warlords

This is a poem my sweet mother, the greatest writer I know, wrote in 2003.  It deserves to be shared.


Maybe there were too many green-soldier

men stacked in closets, then rustled down

from shoe-boxes – green soldiers from

the Buster Brown shoebox versus

green soldiers deployed from the Ked’s shoebox.

Maybe there were too many “choose sides”

backyard football games where

boys sized each other up, salivated

for the win, gripped that pigskin

like it was a leather god.

Bullies were born in school halls or

afternoon playgrounds where push and shove

became tug-of-war for childhood warlords

establishing mini-territories they would carry in their back pockets along with the

tattered baseball card of Mickey Mantle,

or the tiny gray frog they thought could live

in the dark of their jeans’ pocket, at least

until they were called to supper and wandered

home to roast beef, carrots, potatoes,

biscuits warm from the oven and, of course,

apple pie.

These are the leaders of our country – boys

with frogs in their pockets and

rockets’ red glare in their eyes.

And these boys have issued an ultimatum to Tommy Bilbrey in Fourth Period English

he stares straight ahead at chalkboard words.

Meet us out back after school – or else.

just don’t breathe and we’ll stop time, she said

Life was passing by much too fast. She was not making enough of each day. And their collective sums were lackluster and insignificant.

The sheer force of how fast each minute and day and week and month was sweeping by left her feeling shocked and choked.

Like the wind had been knocked out of her.

Like she couldn’t breathe.

But wanted to, more than anything else in the world.

a moment to create

I cannot overstate the importance of a moment. A brief hiatus to catch your breath. To let out a heavy sigh. To curl up in an oversized chair.

A moment with a fat round glass of red wine. A blank piece of paper and a favorite pen. A new page in a word document. A new font to go along with it.

A moment to gather your thoughts. To fumble through all the inspirations the day has gifted you. To jot down the starting points. The brilliant opening lines and character names. The underused words you stumbled upon like bacchanalia and davenport and euphonious.

A moment to capture all the details you can put to use. A short Brit with a lisp. A goldfish bowl filled with paper fortunes. A missing cat named Mosey. The sound of wiper blades on a dry windshield. A fleeting moment of déjà vu in the shower. A fading dream. A growing nightmare. An old email from when you first fell in love.

This will be the only time you have. To cater to your dream. To draft something delightful. To give yourself a chance.

You were meant to write the world a story. It’s time to create a moment for yourself.

the story teller

On a record-breaking fiery day in early July, I came to the realization that I have a story to tell.

I will not take it to my grave. I’ll slit my wrist and let the words gush from my veins. I won’t stop until my body is bone dry. Until journals are busting at the seams. And cocktail napkins are wet with fresh ink. Until notebooks are overstuffed and bloated. And every last pencil is worn down to just a nub.

And this story, my story, is heard.