Bio Note: I am a retired Public Recreation professional (32 years). My poems have appeared recently in Poetry South, Literary Yard, and Adelaide Literary Magazine, among others. I have a new collection, Uncommon Book of Prayer (2021, Main Street Rag); and am a Pushcart nominee.
Karaoke ≠ Religion
My mother tied a scarf around my neck on cold days. Me, no scout, knew no taut knots. At eighteen, she convinced me to vote for Nixon. Such trickiness – 1972 was not a good year. I hatched, and bobbed, knelt to sing a cool prayer. A tainted font taught me a new tongue absolving me as I labored quick and young. Communed with Cold Duck, Boones Farm. A Vietnam War fought at our dinner table: two-way lectures and dismissals. All the while, Strutted as a mono-stitched mess of Army-fatigues. Certain I was savvy: never feared wreckage or specks from accidents or betrayals. Mastered no do’s and don’ts. Gleeful gnaw, berries and roots. Buttoned peace on my lapel. Held a belief in chaos; the relief of chaos. Claimed the world was white and black. Sun-Orange. Moon-Yellow. Sea-Blue. A flame, a quell . . . all the same, squelched. Waterless well where sincere wishes could/would guarantee all promises would/could come true. Finally, never (to be) known. Amen.
Hounds mosey the roofline, peer into dormer rooms. Pristine shadows amble nooks and corners. Crown-mold and cornices connect dim silhouettes, mooring stiff treats and mushy chum scattered to be devoured, then expelled as grievances. Enlivened, each shade consents. Watching for the nuisance of lamps in rooms’ first lap, then warm slither across each nuanced façade and ceiling. Without embracing genre or gender, it recounts our tiny hours, cored and carved from large minutes. Closets birth echo: any breach, as stab of light, encourages mirror’s wail, the weep of a mortgaged heart crumpling on doorsteps. Our collective sigh reverberates, tip-toes kneading new hardwood parquet, vibrates like a new friend’s anger: waiting, loathing, spilling obstinate verdict, out there, overhead, overheard. Even now, veneers skulk, unobserved, without frippery, but then late sun’s malice celebrates into hopeful clouds, overjoyed with new host’s tepid rain.
©2021 Sam Barbee
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