Tag Archives: teenage angst

Sixteen

Sixteen

She met him at the harvest dance.
An act of fate, they met by chance.
The very first grown man she kissed,
he was a traveling journalist,
and she had barely got love’s gist
when he vanished in the mist.
For reference, she had not any.
She had not made love with many
and those she’d had were only boys,
as unacquainted with the joys
of mature love as she had been,
for they were only kids, not men.

She found it tedious at best
to spoon with any of the rest,
and yet she tried, and kept a list
in which she rated and she dissed
those teenage lovers that were left
once journalism left her bereft
of seasoned lover who had pleased her
whereas all the rest just squeezed her
wrong, somehow. They smacked and cuddled,
yet, somehow, they all just muddled
what she’d had occasion once, perchance,
to experience at the harvest dance.

She finally devised a plot
wherein she could improve her lot.
She’d do a deed of much renown
to draw her lover back to town.
And this is why she planned the prank
wherein she would rob the bank.
Of course she’d send the money back.
The larcenous gene she seemed to lack,
but this would create so much news
that she was fairly sure he’d choose
to come investigate the crime,
and that would be the perfect time
to improve her skills of woo.
He’d be her prey and she’d count coup.

For a week, her schemes just perked.
She watched and waited, planned and lurked

watching for the perfect time 
to enact her lovelorn crime.
And, finally, the time seemed good.

She donned a long-armed cloak with hood,
took her daddy’s gun and, masked,
said “Stick ’em up” when she was asked
if she was seeking to deposit,
distressing her, it seems, because it
seemed to  cause so little pause,
from the teller, perhaps because

the teller, who was also masked,
gave her a sucker before she asked
what transaction she might mean
to request on this Halloween!

And so it was the plot was foiled.
By mistiming, her plans were spoiled.
She abandoned larceny
and resumed her tomfoolery
with the local high school boys
wherein they all discovered joys
by practice to bring that surcease
she’d sought to learn by expertise.

 

Prompt words for today are journalist, referencetedious, list and pleased.

First Love

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First Love

That frisson of excitement that I once knew so well—
that doubling of my pulse rate that rang me like a bell.
Back when there was no contest over which would win
when impulse clashed with custom. Back when passion was no sin.
The sum of all that feeling sent us crashing into life—
before you were a husband, before I was a wife.

Remember how exciting those first love wanderings were?
Those first stirrings of passion that made us stretch and purr
like felines on that blanket stretched out on the grass?
Our love was a religion and each touch a holy mass.
Our loving was eternal up until the time we parted
and each became a memory of when loving first started.

Prompts today are sum, double, frisson and contest.

Limbo

 

Limbo

My best friend taught me about limbo and saints,
Showed me their stacks of National Geographic.
You had to be invited into membership, she said,
not everyone could join. I rated them against
my mother’s Ladies’ Home Journals

and felt deficient, somehow.

No wine in our Methodist kitchen cupboards.
No tuna and salmon tins
stacked up awaiting Friday.
All those cans on my friend’s mother’s shelves in limbo
all Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,

that long summer when we were still twelve.

Wanting something we didn’t yet know the name of.
Restless stirrings the little boys our age 
did not know how to respond to.
All of them inches shorter than us
 except for one—a tall country boy
new to town school,
the most innocent of all.

How we waited to be chosen—
the fact that we’d already chosen in our minds
having little consequence.
How we watched. How we kept secrets,
even from each other.

I knew what to call it, at least,
if not much else,
that summer I turned thirteen,
expectantly,

and
absolutely
nothing changed.

Limbo.

The dVerse poets prompt is “Limbo.”

But Jimmy Cliff says it best!!!!

And “Limbo” of a different sort was two years in our future: 

The Leech

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proclaimed to be fine,

The Leech

They’ve plugged up their ears to muffle his mutterings.
They’re tired of his self-serving utterings.

He’s an indulgence they’d like to be shed of,

expunge from their sofa and free their spare bed of.

He thinks it’s tradition that they should take care of him,
yet they’d prefer that their house just be bare of him.

He’s a caricature of self-indulgence,
wallowing in familial abundance.

They need to be boxing his ears or possessions
and signing up for codependency sessions.

They’ve supported him well and sent him to college,
imbued him with clothes, with playthings and knowledge.

Now he needs to be kicked out to find his own life—
to be taught by experience, seasoned by strife.

Lest they make a mongrel of a fine pup,
it’s time they encourage their boy to grow up!

 

 

The prompt words today are tradition, caricature, indulgence and boxing.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/12/26/rdp-wednesday-tradition/
FOWC with Fandango — Caricature
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/12/26/your-daily-word-prompt-indulgence-December-26-2018/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/12/26/boxing/

Generational Drift

Generational Drift

It’s a symptom of their stage of life,
a product of their age.
Adolescents have to disagree
and posture, pout and rage.

That teenage chemical is now
rampaging through each vein,
bringing self-doubt, embarrassment,
confusion and disdain.

Nothing so discomforting
as advice of a parent.
Teens crave emancipation,
but go through with it? They daren’t.

They may neglect their family time
in favor of their friends.
The list of what is wrong with you?
Somehow it never ends.

If you could just dress better,
they might find it easier to
admit you were their parents
when they run into you.

But as it is they meet your eye,
their own eyes simply narrowing.
They walk by like a stranger.
To address you would be harrowing.

You rip your jeans and cut your hair
so it looks freshly tumbled,
but you cannot please them.
If you try, you will be humbled.

“Gross,” they’ll say, “You’re not a kid,
so why attempt to be one?”
But if you keep your present look,
they’ll say that you are no fun.

How can one be as old as you
and not know anything?
For their advice, they’ll go online
to consult the I Ching.

Ouiji boards and seances
bring advice from the past.
It seems words really ancient
contain more of a blast.

So parents, do not anguish
if you can’t reach your at-hand kids,
Just wait ’til you have passed away
and talk to your great-grandkids!

The prompt today is symptom.

First Love and the School Reunion

Then and Now

First Love

Zing! went our heartstrings. Zang! went our souls.
Eyes filled with wonder, hearts cupped like bowls
ready to fill  with passion and love.
Putting each other on like a glove.

First kisses miracles we’d never known.
No longer single all on our own.
Someone to cuddle, someone to spoon.
Hand holds and lip locks over too soon.

Misunderstandings, squabbles and fights.
Heartbreak and lonely Saturday nights.
Then a new glance from cars “U”ing  main.
Flirting and wooing all over again.

More hugs and kisses parked on a hill.
How to forget them? We never will.
At school reunions, we relive those lives,
husbands beside us, or boyfriends or wives.

Talking of other things: study halls, games,
but always remembering carving those names
in desktops and memory—first loves forever—
tendrils that bind us that we cannot sever.

We’ll soar ahead to the rest of our lives,
collecting new memories—bees in our hives.
But no honey finer than that we made first.
No sweeter lips and no stronger thirst.

Stored in our hearts, remembered but hidden,
hoarded like treasures sealed in a midden,
our lives are made richer by both now and then.
Past memories opening over again

spill out old secrets, then seal them away
to be unwrapped on some future day
when old schoolmates meet for two days’ reminiscing
of school pranks and ballgames and homework. And kissing.

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The prompt word today was “Zing.”

In Cold Blood

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                                                        In Cold Blood

I’m sure that the horrible, violent and senseless murders described in Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood captured the imaginations of most of us in the U.S. Unaccustomed to such vivid descriptions of such violent acts, what small town family did not start locking their doors at night?

The slaughter of the rural farm family occurred on Saturday night, November 14, 1959; and although Capote’s book was not published until 1966, the press made much of it at the time it happened and I was well aware of most of the details of the murder of the father, wife and teen-aged children—a boy and a girl––as well as the capture of the two men who had murdered them. I was especially affected by the sad detail of the discovery of the girl’s Sunday School money tucked into her shoe in the closet. Whether she heard the men breaking in and hid the money so it would not be found or whether she placed it there so she wouldn’t forget, the detail has the same poignancy

After the murder, as I lay in bed at night––especially on summer nights when I found it even harder to surrender to sleep than during blustery cold nights in the winter––I often thought to get up and check the doors again: the front door, the door to the garage, the door from the garage to the mud room, the door to the basement and the back door off the pantry that led to the back porch. All had push-locks accessed by a key from the other side.
On one night in particular, that summer that I turned 13, I lay awake listening to the night sounds that streamed in through my screened window. My window adjoined the front door stoop and it suddenly occurred to me that anyone could slice the screen and easily enter. I got up from bed to close the window and open the air conditioning vent in the floor under it. While I was up, I decided to check all the doors again. All were securely locked except for the lock to the back “porch” which was really just a platform four or five feet wide with a hand railing that ran the entire length of the house from the back garage entry to the pantry/kitchen area.

The pantry held a sink for my dad to wash up in when he came in from the ranch, and since we rarely locked our house, many times he would just walk along this platform/porch and enter the house from the back where he pulled off his boots and emptied his cuffs off the back porch so he wouldn’t track wheat chaff or mud or other souvenirs of his day’s work through the house. Then he’d wash his hands and neck and face in “his” special sink and make his way to his rocking chair in the living room, where he’d spend the rest of the day resting until supper and reading before bed.

This platform/porch was actually quite a distance above the ground because our lot was on a small hill that sloped from front to back and right to left. This enabled the windows in the basement to be above ground level, whereas there were no windows at all in the front of the basement. On this particular night, I stepped out onto this roofless sideless porch platform. I could see the big dipper and part of the little dipper and the thousands of other stars in the summer sky, but I didn’t know the names of any of the other constellations.

I could smell the newly cut grass that my mother had mowed in the early evening of that day, after the sun had gone low in the sky. I remembered when I was little how my dad was less tired by the time he got home and so he’d mow the huge lawn around the old house. My mom would come after him with the lawn sweeper that collected the grass cuttings in a huge canvas cube open at the top to dump the grass into a huge pile by the gravel road where we kids would build nests and play bird. I was the baby bird fed imaginary worms or, if we’d had the right dinner, sauceless spaghetti, by my older sister.

By my teen years, however, my dad would be too tired when he got home from a day that started at 5 or 6 in the morning and often didn’t end until 8 or 9 at night if they were cutting wheat. His life was a hard one and I often wondered if he resented coming home to daughters reading on their beds or talking on the phone to friends.

Did it seem unfair to him that he worked so hard to support daughters and a wife who had such a life of ease? Although I had not yet started to really write, except for a diary I once kept for a few months or assignments for school, I did have an active imagination; and from a very early age, I had concocted elaborate stories all involving imaginary selves of the future.

Now on this night, I wondered why that door that I had checked before coming to bed to read was now open! Who and why would anyone open a locked door? As I lay thinking, I heard the door to my parents’ bedroom farther down the hall open. I could hear my father’s heavy barefoot tread turning not to his right—to the bathroom between their room and my sister’s––but instead to the left. Down the long hall to my room, the entrance hall, the kitchen, the mudroom and the back porch. I could hear the door opening and a few minutes’ delay before he padded down the hall again and closed his door.

Chill. I felt it zoom down my spine, hit my tailbone and ricochet back up to my brain where it froze the back of my head. I waited. For five minutes, and ten. Barely breathing. I cracked my door and when I could again hear my father’s loud snores, I sneaked back out to the door to the back porch, which was once again unlocked. As quietly as possible, I pushed the button lock in, then returned to bed where I remained vigilantly awake for the rest of the night. Twice more, my father got up to unlock the door. Twice more, I got up to relock it.

During all those long hours before dawn, I imagined the scenario. My father, formerly my protector, allowance provider and generous benefactor to the pleasures of my life—turned in my mind into plotter. He, too, had read all of the coverage of the Kansas murders, and it had given him ideas.  He had hired a man to sneak in, to bind him up and leave him helpless and then to kill us all. He wanted to be free. He was tired of his idle daughters, tired of his wife.

My father had, previous to this, gone through one of his week long silent periods where we knew he was upset about something—cattle prices, the threat of hail before harvest, my mother or us. We never knew what caused these silent periods where he would speak to none of us and sometimes even move to the basement to sleep. They never lasted over a week and afterwards he would be our same joking, generous, hard-working dad. But during those times, we tiptoed. We tried to cajole and charm, but it didn’t work. If we asked if he wanted his head rubbed, we were met with a curt sideways bob of the head or a “Not tonight!”

This was unheard of at other times, when we’d ask for money for a new dress or the show and he’d answer with, “Ya. Rub Pa’s head!” We’d do so, and then the wallet would come out. Not that we didn’t rub his head gratis as well. It just got to be a joke—this returning of favor for favor. Then he’d hand us his wallet and put his hand over his eyes, like he didn’t want to see what we’d take. We’d always show him, though. Was this okay? It always was.

At times other than his silent periods, he was our loving dad. Proud of us. Funny around guests, and talkative, but when home alone with us, usually tired––sleeping or reading one of the piles of magazines and books that lay on the long coffee table beside his chair. I mention the silent periods as an explanation of why I might even in my most fertile imagination conceive of an idea that my dad would be capable of planning to “off” his entire family.

But, imagine it I did. I became the protector of our family that summer, lying awake for as long as I could to listen for my father’s footsteps down the hall. And this was not the only night that he got up once or twice to unlock that back door. I never said a word to my mother or sister. I perhaps told my best friend, thinking if my protective efforts failed, at least one person could point the way to insuring the perpetrator of my demise came to justice.

In later years, I forgot about that terrifying summer and went back to loving and admiring my dad almost as much as before, but by then there was a difference. Whether it was caused by radical ideas picked up in my sixties college life and my need to define myself as more modern than my parents—who were themselves quite liberal––or a vestige of that summer of distrust, I’ll never know.

By the time my dad died eleven years later, they’d sold the house in town and moved to a smaller house they built a mile out of town. It was to escape town taxes, my dad always said, but I’ve always thought that for him it was a return to his early homestead days in another house with nothing in view but prairie grasses and a big weathered barn. This new “country” house built by my parents after I left high school was closer to town than the homestead of my grandparents, but was within sight of the big red barn of a farm he’d bought years ago for a hired man and his family to live in and afterwards rented out. The barn sat squarely between my parents’ new modern modular and the old farmhouse. There was a small lake nearby with otters and where the wild geese landed overnight in their migrations.

It was one summer night when I was home from college for vacation that my dad got up from where he’d been sleeping in his chair and walked through the hall and kitchen and out the back door of the house.

“Where do you think he’s going?” I asked my mother.

“Oh, he likes to go out to sniff the night air and have a pee in the dark,” she said with a chuckle. “He loved to pee off the back porch of the house in town at night, even though it was so much farther away than the bathroom. I never could convince him not to do it. I worried that the neighbors would see him. But I think he thought it saved water, or perhaps it just reminded him of his youth—peeing out the back door of the house into the night air.”

This post was written in response to Elyse’s scary babysitting piece which you can read here:  http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/2012/08/01/all-the-cool-kids-are-doing-it/

 

 

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Druthers

What child does not plot and yearn to turn into a teen?
What teen does not look forward to leaving that age between?

Adults can drive and travel and stay up rather late.
They never have to introduce their parents to their date.

Adults do as they wish. They live at their own bidding–
at least until they marry and start in their own kidding.

Then once again they hustle to their family’s beck and call,
so it would seem that no one has a favorite phase at all.

For family life may leave us feeling exhausted and harried.
I guess the ideal phase, then, is perpetually unmarried!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Golden Age.” If you had to live forever as either a child, an adolescent, or an adult, which would you choose — and why?

Anger (Anagram Poem)

With my Open Studio to set up today, I don’t have time to wait for the Daily prompt, so instead I’m using a prompt suggested by Sam Rappaz. The Prompt: ‘Anagram poem‘. These poems are adopted from the word games that we find in newspapers. The rules are: End words must be derived from four or more letters in the title. Words which acquire four letters by the addition of “s” are not used. Only one form of a verb is used. (Thanks, Sam Rappaz. You can see her Anagram poem here.)

Just for the fun of it, I’m going to try to use the words Anagram Poem for the challenge, but instead of using those words as the title of my poem, I’m using a word derived from them:

Anger

All through our lives it lingers near.
It hovers close over her infant’s pram,
where his mother’s soothing words manage
to calm his cries of distressed rage.
Yet what he sows is left to her to reap.
His distress squelched may turn in her to anger
as at midnight, with the seventh remop
of the day, the angst supressed all day is allowed to range
unfettered, growing from a silent pang
to a depression best escaped from with a rope.

Who imagined this, that wild night after prom
when he first held her breast, a glowing pear,
and she, at last, met his questing grope
not with a “No” expressed clean off the page
of the pamphlet given by her gram;
but rather by a passion that rang,
on that one night, truer with every groan.
His muscled back, her throat, her golden mane.
Her naked thigh pressed to the gear.
For once, her lover given no cause to mope.

And for a day, a week, a month, that golden night remained a poem.
Until the time-worn ending added one stanza more.
Telling her grandma and her gramp.
That long journey up the nuptial ramp.
That fast trip from teenager to ma’am.
With lightning speed, from car seat to manger
and the clock watched, and his absence, and this overpowering midnight rage.

 

NaPoWriMo Day 5: Two Poems

For our fifth prompt, we were asked to take a famous poem and use each word, in sequence, as a last word in each of our lines. I chose “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound.

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.  

Here is my poem:

Dateless Saturday Night

How she worries the
puzzle of her 16 years, her face an apparition
in the mirror of
her window. These
nights with no other faces
in them, no other voices in
them. She sits alone, apart from the
cool crowd,
plucking her own petals,
“He loves me. He loves me not” playing on
her radio, a
hand holding one more piece that doesn’t fit, wet
with her dew, the whole world black
grackles on a leafless bough.

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That was so fun, I did another, this one based on Robert Frost’s “Devotion.”

The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to the ocean–
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.

Here is my second poem:

The

Changing “a” to “the”
is something the heart
will not do before it can.
It is not a matter of what we think,
but rather of
how we must. No
“should” can prompt devotion.
Nothing in our small lives is greater
than loving, than
being
loved. In our pursuit of it, we search for the shore
we were born to drift to,
swell towards the
home the ocean
of our being wants for us, holding
our happiness in the
breaker’s last curve.
What we are made of
is this becoming one––
curling from our lonely position
toward our safe harbor, counting
our failures shore after shore with an
aching to find the one. This seeking? It is endless,
and makes our world in its repetition.