Monday, June 22, 2015

who's afraid?

photo by Bert Stern

Elizabeth could turn it off. Smiles never just melted slowly. And now as they lounged at the pool she wasn't smiling.
"Must you go?"
"Yes". Richard said it quietly, repeating what she dreaded. Separation. Boredom at this dump. Divorce. Death. Reunion. "It is but two days work, My Love", he answered in a Shakespearean voice echoing the hollowness of an empty theater. "Besides", in his fetching Welsh now, "I read poetry, they get it down on tape, I stuff my wallet, and new jewelry for you".
"Oh...silly poetry".
He looked at her hard. "No, it's magnificent. It's Dylan Thomas. Not silly".
She turned away. He brushed his left palm on her back, keeping the right with cigarette far away. She shuddered. Children were playing and screaming in the distance, bodies hitting cold water in one splash after another. The faint sound of a little girl crying followed. Richard could not find her in the glare.
"I'll return. Soon. I will", he promised. She did not move. She said nothing at first. Then she moved onto her back, the cement of pool's edge cooler, and quoted softly, "'We are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood'. No, that was not silly".
He was smiling. And blushing that was undetectable. Lighting a cigarette for her he quoted,

'I see the summer children in their mothers
Split up the brawned womb's weathers,
Divide the night and day with fairy thumbs;
There in the deep with quartered shades
Of sun and moon they paint their dams
As sunlight paints the shelling of their heads.'

She let out a long breath. They both watched the smoke rise and dissipate into the blue sky.


Under Milk Wood and I See The Boys Of Summer, by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

the conversation

image by Sarolta Ban

"Hey man, you got my stuff"? He was calling from the world's last phone booth, balanced at the edge of cliff at the end of the universe.
The man was eating supper with his family. He was still in grey suit and grey tie as he picked up the receiver in the dark hallway. His teeth were clinched, lips like a ventriloquist. "I told you NEVer to call me at home".
"Hey, man". Pebbles from a rock slide above rattled his cage. He looked up nervously.
"I told you I'd take care of your...stuff". It was in a yelling whisper brushing across the telephone.
"Hey, man. When"?
He was startled that he could almost smell the weed. It was only a stringy piece of lettuce and thousand island dressing caught between teeth. "Do you always have to start every sentence with 'Hey, Man'"?
"Hey, man". He was hiccuping his laugh like a nineteen fifties B movie dope fiend actor in tinted glasses. The phone booth teetered. He cursed under his breath. "Hey, man, you got it made, big time writer dude".
"Made? You don't know what it's like. I'm under pressure".
"Hey, man"....
"I got a deadline, Hey Man, you'll never know. It's Mag 274 for crying out loud"! He heard more hiccuping and the line cut out and back in again.
"Yeah, well, man, I'm under a dead line too, man. Just write a poem about...about. Hell, about an oyster with no passion, man".
He looked over his shoulder as his wife called him back to the table. His hand was sweating. "That's good", he said to the man in the phone booth. His voice was calm, more conversational. "Oysters and passion. I think I can do something with that". He heard a crackling over the telephone. "You stay put. I'll come. I'll bring your stuff".

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

war is over

Darling Emma,

War is over. So they say. It seems we can still hear planes overhead at night. Or my ears are ringing. You know nighttime is when they buried the dead in this 'theater'. At dark so they couldn't be spotted. The ground is rock and the graves were shallow.
But that's over now here as our engineer unit has relocated down in Belgrade, reconstruction full speed ahead. It's dirty. And blue danube waltzing water is at a trickle. I long for a long long hot shower of home. And your beef-steak and gravy. We ride packed transit with the locals. I had a babushka woman stuffed so close to me her teeth were up against my shirt button. And she looked up peeking, no fear or suspicion, never taking her watery pale-blue eyes away from mine. Should I've asked her to dance? Oh! Speaking of showers - you gotta see this funny photo Charlie took of me when we were smashed. (There's no water, but the distillers are at full steam ahead.) We chased these kids away from a shattered dry bird bath in the town square and commandeered it. They scatter easy when you clap your hands. Just like little birds. I miss little morning sparrows that gathered at the sill beyond your kitchen sink. Do they come still? I can't remember why we chased those kids away.


Friday, June 5, 2015

surfaced haiku

photo by Toni Frissell

Beneath her beauty
Buoyant heavy naive heart
Merciful whispers

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