Solitary Minds

A crisp automatic fire…

A crisp automatic fire,
the quick wick smell of metals stressed by heat,
click on, click off,
the persistent smell of
lighter fluid, fuel oil, natural gas, silver polish,
some meant to burn, some meant to gleam.

Nocturnal breathing, stifled breath,
stopping at each scent,
lingering quotes on a random night
dreaming for sleep and silent dreams.

Light paper leaves turned in tinctured fingers,
a lighter flashed alive, solvent smell,
acrid smoke, twitching noses,
withered smoke, a choking cough.

Sweat-stained khaki gloves, knitted fingers spread,
a tam o’ shanter, brown, lopsided, a bulging crown,
too new to throw away, too old to save,
the chain-link leash, a tooth-marked leather loop,
past and future teeth begging the mistress
to come out for a walk and again for another.

A deep oak sea of grain,
whorls still and shifting,
captured in an oval dining room,
four chairs, four arms, four cushions,
two young, two old, too strained, too trapped,
amber would capture the motion in this room,
sticky, hot, frozen, lucent,
cracks and clotted spots obscuring the view.

Two polished silver trivets, one with a missing screw,
one with a blemish that will not polish out,
one with a bowl of rice,
one with a gravy boat, the brown drowning
in the boat, pulling it to the bottom of the night.

A cat curled in muslin sleep,
mocha light shines from her calico back.
Earlier, she crept toward conflict, bristling danger,
a bird perched outside didn’t know the death coil
fixing it from the window sill, a serpent’s slitted eyes.

Eyes do not exist now, fur lies still, flies not;
windows watch when the light pours through
and change the shapes as night comes,
the cat moves through, a dark soundless slink
to check for mice and other scuttling sounds.

White light, afternoon sun killing shadows on the run,
mote lines contrasting with the shaded shapes
an oak cupboard, sideboard, chest.
A Spanish queen portrayed, stiffened in canvas,
cracks cluttering her face, once a beauty,
now another lost note to a history no one knows.

A large copper boiling pot with a handle
ready for the fireplace from a distant time,
once stocked with turnips and broth,
carrots and thyme, cabbages and cloves,
no contents now but a crust not cleaned,
a cauldron for a manor house.
No longer. Never again.

An oval control where circles cannot go,
a circle confines where lines are all that holds,
the oak is oval, breaking twice at the gate-leg,
leaves in place, falling to rest in gravity’s embrace.
The brown table, centered, bright and old
in light and dark, supplies a place where spirits
draw near, each to each, an oval coaxing pulses
to pump as one, a space with four distinct fates,
four hearts alive until they pump no more.

Subdued

Something is Going Well Around Here!

The 1,000 “like” road marker disappearing in the rear view mirror…

The WP auto-post function just told me that I have accumulated 1,000 “likes,” which are all because the imaginary “you” have been appreciating what I’ve been pouring forth since June 22nd. It hasn’t been four months yet and I have so many “likes!” Who knew?!?

I’ve logged 87 posts (one was a repeat, so doesn’t really count and one was a reblog in respect for a new WordPress-induced friend) in 111 days, meaning that I’ve hit about 78% of the days between start and present. Not bad. Could be better. Let’s see if I can pick up the slack.

Thank you, everyone!

MSOC

Waiting…

There’s an unnatural quiet transfixing the house.

There’s an unnatural quiet transfixing the house.

The two kids, fourteen and eleven, sit on the edges of their beds, one facing the back of the other, both staring beyond the door leading out, both seeing nothing but their own separate thoughts.

The air in the room is lit with a million motes illuminated by the sun falling towards the horizon, half-blocked by palmettos and live oaks, by a wisteria vine that has sunk its predatory tendrils into the earth a hundred times, always grasping for more, more, always rising again with indisputably beautiful flowers to distract from the business it has with the earth’s nutrients, it’s vendetta against neighboring trees. The motes float as they glimmer, absorbing and diffusing light, making the silence fill with dread.

Bedclothes bunched at the bottom of each bed, kicked out of the way during restless sleep, damp with anxiety. A pillow lies off the side of one bed at an angle, its case parted like a scream stifled by the kapok stuffing and the crumpled tag. Another pillow jammed against a headboard, bent double at its center, its breath knocked out, unable to gasp, staying silent in solidarity with the worn wooden floors and chests of drawers, the bookshelves, their clothes hanging like ghosts in their shared closet, the door jamb with their names and growth marks fading away, their book bags collapsed and askew on throw rugs lying out of place too near the door, their escape and their confinement.

If a bomb had gone off the walls would be down, the floors scattered with drywall dust and framing shrapnel from the home that once had been. They would have been mangled and sore with splinters, battered with gypsum chunks, with novels impelled by that instantaneous force into their foreheads and torsos, with fractured doors and airborne door knobs, with candelabra from the dining room, with silverware clanging away from its drawer, with armrests and ladder backs from the chairs set around the table waiting for a dinner that would no longer arrive in their bombed house. They would be hidden by an explosion of clothes, their stockinged feet peering out from a shirt cuff or a pair of worn dungarees, their faces hidden by a molehill of balled up socks, the air choking with new motes swimming away from the epicenter of the catastrophe.

But that is not what happened. So they sat. Waiting for that last argument to settle into the seams of the house and join its companions among the joists and conduit, among the pipes and insulation, among the spider webs and silverfish in the damp and dusty crawl space beneath their thoughts.

Careful