The Iron Writer Challenge – Weekend Quickie 194
A seemingly useless item
A practical application
Style: Catalog Poem
Theme: The poem must tell a story through the listed items.
I Will Never Be the Same
Hello I say with boundless shame,
A first time father, his heart aflame.
I smiled again and speak her name
And I will never be the same
Birthday parties, school days
Come hear what Papa has to say.
Holding hands, then a kiss,
We snuggle tight in life’s woeful bliss.
An altar flashed, all dressed in white,
Many faces shining bright at night.
She holds me close and speaks my name,
And I will never be the same
Her children come, her children go,
My years I’ve spent just to know
How wonderful this family is,
I give thanks, it is all His.
Then one day, with newborn eyes,
Her daughter smiled to my surprise.
I hold her close and speak her name.
And I will never be the same.
Dying now in an empty nest,
Alone with naught but heaving chest,
The two of them, both speak my name,
And I will never be the same.
Columbus, GA: Axis Mundi
Walking down through the city
on the dying edge of summer
I came upon the Axis Mundi,
and I knew I was in a dream…
I could walk, un-tethered, unhindered
in any direction, backward or forward
and all degrees of sideways
down through the corridors of geomancy, and
360 degrees of time.
I saw my father and my mother, walking down Front Avenue
smiling, even laughing some, and making wedding plans.
Plans to wed…to be sure…An elopement. They looked happy.
Anxious to come together, apart
from the separate hells that they were raised in.
And I wanted to run up to them,
to shake them, and yell, “This will never do…
…don’t you know that this is just a temporary escape?”
But I was frozen, and I was afraid.
Knowing what I know, I still knew I was destined to be born,
since it was me…who was dreaming.
I saw people shopping at the
S&H Green Stamp store
on the corner downtown, filling their cards up, 1967
Walking a little further, I saw the Orange Bowl
I had a glass of coke and a slider
and read the newspaper,
Four Columbus casualties,
Barlow, Smith, Callahan, and Latini–
Quay San Valley, Vietnam.
On and on I ambled, window shopping,
looking at everything with awe and sadness.
They call it nostalgia…those who know the wistful nature
of backward looking with an unrealized longing and those
“never agains” and “once in a lifetimes”
Storefronts reflecting back decades in the glass.
I saw the fashion of the fifties, poodle skirts inside, and images of
Dark Chevrolet Bel Airs, Ford Thunderbirds
parked on the slant, with meters and occasional maids
Turned my head and it was Christmas on Broadway, 1973–
Downtown was still fighting the good fight,
the malls were mostly on architects desks
and the fall lines of Columbus turned to turbines
The mills were spinning wages, for the last of the cottonheads,
they were called, not affectionately…
I saw the funky fashion of Sol and Harry’s discount clothing
and even saw the windows shake a little to the sound of Sly
and the Family Stone.
The riots and arson of those early seventies were rushing by
in faint reflections in the depth of the thickest glass…Hidden
there because no one wants to remember the Molotov cocktails
The houses burning, and the looting of the only record store downtown
We don’t talk about the Stocking Strangler either, or the elderly women
who were sacrificed for the dark yearnings of some socialite’s
and the history of Columbus’ underworld facts that left town
with all the dirty deals turned under tables at The Big Eddy Club,
And no one says that Carlton Gary was the wrong man, anymore.
The 80’s saw a dying of Downtown…The malls had come.
The mills were closing–The fall line town was dying and spreading
itself out farther and wider.
Scant traffic. A few stores. Dilapidation everywhere. Ruin.
I could smell the vacancy of the buildings…that old smell of absence
of a once bustling place. I must have awakened, just a bit. I shuddered.
I realized that Uptown would come and I sighed a relief. It had too.
Not for me. But for the lady I saw on the bridge.
I drifted again through the mist. The river had changed. I saw concrete,
and walls on the river…
I saw streetlights and mills turned into loft apartments…a dream inside a dream?
I saw college kids walking about from pubs to restaurants…and college extensions
I saw trendy things that weren’t possible…I saw art and statues and,
where was the dam?
Water running freely…The river was alive again and,
in a different way…not as wild and free…but alive, anyway.
I saw lovers walking deep into the night. Talking low. Laughter, and silence.
I saw runners taking there nightly run and people running the short rapids
not quite what they had been sold, but good enough for a comeback.
And then, an Autumn morning broke and I saw the first blue gray light
A misty morning with some slant of light breaking gray clouds that would burn off.
I saw the lady on the bridge. Standing alone. Looking for turtles.
I saw one lonely redbird. Looking weary from a long hotly contested summer.
A blue heron lifted off, slowly but strong…it must have fed off the rocks all night.
I approached through the mist. The lady turned her head slowly. I saw her blue-green
eyes. And the mysterious familiar outline of her face.
She asked me, “What if it happens again?”
I took the sides of her face in my hands, softly…And asked, “If what…”
She stared at me…
“The wars, the riots, the ruin, the desolation, the crime, the…”
I put my finger on her lips and moved in to hold her tightly.
She looked up slightly.
I shook my head.
She tilted hers.
I shook my head, and whispered, “no.”
I kissed her forehead, and felt her pineal gland fill up and
her inner eye open.
I felt my lips moving toward her own
and I smelled her Colgate breath and a hint of rich coffee.
I kissed her and took in all of the fears she had claimed as her own
over the years.
I swallowed guns, and crimes, and fiscal deficits, disease, and accidents,
I took the abandonments and the trust issues, and the coughed on the ideas
she had of me, that I thought she dismissed.
I took loss, and shame, and guilt…and added it to all that was my own.
And she shook in my arms and then she cried…
And I pulled away, with sun now shining on her porcelain face.
I have seen it all, girl.
I felt like stumbling down to the river, and laying down to die.
She saw my face and touched the side of my cheek with the back of her hand.
“Don’t leave yet. You opened me up like Pandora’s box. Kiss me again.”
I kissed her again and I felt her split her hope in half, and
cross the gap from tongue to tongue.
“You can have that. It comes with the rest.”
“For Sale” sign, wavering in the wind
A table, filled with detritus of life:
A tiny blue blanket, woven with care,
A half gallon of blue paint, unopened,
A package of bubble gum cigars,
One tear stained jacket,
One cradle, unused.