Category Archives: Love Stories

Footnote to the Revolution

Footnote to the Revolution

The red clay from the cane field in your hair,
leaves pressed into my neck from lying in the tall stalks,
we heard in the trees
the movements of the shepherd
who had watched.
Later, at the Filowaha baths,
we washed ourselves from each other
and slept in a room
rattled
by the eucalyptus.
I would have wanted you more in that room
if I’d known about the bullet
already starting its trajectory through the minds
of men spending youth fresher than ours
in revolution.
I remember watching your shave
in the lobby barber shop,
your face mummied by the steaming towels.
I tasted bay rum afterwards
as we shared cappuccino.
Parked at the roadside near enough to hear our parting,
I imagine they drank katikala,
its bite sealing brotherhood
your blood would buy in the street
outside the Filowaha baths.

 

 

 

 

In 1973-74, I journeyed to and lived in Ethiopia. It was not my original intention to do any more than visit and pass through, but fate had a different plan in mind. I was first detained by violence, then by love. The Filowaha baths in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, were probably the equivalent of the “No Tell Motels” in Mexico, but for Andy and me, they were a place to be alone, to soak in hot water together and to make love with no listening ears. I guess that is what they were to everyone who visited, but there was nothing illicit in our relationship. We were both single and in what at the beginning we thought was a committed relationship that would end in marriage. His family had accepted this. My parents, thousands of miles away, had long ago given me the message that they did not want to know anything that, as my mother had stated, “would make them feel bad.” My sister knew, but they never did.

This poem actually chronicles two different visits to the Filowaha baths–one near the beginning of our relationship and the other our last night before I departed to fly back to the United States. On this second visit, we both knew we would probably never see each other again. Once again, we had figured out that the relationship wasn’t going to work, and our own feelings were complicated by the revolution that was already raging around us. We had both just spent a month in the hospital–Andu Alem recovering from the bullet that had gone all the way through his body as he defended me from a man whose intention was to kill me. Not able to return to my house, I had stayed in the hospital with him so we could both be guarded by his father’s soldiers.

Years later, when I made my first assemblage boxes, I made this music box that told the story I’d already told in the poem years before. The song it plays is “The Way We Were.” I’m now trying to tell the story a third time in a book. Now that I know the true ending to our story, I might have changed the poem, but I leave it as I once thought it was. There are many truths in our lives, according to which vantage point we are telling them from.  This story is as true as the very different story I will eventually tell, if I have the courage to face up to it. Please enlarge the photos go see the details which should be self-explanatory. The hand I sculpted out of clay. I photographed the assemblage box on the table where I had been rereading letters I’d written home from Ethiopia as well as letters Andu Alem and other friends living in Ethiopia had written me once I returned to the states.

Spendthrift

Spendthrift

Bliss can be a private treasure,
a thing of dreams and mist.
Not all worldly pleasure
 is within a lover’s tryst.

I exist in silence­­—
hidden from gross eyes
until an instant ambush
rocks me in surprise.

Pierces all my “shouldn’ts,”
spends my hoarded dimes,
melts my frozen assets
saved for future times.

We dare not look too closely,
lest we see adventure’s end.
If we knew what came of it,
we’d doubtless never spend.

We cannot live for endings
lest the story never start,
for all that lives in memory
is paid for by the heart.

The prompt today is bliss.

Love Stories

 

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What fewer love stories there would be if we could see their endings—so many middles of romances left unread by those who read their last pages first. When I remember each past first kiss, it is in a mirror half obscured by the future reflected in it. One love is forever caught underwater where it gasps for air. Another is ashes floating out in rings to touch the edges of a lake which is shrinking inward from its banks, as though in complicity to aid their settling along its edges. Another lies in small droplets of blood on a road where it was ambushed, too late to be a message of anything but regret for love that died before the lover and a lover who died too soon. There are all these deaths of loves—like a class for the unfortunates who, kept in after school, are made to trace their lines again and again in the belief that love is taught by repetition and that wisdom comes from practice.

 

Just Testing

Bloggers know this, but today I’m just reminding us all that best friends need not always be close at hand or even living in the same country. I’m leaving in a few hours to fly back to Mexico. My bags are packed and for the first time, although they are stuffed to the zippers, I’m leaving the U.S. with the same number of bags with which I left Mexico. What I’m not taking back with me are all the close friends and relatives who have made the rigors of traveling worth it. Prime among them is someone you’ve gotten to know a bit during these last few weeks of my trip. A bit of an agoraphobe, he has nonetheless not only paid host to me in his home but has also driven me through six states to visit other loved ones. I release him now, back to his computer and the grass that I am sure he’ll be mowing tomorrow.  Oh, and to Little Duck, for whom he has sole custody, while I merely have visiting rights. Although he goes by the name of okcforgottenman on his blog, he is far from forgotten.


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Just Testing

If I were to choose from all the rest,
you are the one who’d ace the test.
You left your warm and comfy nest
to drive around at my behest.
I do not say it often, lest
you come to see me as a pest,
but though we tease and joke and jest,
you are the one I love the best.

 

The prompt word today was “test.”

Spinal Tap: NaPoWriMo 2016 Day 10–“Book Spine Poem”

Today’s NaPoWriMo Prompt: Write a “book spine” poem. This involves taking a look at your bookshelves, gathering a list of titles and using the titles to create a poem that is seeded throughout with your own lines, interjections, and thoughts. (Did I take the fun out of it by putting all the book titles in italics?)

Spinal Tap

The artist in his studio may anguish behind bars
while right outside his window are nights of rain and stars.
No kindness goes unpunished, my friend’s mother would say
in infinite jest­­­­––she knew that our hearts were young and gay.
She’s all blue shoes and happiness and feasts on cakes and ale.
He looks through a glass darkly as he nibbles on his kale.

When the sun also rises, he goes west with the night––
never seeing sunlight when it is at its height.
Books, paintings and poetry are the edge of man.
We have not seen the whole of him. In fact, we never can.
It is the face behind the face by which he must be gauged–
that face we never see at all if he keeps it caged.

We have the full cupboard of life, although it is not free;
and this world of the makers (whoever they might be)
is ours to pick and choose from, though we must pay the price
when we add our unique nature to others’ sage advice.
Our lives are jigsaw puzzles that each of us must solve
to form a different picture as our lives slowly evolve.

Reading adventure stories of someone else’s strife
cannot compensate us for an empty life.
Revolution from within cannot be won by reading.
To use The Joy of Cooking also takes some kneading.
Dust on my heart collecting–every year there’s more.
A little life is not enough. I must open the door.

We need new names and faces, some are heard to confess,
so who we are inside of them, no one will ever guess.
The husband’s secret shared only with the woman upstairs,
is someone else’s love story. Nobody really cares.
There is a village in the sun. I keep my real life there;
and someday, someday maybe I’ll join it if I dare.

 

http://www.napowrimo.net/day-ten-4/

Vocabulary Lesson: The 7 Word Challenge

https://7words2inspire.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/word-list-week-4/ Write a story or poem making use of as many of these words as you wish: (oneiric cigar shenanigans cold-cocked finish sun-dried knickers) To save you the bother of checking them off, I’ll tell you I used them all—in order. The unbelievers can check them off anyway if they wish.

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                                              Vocabulary Lesson

She was more than irritated. Pissed, really, as she thumbed through the dictionary in search of the word “oneiric.” Any word that needed to be looked up didn’t belong in a “Dear Jane” letter anyway–as though to the very end he was trying to demonstrate his superiority—her inferiority.

Fuck! She slammed the dictionary to the floor, picked up the half-smoked cigar he’d left in the ashtray last night, relit it and surveyed the new paper cut on her index finger. Just one more of his shenanigans, she thought. Right after he’d cold-cocked her with the news that he and she were finished—that he was leaving her FOR HER MOTHER!!!!!!, he’d lit up his Cubano for one more puff before grinding it out and handing her this letter, telling her not to open it until he’d gone.

His finish had been pretty much like their beginning—with him ending up on the floor. But this time she was standing over him rather than lying on top of him. Idly, she flicked an ash into his open mouth, hitting him squarely on his tongue. The sun-dried blood on his lip looked like the smudge of a lover’s lipstick. Around his head were the remains of the crystal candlestick her mother had given them for their wedding.  She sucked at the paper cut, then at the gash across her palm that she had gotten from a shard of the candlestick that had taken a far smaller part out of her than it had out of him.

Far away in the kitchen, the phone rang and rang. Probably her mother. Well, let her get her knickers in a bunch waiting for him. Let her think (for as long as she could put off coming to investigate) that her daughter had reclaimed her property. She was in possession for now and everyone knew possession was 9/10ths of the law. She took another long draw before examining her wounds again.

Then, her curiosity getting the better of her, she moved back to the dictionary to thumb through the o’s. When she’d found the word, she chuckled and looked back at her lost love. Gone from this world, but no one would ever know it if she just shut his jaw and wiped off the bloodstain. As a matter of fact, he’d look downright oneiric!


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f you want to join in the fun, post your story or poem HERE.

https://eternityinabox.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/word-list-for-week-4-submit-your-creativity-to-7-words/

The Proposal

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    Owen “Beleaguered” Servant provided this quote for my next poetry prompt:
    “How quick come the reasons for approving what we like.” – Jane Austen

    The Proposal

    How did you make your way into my heart?
    Quick, tell the answer before we next part.
    Come into my comfort, then comfort me back.
    The way of the pair beats the way of the pack.
    Reasons are given for all that we do–
    For the ways that we love and the ways that we woo.
    Approving my actions in loving you is
    What wins you my love and wins you this kiss.
    We swear to each other that we will be true
    Like all the lovers in storybooks do.

    Like brides and their bridegrooms and lieges and kings,
    We shall swear our obeisance and seal it with rings.
    What others have done is what we will do.
    Approving tradition will make one of two.
    For the rest of our lives, if they revile and chide us,
    Reason’s not the only thing that will guide us.
    The love we keep strong will keep us together.
    Come be my steed, and I’ll be thy tether.
    Quick, take my hand and give me thy pledge.
    How we’ll kiss in the meadow and roll in the sedge.

    (Judy’s note: If you haven’t already noticed, please look for the quote within the poem.
    Actually, it is repeated twice. Hint: Look at the bold words.)

    Listen to the Babe was the person who invited me to do this three-part prompt.  See her blog HERE.