Blind

She exhales false desire like toxic fumes,
careless with the casting of her gaze,
her skin a flame to draw the moths.
The darkest nights are her realm,
playing in the shadows
of love and desire,
blind to the plight
of those who
inhale
her.

.

Written to the image prompt at The Mag.

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Pretending

We can meet where the dandelions
push up
through the concrete — denying
any pretense
of their prevention — and pretend
we are walking
hills and meadows with grass
between our toes.

We will drink from the fountains
next to the restrooms
in the park,
and convince ourselves
it tastes
of clear mountain streams.

When night falls we will
hide in the alley,
our own hidden haven
beneath the old willow,
instead of gun shots and sirens
we will hear crickets, frogs
and the sound
of rustling branches.

In the morning I will give
you
half of the apple
I found, believing
it to be freshly fallen
from the orchard
tree. And you

can pretend,
for at least one more day,
that I am the prince
you have always
longed
to find.

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Starvation Questions

In polite conversation you would
call her waifish,
emaciated could be considered rude
or judgemental, too honest.

She was thirty-two pounds and ten years old
when she starved to death.

The father pleads guilty to avoid the death penalty,
the mother is still to stand trial.

What does it take for the heart of a parent
to snap like a dead, dry twig underfoot?
How large of a whole is required
to empty a soul?

What must they have seen when they
looked upon their child,
thin and weak and frail?

Were they sated while she curled
around the painful emptiness of her stomach?

What sound filled their ears when
she sobbed
the confused cries of a hungry child?

Will they ever burn enough to atone
for the unfathomable?

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Shadows

She learned to tell time by where the shadows
place their stain on the stucco walls.

The baker’s bread will be ready as soon as the first
shapes begin to creep away from the light.
She stands in the open window and greets the day,
taking the time to breathe in the yeasty aromas
before going down for her daily share,
the fresh, crackling crust always reminding her
of the texture of the stucco walls where the shadows
mark the time of day.

When the gray shapes stretch to vertical, tips
extending to touch the street below, it is time to close
the curtains against the advance of midday heat.
Some days she braves crowds of the market,
avoiding familiar faces, on occasion she seeks out
the breezes whispering through the orchard.
Most days though, the darker spaces within her
upstairs room are as far as she will travel.

The old men and young lovers begin to gather
in the cafe when the shades are the sharpest,
mere pencil lines scratched
diagonally across the uneven wall.
She sits in her window sill, watching the wine flow
and the shuffle of dominoes, sees the lovers kiss
and hears the old men cuss. On the days when
the sun is brightest, she allows a smile to escape.

When the shadows fade, retracting to their point of origin,
is when he used to come home to their upstairs room.

.

for Margo Roby’s image prompt, using James Proudfoot’s Sun on a House

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Flags In

Each stone is cleaned to as white
as the passage of time allows.

Each flag is precisely placed,
a soldier’s boot the measurement.

Each fallen hero receives a salute
from one who understands.

Each Old Guard member considers
participation an honor, not a task.

Each year more tears irrigate
the fields of Arlington.

Each year more flags are needed
than the years before.

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At the Track Meet

The end zones are a brilliant blue,
not a sky blue or a sea blue —
a synthetic blue,
the blue of paint and plastic.

The lines are perfect, ruler straight,
ramrod straight, each number,
every hashmark exactly perfect.
They call it synthetic now instead of artificial.

The logic behind it is flawless:
no watering needed, long lifespan,
no fertilizer, completely recyclable,
the infill an ideal use for old tires.

The crowd of parents and family enthusiastic as ever, the athletes
as competitive, the victor as proud,
the defeated as disappointed.

There is no smell, no desire to breathe
in nature. The fibers of grass have the feel
of a six-pack holder, ground-up rubber
does not crumble when rubbed in your hands.

It is a perfect day: sunny,
a cool breeze, scattered wisps
of clouds overhead,
an imitation of earth underfoot.

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An End to Complication

Life is overrated, life is complicated.
The Kinks

I listened to an interview with the man
known as Iggy Pop — the current, older,
haggard looking man, the survivor
of many hard lived years — and he spoke
with a modicum of embarrassment
of joy at this point in his life being
found in simply sharing time
with those who loved him.

He gazed out the window as he talked
about a perfect day being hot,
a humid, heavy, hot you carry like
the memory of a lover,
and of walking onto the beach,
staring at the sand merging with the water,
and finding in the waves and the cries
of sea birds an end of complication.

Somewhere in his musing there
is a song he forgot to write,
a lesson about life youth refuse
to believe and only the old fully
comprehend. Somewhere,
on the back side of youth, we all realize
we are in a race, a quest,
to find joy in simplicity

before the final
end of complication.

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