Mr. Richards and Cora

May 26, 2017

 

A Sunday couple in a front pew.
Mr. Richards sat full face to the sermon,
aware of the girls batting eyelashes
toward his designer collars,
his careful graying hair. He walked
among us, distant and slightly amused.
Cora paled beside him, forgotten,
like some pressed flower,
like a plaque honoring a career goal
he once set and met.

With colleagues at his club,
he tasted the steward’s Beaujolais,
the chef’s steak bordelaise,
its flavor rich from the marinade,
Crème brûlée with his evening coffee.
In the kitchen at home she
crumbled cornbread into beans,
her mother’s scarf tightened
around her forehead
like a truss.

When Cora visited his office,
Mr. Richards asked her to type.
She settled in, like an oyster
growing pearls. She opened
the clogged arteries of his files,
warmed his clerks and his clients
to smiles. Now she is the candle
at his corporate lunch,
its honey glow, the halo
he always wanted for his crown.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

Swimmers, painting by Mike Smetzer

Joe Bought a Truck

May 24, 2017

 

Joe’s new truck was one tall ride!
Ram 1500 Sport.
V-8, 8-speed transmission.
Blue-streak-pearlcoat exterior.
Brand new!
With the biggest mud tires the dealer could fit.

We could never afford a wonder like that.
But my brother Joe went down to Foxwoods
and he won. He won big!
So, being a man, and being single,
he bought this truck.

I said, “You could have bought
a lot of ho’s with that money.”
“Think harder, Bro,” he said.
“I bought the Ram.
Now the sluts will jump in for free.
I can drive the girls and the truck!”

To begin with Joe couldn’t really handle
the girls or the truck.
His ego was just this pale little thing
about the size of a baby mouse.
It slept quietly inside a Big Mac wrapper
stuffed between our seats.

What with all the near collisions,
I can’t say I even noticed it the first two days.
But Joe was right about the sluts.
His best play was to park the Ram near
where some muffins in tights would pass.

Then chat them up from inside the cab.
He looked like a cowboy, as long as he
didn’t try to move the truck.
Soon he was helping girls into the cab
and taking them for rides.

He got better at driving and chatting,
and sometimes,
if the girl didn’t know him,
he scored!
Joe’s ego was growing up now
and growing some thick hair
along with a visible pair of balls.

Joe had to take it out of the wrapper
and put it in the toolbox behind his seat.
Not like he had any tools.
By this time, I was no longer welcome,
except when we drove to work.

Still, when he needed recovery time
or when I was the one with gas money,
I got to ride along on his outings.
Sitting in that Ram was as near ecstasy
as you can get without a dealer.

The guys had to look up to us
‘cause we were cruising way above
their silly little rides.
When the sluts saw our stuff,
they couldn’t help giving
their booty a twerk or two.
Sweet ride! Sweet life!

Soon Joe really got to be the man.
He’d drive up next to one of our buds
lining up a slut in a Ranger or something.
The girl would look up
at Joe in his powerful Ram,
and that guy’s junk was toast!

Joe loved it!
But every time he pulled that stunt
his ego swelled inside the toolbox
and it wanted more.
I could hear it behind the seats, mumbling
and pounding on the inside of the box.

Then it started to talk,
and it talked loud!
Joe had to quiet it down with Captain Morgan
before he could pick up a slut.
Still, Joe was the man.

A lot of girlfriends took a ride in Joe’s Ram,
while their guys were at work.
Joe turned a bucket full of promise rings green.
Pretty soon none of our old buds would talk to us,
and Joe had to park next to the guard house at work.

One night Joe forgot to latch the toolbox.
His ego got loose in the cab.
By morning it had shed hair all over
and grown too big to get back in the box.
We had to let it ride between us
and try to pass it off as a lab.
Smelled like a badger!

With his ego out, Joe had to give up
poaching tights, except for Goths,
but he still loved to drive his Ram up beside
some guy with a slut.

Soon Joe’s ego needed more room in the cab.
Joe could hardly shift.
I was hanging out the passenger window.
People looked at us funny.
No one thought it was a lab.
More like a gorilla!

Even our family stopped talking to us.
And Joe’s ego just kept growing.
We moved it into the truck bed.
But we still couldn’t relax.
Joe’s ego growled and snapped
at us through the sliding window.
Couldn’t even pass it off as a bear!

Now when we pulled up next to a couple,
the girl would look up with big-eyed horror
at the three of us looking down.
Then she’d roll her window up.

Good thing we had heavy duty springs.
Joe liked this new power he had over people
and his ego kept growing.
The truck started banging at every dip in the road.

In the end, Joe’s ego took to leaning
against the tailgate,
which threw off the truck’s balance.
Joe could hardly steer.
The weight of all that ego was too much,
and Joe lost control.

It was early December and raining ice water.
The Ram flipped on a curve.
We found ourselves upside down in a ditch
with six feet of mud-flavored slushy over our heads.
We straight out lost the Ram
‘cause Joe could only afford liability.

Both of us ended up in the hospital
with cuts, bruises and serious hypothermia.
And we collected buckets full of towing bills,
ambulance bills, medical bills.
We couldn’t pay any of it!

Even worse, since we had lost our friends,
we had no way to get to work to make money,
except to walk!

On the other hand, we also lost Joe’s ego.
It shriveled up in that ice water like our testicles,
and it drowned right there under that Ram!
So, yeah, I guess we look like two losers
walking to work every day in the snow.
But at least we got back some peace of mind.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

Paper

May 22, 2017

 

by Vera Lisa Smetzer

 

You write the worst part
is not kids shooting off
handguns and Uzis
loud enough, close enough,
to make your neck sweat.
There’s a silence in the alley
when you know someone’s heart
has stopped and you shiver
all night. Once on a full moon
you stole a shovel and dug up
dirt to plant sweet potatoes.
People thought you were burying
a body and came after midnight
lugging metal detectors
to check for jewelry.
Before this city, the only bodies
you knew were bending over
small town pool tables when you
hustled them for money. You loved
how their skin glistened in the bar
room light when they started
to lose. Too bad you say,
you don’t have any. Living in
the city is high maintenance.
Worst part is exhaustion
thrusting its fist in your face.
You stomach the stench
of scrubbing public toilets
at Greyhound bus stations now.
Still you dream of ripe fruit
in summer, tending hives,
planting rows of potatoes
on a farm, anywhere. Some days,
fear runs so fast through
you, it feels like bees
hum in your blood. I check
for a return address, there
isn’t any. You continue
about “small pleasures.”
In one store, you read
pages and partial chapters,
move onto another store,
you’ve mapped routes so you can
finish books. To survive,
you write poems and stories,
letters on toilet paper,
like this one. You hope I
don’t mind, say you’ll
write again. You don’t
sign your name.

 

Copyright © 2017 by  Alvera Lisa Smetzer

 

 

Pure Again

May 21, 2017

 

When I rose above the clouds,
I was in the sky.
Rain and dark below me,
a million stars around me and above.

Young Moon smiled over the rim of earth,
joy reflected from a hidden sun.
I was moving above the dark,
but my eyes filled with lights.

Stars torched the blackness with colors,
brightest white to deepest red.
Cold and clear was the air
and thin to breathe.

I was self-sufficient and alone,
and pure again,
with space and time to travel,
tiny and dark,
but moving out among the stars.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

Kitchenette with Cable

May 17, 2017

 

All night, mindful and listening,
I kneel before the mute TV’s light,
contemplating the snow between channels,
my lips reciting the mantra of my Frigidaire.
Three states away, you are indexing
ten years of your diaries for my sins,
cropping my image from family albums,
stacking all I left for the Salvation van.

Kaboom!!!
Passing trucks tremble my walls to ecstasy.
Oh look outside!
Illuminated waste bins wake up enlightened,
beneath long-necked halogen lights,
hopeful young Buddhas, shining compassion!
compassion! compassion!
down dreary interstate byways.

I know I failed. I am sorry!
I want to come home!
I know you know I will fail again.
The egoist sage Yang Chu
would not pluck a hair
to save his troubled world.
I offer all my hair to you tonight
in this kitchenette with cable.

Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

Zeke & Jezzy Buy Mother’s and Father’s Day Gifts

May 14, 2017

A couple days ago Uncle Ezekiel decided to give his wife Jezebella some sipping whisky for Mother’s Day. She don’t drink whisky, but Aunt Jezzy tells folks: “When old Zeke falls asleep early and stops badgering me, that’s the sweetest gift I ever get in life.” So he figured she’d be happy.

Today I got a phone call from Zeke. Aunt Jezzy had looked at the whisky awhile and then she’d looked at Zeke awhile. “Why thank you, Zeke.” Then she sat back in her chair. “You know, I’ve been thinking about what a wife can do for a husband like you. I think I’ve now decided what to give you for Father’s Day. It’s a brand-new, expensive suit.”

“Now Jezzy! I haven’t worn a suit but once in my life and that was when we got married. And I borrowed that one.”

“Well, you’ll need a suit to wear when they lay you to rest. And you can’t borrow it.”

“No, I guess not.”

“I’ve decided on the suit men wear in the Forest Service. I think you’ll be more comfortable in it.”

“What kind of suit do they wear in the Forest Service?”

“Fireproof.”

 

Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

A Present for Mother’s Day

May 11, 2017

Got an email from Uncle Ezekiel today. Zeke has figured out what to give his wife Jezebella for Mother’s Day. Some good George Dickel Tennessee whisky. No. 12. She don’t drink sipping whisky herself, but Aunt Jezzy tells folks: “When old Zeke falls asleep early and stops badgering me, that’s the sweetest gift I ever get in life.”

Methuselah and the Billy Goats

April 27, 2017

To the kids at work, I look like Methuselah. Not so! He died before I was born. But growing up I knew some old guys that remembered him well. They said if you lent Methuselah your billy goat for stud, you’d never get your billy back. Over his 969 years Methuselah managed to get the goat of almost every family in the Levant.

So much so, there were smiles of unspoken joy when he finally died. After his funeral, the neighbors got together, confronted his herdsmen, and demanded all their goats that were still alive. They slaughtered a few of them and had singing, dancing, and a feast of goat to celebrate.

A Ringed, Sun or Celtic Cross Made from Wood Beads & Wire

April 14, 2017

Celtic (Sun) Cross in Wood Beads and wire, Beadwork by Mike Smetzer

This simple ringed cross is made from wooden beads that have been dyed and waxed. They are held together with copper wire coated with black enamel. The beads are 15 mm, flat, and round, with rounded edges.

Beadwork Study in Wood for a Transcendental Cross with Quote in Runes from Julian of Norwich

April 6, 2017

Runic text on frame: “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well” — Julian of Norwich

On May 8, 1373, a thirty -year-old woman, whose name is unknown, lay on her apparent death bed in the town of Norwich, England. As the curate gave her last rites, she began to see a series of visions of Jesus. In a few days she recovered and wrote down her visions in what became the first known book by a woman in English. She became an anchoress at the Church of St. Julian in Norwich and many years later wrote an extended interpretation of her visions.

In her Revelations of Divine Love Julian explains that the words of the phrase above were said to her in a vision by Jesus to comfort her in her distress at the existence of sin and the pain it causes. The original text would have been written in the English dialect of her time and region using the Latin alphabet. I like having the text in Anglo-Saxon runes because the three-time repetition has the power of an incantation or magical spell.

This hanging was created from more-or-less square wooden beads that I carved and filled with glitter glue. The beads are held in place with Nymo thread using a combination of ladder stitch and stringing. Glue is used between the beads for rigidity.