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–Crissinda Ponder
Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Publisher



The Sound of Home

When I feel homesick, I take the subway out to the airport. Not to look at the announcements of flights going back home because there are not that many; only one a day in winter and two in summer. I go there to listen to the sound of the rolling suitcases. Those little plastic wheels moving on asphalt, on concrete, on cobblestone—that is the sound that reminds me of home. The sound of Frankfurt, Germany.

I have been obsessed with the rolling cases since I was eight years, eleven months and twelve days years old. I know that down to the exact day because it was the Christmas before my ninth birthday. The miracle of being given such a grown-up present blew my mind away.

These suitcases were still a very new thing in 1980, and only frequent travelers had them back then. My father did because he worked in a different city and was gone from Monday morning to Friday night. And every Friday night, I would wait to hear his cab arrive from the train station or airport. I would stand at the window while the driver unloaded his case and he rolled it across the sidewalk to our front door and came in. The sound of his suitcase was the promise of a present he would have for me, every single Friday.

My first wheelie was one of the early Samsonite models: medium-sized, white, with red stickers for the initials you put next to the locks. I fell in love the moment I saw it under the Christmas tree. It was so much more than a case on wheels; it was the promise of a future with exciting trips to all the fascinating places my father talked about. The places in the photos he showed me when he was back; him in front of the Kremlin or on the Chinese wall. The places where he bought souvenirs or dresses for me that me and my friends had never seen before; a scarabaeus on a golden necklace from Egypt, a babushka from Russia or a brightly colored dress from Morocco.

With my suitcase came the promise of a very special trip: My first trip on an airplane. My excitement was endless. Unfortunately, that trip was still months away. But there was no way I would let my parents store my new suitcase in the attic along with their entire luggage. I kept it in my room, stuffed it to the max with my most cherished treasures, locked it and rolled it up and down the long hall of my family’s Art Nouveau home.

When that was not exciting enough any more, I took the wheelie outside—first to the big patio in front of the house, and later to the street. There was no public traffic on the little alley behind our house, so I let my suitcase roll down the steep hill just to drag it back up again, over and over, always imagining that I was about to start on an exciting journey into the unknown or returning home from such a journey. Our neighbors, who immediately called my mother in a fit the first time they saw me and my suitcase walk down the hill in direction of the main street, calmed down when they saw me come up the road again. They probably thought it was a weird thing to do, but eventually, they got used to the sight.

That time was when I fell in love with the sound the wheels made on the street, the sound that would become the soundtrack of my life. The wheels of my first suitcase had to be exchanged due to wear and tear, even before I took it on its first real trip.

Luggage fashion changed over the years. The stock of bags and cases in my parent’s attic grew, and I added some new pieces too, but I never gave up my white Samsonite. As a teenager and student, I dragged it all over Europe. To the great amusement of my friends, it even accompanied me on a four-week camping trip to Greece. New floor surfaces were added to its sound portfolio: grass (very low and irregular), tiles (high and a bit screechy), and wood (deep and reassuring—one of my favorites to this day).

When it was only 17, my travel companion died a very unfortunate death. To make matters worse, it was death by my own hands. It took me days to bring myself to do it, but then I went ahead and murdered it.

It was in the US. I had just moved there for my first job. Back then, the baggage limit was still a generous 140 pounds, so I had acquired two bigger cases to take along. But 140 pounds did not seem remotely enough to hold everything I thought I would need for a year abroad. When a friend came to visit a few weeks after my arrival, she brought my white Samsonite along, filled with more stuff that seemed incredibly necessary at that point.

I met her in New York City, in a shabby hotel in the Village that still offered cheap weekly rates despite the fact that Madonna had had her photo shoot for the Sex Book there. I had long been in bed by the time my friend’s flight arrived from Germany. It was past two in the morning when I woke up to a familiar sound: My suitcase was rolling down the hotel hallway toward the room we would share for a week. I recognized it as mine, just like other people might hear the sound of a car engine and knew the exact make or model.

The next day brought bad news: My friend who was not the most reliable person to begin with had lost the keys to my suitcase. We searched her bags for close to two hours before I finally gave in to the sad truth: I would have to pick the locks. It was the mid-1990s, so there was no YouTube website yet that could have shown me how to do it softly. I remembered from movies that bobby pins should do the jobs, but no matter how I tried the locks held firm. So finally, after I had given up on the pins and also broken a nail file, I said goodbye to my beaten up travel companion and grabbed for a kitchen knife. I took a deep breath, and then I pried the locks open. They gave way with a mean little sound.

When I unpacked all the contents that I had been waiting for so impatiently, they suddenly seemed irrelevant compared to all the experiences the case itself had been a part of. I was 26, and for the first time I fully realized that I cherished my memories and experiences more than the designer clothes I would not get to wear in a laid-back American town anyway.

I did not part with the broken case until I moved again. For another while, it once again turned into my treasure trove—now the storage case for scrapbooks, letters and photos of my old and new life. Contrary to my childhood, though, I could not roll it around anymore. It might sound pathetic, but I guess I would have taken a few rounds around the parking lot in front of the building if only the damaged locks had kept shut.

Two years later, I decided to return to Germany. And I knew there was no way my old suitcase could accompany me on this trip. It had to stay behind, so when my place was almost empty, I finally made myself take it out on the sidewalk to join the other bulk garbage. I put it down next to boxes of useless stuff, broken odds and ends; then I stood in the front door for a while, looking at the piece I had dragged around for so many years and started to cry. Leaving the US again after two years was the end of an era in much more than one respect.

It might be more than appropriate that after many years of wandering around, when I came back to my home country I moved to a city full of people who live a less stable life than migrant birds. Frankfurt is like a revolving door, always open to those who come and go—and not only at the airport. The entire spirit of the city seems to build on this feeling that a life in Frankfurt is a temporary existence. Those who decide to settle there join an exotic species: the migrant bird that decides to stay in a place. If you tell people that this is your intention, they will smile knowingly. They know you won’t, no matter how convinced you are of it when you say it.

In Frankfurt, the wheelies are omnipresent, but their true time is the early morning. You hear them when most of the city is still asleep, even before the street-cleaning crews come out to make people forget about last night’s party. By 6:00am every Monday through Friday, and hardly any later on the weekends, the businesspeople and flight attendants leave their homes and head out to Europe’s biggest traffic hub. Most of them who live in one of the downtown neighborhoods do so by public transport because it is the fastest way to get to Frankfurt Rhein-Main Airport.

A creature of the night, I would often come home only when the sun was about to rise. And while I was still busy taking my makeup off, brushing my teeth and drowning as much water as possible in an hopeless attempt to avoid the unavoidable hangover, I would hear the rumbling and clicking even when the windows were closed: The first irregular scuttling of these ill-equipped plastic wheels on the cobblestone that lined the street outside of my apartment. More would follow in due time, and I would fall asleep when the morning traffic of pedestrians with their luggage, passing my house on the way to the subway station close by, would reach its high point.

Many of them would be back by the evening rush hour. The sound of their suitcases would be almost the same late in the day, but only almost as a stressful day had taken its toll. No matter how much people are looking forward to their free evening, they still walk more slowly when they come home, and the turning of the wheels is just that little notch lower than in the morning. As if the wheels were tired too from their long day out and about.

Most of my times in Frankfurt were good ones, but how much I had grown attached to the sound of little plastic wheels on asphalt and cobblestone again, I realized only on one of my worst days in those ten years: My boyfriend of four years had recently broken up with me, and I had to move out of his condo to a small apartment of my own again. The weekend before I was due to leave his place, he went on a skiing trip to give me the privacy I felt I needed to box up my life.

I was packing up my thousands of books, pausing every once in a while for some wine and whine when I heard my favorite sound outside. Forgotten were the sentimental Billy Joel ballads I had played all day long as the background music to my goodbye from this period in my life. It was close to midnight, and the streets unusually quite for a Saturday night. There was only the faint, irregular grumbling of a wheelie on cobblestone, coming closer from the subway stop.

With a fresh glass of red, I stepped outside on the small balcony facing the street, lit a cigarette and watched the woman and her case approach. She was one of the armada of flight attendants, probably back from a long-distance flight, and as she came closer I could see that she looked as exhausted as her rolling case. They both sounded exhausted too as they made their slow way up the street which would soon not be my street any more.

I continued to watch her after she had passed, imagining that an ex-lover, a pilot, had just forgotten this case at her place when he came to gather his stuff, and that she used it now to remind her that she had known love and lost it. I was in a dramatically sentimental mood.

I continued to watch her until she had reached the next corner where she took a right on the main street, the corner behind which apartments became smaller and less expensive. When the sound of the wheels finally drifted off, I saw a vivid picture in my mind of her dragging up her suitcase to an old place with a small bedroom and shabby little bathroom on the third floor, unpacking it, throwing the laundry into the washer together with her creased uniform, and put the suitcase in its place next to the front door, where it would remain until it was time for her next trip. In my imagination, I could see her place in every little detail: a one-bedroom apartment with the original old doors and windows, so often painted over that they were hard to close, an apartment full of old furniture with some new additions from Ikea—the kind of place you had when you wanted to live in a very central and popular neighborhood despite being on a tight budget. A place like the one I would have less than a week from now.

The next Friday, when the truck had unloaded my belongings—sparse apart from the 52 wine boxes filled with my books—and my friends had helped me rearrange my worldly possessions, I spent almost an entire day on my couch, with the living room window open, absorbing the sounds of my new surroundings. It was louder here—a far cry from the elegant silence of the tree-lined side street I had grown used to, which would only occasionally be interrupted on busy summer weekends. Here, in my new down-to-earth neighborhood, my street was lined with bars, cafés, pubs and Thai take-outs. There was a constant buzz of people coming and going, growing louder by the hour, in keeping with the amount of alcohol consumed by the regulars and those enjoying the nice spring weather.

It was in the early evening when I heard my sound again. The end of the workday, of the workweek, brought me the familiar rumble of wheelie suitcases, and suddenly I knew that I could feel at home in my new apartment too. That my happiness did not depend on the man who did not want to live with me any more, not on his fancy place and not on our extravagant trips. It was the people who had stood by me in the time of crisis and who would remain with me, who would share new experiences with me and make this period a good one.

I had finally found my way home. And this realization was a Friday night present as cherished as the little knickknacks my father would bring me from all over the world when I was a child.

Though I only spent a brief period in this new place, I have taken the spirit with me. I travel lighter these days, and I don’t mind at all any more if my suitcases have as many scars and dents as I do now in my forties.

Now once again, I have crossed the Atlantic, and this time also the entire continent, to start a new period in my life in Seattle. Half a world away, I think of the little girl and her first rolling suitcase, about her excitement to get to know the world—and about the woman she has become. The woman traveling all corners of the world, looking for adventure and home, preferably at the same time.

Seattle is much quieter than Frankfurt. I live in a downtown neighborhood again, but you don’t hear much outside in the early morning or at the end of the workday. Of course the entire city is newer than the last building I lived in in Frankfurt, and the windows here only open a fraction. You might hear an occasional police siren and the constant low buzz from the thoroughfare close by, but that is that. Nobody here drags a trolley suitcase around for a longer distance than from their apartments into the elevator and through the lobby out to the town car waiting in front of the building’s entrance doors, ready to take them to their meetings or to the airport. And if you run into someone with a wheelie on the way to the elevator, you still don’t hear a thing. It’s the carpet in the halls that absorbs all but the most ear-piercing sounds. All that quiet, all that privacy is still weird to me.

I miss my Sound of Frankfurt. Those wheels, with all their promise of travel and adventure that have long ago turned into the comforting sound of home for me.

So in the late Friday afternoons, you will see me on the subway train to the airport, longingly staring at people’s luggage. You will see me strolling through the arrival or departure hall, eventually sit down and have a coffee, close my eyes and listen to the suitcases making their way to some unknown city or foreign country for the weekend, or arriving back home after a week away for work, all of them singing my song of belonging.

Then I take the train back downtown, and I take this warm feeling with me.

Gidget’s Smile

Blame my frustration on That Uncertain Feeling. Burgess Meredith asks Merle Oberon who needs a shrink more: the person who has little happiness or the person who has too much? It’s black and white comedy – nothing unusual about that in 1941 – but it’s frustrating because black and white in my book means noir. And there’s nothing funny about noir. Yet …

“What’s bothering you Catherine? You’re like the sea without a breeze.”

Morgan Upton was wearing his commodore’s jacket and white deck shoes. After twelve years of marriage he didn’t expect his wife to put wind in his sails, but felt slighted that she no longer gave him so much as an “ahoy!” when he lounged in his boxers.

I have a noir life, I told my shrink, although Morgan doesn’t look like a noir guy – a Robert Mitchum or a Fred McMurray – so I’m uncertain about what attracted me to him. He’s more like a Rex Harrison or a Van Johnson. He doesn’t understand why I like to spend my Saturday afternoons in the film room when he’s out sailing the 15 foot Gidget’s Smile. My shrink says his boat’s name speaks volumes about our marital difficulties. My shrink may be right. I wanted to name the boat Ebony Eyes.

Morgan brought Catherine a blender bowl of Margaritas and a long stemmed glass into the film room and poured the green concoction into the glass. “For you, my Love. Only poor people cry into beer.”

Noir isn’t tear-jerking melodrama, it’s martini real. Bleak as vodka on the rocks. “Thanks, Dear,” I said because my shrink said happy is as happy does.

“What’s on the marquee today? Another showing of The Lady Vanishes?”

Morgan doesn’t know the difference between British mystery and post-war nihilism. He bought out a salt shaker from this jacket pocket and set it on the table. “For the rim.” He kissed my cheek. A kindergartener’s kiss. The door had closed behind him, and all that was left was a line of light, but I knew he was smiling a cheery California Vitamin D smile. “Anything that could entice me away from the sirens waiting for me just past the jetty?”

Maybe you should show him how pleasurable a femme fatale can be, my shrink said. I guided Morgan’s hand to my breast and searched his mouth for his tongue with mine, glad he’d persuaded me to buy a plushy recliner instead of a red velvet backed antique from the now-defunct Bijou. “Spellbound,” I whispered, and Bergman’s doors began to open one by one.

The sirens were jealous. They watched Morgan cast off from the pier, and hid a swell behind a ruse of sunshine dancing on a calm blue stage . They let him sail past them, then grabbed his spinnaker and pulled him back, crushing Gidget’s Smile on the jagged rocks.

“Did he drown?” I asked through short gasps.

“He was tossed like a corn-hole bean-bag onto the stones,” the Coast Guardsman said.

Morgan lay in a white hospital room disconnected from black artificial life machines. staring at the world with glassy ebony eyes. Catherine went home to her movie room, a long-neck Bud Lite in one hand and a bag of Cheetos in the other. There is such a thing as comedy noir. It’s called irony.

The Wrath of the Grapes

She wore a soiled white uniform and her duty shoes were worn-down and scuffed the color of dirt. Every time she passed the mirror she stopped and examined herself, tucking her long gray hair behind an ear or checking her teeth. She swatted at the furniture with a rag in an approximation of dusting and emptied the ashtrays into a bag. She threw the loose clothing and towels into the closet and closed the door.

“I’ll put those in the laundry next time,” she said.

“Hmm?” the woman on the chaise longue said. She was dozing and had forgotten for the moment that she wasn’t alone.

“Anything else before I go?”

She opened her eyes and pulled herself partway up. She was haggard, old beyond her years. “I must get up,” she said.

“I wouldn’t get up if I was you, dearie,” the pickup woman said. “You’re wobbly on your feet.”

“Bertha Belvedere is coming to interview me for The Hollywood Beacon. They’re going to do a lavish treatment of my life in advance of my next picture.”

“If you say so.”

“Is Neville still here?”

“I ain’t seen him.”

“If you see him anywhere about, tell him I’m not to be disturbed for the next little bit.”

“I don’t think he’s here, but if I see him I’ll tell him what you said.”

“Thank you for cleaning my room. If I need you again, I’ll call.”

“You owe me fifteen bucks. I ain’t doin’ this for fun, you know.”

“We’ll settle up next time. I’m a little short right now.”

The pickup woman sighed and, with a clink of empty liquor bottles, she was gone.

The woman on the chaise longue was Nema Gerova, the famous film actress. Life hadn’t been very kind to her lately. Her last four pictures had lost money. Her kind of Old World sex appeal was worn out, passé. The public wanted jazz babies with fresh faces, youth and vitality. The studio unceremoniously canceled her contract, informing her in a five-word telegram.

Almost overnight, it seemed, she went from Monotone Studio’s brightest young star—a string of impressive money-making hits to her credit—to a drug-addled, drunken floozy with four ex-husbands and a hundred pounds of unwanted weight. The picture business had built her up to heights she never dreamed possible and then brought her crashing down to the black abyss. What an ugly, cruel world it was! A world all too willing to forget she ever existed.

She looked over to the table and felt some comfort in what she saw there. As if they had been part of the set design of one of her pictures, a nearly-full bottle of gin stood artfully beside a glass. She poured two fingers of the delectable nectar into the glass, drank it down, and poured again. When she was beginning to feel herself going into that fuzzy world of not caring or feeling, she remembered that somebody was coming. Who was it? Oh, yes, a female journalist to talk to her about her life and her upcoming picture, The Wrath of the Grapes.

She needed to make herself more presentable. She stood up and made her way across the room to the dressing table and looked at herself in the mirror. She hardly recognized the person looking back at her. Her face was pale and puffy, her eyes merely two slits. With shaking hands, she dabbed some rouge on her cheeks and lipstick on her lips. She ran a comb through her hair and, going back to her chaise longue, had another drink, just one, to steady her nerves.

An hour passed and more. She was in the delicious gray area between waking and sleeping when she heard a tiny knock at the door.

Entrez,” she said cheerily, pulling herself upright.

The door opened and in came Bertha Belvedere, a pig-like woman of great dignity. She wore an expensive-looking suit, a fox fur piece and a black hat trimmed with feathers.

“How do you do, dear?” she said in her simpering tones.

“Bertha, darling!” Nema said. “How wonderful to see you! Please forgive me if I don’t get up.”

Bertha squeezed both of Nema’s hands in hers before seating herself on the love seat facing the chaise longue. “I’ve so been looking forward to my interview with you,” she said as she took pen and pad out of her bag.

“As have I,” Nema said. “it’s just been ages since I’ve seen you. You’re looking so well.”

“As are you, my darling!”

“And I was so thrilled when I heard your paper wanted to do an article on me and my next picture, The Wrath of the Grapes. I’m sure it will help to get word out to the dear public about what a splendid picture it is and how much they shouldn’t miss seeing it.”

“Tell me,” Bertha said, grasping the pen in her hoof-like hand, furrowing her brow. “When will the picture be released? I haven’t been able to get any definite answer yet to that question.”

“Well, we haven’t actually started on the picture yet,” Nema said, “but I’m told it will be any day now.”

“What? I understood it was just wrapping up!”

“Well, there were delays, as there usually are with these things, but we’ll get going with it real soon.”

“And do you really believe you’re right for the part of Caroline in the picture, who sacrifices her lover for the greater good?”

“I feel it right down to my bones. I was born to play the part of Lady Caroline.”

“I heard several other actresses were vying for the part.”

“That’s true but I beat out all of them.”

“And who will direct the picture?”

“We don’t actually have a director yet, but my husband, Neville Marks, will produce. He’s in negotiations in with several of the top directors, all of whom want to do the picture. It’s just a matter of ironing out the details.”

“And who will be your leading man?”

“Well, we don’t know that yet, either, but you can bet it’ll be somebody top-notch, with not only the physical presence to carry the part but also the acting experience to convey the deep emotional torment of Captain Witherspoon.”

“Can you tell me who might be in consideration for the role so I can inform my readers?”

“Well, so far as I know, there’s Herman Dare, Dalton Dixon, Matthew Robinette, and a couple of others.”

“Oh, my, but that is an impressive pool to draw from!”

“Yes, we want only the best,” Nema said, placing a cigarette in her holder and lighting it.

“I hesitate to bring up an unpleasant topic,” Bertha said, “but your last few pictures haven’t been as successful as you might have wished. I’ve heard that Monotone Pictures lost money last year and will lose even more this year. Do you believe The Wrath of the Grapes will be successful enough to lift the studio out of its financial doldrums?”

“I have the utmost confidence that The Wrath of the Grapes will be the biggest hit of the year and will restore Monotone Pictures to its rightful place of prominence in the motion picture industry.”

“Not to mention what it will do for your own career.”

“Of course! A motion picture career is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Although my last couple of pictures haven’t sold well with the public, I assure you it’s only a temporary aberration and The Wrath of the Grapes will put me right back up there on the top where I belong.”

“And you don’t believe that Monotone will cancel your contract?”

“Of course not! That’s just an ugly rumor being perpetrated by the hordes of people in the industry who are jealous of my success. There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that my contract has been, or ever will be, canceled. Just the other day, Mr. T. T. H. Gottschalk, head of the studio, assured me that my position there is inviolable.”

“How reassuring it must have been to hear that!”

“Yes, yes, yes!”

“Now, getting on to other matters, I wonder if you might tell us something of your early life and of how you got your start in pictures. It’s a well-known story, of course, but I thought it would be fun to hear it from your own lips.”

(The truth was that she was born, out of wedlock, to an alcoholic mother in a tenement slum on New York’s Lower East Side, but that wasn’t the story she liked to tell.)

“I was born in Budapest to an American mother and a Hungarian father. My father was a physician and my mother a magazine illustrator. We moved to New York when I was ten years old. In school I performed in amateur theatricals and eventually enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. When I was seventeen years old, I entered a beauty contest in Atlantic City at the urging of friends and, when I won the contest, was given a screen test in Hollywood. My mother and I went by rail across this huge continent in the middle of July. Can you imagine?

“The screen test turned out well and I was offered the lead in a film they were just then preparing entitled The Call of the Virgin, even though I had no acting experience. The producers took a chance on me based entirely on my looks and my personality. And I had such a wonderful director—Carleton Fiske—that it didn’t matter that I had never acted before. He extracted—there’s no other word for it—the performance from me as if it had always been inside me. I became an overnight sensation and a big, big star and married Carleton Fiske, even though he was thirty-eight years older than me.”

“Bless your heart!” Bertha said.

“He died soon after but I always felt that he was the one person, more than any other, who was responsible for my success in films.

“My first year at Monotone Pictures, I starred in four pictures. My next picture after The Call of the Virgin was Night Wind and it was just as big a hit as the first one. Then came Queen of the Dust Bin and The Lady is Indiscreet, all making vast amounts of money for the studio. And everything had come so easily to me, as if it had always meant to be. You hear about people struggling to achieve success, but I never had to struggle at all. It just seemed to come naturally to me!”

“It happens that way sometimes,” Bertha said in her knowing way, “but it is very, very rare.”

“Yes, very rare.”

“Now, if you will indulge me for a bit, I want to ask you about your domestic life. Our female readers especially love knowing about that side of the lives of our Hollywood luminaries.”

“What side is that?”

“How is your marriage with Neville Marks?”

“It couldn’t be better. He and I are very, very close. Soul mates, you might say. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have his strong shoulders to lean on and his wise counsel guiding me in my career.”

“Is he at home today? I was hoping to get his take on The Wrath of the Grapes and to get a couple of snaps of the two of you together in your happy home.”

“I’m sorry. He’s out scouting locations for our picture.”

“Of course. Well, perhaps next time.”

“Yes. Next time.”

Here she fell into one her dozes and when she awoke she was alone, as she had been alone ever since the pickup woman left. She had another drink and then another, and then she stood up and made her way across the room, the act of walking a delicate balancing act for her.

She went to the window overlooking the back of the house and from it saw the open door of the garage and the empty space in the garage that had recently held the car of her husband, Neville Marks.

He left her three days ago for a much-younger woman, a twenty-one-old ingénue who had recently made a splash in her first picture, just as Nema had made a splash in hers all those years ago. And his leaving her had been the cruelest cut of all, the one thing she could not tolerate and go on living.

She went into the bathroom and, standing at the sink, swallowed an entire bottle of sleeping pills that her doctor had told her to take sparingly because they were very strong and dangerous if not taken according to directions. She washed them down with plenty of cold water and, when she was finished, she went to the bed and lay on her back to await the coming of the blessed blankness, weeping, as she did, for the poignancy of her own passing.

The Perpetuation of Matriarchy

For Grandma

Softly spoken ladies
Remind me of you
Beneath their breath is the heir of majesty
The strength in their voices
Causes my inner child to pause,
Though I am no longer mischievous
How is it that I made it this far without you to usher me along?
I remember your struggle because I know it is my turn
I am walking the same path as you
In a different century

One in the Same

There is no such thing as
“the perfect mom,”
There is no such thing as
“the perfect song.”

Each uniquely beautiful in their own way
The artist struggles just as mom does everyday
And oh! How she struggles ever so humbly
Swaying her hips to classics hit by Marvin Gaye
Or maybe even Chaka Khan
Because she is every woman
Who carries burden and the struggles of life along
Or even morning sickness as I swam deep within her rhythmic channels
Dear mama, understand that for you
It is not my outrage but for who
You were

Yes, I too, struggle
I carry the burdens of the ones with caramel complexions
And of course that, too, of the gentler sex …
Oh mama, however did you make it through those the nights
When you own father rattled your sheets!?
I cry with the very same tears
I scream with the same pitchy voice and, I too, have the same fears
As you

So really I am here to convince you
That we are truly one in the same
My authority ever minute
My pain is still your pain!
If only somehow I could relieve my “otherness”
The one that sets you and I apart
And even though we must take two separate journeys in this life
I’ve always loved you from the start

Pool Day

Tactile thirst makes her turn to

the window again and again.

Light rises like heat off the water

and she can taste it

with her whole body.

The crisp sheets of liquid,

the residue of a just-cleaned stain

between its folds.

For D.

A year ago today,

I wrapped you up in a goodbye.

I tucked my clockwork hears into

a quilt pieced from October oranges

and nougat creams,

and gave it to you,

your name stitched into it

with thread dark as blood.

In A Waiting Room

Legs like marionettes,

shuffling with feet made

of cotton balls and lead paint.

She swings them up and down

against the counter

and turns herself into a metronome.

No more than senseless rhythm

and tired wood.

Before I Loved Her

Claustrophobia is vodka
and the girl who craves my touch
in the parched
desert: how we swivel & entwine

in quiet moments when the world
is reduced to synchronous slow breathing,

along kisses and fingers bare and velvet,
cactus-quiet sleep descends

slowly, thornily,
upon we who have hope