Pushed Out

Your mommy,
your daddy
God,
that’s all you got
hold onto them
as long as you got,
through the pain,
the ridicule,
the drain.

You can
stake everything
but in the end,
it’s just heartbreak,
just blisters from
that proverbial cross,
cause going through
that grinder’s your lot,
till every bit of you
is chopped up and pushed out,
you misfit,
miscreant,
harlot.

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Friend

When you thought you could stop caring
for people who never cared for you,
but then realize you will always care
because that is what you do
as long as your heart beats
and red blood pushes
forward and through
into your body
into your mind,
a kaleidoscope of
care and concern
and the need to hold everyone up
and the need to make sure everyone is okay
that no one is left behind in life
that no one is crying because of strife
and though they did not care
about leaving you there…
you still do,
faithful forever
bearing so much,
remaining a true friend
from now until the end.

Succession

Look at night skies ascend
as the day comes
too quickly to an end.

Young stars start to cross,
covering the field
of narrowing night sky,
constellations congealing,
shining yet pale,
as sleep takes the world away.

The earth quietly moves
changing space,
never returning
to that exact place
before the world wakes.

With succession like cyclones,
the new day will overwhelm
the body, the heart, the brain,
taking away
whatever life is left.

But hold the memory
of the morning always
and don’t forget
to feel it all:

the air against your face,
or the softness of the sun
at break of day,
its rays translucent,
never harsh, never blaring, never burning
and life’s breath
moving in and out,
sustaining you
till the end.

Winter Freeze

Winter

The cold December frost made my teeth chatter involuntarily as I came out of Kroger’s grocery store. I remember I needed red and green lace for my second grade social studies project, which would depict various holiday themes of the season. Hurrying through the parking lot, I searched for the cream-colored Chevrolet. It was so cold and all I could think about was getting into the car. Finally, the door unlocked and entry was permitted. Relieved by the warm air, I felt the blood in my face and hands return to regularity. Noticing the mist form on the windows, I wiped it away with my pastel blue sweater. I looked at the embroidered edge of the pretty blue sleeve. As my eyes moved from the interesting lines of the sweater back to the window, I noticed a tall, thin stranger approaching our vehicle.

“Let’s go,” I said to my parents. The stranger frightened me because it seemed as though in between his skin and bones he contained no noticeable amount of flesh. His forehead and cheekbones protruded greatly giving him the look of some ghoulish skeleton that had wandered far from his place of burial. My father trustingly rolled down the window.

“Clean your windows, mister?” the skeleton asked my dad with a painful apprehension.

“All right,” my father replied.

Encouraged by the reply, his long, ripped fingers moved to a badly torn pocket to take out an ice scraper and rag. I watched on with curiosity. He noticed my glance and returned it with an awkward yet prepossessing smile. The smile was not from any obligation on his part and made me feel strangely guilty for having been so afraid of him simply for his appearance. He cleaned the small layer of residue that had formed on the windows. The ice scraper made a funny, screeching sound, which held an echo in my ear. As he moved from window to window, my eyes followed him without flinching.

“Done, sir,” he stated after a minute. His hand shivered slightly as he held out his hand for the money which he had earned. He must be cold, I suddenly thought to myself.

“Thank you, sir,” he said before he walked away. Though the payment my father had given the stranger did not amount to a huge sum, it was enough for him to buy a cup of coffee which would warm him for at least a minute before he would again leave the warmth for a winter of frozen skin and frozen dreams.

Note: this piece was the recipient of The American Association of University Women’s (Lansdale Branch) Excellence in Writing Award and was originally published in the 1996 Anthology of Poetry and Prose.

Fear

The eighteen wheeler drives by

red, green, and blue on the sides

speeding on,

screeching at turns,

causing a fear of life

causing a fear of death

a feeling which turns

as the wheels turn

as the sounds drill down,

deep into marrow

before hitting the ground.  

 

The truck passes,

the sound dims

so all the fear felt

quiets and passes.

 

Regret is then realized

as all that time that was swept

the fear taking away

so many moments

till nothing was left.

 

Simplicity

I wish I didn’t think of you
every time I ate ice cream
but I’m reminded of our ritual,
the dinners on Fridays,
and always the ice cream afterwards.

If only vanilla or strawberry
had sufficed
we wouldn’t have had
that fight.

We could have continued
to talk and laugh and thrive,
a whole world left
for us to explore,
though to traveling with me,
you always said no.

Simply put,
simple flavors
never interested you,
and simple things never
persuaded you.

Everything you wanted
had to be the best
had to be complex,
cookies and cream
with chocolate sauce,
butter pecan with
whip cream on top,
little edible masterpieces
for the world to see,
while my scoop of strawberry
forced you to scoff.
Still, you didn’t understand
why I asked us to part.

What point did you see?
How would you possibly
ever have learned the truth about me
that I’m predictable, simple, but sweet,
just like a single scoop
of strawberry ice cream.

Ghost and the Nature of Love and Life after Death

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The movie, Ghost, achieves something that is difficult to achieve in any medium or means of communication. Writer Bruce Rubin and Director Jerry Zucker give us a comprehensive and convincing vision for both love and life after death.

Sam Wheat is the character around which the plot revolves. A successful businessman with a loving girlfriend and bright future ahead of him, Sam remains cautiously optimistic about his life. He tells his girlfriend, Molly Jensen, that he fears change and the swiftness by which the circumstances of a human life can be altered. Sadly, the contents of this conversation turn out to be prophetic. Sam is murdered, and he does lose it all; his body, his girlfriend, his wealth, his very life. All material realities are stolen from him.

However, Ghost shows us that we all do, indeed, have an immortal, human soul. We see and feel the horror of what it is to suffer a premature death, to have one’s essence pushed out of the body before it is truly time. Sam enters a veritable Vita Nuova (new life) as Dante would call it.

Sam’s new life and new world frighten the viewer. It is a place where cement angels watch the departed from behind their calculating, stone eyes, where the dying are forced to watch their own physical bodies passing away, and where some unlucky souls are tortured and taken by dark, demonic forces. However, we also see glimmers of a reality of infinite love, mercy, and peace, a place that can be reached by an ordinary human soul, like Sam, simply because he had empathy for others and did not destroy things, like his murderer, Carl, did.

Ghost shows us the afterlife, but also helps us to understand the nature of true love. Throughout the movie, Unchained Melody plays in the background. The lyric “my love, my darling, I’ve hungered for your touch” remains the haunting melody describing Sam and Molly’s love for each other. Ironically though, love, for the couple, does not and cannot revolve around touch. The juxtaposition of the couple’s reality with the lyrics of Unchained Melody give the story an added dimension and brings up the question, “what is love?”

If everything temporal, including sex, money, and even codependency, is taken away, then does love still stay intact? In Sam’s case, all of these things, including his body are lost, yet his feelings for Molly do stay intact. Though Sam cannot touch Molly, he still stays nearby, his protective instinct primal and not secondary to any physicality that may have been lost in death. So in Ghost, it is through the test of death that we truly understand the reality of love.

Ghost shows us that there are things that cannot be seen with our senses, but that are real all the same. Love and life after death are two things that the movie captures expertly.