Hope for the Best

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She went to the store with a hope-filled heart. Each step her optimism grew. She smiled and nodded to people she didn’t know on her way to aisle 12. There she spent the better part of fifteen minutes looking for just the right card. A card for the birthday of a beautiful young lady, the vision of which her minds eye kept from years ago. Only positivity. With the perfect card found, she made her way to the bouquets of flowers. She wanted to remind her of the beauty in the world. The natural, pure, unadulterated world. She sat in her car, after checking out, and penned a note in the card through tear-filled eyes. Still smiling all the same. She drove the few short blocks to her house, knowing nobody would be awake at that early hour and simply propped the card and flowers against the front door. She hopped into the car and drove home. Walking in I could tell that she had been crying, but before I could ask why…she hugged me, stronger and longer than she had in a while. Smiling, she asked how the baby was, and I smiled back and said, “Fine.”  She picked her up and held her tightly in her arms. Her eyes welled but her beautiful smile never wavered. 

“It’s gonna be okay, baby girl,” she whispered. 

[My wife and I have custody of her niece’s 6-month-old daughter, while her niece deals with her demons. On the surface we wish her niece and the father of this beautiful little girl will get their shit together, as this perfect bundle-of-joy deserves to have her family. But, on a much deeper level, we are falling in love with her. I know how much my wife has wanted a little girl, us having two boys, and see the glee with which she dresses her up in cute little girlie outfits. So, I’m afraid, that my fear of losing this little girl, of seeing the loss on my wife’s face, that I’m becoming a wretched person with each passing day…hoping the demons never lose their grip.]

Childhood

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He spoke the secret, shared language

Of identical twins

Despite the fact he was an only child

You could find him at any time

Smiling and nodding in agreement

In a room alone

He played the harp on spiderwebs

He whispered secrets into heater grates

Walking out into the sun

He would sneeze almost every time

He’d mastered lucid dreaming

And tried to make the waking world

Bend to his will, unsuccessfully

He thought being half Native American

Would give him the ability to walk silently

Across leaves and twigs

He knew, comparatively, that he was poor

But mom was there for him, growing up

And that made him rich beyond compare

He wept the night his friend showed him

How to kill ants with a magnifying glass

He wondered if the ants sneezed

Before they melted

I missed that boy

Until I had my son

Together

We will make

The waking world

Bend to our will

The waltz

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This skin

These four walls

The limits of my understanding

The depths of my suffering

What’s remembered

What has been forgotten

Heart on my sleeve

Or cards close to chest

My deepest fears

My truest aspirations

What I wish for you

Out of love

Out of absence

The curse of feeling

Feeling the pain of past transgressions

Feeling the weight carried by you

Empathetic/sympathetic/apathetic/anesthetic

Gravity will always win

Pride is the only sin

There is a limit

Only so much matter

So hold tight

And let go

Today you are lead

Tomorrow you are gold

Even your thoughts

Ride on the backs of the animals you ate

It’s a dance

You are always one step behind

I will only truly understand the round dance

After I’ve entered the box step

We are electrons dancing in the clouds

Don’t save the last dance for me

Save every dance

For this brief moment

We are gods

In this skin

These four walls…

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

‘TIS THE NIGHT OF THE WINTER SOLSTICE by Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner. This should be the mantra for the coming year!

‘Tis three nights before Christmas, the day after Hanukkah, eight from St. Lucia, and five ’til Kwanzaa. ‘Tis two months since Diwali, India’s festival of light, as Sun settles into our world’s longest night. A breeze hugs the mountain, nudging daytime to eve, while an unkindness of ravens and a hawk take their leave. Observing […]

via ‘TIS THE NIGHT OF WINTER SOLSTICE — Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner

Aakriti Kuntal: This is the end. This poem at Sudden Denouement makes you almost long for heartache.

We want to reach out. But baby here, now, this is the end. We know, we know ‘ the end ’. We’ve lived inside it. Slept. Slept. Inhaled. Creatures of absence. Your eye is an alien being. It alone sings. A rotating rim. Continuously revolving in the hemisphere’s strange music. I look down. My feet […]

via This is the End — A Global Divergent Literary Collective

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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…

Absolute Zero

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They both worked at the factory

He was full time

She was a temp

Their journey started

At an after work get together

Drinks, music, and dancing

A connection was made

He left his wife and kids to be with her

She was a single mother looking for stability

Whirlwind romance

0 – 60 in 3.4 seconds

Coworkers loved the joy they exuded

He felt younger being with her

She was tired of youthful foolishness

She took him to all her haunts

They bonded over beers and blues

At work they smiled, knowingly

They had something worthwhile

Shift’s end couldn’t come quick enough

They could taste the beers already

He felt proud to have her by his side

She flaunted him to her usual suitors

With glass raised and a wink

Soon he wanted more

Cohabitation and a drawer of cold ones

She wanted more of the same

Clinking bottles and loud music

Even after pressuring her she refused

He wouldn’t give up on her

He followed her from bar to bar

He became a downer and a buzzkill

She wanted the endless night

And the bottomless glass

When she rebuked him a final time

Surrounded by her cohorts

His pleas to leave drowned out

He staggered out into the night

The streetlights haloed with flurries

A sad, crooked trail of footsteps

Left in the freshly fallen snow

The next day he never showed at work

Soon after he was found, frozen

On a wooded trail

That led to his lonely apartment

When the shivering stopped

Everything began winding down

Breathing slowed

Brain activity decelerated

The tears froze on his cheeks

He had given up everything for her

In the end he was an absolute zero