Red Writing Hood -- Debacle

I'm participating with The Red Dress Club again today. The instructions were as follows:

This week we're going to switch gears and write a little poetry. Writing poetry helps us work on cadence and rhythm which can make for better fiction. So by flexing our poetry muscles, we can in turn create more fluid fictional pieces. Please write a narrative poem that focuses on the workings of a family, whether it be your own or one that you've created from scratch. Good luck!

**I am not a poet. I wrote this when I was in high school and this is the second time it has appeared on my blog.**


We stared blankly in a dumbfounded silence

Not daring to even steal glances at one another
The five of us sat tense, unmoving
As rivers of emotion threatened to escape
From behind our downcast eyes.

My mom, my two brothers and I listened
As my father told us a story about how it felt to hide,
Crouched behind a wall of fear for forty years
He said it was time to face the truth,
Time to reveal the secret that had been silent
Within him for so long.

But it had always been lurking there,
Stirring underneath his skin.
It had crept up on him quietly, slowly,
Like a fever.
Until finally, on this day, the fever broke
And relief swam over my father as he confessed
In a shaky voice, "I'm leaving you all because I am gay."

It's too bad his relief wasn't contagious---
He seemed to think it should have been
I just fell apart
We all fell apart
A jigsaw puzzle dismantled
The pieces scattered everywhere
So we're trying to fit them together again
But it's hard to make a new puzzle
When we liked the old one so much better.

How could he create a family knowing all that he did?
His family was his garden--he watered it, tended it, nurtured it.
But he wondered why, if the flowers thrived so,
Did he still feel an unbearable emptiness inside?
After all, he did have a loving family,
Even if it wasn't the kind of family he desperately wanted.
He thought we, his fictitious family, could hide him,
Even from himself.

He was wrong.


Brothers and Sisters

My brother Mark and I

I wanted to marry my little brother "Markie."
Clad in my favorite Strawberry Shortcake shirt
and a dress made from a blanket.
A fake flower plucked from a vase.
A veil edged in lace.

Markie in my dad's too-big striped tie,
so proudly holding my arm.
An irresistible grin a mile wide,
His hair lightened by the summer spent outside.

My brother Kevin and I, circa 1982

Then came Kevin, and I got to play the part of a little mama.
He arrived when I was five, on the edge of six.
I loved holding him and giving him bottles.

I brought him to school for Show & Tell.
So proud was I that I also shared
"Where Did I Come From?"
the book my parents gave me, with all
of my friends at recess.
We whispered and giggled and pointed
at parts until my teacher caught us.
My parents fielded her phone call that night--what a fuss.

Suddenly I have to turn to look over my shoulder to find that little girl.
All three of us are adults now, having crossed over.
Cut from the same cloth,
yet so different in so many ways.
The miles and the passage of time
have made it difficult for me.
I struggle to pick up the phone.
There's so much I want to say, but I don't.

Things happen and you realize your siblings
are pieces of your puzzle and the vestiges of your childhood.
They will be there when everything else is gone.

I want to be a better sister if it's not too late.
I'll be like an archaeologist and sift through
the broken bones of time, the dirt clogging up the
hardened arteries of my heart.

I wonder if I'll have to dig deep?
I hope what I seek lies just beyond the surface.
With a little dusting off, some polishing, and
careful preservation, we'll be good as new.


Short Story Part Deux--How They Met

If you missed Part I of this story, please go here.

They'd met at the Cherokee Inn in Jackson, a dive tucked away in a spot only the locals know about. For Sarah, it was the lure of fried dill pickles, cheap beer, and gossip with her girlfriends. I loved the old dusty jukebox and choosing a dark corner to nest in with my Marlboros and rowdy fraternity brothers. I'd often just sit and smoke while they made utter fools of themselves. I'm a people watcher. I love to size up a room, settle on someone, and imagine a life story behind a face. Perhaps this is because I never talk about my own stuff, or maybe it's just more fun than listening to my piss-drunk friends.

I noticed Sarah right away. Carefully holding a fried pickle to her lips, she blew gently on the hot dill chip. I watched her intently, my eyes following her every movement. Her mouth was incredible, I could almost feel it beneath mine. I wanted to take her bottom lip and nibble on it. I wanted to kiss her after she'd eaten the pickle and taste the salty sourness. Two other girls sat with her, and every so often the three of them leaned in together, then broke out in raucous laughter, a private joke I wasn't privy to.

Suddenly my buddy Jeff banged his fat fist on the table so hard that two beer bottles tipped over and spilled their fizz onto the floor. He jumped up to avoid getting wet and knocked his chair over backwards. Shaking my head, I tossed over a stack of napkins and we mopped up the mess. Sarah looked over her shoulder to see what all the commotion was about and her eyes stopped on me. I was mortified by my friend's obnoxious behavior. The mess now gone, I shifted back into my chair and glanced her way. Our eyes locked and time seemed to stop in that instant. Then Sarah's attention turned back to her beer, which she polished off by tipping her head back, exposing her delicate neck. She slowly stood up, and my jaw dropped with the full view of her.

She was tall with legs that went on forever. Her hair was tied back in a low, messy bun and she'd tucked some kind of fake pink flower in it. A plain white t-shirt showed off her breasts. Hip-hugging, dark jeans complimented her curves and black flip flops revealed peeling polish in what looked like navy, but it was hard to tell in the dark.I watched as she pulled some crumpled bills from her back pocket and sauntered up to the bartender. My eyes wandered down to her ass then and I wanted nothing more than to come up from behind her and grab it.

But I wouldn't, and I didn't. I'm too shy. I haven't had much experience with girls since Dad came out of the closet. Or much experience with them, period. Sometimes I wonder if I really like girls, but my racing pulse must mean something. Jeff jabbed me to bum a cigarette, and just as I started to shift in my chair to get the pack out of my pocket, a soft voice said, "Here, thought you guys could use a few more of these." She plopped two beers on the table and grinned wickedly with a wink. I felt my face grow hot, but I somehow mustered up the courage to ask her her name, and to stall to keep her at our table.

"Sarah," she said. "What's yours?"

"I'm Sam," I replied. "Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham." Shit, I thought, I cannot believe I just said that shit! What the fuck?

But she laughed. And I laughed with her. Something between us softened and she pulled up a chair. Bold move, I thought. Can I actually take this girl on?

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