While in a moment of reverie
I began to trace when I’d lived alone.
A couple of times, I lived in a room by myself.
Once was a-way back in early college days.
I wasn’t all alone, though.
There were other girls in the house
Inhabiting their single rooms.
Later, where I worked, there was Staff Housing.
But that wasn’t all alone either,
Again, each person had a single room.
Just a place where it was singular living.
So…when have I lived alone?
As my reverie continued, I had to ask myself,
“What does ‘living alone’ mean to me?”
Is it when the place you live in
Is not shared with another living thing, or
Another human being in a caring, loving relationship?
Or living with that singular sense of aloneness inside,
Even when other life forms are around you?”
I had to answer, “All of the above.”
My times of living alone have to include
Many of the years of my thirty-two year marriage.
Living alone came gradually as the caring,
Loving relationship was disintegrating.
When living together turns into being single together,
There is an aloneness of a singular experience.
I began to experience more about living alone
When I “house sat” my brother’s home in another city.
Even having some familiarity with where I was
Did not take care of me as much as I needed.
Finding my way outside of that which I knew,
Having to take care of the details of a car accident,
All contributed to creating a nightmarish experience.
Then came that which I call really living alone.
The house in which I lived no longer resounded
With the sounds of family living.
No longer any children’s records’ sounds
From the stereo in the living room.
My piano in the cellar was silent.
Since the players had moved away.
The laughter and arguments were gone, too.
But I was still asking,
“Was I living alone now?”
The players of the piano would come back now and then.
And they’d bring their little ones to play
The children’s records on the stereo in the living room.
They will come for Holiday get-togethers, and
Of course they will come spend Mother’s Day with me.
Wouldn’t they now?
And in between they will telephone
Just to ask how I’m doing
And to tell me their latest news.
Sure, they will, won’t they?
After my youngest telephoned in the afternoon,
My question was still with me.
“Hi, Mom. Could you take care of the boys for me while I go—–
You don’t sound too good. Are you alright?
I hate to ask, we haven’t been over for a while.
It will be a chance to spend some time with your grandsons.
We love you. The boys miss you.”
When their visit ended, living alone felt palpable.
Next I call the second to be born to me,
Greeting her cheerfully. “Hi, how are you?”
“Tired. I’m working pretty hard at my job.
I don’t have time for anything.
Oh, I went out with the girls last Saturday.
And, Oh ya, I am going on a Benefit walk next Sunday.
Outside of that I don’t have much time for myself.
Have you heard from my sister lately?
I don’t know what her problem is.”
Her question hangs in space, unanswered,
While I called another to let him know I’m alive.
“Hello? Is ‘at you? This is me. How you doing?
Haven’t heard from you for an awful long time.
I’m just around the corner,” I reminded him.
“Ya, I know. You just woke me up.
I started work at 5 a. m. this morning
And I didn’t get home until ten last night.
Talk to you some other time.”
As I say “Good bye”, I remember,
My first born walked away from his family
Years ago and had not returned.
Longing to have him home again
Floods my heart as time passes on
While my life has answered my question.
© 1992 Eleanor F. (nee Johansson) Gamarsh is a mother, crafter, writer and multi-media artist. She lives with her husband Fred in Gardner, Massachusetts. She participates in GALA’s Open Mic Poetry Readings, exhibits her art, and has contributed poetry to a published book Inspirations and Expressions 2012. Her poems have appeared in her local newspaper, the Gardner News, and her essay “On Mother’s Day Gifts” was featured on the front page in May, 2016.
Uncle Mortimer had a theory there’s nothing sacred
which he set out to prove.
Ate his way like a weevil
through family business law church the Masons and three
wives before I got to know him.
I don’t trust you
Uncle Mortimer I said and he said I had good reason,
laughing and returning my pewter ashtray from
his pocket to the table. Don’t turn your back he said
I like you.
Then get your hand out of my crotch I said,
Is nothing sacred?
I suppose that you’re inviolate?
Very nearly I said at least selective.
Uncle Mortimer philosophically are all
subjective you show me any real reason to
refrain from anything or for that matter to
do anything I’ll show you a game the rules
like fences in your head Blake’s mind-forged manacles
he said blowing his nose on a flag he carried for that
I couldn’t live without those fences I told him.
More likely you couldn’t die I have nothing to die for.
People are always making contracts you poets for instance
twist everything you want to say to make it fit
some arbitrary form people are always building
altars to sacrifice their Isaacs on people
are always organizing clubs to keep other
people out of always drawing boundaries
saying MINE well property is theft if you
really want to end war crime racism injustice
just remember one man’s sacred cow is another’s
It won’t work I said.
Well you just tell me
What does? You think if we just keep on pulling up
and putting in fences we’ll finally get it right?
what about your theory nothing’s sacred? I
What about it?
I mean suppose it’s wrong
suppose I went over to that bureau drawer and pulled
out something sacred and you saw it and knew right then
it really was?
He watched me warily.
I said I wouldn’t I don’t trust you and besides
the bureau drawer’s not where I keep it but suppose.
You’re lying! he screamed
and clutched his sacred theory close.
I don’t trust you! he screamed
and fled into the night.
[Judson Jerome was an internationally-renown poet whose work was featured in many literary journals at home and abroad. For years, he wrote a column on poetry for Writer’s Digest. In 1973, he retired to live with his family in a rural commune, from which he continued to be involved in free-lance writing, speaking and publishing through Trunk Press. Jerome died in 1991. The featured poem in the public domain, is published with Jerome’s permission, May 1977.]
JUST A POEM…
Just another breath,
Just another fall with cold wind blowing in my face
Just another person telling me I am wrong,
Just another story
Just another song
Just one more love to shine on my face,
Just two green eyed monsters to replace.
Just another soul to catch
THE SHORT LIFE OF THE PURE WHITE CALF
The white-out blizzard continued for two days, leaving it impossible for James to check on the barn. Although it was half a mile away, he knew he would surely be lost if he ventured out. The animals had food and water and would be warm enough with their wind turbine heaters.
What James did not know is Marsalis, his favorite cow, was giving birth to a pure white calf, with sparkling green eyes. Marsalis had delivered six calves already, so James was not worried as the previous deliveries were so easy. They were finished ten minutes from start to finish. This birth was not the same. Marsalis was in labor for twelve hours as the calf refused to come out. Knowing what was facing it, it wanted to stay in the dark warm comfort of its mother. Hearing her mother’s heartbeat growing slower and slower, she decided at last to emerge. Sadly, it occurred too late. With a final push Marsalis pushed out the calf and her heart gave out before she could even see what she had made.
The gods and goddesses looked on at the calf, knowing it alone could defeat Fenrir, but only if the farmer was quick to sacrifice it in its innocence. So they clamored their powers against the ice giants and calmed the storm around the farm. James, believing he was in the storm’s eye, took the moment to go to the barn and check on his family’s future. Finding the calf covered in blood and filth, he half-expected it to be dead. Instead, upon closer inspection, he found his childhood friend Marsalis had died instead. Cursing the gods and not having a way to feed it, he killed the calf. He butchered it. His family ate veal that night. What they did not know was, with every bite, every morsel they swallowed, they were devouring humanity’s last chance at surviving a frozen death soon to take them all.
THE LIBRARY IS A MAGICAL PLACE
The library is a magical place, but this one was especially magical. Its’ books could think, and even change if they chose to. Often authors would come here after death to check on their books, and chat with the wizard that ran it.
THE LIBRARY IS A MAGICAL PLACE
One particular book was most problematic. It believed it would stay forever young, so it always came back late, and then would quickly fly off the shelf. Peter Pan was the most mischievous book, followed closely by Tom and Huck, but never surpassed. Peter Pan caused the young to dream and hope for a world they could never reach, and have grand adventures that most of them outside of the book would never have. The book didn’t care; it would replace the name Wendy, Michael or John with the name of the one reading it. Unless it was a grown up, then Mr. Darling, and Captain Hook’s name would be changed for the readers. This caused great distress for adults who came back to read their favorite childhood friend.
Peter was finally lost by a clumsy lad who on the way walking home dropped him out of the hole in his bag. Never frightened Peter lay there waiting to be found, knowing a real life adventure was soon to abound. One day…two days…he lay on the street being trampled over by many feet. Passersby not having a clue about the magic that was so close. Finally, Peter having enough, flew to the home of the boy who had lost him to find him waiting as his perfect companion. The boy did not search for him, as his body never made it home. He would never more age, but stay forever young. Peter opened his pages and let the boy’s spirit into Neverland where they were forevermore friends. With his pages much heavier, he flew through the air, carefully landing himself in the library. For once he wasn’t late. No fee to be had, and Peter the book was forevermore glad. His mischievous ways were finished, for what is said is true–“a book is only lonely if it doesn’t have you.”
PENCE AND THE PINING TREE
The tree longed for a companion as it was planted in the center of a grave yard. Squirrels did not even dare to cross the cursed graves of the young ones buried there. Under and around their small coffins the roots entwined. Sucking up the nutrients, pain, and sorrow left behind. Its trunk twisted as the sorrow it felt with no comfort from the spirits about it turned inward, growing fat and its needles half-falling down.
A PINE IN THE WINTER
With age it grew bitter at the lack of visitors who came, save for one caretaker that during the summer, a few times, would mow. His sister was one of the carcasses left without rest, never at peace. The babes were killed for one reason…unjust, they were the offspring of those the government did not trust. So they snatched them up out of their cribs, while the conservatives cheered and the liberals mourned. Children of the LGBT buried better off never born. The pine tree grew angry and at last was cut down and his body used as a coffin of the infants’ killer (profound). Yes, Pence, will be buried in the pine and his soul trapped inside, the angry wood trapping his soul for all time.
At the earth’s beginning to say it was loud, would be the most severe understatement ever contrived. A blinding noise that shook everything, a noise so loud you could not see or hear. Rocks crashed, lava spewed, and even the proteins mixing in the sludge pools to make life sloshed about. When the first magical beings saw what was going on he knew the noise must stop, or it threatened to deafen the whole world.
He did not want a world without human and nature’s music spreading into the galaxy bringing hope to endless worlds. So he did what he could not destroying the noise, but splitting it. As a conductor with his symphony he split it up, spreading it out across all of time. Giving voice to the piano, the tree frog, most humans, and even the crickets. Yet the earth still shook as the noise was not contained. His work threatened he chose that some lives would be the cost of the music he designed. As the cost of all magic is life. He created storms to harness the earths roar to imprison it in the sky.
Storms would kill humans, but would allow them to sing, destroy cities, but allow them to mourn, burn down forests, but allow them to be reborn. The silence can only be attained due to the destructive power, when the noise calls out from its lightning cage. Someday it will escape and devour our world, but until then we may listen to it rage. When the lightning flashes, or you hear a doorbell know there is a cost to the magical creatures spell.
THE HEARTBEAT OF THE MORNING MIST
- THE MORNING MIST
He woke early exhausted and thirsty so he slumped to the kitchen for a glass, or three of water. His heart pounding with possibilities of the day before him. Knowing he was going to be able to make a difference, and then see the person who would make him happy with a mere smile. The sky was still dark, so he chatted with Brigid for a while, before looking out over the field of fog, the rustling dried field, and the dark blue grey sky above. Due to him not yet donning his glasses the far edge of his sight was the wood, the trees rising up and down shorter and taller as the slow growing heartbeat of the town. The dogs barked making his chance of going back to sleep impossible, so instead he took to his quill to write about his morning; as the sun rose burning away the nights remnants and the morning fog. Only leaving the cool chill air to remind him of the jacket he should wear, but will probably forget.
He blew the giant fan over the hot desert thinking only of her. His traveling Love traveling the globe seeing it all while all he saw day after day was sand. He worked on his body constantly to make it better for the one he has sought for years. While his heart waited to see her, she shared her longing for him through swirls of bright colors, paint splatters, glitter and pictures from the distant past. Their last departure from each other neither knew if they would ever again see the love in each other’s eyes; so they chose not to say goodbye, but instead had a long embrace neither turning, daring to look back at the love they could only hope to see again.
The man searched his life forever looking where he might find sleep. He searched for exotic mattresses from feathers, water, foam, barley, and gel. He searched from meditation to needles to prayers and once he even sought the wisdom of the high holiness the pope himself. Yet sleep fled from him as a mouse from a cat. He tried every pill from Ambien to melatonin none gave him more than a wink and a blink. He grew up wealthy and had exhausted every red cent searching for the peace and dreams the rest of the world had without trying. Even the poor and starving could sleep. This poor man grew weaker by the day and strangers swore he was old and ancient although his body was not a day over 25. One day on his travels he stopped in a warehouse to seek what beds they may have to bring him rest when he came across the most magical thing he had ever seen. A pink and white casket, such beauty could only be seen in the dreams of children and vanilla cake with pink icing. He walked up next to it to peer inside. It was velvet and soft and welcoming so he climbed inside his bones aching and creaking and he used the last of his strength to climb inside and find his eternal peace.
THE PINK PANTHER FINDS HIS REST
[James Merritt is a gifted writer of poetic sketches and vignettes. He lives in Maryland…and other places. His soul roams the universe. We are pleased to feature his work in Columnist With a View (columnistwithaview.com) We hope you will enjoy these recent word pictures.]