Always the Butt of Your Jokes

ashley-jurius-1ZvFTjgEodk-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Ashley Jurius on Unsplash

Always the Butt of Your Jokes

An ethereal inversion;
the television’s moonbeams
combining with darkness
masking our mockery;

our shared laughter at
your expense for once

instead of your typical
plucking at our insecurities
with orchestral precision; you,
still the chillest cat in the room,

but your arsenic-tipped wit
replaced by Bible psalms,
and sincerely, instead of
your standard

“The Lord is your shepherd,
you shall not want”
atheist parodies.

You didn’t seem to mind,
but in the upside-down,
for once,
the egg was on your face.

I awoke still laughing
at your absurdity.

Dad, you were such a
magnificent bastard back then;

just a gloriously
belittling jackass.

I feared drawing your attention
almost as much as I craved it.

We all hated verbally sparring with you
because you’d gut us like catfish
while taking far more care
not to drop cigarette ash on
your freshly cleaned carpet.

We hated being victims
almost as much as we loved
being living witnesses
to your eviscerations.

But this time, we got your ass.

We ganged-up and nailed you
and that pompous Jehri-Curled afro
to the fucking wall.

You took it surprisingly well
given your massive ego,
but there was no mistaking it;

Boom! Roasted!

On a night we all saw
our man Jordan
get dunked on
and his Bulls lose
by thirty points.

I awoke still laughing
at your comeuppance.

I reached for my cell
to give you a call to remind you
and rub it in your face again;

that you’d finally been dunked-on
by those you’d repeatedly roasted
countless times; after all,

they say you only roast
the ones you love, right?

But as I grabbed my phone to dial you
the punchline came; I remembered it all;

that it was only a dream;

that not once did we ever
get the better of you;

that you probably never would’ve
been cool with that anyway;

that we never watched MJ
lose by thirty with you;

that I’d long forgotten
your phone number;

that in my contacts list
there was a blank spot
where your name should be;

that I hadn’t spoken to you
for nearly a decade,
months before you died.

Sneaky asshole.
You got me again.
***

Inspired by Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Timetravel – Flashbacks with Björn, Björn Rudberg’s last prompt at Toads.

Blackness, As Meditation

cat-694730_1920

Image by bella67 from Pixabay

Blackness, As Meditation

What can I tell you about being black?

I honestly haven’t the slightest idea.

Sure, whenever I complete a form
that’s nosey enough to ask,
I check the corresponding square,

but I’m just some random guy
born into a reddish-brown shell, and
there’s no option for human doing his best,
given the tattered incomplete playbook
passed down for generations.

Everything I learned about being black
I learned from others, from momma’s
early-warning games that life’s not fair,
the playing field isn’t level,
and the rules are different for folks
who look and sound like us; that the
difficulty settings are disproportionately

skewed; that there are folks who hate me
at first sight, before I could even begin
to hope to win them over
with a smile and a silly joke.

Being black can be tricky, but

what can I definitively
tell you about being black?

You’re better off asking one of my
blood relatives who are black and proud;

I don’t know if I’m not black enough
or not proud enough, but by all accounts,
and my admission, it’s probably both.

I’m amused by the idea of claiming pride
in something I had no control over;
it’s not like I achieved anything; it’s not
like I’m one of the best blacks like Barack
or Beyoncé or K-Dot; I’m just some dude
who popped out of his momma with
reddish-brown skin, a fear of
creepy-crawlies, and a love of words.

Being black can be bemusing, but what
can I honestly tell you about being black?

To be honest, I don’t think about it
very much these days, not unless
circumstances compel me to.

I’m certainly not doing it right,

just ask anybody with the
privilege of voicing opinion;

I don’t speak the language well enough
for anyone; if I’m confident, I’m too uppity;
if I’m insecure, I need to be saved
from my own ignorance; if I’m silent,
I’m one of the sneaky ones; if I’m loud,
I’m one of the angry ones; if I’m

actually angry, I’m a threat
that needs to be stopped by any means
that will most likely withstand
judicial scrutiny.

Being black can be maddening, but

what can I unequivocally
tell you about being black?

It would seem that I’m unqualified
to say for absolute certain.

My chest rises and falls to its own cadence.
I smile big smiles, laugh belly-laughs, and
dream dreams like any other common human.

Tears well in my eyes, and I weep
openly during sappy love stories,
or when a vigilante is acquitted

by his peers for murdering one of my peers.

(Granted, we’re all peers, but my neglecting
to use first-person singular possessive here
could be perceived as not black enough.
Refer to “being black can be tricky” above.)

I have irrational fears of spiders and zombies,
and a hyper-rational fear of meeting
the wrong policeman in a dark alley
after fitting the description.

You know the description;
it’s always the same description.

Being black can be terrifying.

But what can I fearlessly
tell you about being black?

It can be tricky, bemusing,
maddening, terrifying,
all these things at once,

and sometimes, when I’m alone,
staring at the stars above
on the blackest night,

as starlight takes eons to reach
where blackness has already been,
waiting indifferently for it,

it is an absence of all these things,

for when the cosmos
overpowers my brown eyes
with overwhelming proof
of my own individual insignificance,

that is when the truth speaks to me,
that being black is human,
and is but one of many facets
of our collective humanity.
***

Trigger warning: The video below contains satirical graphic gun violence.

Inspired by dVerse dVerse Poetics: On Shades of Black, hosted by anmol(alias HA). Other writers contributed to the prompt here. I know this one’s in dire need of editing, but I may leave it as is, as it came from an honest thread of thought.

All Hallow’s Etiquette

neven-krcmarek-2Ni0lCRF9bw-unsplash

Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

Hallow’s Etiquette

There is just nothing
remarkable about a
Hallow’s witching hour,

where absence of light and sound
pile upon one another

until the deprived
senses conjure demons, ghosts,
and apparitions of distress

manifested in the failures
of our memories, or
their perfectly successful manner

of projecting memories
of our failures back upon us
like a house of haunted mirrors.

That ghoul is not a ghoul;
it is an eye-floater
casting a shadow upon
your retina

that became entangled
with a stray set of neurons
where an unresolved
disagreement with

your long-dead beloved
continues to take up
residence; our evolved
pattern-recognition

makes us see their sunken cheeks
and disapproving glare, and
nothing more than that.

At the very least,
that is what I tell myself
to keep my heart from racing

and my unspoken words
from spilling into this dense,
uncaring,
unremarkable space
at this ungodly hour,

where no one replies
to my wailing demands for reason,
and for good reason,
as no one is here
to hear them.

But in the extremely
unlikely event
that I’m wrong about this,

all of these reasonable
observations,
which I’m mostly certain
is extremely improbable,

if they truly exist
between our realms,

my first thought would be
probably
that demons, ghosts, ghouls,
and all the like,

in addition to being
needlessly frightening,

in all these years of
ignoring my queries

they’re also extremely rude.
***

Inspired by All Hallow’s Eve and Poets United: Midweek Motif ~ A Million Years Howl When Voices Whisper Among The Trees, hosted by  Sanaa Rizvi.

Also shared at dVerse OLN: Casting a Spell, hosted by Linda Lee Lyberg.

Initiation

simon-wijers-Rv-kXv1rojw-unsplash

Photo by Simon Wijers on Unsplash

Initiation

“Though your eyes are kind, I’m afraid,” she confessed, lying nude before me.

“Me too,” I said through angelic gaze, “but I see something in you that I can’t explain.” I gorged myself upon her kiss. “Deep within you; I must have it,” I continued urgently in the fading light, embracing her shoulders gently, sliding towards her neck, enclosing her throat with the yip of her last gasp, her fingernails, sunk into my clenching forearms before dropping lifelessly, dangling from her naked corpse.

My ecstasy was interrupted by her now-disembodied laughter. “Foolish mortal,” she hissed, “now you are mine forever,” as my body slowly dissolved. “Of all my new candidates, you surrendered yourself completely. Now you will never know pleasure without death; never the sensual without senescence. This is the barrenness of harvest or pestilence reserved for only my favorite Incubi.”

I regret nothing.
***

Inspired by dVerse Prosery 5 – All Hallows, hosted by Björn Rudberg (brudberg). Other writer’s contributions can be found here.

On Grudges and Conservation of Energy

On Grudges and Conservation of Energy

Holding grudges is a young man’s game.

Grasp that lightning if you must;
harvest it, gorge yourself upon it,
repurpose it to power your safe haven,
getaway vehicle, or doomsday device,

whichever you choose;
I’m not qualified to judge.

Ask my mother.
She knows. She knew

way back when I was 16 years old
that I wasn’t shit

and my grudge-fueled quest
to prove her wrong succeeded
at proving her both absolutely wrong
and unequivocally right like an
accidental Schrodinger’s cat experiment.

Inability to forgive
converted my potential into kinetic,
driving my momentum
into achievements I never imagined for myself,

and it also left me lifeless,
dead-eyed,
inside an unremarkable box,
waiting to be discovered by wiser forces.

Forgiveness is for old folks
who no longer have the energy for grudges;

many of whom are gathering
their remaining momentum
in a last-ditch effort of
getting into heaven.

Suddenly
the meaning of The Lord’s Prayer
crystallizes before them,
and they’re angling for a slice of salvation pie.

I don’t know much about forgiveness,
but I do know how it feels to run out of steam,
finding myself alone with regret. Nowadays,

I find both grudges and forgiveness
equally inert.

All that matters now lie within
taking accurate readings
and observing what is.
***

Inspired by Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Forgiveness, hosted by Sumana Roy.

The Art of Ghosting

jesse-bowser-ZmBnq7ui6mU-unsplash

Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash

The Art of Ghosting

It requires a deft feel of
space, atmosphere,
my place within it.

Shrinking is the easy part;
few notice my contortions
to accommodate.

Conversations flow in torrents;
my awkward trickle dries,
I silently observe.

By the time anyone pauses
to notice my absence,
I’m long gone.

Disappearing one’s self
from physical social functions
call for skill and patience.

Social media ghosting only requires
resolve to never logon again;
no one looks for you there.

Voiding verbal social contracts
with friends and loved ones
can be a bit trickier.

But total mastery of this art
necessitates majestic dexterity
and stately self-loathing.

It is mastered only when
you never leave your bed
no longer seeking connection,
and no one ever again seeks
comfort within your touch.

Ghosting is easy with practice,
but living with the aftermath,
not so much.

It’s doubtful you even noticed
that I left this poem.
***

Inspired by dVerse Poetics: Your Majesty, hosted by Gospel Isosceles. Other poets contributed to the prompt here.

We were supposed to implement some type of majestic vibe into this prompt, but as you can see, I predictably went the other way with it.

Missing, Presumed Lost

Elon_Musk's_Tesla_Roadster_(40143096241)

By SpaceX – Falcon Heavy Demo Mission, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66235869

Missing, Presumed Lost

Floating behind me,
a sea of blue, an immense sphere
comprising all that I know,
adore and despise,
breathe and asphyxiate,
drink and drown.

Ahead, you glisten, in quiet peril
reflecting light, juxtaposed in endless black,
after reporting a problem, drifting away,
brave smile in your voice
unintelligible
at this growing distance.

“You’re too late,” you said,
while still in range,
the warmth in your voice
transcending the void,
inexplicably soothing
my chilly fingers
and frosty extremities.

“Oh shit,” I said,
profanely breaking protocol
as the aspect of you
slowly shrank to a point of light.

“I’m sorry,” I offered to the magnets
within the transmitter mic,
a vain effort to overrule
our physical plane.

“It’s ok,” you said tenderly,
reassuring neither of us,
us both ignoring the
depleting oxygen alarms.

“I’m on to my next waypoint.
We’ll have to rendezvous
at the next target window,”
you declare as if our time were not
fleeting, finite,
our fates fixed.

You disappeared beyond the thin blue line,
leaving me to contend with the enormity
of the pale blue light and
an hour of radio silence,
floating above our northern hemisphere,
tilting away, towards winter.

“You free?” your voice vibrated
into my anxious receiver
after a maddeningly long silence
as your glimmer emerged
from the far-side,
rising to rival Venus-glow
and moondust.

“Yes,” I replied quickly,
maneuvering towards a
rendezvous altitude.
“I’m listening. I’m here.”

Then everything went null,
no heat, no cold,
not even light or shadow or grey,
leaving us clasping onto nothing.
***

Shared at Poetry Pantry #496

The Real Truth (Or Why Nobody Asks Me to Deliver Toasts at Weddings or Family Feasts)

aron-visuals-BXOXnQ26B7o-unsplash

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

The Real Truth (Or Why Nobody Asks Me to Deliver Toasts at Weddings or Family Feasts)

And what
do any of you
know of Truth?

None of you would know it
not even if it rose in the east,
set in the west,

and pelted you with harmful UV rays
as you lean into his warmth,
grinning like a slow-cooked idiot.

Slowly he rises,
bringing light, warmth,
and terminal cancer,

the indifferent promise
of life and death.

We’ll sing in praise of the former
screening the latter
with sweetly scented chemicals
that lead to a sweeter-scented
terminal cancer.

Life, like the sun
which nourishes and imperils us,
is a massively limited,
egregiously finite
string of things that don’t matter,

and the only constant is
its inevitable return to the lifeless void;

this inevitability is not to be
praised nor condemned, for
to try is to embrace the lie,

not that it matters how infinity is received,
for it will be visited upon you inevitably
and nothing you leave behind,

not even progeny, not even monuments,
not even this truthful tribute will matter,
for none of it will outlast the inevitability.

Life is a lie, death is the Truth,
and I know of no one, good or evil,
who has faced this Truth
with grace and equanimity
who has ever lived to tell the tale.

Now stop wasting everyone’s time
and let us enjoy this bountiful harvest
grown in the light of Truth.
***

Written for Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Truth (in honor of Gandhi’s birthday), posted by Susan.

Lurlina’s Intimates

butterfly-743549_1280

Image by ElinaElena from Pixabay 

Lurlina’s Intimates

“Welcome to Lurlina’s Intimates. My name is Lurlina,” sang Lurlina musically over the soft sound of Muzak being piped in overhead. The store was so empty that every note, every windbreak to breathe between the notes could be clearly heard.

“Can I help you find something- oh! I remember you!” she added, beaming, with a wink. “Vic, isn’t it? Couldn’t stay away from me, could ya?”

Vic smiled. “Actually, I’m here to find a gift for the wifey,” he said.

Lurlina pouted, biting her lip. “Oh boo. I though you came back for me.”

Vic blushed, grinning warmly. “Well you are quite pretty, but…”

“It’s ok honey,” said Lurlina, gently touching his forearm. “I’m old enough to be your mom, so I can get away with it.”

“Yeah?” said Vic with raised eyebrows. “I’m 26, and you don’t look much older than that!” His gaze lasted a half-measure longer than what was needed, and as he became aware of himself scanning her vitality – as if the lie could be seen in the nooks of her hips and the crannies of her cleavage – he forced his eyes toward a rack of unremarkable halter tops.

“Aww… bless your sweet, nearsighted heart,” purred Lurlina. “You’re getting all the discounts when I ring you up.”

Vic laughed, looking around the empty store nervously. Taking a deep breath, he returned Lurlina’s fixated gaze. “Don’t worry,” he said. “My momma raised me right. I know better than to ask-”

“My age?” said Lurlina, cutting him off with an electric smile. “Yeah, you shouldn’t ask me that.” They both laughed as Vic shrugged and then relaxed his shoulders. “OK, so, let’s just say that I’m old enough to be your…  older sister.”

“Whatever you say, big sis!” replied Vic with a smirk.

Lurlina lightly slapped at his shoulder. “Oh, don’t mind me, honey,” she said. “I’m just a harmless flirt.” Her eyes lingered on Vic’s chest and arms a few full measures before snapping back to his face. “So, uhm… What can I help you find, sweetie?”

Vic drew a breath as if remembering that oxygen is essential. “Oh! Uhm, I’m looking for some comfy loungewear for the wifey.”

“I might have just the thing over here,” said Lurlina, sauntering over to several racks of lavender lacy tops with matching soft, billowing pants, pulling a top off the rack with a cheeky flourish. “I find this to be the perfect balance between comfort and,” she leaned forward, making a comma with her left index finger, singing teasingly, “‘here kitty, kitty, kitty!’ You know what this is!” she said, straightening with a laugh.

“That looks…” Vic said, with eyes that were definitely not staring at her cleavage on purpose, as the top displayed by Lurlina was within the same eye-frame as her cleavage – so technically speaking, those caramel breasts just happened to be bouncing there – the lavender top, and not the caramel breasts looked, “really good.”

Vic shifted his weight, adjusting his shirt and his pants, with a slight fidget or two.

“So how big are we talkin’?” asked Lurlina softly.

Vic’s smile vanished, and his brow furrowed, knitting together. “I’m sorry… what?” he asked, tilting his head slightly.

Lurlina blushed, laughing nervously. “I’m sad to say it, but I didn’t get a good look at your wife the last time you both came in. Do you know what size she is?”

“I’m sorry,” Vic repeated, closing his eyes, shaking his head as if that’s ever helped to reboot a brain. “what about my wife?”

“Your wife,” Lurlina said slowly through giggles. “How big is she? Is she about my size?” Lurlina pressed the top to her chest, posing to demonstrate as Vic swallowed. “A little bigger? Smaller?”

Vic, finally composed, stared at her as if solving this algebraic problem would win himself a lifetime’s supply of vodka and weed. “She’s about the same size,” was his final answer. “Shit. I should know this, shouldn’t I?

“Probably!” laughed Lurlina. “It’s OK, hun. I’ll include a gift receipt.” Lurlina reassured him with a touch of his forearm. “You can always come back to exchange it. Even if you lose the receipt,” she added with a teasing tone and a slow-jazz grin, “if you come back, I’ll remember you! I’ll always remember you.”

“Is that a perk of being the owner?” laughed Vic, now following her lead to the check-out counter, taking full-measure of her hip-sway.

“I’m not the owner yet,” said Lurlina, between scans and beeps, ringing up unearned discounts. “My mom’s the owner. She’ll be retiring soon though.”

Vic gave her a puzzled look. “Is her name Lurlina too?”

“Her name is Fritzi,” Lurlina said plainly. “I think she used my name because someone trademarked her name or something.” Lurlina grinned and her eyes narrowed. “But I really think she used my name because it sounds more enticing.”

Vic stroked his fuzzy chin. “Hmmm… Both names are unique,” he said, pausing with a crooked grin, “but I like yours more.”

“Now who’s the flirt!” exclaimed Lurlina with a light tap on Vic’s chest. “It’s ok with me, honey. Flirting will get you all the discounts up in here!” Their eyes and glazed grins synched over several bars of the piped-in jazzy sax Muzak. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell.”

“But won’t you husband mind?” Vic asked, briefly breaking their eye-contact.

“Husband?!?” Lurlina laughed, ringing up his total. “Real smooth, young fella.”

“What you mean?” Vic pulled back, shrugging his shoulders while fumbling in his wallet for his debit card. “You got me curious, is all.”

“Oh, I got you curious, huh?” Lurlina stifled another laugh while queuing-up the keypad for Vic to enter his PIN.

“I’m just sayin’,” said Vic, shaking his head and gesturing for emphasis, “you gotta have a lucky-ass-hell man waiting for you at home, right?”

Lurlina stopped laughing and her smile faded. “Oh, that ship sailed two U.S. Presidents ago, honey. He long gone.”

“Oh,” said Vic, turning his gaze to the floor as Lurlina seemed to look right through him, towards something only she could see, her eyes fading, becoming dull and unfocused, her lips pursed pensively. Their financial transaction was completed within the momentarily awkward silence.

“I messed up a real good gumbo we had back then,” she admitted, shaking her head.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Vic offered somberly.

Lurlina pressed her face into smiling again. “Oh, don’t be, child! Lessons learned. We build and grow and move on. Hell, his own mama even forgave me! She and I still have dinner together sometimes!”

Vic laughed nervously. “That’s… pretty cool and nice and…”

He winced, continuing with, “…and totally not weird at all, right?”

Lurlina laughed a genuine, bubbly laugh. “Boy, you silly! Too bad you’re off the market! But it’s just as well. When you’re sure you’re vibin’ with the right one, make sure you pay attention! Don’t wait for something better or pass it by because you don’t wanna be tied down!” She shook her head, smacking her lips disapprovingly.

“Cause when that person’s gone, when you let them leave the store, sometimes they don’t come back, ya know?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Vic said, nodding thoughtfully. “But sometimes someone else comes along when you least expect it…”

Lurlina broke their eye-contact after a few more musical measures. “Yeah, but I’m not lookin’ for any of that these days,” she said with a finger-wag. “My kids are not quite your age, but they’re off to college, and I’m just out here having as much fun as I can while I can, ya know?”

Vic’s brow furrowed skeptically. “You don’t look like you have kids old enough for college,” he said.

“I already rang up your discount, Mr. Smooth,” Lurlina said with a smirk and faux-exasperated eyeroll. “What more can I possibly give you?”

Vic reached across the counter, resting his hand on Lurlina’s forearm. “I don’t know,” he said, “but I get the impression that you might have more to offer…”

Both took in a shallow breath when they remembered to breathe.

“…in here,” Vic finally finished his thought.

“I… I don’t know,” Lurlina stammered, tensing up, pulling away slightly, but not completely. “Maybe I… uhm… I dunno, baby, maybe I already showed you too much?”

Vic gently squeezed her forearm. “Perhaps something I haven’t seen yet, then,” he said.

Lurlina swallowed hard, biting her lip, her carefree smile yielding to an earnest urgency. “You sure this is what you want, Victor?” she asked carefully, in a husky, almost chilled low growl. “Cause I don’t do half-measures, boy.”

Victor nodded. “I think we both already know the answer to that,” he said with a blunted, lustful authority, his smile also fading to a soft, somewhat faux neutrality.

Lurlina placed her off-hand on top of the one Vic used to hold her in place, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze. “Well then…” The door-chime signaled another customer’s entrance into the store, compelling the two to quickly disengage, standing across from each other stiffly.

“You should come back tomorrow evening after we restock, just before closing,” said Lurlina through a practiced professional smile. “We’ll have a new line of more risqué designs that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. I’ll be alone, but it’s usually dead here. You’d have me all to yourself, ya know?”

“I’d like that very much,” smiled Vic “Tomorrow it is, then.”

Vic gathered his purchased items and left the store.
***

Written for the OLWG #27 – What is he Thinking? weekly prompt. This week’s line prompts to incorporate were:

  1. get away with it
  2. Here kitty, kitty, kitty
  3. You shouldn’t ask me that

I decided to try this prompt after reading Violet Lentz’s intriguing contribution to this prompt, Mrs. Oswald.

I sketched-out the dialogue in about 25-30 minutes, but afterwards, I kept coming back to shape and frame it, a nip here, a tuck there, until two hours later I had… well… whatever the hell this little thing turned out to be. I feel like there’s a bigger story here. Perhaps I’ll chase it someday.