A brown girl waiting at the traffic light in a Catholic school uniform

By Karla Cordero

 

walkA traffic sign signals—
& morning dew catches
cigarette smoke at dance

mothers push
strollers  & question if
my young girl finger’s
fondle a piece
of chalk, dried
tobacco, a small
white coffin—

a pigeon’s neck
bows to bread
crumbs & street gravel—

at a traffic light
a white man in a black box
permissions my

legs: go now
it’s safe—
walk, obey.

………………………….

About Karla Cordero

Born in the border town of Calexico, California, I started my new life in San Diego, whereKarlaCordero the weather spoils the living. I’m currently an MFA candidate at San Diego State University and the 2015 recipient of the Loft Literary Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship. I’m the editor of Spit Journal, a review dedicated to poetry and social justice.

My poetry is published or forthcoming in Word Riot, Words Dance Publishing, The Acentos Review, Gutters and Alleyways Anthology and elsewhere. My first chapbook, Grasshoppers Before Gods, will be published in 2015 by Dancing Girl Press. You can follow my passion for performance poetry at Spit Journal.

 

Photo credit: Marco / Zak via a Creative Commons license.

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Writers Read at Fallbrook Library Presents

Poet Steve McDonald

Discussing his new collection


Golden Fish / Dark Pond


Preceded by open mic for original poetry and prose

Date: Tuesday, September 8, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook, 760-731-4650

 

SteveMcDonaldSteve McDonald writes tender poetry for the seasoned and the uninitiated reader. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Nimrod, The Atlanta Review, RATTLE, The Crab Creek Review, The Paterson Literary Review, Spillway, Blue Unicorn, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and The Cresset.

His new chapbook, Golden Fish / Dark Pond, took first place in The Comstock Review‘s 2014 GoldenFishchapbook awards.  His other awards include third place in the Beyond Baroque poetry awards, finalist and semifinalist respectively in the 2014 Tiferet and Nimrod poetry awards, and inclusion in the anthology Best New  Poets 2010. 

Steve’s books of poetry include his chapbook Golden Fish / Dark Pond, published by The Comstock Review in 2015, his full-length collection House of Mirrors, published by Tebot Bach in 2013, and his chapbook Where There Was No Pattern, published by Finishing Line Press in 2007.

Steve is Professor Emeritus of English and former Dean of Languages and Literature at Palomar College in San Marcos, California.

Steve’s books will be available for sale and signing.

For more information about Writers Read, contact K-B Gressitt at kbgressitt@gmail.com or 760-522-1064.

Break the Backs of Those Who Yield

By Scott Gressitt

 

GateBreak the backs of those who yield.
Grind their bones beneath the wheel.
Use the weak and helpless ones
and climb upon their necks to gain.

Forget the needs of young and old.
The young still have a chance to win.
The old are useless, in the way.
Send them out to sleep on ice.

Keep your profits for yourself.
Cling as tightly a you can
and let the minions carry you.
If they were smart, they’d be here too.

Why should you care for broken ones.
They had their chances and they failed.
They don’t deserve to share the wealth
of those who’ve made it to the top.

We princes of the age ride smug
and roar along in priceless steel.
A gate across our driveway keeps
the commoners from getting in.

We’ll buy you too, and all you have.
We’ll buy your heart, your guts, your soul.
We’ll use the parts that interest us
and leave your entrails for the crows.

And best of all, we’ll make a show
of laying gold out for the poor.
It is no sacrifice at all
it’s only pocket change, you know.

So walk in fear of losing all
and bury deep your gold and gems.
Pinch each penny, count each coin
and hold your breath until you die.

The widows and the orphans here
will still have breath when we are dead,
The poor will always be with us.
Ignore their plight, look straight ahead.

………………………….

ScottGressittMugAn amateur writer and rapscallion, I write of my past, a life laden with extraordinary events.

I have walked in places most of the population avoid.

Besides scars and bruises, I’ve collected experiences that frighten, delight and entertain.

I write with the intent to take you on a wild ride where all your senses are fully engaged.

Enjoy.

Photo credit: Tim Green via a Creative Commons license.

 

My ancestors owned people

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

 

My ancestors owned people.

Look back three generations and, definitively, four of my eight great-grandparents were born into families that had purchased or inherited or bred people for enslavement. Two of the remaining four are probable, given their geographical locations and occupations.

In my ancestors’ day, they referred to the people they enslaved as something other than people.

Slave and property were common terms. Not people. Not human.

To me, it feels more truthful to say that my ancestors owned people—perhaps because I’m a writer or because I’m from the South or because they did.

MarthaSlaveSched1860

1860 U.S. Census Slave Schedule counting the child Ada’s mother, Martha, enslaved

Some folks, though, some white folks concerned with public opinion, avoid acknowledging any connection to slavery.

This is folly. Denying familial history does not erase it; it doesn’t alter the present. I suppose knowledge of such things could affect the future—I hope it does—but past facts are immutable. Only understanding changes.

I learned this while researching my Great-Grandmother Ada, born in 1861, six months after the start of the U.S. Civil War. For three generations, a conspiracy of myth obscured her truth, yet still I found it. And, while searching for her story, I noted that the year before Ada was born, her widowed mother owned a ten-year-old child, a girl whose name was not recorded. Then her mother married into a family that owned six people.

I’ve imagined Ada, playing with enslaved children, teaching them their ABCs.

I’ve imagined that the absence of mulattos* enslaved on her grandfather’s farm allowed Ada’s family to accrue less moral debt than their neighbors—among whom were counted an abundance of mixed-race children. Parentage was not a question on the census slave schedules.

But fanciful notions won’t ameliorate the enslavement of the children with whom Ada might have played. Irrational parsing of slavery’s evils cannot negate my ancestors’ culpability.

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 8.14.10 AMI know this. And I know I’ve inherited not their guilt, but a responsibility to acknowledge it, to talk about it, to confront slavery’s persistent legacies, to advocate for equality that still eludes us.

I also know that many an editor might ask me to change the language in my telling of Ada’s story, to write, “Ada’s grandfather owned six slaves.”

Because of my responsibility, I’ll say, “So sorry to disappoint you, but I must.”

In 1860, Ada’s grandfather owned six black people—a man and a woman, both forty-two, and four children, three girls ages eighteen, four and one, and a boy age eight. They had names, but their names were not recorded.

Love,
K-B

*The 1860 U.S. census slave schedule designated color with B for Black or  M for Mulatto.

…………………………………………………

About Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Spawned by a Southern Baptist creationist and a liberal social worker, I inherited the requisite sense of humor to survive family dinner-table debates and the imagination to avoid them.

As the Sunday political columnist at the San Diego North County Times, I won awards, a Pulitzer Prize submission, a fan club, and death threats from angry readers—but the sales department loved me. More recently, I wrote book reviews for the paper, which is no longer: The U-T ate it.

In the last few years, the San Diego Poetry Annual has published some of my late-night poetry, and my creative nonfiction has been published by Trivia: Voices of Feminism and Ms. Magazine blog among others.

Today, the pocket gophers and hummingbirds keep me company while I write—yippee!

 

She

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 6.49.53 PMuntubes herself auburn
oily and pastel
a promised land, full
of milk and honey
more vibrant
than Georgia O’Keeffe
smooth & naked canvas
her texture is sinuous
anxious for exploration
by fingers sculpting
strokes supple as breath
brush her indefinable
unruly as soft curls
refusing to be seen
as only primary color
I attempt to collage her
as though SHE
were a perfect magazine
naughty pages
at every turn
SHE opens so so soft
not like a Rubens chanteuse
hung inside museum gray
untamable as the wind
this unframe-able creature
SHE will name her portrait
provocative as misogynists
restless to finger paint
themselves inside
the confines of her woman
SHE creates renaissance
more like morning and blue
chisels the night bronze
I can’t hold all of her
nor would a Goddess
ever surrender
like hued men
cascading their red
as flags of accomplishment
her living is deity
a body full of eyes
SHE untubes herself
prism, kaleidoscope
like the promised land
SHE is sun and planet
SHE is no primary color
in the beginning SHE
SHE is beginning

By Conney D. Williams

…………………………………

About Conney D. Williams

ConneyConney D. Williams is a Los Angeles based poet, actor and performance artist, originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, where he worked as a radio personality.

Conney’s first collection of poetry, Leaves of Spilled Spirit from an Untamed Poet, was published in 2002. His poetry has also been published in various journals and anthologies including Voices from Leimert Park; America: At the End of the Day; and The Drumming Between Us. His newest collection, Blues Red Soul Falsetto, was published in December 2012.

Conney has performed his poetry on television, radio, galleries, universities, grade schools, coffeehouses, and stages around Southern California and across the country, including the Black Arts Festival. He is a talented public speaker with more than thirty years of experience.

Read more about Conney at conneywilliams.com.

Image: Sample of Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch

 

Her Body Betrays Her

By Penny Perry

prayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hand of the man who shoved
her son against a wall,
still sets wild fires
up her spine.

She hates his words,
yet hungers for his tongue.

She prays: Take this longing
from my lips,
rip nerve ends from my buzzing
fingers.

Make my crotch as dry
as last night’s chicken bones.

Make my shoulders a shelter
for my son.

Make my nipples
yearn only
for the new baby’s mouth.

………………………………………………

About Penny Perry

PennyPerryKateHardingMugPenny Perry is a six-time Pushcart Prize nominee in poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in California Quarterly, Lilith, Redbook, Earth’s Daughter, the Paterson Literary Review and the San Diego Poetry Annual.

Her first collection of poems, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage (Garden Oak Press, 2012) earned praise from Marge Piercy, Steve Kowit, Diane Wakoski and Maria Mazziotti Gillan.

She writes under two names, Penny Perry and Kate Harding.

Photo credit: Jonas Tegnerud via a Creative Commons license.

 

French Toast

A Short Story by
Dan McClenaghan

 

Mona strode through the café with the coffee pot, an eye out for half-full mugs. As she topped off the cup of a construction worker-looking guy on table eight, she felt a tap on her hip, from the fingertips of a thirtyish blonde lady at table nine, by the entrance. The lady wanted to know if the French toast that Mona’s co-waitress, Johanna, had delivered ten minutes before, could possibly be any colder.

Yes, it could be, Mona thought. I could stick it in the freezer for five minutes. Then it would be colder. But she said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I’ll have the cook heat it up for you.”

frenchtoastShe plucked up the offensive meal and beelined for the service window, where she clunked the plate next to the order wheel and said to Ellis, the cook, “Hey, numb nuts, you wanna heat this up a little? Lady says she doesn’t like cold French toast.”

“Oh yeah? Well I don’t like mouthy waitresses, but I put up with ’em.”

Mona gave him a look that would have wilted a lesser man.

Ellis was undeterred. “Did you tell her it was cold because she sat there yakking on her cell phone for fifteen minutes after Johanna delivered it?”

“Just make me a fresh order, jack ass,” Mona hissed.

“Yeah. Right,” Ellis said to her back as she stepped out into the dining room to tell the French-toast lady that the cook would have her order—piping hot this time—right out.

The lady, who had resumed her cell phone use, gave Mona a quick nod and dismissive little wave of her fingers.

Ellis should have made a fresh order. The French toast that Mona had brought back was soaked in syrup that had dissolved the snow flake effect of the powdered sugar. But Ellis, gazing out at the offending woman whose mouth was now running in high gear again, sending communications of the highest importance bouncing off an orbiting satellite, decided he’d just put the tepid breakfast in the microwave and nuke the living shit out of it.

Mona returned, looked at the plate and protested. “This is the same French toast.” She wrinkled her nose at the steaming dish on the service window. “You didn’t make a fresh order.”

“So,” said Ellis.

The syrup, under the influence of three minutes in the microwave, had lost it viscosity. It was now a watery brown fluid bubbling virulently atop the French toast and on the plate beside it, tinting to a rich coffee color the flesh on the decorative slice of orange that Ellis added to the dish.

”There’s a bite out of it,” Mona said, her face crinkling into a grimace of disgust.

“It’s her bite,” Ellis said, nodding at the cell phone lady. “It won’t hurt her.”

“What a class act you are, what a five star chef.” Mona huffed. She picked up the plate and then dropped it immediately. It had soaked up the heat of the microwaved food and treated her to a painful burn. She mumbled “mother-something” at Ellis around the stinging finger she had stuck in her mouth, then folded a napkin to use as a hot pad, and carried the scalding meal out toward table nine.

A folded napkin is not a very effective hot pad. The heat, as Mona strode from the service window, bled through the paper. This increased her pace. She had achieved a screaming, full-on sprint by the time she approached table nine.

The cell phone lady, catching movement in her peripheral vision, turned to see the banshee-wailing waitress barreling at her. It looked like an imminent assault. She screamed, and Mona dropped the plate on her table. The cell phone lady took the scream into another dimension as the syrup—having regained a 30-weight, oil-like consistency on its brisk journey across the café—splattered dew-sized droplets of the sticky goop onto the lady’s face, and sloshed the caramelizing orange slice flip-flopping into the air and hitting the frightened woman in the cleft of the v-neck of her powder blue blouse as she rose from her chair, sticking between her breasts.

She dropped her cell phone and let out a whoop that shattered her empty water glass, as Mona reached out and peeled that burning half-moon of orange—along with a layer of skin—off the woman’s blistering sternum, leaving a scar the would not pale, and eventually found itself incorporated into a stylish, provocative tattoo.

…………………………………….
About Dan McClenaghan

DanMcClenaghanMugI write stuff.

I began with my Ruth and Ellis/Clete and Juanita stories in the early 1980s. At the beginning of the new millennium I started writing reviews of jazz CDs, first at American Reporter, and then (and now) at All About Jazz. I’ve tried my hand at novels, without success.

I’ve been published in a bunch of small presses, most notably the now defunct Wormwood Review. This was in the pre-computer age, when we whomped up our stories on typewriters, then rolled down to Kinkos to make copies, which we stuck in manila envelopes, along with a return envelope with return postage attached. Times have changed.

Aside from the writing, I am married to the lovely Denise. We have three wonderful children and five beautiful grandchildren; and I am a two-time winner—1970 and 1971—of the Oceanside Bodysurfing Contest. Kowabunga!

 

Homeless in July in My Hometown

By Karla Cordero

 

homelessveteranA long ribbon of fireflies
& a man sleeps under the newspaper
A long ribbon of cloud people
in a homeless man’s sleep

A haystack of rotted hair
sits on his skull

An oak tree of weathered hair
sits all July summer long on his skull

Telephone wires string across our bodies & streets—
hang like veins & arteries all over us in the city
waiting for their time

fingertips between lovers
& we walk to work
no one sees how under newspaper a homeless man sleeps

………………….

About Karla Cordero

Born in the border town of Calexico, California, I started my new life in San Diego, whereKarlaCordero the weather spoils the living. I’m currently an MFA candidate at San Diego State University and the 2015 recipient of the Loft Literary Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship. I’m the editor of Spit Journal, a review dedicated to poetry and social justice.

My poetry is published or forthcoming in Word Riot, Words Dance Publishing, The Acentos Review, Gutters and Alleyways Anthology and elsewhere. My first chapbook, Grasshoppers Before Gods, will be published in 2015 by Dancing Girl Press. You can follow my passion for performance poetry at Spit Journal.

Photo credit: anOnymOnOus via a creative Commons license.

 

Writers Read at Fallbrook Library Presents Author Charles Degelman

Discussing

A Bowl Full of Nails and Gates of Eden

Preceded by open mic for original poetry and prose

Date: Tuesday, August 11, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook, 760-731-4650

CharlieDegelmanGatesEdenCharles Degelman is an author, editor and educator living in Los Angeles. His first novel, Gates of Eden, is a 1960s story of resistance, rebellion and love. The book garnered a silver medal from the 2012 Independent Publishers Book Awards. A Bowl Full of Nails, published earlier this year by Harvard Square Editions, is set in the counterculture of the 1970s. It was a finalist in the Bellwether Competition, sponsored by Barbara Kingsolver.

After graduating Harvard, Degelman left academia to become an antiwaBowlNailsr activist, political theater artist, musician, communard, carpenter, hard-rock miner, and itinerant gypsy trucker. When the dust settled, he returned to his first love, writing. In the 1990s he was swept up by the film world and the burgeoning digital industry where he wrote and produced documentary and educational films for TNT, Churchill Films, Pyramid Films, Philips Interactive Media and others. Titles include a feature-length biography of filmmaker John Huston for TNT and an award-winning biography of Mozart for Philips Interactive.

Charlie’s books will be available for sale and signing.

For more information about Writers Read, contact K-B Gressitt at kbgressitt@gmail.com or 760-522-1064.

 

 

The Irony of the Wooden Whipping Spoon

By Scott Gressitt

 

woodenspoonsI kept my distance from it, always aware of its place, the wooden handle sticking above the lip of the jar nestled in the corner of the hardest-to-reach spot on the kitchen counter.

I knew to clench when Mother reached for it, but I was consistently impressed by the fact that someone as un-athletic as she could move with such facility and accuracy, swooping the spoon from its resting position, and in one fluid motion land it, with a meaningful sting, on my ass.

The world changed one day when the motion of reach, grab, swing and connect was punctuated with a sharp crack.

What the hell?

Mother and I both stared incredulously at the floor, the bowl of the spoon and half its handle laying miserably at our feet.

We turned our heads simultaneously, like a precision swimming team, to look at the half still in Mother’s hand.

I laughed out loud. What a wonderful world.

She, too, laughed, despite a desperate attempt not to.

Father happened to step in the door at that prescient moment and, genius that he was, needed no further data to formulate a clear picture of what had transpired moments before.

Father was not annoyed in the least. In fact, he grinned an uncharacteristically boyish grin, amused by the ironic turn of events, and then his grin turned to a look of benevolence toward his wayward son.

“Well, boy, the winds of fate have blown your way today. Not to worry, I still have my belt. And Pat, I’ll pick up a new spoon for you this evening.”

I melted off into the horizon of my existence, wondering how God could be so fickle, meting out grace and judgment in the same breath.

……………………………………………………………….
About Scott Gressitt

ScottGressittMugAn amateur writer and rapscallion, I write of my past, a life laden with extraordinary events.

I have walked in places most of the population avoid.

Besides scars and bruises, I’ve collected experiences that frighten, delight and entertain.

I write with the intent to take you on a wild ride where all your senses are fully engaged.

Enjoy.

Photo credit: Alan Levine via a Creative Commons license.

Memories of Belle

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

 

memories lost friendship AlzheimersPictures of her adorn my house still, though we haven’t been friends for some years. Or we haven’t behaved as friends. I continue to think of her as one.

My friend—let’s call her “Belle”—she’s bright and lovely, so much more gracious than I, the perfect Southern lady I will never be. Belle came to me by word of mouth, I can’t recall whose. Don’t you love that sort of thing? Someone thought we’d like each other. Someone I’d thank, if I could remember.

In a photograph on the fridge, Bell and I are posed at a Halloween party, long forgotten—but not the captured moment. She stands behind me, in a flapper dress; I, in my husband’s cammies and flak jacket, helmet under my arm, fat cigar in hand. She has wrapped herself around me, rested her pretty face on my armored shoulder. That’s how we spent our years together, the years we behaved as friends.

Belle wrapped herself around my life and became a family fixture, expected, without need for invitation, at high days and holidays. She’d arrive other times, unannounced—a welcomed breach of Southern etiquette—to flop on the sofa, peruse the bookshelves, comment on the latest piece of art. She’d pour herself some wine, raid the fridge, have an occasional case of the vapors—venting the sorrow of an ill-kempt marriage, a clash of faiths, fears for a beloved son, things darker.

Mostly, though, we’d while away hours in conversation while my family snored—a duet of Southern twang and remnants of Baltimorese. We’d muse on the unfathomable, cry at the cruel, mourn our losses. Laughter sometimes trumped the darkness, not always, but we were sisters. We could survive anything. We’d always find a way to make the other laugh. At some point. We knew each other, really knew.

I wonder how many times it was that she concluded a moment of relationship frustration with “If only we were lesbians.”

We could have been lovers. If we’d been a bit more bi. If we hadn’t had husbands. If she hadn’t remembered the miasmic hurt of oppressive Southern nights, hairbrush handles and gentleman callers invading her childhood bed. If she hadn’t been guided to remember.

I never questioned her memories. Her feelings were real. She needed to express them, sometimes more virulently than others. When the need was great, Belle would wail at the “vile mother monster” who offered her up, while the torches of white-sheeted men flickered across her bedroom window. That’s how Belle recalled it.

Other times, she held the need quiet and clenched: “My mother was an evil bitch.”

My aches seemed relatively trivial. My dear mother was just a wee bit of a bitch—in my teen years, I suppose. But Belle and I held and rocked each other, encouraged and scolded, mothered and sistered as the need arose, without comparison. I was grateful that she fled the South and found her way to a place in my California home.

One day, though, one moment, Belle and I changed. It happened in my living room, amid a gathering of friends. It was so sudden, so simple, so devastating. I failed to honor her memories, to defend them from a curious other, an inquisitor asking for proof of her pain, and Belle left my sofa, my family, my life. She never returned.

I mused over the cause. I cried into her void. I mourned the loss of my dearest friend. And she was not there to make me laugh. Instead, I hung the pictures, so I’d never forget, and some years passed.

Not long ago, a friend of Belle’s contacted me. He thought I’d like to know what had become of her—she had so often spoken of me, he said.

He told me she’s living in an institution, a home for the forgetful. She has early onset Alzheimer’s, rapidly progressing.

I drove to the distant corner of the county to see Belle, to hold and rock her if she wished, to make her laugh if I could.

She rose from a table in the common dining room, bumped her way through wheelchairs, sidestepped fallen lettuce on the linoleum floor. She greeted me with her lovely smile, shook my hand warmly, but she did not know me.

We walked to the porch, commenting on the weather, and sat on a wicker love seat, the cushion protected with plastic. We did none of that pleasant catching up, prelude to more intimate talk. She couldn’t. Every other sentence was the start of a new conversation.

She handed me a piece of paper and asked me to write my name and phone number—a polite trick of the trade perhaps?

When I returned the paper, she held it out as far as she could reach—”Can’t imagine where I left my glasses”—read it, and jumped from the seat.

“Kit-Bacon? Kit-Bacon Gressitt?”

“Yes, that is I, it’s me, c’est moi.”

She clapped her hands and laughed. “Kit-Bacon, Kit-Bacon—how wonderful to see you!” She tucked the paper in her pocket, took my hand, sat back down and hugged me, laughing and repeating my name.

I had forgotten that laugh, Belle’s wild, ribald laugh, so unlike her gracious demeanor. It’s one of those small, dichotomous things I love about her. And with her moment of recognition, I hoped we might revisit our shared history. But in the next moment, she forgot who I am.

I lingered for a bit. We sat in the sun. I  asked Belle what she could remember. She mentioned her son, her “precious boy.” She mentioned her mother.

“Oh, I remember moving to California,” she said. “My dear, sweet mother, she helped me pack. She wrapped up all my favorite things for the road. What a sweet, sweet woman.”

I love you, Belle,
Kit-Bacon
……………………………..

About Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Spawned by a Southern Baptist creationist and a liberal social worker, I inherited the requisite sense of humor to survive family dinner-table debates and the imagination to avoid them.

As the Sunday political columnist at the San Diego North County Times, I won awards, a Pulitzer Prize submission, a fan club, and death threats from angry readers—but the sales department loved me. More recently, I wrote book reviews for the paper, which is no longer: The U-T ate it.

In the last few years, the San Diego Poetry Annual has published some of my late-night poetry, and my creative nonfiction has been published by Trivia: Voices of Feminism and Ms. Magazine blog among others.

Today, the pocket gophers and hummingbirds keep me company while I write—yippee!

how to break up when you don’t even realize that’s what you’re doing

 

By Conney D. Williams

 

Deadboltthis morning I am on the toilet
releasing yesterday’s stench
she has decided to return home
doesn’t take her usual route
she doesn’t see the need
to utter goodbyes
tells me I can deadbolt the door
she left her words, unspoken
scattered across the coffee table
spilled on the tapestry rug
leaving stains that vibrato
unbleachable
from the fabric we’ve woven
the same words she swallowed
around 11:30 pm last night
when we were fucking
we fucked away the silence
fucked all the communication
cemented inside our mouths
tongues reeled backwards
to manhole the tepid breath
still rigid inside our larynx
no wonder my stomach boils
tenderness & touch
have become fossil
in my digestive tract and memory
I am unable to wipe quickly enough
before her disappointment
cascades across the laminate floor
bolts through the door and
chokes the oxygen between us
I am naked except
for the plaid pajamas
tangled around my ankles
I peer through a cracked door
Only her license plate
and exhaust smoke are in view
she isn’t honking
or waving that lover’s goodbye
no morning breath kiss
she can’t possibly feel the empty
stranded inside my gaze
can’t possibly taste the sour reflux
like bile upon my tongue
she can’t, cos’ if she did
she would stay or at least wait
I recoil to the coffee table’s edge
collapse next to her stale glass of wine
from the night before
tannins still wafting in my nostrils
her lipstick etched into the glass
like remembrances
I’m left to sort & file by category
in my vault of past relationships
I want to imagine her return
knocking loudly and cussing
when I allow her to re-enter
but she doesn’t, return
even though “I’m sorry baby”
is hushed inside my mouth
even though
I don’t believe that I was wrong
there is no text
or clandestine Facebook post
that only she and I recognize
we are both out of context
speaking in ways intended
to sever love’s connective tissue
she drives away from the intersection
disposes us along her route
like Aaron Hernandez’s missing gun
still warm from murder
never to be recovered
I find my way back to the toilet
and continue shitting
like it’s all I know how to do

…………………………………………

About Conney D. Williams

ConneyConney D. Williams is a Los Angeles based poet, actor and performance artist, originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, where he worked as a radio personality.

Conney’s first collection of poetry, Leaves of Spilled Spirit from an Untamed Poet, was published in 2002. His poetry has also been published in various journals and anthologies including Voices from Leimert Park; America: At the End of the Day; and The Drumming Between Us. His newest collection, Blues Red Soul Falsetto, was published in December 2012.

Conney has performed his poetry on television, radio, galleries, universities, grade schools, coffeehouses, and stages around Southern California and across the country, including the Black Arts Festival. He is a talented public speaker with more than thirty years of experience.

Read more about Conney at conneywilliams.com.

Deadbolt photo credit: Quillons via a Creative Commons license