‘such a pretty pretty boy’ Conclusion

.
for Mom
.

And for that entire summer Pretty Boy’s empty cage remained where it had always been, aside one of the two near floor to ceiling, lead glass windows at the rear of our narrow railroad apartment.

The low sills provided an easy view of the wall of four story tenements and scruffy yards, and easier access to the wrought iron fire escapes dangling off the rear of every building. This view, even on the sunniest of days in monotone brown tar shingles, the imposing black painted, zigzagging iron bars and early shadows left little to be hopeful about; like the Escher engraving of the steps to nowhere.

Divorce changes lives in a hurry. But this neighborhood we moved to, tucked away in a forgotten corner of Brooklyn was lifetimes removed from the wide open and manicured green lawns and the single family life we once lived.

The dimming memories felt like someone else’s lucky dreams.

Yet looking back now, sitting on that window sill visiting with Pretty Boy is where I spent much of my time when I was home. Studying the blue intricate beauty of his feathers was such a refreshing anomaly to eyes aching for color, his endless banter one of the few cheerful constants in my already unsteady life. So it really shouldn’t have surprised me that seeing those blue feathers lying so still and quiet, nestled amongst the thin strips of Daily News lining the tray of his cage was enough to bring this 15 year old man boy to tears.

But it did. I struggled to keep my crying quiet, trying to decipher the unwelcome silence from his cage, wrestling with another inexplicable, here one day not here the next, loss. Yet another loss I was unprepared to absorb.

Mom and I sat at the kitchen table and reminisced about Pretty Boy, reminding each other of memories we had forgotten while she breathed in long slow drags of BelAir smokes and longer purposeful chugs of her favorite Schaefer beer. Cradling Pretty Boy in her hands, her chest rising in deep exhales and her lips trembling a little she recalled that fateful day Pretty Boy came home.

Back in the day, in the Long Island town of Hempstead where we lived then, all the shopping centers had a Woolworth store, nicknamed the five and dime. It was a huge place that had miles of aisles filled with toys, cards, tape, ribbons and all the handy little daily items, and right in the middle of the store was their popular pet department.

Mom and I always made a bee line there to see the rabbits, hamsters and turtles and take in the songs and squawks of the yellow canaries and various colored parakeets for sale. All these cute, first kid pets had a high turnover rate, but mom had her eye on one blue parakeet that lingered for months. And despite his cheerleading, the salesman could never convince anyone to take this one bird home.

Pretty Boy was not a very pretty bird, despite his eventual name.

Smaller than the other birds his age, he was missing feathers and wore a pronounced scar on the white crown of his forehead. So mom, ever the devoted animal lover and champion of underdogs decided that day this unloved orphan was coming home with us. The salesman was so ecstatic, he discounted everything we needed to bring him home.

The sales receipt read Parakeet…..99 cents.

.
.
It was only 10am as I watched the ashtray overflow with spent buts and another can of Schaefer bit the dust too. It became clear as I got older that Mom had quite the potty mouth. Pretty Boy only repeated what he heard, a loyal confidant when no one else was there to listen.

I heard a few, very choice words about my grandmother that morning.

Time has a way of dulling the sharp edges of our pain, and karma…well, it has it’s own mysterious timetable administering our just rewards. My grandmother was a hateful woman whose own psychosis and prejudice eventually alienated most of her sons too, there were very few tears shed from the few people that attended her funeral when she died.

It was hard not to notice that familiar warm spark return to her sienna brown eyes the more mom and I talked, that free spirited Irish spunk that was so much of her charm, and despite all she would eventually overcome in a life that never resembled her early romantic dreams, she always retained an empathy for all things living. Mom was a survivor, she persevered, she always did the right thing as best she could.

I’m grateful for inheriting the very best of who she was.

I watched her meticulously wrap Pretty Boy’s blue body in Saran Wrap, tearing thin strips of Daily News to line the cardboard match box he would be buried in. We would have a proper funeral for our little friend. And as she finished taping the edges with her usual care, she looked up mischievously making sure she caught my eye and whispered,

‘God damn shit…God damn shit… God damn shit.’

We both howled with laughter at the image of Pretty Boy thankfully chasing the wicked witch out of our lives that day, shaking our heads in awe that a little .99 bird had so much say in so many lives.

.

As much as this piece was intended to be written about Pretty Boy, the deeper I delved into the writing I realized the story was as much about my mom. So it only seemed fitting on this of all days, unplanned as it was to devote this conclusion to her. Somethings work out the way they should, somewhere mom is reading this story about our Pretty Boy, and

somewhere she’s flashing that impish grin….

021
click to enlarge

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms today!

The Bridge of Time and Promise

dear friends.. i felt the need to write some prose while i worked on the co write poems i mentioned in my last post, the song was chosen not for the title or video but for the close your eyes experience.
.
.
The Bridge of Time and Promise
.
.
Chaos was the default setting in my family. The earliest memory of my uncertain future, was me sitting in the sturdy chrome legged high chair that provided a perfect mezzanine level view of the kitchen table. From the relative safety of that private perch sitting plush as a prince behind my oversized formica tray, I could hear and see everything.

It was a cruel foreshadowing of how I would eventually view the world.

Wednesday meant spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, and not ’50’s style Americanized Chef Boyardee spaghetti either. No, not in our house. I can remember watching for hours while my mom made the meatballs, prepared the ingredients and slow cooked the deep red fragrant sauce on the stove. With her large spoon disappearing into the open topped aluminum pressure cooker to take a sip then dolloping some into my plastic bowl, I was a red saucy mess by dinnertime

Though I was much too young and preoccupied as curious kids are,
to understand exactly what all the words I heard actually meant, I knew something was amiss that night. Kids learn by repetition and it wasn’t until my personal spaghetti feast was suddenly interrupted by a very loud thwack followed by my father yelling at the top of his lungs, did I realize the words ‘not good enough’ was…uhm, not good.

From what I could gather, his ‘not good enough wife’ had once again tried to cook a ‘not good enough sauce’, not like his mother would make it and said sauce and spaghetti ended up on the ceiling in so furious a motion, my mom and I sat in stunned mouth agape awe.

Lost in my kid reverie of seeing something new for the very first time,
I don’t recall hearing the plate crash down on the table but the white porcelain shards were everywhere. The inevitable commotion and chaos trailed quickly down the hallway without so much as a glance from me, I just couldn’t take my eyes off that Rorschach red splatter on the low ceiling.

So there I sat in our little kitchen alone in my high chair, howling with laughter as one by one a spaghetti strand would peel away from the ceiling only to flutter and plop on the linoleum floor.

.
.
Apparently the spaghetti was cooked to perfection, al dente pasta will cling if you toss a strand on the ceiling; an old school trick I learned from my few years as a chef. The recipe is memorized now I’ve made it so many times though I wish just once, mom could have slow cooked
it for her grandchild. Shining that red saucy face grin, my daughter has been happily wearing that sauce since she was in her own high chair.

Mom deserved to live that memory… the world and our lives are less that she didn’t but the regret has tempered with time, and knowing mom would have been tickled that her recipe was still being savored.

And there is solace in knowing the weight of her life has lifted some,

that the generational abuse in our family finally ended with me…

a promise I whispered in my daughter’s ear

the miracle night she was born.

in whatever I have or may succeed,

I find joy in the vast and

tranquil oceans of her innocence.

and my life’s full reward

witnessing the budding dreams

of clean and open sky…

of song and flights of angels soaring…

of pure… in her adolescent eyes.
.
.
as the Universe intended.
.
.

echoes of Autumn…Tanka/Haiku

.
.
.
echoes of Autumn…
.
voices like leaves rustle and
.
scatter to the wind,
.
yet another poet’s pen
.
has sadly been set aside.
.
.
windy-leaves

.
.
a wordless farewell…

like the brightest leaves they fall
.
when their season calls.
.
but just as the memories

of true love always lingers,
.
.
.
creativity
.
and their inspired poetry
.
forever remain.
.
.
.
dedicated to thesilentfingers, Tanumoy Biswas,
Memoirs of a Dragon, cubby and Tiffany Coffman. ty, all.

December’s silent shroud

a song, video and words to explain my silence in December.
.
.

.
.
.
.

the too familiar turns and bends…
.
and statue still are the trees standing sentry tall
.
astride this white and weary Winter road,
.
my incessant journey of so many dreary and crippling seasons
.
recalling the somber memories etched decades deep
.
in gnarled bark and devoted wood.
.
.

how the infinite canopy arches in graceful bows,
.
laden branches kneel in gratitude to the peaceful sleep of snow.
.
i follow the trailing in frail voices of family i’ve lost,
.
of those i long to remember
.
swirling in the sliver of pause between
.
this world and another.
.
.

there is no hesitation in
.
passing through the Gate of Melancholia,
.
i wrap my solitude close in December’s silent shroud.
.
disowning my voice in sequestered quiet honoring memories now,
.
turning ever inward bowing in divine gratitude to those who
.
found me alone along this snowy road.
.
.
.
.

our brave Linda

dear friends this is a writing departure
but i hope by the end you will understand
why it had to be written…ty.
.
.

so what ever
happened to trust?

so what ever
happened to honesty?

so what ever
happened

to caring at all that
a little skin on skin
with someone else isn’t
really gonna’ fill that void?

darlin’
in these past ten years
just how many of your friends
have come to you crying?
yet another marriage up in flames

and now your bestie girlfriend Linda
and my own sympatico soul sister
her heart is now ripped inside out too
found he was cheating 4 of their 16 years

so what ever
happened to everlasting?

so what ever
happened to committment?

so what ever
happened

to caring at all that
a little skin on skin
with someone else just
causes such unbearable pain?

and we thought she was safe
their marriage passed the test of time
and we felt so shocked and helpless
you just listened…letting her cry and cry

and darlin’
you know i don’t get this mad very often
but this news just sucked out my breath
so i just had to put this upset somewhere
and writing poems…it’s how i show i care

look in her eyes

for you Linda
from me

from what souless depths does it begin
or can your smooth deceptions justify
breaking her, piece by piece?

and mouthing your nonchalant swift lies
as if her world was still everything she knew,
spinning on it’s easy axis.

did you really think a day would never come,
that day you could not look in her eyes
and tell her what you’ve done?

crying eyes photo: Crying Eye eye-26.jpg

so yeah,
it was touch and go there for a while
with you coming home late after later nights
being that best friend forever that i know so well

and sometimes it just all works out the way it should

so darlin’,
our brave Linda she slowly found her footing
maybe even sooner than she believed she could
and nailing a framed copy of her poem to the wall
nonchalantly showing that now ex husband to the door
.
.
.
both Linda and Scout, my partner are singers and this song
speaks about the power of music. if you feel like a second read,
please play the song and pick up the tempo the poem was written to.
.