“The Wedding” by C. Jean Pearlstein

I slipped the CD into my laptop and loaded the pictures.  I’d made the copies when I was in San Jose staying with my cousin Debbie.  I always stay with her when I’m up North visiting my mother.  I’m in too much pain dealing with her without backup, and Debbie’s support and caring provide comfort for a time that assaults my protective shield.
I’m looking at an enlarged black and white photo of my grandfather, Meyer, with the four daughters of his marriage to my Grandmother Minnie, then dead for three years from metastacized breast cancer.  Meyer was referred to as “the bastard”, his cruelty this family’s legend.
The stories of my grandparents, not just the four biological ones but the two I acquired at seven, are a core part of who I am—not just physically but most critical, emotionally.
Meyer stands in the middle, a wide grin atop a pinstripe double suit.  I was shocked to recognize that face 12 years ago in the delivery room, looking at my youngest grandson.  Each of the four dissimilar sisters that flank him have their own tale, but my eyes pop to his far left, to my mother, the eldest.
She is the shortest, and she looks happiest, even happier than the bride, her sister, Annette just to her right.  It’s a sunny day, and she looks so young and carefree at age 26.  I get a dull sinking feeling in my chest and abdomen as I write these words, even as I did a few years ago when I saw the photo for the first time.  There is almost 70 years of me tangled threads in the proof of her detachment and lack of engagement with the little blonde girl left behind in LA when she fled to Oakland.
It’s a bright day and flowers abound.  A tall blooming trumpet vine advertises behind Mother and Annette, there are flowers in the sisters’ hair, on Annette and Mother’s dresses, and in baskets hanging from the porch roof of the light brick and stucco house behind them.  Through the shadowed glass window, a flowering plant, bookcases and furniture peer through.
I look at her again, her hair was wavy and swept back from her still youthful face, dark brown with reddish highlights before she started dyeing it red.  Manicured polished nails are visible on her arm folded to clasp her stylish purse, no other purses are visible.
A fresh wave of pain grabs me when I look at her picture—she is free, and enjoying her young life.  She’s rid herself of the burdens she could not bear—the toddler whose independence, energy and contrariness were beyond her, the volatile critical husband, and the child in her womb she secretly disposed of after she left LA.  She returned North to draw the last succor from her dying mother.
Because of her decision, my life took a different course, perhaps a better one.  Her return almost three years ago after a 65-year absence seemed unbearable, breaking an old, thick scab over and over, extending the healing of the wound.
Now I realize it is an amazing gift.  At almost 89, due to her own determination and perseverance and some small measure to my long distance intervention during her physical and emotional crises, she is thriving.  I block myself from letting her into my long protected inner chamber, but the layered little girl inside of me now has her Mommy back.

C. Jean Pearlstein

© 2011

“Idol Worship” by C. Jean Pearlstein

I saw them
Before the three phony stars
Whose shit stinks like everyone elses
A chance to come to Hollywood
Be melted into malleable puddle

Hollywood, just south of my home, north Hollywood
Home to human trafficking, pedophilia
Porn, S&M shops, whoring,  wifebeating
And every illicit drug on the planet

Homeless youth broken, wander the streets
Boys and girls sell their ass and give
Blow jobs for a pittance

Powerful men and stage struck mothers
Complicit in offering up fresh cunts
Ensure the ready supply with promise
Of stardom
Kardashian Brittany Paris notoriety

Not talent, hard work, years of training
Discovery
To be used , fucked, fucked up, fucked over
Die on the street skid row
Run down room.

Predators feed the media blitz
500 channels 24/7
A fresh supply of meat
Arrives daily on Greyhound
Hitched trucks
Airplanes accompanied by
Celebrity obsessed parents

I say, for what?
I say, why not?
Lead the calves to the holding pen
Fatten them with unreachable fantasies
Herd them with penis prods
Down the chutes
To be slaughtered
And fashioned
Into the Golden Calf

C. Jean Pearlstein

L. K. Thayer’s Foto Fetish

© 2011

“Tomatoes” by C. Jean Pearlstein

I unloaded the box of Costco tomatoes from the car
Perfectly round, red but not overripe, each
Fits into its appointed hollow in the plastic
Form inserted into the cardboard crate.

I bought them because they’re cheap, and
We eat lots of tomatoes
Even in the summer when we get some from the garden.
Each day I eat one, sliced on my
Sandwich, and wedged, they’re large.

As I cut them and handle them it dawns on me—they’re clones
Identical in every respect for easy harvest,
Shipping, storage and to entice buyers.

Just like at the gym, two women
One young, one much older
Working out on either side of me
My grandma breasts hang low and flat
Theirs defy gravity, identical, perfectly round,
And firm with outie nipples
Waiting to be plucked off the shelf
Taken home
And eaten.

C. Jean Pearlstein

© 2010

“The Bridge To Nowhere” by C. Jean Pearlstein

L.A. Times article on valued added by LAUSD teachers
Ranking them by name.
Final blow for struggling, depressed young man
He jumped off the bridge
Jumped to freedom from brutal pain
Jumped to freedom from humiliation
Jumped from possible reprimand or job loss
Potential heard in children’s memories, lost
A son, lost
A mentor, lost

Later, tender hearted Tyler Clement
Outed on Skype broadcast
Unthinking, reptilian brain cruelty and callousness
A talented musician lost hope
Lost hope for a good life
Lost hope for acceptance
Lost hope for ecstatic pleasure

Jumped off the bridge
Writing this tears roll down my face
The daughter, mother, and grandmother of sensitive young men and women,

a teacher, a tender hearted nurse, and music students.
Welcome to the information highway.

C. Jean Pearlstein

© 2010

“En France” by C. Jean Pearlstein

https://i1.wp.com/www2.worthingtonlibraries.org/teen/blog/Image/travel/france_eiffeltower_2001_07_122.jpg

Vermillion trousers targets
Blood red French soldiers
Blood soaked fields sprouted
Poppies, blood red
Blood and bodies fertilize France’s fields
Verdant green and silent now
Bleeding up through two wars
The first, “for nothing”
Prince’s assassination and stale mutual support agreements
Bled France dry of one in four young men, for what?
Vermillion dye lobbyists convinced French
Procurers to use red trousers
Perfect trajectory for German bullets

Trenches silent and abandoned decked in lush forest greenery
Hidden atop hills and deep valleys
Profuse Allied graveyards sprinkled throughout countryside with the blood
Sought out by grandsons and granddaughters searching for meaning
Reminding grateful France of sacrifices
By Allied brethren.

Shiny black German crosses clustered in
Small, obscure places, shared graves
To not offend the victors
Of the peace that ended peace.

Special brown spotted Normandy cows
Viking cargo of first millennium
Chew cuds, nurse calves, roll in fields in bucolic splendor
Give special flavored milk for cheese, butter, and meat
Delighting tourists
Nourished in the blood that was
Spilled in the soil that
Fed the grass that
Sustained the cow that
Gave the food that
We ate on our trip to France.

C. Jean Pearlstein
© June 8, 2010

“Movie Night” by C. Jean Pearlstein

I hurry from my car to find
My place at the gentrified corner
Restaurant among my sister’s friends
It’s a warm and sunny afternoon
The outdoor umbrellas shield us from
The glare
Cacophonous voices examine in
Detail the parking logistics of
One couple.

One long time friend tries to shush the volume of the elder woman
We are all old, senior citizens
Attending weeknight movie previews
The movie centers on a young
Hawaiian princess of the 19th century
Of her love, and loss
Punctuated by sarcastic whispers
Who forgot what it’s like to
Be young, and juicy, and needy.
“I love all women”, my Sis told me earlier.
I rise and leave the theater
In the dark, while the credits scroll.

C. Jean Pearlstein

L. K. Thayer’s Foto Fetish

© 2010

“Jello” by C. Jean Pearlstein

Jean playing her banjo

Daddy and I sit in the small nook in the linoleum kitchen
Grandma sets our dinner down on the small table
She’s smiling, damp wisps of curly light brown hair curl around her angel face.
We enjoy our dinner, and then she brings the dessert.

It’s Jell-O, green, with big air holes, rubbery like chewing gum
Daddy takes a bite, explodes in a rage
Name calling, berating
Grandma starts crying, slips down onto the floor, weeping.
We take her to Union Station, she gets on the train, waves goodbye, and goes back to St. Louis.

I’m sitting alone in the open army surplus jeep, it’s dark out in the night stars
And cold, and I’m hungry, shivering
Daddy’s in the market buying Franco-American spaghetti, and liver to fry with onions
And condensed canned milk for me to drink
I’m so alone, no one knows, not even me.

C. Jean Pearlstein

L. K. Thayer’s Foto Fetish

© 2010

“A Day In The City” by C. Jean Pearlstein

My eyes eat up the lascivious display of greenery
And blossoms
In the canyon
We slither down to the city
To take in a movie
In French
We prepare for our voyage, listening
To language tapes
To face the Gaults
As we’re never prepared
To face each other
“What do you mean by ‘lascivious’?”
He asks, head bent over the newspaper
A rare glance at my poem
Revealing a puzzle
The left brain must pursue
To a logical answer
“It’s poetry”
I want to say, “By needing to ask the question, you may not feel my meaning.”
I smile, and move into the kitchen.

C. Jean Pearlstein

Photo by VC Ferry

© 2010