“Family Shrapnel” by L.K. Thayer

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My mom asked me,“was I a bad mother?”
she couldn’t remember how she’d mothered us
it was all more about coping, surviving & needlepoint
painting the wall bittersweet
the emerald green carpet, white wicker furniture
and collecting brass birdcages
she would douse herself in Estee Lauder
enough to choke the neighbors down the hall
I think she must have been in a state of shock
for a few years
just went on automatic kamakzie pilot
when the “D” bomb went off
the family shrapnel blew out into tiny
pieces in tiny hands
cupping Campbell’s tomato soup
with grilled cheese sandwiches for supper
helping us on and off with our winter snow suits
& boots & hats & mittens
on & off with mosquito spray
on & off with life preservers
from Fargo for God’s sake…
icicles running down our little snot noses
slipping on the ice chin first,
bleeding into Kleenex tissues
(there goes my Sonya Hieny skating career)
the mother thing…
I dodged that bullet
I picked up the worry gene
from my grandmother
that
and colon cancer
the surgeon sliced eight inches off of mine
now I’m a semi-colon
(she says with an exclamation point)
Mostly I’ve dodged my own Uzi
pointed at my self destructive noggin
mostly I was the hit man
the target I wanted to take out
I should have citizens arrested myself
spent a few nights in lock down
mostly I got loaded, shit faced
drunk, numb enough to slide
out of my shy state
and under the covers
with some underling
under a sheet like a ghost
dressed for
trick or treating
Jonesing for some lonely hearts grab bag
searching for the sweetness
relying on
the naughty tart
that I have perfected
and the multi-colored rainbow ball
spins on my laptop
fucking up my world
I give it the weight of gold bullion
and the wounds
of my
endangered species
© 2013

“At The Lake” by L. K. Thayer (family foto montage by Kelly Pratt)

(“The Big Kids and The Little Kids”)

(Mitch Thayer, Kelly Pratt, Leslie Thayer, Lisa Thayer, Kari Pratt, Steve Pratt, Grandpa L. G. Pratt)

we rode upon broomstick horses

galloping through the thick thorn forest

dragonflies hovering

plucking the plumpest raspberries

ripe and sweet from the crowded bushes

generously heaving

(Mitch & Steve)

inexhaustible, our imaginations

followed every footprint

our shadows danced,

lit by the man in the moon

we left no stone or cartwheel unturned

felt the moss squish between our toes

washed our bare feet in the sand

of the blue lake

gleaming

she was always there to greet us

and make friends again

the lake,

loyal and lucid, the sound of her

reassuring shore beckoned

waiting to cup us in her watery hand

guiding us

float our dog paddling cherub bodies

teaching,

as her loving waves caressed

our rosebud cheeks

(Grandma Audrey & Westie)

beautiful, bountiful, bliss filled summers

roll off my memory like pearls dropping

one by one, off a necklace in need of repair

memories,

I gather up and tuck safely

in a jewel box

just as my grandmother Audrey

would’ve done

in the dense lilting air

mosquito bitten arms wave

in remembrance of innocence

of youth unencumbered

the balmy summers of nature’s breast

beating like the wings

of a morning dove

soft, gentle, humid

clinging to the child

in all of us

L. K. Thayer

© 2010

Thank you cousin,

Kelly Pratt


Aunt Janet, Uncle Dick Pratt, Florence, Mae & Audrey
At The Lake…
    • Kelly Pratt, Creative Life Coach I’m marveling at talent today. Specifically my cousin Lisa K. Thayer… This is one poem that she wrote that many of my friends from Fargo and Detroit Lakes can relate to… you can find her work at https://lkthayer.wordpress.com/tag/poetry/

      10 hours ago ·
    • Kari Bishop Kel..a little too early to cry but Lisa’s poem touched my heart. Happy, grateful tears of our incredible summers.

      10 hours ago ·
    • Leslie Thayer Mann Very cool Kel… Do you know the year on this or could estimate based on Steve’s age?

“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

“Haze” by Alex Bledsoe

I walk through the cloud of exhaust visible on this cold morning, younger son buckled into his car seat, his brother awaiting my help. For an instant the carbon monoxide surrounds me and I’m reminded it was the last thing that helped my big brother the night he decided his little brother didn’t need him.

Photo & Poem by Alex Bledsoe

(author, novelist)

All Rights Reserved

© 2010

“The Picture” by Bill Duke

WHEN GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS BORN
THEY HAD A PARTY
CHOPPED DOWN A CHERRY TREE
DID ALL OTHER KINDS OF GOOD STUFF
BUT WHEN I CAME ALONG
MY OWN MOTHER DIDN’T KNOW I WAS HERE
SHE WAS ASLEEP
SO I HAD TO COME IN BY MYSELF
SURE, NOBODY PROMISED ME A ROSE GARDEN
BUT, I JUST WANTED AT LEAST A SEED TO GROW
SOMEPLACE THAT SAID
“HEY, HERE I AM, AND I WAS PLANTED BY WHAT’S HIS NAME.”
WHEN MY FATHER DIED
HE LOOKED IN MY FACE LIKE A SPARROW
HE MOVED ME SO MUCH
BUT
MY BOYS WERE THERE
AND I WAS TOO PROUD TO CRY
BUT
I KEPT HIS PICTURE UPON WHICH HE HAD WRITTEN
A FEW WORDS JUST BEFORE HE PASSED
HAD TUCKED IT INSIDE MY SHIRT
AND WHEN HE CLOSED HIS EYES,
MY MOTHER CAME INTO THE ROOM CRYING
MY SISTER THREW UP
I
WENT INTO THE BATHROOM
AND CLOSED THE DOOR
TOOK THE PICTURE OUT AND LOOKED ON THE BACK
AND IT SAID, “BOY, I LOVE YOU AND YOUR SISTER
I NEVER LOVED YOUR MOMMA
I NEVER LOVED MUCH ELSE IN MY WHOLE LIFE
BUT I LOVE YOU.”
TEARS TOOK ME
I TURNED ON THE FAUCETS SO MY UNCLES WOULDN’T HEAR ME
BUT I THINK THEY KNEW BECAUSE
WHEN I CAME OUT
UNCLE ALBERT PUT HIS ARMS AROUND ME
AND HE HELD ME SO TIGHT
THAT I THOUGHT
I WOULD NEVER LET HIM GO.

BILL DUKE

All Rights Reserved

© 2009

“Flagellation Mambo” by L. K. Thayer

L. K. Thayer

I felt like bubble gum was stuck to my brain
waxing and waning like the moon on a coffee break

I’d had several shots of volcanic acid to ease my equilibrium.

The slander beneath my magic carpet
came to a halt at the bedpost. My inner lining
was forcing me to come clean. My conscience
was haunting my iridescence. It was coming down
to the upswing of my hoop skirt and how well
I could balance on the tightrope of my hemline.

My bruises were oozing come-hither stares
as I led the parade of my masquerade.
Behind the veil of my Cheshire cat grin
of teeth baring shame, I revealed my
ruffled agenda.
I had nine lives to live, was on the seventh
flight of fancy, on an elevator stuck
on the sixth floor.

Round and round and round I went, leaving
baskets of candy on May Day, wishing it
were Halloween, anything but
my fucking birthday.

The cupcakes were lined up, fifty candles
burning my flesh and ravaging my smoky ravine.
I was teetering on scandal and parody.
I had painted myself into a corner,
doing the self-mocking flagellation mambo,
in a brand spanking new pair of shoes,
leaving footprints for someone
to find me.

A grifter, a pioneer of sadistic synopsis
and cynicism challenged my varicose veins.
Eye popping, butter-finger burlesque, was all
I could rely on, that and a ‘65 Ford Galaxy 500,
with a bad paint job and a crocheted afghan,
hiding my ripped interior.

My heart raced with frenetic frenzy
and “why don’t you call me?” confusion.
My bottom was somebody else’s top
of the morning.
Humbled by the rocky landscape
and jagged desperation, I fought to
stay above board and ahead of the game.
Through the maze of carney’s
and bearded ladies, snake charmers
and Starbuck’s frappacinos, I was caught
holding the whip.

My fantasy of living in the lap of perjury
was going against my migraine. I was
sleepwalking and waiting for the day,
when the moon would switch places with
the sun, and hoping that somehow,

mommy and daddy would just get along.

L. K. Thayer

All Rights Reserved

© 2009

“The Viewing” by Mark McNease

Mark McNease

Closed casket with a photograph
and a surprising number of people
saying how natural you look.
Well, yeah,

it’s a photograph.
The casket was open when we first arrived.
Creeped me out. Corpses ain’t my thing.
They found your wallet circa 1973
with fifteen pictures of your favorite,
one of Caro, none of me. But I thank you

for the money. It was
how I tried to prove myself, calling you
with every six percent raise, hoping once
I would be your son and not
your son who worked at Sesame Street.

We are who we are, and finally
we are dead bodies in a funeral home
or urns filled with ashes. The truth of our
existence as memories becomes transparent.
There is no wall to wail against,
no trial to conduct, no verdict.
We are sons, mothers, daughters, fathers
resting quietly while the mourning file by.

Mark McNease

All Rights Reserved

© 2009

“Secret Santa” by Julie Dolcemaschio

by Julie Dolcemaschio

He looked like Santa and asked her where faith lies
Under a tree, she said. In the wall where secrets are kept

I kept you a secret, she told him
You walked down the street weighed down
With your bag of knives

And when no one was looking you put your hand in my pants

Providence brought me here, he told her
The divine wished me to know you

She said I don’t fear death
And if god exists, she sits to my left

And she pointed at me

The short haired pointer raked my chest in
The parking lot of Chez Jay
shaking my anguish from her soiled hands
and lending me hope wrapped in a silk Sari

She told me that the breasts of the daughters
Weigh the most not with the milk of their children
But with the death of their mothers

Their weight keeps me breathless
As they search for a quiet place
To wait for your return

The cleric took her hand and told her that god lies in
The love of the good daughter

I wanted to tell him that good daughters
Don’t dream of the end of suffering
They take the suffering on themselves

She kept you a secret, I told him
She took your hand, you led her into the woods
And you put your hand in three-year-old panties

Then you went back to sharpening your knives
You looked like Santa even then

Julie Dolcemaschio

All Rights Reserved

© 2009

“In The Rib Caged Summer” by L. K. Thayer

Photo by VC Ferry

Photo by VC Ferry

in the rib caged
summer
of brotherly love
we hung out
and played hard

like gang busters
exploring every
corner and crux
with my partner in crime
my brother who
was a few steps behind me
every step of the way
following

as we were allowing
each other to be
who we were
going to be
at that moment

and beyond

we bonded

in the rib caged
summer
of brotherly
love

L. K. Thayer

All Rights Reserved

© 2009