She turned trash into gold.

She turned trash into gold.

My mother’s ruby red glasses were made out of gold

A thin layer of shinny crystal on the brim

They were her most valuable possession

A lasting impression.

She turned trash tobacco leaves into gold.

It was a time of happiness,harvesting the crop.

Mother had little education. No degrees.

Working hard, as any man.

She  turned trash tobacco leaves into gold.

Out into the hot sun she dared to  go.

Along with sweaty sunburned men

She endured the long hard days

Bending love with callused hands

She tied dirty leaves  with a rubber band.

She could have married a banker

She could have owned a diamond ring

Across her brow she wore a long bandana

To keep the salt from out of her eyes.

 

Way before the dawn the cooking pots were steaming

The hungry men  surrounded her table

until the food was gone.

Back to the fields till the sun went down.

Today my mother passed away.

No more will she pay …

Those ruby red glassess , they’re worth a fortune.

Golden ruby glasses

made from trash tobacco leaves.

Made from trash tobacco leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

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This is Where I Live

This is Where I Live

I’ve lived next to the airport my whole life; I’m used to planes. I’ve even seen Air Force One a couple times. No big deal. Today, that plane was a little different.It was wrapped in blue plastic shrink wrap.Do they make a shrink wrap machine for planes? Anyways, it was just out there, by the National Guard building . It makes me think, even right now. Is this the residual of some out there happening? Did a plane full of people contract an incurable disease, and find themselves sealed in, the air running out, the engines disassembled, and the doors locked from the outside? Then, this small group of people, while dying from this highly contagious disease, how do they contemplate their demise? This dark,infectious plane, probably not even landed in the proper city. Do their loved ones know yet? Is there somewhere in the next few hours, families that will be contacted by government officials, who will inform them to “Keep their mouth shut”?Is the coming zombie apocalypse, sealed in this plane?Are these enemies of the State, sanctioned for termination? Are these little people, clinging to glowing pictures of their loved ones on a serviceless cell phone, dying along with their battery, going to erupt into flesh eating monsters? Or, is the flesh eating purely an aspect of the virus incubating in their bodies? Or, is it just an empty,shrink wrapped plane, held at an open space on the tarmac?Is it due for repairs, or new engines?

This is where I live.

Cut

Cut

blood-scissorsThe Vines  choke the trees.

Cut them with an ax.

Slice them with your knife

Cut them. Cut them.

Carve wood into little animals.

Saw them with the chain.

Slash the weeds at the root.

Eat them with a machine.

Cut them. Cut them.

Pierce your ears. Poke them with a needle.

Push it through the ice.

Be careful not to cut them.

Sculpt a human face. Mold it in your hand.

Shape it to a form. Cut the eyes into  place.

Shave off the whiskers. Shave the fur from your face.

Defuzz your hairy armpits be careful not to bleed.

Trim your nails. Trim the tree. Trim the dress. Trim the grass.

Stab the chest. Stab the pus. Stabbing wound.

Bleeds into the grass.

Rip the shirt. Ripped with anger. Rip it up so fast.

Chip it up into little pieces. Hammer into glass.

Stop being so destructive. Stop being so cruel.

Cut it .. Cut it. Cut it  out.. you fool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Empty Life

An Empty Life

 

pill bottle

 

What do I have left over from my mother’s life?  Today it is a plastic drug bottle that I found in a drawer- no top, and a label that read:” Gabapentin take 1 to 2 tablets every evening for sedation.” The date on the bottle is 3/16/2011. A yellow sticker reminds her to not drive.  The drug has had numerous lawsuits.  It’s rarely used for its original intention and is used more for old age complaints like muscle pains than it is for “epilepsy.”  I don’t know why I saved the bottle.

My mother died Jan 6, 2013 from a heart attack.  I think it was a broken heart. Two days ago she could have celebrated her eighty sixth birthday- not that she ever celebrated birthdays.  She died alone sitting in a chair in her living room.  I heard the story of the ambulance and the ride to the emergency room at the graveside ceremony by a minister who had little to say about her: “She bought me a cup of coffee at the diner in Cross Plains.”

Nobody called me when she left to go the hospital.  It took fourteen hours and a phone call from my daughter that was in another state to let me know she had died.  Nobody called to tell me to go to the “family viewing before her funeral.”  Her funeral lasted one day.  There was no viewing or family creating neighbors.  It was all over quickly.  Her obituary was two lines.  She lived. She died.

The last time I sat beside her she tried to slap me. We were sitting on the sofa. In her right hand she clutched a pill bottle. She was waiting for my father to take her to the doctor.   It was the same doctor that had written the Neurontin (Gabapentin) she clutched in her hand.  For the last few weeks she had all the symptoms: insomnia, dizziness, no appetite and the worst: a look of fear and terror in her eyes.

“Mother, let me take you to another doctor.  The reason you feel this way is because Dr. Jordan did not renew this medication.  I looked it up and the warning clearly states, ‘Do not stop without slowly reducing dosage.’”   She turned away and looked out the window.  Seeing my father and Tammy, my sister-in-law, in the driveway.

“I have to go.” Her voice sounded like a sickly child.

Her hands were trembling. She clenched her teeth and made a feeble attempt to slap me-not with her right arm because her shoulder was dislocated and had been for six years.   After an accident on a tractor where she fell off a platform rigged by my father to spray Round-out, weed killer on weeds growing in fence rows.  He was driving.  It was a rocky unbalanced terrain.  She tipped over from the plastic chair that was not secured to the tractor.  She landed on the hard Tennessee clay. The first surgery didn’t work and after that she said, “I’m not doing this again because it might hurt.” She started eating with her left hand, writing with her left hand and eating in paper plates.   The injured shoulder remained dislocated and useless.  Her shoulder drooped. Her right arm was now longer than her left.

Tammy opened the front door in time to witness the scene.  In her giggly voice said, “Let’s go, Beamama.  Granddaddy is waiting!”

“Do you think you know more than the doctor, she growled?”

Tammy held the front door ajar.

“No, mother, but I do care more.”

That was the last time I had a conversation with her.

Months passed.   Food I took to her was laid out on the front porch, uneaten and untouched. No one returned my phone calls.  At first I went to visit her by sneaking in the house while my father was outside.  He spent his life outside: as a construction worker and after retirement he bought a riding lawnmower. He didn’t have respect for people who “worked in the house.”  He either mowed the grass till it refused to grow or went to his barn “to visit my real friends.”  They weren’t people.  They were horses.  He was over eighty years old and had fallen off of three of them.  He’d been in ICU in Vanderbilt and the last time he’d had to stay in rehab for a broken femur.  He had the horse shot. It wasn’t the horses fault.

Opening the front door I noticed the rugs laid on the beige carpet. It isn’t normal that people have rugs on carpets. My mother was deathly afraid of being called dirty.   On the rugs were fringe-the fringe were arranged and spaced in a uniform way- laid out like soldiers in a row. There was so much silence in the house. I felt-empty and almost like a burglar. One can make no sounds when you walk on carpet.

I called out to her. She didn’t answer.   She wasn’t in her bedroom. The room was immaculate. Pillows laid in rows across the head of the bed.  It all looked like a “Better Homes and Gardens” display- everything matched. The room smelled like “old people.” – a sort of moldy heavy odor. I ran out.

On the other side of the living room, down the hall was my father’s bedroom.  My mother discovered that his bedroom was the farthest away from a blasting TV. When she moved in his space he slept on the sofa or in a recliner complaining that she was taking over again.

Upon entering his bedroom I saw her- a small body, a lump of sorts, under the white sheet only her gray hair was showing.

I remembered my father in one of his rants said, “Your mother has been trying to die for six years. She’s given up eating food months ago.  She dared not drink water because she said, ‘I’m tired of peeing all over myself.’”

I knew what he was talking about.  Since they’d moved into this house everything that was her life was left in the old house: flowers planted in crooked rows when she was pregnant, stories and conversations with friends, visiting on the porch and watching the birds come to their feeding places her children growing up. My mother was my friend.  We raised cows, mowed yards, took care of grandparents, and went to skating rinks and swimming pools.  At that house she was in control.

Upon seeing her lifeless frailness I didn’t know what to do.   I left her house.  She died five months later.

She has been dead more years than the date on her tombstone.

Today is Christmas Eve.  Trying to organize my desk I find her memory: an empty pill bottle of sedatives to remind me of the last Christmas with her.

 

pill bottle

Sweet Tea

Sweet Tea

ice tea

Quart size glasses

Filled to the brim with ice

The kind of ice that comes in plastic cubes

Cracked into the freezer bin

Little cubes cold and split

Packed tight into the glass

Brewed on the stove in an aluminum pan

Family size black tea, six.

Steeped in the steam

Diluted with well water

the taste of sulphur at times

Until the day of the city water

When the lemon was added

along with the lead and the flouride.

 

 

 

 

Dixie of the North

Dixie of the North

Her face had a set, strong jawline.Her voice heavy from years of smoking and a retaliatory nature. She lived in the small town, once strong and industrial ,now a home for cracked sidewalks and the unemployed descendants of factory workers.A devoted Republican and intrusive in a mindful mother’s way,she was recovering from radiation, and suffering from the quiet life of a retired widow.

Her cheeks were creased. There showed seventy years of smiles and determination. She lit a cigarette, setting it deftly in the slotted green ashtray. Her words marched to a steady, vibrant cadence, her sentences often beginning with “I’ll tell ya what.”

How many winters had she weathered in the smoky bar she ran for her now passed, overweight husband? So many nicotine stained nights that hardened her soul.She was kindhearted as her sex presumed, but harsh at the flip of a coin.

It was a thousand miles, but just down the street. The “Jungle” where she had been a fresh faced girl, and,was the wrong side of town still, to this day.But that was so far away now. If you had seen that girl all those years ago, would this be imaginable?

Perhaps the town showed her who to be.

” A Wasted Vote”

” A Wasted Vote”

What are they saying? ” Don’t vote for x you’ll lose your vote!”  The only way people lose their vote is when they don’t…. VOTE.   I am disgusted ( and I can’t use a milder word) about people who say, ” My vote doesn’t matter.”  It does.  Women fought with their lives and family to make sure that other women had a say-so in their lives.  Black people marched and were made to set on the back of the bus, go to strange bathrooms and eat outside because they couldn’t vote.

Then you might suggest why do these candidates spend billions?  To get you to believe they are on your side.  You ( We, the people) are an ocean.  We are waves, wind and power.

You might not think so but every drop of water is the same:  Hydrogen and Oxygen- hydrogen to explode and water to breathe.  Every molecule- every vote matters.

You’d think that we had at least one paid day off to vote.  We get off for dead president’s day, a few dead heros, a few struggled events like Labor Day and Memorial Day but we don’t get a day off to go and vote.

There are few paid employees who take care of the polling places and the system depends on volunteers.

If you don’t vote, if you don’t ” do politics” then you will find out when you are locked up, locked out or charged enormous fees ( government regulations do work).

Whoever you are or think you are VOTE!  If you think one person doesn’t make a difference remember the man that climbed the sign on the interstate in Nashville.  He stopped traffic in both directions for three hours.