Billy’s life of quiet desperation
never before concerned you,
so why pretend to care now?
I stepped in to fill the void you left
when you snuck away with Ted,
taking with you all Billy held dear.
You always were one to capitalize
on a situation others find abhorrent—
your optimism extending to no one but you.
Soon enough he’ll be out of reach.
Is that what drives you to grasp for him now?
Is that why you squeeze those tears onto his pillow?
I long ago learned the futility of trying to best you.
You play the game better than I,
never questioning the value of the prize.
If my tragic flaw is clarity of vision, so be it.
I’ll offer you my eyes and feel my way home,
blind to all, including that in me which I hate in you.
I read books of my own choosing.
I think my own thoughts.
I write about my own convictions.
I have no teachers, professors,
administrators, school boards,
bosses, editors, Facebook “friends,”
not even an audience—real or imagined—
to tell me what is or is not acceptable.
There are no golden handcuffs on me.
I am dangerous because I am free.
My mouth is dry,
my tongue thick and heavy.
It feels foreign,
as if it doesn’t belong to me.
Would my body betray me that way?
Perhaps I just need a glass of water
—but I’ve downed six or seven today,
and the thirst remains, unslaked, unmoved.
My lips are cracked,
and opening them hurts.
I’ve started communicating
but I miss them terribly.
Is this state of affairs temporary?
Could it be my very own
winter of discontent?
Out front, six or seven crocuses
are preparing to enter from stage left.
Daffodils and tulips will share the spotlight next.
Water from today’s rain puddles in their curled leaves.
I wonder if it’s enough for me.
Charlotte is gone,
and she’s never coming back.
Amy is as sure of this
as she is of the rose
beneath her nose
(a flower with no scent).
It’s OK. It’s OK. It’s OK.
Amy repeats it like a mantra,
willing her respiratory system
to attend to the soul,
not just the blood and guts.
Charlotte has uprooted herself.
Amy’s new additions
appeal more than anything
grown from old seed.
not prone to disease,
a safe bet.
Charlotte will be fine
in her new bed.
She comes from
She has weathered
drought and flood,
from deer and dogs,
cats and rats,
and nosy neighbors
trying to dig her up
or cut her down.
Amy will keep
digging in the dirt,
separating perfect limb
from damaged limb,
adding the latest
offerings she finds online.
She’ll water, weed, fertilize
—in short, ensure that
her carefully cultivated,
stays so full of flowers,
she never notices
I jumped through school hoops
better than all but two of my peers
and was happy to keep my mouth shut.
At college I outplayed most of my mates,
simply by following the directions, and
typing up the words that were wanted.
It was early success for a slow learner
unable to figure out the important stuff
until her life was at least half over.
How does one know the difference
between self-preservation and self-effacement?
Distrusting appearances seems like a good place to start,
but where does one travel from there?
When foolishness is wisdom,
weakness is strength,
and suffering is good for you,
is recognition of humility pride?
Parables, commentaries, and critical analyses turn me in circles
—and leave me in a heap with my tongue hanging out.
My word hoard
continues to grow.
Soon there will be
no room for me.
too good-for-someday only.
I try to add nothing,
try to take nothing.
I need the silence,
but can’t remember
where I put it.