Moments: A Collection of Short Stories and Poetry

Moments is out now in paperback form, available through Amazon and Create Space.

Below is a link to Amazon. It’s only $9.99 + shipping and combines poetry with short stories.

https://www.amazon.com/Moments-Collection-Short-Stories-Poetry/dp/154256123X

 

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Peas in a pod

We were close friends with the world to gain. Parties, weekends, and friends were just a few of the pleasantries we shared. As teenagers, we lived like peas in a pod, but more like a mismatched pairing fused into a whole, eclectic being. We never passed judgment on each other when we met to share the stories of our young lives and the excitement that built around school, relationships, and the debauchery we could indulge in, as innocent as we were. I listened carefully when she told me about her relationship with older men. She was concerned when I told her about the fights and trouble I would get into but no matter the worries or hardships, we always ended the night laughing, hugging, and parting ways happy to have seen each other.

As we grew older and moved on with our lives, I stopped seeing her as much as I wanted to. I heard rumors about her well-being, as I am sure she heard about mine. She lived in the corner of my mind, holding a small but firm space within my life and memories of brighter and more care free times. We eventually lost touch for a few years and I began to stop wondering about her and our times together as friends. Sometimes, I thought I saw her from the corner of my eye but when I looked closer, it would always be a stranger.

A few days ago, I was riding the bus home from work when a car pulled up next to my window seat at a stop light. It was a small, rickety vehicle with little holding it together. A young girl sat in the front seat. Her silhouette appeared identical to my old friend, and for a brief moment I thought it was her so I knocked on the bus window to catch her attention. When I noticed a small stream blood on her forearm, I stopped knocking. I couldn’t see her face but I thought she was hurt so I kept looking to see what I could. We were separated by the glass, my world to hers. As the large arm of a man reached over to shift the car into gear, the girl brandished a needle, poking it into her arm. I gasped in shock at the sight of her seated stoned cold the passenger seat. Before the car took off, she came into view. She was beautiful and pale as she looked up from her lap. Her eyes were cold to the sunlight and she looked straight down the road into oblivion. It wasn’t the girl I had known.

Rhyme cycle III

Stifled in sickness witnessing the quickness to jolt the stalled journey of cerebral stiffness
an exercise in mental gain with brains growing, speeding, and sounding off within my vein verbatim
Verbal vernacular built to weather vindictive voices
The choices must be made, released upon raiding the storage of my rage
foraging for little space to ink things I think onto the pores of this perennial page

The trees from the forest
the value from the harvest
hard as is the target
soft as are the markers

Never will they lay hand upon these backs built of bone
Hardly will they try to defy those they deem strong and significant on their own

Mindful man must master the mercilessness of merchants and mercenaries
Adversaries advertise their lies in kind among small minds like at nurseries
I am at an advantage from a point of vantage of a bronzed lens that’s tertiary
With enough lines to find within my rhymes the time to wish the world and its woes a happy anniversary

Some Mornings

Take my voice, my pillow, and lay me on my bed of steel. For I am home, and not within the walls of a prison refusing to reveal. I have not sound and I am not bound, by ropes and chains, my efforts no more in vain, but the burdens of life are nevertheless so profound upon my brain.

I rise early to enjoy what I can and must. The dust of morning dew settled, the petals on the flowers gaining in power and trust, the rain showers of yesterday gone away for another day. It is soon time for sunshine, for divine bright yellow sunshine. It floods over from into the horizon, into my home. It greets me with the hugs of its splash, it crashes in, welcomed without word. The rays are as bright and absurd as life itself. Filled with mysteries and endless history, warming me as if fulfilling my every living wish.

The sporadic changes occur in sleep. Some times rocky, turbulent, unnerving, and seldom serving purpose of peace. I rise near dawn in hopes of bright “good mornings”. But is the good morning where it ends? Where I turn the bend into afternoon, where the sight of the moon means fatigue and I grieve my life for turning sour too soon? I speak as I swoon, tired retiring to the thoughts of the past day and what I may have expected too soon. But move on, I must, and turn thoughts of dust into concrete, to churn my cream into butter, to utter beautiful words despite the clutter between my ears and unsorted matters that we all fear.

I search for solace in solitude, I look for the love within my attitude, and I refuse the rudeness of days to rear their machinery into my way, for whatever the others hold, whatever the world may leave untold, must not encroach upon what I do or say.

Life is beautiful just as it can be ugly. Life is a vengeful thug, life is a drug dosed and laced with hardships between everything lovely. Life can be a lie, life can be why I refuse to cry, but life is lived for today and it is better to hear “good morning” than to hear “good bye”.

Rhyme cycle II

Touch their weight in gold to unfold what is untold within their hearts that hold nothing aside from a little hope for their naked soul
Nudge their neck and break respect, to take insects and break them down for their sake in sects
Slap their skin and snap their wings, break the best and take from the rest what they could never attest to arrest their break within
A piece of the pie pried from the nicest of guys. Placate and vacate the place behind the force of the most lifeless of eyes
A life full of lies, lips lowered to lick the lemons provided by the lifeblood of flies
A meager monster marches around us, sounding out silence in the place of safety snatched from the surroundings of our meaningless and mournful mountains
From here to far, a star softened by every bar, every visceral scar salted and soothed, repeatedly roused until you no longer remember who you are
Patch the pleasantry into the boxes of the broken, a gift and a token for those perpetually awoken

Without joking

Step into your purpose
until the sweat of the nervous swirls around your fingers
lingering a little longer
but you are ultimately stronger than the strength within a forest full of petrified timbers

Many Years

The rum drips down the front of my shirt. It is warm spring, a season for celebration but I am alone on my front porch. I swipe at my chin with my forearm, the thick liquid sticking to my shirt sleeve. The cool brown alcohol slides into my gut but almost comes back up. The sip I took was too large, and the liquor from the night before refuses to share space inside my stomach. I should have put more ice cubes in my drink.

My red lawn chair is out of place but I sit on it regardless, my ashtray blooming like a spring flower, an assortment of brown and white cigarette butts poking out from the glass. I lean back into the sunshine with nothing to cover my eyes. My arms are thick and musty, the unwashed skin smelling of stale cologne and sweat. The sunlight proves too strong so I get up and stumble, blowing out the last puff of smoke before making my way into my condo.

Inside, I step onto the stained carpet that has been tread upon thousands of times by dirty shoes and bare feet, with ashes and splashes of drinks. It feels thick and soft beneath my feet. I look across the television. A game of baseball is on. It will be a long season and I never get caught up in the details of the game for long enough, as much as I would like to.

It won’t be long before they’re here. They said they would arrive within the hour but I can’t remain standing. I fall asleep thinking about my leather-bound desk chair. It has endured, but unlike the folding chair outside, this one hasn’t been rained or snowed upon. Simply sat on for hours. The leather is cracked, still holding firm to the metal and plastic frame keeping it upright. I am startled from my sleep by the sound of knocking. I propel myself up from the flower printed sofa mattress, a couch refusing to fit in with the rest of the decor, and open the door.

First Dates

Maria called William out of the blue one Monday morning. They hadn’t seen each other in forty years. The years gone by had brought sweeping changes but William concluded that it wouldn’t hurt to meet her. They decided to see each other in a small café.

William arrived first, unsure of himself but sitting patiently with a newspaper in hand. He looked over the current events section. Avoiding the obituaries had become a pattern over the years, not wanting to see familiar names printed within the pages.

Maria’s hair was streaked grey and William wore a hat to cover what little was left on his head. She appeared from nowhere, surprising him just the way she had years ago. He didn’t take her hand and they didn’t hug. She simply sat in front of him, a large smile appearing on her face. It hadn’t changed in the slightest over the years.
“You want ice cream? A scoop of vanilla and a scoop of chocolate, wasn’t it?”, William asked, embarrassed that he still remembered her tastes.
“How on earth do you remember that?”, Maria said, bursting out laughing in pleasant surprise.
“I’m old, but not senile.”, he replied, grinning.

It was freezing outside but they removed their coats and sat across from each other, digging their spoons into the glass bowls.
“I never thought I would see you again.”, he said abruptly. The cafe was full but had fallen silent.
“I didn’t know if you would ever want to.”, she said.
William looked down into his bowl, swirling the strawberry shortcake with his spoon.
“Why didn’t you ever call earlier me then?”, he asked.
“I couldn’t wait forever, William. You were always around but never really there. I could never get through to you. I told you what I wanted but you didn’t move fast enough.”, she replied, ashamed but shaking herself into a stern posture.
“Why did you choose this place to meet?”, he asked, knowing that they had been on their first date there decades ago.
“I just thought it was a nice place that we might both know.”, she replied, searching his eyes for any hint of his memories. They sat in silence for a few seconds before they tried speaking. They stumbled over each other’s words and went quiet again.
“I can’t believe they’ve stayed open so long. Everything else has gone out of business from our days in school.”, he said, looking around.
She dropped her gaze to the floor. She didn’t care about businesses.
“I used to bring my kids here.”, William said, trying to change the subject.
“Me too!”, she said, almost shouting in delight. “But my husband is gone now, and my kids hardly ever call. I’m always chasing them just to hear their voice.”, she said.
“I’m sorry to hear.”, he said. “I never got that far.”
“You never got married?”, she asked.
“Never. Got engaged once but never married. Don’t regret it one bit. I’m happy having my kids but relationships….”, he said, stopping himself and laughing.
Maria looked away saddened.
“I’m sure you made a good dad.”, she remarked.
“You think so? I’m not really the patient type.”, he said, putting his hand on the table and looking at their reflection in the cafe window. The wrinkles on his face pressed together as he smiled.
“I’m happy to be able to see you after all these years.”, she said.
“You going to finish that?”, he said, pointing to Maria’s bowl of ice cream.
“Glad to see you haven’t changed a bit”, she said, laughing and shaking her head.

Edward Hopper

There is a small painting by Edward Hopper that sits above my bed. I visit Hopper’s scene often but I can never stay long enough to truly appreciate the breadth of the view. I am always pulled back to my pillow, to sleep away the night and have it rest in silence above my head, calling out to me from a place always so out of reach.

If I raise my hand above my head, it is a finger length too far from my touch. Maybe I should just sit up, maybe I should just open my eyes, maybe I should leave my pillow and leave behind the painting. But it will continue to grow wild in the dark, calling me to its shores, to the same old cottage and lighthouse with a beacon lit only for my eyes.

I cannot be sure that when I rest my head, the painting will remain as it is, peaceful and remedial. But I know that when I open my eyes, my dreams will live somewhere within its frames and I will move on from my pillow, my bed, and my home, but never far from its landscape and accepting shores.

Zero

Today I awoke at zero. There was little to pull me up and little to push me down. I hovered at a balance, walking a hardened tight rope leading from birth to the beyond suspended in time. I was not cold, and neither was I warm. There was no love as there was no scorn. I simply existed, without much insistence to take up or take down whatever the day brought my way.

I often walk a balance between day and night, somewhere on the cusp of dusk and dawn. I merge into darkness and I seethe into light, but I am neither inside nor out. I hover in between, balanced without effort, kept afloat through the crashing waves and endless calm, like a boat suspended without direction.

Maybe someday, I will decide. Maybe someday, I will pick a side. But today, I will walk down the middle with my head neither lowered in distaste nor raised in pride.

Covers and Coats

There are many lessons to be learned. Prizes to be earned, rewards to be burned, swallowed down in deciliters to celebrate the millimeters you’ve moved forward for your returns. Collect your dividends as you pass go, harass those who have less yet you move fast past foes whom you deem irrelevant. In the last throes of life, the knife sticking in your back is your own, the few inches you’ve grown in grace replaced in haste by dollars and properties you inhabit in this outer space alone in your waste.

Without a doubt, never one to talk about purchases without moving in a haste so nervous that the magic beans sprouting from mouths drop worthless to the ground without purpose. The world of dividing and displaying values and brands, net worth and what have you on avenues where less fortunate gather and picket their revenues where they stand. I am a man. An “ism” and an “ist”, but really an extortionist and venture capitalist with a plan to exploit the children and take what he can from the poor rocking the boat of the dutiful and the damned and whoever dares to maneuver through this earth pitifully unplanned.

A Political Party

*I wrote this piece over a year ago given the nature of history, current events, and happenings in the media and society. I do not intend any offense with this short story. It is simply a play on historical characters, moments, and events with added fictional twists. If it isn’t funny, I hope you might at the least find it entertaining picking through the clichés. *


A Political Party

I once had a strange dream. I woke up in a bright white room. Malcolm X knocked before walking in. He looked sternly at me before telling me to sit up straight for “they” might walk in at any time.
“Who are they?”, I inquired, rubbing my eyes and dusting off my jacket to avoid any signs of my nap.
“I told you a million times! You never pay attention. You should wake up to what’s going on around you, man!”, he shouted.
“I…I…I’m sorry.”, I replied.
The doorbell rang and in walked a cast of characters capable of charming, flooring and making the most resilient of minds question their eyes. I watched Gandhi walk in, bowing before placing his walking stick near the coat rack. Behind him was Bill Clinton holding a cigar between his long slender fingers, and after a brief pause, in walked Martin Luther King Jr., George Bush, John Kennedy, Susan B Anthony, Richard Nixon, Barack Obama, and a host of familiar faces and historical figures. I retreated to a corner, wondering if I should serve drinks, or take my place on the couch and rub elbows with the greats.
“It is an honor.”, Obama came up to me and shook my hand.
“The honor is all mine…your honor…I mean Mr. Presi…” Before I could finish my sentence, Bush Jr. walked up and patted Obama so hard on the back that his drink splashed over my shirt.
“I’m so sorry.” Obama was apologizing profusely. “We will find a way to fix this.”
Malcolm X, who was watching me with great displeasure, walked over. “I hope that you know that whites and colored must be separated.”
“Wha…what?” I managed to stammer.
“Oh, for God’s sake, just go to my bedroom and grab a shirt and a pair of trousers. And put the white shirt in the “lights” basket and your black trousers in the “darks”. You’d think he was born yesterday.”
George Bush snickered. “So, Barack, haven’t seen you for a long time. Fool me once, shame on you! But fool me twice, well, then I’m glad at least Michelle answers my calls. I painted something for her. He snapped his fingers and a man walked in carrying a covered piece of artwork. “Just put it there by the Bill’s coat. I’m sure it’ll be safe.”, he said.
Bill Clinton was sitting on the couch, inattentive and fully focused on Susan B Anthony. He was nodding his head in appreciation, his eyes wandering as he leaned in towards Ms. Anthony.

As I walked into Malcolm’s bedroom, I heard a drawer shut. It was Nixon, grinning and his hands behind his back.
“Funny catching you here. I wasn’t expecting you to walk in.” He extended his hands but I had my trousers in one and shirt in the other. I offered my wrist as compensation, but he was unsure what to do so he slapped it with his hand.
“I’ll be outside if you want to talk.” He rushed out of the room, making sure I understood him. I had not.

I put my clothes into the laundry basket, separating them as instructed by Malcolm X and walked back out into the living room. The chandeliers hung low brightly lit and the party was in full swing. George Bush was having a great time, until his father walked in a few hours later to make sure he went home. I was sure that Senior grabbed him by the ear but it all happened in a flash and they disappeared quite quickly. Gandhi danced but did not drink, Susan B Anthony refused to dance with any of the men, even Bill Clinton, who wouldn’t hand over his cigar to any of his guests. Perhaps the most dignified and gracious guests were Martin Luther King and JFK. They drank to their heart’s content but eventually ending up arm wrestling on the kitchen table. Sleeves rolled up and ties hanging loose, the men glared at each other. The Kennedy clan hung around their fighter.
I looked over to Malcolm X and managed to stammer out incoherently.
“I don’t think this is a good idea for Martin. I mean he’s outnumbered.”
“Utterly foolish. I don’t think this will go his way.” Malcolm X agreed, watching eagerly.
There were fights, there was debauchery, and there was abundant drinking.
By the middle of the night, few were left standing. George Washington walked in around 2am.
“So, this is what I have fathered. I cannot believe this insolent mess.” He said, looking over to Lincoln, who returned his glare in defiance.
“No, George, you are the mess. I’m with them now.” He put his arm around Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.  Malcolm X smiled awkwardly, easing away slightly as to not be too close to the volatile Lincoln.
“I challenge you to a duel.” George Washington stamped his foot and reached for his pistol.
“Gentlemen, gentlemen, please, can’t we just get along? If you don’t behave, I’m going to take away your guns.” Barack Obama said, approaching slowly to diffuse the situation.
“Quiet! Everyone shut up!”, Malcolm X rushed towards the window, creeping alongside the curtains and cracking the blinds.
“They’re here. They’re here. I knew they would come. You fools.”  Malcolm X shouted. “Well, I’m ready.” He reached for a vase, crouching into a mode of attack, hiding behind the couch. Luckily, the police were merely passing by and before long, the eye of the party’s storm had settled.
A few groups broke out and discussed politics and people from their age. Particularly enthralled was George Washington, who was the only one sober to have any sort of real discussion. But he, too, lost interest. I could tell he was feeling a little out of touch.

I felt more comfortable and soon, I was in the mix, offering my opinion and absorbing information.
“I’m slowly learning. I’m slowly learning. I feel like a student. Yes, yes, like an apprentice.” But the second those words entered my thoughts, it was as if I had uttered them. The room went somber, etched in darkness and silence. They all looked at me, eyes blazing in fear and anger.
“You’re fired!” They screamed in unison, the words echoing endlessly.
“What? What are you talking …from what exactly?” I said.

I woke up. It was still 2008. I patted the sweat on my brow. I had overslept. Some television show called “The Apprentice” was on. Just when things were getting interesting, it had to end, I thought. Too bad it was just a dream. I turned off the television and rolled over.