after image, new poem published

new poem, after image, in NowthenMagazine, October Issue, Word Life Section
this is a wonderful magazine, honored to be included in the October issue

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Raven Hall Pool

new flash piece, Raven Hall Pool, Firefly Magazine

writing flash fiction is such a joy for me
creating poems in the first person as I often do holds me back a bit
I sometimes fear a kind reader will think, “AnnMarie is sad, AnnMarie is whacked, AnnMarie better get her shit together…”😉

in flash fiction I can go hog-wild
it’s liberating for a mom of two teens, a giant husband, one small dog and caretaker of three elderly folks

this particular flash piece is based in reality
it is near and dear to my heart as is my sweet mom (her image in background)

emma

“ROME – Emma Morano, at 117 the world’s oldest person who is also believed to have been the last surviving person born in the 1800s, died Saturday at her home…she had stopped breathing in the afternoon while sitting in an armchair at her home in Verbania, a town on Italy’s Lake Maggiore…”

will I turn into an old woman
who chatters about birds
while fondling my thin paper hands
weathered timelines
repeating fond memories
will this make me
like other old women
who have taken to soft chairs
with hard backs, 
curving spines straight as possible
am I to gaze upon wisp sails of clouds
by a humble lake house in need of repair
a shawl
hope I don’t
cover my bony shoulders in a shawl
while bobbing on a front porch with room enough for two rockers
will I hear soothing cricket songs in the empty silences
of my own making
the voice articulating from my throat
let it not scratch like an eviscerated cat
let my speech float as unpolished clarinet notes
playing a backyard symphony
will there be foggy mirrors and tarnished hair pins
and dutiful visits
will they one day listen to my sleeping words
promise their consciences
to lay down these musings between antiqued pages
cloth-bound and closed
so we can remember her
will I stare at the dying trees
and imagine
worn paintbrushes against a diluted prussian green sky
will I exaggerate the view
for the sake of beautiful words
if tomorrow is my end
against the cerulean canvas
where I paint myself
may I be remembered as more
than just an embossed name on a closed book

swing dancer

I’m working on a new writing project – not sure what it will shape into. I’m pushing things around and returning to some older posts (nervous about what I might find). If I discover any piece worth salvaging, I’m going to do my best to attempt improving its lyrical quality and meaning. Thank you.

Forgive me, dear women who were fifty

Please accept my apologies
dear women who were fifty
when I was twenty
you women nurturing children in the world
when I so casually whirl my polished hair
crop top hiking up my iron-flat abdomen
Forgive me sweet ladies
you women who were fifty
when I was twenty
you women rising, thin-lidded and lined
as I saunter by your commuter wheels
nearly naked, fresh breasted and easy
Will you vindicate me
kind women who were fifty
when I was twenty
for the times I fluttered my wicked lashes and smiled coyly
at anyone, maybe your lover,
perhaps your husband
I pray you absolve me
good women who were fifty
when I was twenty
you women warriors scarred by life’s weaponry
if my flipping fingers and cheeky laughter
interrupt your seasoned reflection
your focus on work, on family, on meaning
on all I will not know
and can not know
until my car is stopped at a red light
and I watch myself saunter by
regretting how I never once thought of you

joy august ripsaw

private island

on the small island where you try laying claim
breathing transports the flesh to and from the coast
you journey without compass of starlight
high spirited purpose often billowing canvas
effortlessly forward across wilding seas
spinning as she does
paths disappear in your wake
water eventually erodes the edges 
no sanctuary exists for you in these pounding crests
settling upon an abandoned shell
placing it to your wrinkled lobe
you close your eyes, inhaling the ocean

 once more seeking out the peace of those crashing island waves
first ocean

emerald velvet

silver hair once black as Christmas coal
hunger for learning, for creating
replaced with too many frail specters
her soul is tired
worn through and greyed
melting like roadside snow
her mind
stuffed to the stocking toe
with brave thoughts of death
and fears of dying
God, if she could remember holiday celebrations
twirling on star-dusted dance floors
toasting wishes into white-gold bubbles
floating by northern stars
rickety painted sleighs guided with frolicking white ponies
whose happy hooves were unaware of winter’s brittle bite
I shall drape her long emerald velvet dress
across the lumpy sunken bed
perhaps her dimming eyes
will once more breathe glittering light
lips long ago sharp and full
will sing a small song of renewed hope
in these last twilight days of frosted window panes
Karoleposted this painting several times, I painted this for my mother-in-law
who once sewed a long emerald dress for the holidays

did I ever tell you this story

did I ever tell you this story
she doesn’t actually ask
if she did, I’d lie anyway
why not
she often relives these moments
snared in an autobiographical time warp
when her smile bared genuine enamel
and her skin was fleshy seashell pink
she flashes through these moments
speaking with an age from back then

the crystal ball stops rolling
arthritis ceases its assault on her worn-down bones
her long gorgeous model’s legs take a catwalk
voted best legs in the class
did I tell you that
yes, but you don’t remember do you
lying for those legs
lying for this woman
she cartwheels back
memories are liquified Ponce de León
bottled water I would steal
she continues
regaling in moments of perfect laughter
with a doctor friend
sharing smokes, drinks
things I can’t share here
I’m driving the highway so I can’t keep looking her way
and nodding in the “newness” of this memory
I’ve heard this particular tale
many times
don’t know if someone will be around to listen
to my stories
I’m glad her beautiful legs aren’t causing her pain now
in this crystallized moment
studio
glossy from one of my mother-in-law’s modelling studio sessions
(can’t recall photographer’s name to give proper credit)

just passing above the middle

I am 53. Just passing above the middle, should I hit 100. I’d most enjoy cliff leaping in the saddle of a ’56 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible. Metallic silver and yes, big ass whitewalls–are there any other kind. If I make it to the other side, goodie for me. If that Caddie craves a good old-fashioned swan dive–feel its metallic skin synchronize with the sun, far be it from me to begrudge a classic its last butt kickin’ ride. Blaze away on fumes of glory–odiferous but bright. At the end of this particular road, don’t want anything else but that Caddie’s brilliant grill smiling in my cheesy face.

So here’s the thing about passing just above the middle. I’m a painter sometimes. Not always. Not often enough. Words seem to flow more (lately) off my cheap brushes than grade-two level paint. The good stuff, authentic pigments magicked with fine mediums are out of my studio basement league. And if we’re waxing oils, nothing ever more brilliant hit gessoed linen. Long ago the art person hiding in my head bought a big ass white canvas–is there any other kind. This 5′ x 4′ blank rectangle partially disappeared behind a bedroom dresser. The rest was concealed by a painting done ages ago when I wasn’t drowning in midnight words.

Change has been hanging out with me. He can be an overbearing bastard and so enjoys boxing ears. He’s been asking all sorts of questions lately. When you’re passing just above the middle, you have more questions than answers. All along, you’ve been sucking in a portfolio of answers. Hit the alarm clock and drive into a day of questions and answers. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Until change dude starts banging you from behind. He wants to know what will satisfy you now. Really get you down deep in your sweet spot. You’ve done many things already. Some stuff has been figured out. A few hidden memories still flush red. What is it you really want? What is it you haven’t done yet?

My mind is blank but I need to get this guy off my back–he’s a load. Then sometimes things come together. My first just-passing-above-the-middle epiphany. Mind blank. Blank. Blank canvas. I’m a painter sometimes. Not always. Not often enough. I haven’t touched gorgeous oils in awhile. In my 53 years of living, I have never painted an ocean.
first ocean

so here she is, my first ocean, not quite finished, need to hit a few more spots, used no reference images just a wing and a prayer and lots of eye squinting, waiting until change dude eases up a bit

 

 

a white German Shepherd and a bite in the ass

A leisurely stroll on a cool morning. Anastasia Lane is tree-lined with bodacious curves like his wife’s. He is not quite sure where the road will take him. This is a new neighborhood. His heavy patrician brows, salt and peppered over time speak to old-school character. Harder working, forthright decades. Maybe. Broad shoulders once home to a leather holster a bit concave now. With a surgically fixed hip, he perseveres upright and true. A firmness beneath those size fourteens beats the pavement, nothing aged in that step. He’s thinking about life. He’s a thinker. His brain will never stop cycling. Unlike the right arm that sometimes gives him bother.

He is passing a grand home on Anastasia Lane, a compound with ornate gates around its perimeter. Behind the black iron rods–in stark contrast–a large, white German Shepherd paces. The walking man’s flecked grey eyes shift. Having owned several of the black and tan variety, he admires the GSD a moment then continues on. His mind wanders back in time–a bleaker part of NYC. Two murderers hiding out on the ninth floor. Blocking the hall’s entrance, a hulking Shepherd with raised fur and glistening canines. In the stairwell, two agents plan a regroup, when the grey-eyed agent comes up from behind. He moves to the front and simply growls more loudly than the dog. The next moments complete another story–one that becomes legendary at retiree gatherings.

Continuing along Anastasia, the grey-eyed man is passing the expansive lawn’s last wrought iron post when from behind, silent teeth sink into his upper thigh. He reacts immediately whacking the white GSD’s head with his good arm and his large hand. His trousers are torn and blood is trickling down the back of his leg. Charging across the monstrous lawn, the GSD’s owner bellows, “RELEASE, RELEASE!” The dog owner’s voice quickly turns contrite. Sweat trickles down his ample exposed chest onto his jogging suit. His combed back hair is shoe-polish black and his endlessly dark, Sicilian eyes remind the old agent of someone.

The bite only broke surface skin. Within minutes the two are sipping Sambuca together in a flamboyant Mediterranean room. Above the gilded mantel, looming larger than life hangs an oil portrait. The old agent stares through the intense frozen eyes. He’d remember that gaze anywhere. Decades ago, Enzo Rozzoni was painted into a nice jail cell with canvas bedding. The grey-eyed man helped put him there.

The old agent and the Sicilian empty their shot glasses. Then the grey-eyed man points to himself and states with a grin, “Franco Rozzoni, I knew your father. FBI–”

Smiling equally as wide, Franco Rozzoni parlays, “No wonder my dog bit you in the ass.”

The old world neighbors share a laugh over another round of Sambuca.

young dadNames were changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent;)

I’d like to extend a very Happy Birthday to my father, Vito, newly minted 85 today and by far, still the most intimidating man I’ve ever met.
In the photo above he was just entering the FBI.