SOLO PERFORMANCE

First Published in DASH Literary Journal

He starts low,

a barely audible baritone

tuned to the beat of the train.

His words blend with the alcohol in his blood,

creating octaves of suspense as the volume of his aria increases,

enticing passengers to look up from their phones.

 

His inebriation level rises

and falls with his scales

as he drinks from the heart of the score.

Then the passenger launches into a full arioso.

His voice fills the car, building its crescendo,

reverberating off faces perplexed by the contradictions

of power and tattered threads, of quality and poverty.

Italian echoes between walls of doubt,

and cascades off the steel sides.

He holds his note-- strong-- insistent-- a perfect D sharp.

 

I nudge my friend.

“I know this voice. Charles sang opera as he cleaned

my parent’s house.”

Odd. Why is he in this city?

I sigh.

I never asked him what he sang-- or where he learned it.

His voice was deep but hesitant.

The glory of opera was concealed

within his cheese sandwiches.

 

Charles’ song subsides into a whisper as we near a stop.

He accepts the inevitable diminuendo.

Humming his eulogy, he rises and trudges down the aisle,

the gait of a man disappointed,

mourning the inadequacy of his life.

There is no applause.

I KNOW WHAT I SAW

First Published in Literary Hatchet

Once upon a time may be an apt beginning—

for non-believers.

Maybe I could say it was a dark and stormy night—

but it was not stormy.

 

The night was clear, a new moon night.

Darkness held our hands.  

We were hunting for a campground—

after 9:00pm.

Instead of toasting marshmallows,

or reading the best book ever,

or sleeping,

we were still in the car.

Sleeping would have been preferable to

Not Knowing.

 

A night search teases campers

with yawns, with grumbling stomachs,

with signs of campgrounds thirty miles back.

Oh yes, we saw that sign.

The billboard stood out when our headlights illuminated it,

and it was not a cheap, home-made sign with missedpellings.

The real sign told us of a campground up ahead,

and we heard that announcement because this was

a silent car full of family.

 

The Cascades loom over their prey,

waiting to pounce,

hungry for Lost Travelers.

People get lost, disappear, die on dark nights of cascades.

Call me Miss Melodrama. I know what I saw.

 

My brother no longer tells people about him:

his dark hair and slim physique, his height—the size of him!

People look skeptical when they hear the story.

But this is not a story. No. This is an accurate account.

An account not to be investigated, hunted down, or turned into a mystery on a chic channel.

Besides, this happened fifty years ago.

An anniversary. A milestone.

 

When lost in the Cascades on a new moon night,

drive slowly.

Keep your eyes open.

Don’t be afraid unless you stop but that won’t matter

because you won’t be able to see him if you turn back

it won’t do any good to chorally whisper

“What was that?”

It won’t help to turn around in a group double-take

he will be gone—

        swallowed by Dark’s instincts.

 

Remember that holding your breath is not going to remove the memory of

that new moon night

the dark

the woods ready to grab you

the presence of Sasquatch.

RESIDENTIAL REALITY

First Published in The Raven's Perch

Our ride takes us by her white clapboards and blue shutters.

Red oaks and yellow maples frame the property.  

A swing set sits in the side yard.

It was the fun house to visit,

but now it is encircled by a withering garden.

 

On our return, I see her peek out the window.

Her scarf, speckled with reds and purples,

is camouflaged by a kaleidoscope of fall leaves.

While he continues his tour in the Middle East,

their four girls play in the yard,

and a For Sale sign beckons.

OBLIVIOUS

First Published in The Raven's Perch

The electricity went out—

winter dusk sat in line,

but I still lit a candle for effect.

The dog and I settled on the sofa to wait.

I heard a large truck drive by, but

we had nested on our cozy couch.

We didn’t look out the window.

 

I turned a page in my book.

People were talking loudly on my country road,

but I ignored them.

Odd that anyone would be strolling by

with dark encroaching on their path.

The dog’s warm body, curled up beside me,

prevented me from rising. He didn’t bark.

I heard loud noises.

Perhaps a tree went down in the storm.

I started a new chapter in the book,

engrossed in another Hieronymus puzzle, filling my mind

with a satisfying appetizer to a black-out meal of pb&j.

My mind drifted to the noise outside,

but the dog turned over, exposing his plump belly.

I gently rubbed his fur and took a sip of tea.

I heard more trucks outside, then the lights turned back on,

and I knew my sojourn into another drama was over.

Turning around, I looked out the window

and watched the parade slowly exit—

an ambulance, a police car, a utility truck.

THE VISITOR

First Published in Literary Hatchet

Sea salt lingers on her lips as she strolls up the beach.

She picks her way through the path mined

with sharp spikes of seagrass.

Balancing her towel and book and drink,

she hops along hot stones placed as a walkway,

mentally playing hopscotch

to mask the pain on her feet.

She notices a stranger’s car in the driveway.

She frowns as she opens the cellar door

with its 10 x 10” window coated in residue

from last week’s storm.

 

Her nose wrinkles at the dank darkness,

musty with the salt air of its

forbidden underbelly—

the cellar is a living organism,

hiding rusty nails that grasp at feet,

and storm-battered boards

that whisper their stories of sordid abandonment.

 

A mouse

scurries between cracks in the cinder blocks.

The ocean breeze answers with a sigh.

The shower room next to the door

beckons with painted block walls

of purple blowfish, orange sharks and yellow jellyfish

with their goggle-enlarged eyes

that stare at all who enter.

Though she helped her father

give the creatures life through art,

they still mock her, laugh at her, stare at her.

She surveys the cinder block room for unwanted creatures,

then hangs her towel by the door.

 

The shower’s stream gently washes sticky sand

off her arms and legs.

She squeezes out of her pink bikini,

baring her childhood youthfulness,

rolling the suit down her legs,

rinsing sand from its folds.

 

She hums a Disney tune

while she builds the soap’s lather,

gaily gliding up to the high notes,

bellowing the chorus,

stumbling over unlearned passages,

oblivious of her visitor.

 

The spider weaves its way out of a corner.

He breathes in the moisture,

hungry for some of her exuberance,

hungry for an early supper,

then skitters silently into the darkness of the cellar

and waits.

© 2017 Poetry Snapshots. Proudly created with Wix.com