Miss Geller’s Barbados crown,
circles the other girl’s face,
while she bakes.
Cod with Ritz.
watches the dolphins,
with their accidental grins,
wave in the waves
with their virtual arms and hands,
at her curious gaze.
while they suck fish bones,
from their pebble teeth.
The ocean is one and many,
while it shows its black,
With its billions of workers who in their grain bodies
soften with their grit,
the contents of its cupboards.
And, it sighs at the oohs and ahhs,
that it hears while the,
is seen once again.
Plain gray rocks and little black teeth,
or miniature trees.
Chunks of glass,
They rub their thumb on the edge,
and feel it in their chests,
and if the blood does not come,
they call the brown compressed sand,
that became smooth by its relatives,
Natures unnatural art.
As they walk with their heads down.
Hunching to find,
The treasure or,
the fantasy message,
in a bottle of ale.
The breaths are deeper,
Loud, full breathing, slow.
And, the skin somewhat,
smoother than yesterday,
toes and shoulders turn brown,
under the pink Coppertone and squarish freckles.
Roaring hushes the thoughts of,
What is next and what was before.
Wavy steps slow as the end appears.
Boat-tailed Grackles wait to take it.
Seeds of the sun’s flower,
black oiled like their,
And, the leftovers are gently grabbed,
by the one-footed gull with her,
perfectly pedicured toes.
Her soft feathers,
flow as she looks into your eyes,
to see where the next toss will aim,
or to know your blues.
And, she gracefully dangles in the air,
singing like a squawking angel,
needing no sympathy,
as she takes turns with her new, old friends.
The fuzzy, savage cats,
smash their young faces on their mate’s,
as they beg and exist in their fatness,
of black stripes on brown fur,
flicking tails and kneading toes.
Dancing for their food,
deli turkey or leftover salmon.
Their song is like the water’s,
while the purring and roaring dance.
And, the humans fall for their massive blinking,
and their hypnotic petition.
The velvet deer in the beaten trees,
twitching her wavy ears,
hiding in the crooked sharpness,
living in the death.
Waiting for her turn,
After the cherub cats,
fliers and swimmers and the ones with the,
of the celebrity bird.
If I only had a silver fish,
To drop into your impressive.
As you glide by with your,
russet friends with the same,
Not even a side-glance,
Maybe you’re praying,
for your vanishing kind.
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
Like that Hotel in California,
the one on the highway,
in the desert?
it’s pretty dark.
I’ve checked out a time,
though can’t remain gone.
The thick air that fucks,
with my hair
and upper lip sweat.
The crunchy bugs that,
move the scale and turn
their heads to see you.
The assholes on Western Blvd.
with their lime green Mustangs
and – or – Chevy Apaches
The Bertha’s and Frans and
Crushed trailers and seventy-six Walmarts
My boy babies at those hospitals,
Your funeral with the generals and peee efff sees,
Six AM sunrise with sweet, tan coffee in
the Stanley with so much
chatter and brrrrrrr’s then,
It quiets and we absorb the orange star with our
hazel and blue and browns,
Hot beach sand scratching our heels
Pale Brown Caucasians who never
are too hot or too cold or
Sharable opinions and
forgiveness of elephants and donkeys
There are no LSD’s or
53’s or 46’s
or hot biscuits and gravy
You can never leave even if your thin body stays or your fat body goes.
And you try to poke fun
but it feels as good as
the first Burning sip of Jack and real Coke
the second bite of macaroni
cheese. Kraft. Straight.
All the black combat boots then tan.
and their invisible marines who
only show their hands and faces
and the clear doors they open
Exit and the thank you ma’am’s, nods
and the young creeps who
are not yours
Friday night lights and all
and we yell to the red cardinals
while they play under the
metal, cool, seats,
Popcorn with salt
nachos no chili
There’s no cool wind in my hair
or a beast to stab
I stopped for the nights
And my first spirit remained.
So I go back,
and leave what I knew,
but not what I know.
The black bears and shy moose and
hot ham grinders with provolone,
Crystalized white water and the crunch
Boots and sleds and driving
with 4 wheels
Ear popping mountains covered
in evergreens. That shine
to be home
after I leave home
I am audibly stretched but,
I grew up in Southampton, Massachusetts near Hampton Ponds. The kids in my neighborhood were called “Pond Scum” by others, and eventually we decided that it was a term of endearment. I walked to Mahoney’s package store to buy candy with babysitting money, attended the Primary School before it was the town hall, and William E. Norris until sixth grade. After that, I went with all the other Southampton kids to Hampshire Regional High School, and graduated in 1992. After I turned twenty-one, I fell in love and married a marine, Roger Adams, and we moved to North Carolina. He was from Greenfield.
My husband, Roger, was born in Montague, Massachusetts, and lived in that area until after his graduation at Franklin Technical High School. His trade was carpentry. After high school, he decided to move to Kentucky to spend time with his mom and siblings down there. It didn’t take him long to realize he wanted to serve his country, so he joined the marines at the closest recruiting center that happened to be in Tennessee.
Roger and I lived for years in North Carolina, near his duty station which was Camp Lejeune. After he was killed in Iraq in 2009, the boys and I remained in North Carolina, stunned and confused. In 2016, we moved back to my hometown of Southampton, Massachusetts to be close to family.
After we settled a bit and did some home repairs, I turned in my application for a survivor’s tax exclusion. The law is explained in this link: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cisvet/vetprptax.htm It tells about the different benefits given by Massachusetts to veterans, their families, and other survivors. They are quite generous, and before I left North Carolina, I budgeted accordingly. With the tax break, the boys and I would be able to financially make it, so we planned and packed.
Months after I applied for the exclusion which I was sure to receive, I found a denial letter in the mailbox, laughing at me. It stated that because Roger did not enlist in Massachusetts, his family did not qualify. My life in Massachusetts, and his entire childhood in Massachusetts did not count. After months of trying again and doing research, I was advised to appeal. I paid a hundred dollars to be heard by Boston.
Mid-July I had to go to court against my hometown in Northampton, Massachusetts. It was hot, but thankfully, sunny. I had never been to the courthouse so I put the address in my GPS and was on my way. It was only minutes from my house. I found a parking spot close to the entrance of the grand building, and used the ParkMobile app to pay. I gulped down the butterflies, channeled my inner imitation strength, and walked into the building. I waited in line to go through the metal detectors. I took off my shoes and Roger’s dog tags I wore for luck, and gave the guard my phone and bag. Then, after a few wrong turns, found some people going to the Superior Courtroom One, so I followed them like an orphaned chick.
The room was grand with a painted ceiling and wood everywhere, and a nice man sat next to me. He was on the docket as well for what seemed like a silly waste of time. We shared our stories in condensed versions, and were each other’s cheering section. It was nice to simply have company. His turn came and went, then several others, then Southampton was called. It was my turn.
I attempted to prove Roger’s domicile which is a sensitive term in this case. I explained how Roger was born here, went to school here, and graduated here. He turned 18 in Massachusetts, got married in Massachusetts, and the boys and I were in Southampton, Massachusetts when we were notified of his death. I wrote a page to read to the court, and it was received with gentle thanks and remarks by all.
The commissioner asked if I or Southampton had anything else to say, and I was done, but the town had one more thing to add. He said how they talked to an attorney about the case, and apparently because of the way the law is worded, we do not qualify for the tax break. The commissioner took the attorney’s name.
They talked to an attorney. They really didn’t want me and the boys to have this break. I don’t know why but that part hurt the worst. They put great effort into making sure we didn’t get this break. I don’t know what the verdict will be, but I do know that we will leave as soon as we can. Even if we win, we feel unwelcome. When we leave, we will feel like we are escaping. We learned the lesson that home is not a tangible thing.
This is the last paragraph of my court statement:
In closing, I must make the most important point as far as I’m concerned. When Roger was on a naval ship after 9/11 outside of the Middle East, he fought for America, not a specific state. When he was in Iraq in 2004-2005, he was a target and woke many nights to mortar attacks on their camp. He did that for America. When Roger woke me up in the middle of the night to simply be awake with him after his first tour in Iraq, he suffered that for America. When Roger drove his Humvee over an IED in 2009, killing him and three others, he did that for America. His heart was in Massachusetts, but he died for America.
Sometimes your thumb will run over a sandy bump,
On your phone.
And you’ll go over it again.
And once more.
Until it comes off,
with an audible
Then you’ll see the Poodles for sale and
The gofundme for his beard
Or a dead deer with that tear in her
And Her son’s trophy and His cat’s babies
Or the rib roast with gravy all lumpy with
Peppered potatoes with the butter
And vote for her and hate him,
And happy birthdays that you,
Then you email and say happy
Edward. vs. Jacob or
Pepsi versus coke
And legalize the weed and wanna
Email from the school there’s been a lockdown,
You’re late and time to give
The German shepherd her medicine,
The phone rings and you listen to the messages
Because what if you miss that
The collectors and the sellers and
Battery is dying but my song is playing
Mr Telephone Man
The Edition is not new
Then your thumb has sweat
And it won’t scroll
So you wipe it on your boob
He had no teeth until they took turns erupting through his fresh gums, and it hurt so he bit his mom’s cracked breast. Then he walked a little with his chubby legs and turned-in toes, stopped shitting his pants, and went to school. After that, he went to more school and married the girl with yellow hair, made a resume, and was away nine to five. He retired, and they gave him a party at the local VFW with balloons and potluck meatballs mixed with ketchup and ginger ale. His parents died of cancer and heart break, and his wife loved another, so he learned how to warm canned meats and TV dinners. Then his grandkids drove him to the doctor and they started being really nice to him. They didn’t want to change his diapers and blend his milkshakes, so they put him at that place that smelled like rotting meat. He met friends that died, and he watched the fish in the tank as he drank out of Styrofoam. The watery coffee was chilly and transparent. He took out his teeth and closed his vanishing eyes.
His fluorescent orange hat menaced the peace as he hunted for his Thanksgiving feast. Fuck the rules. He loved baby turkey meat. His shotgun rested heavily on his shoulder as he waited for a chance to detonate it. Warren walked carefully and tried not to create a cacophony with the crispy twigs; Mother Nature’s warning. Tom sang a ballad to his ladies, and produced a feathered rainbow, grabbing Warren’s attention. Using only the balls of his feet, he turned his boots like the Black Swan. They made a little crunch on the tiny pebbles as he progressed towards the flock. His yellowed eyes saw them in the sunny field, dust bathing in the sand and familiarity. He maneuvered his fat body their way, catching drool on the corner of his ashy lips. He must have stepped on a dry stick that blew his cover. The bony birds sped to the woods and over the shallow brook. They mimicked mannequins and stayed the color of the forest, then spread amongst the downed trees and dancing orange tape. He jumped over the brook and his size fourteen boot caught on a willow root, disrupting its drink. He landed hard on his right foot and knew instantly it was broken. He heard his gun crack as it fell from his reach, and watched the filtered water carry it close to its sand. Instantly the figurines began making their way towards him, smirking. They were accompanied by friends who brought friends. Their lemon-sized heads swayed to the left. Then to the right, in perfect syncopation with The Blues on a cloudy Monday. The downy babies jumped on him first as he shooed them away with his meaty hand. They plucked at his orange vest with their sharp beaks, removing the down. The wild poultry snickered, and more friends came along. A female came from behind and chomped on his ear, rolling her beady eyes and shaking her head until half of it was in her mouth. She tilted back and quaked until it slid down to nourish her, then reapplied her red lipstick. Another Tom showed up with his girlfriend and the cranberry sauce. They drank white zinfandel and choked down green bean casserole and continued to nibble on him. They made their way through his LL Bean vest and portly white belly, seeking out his intestines to make a nice sage gravy.