Unreasonable

Each night I lie in bed
and ponder why I still sit
in that chair every day
trying to tell stories
of a me and a you
that never happened,
why I scribble about memories
that are the barest of vapors
moved by a breath I’ll
never feel on my cheek.
These days I ponder
that same question even
as I sit in this chair
talking to myself alone and
not listening, just transcribing
the silence where once spoke reason.
Maybe that’s why I still do this.
I’m searching for reason
where reason doesn’t exist.
No longer reasonable,
yet unreasonably necessary.

Day 17. A “reason” poem. It’s true. I lie in bed at night and wonder why I even do this pointless exercise, this seemingly fruitless waste of what time I have left. Then I get up, sit in this chair, open a new document, start typing and still don’t know why. Maybe that last sentence, which I just looked up and found sitting there, is my unconscious self’s explanation. It’s necessary for at least one of us.

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Taken

Photo copyright K. S. Brooks.

In the evening she told me her name was Kahwihta. And when I asked how many in her basket, with what I figured was a universal kind of gesture, she held up two hands and shook all the fingers, then one hand with the thumb and first finger extended.

Tékeni iawén:re,” she said, which I guess meant a dozen.

“Well, now, that’s enough apples to make a fine pie,” I said. But I was sure flour and cinnamon were in short supply here near Ta-ra-jo-rees, the village of the Turtle Clan. I was camped on the south shore of their River Flowing Around the Mountain. We call it the Mohawk.

I’d been surveying there in the wilderness for three weeks. The geography was perfect for one supporting grazing and farming, which is what Mister Proctor, the land speculator, had sent me to assay.

Sir William Johnson, His Majesty’s agent among these people, had warned me off, lest I incur a deadly suspicion among his charges. I believe he was trying to keep this land for his own devices, since he has become almost one of the natives and keeps a Mohawk woman, who he calls his wife.

And if she looks anything like Kahwihta, I can understand why.

With what pieces of the language I’d learned, I said, “Konnòn:we’s,” which I think meant “I like you.” Since she dropped her head and giggled behind her hand, I surmised I must have said the right thing. So I reckoned I might as well try to be more like Johnson.

Kwah tokén:’en sén:ta’wh?” I said, which I believed meant to have a good sleep. I pointed at her and then to myself and then the soft fur robe on the floor of my tent.

Kahwihta giggled again and laid down, which surprised and encouraged me in a very fine manner. I was hoping the language of love was as universal as the poets say. I laid down next to her and pulled the robe over us. In the light from my campfire through the canvas, her skin glowed like polished bronze. 

Kahwihta turned toward me and repeated, “Kwah tokén:’en sén:ta’wh.” After that, I remember nothing of the night.

Next I know, I am waking, waking with this vicious pain behind my head, lying there in the open beneath the trees. My tent is gone, as well as my gun, powder and lead, surveying instruments, maps, ledgers, drawing tools, everything. Well, not quite everything.

I still had the clothes on my back and my knife. And there on the robe next to me were seven red apples. I surmised Kahwihta must have felt some remorse that probably one of her brothers entered the tent and tried to crush my skull with his warclub. That he failed was scant comfort in light of the bloody, swollen gash on the back of my head. 

I stumbled to my feet and felt a dizziness like I’d not known before. Thereafter I fell to my knees and spewed my previous day’s victuals on the ground next to me. 

I felt it wise to leave behind, in greatest haste, the village of Ta-ra-jo-rees as best I could, lest Kahwihta’s brothers returned to take my clothes and life, too. So I gathered up my robe, tying within it the seven apples of regret left by the comely Kahwihta. I then crawled on my hands and knees, like some beast of the wild, into the dense forest surrounding me.

It took me four days and every apple to reach Fort Hunter to the north by east. 

I should be quite grateful to Kahwihta, for I’m sure it was through her intercession that I am here today to tell my story of that verdant valley and the beautiful Mohawk girl. I blame myself, my arrogance and my poor language skills for all of this: my failed mission, the loss of my gun and the tools of my profession. and my near-death. 

You see, one of the old scouts at Fort Hunter told me what Kahwihta means in the Mohawk tongue. It means She Takes it With Her.

Indeed.

This story started out as a hoped-for 250-words or less piece of flash fiction for the weekly contest at Indies Unlimited website. But then, as usual, creative momentum and a too-long-dormant story-telling muscle went on a spree.  Yeah, it’s rough as a cob, but it’s just shy of 700 words, so it still qualifies as flash. And I feel better for having stuck with it.

Somewhere Between Pillar and Post

It’s a cold world, I learned without a teacher,
the lesson taught absent studying books.
When it’s hot, I found it’s not a feature
of sweet life either, just stinging right hooks.

You may have found your Life’s temperate mean,
the average sweet spot twixt cold and hot.
I thought Life’s race took a binary lean,
chill pillar OR scorching post, like as not.

Maybe you’re lucky and found one to care
from the broad spectrum of persons you’ve met.
Life gives no hoots since I chose not to dare
to ask one of them for a hug, and yet…

What? Slow down and sit with you for some rest?
Yes, it’s warm here with your head on my chest.

I Know She’s Out There…Somewhere

Sometimes I wonder if
I ever actually felt her warmth,
sensed her, breathed her in.
I look back and question
any place in my life where
I stood in her presence,
held her, or she held me.
I wonder if she was
nothing more than a dream I had,
when I still had dreams,
an ideal that kept me on
a path to be the nice polite boy
and good strong man, since
that was the way they said
one took to win her favor.
But I never did experience
her love and,
like most sore losers,
I have doubts now she
even exists. Perhaps, in this,
my last dream, if I stopped
searching so hard, one day
Peace will find me.

Sweet Angel, Take My Hand

The allure of diving into
the forbidden places
sits at the corners
never really hiding,
ready to saunter to
your shoulder and whisper
her practiced patter.
She’s not a demon,
a demon would never
entice you with something
as benign as a hot fudge sundae.
She could be an angel, though,
because she brings you
the message of how good
you’ll feel when you
taste a lick from that cone
of chocolate-vanilla swirl
or from that swirl of lips and hips.
Why else would God make them
but to allow us to feel loved,
blindly blissful in that
moment of contact?
Ahhh, captivating contact.
Ooooh, sweet surrender.
Oh, Angel, you still lead me
and my pen into temptation.
Take my hand and never stop
delivering me these songs
of blessed evil, these
wicked blessings.

Day #18 of NaPoWriMo and the Poem-a-Day Challenge. Today’s prompt was for a Temptation poem. Temptations come in many packages, colors and flavors.They can whisper in your ear, dazzle your eye, lead you by the hand or take your heart and carry it where you may not ever thought you’d go. But you do…willingly.

Spray It

This sheet of white requires
some serious spitting.
A mouth full of dark words
with which I can sully,
besmirch or otherwise defile
this expanse of pure virgin
nothing.

They don’t have to be dirty words,
though I’ve spit my share before.
They can start out muddy, though, I guess.
My desperation requires
such desecration. So I’m marshaling
as much poetic or fictive invective
as this arid mouth can hold.

I can feel it drip down the back
of my creatively parched throat.
And what spittle I’ve coughed up
is this hairball croak you’ve
just read.

Thank God for that.

A tribute to the writers who have experienced the paralysis by analysis of the blank page and even blanker mind. Sometimes you just have to open your creative mouth and let it rip. Just start writing…anything. And so I did.

The Beard

I found it while culling old photos
that no one need keep — nor even see —
once I’m gone. It shows dark-haired me,
clear-eyed, smiling, hopeful, happy me.
At least I think it might be me,
despite that captured joy and smoothness.
The other reason I’m somewhat unsure of
the subject’s identity is because
the young fellow in these photos has
longish hair and a pretty nice beard.
A full beard, on a face shining with optimism,
even if it is out-of-focus.
I placed the photo in the bottom
of a shoebox in the closet with
the full-length mirror on the door.
The mirror that shows the image of
the silver-haired guy whose mouth sags
on the left side when he attempts to smile,
as if he’s afraid his face might slough off
the front of his head if he gave in
to full expressions of joy.
That’s the mirror where I stare into
the pair of burrows where nest the windows
of my soul. Deep within, it’s like I
can see inside the shoebox behind the door.
I still wonder what happened to that youngster,
but I at least know I can still find him.