i found a post-it note from you today it fell from the book you last read tell her she's beautiful, you wrote words you whispered as you kissed my forehead the day you told me i'd find love again that all i had to do was close my eyes and you'd be right there with me and that we'd both be just fine that i'd always feel your love wherever i went as i'd run headfirst into love i just had to trust myself again and then you were gone
i missed your birthday four days ago
even though I’d made a mental note the day before
to remember it and say a prayer for you
but that day came and went, just like the year before
I still have the travel clock you brought home one day
it still ticks and tocks all through the night
i used to know what time it was wherever you were
until the day you died, alone and contrite
that clock is all i have of you now
it’s the only thing you left behind
along with the secret life you lived the entire time
the truth your children deserved, denied
so i’ll let your birthday come and go
maybe i’ll light a candle if i remember
i still think of you with every tick tock of that clock
did you ever think of us or were we simply a bother?
i don’t think of you as much as I should
but on this day, i do.
for i remember the one christmas we spent together
my brothers and me sitting in the back seat and you
i remember driving around the city in your mercedes
when you said you had to hand out the gifts
to the public servants who waited on street corners
sacks of rice in the trunk and stacks of hundred peso bills
i remember the smiles of gratitude on their faces,
of how proud i felt being your daughter then
you were the man i looked up to so much
how i wished we could do that all over again
but that was the only christmas we ever spent together
and the memories that remain are now so few
like the sound of your laughter and the sight of your smile
and how my whole world revolved around you.
merry christmas, daddy
There’s a storm in my heart
that rages whenever you’re gone,
wondering why you had to leave again,
what did I do wrong?
Did I ask too many questions
the last time you were here?
Did I not hear your instructions?
Weren’t you at all clear
that I’m supposed to be silent
when your storms howl deep inside,
when your demons come back for you,
and there’s no place to hide?
Have you ever named an inanimate object? (Your car? Your laptop? The volleyball that kept you company while you were stranded in the ocean?) Share the story of at least one object with which you’re on a first-name basis.
I found my first car next to the studio I was about to rent. Grass grew around its flat tires and there were rusted holes to the side of the windshield. When I asked my landlady if the car would remain there, she said it was actually for sale, left there by the previous tenant who had moved out of state.
“If you want it, you can buy it off her,” she said. “I think she said $400.”
So I bought it. Having been driven around by a driver when I was younger, I knew nothing about cars. And when one is trying to be independent but with no money, I was sure I could afford $400. Who knew I could barely afford everything else that needed to be done for the car? But I did. I scraped enough money to get it running – new tires, rebuilt engine, and have I mentioned – automatic stick shift?
Yes, I got myself a 1969 VolksWagen with automatic stick. I was so proud of that puppy I drove it to work 40 miles each way, never giving up when it broke down on the freeway, or when it leaked when it rained. My uncle, who worked for the airlines, gave me this special aluminized speed tape to patch up the holes. He figured, if it can keep planes together, hell, it can certainly keep my little beetle together. And I’ll be darned – it did.
It also brought back memories of my mother driving a VW Volkswagen (Yes! My mother! Driving!) and us as kids with faces plastered to the dashboard screaming “Faster, Mommy! Faster!” as we drove up and down hills.
I named that little beetle Buggy because I’m so unoriginal like that. When I got my Saturn, I named her Sal, the Saturn. So this first car was Buggy, the beetle. Because whenever I was on the freeway going 60, that little car rattled so bad that my eyes probably went buggy from having to make sure it didn’t fall apart while I was driving it.
I always figured if that tape held the way it did, little Buggy would last forever. I’d pat the dashboard and say, “here we go, Buggy Babes. You can do it!”
And she did.
you’re on my mind today
more than ever before
memories taking me by surprise
because of your rage
it was too hard to ignore
but they come back anyway
memories of the past glazed over now
by flimsy shades of excuses
maybe it was the gun you held in your hand
maybe I made it all up now
for so much time has passed us by
now you’re old and sorry and sad
and maybe such actions never really existed
outside of my mind’s eye
but I did see them, I felt every one
which made it all so easy, my quick
but memories have a way of tainting
everything that comes after
memories you gave me so long ago
now defile each new memory,
each moment of laughter.
should I question every new moment
against what your stain left in me?
or must I keep on fighting to keep
the light that I know is out there
if only I can see?
Those days of wonder, so long overdue
when all I wanted to do was stare at you
and know that as you lay in my arms fast asleep,
you were finally here – and this time, for me to keep –
even for a brief moment before the years go by,
before Time takes me away from you with barely a sigh
you sleep on and even laugh in your dreams,
dragging me away from the ragged seams
of the life I once knew, the way I used to see it,
tempting me away from the darkness, bit by bit.
So sleep on, my darling, my tiny bundle of salvation,
you’ve made me a mother, and for this moment –
it’s my only vocation.
What sort of music was played in your house when you were growing up? What effect, (if any) did it have on your musical tastes?
My mother was never into music, and so she never owned a radio at all, which meant that we didn’t have the radio blaring at our house when I was growing up. Instead, I remember the sound of mahjong tiles all afternoon and all through the night – and music, if any was played from a cassette player I probably bought on my own, was considered a nuisance and a distraction.
My aunts, however, who lived next door, did have a big stereo and so if I got tired of the silence or the tinkling of the mahjong tiles and the money chips, I went next door to play the records my aunts owned. Earth, Wind and Fire, Journey, Fleetwood Mac, Electric Light Orchestra, Bee Gees…looking back now, my aunts were pretty cool.
In my early teens, my cousins and I loved the same artists and so there was no shortage of music to share between us – as long as it was outside of the house. We listened to Madonna, Culture Club, INX, A-Ha, The Smiths, Duran Duran, U2, Depeche Mode, Bruce Springsteen, Pet Shop Boys, and Nena. The list goes on, of course, and I think that’s where my own tastes came to being, having found the music that I preferred over the ones my aunts introduced me to – although if I remember correctly, there was a foray into Shaun Cassidy for a year or two…
When I was in high school, my mother remarried, and my stepfather introduced me to Broadway tunes. He’d play them each morning and I learned how to wash that man right out of my hair, and that there’s a bright golden haze on the meadow in Oklahoma – wherever that was. And if I were a rich man, I’d build a tall house with rooms by the dozen right in the middle of the town.
Unfortunately, my mother did not share the same love my stepfather had for his Broadway tunes, and so he shared them with me. I loved those mornings with my stepfather. And even though I had never heard of Broadway before, nor saw a play on the Broadway stage, I learned to see the plays inside my head, sing the songs and dance along with them for whatever it was worth.
By the time I hit my 20’s, my tastes went to Sade and Whitney Houston, though working at a radio station introduced me to the Doors, Queen and pop music. When I was finally on my own, my tastes settled onto eclectic Buddha Bar mixes to go along with countless glasses of wine and Manhattans as I reveled living alone in my own little apartment, and drives on the highway going nowhere in particular.
These days, I listen to a variety of music depending on my mood. Some pop, some folk, and even some alternative, and even classical when I need to sit down and write my novel – though most of the time, I play no music at all when I write. There’s a smattering of Broadway songs in there, too, of course, in memory of my stepfather, and the occasional 70’s dance hit to make me smile as I think of my aunts. When I work, I have no choice but listen to relaxing massage music accented with the sounds of water, or the wind, or even a bird call or two, but it’s the last thing I want to listen to when the session ends and I get my own life back again. For when the work day ends, I want to return to music that makes me smile, remembering and honoring the people who introduced them to me.
I only wish I could think of even just one song that my mother might have introduced me to, but nothing comes to mind but the sound of mahjong tiles and money chips at the moment.
Though that could be music to someone’s ears, too, I suppose.
For today’s prompt, (I) tell us three things that you believe in your heart to be true. (II) Tell us three things you believe in your heart to be false.
This much is true, that all men must die
no matter how they may have lived,
whether they uttered the truth
or every word they spoke
was a lie. But there
is also god,
his name we
all know –
Life does not end when we fade away,
for memories keep souls alive
long after ashes drift with
the breath of our sighs – but
all won’t be alright
with you alone
by yourself –
*A nonet is a nine line poem. The first line containing nine syllables, the next line has eight syllables, the next line has seven syllables. That continues until the last line (the ninth line) which has one syllable. Nonets can be written about any subject. Rhyming is optional.