s Thursday’s Threads friendly competition on novelist Siobhan Muir’s website.  The story was prompted by, and must include, the phrase, “Did you leave anything for me?” I’d say not too bad a first draft batter of words. Fluffy, bittersweet and ready for a little more to make it pretty.

Wherefore and Why

He thought he’d search today
for that old photograph.
And he was not sure why.
They never talked anymore,
the bloom off that rose like
the youth off that old image.
But still he rummaged,
through notebooks and pens,
books and file folders,
memories and other memories,
real and imagined.
And he was not sure why.
Until then he found it,
dogeared and scuffed,
within a spiral bound
remembrance he’d created
when he wasn’t looking,
not even thinking of it.
And he was not sure why.
But there was the smile
that lit so many dark days
and darker nights, like
the sun continues to glow
in its recalled place
behind his closed eyes.
And then he knew why.
With one smile he knew why.

Orbital Eccentricity

The sun will shine today,
walking its way horizon to horizon
across my provincial little plot,
taking its longest time until next year.
But I know it’s not really moved.
This dust mote rock on which I stand
is the one actually spinning daily
along its elliptical path ‘round
our own little star.

And in our arrogant, top-of-the-foodchain,
in-God’s-own-image way,
we actually prefer to think
the largest entity in this
insignificant portion of the vastness
of the Big Banger’s creation
is the one trudging like a burro
around the mill grinding out
our oh so historic days.

You know that Earth has spent
its millennia trying to escape
from this cosmic servitude, don’t you?
Sun’s tether is just too strong.
keeping our servile ball
of egocentric existence
situated just-so, so Man can believe
the Sun’s the one in Our thrall.

But really, when one day,
out in the indistinct future,
when the great curveball in the sky
goes black, our planet
will slip it’s gravitational leash
and could be hurled, a giant snowball,
into the void. In light of this,
who gives a shit if I mispell “misspell,”
wash new jeans with white sheets,
eat room-temperature potato salad,
or short-hop a bases-loaded 3-2 fastball?
Not the Sun.

I tell you this because
I care about you.
Still.
A little.
On a summer day,
when the Sun takes its own sweet time
walking horizon to horizon.
And here’s the pitch…

Writer’s Digest’s Robert Lee Brewer suggested writing a “summer” poem today. So I sat down and turned loose my creative wolf for the first time in too many months. And along the stream-of-consciousnous way, I remember a story my friend Steve Adamek and I eavesdropped on in a Montreal bar many years ago. A gaggle of Philadelphia Phillies. Late season pennant clinching time. I’ll attribute it to relief pitcher Tug McGraw, but I’m sure he heard from an old pitching coach of his. I’ve always called it the “Tug McGraw Frozen Snowball Theory of Life.” Steve will know better who should get attribution. It’s funny how life and lessons come back to you once you remember life is more than the time spent worrying about what you did yesterday and what will happen tomorrow. Or sooner. Thanks, Steve. Don’t know how I’m gonna integrate “No one sucker-punches Roger Freed,” into a poem or story. But I’m not going to worry about it. Someday I will.

Run Aground

Allegheny morning
© Diana Matisz, 2019

I still see your reflection
whenever the river slows
in its infrequently placid way,
kicking out sparkles here and there
just to make sure I notice.
Then a tug will push a barge past,
always laden with the weight
of the world someone’s mined,
all the time arguing
with underlying currents,
unseen snags and shallows,
whining of rusted steel on steel
and the strain of tarred ropes
that bind. And the wake
of their passage slices your image
into slivers of memory, emanating waves
that buoy and ground me as I list
in this spot, unable to move on.

With thanks to my dear friend Diana Matisz, who’s images have inspired me for years and I hope still will for years to come.

Sorry

He’s not too bad a guy. He has feelings as deep, sore and soaring as anyone else’s, I guess. Maybe even more so, we just don’t know. Few have ever seen them as he moved through the vacuum of his days.

I once caught him in one of his brooding moods, the ones maybe you’ve seen or you’ve felt. He broke through the 1,000-mile stare and wall of his self-imposed isolation to look up at me, half-grinned and raised his chin in greeting. He hummed his shrugged-shouldered humph when I inquired how he was.

“So how you doing?”

“I’m doing. Wondering if all this is worth it.”

“All what?” I asked.

“Just doing, being, thinking. You know, like that Descartes guy said, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Maybe I should just stop thinking so much.”

“That’d be no fun.”

Then he surprised me with, “I’m sorry.”

“What are you sorry for? You haven’t done anything to me,” I said.

“I’m sorry because I’ve never expressed to anyone my regrets for my sins and omissions, never cried at their funerals, never spoke up about how I truly felt, never professed my love to those I should have and never moved on from the ones I shouldn’t,” he said.

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked.

“Because you’re the only one I can and that’s what I lament the most,” he said as we each turned away from the mirror and switched off our bathroom light.