The Thing About Notebooks

Is they’re ordinary
basic
inexpensive 
collectors of
dreams
disappointments
mileage
scribbles
doodles
facts and figures
A crayon mark 
or two
Sometimes they’re blank 
like a mind can feel
or like a sadness
or a fresh start, 
a new beginning 
with the possibility of an end
or eternity
Sometimes they're a continuation of ideas

The thing about notebooks
the containers of one's soul, 
potential, 
possibility,
is people dismiss them as mere notebooks
without appreciating the fact
that anyone who bothers with a blank page
may never be the same

The thing about notebooks
is the infinite variety in which they’re bound, 
that people want to read them
the ones that are filled fat with words, 
oozing with thought,
seeping with taped in mementos
receipts,
tickets,
love letters
to do lists
notes
a thumbprint
coffee stains
and the magnificence 
of what’s contained in the creator’s mind
somehow finds its way
into the world 
leaving an indelible mark
on those lucky enough to read them
Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Happy Halloguin

I belonged in a family that semi-celebrated Halloween
Nana said we'd go to hell,
it's the devil's festival
But my pastor uncle, 
took us to almost every house
in our small town, 
twice
always starting 
on the good side of town,
the ones that gave out mini-candy bars
and never stopping at Nana's
Rule follower me
reminded him we'd already been
to this house or that
"They don't remember, 
go get you some more candy!"

Once, my mom took us trick-or-treating-
one round, no fancy houses, quick-
there are other things to do
"There's candy by the door," 
she instructs Dad.
But it's Monday Night Football 
and the Dallas Cowboys are playing
We return home with our bags
all the lights out
darkness
Where is he?
In the bedroom, 
under the bed
a portable black and white TV 
flickers
mini-figured gray football men, tackling
Dad,  
a pillow propped 
under his chest
lying on his stomach, 
mesmerized.
A bowl full of
black and orange 
paper wrapped
peanut butter nougat candy
untouched,
waiting for us to split it.
"I didn't want anyone to interrupt me."
We give him some of our Snickers, 
his favorite.

I became the family 
makeup artist 
the year all the younger cousins 
were clowns,
costumes cheap
to assemble
and there was enough face paint 
to go around 
transforming my little brother
into a skull
Charged with getting everyone 
out the door, 
I don't remember them 
paying me 
with candy.

I got married 
one Halloween
my engagement ring 
cost a dollar
A white fuzzy pipe cleaner 
looped into a circle
a rock salt crystal gem
hot glued 
to the top
"I do." 
"I do."
And that was that,
teen-aged Halloween carnival vows
without the promise of forever
Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Which Story Do I Tell?

Of all the tiny stories that make up a day
a week, a month?

Do I tell the one about being unable
to make it to my cousin's funeral,
the one who was like a sister when we were kids
but somehow we grew up and drifted
our separate ways like a dandelion seed
puffed out of someone's wish?

Do I tell the one about how I missed 
first day of school pictures?
The one my husband took that wasn't full
of smiles and eager tween bubbles giddy to meet
friends in person once again?
The one with one less in the picture because
that one is enrolled in the University of Life?

Of all the tiny stories, which one do I tell?

Do I tell the one about the caterpillar in its
terrarium?
The one I caught wriggling and undulating,
pumping its whole body,
hard,
to shake itself loose 
of its old skin for good,
embracing its metamorphosis
instead of fighting it?

Do I tell the one of all the ordinary things
that add up to a melting pot 
of emotions
and reflection 
and trudging along,
embracing changes but dreading them 
at the same time?

Of all the tiny stories, which one gets to fly?

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The Beginning of the End

Of Another Year

I sent S. back to school in January
the same day I ordered E's cap and gown
for high school graduation
The beginning of the end 
to the first year of middle school
the beginning of the end 
to the last year of high school

E's spring orchestra concert
that was cancelled twice
once for COVID
once for an ice storm
Is that the last time we'll watch him perform?

End of the year contemplation starts in April
not December
Calendars don't go in order around here
The beginning of the end of another school year
Did I do everything that needed to be done?
Is there anything I'm still missing?

Releasing E into the world, even though
he'll still be home for a while
the distance he's created to hang out
with friends one last time brings
the beginning of the end to his dependence
on us

S. turns 12 in June
The beginning of the end of 'tweenhood
We baked a cake on Sunday
at her request for us to spend time together
She cut the last slice in half for us to share
The beginning of endings continue


SOLSC Day 30

Sweet Teeth

Papá in his garden, tending his apricot trees
Papá had a mouth full of sweet teeth
Not a tooth
He liked Folgers instant coffee with
a heaping spoonful of sugar and milk

No tomes café o te vas poner prietita,

He pulled up his long sleeved shirt, 
proving it with his farm tanned skin
I didn't care if my skin got dark 
I took a sneaky slurp of his hot coffee
before delivering it with a small plate
full of chocolate chip cookies
or a thick slice of banana bread
peach cobbler
Mom's 7-Up pound cake 
carrot cake drenched under 
a thick coat of
cream cheese icing
pan dulce
cinnamon rolls

On hot summer days
we greeted him with a tall glass 
of Coca Cola or iced tea
garnished with lemon
accompanied with a side of sweets

When we had it,
a bowl piled high with
scoops of butter pecan ice 
made its way onto his lap,
replacing his straw work hat 

We chatted,
changed the channel to Bonanza
or Gunsmoke reruns,
his favorite shows

Replacing his hat,
the signal he'd had his fill, 
we collected empty dishes

Rising from his seat,
he thanked us
and waved goodbye

He'd return tomorrow, 
his sweet teeth
urging him back

SOLSC Day 19

You Know That One Friend?

who invites you somewhere
new,
adventurous?
you think about going
and you check it out
a few times
You think,
yes, maybe this will
work
Introductions are made
smiles exchanged
still wary
but you feel
content
like the essence of 
who you are 
is 
understood
You keep going on your own
here and there
testing it out
meeting other people
awakening out of your 
otherness
You start chatting
and discover some have 
real friend potential,
outside of this space 
I'd love to hang out in person
sort of potential, 
the oh my goodness,
THANK YOU SO MUCH
potential
It's one thing to fit in,
It's a whole other level of living
 to belong
Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay

Snowstorm Post Script

The sun came out to see what it missed

Plunking water from a detached rain gutter

Plunk, 
plunk-plunk, 
plunk, 
plunk-plunk

Kids back at the park laugh and carry on 
as if the freeze was only a dream

A Mini Cooper Car club member
back at work on a rebuild in the garage,
a can of Bud Light sits on its primed hood
it too, awaits a coat of paint

Two chihuahuas yip against me from across the street
their owner grumbles at them to quiet down

Normalcy hums, 
whatever that means,
zipping through neighborhood streets.
No rush hour zoom, 
but slow casual zips 
scope out damage you can't see 
on neighborhood streets
except for tree limbs piled curbside.

Damage runs deep in burst pipes
empty grocery store shelves
people boiling water to drink.

Shovels scrape, scrape, scraaape 
against concrete driveways
saws groan at broken tree limbs 
trying to hang on.

The last of the slush sloshes underneath my stride
evidence of snow and ice evaporates
One side of the sidewalk looks more like a post springtime rain shower,
the opposite proves otherwise.

Back outside after a week,
grateful it wasn't worse when it was for so many others.

A dry leaf gently cartwheels in front of me 
as if saying
"I've come back out to play!"

Along with the rest of us, picking up where we left off.