Poetry

The War at Home

 

My mother hated you

And I watched her hate you for years

You with your refugee status,

Your government subsidies to buy a car,

And go to school.

She hated your crooked teeth,

High cheekbones,

And the way your bony brown toes

Held tight to the rubber sole of your flip flops

In the middle of December.

I watched you,

Admiring the way you squatted in the dirt

On slim hips that balanced perfectly,

Plucking gingerly at dead leaves.

But mother scoffed,

“They shit in their own garden,

Use it for fertilizer!”

But they love their children

I thought.

And they smile at me with their crooked teeth

Offering up strange foreign vegetables,

That I accept and secretly throw away.

Years later the children of the old man

With crooked teeth

Smile

And offer up strange vegetables

In a simmering, savory broth

As I sit quietly in the corner booth of an old café,

Plucking gingerly at sprigs of basil.

 

 

copyright 2017 caceresbg

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Short Story: The Upside

The Upside

 

I’ve been waiting for you. Patiently waiting among the sepia pages and crisp black and white edges. I don’t mind when you leave, not really. I needed a break and have enjoyed the naps, solitude and quiet and falling asleep at 8:30 and waking up at 7:30 and the ice cream and rum and cokes—but not the weight. I’ve packed on 10 pounds and quit yoga. I damned near caved in during your last visit. When the valerian root tea stopped working and I couldn’t sleep—at all. I went to see a doctor and told him. Yes I did! I told him all about you and how much I loved you and how you were there when I needed the extra energy or the words. Yes –the words. I cried a little when I told him how you helped with my poetry—our poetry. He smiled and I saw how handsome he was. He was impressed that I’d never been fired from a job because of you. I didn’t tell him that although I’ve never been fired—I have had nine different jobs at the same company in the past 15 years and it was you that gave me the confidence to make a move when I needed to. You taught me how to shine and charm my way through interviews.

When you left I spent long hours alone. I read six books and became invisible at work, grinding through each day and checking the clock every ten minutes or so. Like I said, I needed a break and I’m not sad when you leave, not really.

But a few days ago I began to sense you. I knew you were nearby! I got all riled up about some small injustice done to one of my coworkers and then last night I laughed with my husband—really laughed –hard and loud, and it felt so good. And this morning I wake up at 2. Bam! You’re back and I’m so excited. Fuck the long dark days of November.

I cut my own hair a few days ago. I did! I just couldn’t spend the money and it needed to be done. I bent over and brushed all my hair down, gathered it and cut off two inches with a pair of pinking shears. I read somewhere a long time ago that Jennifer Aniston used to cut her own hair that way. Well I’m sure it was before she was very famous and it was my idea to use pinking shears. It’s not bad but shorter in the front than I intended and the look is feathered. Oh God—circa 1975. Whatever—hair grows—end of story, no big deal.

You and I are going to have a blast this winter. I’ve missed my creative cohort and I need you to stay with me at least until the first of the year. There’s some shit going on at work and it hit the fan last week. I know, I know—your timing couldn’t be better! I need you to help guide me through the river of corporate bullshit. Without you it just rises, and rises, pulsing warm and smelly against my throat so that I can hardly breathe. It’ll be ok. I always think to myself….they’ll either fire me or promote me—ha!

I have a good analogy for how different I am with you. It came to me a few days ago just after Halloween. You see we had these glow sticks hanging on our front door and I brought them in the next day and laid them on the kitchen table. A few were still glowing very brightly and I thought—that’s me. I’m a fucking glow stick. When you’re not here I’m still me. I look the same and have all the same physical and emotional components. But something wonderfully amazing happens when you are near and something inside breaks and floods my brain with an amazing light. Neurotransmitters go wild and I’m super charged. My intellectual capacity expands, my wit and charm emanate and attract. I am a powerhouse! Even my heart grows bigger—just like the Grinch’s heart in Dr. Seuss’s story—I can actually feel it enlarging. Pounding harder and growing bigger. A cardiac erection! And when this happens I think I have it all figured out—the solution to homelessness and unemployment and the answer to why some mothers don’t love their children. I want to open a shelter that provides food and warmth and art therapy! I wan to teach the illiterate how to read! I want to help the broken souls love again.

It’s so quiet now. The clock reads 2:45 but it’s actually 1:45 AM because of Daylights Saving and I am up and alone by the fireplace just writing away and drinking a cup of tea. I put away the coffee just like I always do when you show up. I don’t mind really. The last couple times I drank it I felt sick to my stomach and I think my blood pressure rose a little too high. This’ll be a good break from all that caffeine that usually course through my veins. Don’t need it now anyway! Did I ever tell you I actually drink a full pot of coffee every morning when you leave?   I know, I know but caffeine is a drug and I guess I’ve built up a bit of a —tolerance.

I wish I understood you better. I’ve read everything you asked me to read but it all still seems so magical and mysterious. The upside to you is you—I mean me.   We are here for each other and always will be.

 

What I didn’t do today…

Welcome baby New Year.  I mean it.  I really feel this year–this baby 2017 will rock the socks off all the others.  I know it’ll be tough and challenging in more ways and more unusual ways than before but so what .  We can do this.  We can accomplish all those goals and then some. I’ve not gotten off to the best start.  Had a heated argument with my spouse yesterday about the rules of the road and right of way.  God!  What a boring topic to argue about.  Did we really go at each other over that???  I meant to go to church but didn’t.   We are in a new neighborhood and have been here since November but have yet to cross the threshold of the neighborhood place of worship.  I haven’t had a drink yet but I will.  I have not done any yoga stretches for three days now.  I have not kicked any pigs and won’t even though I laugh every time I hear Gus in Lonesome Dove talk about how he “likes to kick a pig every now and again” and the camera focuses on the cute rumps and tails of those two squealing pigs.  We’ll ok, I’ve lied already.  There is one pig I’d like to kick, spit and stomp on, but this is not a political rant and so …..

It’s cold.  I don’t want snow.  I want longer days and shorter nights.  And I won’t kick, spit or stomp on anyone. Not now. Not ever.  I will speak and react thoughtfully. I’ll miss you president Obama.  For all your human weaknesses you are a kinder, gentler and infinitely wiser being than the one waiting at the door.  Good luck America.  Welcome 2017.

 

copyright 2017 caceresbg

 

End of Year Exhale…

Yesterday I saw a clip of an old Johnny Mathis special.  He was being interviewed and was talking about a person who was very important to him; “she’s always thinking positive thoughts you know…”  I walked by the television and wondered who he was referring to and  thought how nice to be a person who is always thinking positive thoughts.  I try but fail most days to stay positive.  I shift from gratitude and joy to anger and regret easily and frequently.  I guess it’s good that I realize this and perhaps knowing my mind’s vulnerabilities-I can counter and overcome these tendencies.  As the New Year approaches and people make their plans to lose weight or drink less booze or pay off debt or any one of the many typical New Years resolutions–I’ll do something different. I’ll be kinder to myself.  I’ll be more understanding of my flawed humanness and try –really try–to accept all that each moment brings and respond to each day’s challenges with a commitment to react and respond thoughtfully.  This will create positive energy and goodwill. Loving ones self is the first step to greater compassion for others.  I’m not talking about feeding ones ego or indulgences.  When we see our own bruises, wounds and weaknesses–and know that we are still worthy of love and respect–only then can we offer the same to others. As the New Year approaches I’ll prepare to move in tiny baby steps. The Buddhist say that life is pain. I say life is change. Life is change and pain and when we can accept pain and learn change –we grow.  Wonderful right?  Terrific. I can hardly wait…

Two days later…

I think maybe having a venue to remind oneself to be a better person is a bit lame and I’m certainly not in a position to remind anyone else but I do have a penchant for communication.  I love to share and hear ideas.  It’s a blessing and a curse and if you are an unloved, unknown and unpublished writer, then you know what I mean. But we need more content than just my opinions.  Do we?  Can’t I just wake up every morning and spew my latest revelation …my newest theory on why or how…yea uh NO.  So let me say here what I’d like to cover and we’ll see where it takes us.  I’m in healthcare.  I’ve worked in the healthcare industry for nearly 30 years and that means I speak another language.  I am privy to a whole world many just don’t understand.  I’m also married to someone who is a different shade than myself and that fact in and of itself has given my life and my family more complexity and richness than I would have ever thought possible.  I’m a poet.  I’ve had a few poems published but that was three years ago and to date I’ve not been paid for a single word.  For some stupid reason I still feel that when I finally get paid to write I’ll then be a real writer.  I grew up very poor and in two different housing projects–one primarily black and one primarily hispanic.  I live in a state that is currently facing gentrification in many neighborhoods and of course some of the highest housing costs in the country.  I’m a survivor of foreclosure. Yea…let’s talk about that mess.  I say I’m a survivor because after an exile of four years we have recently purchased a home. I’ve learned more about the banking and loan industry than I ever wanted to and not because I found it interesting but because I was so angry and frustrated that this horrible thing happened to me.  I wanted to look back and understand it all–from start to finish.  I had to know where I went wrong and how much was really my fault and how much the industry helped me along.  Yea…we can talk about that bullshit.  Also…I had a beautiful dog named Cleo, a Tibetan Terrier found at the pound.  She died a year before we lost our house.  She had spirit and heart and was adored by anyone blessed enough to cross her path.  For Cleo I name this website and for Cleo I try to be a kinder more compassionate human.

 

 

Copyright 2017 caceresbg