Within Close Range – Candied Abandon

Beside something scrumptious simmering on the stovetop
in an old, enameled, cast iron pan
that looks as if it has cooked a million meals
and I hope will cook a million more
being at Nonnie’s is a sweet tooth’s paradise.

A candy coated, chocolate covered, land of plenty.

Shelf after shelf of saccharine delights.
Coffee candy, toffee bits.
Circus peanuts, caramel nips.
Oooy-gooey turtles in a box of white and gold.
Tin boxes crammed with powdery, crescent cookies that melt in my mouth.

And leave telltale, powdered sugar fingerprints everywhere.

A wealth of sweet treasures easily discovered
in bedside tables and TV cabinets,
atop plush, well-vacuumed, wall-to-wall;
in pockets and purses, and small tin boxes
filled with tiny, hard, fruit-shaped candies.
Creamy, sweet, tart perfection.

Hopped up on sugar, I scavenge for more.

Scanning curio shelves for a glimmer of wrappers
through crystal candy dishes in glass cabinets.
Climbing up on the long, deep, velvety sofa,
reaching for the lid of the porcelain box on the mirror-topped table,
I follow my greedy reflection in the mottled gold glass.

Seeing no misgivings for more than my fill of butterscotch and Bulls-Eyes.

Within Close Range – Best Friends

We try to light it squatting beneath an old, planked bridge.
Like naughty, little trolls.
Laughing and cursing the unrelenting wind and an almost empty box of matches.
Coughing. Giggling. Coughing.
Startled by the snap of a twig.
Whispering and waiting for something in particular.
Not caring about anything in particular.
Until the tiny roach sticks to my mouth and I wince.
Pulling the burning paper from my lower lip.
Betsy laughs.
Which makes me laugh.
Even though it hurts like hell and my lip is already blistered,
making me to worry about how I’m going to explain the burn to Mom and Dad –
who notice every pimple.
But then I stop caring.
Content to be beside my friend.
Standing firm against the bitter lake winds.
Feeling happy just to be,
we walk beside the tiny creek.
Sudden cravings hasten our final footsteps.
Down the deserted road of my secluded neighborhood.
Stepping over acorns and twigs fallen from late October trees.
Side by side.
Stoned.
Smiling in the comfortable silence of a very, best friend.

Within Close Range: The Greenhouse

Defying the somber shades of dead in a Midwestern Winter,

hidden beneath thick, mean layers of snow and ice.

green was something you could see, smell and touch

in Mom’s greenhouse.

Stepping down into its steamy realm was like discovering a distant jungle.

Moist.

Pungent.

Earthy.

Exotic.

I’d sit on the cement stairs,

arms hanging over the metal railing moist from the humidity.

Galoshes and socks dangling precariously.

Watching Mom dig her hands into a soily concoction.

Inhaling strange, sweet smells of bone meal and blood meal.

Manure and lime.

And life.

Nurtured with the same intensity Mom tended her flock.

Passionate and determined all should flourish.

Cultivating her offspring with a unique and fertile mix of love and cynicism,

melancholy, curiosity and eccentricity.

The Gentle Push

The open road before you.

The gentle push I’ll give you.

Toward those who have much more to teach you.

So sure you know its direction.

Blind curves hidden from your youthful attention.

But that’s okay.

It’s fumbling.

It’s humbling.

It’s finding your own way.

You’re done listening.

Because the whole world is calling.

And my long heard words are falling on deaf ears.

But that’s okay.

Cause it’s fumbling.

It’s humbling.

It’s finding your own way.

That will gently push you back to me some day.

The Tightrope

You said you were committed.

I said I’d be supportive.

But the words don’t sit well.

For your actions tell a different tale.

And your dogged words seem far too determined.

Such blind insistence.

Or path of least resistance?

Ever searching for the answers you want.

All the while ignoring the signs along the road

that might lead to the ones you need.

Neglecting the scattered litter

of past mistakes and warring expectations.

Which I beg to witness at a comfortable distance.

Without uncomfortable and conscripted exchanges

between different people

on different journeys.

Anxious to see a figure on the far horizon.

Hoping they find their way to being kinder.

And more grateful.

But the path keeps twisting and returning

and treading over the same old ground.

Now hardened against new growth.

New possibilities.

New love.

Always looking for something more than that they should be thankful for.

And the peace and simplicity and beauty of the generous road just cleared

is suddenly cluttered.

And claustrophobic.

And strewn with dog treats and decorating magazines.

And the trail becomes a tightrope.

With blindfolded eyes set on some illusive prize at the other end.

Trying to balance on the narrow rope that is constantly off-kilter.

Shaken by opposing desires.

Lack of trust.

Pack of lies.

Loving, but misguided intentions.

Desperation.

Ever the victim.

It’s hard enough to watch.

Don’t ask me to take that wavering walk.

I’m happy here on the ground with my family and friends.

Whose relationships I’ve earned.

Not cajoled.

Not bought or sold.

Which need work.

Here and there.

But are always easy and comfortable.

Trustworthy and sincere.

And certain.

Are you certain?

Of it?

Of you?

Of the rope and where it’s leading to?

Are you certain the links of this coupling are strong,

Not bound by fears of a future alone?

Questions I’ll ask from that comfortable distance.

Hoping you’ll find the prize you seek

beyond such blind insistence.

My Friend

My beautiful friend, with the beautiful smile.

Weighted by fear.

Flattened with worry.

Wanting happiness, but not minding your own.

Keep it simple.

Keep it clear.

Take a long, deep breath.

And another.

Take hold of the thing that gives you power.

That powers your passion.

That fills you with fire.

Be fearless.

You’ll soon find the you that smiles more than once in a while.

And makes you my beautiful friend, with the beautiful smile.