“Stampede Of Presence” by Vicki Batkin

His spirit dances into my semi-conscious mind,
while I’m under the influence of the needles.
I feel peace.
“Did you relax?” she says,
as she enters the room,
to extract the thin sharp stainless steel from my body
Yes, I reply with my bones feeling heavy.
Gingerly, I sit up,
and notice a bright orange shoe-horn,
clinging to the coat-hanger.
It’s the only color
in this small, pale room.
And, it’s over a foot long.
I did not notice that when I arrived.
Through the dust from the stampede,
I wipe my eyes and look again.
He used a shoe-horn.
Orange
and long.
“For Christ-sake, use a shoe-horn”
He would say, over and over
“You can’t ruin the integrity of the shoe”
“And the sock will suffer as well”.
Of course, I thought,
wearing a baby’s brain
with an old man’s heart.
I don’t need knowledge
when I found wisdom
And…
Sometimes Good is better than Clever
I promise to never ruin the integrity of the shoe
I promise the sock will not suffer
And…
I promise to use a shoe-horn.
If you promise to keep showing up

Vicki Batkin

© 2011

“If…” by L. K. Thayer

I’ve laid in bed at my grandparent’s
house, the one at the lake
where my mother still lives
and heard the train whistle blow
from across the water, echo
the sound of home.
the smell of lilacs and suntan lotion
the sound of Loons calling for
their mate and I wonder,
if my dad hadn’t left
would I have a mated too?

did he look for me in my toy box
playing with my dolls?
did he see me come home with
bloody toes from riding my tricycle
barefoot up to the corner store for candy?
on the front lawn, he bounced a beach ball
on my head, that was him wasn’t it?
I waited for him to meet me after school
he never showed,
we didn’t know what happened to him or
where he had gone.

I found him later , across from me
stuttering in the booth at the delicatessen off hi-way 12.
I was 18. I was with my brother, who couldn’t
yet walk, when he split. His parents
lived just down the block, they never came
to see us. He sent music &
cards after we met & wrote I love you in crooked script.
I didn’t think him sending me the song Lisa, Sad Lisa,
by Cat Stevens, was a very thoughtful gift,
but he was never
really tuned in so how would he know.
he called me a few times, his voice
hollow, I didn’t like
the sound of him.

please

don’t call back.

L. K. Thayer’s Foto Fetish

© 2010

“Latin for the Motorman’s Daughter” by Sarah Mac Donald

https://i0.wp.com/www.vroma.org/images/raia_images/girl_bones.jpg

I have fallen in love with Latin again.
Latin words – miserere nobis, Deo gratias,
Agnus Dei, pax vobiscum.

I studied Latin in high school.
It was supposed to be good for me, a classical education.
Appropriate for the motorman’s daughter,
who knew all the stops on the IRT
and rode the Dinky to school.

The teacher talked of declining verbs.
Decline – what does that mean?
Present indicative – I’d like to decline
you touching my breast.
Subjunctive – I would rather
you take your hand out of my pants.
Pluperfect – it would have been pluperfect
If you’d have gotten the hell out of here.

I memorized it all – amo, amas, amat.
all her words had different meanings to me.
Who loves me? Does he love me?
Does anyone love me?
But there was no perfect in my life, much less pluperfect.
I wasn’t loved. I hadn’t been loved.
I would not ever have been loved.

I learned it all.
I learned to decline verbs
And roll myself into a ball when someone touched me.

I learned the indicative of touch,
The perfect of grope,
The subjunctive of fondle,
The pluperfect of stroke.
All in Latin,
perfect for the motorman’s daughter.

Sarah Mac Donald

© 2010

“Between Worlds” by Vida Vierra

“The moment I faced the inevitable loss of my Father…”

Despite the freshness of this warm
New England morning, I cannot take a deep
breath. The cleansing winds and morning dew fail to penetrate into that realm of the bardo I am traversing.

It is day four of the Hostage Crisis. Francis Xavier, having been captured by Parkinson’s, is now enduring the torture of dementia. He had once remarked to his children “this disease is my prison”. Now sentenced, he lays helpless on the over starched sheets, behind the metal bars of the bed made by fate. Faded flowered smocks press up against his face as rubber gloved hands administer protocols masquerading as “Care”. Through my shallow breath I must gather my courage to once again press that buzzer and enter the security doors of this Purgatory.

After these last three days, I now understand why a guard is necessary.
My heart aches with an unnameable grief.
For three days I have been cursed as a stranger, a threatening shadow being who kisses his trembling hands. I feel like a hungry ghost, longing for the days when we feasted on politics, mystics, and laughter.
Where is the “How to” book for this unprepared moment of Now? Dear God, how can such a giant evaporate before a daughter’s eyes? Hail Mary, can your Grace open a new passage way through this labyrinth? As I turn the corner of these dim lit walls I hover, suspended between heaven and earth. I dare not breathe in the inevitable.

The only sunlit window revealing life as we know it on earth is at the end of his hallway. I chase away the image of the clear, white light. My palms now sweating, I steady my legs unsure if I can withstand another day of rejection. Once again I cross the threshold of his dark, gray room lit only by the blue light of “Jeopardy”.

As I enter the gate for this race against time I summon a deep breath as if I am about to push in labor. I will overcome my life long vertigo. I will jump off that bridge between this world and the next. With my brightest daughter’s smile that

was always his, I dive.

Vida Vierra

Photo by VC Ferry

All Rights Reserved

© 2010

“Exit Softly” by Julie Dolcemaschio

I drew breath the night she took her last
And vibrated with her passing
I waxed as she waned
And I told her it was alright to leave

I pushed between the spaces of my living
And for every breath she took, I gave her more of mine
Hoping that it would give me a few more minutes
Yet hoping it wouldn’t

She hurt enough
She suffered enough
She endured enough

In her last breath the good daughter urged her on
And in her final moments a single tear traced the lines of her face
Now taut over structure bones no longer needed in this life
She told me once that a life lived full was all that was required
And that passing the test required only a smile

I watched her exit softly in the late night quiet
Reverence for the passing of royalty
And as that final tear caressed her cheek
I saw God, and I asked him to hold her hand

She was a bit unsteady
And had a fear of falling

Julie Dolcemaschio

Photo by VC Ferry

All Rights Reserved

© 2010

“The Hallway” by Adesh Kaur

Adesh Kaur

The dead father and a howling daughter.
De, de, deny thy father and… you’ll
no longer be….
–JoJo, let the poets cry themselves
to sleep! Aye, fly away home, captain.
De part dearly.

Hey, pumpkin head, how ‘boot that?
It’s cold & dark. A frozen lake.
Bundle up.
Mittens still warmish & cocoa
I will make for thee before
you wake.

You were the hallway narrowing its heart.
You were a bedroom hitchhiking a plan.
You were one revolver who loved you back.
You were a mouth open to the refrains.
You were the trigger-man with no slack.
You were the bullet wanting to part.
I, am your splattered brains.

Adesh Kaur

All Rights Reserved

© 2009