Roadside Memorial

You’ve seen them after the accident

Flowers, stuffed animals, solar lights

A memorial for someone taken too soon

The glitter of glass on black asphalt

As above, so below

At first these tragic displays overflow

Friends, family, coworkers

Leave crosses, notes, stuffed animals

As time passes it diminishes

Until only a dutiful loved one

Stands roadside with fresh flowers

And a new set of solar lights

The hum of the passing traffic

Raising the hairs on their necks

The precarious nature of life

The uncertainty of a vigil

So close to the very hurtling weapons

That caused the death

Creating the emptiness

Now filled with trips to Home Depot

And Hobby Lobby

Do we leave a bit of ourselves in passing

Like haunted houses

Grandma is gone

But the smell of her cooking

The lilt of her songs

The rocking of her chair

Move in and out

Like exclamation points

On moments of longing

Does this happen roadside

To those left behind

When grass sticks to shoes

When tears mix with rain

When the lights flicker on

At dusk

Headlights illuminating this tableau

Do they wonder who will carry on

When they pass

Or if someone will do the same for them

We all grieve in our own ways

I know this

I want to buy a bench and placard

At the nature trails my dad walked

Celebrate his love of wildlife

I even spread his ashes there

Maybe making the flora greener

Which is the best we can hope for

A positive change from our leaving

Every time I pass a roadside memorial

I feel myself standing there

The longing

Cursing, perhaps, the carelessness

Of the driver of the WMD

I feel the loneliness in my bones

Someday I’ll stop at a florist

Leave a bouquet

How happy that would make them

Those passed and those carrying on

When I go I hope it’s at home

Surrounded by friends and family

If it’s my weary and clogged heart

That gives out

Go ahead and lay flowers and lights

In front of the local fast food restaurants

Leave a stuffed animal

In my dent in the couch

Park Bench

Where’ve you gone?

The sun’s arc

Has traced my decline

Splintered thoughts

Paint worn reveals grain

Rusting wrought iron

The tears you shed

Long evaporated

Are now replaced

With frost’s steely touch

The part of me

That still holds chin high

Is patinated with jogger sweat

But the words stand testament

People still wondering to this day

What cornerstone of a community

What deeds did you do

To be immortalized on this bench

Looking out over this lake

But you were no luminary

You didn’t found any company

You were so much more than that

You were my father

You were my friend

And someday I’ll pass on

But it’ll still be you they think of

In moments of well needed rest

Grass brushing at ankles

Dragonflies darting to and fro

In loving memory

Adrift

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I’m in a small boat

Adrift

In fog so thick

Only the sound of the water

Lapping at the side of the boat

Hints at its existence

My hands burn

Tired from gripping the boat’s edge

Filled with slivers from the boats decay

I can’t remember how old I was…

When I got my first bike

When I first kissed a girl

When I went on my first date

When I…

I’m suddenly in a cobwebbed corridor

I’d sublimated in my memory palace

Which leads to a oaken door

The color of lost childhood

The door is locked

It keeps in the poisoned air

Pseudomonas, staphylococcus, ammonia

Decay’s exhalation of hydrogen sulfide

Inside is the fragmented mirror

Broken by transgression

An artful trick from—

I’m back in the boat

Eyes blurred by tears

No matter

The world is amorphous

Life: ephemeral

I exhale a sigh of relief

A close call

That corridor…

Will need to be…

Walled in

My grip tightens

The boat gets a new coat

Wait…where was I?

I’m in a small boat

Adrift

In fog so thick…

Now

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The water builds at the faucet’s mouth

Building until gravity claims the drop

You’re birthday just passed

You’re deathday about a week away

Two years gone in the blink of an eye

An eye blinking away the welling tears

Random stomach pains

Thoughts of a friend’s cancer battle

My son’s food allergy diagnosis

His life constrained

I’m gonna watch the sequel

To the first movie you took me to

I think you’ll be there

Not some ghost on the loveseat

But genetic memory and eternalism

When I was a kid my mom said I sit like you

Before I even had memories of you

A ray with a single point labeled ABC

A = past, B = present, C = future

The ray is the illusion of moving forward

Through time

So you’ll watch the movie too

At the same time you cry at birth

Clutch at your chest in the bathroom

I feel a weird pain in my stomach

My son scratches his food allergy eczema

I pour your ashes at your favorite park

My son looks like you/me

He does something that reminds me of you

From memories in his marrow

The water droplet hits the sink’s drain

Walk away

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Maybe he was conditioned to walk away

Perhaps he sensed its coming

Lowering himself into the blocks

When she said it was over

That was the starter pistol’s report

Off he went

 

Maybe he witnessed the maternal bond

Who was he to try and fuck with that?

As much as he could give

He felt he’d be a little short

It was something he couldn’t deny us

Arms limp at his sides, he walked away

 

I like to imagine that he argued

That he cried in attempts to stay whole

That he held us in his arms

Tears streaking down his face

The look of a broken man

His face a setting sun melting into the ocean

 

I like to imagine that he called constantly

Trying to make amends to bridge the distance

That we were at the forefront of his mind

That he showed up uninvited

Diapers under one arm

A teddy bear under the other

 

I have a half-sister I’ve never met

That he walked away from first

Maybe she was the hardest

When my mom pointed at the door

It was like Pavlov ringing a bell

Without thought he found himself alone

 

I was left with a gaping hole in my chest

A severed, invisible umbilical

Trailing out behind me

The weight of a logging chain

Leaving a trail of black bile

For most of my life

 

My father reentered my life a few years later

Reaffirming a bond I always knew I needed

A puzzle piece fitting my chest hole perfectly

I no longer dragged that logging chain

Though I no longer envied other children

I had gained a friend in him more than a father

 

I think he felt that he gave up that right

That it would be a waste of time anyway

When so much joy was had just being friends

And when life was a storm he was a safe port

Two years ago a storm washed away that port

I’m often come undone at the thought of this

 

Looking at my two-year-old son

I imagine the hole in his chest

That I can only fill with stories

Of his quirky, loving grandfather

That he’ll have no memory of

And have to trust my recollection of him

 

At the same time I long for that lost period

The early years I didn’t have my father

I look at my son

And I couldn’t imagine walking away

I would level a city, sell my soul to the devil

To be by his side

 

As a child, brought up catholic

I believed in a heaven and hell

I’ve since stepped away from faith

And I put my belief in Socratic method

Which relies on student-teacher dialogue

I’ve lost my teacher but gained a student

 

Thinking of the loss of my father

My fading youth

My son’s long journey ahead

I hope I’m wrong about heaven

I hope I’m wrong

When I have no choice but to…walk away

The lease of my worries

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You’re rent has come due

A yearly reminder

It’s not much money but

The weight is immeasurable

I’m crushed beneath it

(Un)luckily the cost of your rent

Is shared by her and I

Now I know that we don’t visit

Even if we did you’d never know

Your cold, dark prison

You’re lucky

The cold keeps you young

The dark keeps you ignorant

What came first?

Me…the chicken?

You…the egg?

I’m a gunslinger with hoplophobia

Chambers filled with blanks

I shove splinters under my nails

For every missed opportunity

For unrealized potentials

You are potentiality incarnate

We tried to give you a Home

We thought of taking you in

But your brother broke her

She…the strongest woman I know

Broken and torn

I can’t even bring myself to ask

As I witnessed her succumbing

They said we could donate you

For research (the fuck does that even mean?)

I’m too afraid to ask

If only there were a half dozen of you

Then we could allow anonymous adoption

One isn’t enough

One is everything

The day is coming

When I will sign my name

On your release

I fear that as you thaw

Having finally escaped your cryogenic tomb

That I’ll turn forever cold

Fortunately I have your brother

Now three

To keep me warm

But a frostbite fingerprint will remain

On my heart

Although I’m pro choice

I feel like an amateur

$100 dollars to add another semicolon

Delaying the inevitable

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I travel this world widdershins

My head cocked to the side

Forty-five-degrees-askew

A confused mongrel

Trying to make sense of it all

Fingertips grazing all within reach

Like a blind man

Feeling for the inherent

A sign from the universe

The velvet rope of an exclusive club

The rust-pocked surface of a mailbox

The wispy hair of a newborn

The roughhewn marble of a tombstone

The shingled roof of a vacant doghouse

The smooth, sloped hood of a camaro

Dust covered, satin ribbons of pointe shoes

The latched, leather bound, diary cover

Just when I’d given up on divining verity

I run my fingertips across my stubbled cheeks

Tracing the trail of tears

I blow the sawdust off

This sequoia stump

With my damp fingers

I place my thumb

On the ring of your birth

Stretching my pinky out

To the ring of your passing

Lifting my hand I see two dark circles

Two simple dark circles

That hold within the span of your existence

I place my thumb on my birth ring

Lie down on the enormous stump

My pinky hanging out into the nilspace

I straighten my head the forty-five-degrees

And close my eyes…

BECAUSE I’M A WHORE WHO ASKED FOR IT – by Kindra M. Austin at Sudden Denouement. This pulls no punches.

I quite like the dark side, dear. Show me your shadows, those Phallic phalanges, and Feel up my female. I quite like the fusty spoors of Spirits, and semen, and plundered Blood Fixed to my skin. I quite like the emptiness settled in the pit of me— The sharp taste on my tongue […]

via BECAUSE I’M A WHORE WHO ASKED FOR IT – Kindra M. Austin — A Global Divergent Literary Collective

One

One is the onliest number that you’re ever due

Too can be hard won

It’s the lowliest numb-er since the slumber won

Now is the sadist’s experiment you’ll ever know

Yes, it’s the sadist’s experiment you’ll ever know

‘Cause one is the onliest number that you’re ever due

One is the onliest number, whoa-oh, worse than too

It’s just no good anymore, sense, you went away

Now I spend high tide just making climbs to a hideaway

One is the onliest number

One is the onliest numb-er

One is the onliest numb-er that you’re ever due

One is the onliest

One is the onliest

One is the onliest numb-er that you’re ever due

It’s just no good anymore, sense, you went away

(numb-er)

Privilege of growing old

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“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” Author Unknown

During the summer of 1990, shortly after graduating high school, I got the opportunity to take a road trip across the U.S., from NY to Montana to Arizona to Georgia and back again. I got to see Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, the Grand Canyon and a bunch of other sights. It really does give you a better perspective on how vast and varying our country is.

I’m not going to get into a great deal of detail on this trip, but am going to focus on one time period. Shortly after leaving New York, having gone through Pennsylvania and then up through Michigan, an occasional motorcycle would pass by. Now I probably didn’t even really take note at the time, except maybe to notice how loud they were, but probably immediately forgotten. Now, no one in my immediate family owned a motorcycle, so I didn’t have any reference to go by, like…oh, that’s a pan head or knuckle head. So they passed with little notice.

The farther along on this trip I went, the more motorcycles seem to pass by. By the time I was halfway through Minnesota, lines of motorcycles a quarter mile long would pass by me. There was no way not to notice them at this point. When I tell this to someone who rides, they immediately recognize the fact that I must’ve been nearing the Sturgis Rally…which I had been. Completely coincidental, I ended up at Sturgis AND found a room on the 50th anniversary of the rally! Most do not believe that part, but it is true.

Now, why did I centered on this particular time period? It reminded me of growing old. I’m 43, now I wasn’t sure if I should’ve put ‘only’ in front of that or not, but 43 sometimes feels young and sometimes not. I’ve often thought about what it means to grow old and what it all entails. The quote, “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many,” by an unknown author, surfaces more than most. My initial feeling on the quote was the differences in healthcare from third world nations to places like the U.S., but lately, with the passing of my father and father-in-law, I find a sense of Irony with the quote.

Now when you’re young, as long as it isn’t someone from your immediate family, you probably barely register the passing of fellow human beings, unless they make a lot of “noise” when they pass. However, when we get older these happen more and more frequently…until we can’t help but notice—especially, of course, when it is someone we are close to. I feel like the word ‘privilege’ seems odd, as we, that remain behind, get to see more and more of those we know and love pass. The closer we get to that final destination ourselves, the more it would seem like a never-ending procession passing by. Is this our privilege? To witness this procession?

What are your thoughts?