Monday, August 31, 2009

Five Unrelated Poems


My grandfather is dead. I don’t know what to do.
Everything seems wrong. Hard. Different.
My mind was clean, now it’s littered with thoughts and emotions.

Weekly visits to his house.
Laughing at me when I first realized grandma could run.
His peculiar circling wave goodbye as the car drove away.

I wonder whether my sisters are thinking of the pet names he gave them.
They hated those pet names. I did too. I miss them now. He never gave me a pet name.
I wonder why. I never asked. Would he have if I asked him to?

My aunts and uncles are five again, talking of “Dad” like he walked on air.
Now dead they fight over his possessions like two kids over the last cookie.
Funerals change adults to children and children to adults.

Television portrays death as a way to bring loved ones together.
I must have very few loved ones. Grandma. My dad. My sisters.
They all know. They all care. Grandpa is dead.

At Dinnertime

Humming birds during dinner,
table hovering.
Wings like tiny drums
as they fight over sugar water.

My mom’s home is so boring.

The Drugs Taken Before Surgery

Rolling down a sterile hallway. Sit-bouncing on the bed.
Parents giggling. Their child had never been so happy?
Giddy and excited,
The boy doesn’t realize where he’s going.
He doesn't understand why he's there.

Understanding comes. Eleven years late.
His singing just won’t allow him to care.
Elvis permeates his private room.
There will be a record of him singing.
Hours from now he’ll care.

A Vision of Love

There is no such thing as love.
Romantic love is lust in disguise.
Barney knew this to be a fact.
He had seen too much.

He believed.

His parents had once “loved” each other.
With kisses and gooey eyes, they “loved” each other.
He didn’t have enough four-letter words
to describe how little he believed in their faded “love.”

Divorce was what he believed in.

He never knew why his friends
would hold hands
in school hallways one day
and fight by their lockers the next.

Friendship is what he believed in.

People of all shapes and sizes would tell him
how they lost their virginity. He never understood the point.
Especially when he was certain all relationships would fail.
Even the ones that lasted ‘til death do them part.

He believed.

A Wonderful Time

I open my eyes and wonder how much longer I have to wait.
Dad said I had to wait ‘til ‘twas light outside.
A long time. It’s winter.
I get up and peek out the window.
The sun’s not risen yet. The sky is still dark.

I haven’t slept much all night.
This night’s excitement always does this.
Two decades change excitement to calm for most people.
Not for me.
I read my new book. I am two hundred and fifty-three pages into it.

I look out the widow at page three hundred.
The sun is still not up, but the sky is lighter on the horizon.
It’s time. My parents would not agree.
Doesn’t matter. I run to their bedroom and jump on the bed.

I am a kid on Christmas morning.

Poems - Vampire Series

A Little Boy Impressed

“How long have you been twenty-one?”
No one has ever asked that before.
It amused me,
this little boy unveiling my secret.

“I’m Cornelius,” I tell him, “And I’ve been
twenty-one for over five hundred years.”
The boy is not impressed. I remember when
children were impressed with sticks and stones.

“Are you like Dracula?
You don’t wear a cape.”
Dracula is a fairy tale.
The only fairy tale I believe is me.

“Do you drink blood?”
I do not answer the question.
Why should I? He’s just a boy.
And I am more than human.

I don’t allow him to speak again.
With immortal grace
the boy is dead.
I wonder if he is impressed now.

A Sense of Feelings

“There is nothing different here,”
I whisper to myself
staring at my night’s fifth.
“She was just another meal.”

None of them are impressed.
I should know that by now.
Last night a boy asked questions.
Tonight the woman begged at my feet.

“There is nothing different here,”
I whisper again. Is it true? I don’t know.
The woman says nothing.
She shouldn’t. She’s dead, but so am I.

I seek revenge against religion.
The Holy Spirit touches me differently.
I turn to dust upon death.
Who am I?

Running footfalls make me turn
to see a man dashing away.
I don’t think.
Number six lies dead at my feet.

The Beauty

“Please let this work,” I murmur over the unconscious beauty.
Am I dark enough to do this?
I never have before. Making one of my kind is risky.
Myth says it only takes a bite. “That would be too easy.”

We both have to bleed and drink, like a ritual.
I was confused about that. Beauty was unconscious.
I sat on top of the deceased Billy Hennessey.
Only us three in the graveyard. “I shouldn’t have done this.”

I felt like the boy two nights ago,
too many questions running through my mind
with no end in sight.
Maybe she wasn’t the answer to my problems.

Faint laughter stabs the night.
Am I really a fairy tale,
the nightmare in the dark
scaring people from slumber?

Beauty moans and slowly opens her bloodshot eyes.
“Do it,” she breathes. A demand.
She knows. I can see it in her eyes. Death is near.
Does she know what she’ll become?

Born Anew

“Don’t you love it Cornelius?” I asked him.
Everything seemed new, now that I was new.
A woman came towards me.
She smelled good. Like copper and tangy honey.

“Rosemary,” Cornelius whispered,
my name spraying from his lips.
“You can have your pick of anyone here. It’s your birthday.”
Turning, I kissed him. He tasted of dirt and grass.

I hope to never forget that wonderful smell and taste?
Confined in the dark. It had been cold. I had been trapped.
Digging from my grave made my hands bleed.
My body heat would remain cold. I would smell forevermore.

My first meal increased those thoughts.
She was delicious. Tasted sweet. All happy meals did
if I ignored the copper. Like putting pennies in my mouth.
The hectic street was packed full of morsels.

It was Sunday. Church was starting.
The bell was ringing. We clasped hands and smiled.
“The lord giveth to all those in need.”
As one we walked under the cross into the church.

Better This Way

The building had fallen down.
We were really that good. We were really that distracted.
Cornelius had never bragged before. There never seemed to be reason.
Tonight was our first time.

Last night was about finding a feast.
This was the only rule Cornelius had explained.
The feast of churchgoers last night distracted us,
as well as another activity just as pleasant.

I don’t wish to wake him. I touched his cheek. He opened his eyes.
I whispered, “That was the best night of my unlife.”
He growled and looked at his sun soaked pants.
“I know how we could pass the time,” I told him.

It was rough and hard and fast. Not as magnificent as the first time.
This disappointed me.
The building was in shambles.
The blocks of cement had been ground to powder.

It didn’t matter.
What mattered was how disappointing he’d turned out to be.
There was only one thing to do.
At my hands Cornelius fell into the sunlight.

The Guilty at Work

Black, sooty ashes
tumbling in the wind.
The sunlight had lit my undead lover
like a Fourth of July celebration.

“Twelve hours ‘til sundown,” I muttered.
The groan in my belly told me I was hungry.
I tested the sun’s rays. My hand caught fire.
“Guess I really am trapped.”

Killing Cornelius hadn’t been a good idea.
I didn’t know how to survive.
I looked around and saw black silk curtains.
“Lets see how strong I really am.”

Tearing them down with my teeth and fangs
to make myself look Transylvanian was simple.
The last rays of sunlight were finishing the horizon.
“There. A true queen of the dead.”

I put on my new cape and stepped forward
to feast on the world. Darkness surrounded me.
Someone incredibly strong grabbed me from behind.
I struggled all the way into the sunlight.

Playing Pretend

The cape was in place. The white makeup covered my face.
Plastic, pointy fangs would have
glistened if they weren’t a movie replica.
I had a destiny to fulfill.

“Matthew Whittaker.” A voice called out.
We were dressed similar, but something about him seemed off.
“You need to come with me.”
His voice was so musical bells rang in my head.

His makeup was pale blue.
His cape only reached to his back.
His fangs looked better than mine,
reflecting off yellow moonlight.

“I answer to only Vlad the Impalor.”
The Living Undead Society was becoming lax in its admissions.
His voice, a beacon for me to follow.
Bells rang in my head again.

In an alley he removed his cape and makeup.
Bells rang and I removed mine.
A soothing ache at my jugular made me miss
ashes blowing in the wind.

A Drunken Walk

Why did the bartender
have to take his damn keys?
Why do I have to be the one
to walk the guy home?

“Watch where you’re going loser,”
A man on the street tells us.
Agreeing with a stranger, an abnormal event.
Driving him with anger seemed the superior option.

Is there a reason nobody
else could do this?
I’ve known the bum only a few days.
Dave has known him longer.

“What are you doing freak?”
His name no longer matters.
The bum’s leaning over me.
I hope he’s not gay.

Unpleasant lips do not meet my throat.
Opening my eyes,
I see a blonde walking away with
ashes swirling around her.

The Final Legacy of the Hunter

Being hunted is not pleasant.
I should know. I once was. By one of them.
The Nightwalkers. The Death Dealers. The Undead.
I didn’t want anyone else to go through that.

Some of them think themselves wannabes.
My blond hair and bright clothes
outshines the darkness penetrating their soulless vessels.
How can these creatures stalk the earth?

Rescuing the Goth vampire wannabe
and the drunk, I played victim,
begging for more to show up.
No place else to go at night.

Battling for my life. Five at once.
Didn’t know who would win or lose.
Death is such an easy thing to think about
when a person has nothing left.

They’ll all die. I’ll take them all.
My family is dead. I have nothing left.
The wood in my hand is comforting.
I don’t see the monster until it’s too late.

A Dinner Party

She was wearing clothes with paint on them. The volunteers at the Habitat for Humanity worksite must have painted today. Her clothes had fresh paint mixed in with the dry. Her jeans had a bright red patch of fabric in the shape of lips sewn onto the butt. She told me that this was her way of telling male construction workers to kiss her ass when they tried to tell her what to do.

“Hello honey,” my mom said holding out her arms. She asked for a hug even though she knew I hated hugging people. Hair always got in my face and in my mouth. My mom’s short blonde hair was no different. I came within hugging distance and let her wrap her arms around me, my arms hanging loosely at my sides. I hoped the paint was dry enough that it wouldn’t get on my clothes or skin. She smelled of new barkdust. She must have done more than paint.

“Brat,” she said as the hug ended.

“Where’s Rain?” I said taking off my coat. It felt good to get its weight off my shoulders. I laid it across the back of the couch.

“In her room.”

“You really need to get a new couch Mom. This one is just”

“Hi Max,” a Southern voice called from the kitchen. It was Robin, my mom’s boyfriend. I considered Thursdays this household’s weekend. It was the day I came over most often. It wasn’t always easy for me, but I tried to work it into my schedule as much as I could. That way it didn’t always look like I was trying to avoid them.

“He’s making homemade macaroni.” I jumped, startled. Turning around I saw Rain standing at the end of the hall. She had just woken up. Now at twenty years of age she could make nearly any male drool at just the sight of her. At the moment though, her pet flying squirrel was walking back and forth across the back of her shoulders, her shoulder-length brown hair was flat on one side and stuck to her face. She had the indentations of her pillow running across the right side of her cheek. She was wearing a white t-shirt and pajama bottoms with the Veggie Tales characters Bob and Larry on them. She took one look at herself in the mirror next to her and said, “Oh my god,” before running into the bathroom and slamming the door behind her.

Macaroni finally penetrated my sense of smell. It smelled delicious. Not that I cared what Robin made for dinner. Anything was better than cafeteria food. I went into the kitchen to find him and mom talking. Whatever they were talking about was cut off when I entered. “Set the table please,” Mom said. “Dinner will be ready as soon as you do.” I sighed. This was going to be a long night. “And when you’re done here, tell your sister it’s time to eat.”

“Rain,” I called out as I grabbed glasses, plates, and silverware from the cupboard and drawer, “It’s time to eat.”

“I could have done that,” mom stated.

Mom lit the candles and turned out the lights. It always surprised me that there were enough candles to see by.

“Then why didn’t you?” I started setting the table as Robin set the food out and mom opened a bottle of wine.

“There’s soda in the refrigerator. We have Root Beer and Crème Soda,” Robin said.

“Thanks,” I said. And I meant it. It was nice to know that in a family of casual drinkers there were still other beverages around for someone who didn’t drink. This was the first time I had felt happy since getting out of my car. Robin always seemed to be able to make me feel that way. Grabbing a Root Beer, I was the last to sit down. “Sorry.” I said. I wasn’t sure if I was talking about sitting down last or scraping the chair on the hardwood floor. I poured soda into my glass.

“To Rain’s first day of work,” mom said. We all clinked our glasses together before taking sips. I became moody again. Of course mom would toast Rain again. Rain was her favorite child. Just like Vita was Dad’s favorite child. Was I anyone’s favorite? No. Definitely not. Maybe that’s why I latched onto Robin, the unofficial member of the family.

“That wasn’t funny.” I heard Rain say.

“What?” I asked, coming out of my thoughts. “What are you talking about?”

“Nothing.” Rain said, blushing.

“It was the story with Rain on the moving sidewalk in the airport,” Robin said with a smile. He looked younger when he smiled. With his thinning, gray hair and Hawaiian shirts, he looked to be in his mid to late forties, but when he smiled it took about ten years off.

I burst out laughing. That was one of the classic stories.

“When she was talking to mom about how someone falling at the end of one of them-”

“And then she does the same thing,” mom said laughing hard. Even Rain by this point was giggling.

“The group of strangers thought it was funny too,” I said. “And that was one of the stories you actually knew about,” I continued, still trying, and failing, to control my laughter.

“What does that mean?” mom asked, determined to understand what I meant.

“Oh please. You always used to say you knew everything, ‘Mothers know everything,’” I playfully mocked. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

“This sounds interesting,” Robin said with a wide grin. I took the opportunity to take a couple bites of my dinner. I had almost forgotten about it and didn’t want it to get cold.

“When Rain was young and learning to open doors and following people around-” Rain growled playfully; she obviously remembered what I was talking about. I smiled, I was glad to be getting my mind off of who was the favorite child. “In a Pied Piper fashion I let Rain follow me up to the top bunk bed, knowing she couldn’t get down,” just the thought of it made me giggle, “I left the room and she was trapped for I don’t know how long.”

“Until Vita found me.”

Mom let out a surprised huff before giving me a glare. I was worried for a moment. I looked around and saw the smiles on everyone else’s faces. I realized she was teasing me, just like I was teasing her. Besides what could she do to me now? I was eighteen. And I wasn’t living with her anymore. She made sure of that when she divorced dad. She moved out. I retreated from those thoughts. I needed to keep things as light as possible tonight, otherwise I would say something I would regret.

Robin was the first one done with his dinner. “Rain? Is there any story about you where you don’t come off as clumsy or misused by Max?” He had a genuinely curious and playful smile on his face. I knew however that he was treading on dangerous ground and I was going to have to bite my tongue to keep certain comments to myself.

When mom finished, she put her silverware and glass on her plate.

“Yeah. There’s lots,” Rain replied.

“No there isn’t,” I argued.

“Yes there is.”

“No there isn’t.”

What was I doing? I should have been over this phase of my life when I was ten. It was incredible how Rain always made me revert to a child.

“Max. Rain is right,” mom said.

“Yeah, I know.” I said, trying to keep the mood light and hide my sarcasm.

“What was that? Max, is something wrong?”

“Yes, everything’s fine,” I lied, hoping she would stop prying. I didn’t know if I could keep telling her this lie much longer. I tried to change the subject but she cut me off again.

“If you’re sure.”

“Of course I’m sure.”

“You don’t sound sure,” Robin said. His response came out of left field. Sometimes he was so quiet I would forget he’s sitting there. He’s the way I use to be. It’s one of the reasons I get along with him as well as I do.

“They’re right,” Rain said.

Now Rain too.

“Please tell us what’s wrong Max,” mom continued.

I took a deep breath and released it. They weren’t going to let this go. I took another deep breath. “Mom. Rain is your favorite child. She always has been. I’m not being mean, I’m being honest.” I said this as kindly as I could. I could feel the frustration behind the years of holding the information in. It was boiling over as if it would explode at any moment.

The only sound that could be heard was Rain’s flying squirrel snoring. She kept the thing in her coat hood and it was full after being fed table scraps. The snoring was interrupted by a high-pitched giggle that sounded like a Christmas-elf. It was Rain’s phone. She had a text message. Slowly she got up and left the room to see who it was. The fight may have been about her, but it was between mom and me.

“What is this all about, Max?” Robin asked calmly. I had never seen him more serious before.

“I just told you what this was about,” I stated to mom. I was still calm, but it wasn’t as controlled this time. Robin may have asked the question, but this conversation wasn’t about him. I wasn’t angry with him, I was angry with mom. “Rain is your favorite. You can deny it all you want, but it won’t be the truth.”

“Do you need me to be here for this?” It was clear Robin was uncomfortable. I felt bad for putting him in that situation. He was a nice guy and would be there for my mom if she needed him to be. I respected him for that. She shook her head in silence, not taking her eyes off me. He squeezed her hand, said, “I’m here if you do,” and he followed Rain to the back part of the house.

“What makes you think Rain is my favorite child? I’m a parent. I love all my children equally. Rain, Vita and you all equally.”

“I noticed you mentioned Rain first,” I muttered quietly enough to not make the words understandable. I knew she would ask what I said so I went on. These were things I had been bottling up for a while and I was going to stay in control of this conversation. “Lots of things. Not the least of which is the fact that since the divorce I’ve had to listen to the both of your gossip turn into bashing. And you don’t even care that she does it, do you? You encourage it.” Mom tried to argue, but I cut her off, “That’s not even what bothers me most of all.”

“What does then?” Her voice turned cold. I knew I had better get to the point. She was on the verge of going full blown mom on me, eighteen or not.

“Remember when she was four and you blamed Vita and I for her throwing her vegetables on the floor. There’s no way that could have been her.” The sarcasm was thick in my voice.

“That was funny,” Rain replied coming back into the dining room.

“You don’t need to be here,” mom and I said at the same time. Well at least that’s one thing we could agree on.

“This fight is obviously about me. I have a right to be here.”
I didn’t like that. I could tell mom didn’t either. Odd thing is, I had no ill will towards Rain, just the way mom treated Rain as compared to everyone else, especially me.

I put all that aside and continued with the story, “Vita and I stood against that wall for two hours, except for a few chores, and the only reason it wasn’t longer was because I convinced her that you would never take her to Chuck E. Cheese again. If she hadn’t confessed out of fear of never going to that damn place, who knows how long Vita and I might have been standing there.” Both mom and Rain started crying. Great. This is why I didn’t want Rain in the room. Maybe I could get her to smile while still getting my point across to mom. It would be worth it, even if I lost ground in the argument. “I missed Ramblin’ Rod and Muppet Babies standing against that wall.”

Rain smiled briefly and rolled her eyes. The moody expression, however, did not leave her face. My heart clenched.

“Anything else,” mom asked. A tear ran down her face.

“There’s lots of stories where Rain should have been the bad guy, but I got the blame. There’s also some times when both of us should have been blamed. But it ended up being just me. I don’t want to get into those. I should, however, remind you of what you yourself told me about her when you were a volunteer at the public library.”

I didn’t need to say anything. Mom said it for me: “This one has a gleam in her eye that the other two don’t.” That phrase usually made the three of us smile. Not today. More tears ran down her face.

Robin came back into the dining room. He was wearing a red robe that was almost beyond its expiration date with a pair of black pajama bottoms on underneath. He quietly sat down next to my mother.

“What about the phrase ‘She’s younger. She doesn’t know any better.’ Does that sound familiar to you Mom?” I asked.

Rain snorted.

“It does to Rain. The first couple of times you said it, it made sense. But then Rain got older and did start to know better. She started using it to her advantage every time you said it.” Mom looked shocked. How could she be that naive? That’s right, by having a favorite child.

I felt drained. Without saying a word, I headed towards the bathroom. I needed to be alone for a few minutes. I washed my face. The white porcelain showed just how dirty my face was. I rewashed my hands and wondered why I said all those things to her. Did they really need to be said? What was any of it really going to accomplish? I left to apologize. As I turned into the hallway I heard Mom talking, “He’s right. I do favor Rain. I don’t mean to, but I do.” My heart shattered. I didn’t want to believe it was true. I knew it was, but to hear it being confessed was too much. I needed to leave. She continued talking, but I didn’t listen to the rest.

Without saying a word I walked to the couch, picked up my coat and walked out the door. None of them noticed me leave.

When I got to my car I let tears flow freely without concern. Why was I letting this get to me? Every parent has a favorite child. I knew she loved me. I just wished I knew why it bothered me that she loves Rain more.
That...she loves...Rain...more.

That was it. Whether or not it was true, that was the way it felt.

I started the ignition, drove out of the driveway and down the block. I pulled to the side of the road when I realized that I wasn’t going to get far if I didn’t stop crying. Would I ever get over this? There was only one way to find out and there had been enough confrontation for one day. I picked up my cell phone and called mom’s number. “Hello. This is Catharine’s phone.” I guess I upset her enough to not answer. “This phone lives in my pocket. Leave your name, phone number, and credit card number and I will get back to you as soon as I finish shopping.”

I started talking after the beep. “I’m sorry Mom. I can’t help how I feel in this situation, but I need you to know that. I will get over it and everything will be okay and I’m sorry. I just wish I had the courage to tell you this in person.” I pulled the phone away from my ear to hang up when I remembered, “Mom, I really like the message. Even if most people use debit cards nowadays.”

I hung up the phone and dialed another number. “Do it. I dare you,” the message said after four rings.

“Rain. I’m sorry I’m a coward and can’t do this in person. I’m sorry. I don’t hate you or Mom. I’m a little upset with her, but I’ll get over it. Please. Take care of her. You and Robin do a good job at that.” I hung up the phone. I sat in my Chevrolet with two questions. Would I ever really get over it and was I lying to my family when I said I would? I didn’t know the answers.