A Little Common Decency

SLAP: my face, the pavement, my cursing soaped-up tongue for having to jump the fresh McDonalds, guts of half-eaten sausageeggcheesehashbrowns and plasticpaperstyrofoam spilled every morning.

DEAF: My grandparents ignored my parents anti-litter morality. “Toss it out the window,” my mother’s mother said when I finished. She rolled down the window an inch and lit up. The stale scent came alive and nausea then throbbing blood in my sinus and temple made my eyes swim. In my head, I begged for the last drag and the flick. Out the window.
PEEL: My parents let us glad-hand our apple cores and orange peels from cracked windows as we raced down interstates. Peels composted. “Can I throw out my gum?”
Mom gave me a shred of paper and stuffed the damp wad into the ashtray we used only for toll change, if clean, or tiny trash otherwise. Like cigarette butts that paved the end of driveways, they said, it takes decades or centuries to disintegrate.
A hundred years for cotton butts and longer for Styrofoam  cups. Like the Big Gulp with the florescent Dew, stuffed between a cement yard wall and the dirt another few miles along my running route. It’s glowing still after winter freezes and spring storms. Highlighter yellow-green, the liquid has not leaked, not mingled or watered down with rain.
TRAP: I monitor the cup on daily runs, glowing at three miles in, just before the bend where trash catches in a lint trap of dormant shrubs, a litter swab that has stopped hundreds of these cups, the wrappers, plastic straps, blue straws, bits of trash falling down into the train underpass. These will outlast me.
60 YEARS: Maybe I’ll live sixty more years, to a hundred, if I keep running I will still be hurdling over someone’s littered breakfast bag. I will run in ever steamier Augusts. I will refuge in winter, from unpredictable cold or bless my luck when it’s sixty or seventy in February. Maybe every few years my husband will throw a pan of boiling water out the front door so we can ooooh and aaah, at flash of instant crystal, breaking. Still when the snow melts in a week, I will mark the unchanged detritus on my morning run.

Verses on the Dust

A poem I’m penning, inviting a glimpse inside of <insert whatever label or diagnosis>. I have no idea. I only know the feeling, “Fix it, Mother Mary. It hurts.”

I. Verses on the Dust

Would someone dust
the dining room table and the family prayer corner?
Neglected under crumbs and dust, they’ve become grey ghosts.
I have the courage to grumble, but not to approach.

In the library, the wall of saints stares at me while I stalk past
blank-eyed Mary, Jesus with the gentle eye and the severe one, my patron as if she’s stuck in desert beyond the Jordan again, waiting for communion.

Sneak past to kitchen, back to the jungle upstairs,
where grape ivy climbed the walls to the skylight and the peace ivy, the philodendron
suffer, under-grown, longing for light.
Banished here like me because of other demons- cats gnawed them.
I lay down on the cold vinyl to ponder the peak of the ceiling
chipped paint of midnight blue, starless blank,
Whoever painted this room saw my end of days.

I work here most days, afraid to tiptoe down
to light candles before the saints and chant
the words of the books on the shelves,
or inhale the spice of prayer curling, fervor
burning up. This too triggers the demons.

I’m at battle, do I disappear
or fight back? To pray is to fight.

To sneak to the kitchen for a salad that I will eat alone upstairs
where the demons don’t gnash is a shadow of life.
I try to slip past the glossy walnut table but ancient mail and treasures I’ve purged call me out.
I wave at detritus of a life I used to live.
Send these to my sister, give these to the needy.

Off is where I go before the demons thrash:
“Chewing too loud.”
I know the demons disguise their complaints-nagging, self-righteous, over-mothering-
Walking through the room the floor sags, joists creak. Too much of all but gentleness, patience, kindness, self-control.

Upstairs I gorge myself on the fruit of my deeds.
When I’m not comatose I stare at the blank blue eyes of my life.
On any one night, I type up a one word poem:

“Ode to My State of Being”

But the technology erases me and writes
me an elegy.