It’s been a while since my writing has hit the road, but Lynette Benton invited me over to her blog Polish and Publish/ Tools and Tactics for Creative Writers for a little shop talk. Stop on by and leave your comments.
It’s been a while since my writing has hit the road, but Lynette Benton invited me over to her blog Polish and Publish/ Tools and Tactics for Creative Writers for a little shop talk. Stop on by and leave your comments.
For the closing of summer we’re putting up our feet on the patio and watching the last school-free days slink away tucked in the back pockets of scurrying children.
Our featured latte comes from Lisa Rivero with a side of William Faulkner in Book Love: It’s Complicated.
“Like almost all writers, I cannot remember a time when books and stories weren’t a big part of who I am, of life itself.”
Pair the latte with our special Roadside pastry by Sezin Koehler in The Sidewalk Ends.
“The nights are the worst. He doesn’t come home until early morning. She can’t sleep in the house yet. Every noise she’s sure is an intruder. Someone with a gun.”
Our contributors love your comments and I love your contributions. If you are a writer, artist or musician interested in appearing at V’s Place, please send an email to email@example.com and we’ll try to get you up on stage.
by Lisa Rivero“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.” ~ William Faulkner
Like almost all writers, I cannot remember a time when books and stories weren’t a big part of who I am, of life itself. Some of my earliest infatuations were with titles as varied as the Little House books, the Hardy Boys series, Heidi, and anything by Stephen King. I read in my bedroom, outside on our farm, in the car, late at night under the covers with a flashlight, anywhere and everywhere I could. Keep in mind that on the edge of the Badlands, where I grew up, books were not always easy to come by. Thirty miles from the nearest library and hours from a book store, I received most of my reading through Scholastic book orders and weekly visits from the county’s bookmobile, a van that served as a kind of roving library for rural school children. (Years later, when I had my own child who loved to read, I was giddy every time I walked into the Milwaukee County Central Library with its spacious children’s room and row after row of every kind of book imaginable. Who could have known that such marvelous places existed?)
Frank and Joe Hardy, Laura Ingalls, Jo March, and Heidi’s grandfather may have been my girlhood crushes, but none was my first real book love. Not until I was a freshman in high school did I know what it’s like to lose myself completely in a narrative, not because it was easy, but because it was hard. For that I have to thank William Faulkner and my high school freshman English teacher, Mr. Maher.
It was not love at first sight. The other students had their choice of two or three novels—I don’t remember what they were—but Mr. Maher, a bright-eyed Texas native in his first year at our school, took me aside and said he had a different book he wanted me to read: As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner. I had never heard of William Faulkner, but I was willing to give it a try. The paperback felt thin enough. How hard could it be?
As I Lay Dying, set in Mississippi and told from not one or two but fifteen points of view, is the story of the death and burial of Addie Bundren. The book begins clearly enough:
“Jewel and I come up from the field, following the path in single file. Although I am fifteen feet ahead of him, anyone watching us from the cottonhouse can see Jewel’s frayed and broken straw hat a full head about my own.”
As the chapters continue, however, each titled simply with the name of the corresponding viewpoint character, the voices and perspectives become more complex, the relationships and motivations more tangled.
“I would let him come in between me and Lafe, like Darl came in between me and Lafe, and so Lafe is alone too. He is Lafe and I am Dewey Dell, and when mother died I had to go beyond and outside of me and Lafe and Darl to grieve because he could do so much for me and he dont know it.”
Faulkner’s use of dialect and stream of consciousness were new to me, the depth of religious symbolism was beyond anything I had learned in summer Catechism, and I was taken aback by the colorful language that made me blush and fear my parents would ban the book, should they be curious enough to open it. By the time I finished, I was not only confused; I was convinced that I “hated” As I Lay Dying, and I told Mr. Maher as much. What kind of author writes a one-sentence chapter: “My mother is a fish”?
Being the excellent teacher he was, Mr. Maher didn’t blink. He told me to read the book again (and again, if I needed to) and offered some guidance for what to look for, what questions I might ask.
This was 1979. There was no Wikipedia to turn to for a quick plot synopsis or background information, no works of literary criticism readily available to serve as analytical training. As I wrestled with the story and the style and the characters, by turns arguing with the words and listening to them, I did so on my own, page by page, chapter by chapter, and that, I’m convinced, made all the difference. For you see, during one of those re-readings, familiarity bred a kind of understanding possible only when I could place the various parts in the context of the whole, in the same way that we may not be able to appreciate or enjoy a piece of classical music until we have heard it several times and know how the current melody leads into what comes next and builds upon what came before.
The essay I eventually wrote focused on the relationship between Addie and her illegitimate son, Jewel. I don’t remember exactly what points I made, and I’m sure they were rudimentary at best, but they were hard won, and Mr. Maher made me feel as though I was the first person ever to have discovered them.
As I Lay Dying marked my coming of age in terms of reading, when I realized that we can have deep, sustaining relationships with books, relationships that require effort and that grow with time, relationships that both challenge and change us and that often haunt us for decades. It’s why when I’ve led book discussions for children and teens, I never mind if they complain about “not liking” a book worth reading, or even hating it. That doesn’t matter, and I’m not really interested. They might like it later, or they might not, and the books they “hate” are usually the ones they talk about the most. What matters is whether they come away from a work still thinking about—even obsessed by it—regardless of whether they would deem is worthy of a Facebook like. Only then have their minds and hearts been involved in a new relationship, not just with words or an author, but with life.
And life, as we all know, is delightfully complicated.
When she’s not falling in love with books, Lisa Rivero is a writer and an adjunct associate professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering. Her website is http://lisarivero.com, and you can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
In her post, No Man’s Land, Victoria raised intriguing questions about time periods in diaries and memoirs. She wrote that it was her understanding that diaries address current events, while memoirs record the past. Seems straightforward enough.
Diaries = present
Memoirs = past
But here’s a complication: She also mentioned seeing some memoirs that cover events as they unfold. (And I’m not even going into the idea held by some physicists and many mystics that time doesn’t really exist anyway and that everything’s actually happening in the infinite, illusive Now.)
Among the excellent memoirs written about events currently taking place in the writer’s life are those by Eva Hoffman (efforts to assimilate into American culture); Ann Morrow Lindbergh (desire to simplify her life); and Kate Millet (bouts with her own certifiable madness).
However, even journals written about the present include references to the past, or how else would we have meaningful contexts? The present always arises out of the past. Even if we’re suffering from amnesia, we have a past—and it’s likely that someone, somewhere knows that past.
So, since both journals and memoirs can be written about the present, it could be possible, as EVF stated in reply to the comment I left, “to get these forms all muddled.”
That’s because diaries and memoirs, along with personal essays, are all reflective writing genres, and share a number of trademark elements.
Self-disclosure is a major ingredient in these genres.
“Without meaningful self-disclosure, the memoir will lack authenticity and honesty,” says Linda Gartz, a family historian, who is also working on a memoir.
Further similarities among diaries, memoirs, and personal essays:
Another trait these genres have in common is a certain inconclusiveness. Gartz says her memoir “will end not with hard facts, but rather with reflection . . . .”
These forms invite us to on a journey of inner exploration. Instead of just a glimpse into the writers’ minds, we get to meander there as they figure out, and sometimes even discover, how they really feel about an issue by examining it, engaging with it, on paper. One idea leads to others.
Joan Didion’s graceful essay, “In Bed,” begins with a description of her suffering from migraines and ends, almost as if the idea suddenly struck her midway through her writing, with the insight that the migraines might serve a purpose for her.
One significant difference among these forms is that in general, journals are addressed to the self, whereas essays and memoirs are addressed to an audience.
Journals = private
Personal essays and memoirs = public
But every rule’s got an exception, right? Michael Kinsley, editor of The Slate Diaries, invited a variety of people to write diary entries for that excellent anthology. Did the fact that the guest writers knew their journals would be made public influence what they wrote?
In each of these forms, the writer shepherds readers through their personal feelings and perspective to universal experience.
Lynette Benton teaches creative writing all over the place—to teens and adults. She is also an editor. Her work has appeared in numerous newspapers and online venues, such as Skirt.com and More Magazine online. She uses her diary as a feeder for her memoir-in-progress, My Mother’s Money. You can reach her at Relief11@verizion.net.
by Arvid Berge
A shirtless man stands in the light of a Guatemalan morning. He has a straight-razor in his right hand and shaving soap on his chin. He peers into a cracked mirror hanging from a nail in the doorjamb of his house. I watch him as I walk slowly past the gray unpainted structure that sits on an embankment, its foundation of rough stones rising up to meet the door sill six feet above the rocky hillside below the house. If there ever was an elevated porch to compliment the doorway, it is gone now. The man and the mirror occupy a doorway that exits out into Guatemala’s eternal spring air.
There are times in my life when I have moments of pure joy and contentment. My heart swells and I feel connected to every living soul. As connected to my fellow man as a child embraced in the arms of a loving parent. These moments come with the realization that in all humanity there is no “other”…. no one who is not fundamentally just like me.
I watch the man squinting into his cracked mirror, his nut brown Mayan features reflected in the equatorial sun. I recall my own morning ritual; shaving my face in an air-conditioned motel room, a Norelco electric shaver with AC/DC converter attachment buzzes against my chin, my pale features in the smoked mirror with its row of incandescent bulbs lighting my sleepy image.
I recall, also, my thoughts. First, there is the unavoidable recognition of my own mortality. Who isn’t confronted with such thoughts when taking stock of his or her image after a night’s sleep?
Then, of course, the thoughts, sometimes exciting…more often mundane, about the day ahead; the “must do’s, might do’s, should do’s and so on. Since I’m vacationing and a first time visitor to this little village in Guatemala’s northern province of jungles, jaguars, and Mayan ruins, my mental prospects for the day tend toward excitement. I tell my image in the smoked glass, “nothing mundane about this place”.
I’m thinking that same thought as I stumble along the rock strewn street and listen to the roosters crowing and dogs barking. I jump over a little stream of sewage flowing along the edge of the road to avoid being run over by a taxi coming from the one-lane airport that serves two flights a day from Guatemala City. The sound of the taxi diverts the attention of the man in the doorway away from his own image in the mirror and he turns his head toward where I stand. It is in that moment when I feel the joy.
This man in the doorway and I on the street, we could not be more different. Yet, we are the same. His world and my world are, as the saying goes, “worlds apart”. Yet, we inhabit the same world. He shaves his chin and I shave mine. His skin is my skin. My thoughts, no doubt, mirror his thoughts. I cannot see him as something other than myself. Everything I see in my mirror is also reflected in his. I can love him or despise him, envy him or pity him, dismiss him or embrace him, but I cannot see him as an “other”.
He smiles. And, I smile back.
After 20 years, I am selling my guitar. Am I no longer a musician? I only ever played—truly played—for a handful of those years. Was I n/ever a musician?
How many times must one X to be/come Y? When do/es I become synonymous with the doing, the am equal to the act? I am a musician, or I was a musician, or I may have been a musician, but I am not now, nor may I n/ever have been, a musician. I was what I did; now I am what I am not.
Yet I am where I am: [town]er, [state]ite, [metropolitan region]er, [coastal region]er, [abbreviated country]n, [continent]an, [planet]ling, citizen of the [whole damn galaxy]. And I am relative to whence I come/came: over here, native or local; over there, foreigner or alien. I even am where I no longer be: “Once a [city]er, always a [city]er.”
I am how I got/get t/here: on two feet: pedestrian; two wheels: cyclist; four wheels: skater; eight wheels: roller skater. On four wheels (motorized), I am a driver; on ten wheels (motorized), a passenger; on three wheels (airborne), a(n in)frequent flier. And balanced atop dozens of wheels coupled together by arms of steel and metal alloys, hurtling deep through the earth or high through the tops of trees, shifting between who/where I was and who/where I will be, dreaming into the moving black or to the (not-)far off mountains beyond of being elseone, elsewhere, I am, alas, a commuter. I think therefore I am, but I am not what I can think.
I am names and nicknames, identities and categories, truncations, abbreviations, diminutions, initialisms, neologisms, and at least three concepts appended with “mistress.”
I am (race) white, (reality) beige-peach-pink, sometimes (feeling) blue or yellow or green. I am what I eat (vegetarian/omnivore), how I buy (consumer/ist), whether I believe (a/theist) and what (myriad). I am innate: female. Cultural: woman. Sexually oriented: flexible.
I am relative, gender-neutral: spouse, sibling, child, grandchild; and relative, gender-specific: wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter. I am goddaughter, niece, first cousin, second cousin, third cousin, eventual fourth cousin, and daughter-sometimes-sister when my father can’t keep his sibling/’s name and me/mine straight.
To my mother, I am surviving; had she lived, she’d be a survivor. I may be/come a widow. I’ll likely be/come an orphan. But I am not. Yet.
I am not you, nor you I. And though you or I may be he or she or him or her, you and I are we, and we are not them—nor they us.
I am not a brand.
I am what I am not. I (y)am what I (y)am. But that’s not all that I am.
I am, indeed, what I do. Titular: Writer, Editor, Web Content and Development Manager. Procedural: writer, editor, Web content and development strategist. Spatially challenged: writer, editor, Web strategist. Verbal, easier: I write, I edit, I build Web sites. I am how I do: essayist, journalist, interviewer, playwright, copywriter, (generally bad) poet. I am that I do, whether when or why or if. Writers exist in the spaces between words, else they’d never exist at all.
Many older guitars are finished with a clear nitrocellulose lacquer that naturally yellows with age. Two decades ago, I bought a (then) new Pearl (powder) Blue guitar. By the time of this posting, I will have sold an old (to me), new (to her) minty, seafoam green one. Green/blue, old/new, mine/hers: it is all of these things, and none of them. I am becoming. And so am you.
Kellie M. Walsh is a (procedural) writer, editor, Web content and development strategist, and organizer of all things. Her writing has appeared in PopMatters, The Rumpus, and Creative Nonfiction, among others, and on the sites of Fortune 500s, nonprofits, and seven-piece jazz bands. In her spare time she is working on a book about a flag that stalked a drummer around the world.
You can find more Fourth Monday action with Pam Parker’s flash Roadside Attraction, “Unroped,” and Chris Miscik’s sci-fi and fantasy images in the Gallery. If you’d like to contribute your writing, art or musical talent to the pages of V’s Place please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and remember to sign up for future installments straight to your inbox by entering your email address in the take out menu to the left.
By Lisa Marie Brodsky
Dedicated to my mother, Sheila (1954-2006) and Aislyn, Gabrielle, and Atrus – most definitely, my kids
I didn’t notice until it was already happening: such a simple gesture which had such monumental meaning. She had no idea what it meant to me and I don’t know if she ever will. Perhaps if she ever experiences a huge loss she can understand. Today, though, she is eight years old and she merely fingers my bracelet, the one I’ve worn for years.
It is not a fancy bracelet; it doesn’t sparkle or catch a jeweler’s eye, but it is so simple in its beauty that I get generous comments: “Oh, what a beautiful bracelet,” someone will say. “Is that tiger eye?”
And I answer, “It was my mother’s.”
Besides her wedding band, this is the only piece of my mother’s jewelry I own. I wear it every day; I never take it off. My three stepchildren look at me, their mother-figure for the past three years, and they don’t see my much-missed mother who passed away two years before I met them. No matter how much of a lost child I may feel like inside, they see an adult mother-figure and I just hope that they love me half as much as I loved my mother.
A stepmother’s role can be very confusing. Do you step in or let Dad take care of it? If “Mom” is in the picture, how much mothering do you do for the children? In my case, we find ourselves having to unparent a lot of damaged parenting that went on. There are fights, crying, yelling, struggle, but the thing I try to remember is this:
There are moments like that above, where my 8-year-old girl (yes, I call her my girl) lovingly touches and discovers my mother’s bracelet. She sits on my lap and snuggles close. I can smell the fruity shampoo scent wafting from her hair. I kiss her on the top of her head and watch her intently investigate this bracelet – so nondescript and ordinary, yet something intrigues her. What is it? I wonder. Can she sense the generations behind this bracelet? Can she sense the love that my mother had for me and the love I had for my mother? I imagine she does.
I feel comforted imaging that.
So on days when kids cry and scream and we yell and grunt, I picture again and again my kids touching generations of love wrapped around my wrist. I imagine my mother touching her grandchildren, never meeting them in the flesh, but definitely, most definitely, loving them through me.
Born in Chicago, Lisa Marie Brodsky is a published poet with several books of published poetry and one about her mother’s death forthcoming from Salmon Publishing. Her poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, always focusing on the semi-autobiographical, has been nationally and internationally recognized and published. She received her B.A. in Creative Writing from Loyola University of Chicago and her M.F.A. in Poetry from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Lisa forgetfully blogs at http://memoryspeaksintongues.blogspot.com, but you can also find her a bit more regularly at her faith blog, http://dovechronicles.blogspot.com. Lisa is the Wisconsin Director of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project (http://alzpoetry.com) and works as a Job Coach for disabled adults, a true honor. In 2009, she married and became an insta-Mom to three stepchildren, ages 13, 8, and 5. She and her family live in Evansville, Wisconsin, the first small-town Lisa has ever lived in. The holiday parades down Main Street amaze her.
Check out more Fourth Monday action with flash fiction by Jillian Kuhlmann in Roadside Attractions and original music by The Kate Morrissey Band, now playing on the Music Stage. Also, remember to keep updated on all Fourth Monday activity by subscribing to V’s Place or submit your own work to email@example.com.
by Fred Osuna
An asymptomatic condition of some concern to my primary physician found me sitting in a specialist’s examining room on a recent morning. Pushed up alongside one wall was the examination table: a well-worn piece of equipment with cracking leather corners, faded paint on its legs forcing a resemblance to an abandoned pommel horse base circa 1977 – a crackling, long sheet of tissue paper strategically placed in an apparent effort to conceal those details. The table occupied the length of the wall, and led my eyes, upon entering the room, to the plate glass window that occupied its perpendicular neighbor. The window was adorned with aluminum blinds, half-opened to afford a panoramic view of the hospital campus from the room’s fifth-floor perch. After spending a few minutes taking in the sights, watching the green lights at the intersection turn to red a number of times while three shuttles performed their drop-off-pick-up duties at the adjacent building’s entrance, I turned around to face the door – now closed – through which I had entered. I sat down in a stiff chair with my back to the window.
Centered on the wall opposite the examining table, to the right of a small sink and above a rolling stool that, I assumed, the specialist would soon be occupying, was a large framed photograph.
Peeking out from the bottom of the print, almost obscured by the frame, was the photo credit: Walker Evans Roadside stand near Birmingham, Alabama 1936. I leaned back on my heels, in front of the picture, and soaked in the details: the hand-painted signs, the telegraph poles, the onlookers in the background, the weight of the melons in the boys’ hands, the price of eel, the fish face frown, the outdated phone number configuration, the oddly-placed apostrophes, the stacked fruit orbs in the window.
Presently, the physician entered and sat squarely where I thought he might. He rolled to the center of the small room and faced me. The Walker Evans photograph was between us, off to the side of our avenue of communication. We discussed his concerns. I mentioned my asymptomatic state. He proposed a plan of discovery to rule out his concerns. I gave my consent to go forward. During the discussion, I occasionally glanced to my left, toward the Walker Evans photograph. When we finished this stage of my visit, I gently detoured with an observation.
“That’s a fascinating photograph.”
He turned toward it and lit up. “A Walker Evans, yes. That’s an exhibition print. It’s a rather famous photograph.” He seemed to hold this particular picture in high esteem and had obviously spent some quality time admiring it. “You know, for that exhibition – in the 1980s, I think – they went to all of the sites of the original Evans photographs and recaptured them in the present day. That fish stand is just right outside of town,” meaning Birmingham, the largest “town” in the state of Alabama, where we were meeting. “The updated version of this photo has two boys holding fish, not melons. And that building is gone now.”
I asked if he had been the one who had selected this print to adorn the walls of the exam room.
“No, this is my partner’s print,” he said, referring to the other physician whose name was on the office door. He then paused, anticipating an explanation of my initial observation.
I turned my eyes to the print. “I was wondering if you thought that there was something maybe a little odd about the picture.”
He turned and made a cursory scan of the picture he’d glanced at hundreds of times before. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Well, I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but, mm, it’s oddly fitting that in the center of that photograph is a pretty obvious representation of, you know, for this being a urology practice.”
Puzzled, he took another look. It took him no more than a couple of seconds to see the central image – the watermelon phallus – and he laughed. “I’d never noticed that,” he said, to my disbelief and his quiet amusement. Then he swiveled back toward me. “So. Now. Stand up, facing me, and let your pants drop to your ankles.”
A native of the paradise that is the San Diego County coastline, Fred Osuna lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where ceiling fans provide scant relief from the relentless heat and humidity. He writes not nearly as much as he would like, though constantly generates tweet-length vignettes in his head, throughout the day; some of these have landed in the pages of Creative Nonfiction under both his real name and a pseudonym. He struggles to maintain three websites: Spitball Army (www.spitballarmy.com), Cryptich (www.cryptich.com) and Laser’s Edge Leftovers (www.leleftovers.wordpress.com). You should ask him sometime about his collection of World War II letters, but now you’re probably more interested in figuring out his other name.
For more Fourth Monday posts check out flash fiction by Jane Hammons in Roadside Attractions, Camille Swift’s sublime fantasy portraits in the Gallery, or participate in a mini blog tour of The Dead Shoe Society author readings, beginning at the Open Mic. And if you haven’t seen them yet, don’t forget to check out past contributors on the Music Stage, Rumors, and elsewhere on the Blog.
by Lisa Rivero
The older I get, the more I believe in late bloomers.
Last weekend my husband and I had supper with a couple of college students. The two of them were talking about someone who had already had a book published at their age. They shook their heads and lamented their comparative late starts, feeling behind the curve at age twenty.
I could only smile.
One of the marvelous aspects of being a writer, one that I never really appreciated until recently, is how little precocity plays a role and how much we have to look forward to with time. We writers are not like mathematicians or musicians, who must train hard and fast during the difficult years of puberty if they are ever going to make a real mark in the world. That’s not to say that young writers are not capable of giving us marvelous works of literature. As Malcolm Gladwell reminds us, T. S. Eliot wrote “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” when he was only twenty-three. But Gladwell also shows that even poetry, once thought to be a young man’s and woman’s genre, is anything but. Nearly half of the anthologized poems of Wallace Stevens, for example, were written after Stevens’ fiftieth birthday.
Such thoughts make themselves at home in my mind these days for a couple of reasons. First, our only child is now in college. No longer do I have the challenge of attention divided between trying to be a good parent and wanting to be a prolific and respected writer (my attention is still divided, but for different reasons). When our son was young, I was never good at compartmentalizing my life or making efficient use of naptime or afternoons when he was in activities. A good friend of mine would tell me that when her son, then a toddler, took a nap, she ran-not-walked to her desk and pounded out as many words as she could before he woke up. I would like to say I did the same. I usually fell asleep myself.
The second reason I am embracing my late bloomer is that, just this week, I received notice of the acceptance of my first short story in an online literary journal. My husband immediately took me out to dinner to celebrate. He knows how much this means to me.
I can’t say that I have a wealth of life experiences on which to draw or that I’m going to write a best-seller anytime soon. But somehow, without planning to, I have managed to collect a variety of writing “lives” that were simply not possible twenty or even ten years ago, from my beginning as a journalism major (which morphed into an English major and math minor) to writing cookbook reviews and food columns, education articles and parenting books, and, more recently, fiction. Over time, I’ve gotten better at navigating genres and forms and audiences. I feel more able now than ever to hear and recognize my own thoughts and words. I can, when I remember to, take the long view and bring myself back to the moment and what matters. And every day I get a little better at seeing—and being—myself as I am. The result is that I treat my writing with more compassion, more tolerance, and more encouragement.
This spring I will turn 48, and, in terms of both writing and life, I feel as though I’m just getting started. It’s a wonderful feeling. I wouldn’t expect my college students to understand, but I wouldn’t want to be twenty again for anything in the world.
Lisa Rivero grew up in rural South Dakota and now lives, writes, teaches, and indexes books in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her online home is http://lisarivero.com.
by Raymond Gibson
a spidery dread threads these lines
as if the hand inscribing
were only bones
the desk is undisturbed the clock
hands never touch their face
rooms slowly inure to
like skin to the feel of clothes
I want to leave signs of a struggle
even this tea-colored ink efface
the moon strikes twelve from
its glass box
I straddle two days in its chime
it’s not the bed but the dark
it’s not the clock but
the ticking dark what frightens
between self and portrait in
a dyslexia of mirrors
imagine a house whose doors
have the rhythm
of a heart now emptied imagine
a self-portrait sans self or portrait
a transparent man points down
with one hand while frowning
bed where I will spend
one-third of my days winding up
my heart’s clockwork
bed wrapping itself up in my shed
skin like a blanket
of newly-fallen snowflakes
the bed is empty and mirrors only
portray our longing not ourselves
I ask what lasts of those outlived
neither of us can truly say
what was I
what was I now that I’m gone
the pendulum wags its finger
from the floorboards’ waxy sheen
Raymond Gibson is a graduate of the creative writing MFA program at FAU. He won first place in the Florida Community College Press Association Magazine Competition of 2003 for best poem. His work can be found in the May/June 2009 issue of Oak Bend Review, the Tiny Truths section of Creative Nonfiction 39 and 41, the July/Aug. 2011 issue of THIS Literary Magazine, and the Sept. 2011 issue of Four and Twenty Poetry. He lives in Hollywood, FL.