The Dark Room

Six silent slabs of black surround me.

no door

no window

no escape

no rescue

no redemption.

 

Is the dark room closing in on me?

 

Will it crush the body as the mind?

Such vacuum of light sucks life

from my eyes

from my heart

from my mind

from my soul

from my time

to unfathomable emptiness.

 

Day & night now the same.

 

am I alive

or

am I dead

is

all the same

Leaving

She walked by —

flashing a smile of recognition to

my shadow before leaving that year ago.

 

No good-byes ever spoken —

she left like a dream ghost

erased by morning sun.

 

She led me into that forgotten night to

her place by forbidden dark waters

where moss hung from crooked oak trees.

 

A whippoorwill called from a lofty branch —

snakes slithered silently through tall swamp grass —

gators awaited their fill on the muddy bank below —

a full moon softly beckoned us to begin what had already ended.

how does a poem mean

how does a poem mean

asked the coyote who

appeared out of the desert night

 

I responded that a

poem’s meaning was

based on the coyote’s dream

 

of the next Rexroth or

Ginsberg to determine

why the wind blows on Mars

 

or of the next Pound or

Dickerson to determine why

we laugh at the sun and cry at the moon

 

and why we are alone

in the universe surrounded

by the drama of our karma life

A Ride Mister?

Lonesome highway blues,

itchy eyes — aching head,

steel guitar honky-tonk AM,

after an all night run.

 

Interstate 80 west, 

open full moon road,

the creative life blood soother of my soul.

 

She was sitting on a bench 

at the last rest stop before Wyoming emptiness 

in her paisley gypsy hippie dress, 

blond dreadlocks hanging free to a waist slender and taut,

ger eyes betraying longing sadness only the poet could suffer.

 

‘A ride Mister?’ she asked without spoken words.

 

Her backpack and soul fell into my rickety van

urgently asleep on a mattress from a late night dumpster

in my last night of confinement before the reaper came again.

 

On Medicine Bow Peak I dropped a sacred crystal

into the empty cairn — an offering to mountain gods.

 

She smiled approval when she kissed me peace.

 

An eagle circled above.

Prayer flags fluttered in silent air.

Dana’s Story, Part 5

After another month of my job search, I had three interviews, one with the District Attorneys Office. I was called in to the A.D.s office on a Wednesday and offered a position which readily accepted, although it certainly wasn’t my first choice, but it was a job and I would gain needed experience. I was to start work the following Monday.

Russell was happy for me but had to tell me that the D.A. job wasn’t the as good as if I had tried harder. My parents felt the same way. At this point, I didn’t care. I was employed and was getting really tired of Russell and his distance from me. But he was too tired most of the time to want any sex which was a welcome relief. I wondered if this is the way all marriages were. I remembered my parents being more like friends than couples I saw in the movies or on television. Maybe this was as good as it would ever be. 

I was received with open arms at the D.A.’s office on my first day. There were a number of junior lawyers who welcomed me and seemed happy I was joining them. Then I met again with the District Attorney, the first time was my interview. He welcomed me and showed me to my cubicle. He introduced me to Glenda, the senior attorney I would be working for, a short squat woman I guessed to be in her forties. She looked tired and worn out, but contrary to my first impression, she proved to be a ball of energy and fun to work for. She explained how our working relationship would be, handed me two briefs to research and directed me to the Human Resources Office where I filled out all the paperwork for my employment. Still wanting a bit of independence, I had opened a separate bank account and had my pay deposited there. I would be happy later that I made that decision. Back at my cubicle, I began my work.

The work was much more interesting than I had anticipated. Glenda was helpful and her guidance, invaluable. I liked her and the other members of our team. I seemed to fit in, was loving my work, was learning and producing more every day.

Several weeks had passed and my co-workers kept inviting me to join them after work on Fridays for drinks and maybe dinner. I felt obligated to Russell and always begged off. But he was hardly ever home until late most of the time and had usually had already eaten something. So, the next Friday when I was asked out after work, I accepted. We went to a sports bar that was a regular watering hole for the group. And I had fun, I had a lot of fun talking and laughing. Most of the group were around my age, most were single. I had several glasses of wine and was about ready to call a taxi to go home, but everyone insisted I stay and have dinner with them. I walked in the apartment around 9;30, well fed on a burger and fries and still a bit tipsy. Russell wasn’t home so I went to bed, read for a few minutes and fell asleep. From then on, Friday nights were my nights to go out and enjoy my life.

About a month later, I got home after my Friday night outing and Russell was already there, steamed that I wasn’t home when he arrived. I had had a bit too much wine and was feeling pretty silly and laughed, telling him I was out partying with my colleagues from work and that he should grow up. That didn’t go ever well and he told me I shouldn’t be out like that, that I was a married woman and it wasn’t right, it could reflect badly on him. My giddiness immediately turned to anger and I told him that I couldn’t care less what he thought or about how I might reflect on him, that he was never home, that he was being a pompous ass, that I was just out having fun and enjoying my friends, and he could go to hell. It went downhill from there and I went crying into the bedroom and locked the door, screaming that he could sleep on the couch.

I tried to reconcile the next morning by telling him how I felt about him never being home or us being together, about how he was constantly working or taking clients to dinner all to which he replied that it was required for his work and that I was being selfish. He was working too hard to waste time having fun and that maybe I wasn’t working hard enough. I was fuming, so I turned and went out for a stroll by the Lake to cool down. The next few weeks were filled with tension and I was thankful I hardly saw him. The only times I ever did see him was in the morning when we both were rushing get to our respective jobs. At night, I made it a point to try to be asleep when he got in.

Russell wanted for us to go to see his parents for a weekend every month or so. They were within an easy three and half hour drive. Des Moines was another two hours so I hardly ever saw my family unless I made it a point to fly there. Russell only went with me the first two times and always seemed to be too busy after that. After  two years, I stopped going with him to visit his except for maybe some holidays. I always wondered what they thought, what excuses he told them. 

I had no one to talk to about our problems, so I carried all my anger and confusion inside. Things finally settled down after those few weeks, but things had changed between us. It seemed as if Russell was wary of me now and even more disconnected, as if that were possible. From then on, for the next several years, we were living apart under the same roof. I was miserable and poured myself into my work and my colleagues. Then I met Jessica Morgan, an expert witness for a case I was working on. She changed my life in ways I would never have imagined.

railroad days

railroad days

freight hopping

cigarette smoke

filled empty 

box cars

clattering

empty liquor

bottles

back and forth

to and fro

with

rocking rolling

from here to there

from there to here

across great plain miles

grey faced 

blue bib overalled

steam engine

soot covered

quiet broken

men

dusty

unpainted 

empty towns

&

hobo jungle 

tin cup coffee

lost souls

no home now

gone since the old dirt road was paved.