All Hallow’s Etiquette

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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.

Lurlina’s Intimates

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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.

 

Garden Rival

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A Steller’s jay. Photo by Michael Anfang on Unsplash

Garden Rival

I called to the Steller’s jay
rooting for seeds in my shabby garden,
but he didn’t answer; he

just kept flittering hither and thither,
loudly shacking his territory with
a harsh “SHACK-Sheck-sheck-sheck-sheck!”

sifting the choicest bits
ahead of the luckless wrens and finches.

I didn’t think he was listening,
but I couldn’t help myself.

I asked him if it was true
that in order to love another,
you must love yourself first,

for I observed that I’ve loved some
like my life was forfeit, and yet others
forced love from lungs in violent spasms,

spilling onto pages and surfaces,
surging to fill every crevice and valley.

I’ve loved tenderly and scandalously,
I’ve loved dutifully and illicitly,

I’ve withheld from others
and denied myself the respite

and believed fatted luxurious lies in real-time
to preserve rotted acorns of truths long gone,

often hating both who I was, am,
and whatever I have become,

and so I asked him, am I doing it right?

I didn’t wait for his answer,
because he’s just a dumb, greedy bird
hording the good seeds for himself.

The Steller’s jay stopped flittering,
made a loud “skreeka!”
looked me in the eye

and said, “That’s the stupidest thing
I ever heard! Love don’t work that way!
Maybe you’re just too dumb for love!”

I read somewhere that Steller’s jays
often mimic birds of prey
to fool rivals into hiding.
***

Originally shared on Medium.

Also shared on Poetry Pantry #495.

gripping the path like we ain’t gettin’ no younger

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Image by Ichigo121212 from Pixabay 

gripping the path like we ain’t gettin’ no younger

master bedroom,
tinted garden-green
with golden glints
of morning

sun rises
with my grip
on the circle of
your hips

we circle back
to forest-hidden roads
traveled in youthful
exuberance

wizened
upon shared intimate
garden paths

wicked giggles
yield the voice-box
to guttural yearnings
***

Written for dVerse Quadrille #85 – Raising our Poetic Voices, hosted by whimsygizmo. Other poets have contributed here.

Also shared at Real Toads The Tuesday Platform, hosted by Rommy.

 

Paying it Forward

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Photo by  on 

Paying it Forward

“You look good all dressed up”
a voice said, and I turned
to see her two grey eyes fixed
upon me, devouring my contrasts
and contours, reading my reactions
as if she knew I’d always wanted
for her to say something, anything
to me, knowing I wouldn’t know
how to reply as I stammered out
a cheesy, but sincere “well, uhm,
you look good anywhere” retort
that made her snort, her crooked
smile twinkling down upon me
from the declining escalator we
both shared that seemed to descend
endlessly into the gutter of dirty
things I wanted to do with her that
made me blush as if she could
read my intimate thoughts on what
had to be the protruding horns of
my corny forehead that she reached
out to touch gently, having heard my
thought that said “please, for the love
of everything holy, reach out to
touch me gently, or even not so gently,
I don’t even care, thank God you’re
here-” my thirst interrupted and
quenched by a tender kiss and a soft
reminder that it’s time for me to end
the escalator ride towards the center
of us and awaken to the real world,
and much like my dream, this poem
will end abruptly with a vague sense of
dissatisfaction.
***

Originally posted on Medium.

And I’ll Paint Love Upon You

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Image by bdpeterson from Pixabay 

And I’ll Paint Love Upon You

You see your freckles as
the sun marking you as you age;

I see them as a hybrid game
of connect-the-dots with kisses
and color-by-numbers where

my lips brush skin till filled
with a rosy blush, augmenting
exquisite mixed-medium
masterpiece.

Pucker-up, sweet
sun-kissed canvas.
***

Written for dVerse Quadrille #84, hosted by Mish. Other poets have contributed to this prompt here.

On Interracial Marriage

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Image by author

On Interracial Marriage

I don’t believe in it
it’s an obvious lie

not whether or not
it should exist, mind you
but its alleged existence
in an existential sense

there is no such thing
as interracial marriage
there is only the union
of those vowing to unite

for life is far longer
than most would know,
far shorter than we think

and it is ripe with vile horrors,
disappointments and cruelties,
and capricious random chaos, and so

if while navigating our bedlam
providence smiles upon you
as you brave muck and misery alone,

and you’re lucky enough to find
someone whom you vibe with
who leads with kindness, loves with
gentleness, rewards loyalty in-kind,

and makes you want to rise
to face the winds of fate
with a defiant smile on your face

then what in multicultural hell
does it matter of their lineage, creed,
sexual preference,
or the color of their skin?

Leavenworth

Image by author

***

Originally posted on Medium.

Of course, I couldn’t pick just one rendition…

Shared on dVerse Open Link Night.

Classes (Blue Side of Pale Series)

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Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Classes (Blue Side of Pale Series)

never understood her,
wish I could’ve felt I was
good-enough for her,
the most popular girl in school,
the top-of-the-class, with class to boot,
the most smartest, the biggest-hearted,
the most valedictorian-charted,

I valued her diction; her glory from afar,
like the twinkle of the stars in her eyes,
she spied me in the lower-brackets
perched in the basement of my thought-lint,

never meant to breathe the same air,
but she shared her atmosphere,
she grabbed my booty in the hallway
with a blue-wink,
she made me think that she was fruity
and all the way loony,

cause she was same age as me,
but she carried her energy
like a Motown boomer; like she’d sooner
rub elbows with Gladys, Ross, and ‘em,
and it was madness that she’d
waste her chi on me

you see, my bracket’s in the basement,
it consists of only me,
indeed, her tactics out-of-phase meant
insistence was her sweet-tea

but can’t you see? Her judgment’s clouded
like an imperfected diamond,
she thinks I’m a find, a rare beautiful kind
of boy deserving her time, that alone
among dissenting voices of mine
should disqualify her from sanity
and sound choices refined

you see, my bracket’s in the basement,
it consists of only me,
indeed, her tactics out-of-phase sent
persistence to how we be

my syndrome hooked right in-place;
I see her and stutter,
her skin tone looked like it
tasted like peanut butter,

I wish my vocabulary
could’ve carried verbs that varied
from “uhh” and “uhm”, but she
carried our conversing beyond the peepers
and pursed-lips of
bemused green-eyed gatekeepers

I never made a move from the basement,
but the placement of her groove made me
reassess the fallacy of classes
from behind coke-bottle glasses
where she said my eyes
were too pretty to be so sad

and her smiles evaporated fog,
eradicated smog, changed air currents,
and lent me change in perspective,
and her elective had one smile
specifically for me

you see, my bracket was in the basement,
it consisted of only me, but indeed,
her tactics, out-of-phase,
lent resistance to my reality
***

Luckiest Man Alive

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Image by author. (He made me step off the curb. He’s not really taller than me.)

Luckiest Man Alive

If you asked me
what makes a man

–  and I mean
a good man;

someone who
keeps it one-hundred
at all times –

I would pause, smile
and tell you all about
my little brother.

If you asked me
what makes a man
a devoted dad

who may not have
all the right answers
all the time,

but who still
throws himself, full-assed
into the thankless
hard parts,

again,
I’d begin the convo
with my lil’ bro.

If you asked me
what makes a man
a keeper of the flame

a caretaker of
my earliest dreams
and fears

a silent observer
when silence is needed

a vocal objector
when I need to be checked
and called-out

the loudest supporter
when I need saving
from myself

and the ruckus-bringer
when shit gets too hot
and needs extinguishing
with a flame-thrower,

well shit,
you should already know
though I do feel bad for you
and great for me.

You see,
I’m the one
lucky enough
to be able to say,

“Let me tell you about
my lil’ bro, Phil…”
***

Written for my lil’ bro Phil, on the occasion of his 40th birthday, and shared on dVerse OpenLinkNight #243. Others contributed poems here.

Ode to the Sassy So-and-So

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Photo by Erin Simmons on Unsplash

Ode to the Sassy So-and-So

You’re a pain in my ass; sassy so-and-so.
Atypical opening as odes go, I know.
But your fiery spirit serves you well thus far,
and as far as you’ve come,
who the hell knows where you’ll go?

I’m going to level with you here, dearest one;
this wasn’t supposed to have rhyme or meter.
In fact, I almost wrote another clichéd line

– about catching the stars, as if!
I mean, I know, right? – but

you’ve been earthbound
for a quarter-century now,
so no more fairy tales.

You’re as tough as I raised you, tougher
than I envisioned, and I’m relieved for it.
You’re tempered for a cruel world, and yet
you refuse to let it make you unkind.

And while I’d love to take all the credit,
like I knew the masterpiece of you
was hidden in the marble all along,
you are the artist of your destiny;

I’m just pleased to see who you are
and who you will become.

I say again, as it is a good catchphrase;
you’re a pain in my ass; sassy so-and-so,
and I’m lucky to have you around, I know,
wherever you go, I’ll be with you always.

Oh, and please rinse your dishes.
I’m your dad; I’m not your maid.
***

Written for my Turtle, on her 25th birthday.