Five hundred pounds of turkey
Doesn’t fit in the SUV
Bought to haul students
I no longer teach
Instead we pile bag upon bag
Of potatoes and 40 pies
Cornbread mix, brownie mix
Gravy mix, stuffing or dressing
And the rest of the turkeys follow

Jokes are constantly made about pie thievery.
They run cold and annoying quick.
Leaving me feeling like I should
Have counted the confectionaries I left
But the shaking had started up again
The chills that remind me this is no joke
So I dump the goods and go

Driving again to save some cash
As though the dollar is my chief motivation
Not having is hard to shake
Knowing it’s not good, but
Ignoring the severity on purpose

The building is so new
I can’t find an inlet or an outlet
Dark as it is, and unfinished
Is the neighborhood
Development is more like it
Nondescript enough
That a front isn’t instinct
And the backdoor has a posted sign
Illegible until the door refuses to yield
The tears jump and run fast
Because there’s no more coping left
None – just exhaustion and disease

A heart rate so high a tech is called
Tabs are affixed, a neb is brought
Everyone working quickly
Yet I’m unconvinced I’ve communicated
Clearly enough for them to believe
I’m sick. Too sick.
Not enough to be kept though
Or prescribed the hard stuff,
I insist.
The crying really helped
I’ll be on my way.
We have turkeys to fix
Worship to lead
Appointments to keep checks to write
And cash
Follow the dollars.

At times it’s kinder to assume
That God chooses to let you off the hook
For all the pain you inflict
Because even the Master of the Universe
Knows how hard it is
To clean up collateral damage

Picking shrapnel out of shins
Is better than the alternative
But I run prosecution, judge and jury
Convicted guilty without a proper defense
If only I was the executioner too. I sigh
No concern for the bystanders

In the end, judge as I might
My eyes are not lifted up
Prayers for a calm and quieted soul
Are sometimes fulfilled
Upon remembering that the robe is not mine
I am returned to the flock.

No one seems to be in a hurry
This year to clean the tunnel
Like the film on the roof of my mouth
That my tongue finds too often
I search for the impact spot northbound
That gives a glimmer of the tile
In all its lack of 70’s splendor
Yellow like it’s stained that way
The grime remains until when
When the lanes shut down
The signs go up, the overnight closures
Men in reflective neon suits
Lay down the cones
Take up the wands
And spray their fine powerful mists
The first morning will be remarkable
But by day three it will fade
And you will be complicit
In the fabrication of another layer
One upon another

Women’s Day Eve

schmoyle:

I got to listen to two men today
(One of whom I respected)
Discuss at length
“How things have come so far
For women
These days
More are graduating from college
More are working for higher wages
The battle is fought
The war is won.”
And it took every ounce of my being
To keep my damned mouth shut
I will not negate the work accomplished
But I cannot stomach the back slaps
Of ignorance.
And trying to be someone besides
The angry bitch in the room
Really got me nowhere today.

From a Women’s Day past.

Evy’s Year of High Five

How much excitement
Can hazel eyes contain?
They brighten and change color
At the words:
Kindergarten, school-ager, field trip

If I let you, you could read this poem Like so many words off the etched sidewalk on our way,
“The moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow,” Henry David Thoreau

I love your random facts:
Caecilians are blind.
Peacock tail feathers look like many eyes.
Hairy spiders jump to catch their prey. Eyes in the front, I like to hunt.
Eyes on the side, I like to hide.

You hated the busy work,
And declared your teacher Ms. Frizzle. She wore earrings to match her new moniker.
Hopefully we didn’t ruin you for homework,
Or field day or gym class,
Because they aren’t going anywhere.

But you are
Going so far
That I have little to fear
And will keep my tiny issues at bay Because you grin so wide
Still
When I tell you it’s time for school.

Our duty and our joy

Even worship is relationship
It is more and full and good
When I know the voice
Its frailty and its strength
Because I love the vessel it comes through
Anita and her velvet hat
Mark and his practiced hands
Hugs of care and concern
What at one time felt a bit empty
Has slowly been filled enough
For a drink that may slake the thirst
For close to a week
But I will be back here soon
Because I need it all
To fight off the cold and darkness
The snark that infests
So I beg you to be here with me
To love one another
Our duty and our joy
Because he first loved us
Blessed to be a blessing

Is there ever a time to stop?
Five years, seventeen, thirty-eight
When I no longer look up and catch the date

Bound together by birth order
Bitterness about being beaten by a month
Always wondering what jockeying
Was undertaken for comparison sake

Then we were adults
Stepped slightly out of the shadows
Looming as they were
We talked in passing
Holding our pretty little babies

Flying too close melted your wings
And you were done
With so much force and fury
There weren’t enough flowers in the shops
To fill all the orders for a funeral
Or room in the seats, upstairs or down

Honestly, I was so mad at you
It felt like a stupid risk
For a guy in his thirties with a kid
And I ended up sitting with Grandma
To have the conversation about tragedy
Because I couldn’t protect you like the oldest should

How shall I honor you
Remember you in respectful reverence
Reserved for the deceased
All the trappings feel false
A plaque, a scholarship, a tree?

Will it be enough to count the years
You should have run
Had you finished the race
Intact and whole
A friend I never made
Though a month separated us
The time has passed.

On a day when I sat the six year old down
And taught her about emancipation, segregation,
Lynching and white privilege
We tuned in to see the processions
The finery and the flags
Because frozen solid was the world outside
We had no tickets to the balls or bangs to speak of
Tears welled up because of the impossibility of it all
No sister, no president, no friends, no school
If brave folks hadn’t fought and died
Her whole world would have refused to exist

What she doesn’t know is that sometimes it still refuses
Our rich deep heritage takes over and pushes down
Watch out, it gets weird in the middle
Leaving our enclave of struggle for inclusion
You end up scraping off what you stepped in
Not because you noticed when you put your foot down
But eventually you smell it distant enough to pretend
It doesn’t affect you in any meaningful way
Well meaning, but ignorant to what you’re missing
A huge chunk of the Kingdom, the cross you’ve never known
Hope unborn, reborn, died and resurrected

Again

I’m just going to hold your hands
Because they are cold
Swollen and misshapen
Frostbitten and battered
And you are crying
Drunken sobs
Crocodile tears
They are cold

All you want to do is help
Frantically scraping and stacking
I just want you to stop
For two minutes
So I can warm
Your cartoonishly flat fingers
My kid screaming on my hip
Trying to push bus fare
Into the ice and you take it

Stop.
For the love of it all,
Just stop.

What are you up to when
We aren’t holding your hand?
Beaten on the corner
For your bike
Taking me to task for my racism
Harassing the nurses after saving your life
Real pain on your brother’s death
Getting kicked out of Subway
Routinely.

I don’t want to attend your funeral.
Heck, I don’t want to officiate it either.
And the privileged, spoiled
Response is to believe
I have anything to say
About this at all.

It’s your life
Your choices
Your way of being
In a world that beats
You up regularly,
Almost predictably.
So you get to it first.
Do it, before someone
Does it to you.
For all the power handed to me
I cannot fix this,
Only feed it.
I’m just going to hold your hand.
But you will talk my husband out of his mittens
Later.

Fall Flyover

Around here in flyover country
We occasionally look up and notice
The sharp white lines on the pure blue sky
You leave, and consider you
Crammed into the tiny time worn seats.
But honestly when the hidden lakes
Pop unexpectedly from the red maples
Reflecting a deeper hue than from above
And the air carries an oaky decomposition
The melting frost sparkles each grassy weed
Purple asters catch attention like the last reminders
Of a summer spent on the dock
Where now it’s too cold to dangle your feet
But the geese have stopped to rest
Only a minute before they need to go
And join you above
We raise our eyes as they flyover too.