Truest of Care

Let’s clear the air,
let down our hair,
go on a real tear.
It’s time we dare
our secrets to bare.
Yeah, even go There.
When we were a pair,
not really, but somewhere
more than one and a spare,
I couldn’t help but stare
at that hot chocolate pair
of eyes you wear,
even when you’d glare
at me with your hair
on fire, temper aglare.
I was caught in your snare,
though you weren’t aware
of setting one anywhere.
So let me just declare
I never meant impair
our friendship so fair,
based on trust, a flair
for art and respect I bear
for who you are and ne’er
will forget the rare
thing we once did share.
Not true love, truest of care.

Better late than never (or, God forbid miss a day with only three to go). Life finally got in the way of art. Here’s NaPoWriMo Day 28’s piece, a poem in something resembling Skeltonic Verse, which I’m sure I screwed up. But I had fun running my version out with each line ending with a word rhyming with “air.”

Venus, Galileo & The Center of the Universe

Weren’t you lucky to make
that great discovery,
tipping the axis of not only
your world, but every satellite
held in your gravitational thrall?
But that’s Lady Luck, be she
good, bad or just dumb.
She was impervious to your
celestial attraction, but you
were not to hers. I made such
a discovery, but not until
I passed through your orbit,
and that too close,
for too long.

Salving my burns on the way out,
I was lucky enough to look back
to find you weren’t the center
of my universe. You weren’t
even the center of yours.
But I can live with these scars,
I’ve found other stars around whom
I’ll glide but never alight.
Look all around, not only
down and within, and maybe
someday our paths will
align once again. No longer
cracked mirrors, but diamonds
shining our rainbow illuminations
for whatever short spins
we’ve got left.

Day 7 of Poem-a-Day NaPoWriMo, using a combined prompt for poems of discovery and fortuitousness.

Nothing Lasted Forever

Everything that’s
a thing had a beginning.
They never had one,
never were one, yet
they had something,
just never That thing.
She had no idea
they never had
That, never considered
their’s more than
a friendly, innocuous
(some)thing,
a pleasant, nonspecific
relationship in which
she’d touch him
when they’d laughingly
converse in that
innocuously pleasant
and warmly playful
way people do who might
be beginning one of
Those things. When he
accepted nothing like
That ever began, he
figured at least he’d
never have to suffer
through the pain of
one of Those endings.
But he still does.

On Day 4 of poem-a-day NaPoWriMo, I combined Writers Digest’s two-fer prompt of a beginning and/or ending poem, as well as the prompt from NaPoWriMo.org. It called for writing a poem with a secret – in other words, a poem with a word or idea or line that it isn’t expressing directly. I’m on a roll of mushy. You figure it out.

STET ~ A Story

After reading his latest message, Alice Blanchard had enough of Clive Swindell. She balled up this note, tossing it at and missing the wire wastebasket next to her writing table in her tiny apartment.

“Honestly, Lucy, that man makes me so angry I could…” Alice finished her sentence with a sob.

“What’d the jerk say this time, Alice?” her roommate Lucy Watkins said as she picked up the offending projectile and smoothed out its prose, which, essentially, was what Swindell was telling Alice to do in the first place. Only Lucy did it much more gently.

“He says this latest draft of my novel lacked any discernible plot, was short on dialogue and action, and long on exposition and, what he called ‘the mewling and mawkish meandering of some high school girl.’ The publisher is expecting this manuscript in two weeks. Now I’ve got to type the whole thing out again with the changes he’s ordering based on what I think is his personal animosity toward me,” Alice said as she pulled the marked up manuscript of her second book from a large manila envelope.

“Looks like it’s bleeding blue blood, Alice. Like Swindell took out his poison pen and just kept stabbing it.”

“The publisher loved my first novel. Not sure why they assigned their — and I quote — best man to be my editor. He’s downright rude and demeaning. I’m going to take the train downtown to his office — uh-gain — and confront him with his edits. I followed every one of his ‘suggestions’ last time, the time before that, and the four or five times before that, and look at this,” Alice said, fanning the pages of her manuscript in such a way that its passing pages looked like a light blue wave crashing on her writing table.

“And all he does is look at me, barely blinking, saying, ‘Well, Mis Alice Blanchard, I’m trying to help you make a success of this book and we’ll keep working on it until it shines,’ like I didn’t know what I was doing.”
“Maybe he hates women,” Lucy said.

“I just know he’s mean to his secretary and pretty mean to me,” Alice said, putting on her best hat and gloves and heading for the door. “Don’t hold up supper, Lucy, I should be back before 5:00.”

Alice silently practiced what she planned to say to Swindell when she got to his office. She recalled the meeting with the editor where he had tossed the third draft of her novel manuscript at her from across his desk.

“Not nearly good enough yet, Miss Alice Blanchard,” he said. “I wish to be carried along on the emotional wave of your heart and voice in this work.”

“He’s never written his own novel, you know. He’s really just a poet,” his secretary told Alice. “Probably editing and polishing it until he’s satisfied…which will be never. One of his authors told me if he’d kept rewriting until Swindell said his book was finished, he’d be waiting until that Hitler fella came over and planted a kiss on President Roosevelt.”

Alice grinned and rose from her seat in anticipation of the subway grinding to a stop down in mid-Manhattan’s Flatiron District. She walked right by the secretary and knocked once then burst into Swindell’s office.

“Why, Miss Alice Blanchard, what a surprise to see you here. Have you completed your redraft already?” Swindell said, not the least startled nor perturbed by Alice’s abrupt entrance.

Swindell was a man in his late forties who always wore a suit, keeping his jacket buttoned and rep tie knotted at his starched collar. On his desk stood four columns of manuscripts, each about a foot tall and as perfectly square and plumb as the building in which they sat. In the darkest corner of the office, a Victrola played a recording of Leopold Stokowski leading the Philadelphia Orchestra in Brahms Symphony No. 4.

“No, Mr. Swindell, I haven’t completed my redraft. How many redrafts do you expect me to do when you have me change something only to mark that you want it changed again? Sometimes back to the way I had it in the first place.”

“Believe me, Miss Alice Blanchard, I have only the best interests of this company — and you, the author — to ensure this novel will shine to the sun-bright promise of my not insignificant editorial gifts. And yours as writer, as well, of course,” Swindell said. Then he just stared at Alice.

“Well, Mr. Swindell, I think you and your ‘not insignificant gifts’ can take a long walk off a short pier. I want you to take one more look at this manuscript, not with your eyes, but with those of the readers who might plop down their money to buy it. Show it to your bosses, too. See what they say.” Alice pushed the marked up manuscript across the mahogany desktop toward the editor.

“I expect you’ll be sending it back to me, a mess of blue pencil on each page, but I don’t think I can make it any better than it already is…and has been,” she said, turning and walking out the door without waiting for Swindell to reply.

On the train headed back home, Alice thought, Well, that’s it for this publishing house. Maybe I can take this manuscript to another one after I it back with my letter of rejection.

Two weeks later, a fat manila envelope arrived at Alice and Lucy’s door. Inside was a proof of her manuscript and a letter from the publisher that said in its first paragraph they were ready to take it to print.

“Yee-haw, the Texas-born Lucy shouted. “That’ll show that tight-ass Swindell. What’s that other one?” she said, pointing to a second envelope with the publisher’s address in the upper left-hand corner.

“Don’t know,” Alice replied as she sliced the top open with a steak knife. Again, it was a pile of pages, wrapped in brown paper, with a cover letter on top.

Alice took the letter and began to read it.

“It’s an apology from the vice president for my having to rewrite my book so many times and go see Swindell about it each time I did,” she said. As Alice continued to read the letter, her face grew pale and she gave a short gasp.

“Lu, Swindell’s dead. Found him slumped at his desk over a file with my name on it: ‘Miss Alice Blanchard.’ The letter says they decided to send them to me because…”

Lucy unwrapped the brown paper surrounding the envelope’s contents and said, “Honey, these are all hand-written in blue pencil and they’re poetry.”

Alice took the first page and read:

If Only Alice
When the light of day follows the sun
to its westward bed, and clouds tuck in
the moon and stars, I sometimes wonder
what it would be like.
If.
That’s when I see my clearest,
when the distractions of the real
don’t encroach on this vision moment
where the voice in my head echoes the same
sad reverie as perhaps yours might.
If.
That’s why I share this bed with
naught but a weighty conjunction,
a supposition called on account of darkness,
a two-letter regret wrapped in desire
and a vision of you in the not-there.
If.

“They’re all love poems, honey,” Lucy said. And it looks like they’re to … you.”

“I was so sure he hated me. Why else would he keep sending me back edited and re-edited manuscripts? Oh. Oh my, just so I’d come down…”

Alice took the pages from Lucy and fanned through them, seeing her name here and there, as if floating upon the emotion, hearing it in Clive Swindell’s voice above the roar of his final heartbeat wave of blue on white.

Rough two-hour first-draft story in response to Annie Fuller’s Writing Outside the lines prompt of this quote from William Wordsworth: “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” I thought of setting this story in New York City in ,ohhhh, say 1934. Don’t know why. It’s just how I saw it.

That’s one of my old poems I repurposed for the scene. Oh, and STET is editor code for “let it stand,” an instruction on a printed proof to indicate that a correction or alteration should be ignored.

Dead Wrong Dead Reckoning

From that first moment he saw her,
he was sure.
Or so his story goes.
He envisioned her as Hesperia,
nymph of incendiary sunset, while
the deck beneath him soared
and dipped upon the swells
and troughs of uncharted oceans.
He never admitted this to her
until years later, another
of his rosary of miscalculations.
But, to the fearful man, merely
tossing adrift on her sensuous sea
brought such exquisite terror.

After the truth escaped him,
and she warned him off
her shameful shallows,
he dove headfirst anyway and
dashed himself upon the rocks.
The death of his hapless hopes
in her storm-tossed seas
didn’t kill the dreamer, though.
Only as a castaway did he discover
she actually was the red sky at morning
and he just another wrong-way
mariner lost to the vast
emptiness, steering his course
without compass, so dead wrong
by his own dead reckoning.

Free written poem based on the following quote from Annie Fuller by Jay Asher for her Writing Outside the Lines Challenge:

“… know me …
don’t just see me with your eyes …”

Perhaps this lost soul should have looked beyond her sun-bright gifts and into her shadows to ensure his bearings before he was lost.

Whatever the Heart Has Left To Take

The gentle man always was
a tick slow on the uptake,
blind to the foibles
and shortcomings of the angels,
fallen and otherwise, who
he believed encouraged him,
with a virtual handkerchief drop,
to voice his feelings
to (about) them.
But that exposed the soft anatomy
of his misplaced humanity
to their talon-sharp vanity.

So to unspoken words he turned.
Not the gesture, the expression
nor the tender touch the angels
always returned unopened.
He spoke instead to
the tissue-thin mirror
of a notebook’s page,
which sometimes reflected
his words to a keyboard
which echoed them
to you and you…and You.

You may read them
as love letters if you wish,
even though they’re unaddressed.
Read them today or whenever
you wish to feel what
he never got to…
except from the page.
The page always takes
to its heart whatever his heart
has left to take there.

Written on the 7th, but felt like sleeping with it. My poem-a-day run continues, as well as my weekly piece for Annie Fuller’s Writing Outside the Lines Challenge. This week’s prompt is that illustration up there.

Here Behind the Golden Door

What does it take
to leave your home,
your land, all the people
who shared your heritage,
maybe even your name,
to step into the unknown?
Your destination may shine
like the golden door
the green lady lights
with her uplifted lamp.

What’s it like to line up
for the unknown darkness
with the tired and poor,
hell, the wretched refuse?
See how she invites
all of these, the homeless
and tempest-tossed, to join
in breathing the clear,
the fetid, the piney,
the prairie, the briny,
all of this air
redolent of freedom?

You don’t have to know,
my friend. A handful of
men and women, members
of those unintelligible
huddled masses, each
with your name, or
maybe something like it,
stood in the box and
answered them for you
so you could be born
there on second base,
think you hit a triple
and call this place Home.

Don’t know where this came from. Maybe it came across my creative ocean because I’m tracing my roots back to Ireland, Bavaria and Hesse and have run into the antithesis of a golden door, more a leaden wall.  We’re so lucky, ya know?