Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

Month: February, 2017

The Quandary


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The run is over.
All the docks are lined with fishing boats,
crabbers and tenders,
and a few processors tied up at the end.
From my booth in The Bay
I look up from my mug of diner coffee
and over-easy eggs
and notice it’s
The Quandary that’s moored
in the slip
closest to the shore.
She’s securely tethered to the bollards
to overwinter away from
waves, tides, and storms
in this freshwater harbor inside the locks.

She’s tethered to the dock
as my own indecision
holds me in a place
between your dreams
and my life.

It’s your birthday today.
You would have been 60.
You loved this place, but
if you were here, you wouldn’t be
here today.
You dreamed of sailing the Caribbean
or up the Inside Passage to Anchorage
and beyond
or captaining a barge
through the canals of France.
And I would have gladly been your crew
in celebration.

But your run is over, my dear,
and I cannot sail it for you.
Some of my own dreams
died along with you.
And now my vision no longer sees
beyond a single season,
such a small space for dreams to grow
but enough perhaps
for them to sprout and bud.

30,000 Feet

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At 30,000 feet
the rumbling cabin pressure
squeezed the reservoir of sadness
in my belly
squeezed it until
it leaked from my eyes
the safety valves
that saved me from exploding,
taking the plane down
with me.

It leaked from my eyes
alone, sandwiched between
window and aisle
mountain view and leg room,
sandwiched between
comfort and pain
moving on and feeling stuck
childless and children
wandering and home.

At 30,000 feet
trapped in a tube
untethered from earth
powerless and free,
an in between place.

An in between place
two and a half years
after he pulled the trigger
two and a half years
to the day
my body knew
without checking the calendar
counting the sunsets
dark after light
dark after light
dark after light.

Two and a half years
my mind thought
how arbitrary
until it converted the fraction
to 30 months
the number of years
we’d hoped to spend together.

At 30,000 feet there are
no cakes to bake
checks to sign
or laundry to fold
no children to feed
errands to run
or calls to answer.

No distractions—
only space
to breathe and feel
the loss of him
then finally to write
and begin to claim
the emerging life of me.

Income Inequality #1

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Stacks of pallets, now
deluxe beds for homeless, once
brought phones from China.

Cracked

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Struck by a stone
I didn’t see coming
driving behind a dump truck
with an unsecured load
all it took was a pebble
to hit the surface
just so
to divot the pane
previously unmarred
remarkably, for nearly a decade—
that petrous chisel
carved a thumbnail crater
between my left eye
and the sky.

Soon the tiny lines will lengthen
with each freeze and thaw
the pain
flexing and contracting
reflecting and absorbing
sunshine
flexing and contracting
with acceptance and resistance
forcing the lines
to splinter across the
visible plane
spider and web
distorting my vision
especially when it rains.

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