Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Discarded Flower Zen

I found a flower today,
Laying upon a grass verge
That borders a busy highway.

It didn’t belong 
On the grass verge,
That was obvious. 

The flower was a type of orchid
Found on large, tropical trees
In southeast Asia.

Or more likely, in Florida where I live,
Found in floral bouquets
For sale in drugstores, near the checkout counter.

Automobiles on the busy highway 
Screamed by just a few feet away,
Unnerving me slightly.

I looked at the flower
And wondered,
“How did you get here?”

After all, everything has a story.
Even a discarded flower.

Then I looked up 
And noticed other flowers
Of the same type 

Scattered along the road’s edge,
And I assumed 
The flower I looked at

Was indeed once part 
Of a drugstore bouquet.
Thrown from a speeding car, I wondered?

Tossed out in anger to wilt at road’s edge,
While in the car a fighting couple 
Travelled on for miles and miles?

They fought all the way home, I imagined,
Him driving grimly and her crying, 
Both saying things they later regretted.

Yes, like all lovers do.
Even you and your lover, I’ll bet.
I know it’s true about me, and mine.

I gazed at the discarded flower by the side of the road, 
And a little sadness touched my heart.
Luckily, the terrifying scream 

Of hurtling automobiles
Just a few feet away 
Soon distracted me from this kind of thinking!

Get away, Sadness! 
I said to the feeling within myself,
And watch out for that speeding truck!

However it came to exist,
Deserves my attention, too.

Let me enjoy 
This moment of beauty
While it lasts, 

Without fear or distraction.
As I should also 
Attempt to enjoy my life.

Then I looked 
With new, loving eyes of zen
At the beautiful, discarded flower,

And the noise and sadness
Of this world…
Melted into nothingness.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Uneasy Relationship With The Gods (Part Two)

After that, my dad took up 
Drinking pretty seriously.
Which was a surprise because
Until then, I’d never seen him touch a drop.

But he took to it like a fish to water,
If you’ll pardon the expression,
And it changed him 
Into a different person.

One who wasn’t so nice.

Sometimes, getting home drunk,
He’d rage about the house
And scream terrible threats at me for being
The rotten little scumbag sumbitch etc

Who drove my mother 
To an early death,
And robbed him, HIM!!!
Of his only happiness!

Then he’d curse up a storm
And stagger around the house breaking things.
That’s when I’d lock myself in my room
And wait for Dad to pass out.

Don’t worry. 
He passed out every time.

Funny, even though I was just a kid,
I didn’t really believe my Dad
When he said those things.
I knew it wasn’t him talking.

It was his pain speaking.

But the problem was
My Dad believed it 
When, in his drunken rages,
He called me a scumbag sumbitch etc

Who was entirely to blame 
For my mother’s death,
Robbing him, him, etc, etc.
So sometimes he really scared me.

Then it happened again.
My dad came home 
Drunk and storming!
I woke up afraid and locked my bedroom door,

But he must have gone crazy!
He broke down the door
And walloped me good a few times. 
I hurt my arm when he threw me

To the floor… and I passed out.
The neighbors must have called the cops
Because the cops got there 
About the same time as the ambulance men.

This time the ambulance men 
Took my dad away,
Straightjacketed and lashed
 To a chrome-plated gurney.

He was crying hysterically
And pleading to be set free
As they rolled him 
Toward the ambulance.

“Son! Son!” he called.
“I’m sorry!
Say you’ll forgive me, 

I forgive you, father.
With all my heart.

Do you find it funny,
Ye gods above or below?
Did it give you a moment’s amusement,
You pitiless self-satisfied cannibal bastards,

To turn a gentle, kindly man 
Into a raging beast?

Fuck You!

After the ambulance men
Looked at my arm and my bruises
And said I’d be okay,
I went home with one of the cops.

I heard him say to another cop,
“Aw hell! The kid’s got nowhere to go.
I’ll take him home tonight
And see he gets to court tomorrow.”

“Okay, Joe,” said the other cop.
“God, how I hate these domestic calls.
Well, see you tomorrow.”
"Goodnight, sir,” answered Joe.

On the way to Joe’s house we stopped
At an all-night 7-Eleven 
And he bought me a new T-shirt.
Then we went for a burger and fries.

Boy! Was I hungry!
Joe ordered me a second cheeseburger
And when I said don’t forget the fries
He laughed and asked me where I put it all!

Joe was a nice cop,
With kind eyes 
And a ready smile.

His wife was nice too.
She cleaned me up 
And tucked me in,
Just like a real mother would.

They didn’t have any children
Of their own yet, she explained.
“We’ve been trying to have a baby…
But none has come along.”

She smiled sadly and added,
“It must be god’s will.”

Then she kissed my forehead 
And reminded me 
To say my prayers
Before I went to sleep.

“Okay,” I promised.
And I tried to pray, really I did,
But I couldn’t think of 
Anything to say to god.

A god who stole a wife and mother,
Sent drink to take a father,
Cruelly denied children
To a loving couple,

And laughed 
At the torment 
Of a little boy?

Pray to you?
Do you hear me,
 Ye gods above or below?
You pitiless self-satisfied cannibal bastards!

This is Rusty Pliers speaking!

Fuck You! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Uneasy Relationship With The Gods

Here is a poem that tells a story
From the youth of Rusty Pliers.

Listen if you want, 
And be entertained.

Don’t listen if you don’t want,
And remain as you are.

It’s all the same to me.
I get paid either way.

This poem is dedicated to a dear one
I knew many years ago.

I stole parts of this story 
From her life.

The rest of it, I admit, 
Is pure…

Rusty Pliers.

One day when I got home from school,
I found my mother 
On the kitchen floor.
She was moaning and she’d wet herself.

I called 911. 
They told me to be brave, they’d be there soon.
Then I called my dad at work.
He told me the same thing.

This happened a long time ago,
In a place called Los Angeles, California,
That we’d just begun to live in.
My father, my mother, and me.

I was eight years old.

It seemed to take forever 
For the ambulance to arrive,
Waiting on the kitchen floor,
Holding my mother’s head in my lap.

Sunlight streamed in 
Through the window above the sink 
That gave out to the garden.
Mom’s garden. 

Her special place,
Filled with flowers and sunshine,
And of course, her being her,
Filled with love. 

She made a noise and I looked down. 
She stared up with wild, pleading eyes 
And painfully gurgled something, 
I don’t know what.

“What is it, Mom?” I asked.
She didn’t answer, 
But lifted her hands
And reached out

For something that wasn’t there.

Or at least, for something I couldn’t see.
“What is it, Mom?” I asked again,
Not knowing what else to say,
What else to do!

Then she dropped her hands 
And went quiet…
While I rocked her gently
And waited for the ambulance to arrive.

Oh! How I wish to this day
I’d understood what 
She was trying to say 
In that terrible moment!

Do you find it funny,
Ye gods above or below?
Did it give you a moment’s amusement,
You pitiless self-satisfied cannibal bastards,

To torment a little boy 
While he held 
His dying mother 
In his arms?

Fuck You!

The ambulance men finally arrived.
They told me I’d done good,
But now I had to get out of the way
While they helped my mom. 

They gave my mother medical attention,
Then they bundled her
Into a chrome-plated gurney
And rolled her away.

My dad got home after they’d left.
Boy! Was he upset!
He helped me get some dinner started,
Then went right to the hospital.

After that, Dad spent a lot 
Of time at the hospital.

Not me.
I only visited Mom a few times.
Dad made me go, 
But I hated it!

She wasn’t herself anymore.
Her hair had turned white
And she chewed her tongue stupidly
While gazing out with sightless eyes.

Her hand in mine 
Was cold, unresponsive.
She didn’t even know 
I was there.

About eight months later, 
Mom passed away in hospital, 
While at her side my father prayed and wept.
She was thirty-one years old.

I cried too, at the funeral,
Holding my father’s hand
In the big church he attended.
(Children weren’t usually allowed 

In the big church 
With the grownups.
We children attended Bible School.
But that’s a poem for another time.)

I stood beside my father 
In the big, unfamiliar church,
And I couldn’t help myself…
I cried and cried.

I wanted my mother. 

Grownups approached us from the golden pews
And kissed or shook hands with my father.
Then they patted my head, saying,
“Don’t cry, little Rusty.” 

They all said the same thing.
How much I was growing up
To look like my mother…
And how it was a blessing she was dead.

They said she was in heaven now,
Free of pain and sorrow,
Seated at the foot of god.
Or maybe the hand of god, I forget.

“It’s god’s will,” they added,
Nodding to themselves.
“His will be done.

That was easy 
For them to say, 
I thought,
She wasn’t their mother.

As to god’s will…
Can any mortal truly say?