The following are a group of selections from my collection, Finding Freud. If you are interested in reading more, please see the link in my Wix store page for the Amazon link. Finding Freud is available on Amazon for all necessary sales.
We lived in a quiet house
at the end of a long rocky road in Nashville,
a tender sanctuary where the sounds of
the dog sleeping in the backyard and
the hiss of a burned-out cigarette
I was three years old swinging on the porch
with my great grandfather, a living ancestor,
bones hardened like gunmetal from the war
and blood flooding with nicotine,
but he was my religion-
a smile and a round belly kept me going
higher on that early morning swing.
I can remember four-line hymns,
a tone-deaf old man and a little boy
that sounded like Johnny and June at
the Grand Ole Opry, the only sound for miles.
Every day had that Sunday-after-church feeling,
like a weathered cardigan and a used tobacco pipe
until the clouds melted away into an afternoon painting,
that wild Tennessee sky splattered with watercolors
overlooking the hills, and then
as the sun slipped into the ground
I grew out of that old swing,
but Papa could still lift the moon into the sky,
dot the yard with a million lightning bugs
and sing those old songs as if
the soul of the south could never die.
Cooking With Wine
The kitchen is a woman’s soft skin
upon which the sun has laid its hand. The day
is alive with light, it cascades in abundance
all around this place. It reflects against
the clean furniture; we are at the center of all
Music plays softly around the room and
gives a face to the moment. It is characterized
by a simple piano, a jazzy singer’s voice.
The pan has only just begun to sizzle,
and the distinct pop of the wine bottle
defines the room, gives flavor to more
than just the food we’re cooking. You wear
your smile the way you wear your dress, it speaks
volumes to the book shelf of your thoughts; behind
your eyes is a thinking mind. I add the wine to the
base, a plume of steam grows from a satisfying splash.
We’re cooking up something good here, something
that brings narrative to the literature of life. There’s more
to this room than just the Italian ambiance. We’re growing
like the garden from which these ingredients were grown.
We’re singing like the emotion from which music sings.
This miracle is as simple as breathing, and within it,
we breathe. We finish the meal as the afternoon covers
the room in shade with its softened glow. Cleaning
the kitchen is made better by a handful of kisses. No day
is forgotten when it’s lived like this. We take our place
on the couch with drinks. We live the day like we know
what the day needs. As the day turns to darkness, we kiss
as if to say we know what the night wants and longs for.
I take up my brush and I’m careful
to start with the shadowed areas first.
That’s where I put all my memories
of being overweight, and when they
called me names. That’s where I put
my parents’ screams, and my
video games; the things that hang
in the back of my mind.
I color in some of the lighter shades,
where my old friends are. They’re
hard to see but still there, close
to the foreground of my face. I draw
the ears, where I heard my teachers’
instructions; I always loved school
so much, and I color in the nose,
the thing that brings out sharp memories
of foods I’ve eaten, and of nature.
I draw the lips which touched
a dozen others. Those dirty things—
they’re hated by so many, but those girls
don’t know I meant the words
those lips spoke on summer nights.
When I draw the eyes, I see her face,
and his. We were such a good team,
the three of us. My lover and my
best friend, we colored the world
I look at the final product, and then
I look at the mirror. This face is
almost unrecognizable after everything.
Yet here he is, the finished product of years
of the world’s work, painting each day
into my life as if creating the foreground
of a living canvas. You performed your art,
striking into my life an experience
with every stroke, creating a continuous
portrait, the unmistakable image
which I claim as my own
as each day becomes another layer
on the picture of my memory.
he soul of the south could never die.