I floated on golden cloud from place to place. All I had was my soft brown and white fur, my tiny pink tongue, my piercing blue eyes that melted the hearts of everyone who saw me. Meow! Meeee-ow! There were so many ways to express myself. But no meow could capture the way I felt when they cut me open. …
I had the honor of hosting the Pope from
Argentina in the spare bedroom of my house.
He was testing the waters before his official
visit to Philadelphia come September.
His white helicopter landed in the
back yard, its frightful noise scaring the cardinals and even the
bluejays, as it swept up dry leaves from the grass, blowing
them everywhere. They stuck to the screen of my back porch
The Pope dressed in street clothes so he wouldn’t be recognized
by curious neighbors. I lent him the purple shirt worn by my ex-
husband when he visited, and told him the reason why I
left him. The Pope sighed and nodded his head.
We took our coffees out in the front yard and sat on
lawn chairs. We kept the conversation light, no talk
about gays and lesbians or the importance of abortion.
“You have such a variety of flowers and birds and
keep your bird bath filled to the brim.” He rolled his
“Rs” like the ocean waves that brought him to the
I stood up and twirled around in my blue-sequined
dress. Luckily I remembered to wear panties.
“I so love them,” I said, as a long-beaked chickadee
flew into his painted bird house.
“After I retire,” said the Pope, “if I do, no one can
predict the future,” he took a sip of his coffee,
“I will spend quiet mornings quite like this.”
I wondered where that would be, but he answered my
“The Lord God above will show me the way, as He always
I looked at this man seated in the green lawn chair
with his thin white hair and merry brown eyes
and asked if we could pray together.
He took my hand in his and began to sing softly
“Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”
The red-tailed hummingbird alighted on his shoulder
small, pulsing, long beak pecking at his cheek
All I could do was stare.
Awe of the office gives way to the officer’s awe of life. – mh clay
Look at me. Four days later. The black and blue marks only get denser and that arm of mine. “Go to the doctor,” everyone tells me. “You might have a torn rotator cuff.” It’s the arm that’s the worse. When I got home from the competitive swim, with Band-Aids on my feet, I couldn’t move my right arm. Although I …
I was doing my dishes one day and heard a knock on the front door. I leave my door open in the summer and always have a pitcher of lemonade in the fridge. I love the way the lemon wheels float to the top and the glass pitcher gets all frosty. Imagine my surprise when I turned around and saw …
As I lie falling asleep at night
bedroom facing the street
I picture the walls of my
yellow house crumbling away.
Here I am revealed to all in
my striped pajamas
curled up on my side
books, reading glasses and
tissues strewn on the
husband’s side of the bed.
I lie under the tiger blanket
used by Father when he was
dying, a white feather comforter
atop that, an occasional duck
feather quacking its way out.
Noises are few. The furnace
clears its throat. The fridge
hums a Beethoven sonata
and the water dispenser on
the outside is lit up when I
enter the dark kitchen
like the Milky Way.
I sit up.
An unfamiliar noise. Is it
the intruder I’ve been
waiting for all my life?
I open the front door.
The stars pounce on me.
The bird houses quiver.
Barefoot, I step outside, feeling the
cold stone steps, littered
with autumn leaves.
I pick up a red maple and
press it to my mouth.
A star fallen to earth.
A midnight tryst with a star-fallen lover. (We welcome Ruth to our creative conspiracy of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh
We took Shelly’s car. “Shelly,” I said over the phone, “have you looked outside today? It’s a sheet of ice. My car door won’t open.” “Oh, so you don’t want to go visit Willie today?” “I didn’t say that. Of course I want to visit your brother. I just don’t want to drive. Can you pick me up?” Naturally I …
We sat in a circle in folding chairs,
the lucky seven,
I was wearing a party dress that showed my curves
forgot to wear panties, so kept my legs together.
Paul spoke. For the first time I liked him.
Not because he used to be a radio D-J or
his mother was dying of Alzheimer’s in a nursing home
but because he banged his head against the wall
when his daughter hung up on him.
The newcomer was diagnosed two days ago.
He knew nothing about his illness.
He was 22 and had led the life of a gallant well-
but now guilt pressed him flat in his chair
– a run-over worm.
I stared at him. Nice contrast of
ebony skin the color of a Chinese lacquer box
and peach-colored palms he clenched on and off
in his lap.
He began his confession,
looking down and talking staccato.
I touched his shoulder. Keep some
secrets for yourself, I said. We don’t need to
The dam began to leak and
Harry, who worked for a drug company,
talked about his rampant sexuality when manic,
laughed when he talked about the women he made love to,
a few men too, the wife taking off with the
house and the kids.
The newcomer nodded.
You mean it happened to you, too?
he asked Harry.
It happened to all of us, I say.
Harry told about writing a hundred pages of gorgeous
notes only two months ago during his last mania.
Hypergraphia, I said, mouthing the beautiful syllables of a
new word I’d just learned.
Mine, I threw away after 20 years hidden in the attic,
The newcomer wanted more symptoms.
I handed him a brochure. Everything has a
name, I said. Whatever you did, they’ve already
named it. They’re pretty smart.
Well, if they’re so smart, he said, why can’t they
Well, they’re not that smart, I said.
The newcomer was guilt-ridden over his
sexual escapades. Used the word ‘evil’ to
C’mon, I said. Something big comes over us. We
light up. We glow. Arrive with a halo for godsakes.
We’re like lightning bugs in the dark.
Think of the evolutionary possibilities if you’re a
man. Populating your side of the island.
Paul, the guy I finally liked, talked about his old
man shooting his brains out.
Oh no, I thought, now we’ve gotta explain
we kill ourselves to the newcomer.
Derek, I said, turning toward him, there’s
something you need to know.
I know it already, he said. I was 9 when I first got
out the rope.
Hallelujah, brother, I said, slapping his hand.
Well, that’s just fine, Derek. You know everything now.
Relax and enjoy yourself.
Group Dynamics 101; prerequisite courses – Basic Bi-polarity and Manic Hypergraphia. – mh
When you don’t need it anymore,
when it’s imparted its last
gifts of manhood and of shame
When its hands cuff your neck
with a forest fire of remorse
and they march you off
quicker than a red fox vanishing
and you can barely glimpse
its sun-sequined back
too glossy for the moral eye –
Then, finally, there’s nothing left,
no one left to call
or shower with your gifts or laughter,
you’ve used them up
one by one
each of the many faces
you thought were yours forever.
So they buy you a trailer
and stick you inside,
the better to sleep away your princely dreams.
A dog twitching under a glass table
couldn’t resemble you more.
You rise up and stand on a box.
With your one good eye
you squint through the narrow window
at the grassy fields outside
Mind as prison or portico; one door shut, another opened. Yes, sing! – mh