Aroma and bubbling of a Seattle blend
Dark splitting open by jagged blue
Promises of the sun
Soft light dusting treetops–only treetops–magic beyond miracle
Squirrel’s ass bounding to safety
The red barn where he once sculpted in metals
Old white house, black coffin shutters where I imagine Poe sailing on a brigantine in a bottle, the ancient bottle forever resting upon an antiquated sideboard with missing crystal glass pulls
Lanza’s voice at any volume
Moon roof parting like the gymnasium floor, Charleston revelers diving in
Gold sparkles on my fingers from latest spray paint project
Son adjusts side view mirrors
The mere possibility of these glorious events repeating
Tomorrow, while driving to school
thinking of Christmas movies on this warm, sunny day 😉
Shuffling on the dry balls of your padded paws.
Impermanence, your affliction.
Hard exacting breaths from decades of sauntering.
Protesting each movement to fling earth’s weight from your mind.
The weight must land elsewhere.
No more burning up the open plains.
Alive with dullness.
You, a bitter lioness.
Working bones unasked for fractional effort.
Heart wanting recompense from both moon and sun.
Roaring from miles away at injustices served.
Laying waste to shared land.
Sour notes break into others’ dreams.
The bitter lioness will disappear.
Upon the shrinking sands, an old lion slaughters its cubs.
And all other reminders of its imminent death.
I’m sorry, this story doesn’t end well. It begins less well than that. The woman I’ll call Puff hadn’t a good beginning. When Puff was new she was beautiful. A flaxen-hair willow girl whose reed sprouted too early. Puff didn’t blossom with sunshine, rather her roots steeped into dark soil beneath a murky grey moon. No lights guiding the waif girl home. A home not once ever made of walls. Pregnant at fifteen. Puff and the little babe moved around a bit. Small bits on small dimes. Sometimes Puff would steal pennies from dead people’s eyes. Milk and bread desperately needed. Her breast juice had gone sour at eleven. Her and the little one–who at Puff’s birthing age left home too–enjoyed sucking on raw eggs from the deli man’s chickens. The yolks made Puff high. Whenever Puff felt good, the men could smell it. Puff had a second baby with a second man. Sometimes Puff would cry melancholy songs to her children who despite their sad surroundings grew up to be strapping young men who left Puff when her flaxen-hair molted like a sickly chicken’s best feathers. No longer beautiful, there was something still precious in the way Puff’s petite head tilted.
When Puff turned twenty-nine, she was far from her rainbow and carting three children on a wagon train. Oh, did I not mention child number three by man number four? The third man didn’t want little bastards as he had many of his own stock each with a big heaving mouth like his wife’s– nor did he want any talking woman–he equally despised them all. When number three and Puff lay together, he kept his bad smelling hand over her little mouth. No noise. Puff don’t make any noise. Now in her thirties, Puff had been long drinking hard–imagining papa proud–drinking men under the table then meeting them there. On the whiskey soaked floor. She did her best dancing under round tables. Between whiskey, bourbon and lemon suck she adored blowing long thin cigarettes. Holding an Eve in her little fingers darkened with dirty sunshine made Puff feel elegant. The men knew when Puff was elegant. They knew Puff in a way she never knew herself.
When Puff reached fifty, she could still lift a shot glass like a thumbtack and swallow in a bird gulp. One swallow and the fifth was free. More pennies from dead eyes, dimes from tight pockets and rolled dollars from old sailor boy Billy who told Puff she looked like this dancer he’d had many times in this wet bar in Los Alamos or Los Angeles he couldn’t remember. He’d traveled a lot. He told Puff he thought she was the most beautiful used-up woman he ever saw. And old sailor boy Billy had seen lots of life in many colors. He’d slaughtered rows of neon green shots in Los Alamos and chewed fat LA weed with squinty, stubbled men who wore gold wings on their biker jackets.
Whenever old sailor boy Billy left town, there was Indian Sam Eddy. Indian Sam Eddy called himself chief of the planet. His claim to fame–he once posed for the profile portrait on Black Rock Bourbon. As payment, he received twenty cartons of Black Rock which he drank in less than twenty days–his other claim to fame. Indian Sam Eddy wasn’t sure if he still liked women. He most definitely didn’t like men. But with no bourbon left, Puff had the keen ability to make him feel drunk. Though her milk had gone sour, he sucked on her breasts for hours and always took what he could. Indian Sam Eddy died one day. Dead from death. Puff did not miss him. She did miss old sailor boy Billy, the only man who came close to telling Puff he loved her.
When Puff turned sixty, old sailor boy Billie asked her to marry him. His legs were no longer working and he needed someone to push him around. At sixty-five, Puff was growing tired. She often watched her endless white smoke loops sail into the clouds. Up into the blue curacao sky. Life had punched Puff about a bit, but she still wished for more fight. Yes. At sixty-seven she bought yellow hair dye No. 69, but her old used-up hair splintered and fell out. She purchased a Marilyn Monroe wig in Gogo’s Second Hand Me Overs Shop and Bar and felt like Norma Jean for three minutes.
At sixty-seven and one half, she found old sailor boy Billy dead in the chair she pushed him around in. No funeral. His powdery ashes were thrown into the air. Puff drank a fifth watching Santa Anna slap the old sailor boy around a bit. Small bits on small dimes. Puff’s lungs on her sixty-eighth year were failing. Emergency services set her up with her portable tanks. Do not smoke, Puff. No smoking with the tanks. Fire hazard. Explosions.
Now, I told you this story doesn’t end well. It didn’t begin well. Did Puff find happiness somewhere in those little moments in between? I like to think maybe she found something. Something to rally her for sixty-eight years worth of hard living. It’s for you to decide. There were things that happened to Puff, not written here. Maybe those things were happy. Maybe.
Puff continued smoking right on top those compressed oxygen cans. To hell with them. She loved her cigarettes. She found such calm pleasure watching those Eve loops sail up to heaven.
This is an old piece, used one of Burt Stern’s lovely photo session images for reference
if memory serves this was about 5′ x 3′. Sold long ago. I wonder where she is now…
perhaps her and Puff became friends
this has to be something more than the dish
serving the meat my mother so tenderly cooked for us
after being on her feet all day
something more than my dad telling us his ice truck story
and how he began work at seven when he believed Staten Island was Italy
this has to be something more than my daughter
not yet realizing just how beautiful she is
or my son who embodies the compassion of a soul lived
much older than his fifteen years
or a husband who supports my artistic demons
this has to be something more than collecting these memories
like paperclips in a box and storing them
this has to be something more than an appreciation
this has to be love and living each moment
of that expression
I hope you all had a wondrous weekend
another day granted
to gaze at the sky above
from the earth below
woke this morning with these words in my head
artwork previously published
I wonder if she would’ve been braver
had her heart outrun the difficult years
her courage once supple and new
now evaporated by decades of living
I wonder if she would have been at peace
had she found the time to look ahead
knowing the past was what got her there
and primed her for a long detailed life
art previously published
Purfeath is part bird. Though his appetite is much grander and his bones are much denser, he believes he’s fowl all the way down to his clawed feet. Purfeath enjoys letting birds rest on his toes. Besides tickling his feet, the touch of feathers makes Purfeath feel loved and lets him know he’s not alone, even though he’s one-of-a-kind.
The other day I looked out at our bird feeder. It was nearly empty again. I can’t believe how much tiny birds eat. A gorgeous, red-headed woodpecker comes a callin’ every day too. A pair of bulky bluejays can’t fit their heads into the feeder. They luck out and get bread crusts and cookies for dessert.
I often look at the ‘frail’ birds pecking away at the feeder. How do hollow bones and light feathers keep them alive in these harsh, single digit temperatures? Nature is truly amazing.
The giant husband built this birdhouse. It’s hard to see, but there’s a little bird sitting on the “For Rent” sign to the right of the house. The giant husband’s sense of humor. 🙂
Thank you. May you dream of birds large and small gliding you across a sky of sleepy stars.
Purfeath created yesterday after bird feeder inspiration.