I write cursive on legal pads.

Grandpa Jim

Added on by David S. Hooker.

His laughter once shattered
like a Budweiser bottle. His teeth

the brown pieces. Now, his beard
ajar & machine breathing,

he's been poured. Cold tile
& divider curtain replace

his kitchen; its linoleum, wood
paneling & warm ESPN glow.

Sandwich done him in. Shook
& sweated more than sobriety

facing that last bite. Beneath
florescent hum I hear him chuckle

at how dumb that sounds. Light shines
through blinds & makes him less pale.

Dust floats in the rays. I once thimbled
his finger, was once gloved by his hand.

His palm tucks inside mine, I stroke
IV tubes. Squeeze back.

Poem Found While Working Overtime with Amilcar [In Progress]

Added on by David S. Hooker.

Look at you reading that merda,
all its good for is wiping
o suor fora minhas bolas!

Can a poem tell you how good this peach tastes?
How sweeter the juice was pouring
down our queixos as me & minha Irmã ran
from our neighbor, pillowcases filled with his peaches.
Idiota couldn't outrun us children!
He liked his horses, se é que me entendes!

Can a poem tell you how beautiful minha Mãe was?
Her bare feet dancing the Virá
on the greenest grass you'd ever see.
Her hair, preto veludo above us. I held her hand
& tried moving like her, como o vento.

I wrote a poem once. To father.
Said if he ever touched minha Mãe again
Eu socá-lo em seu pau pequeno!
He read it & threw his garrafa de vinho
at my face. This scar is the only presente
he ever gave me. He left us shortly after.
I've outlived him trinta anos.

Agora eu segurar a mão da minha neta
e ensiná-la a Virá.

That's enough poetry for me!

Hope

Added on by David S. Hooker.

(from Getting Up S'Only Easy for the Sunrise)

for Fall River, Massachusetts


Her eyes are black without mascara, sunk in like Mason jar lids;
                       she smokes more than the cooling towers
                                            across the cove.

Her name is not Lizzie Borden but they are both innocent
                                            yet treated as guilty.

That part of the story is not unique.

She had a dream in her once,
               wanted to be a mortician,
               wanted to make the dead feel beautiful one last time,
                                                                      she tells me,

But she couldn’t justify the loans,
            worked hard to save
only to discover the college adviser told her the wrong information.

Now she works while caring for her extended family;
                             caring for her nephew, giving him the love he needs
                                                             so he’ll never feel ashamed.

He likes to wear dresses,
      likes to take dance lessons,
                           dances with people twice his age,
                    and dances well.

                             He’s happy, she tells me,
                              and beautiful.

Hope in heaven
                     we pray.

A high school shop teacher hung himself in his home.
                  Rumor has it his wife filed for a divorce,
                    left a note    for her    taped to his chest.

That part of the story is not unique.

He use to yell Tarzan calls that rang throughout the shop,
              sang the Beach Boys throughout the day in such a manner
                                            you could say he wasn’t singing at all.

He would say,
  I’m going to teach you little about machine shop and a lot about life
                                      —would teach work ethic in such a manner
                                                         it made  you   listen to yourself
                                                               so   others   would as well.

Hope in heaven
                     we pray.

A nobody overdosed on heroin,
                         found lying on his bed, face up, blue;
                         in the adjacent room         his elderly mother slept.

That part of the story is not unique.

He gave me a Christmas card
                 a few years back     when no other family member did.
      Inside was twenty dollars and the message,
A reason to care about the holidays. Love, Uncle Mike.

I thanked him then
           and still do.

Hope in heaven.
                   No—not in heaven
                                            hope right here, hope right now.

Hope
      that is more
                 than a lottery ticket,
more than a cigarette drag.

Hope
      that isn’t persuaded
                              by what can you do with that?
or get your head out your ass.

Hope
      that prevents
                      a person
from being anything other than
                           happy and beautiful.

Hope, we will.
               Amen.

Tea with My Meme

Added on by David S. Hooker.

(from Getting Up S'Only Easy for the Sunrise)

I.
We sit around the foldout table as your kitchen
fills with the aroma of Earl Grey and reruns

flicker on the TV, saying you only remember
an episode when certain scenes show up.

Feeling like our time is melting faster than the ice chips
bouncing inside your cup, I start showing off my hand drawn comic

where the story has us save the universe from an evil race of space slugs;
mentioning how I spent all weekend coloring inside the lines

and having dad double check my spelling before writing the words
with Sharpie. Jumping out of my seat to run circles around the table,

yelling about how awesome the suede uniforms look
while you take the Marlboro Reds from your purse,

pop one in your mouth, flick the yellow BIC, and then take a drag.
As I see you exhale, your skin begins to melt:

your glasses slide off as your ears and nose soften into ooze,
splattering the tan linoleum floor; your hands glop toward the table,

pooling as you hunch over; your face, a muck of crevasses;
your bones crack, crumble, then sandstorm out the second floor window.

A smoldering pair of lungs rest on your chair
as the TV continues to flash. Suddenly I remember this episode.

Remembering light breaking through vertical blinds,
numbers radiating from a display beside your golden hair,

your chest bobbing up and down like ice chips,
a tube running out from your throat.

Suddenly dad is there. I shove my face into his red shirt,
soaking my tears before trying to hide under a table.

Suddenly family surrounds me; cousin Tommy holds my hand.
Their mouths move, but there is only silence.

II.
Are you okay, babe? She asks,
sitting outside the Coffee Depot

as I stare at the tealeaves swirling
in my mug, You’ve been really quiet.

She rubs my knee, puffing on her cigarette.
I look up, unable to say

as I notice her make up
beginning to run.

Spaghetti Westerns with My Father

Added on by David S. Hooker.

(from Getting Up S'Only Easy for the Sunrise)

for Steven J. Hooker
 

As we watched the sheriff win a gunfight with a man
whose life probably didn’t pan out the way he had hoped,

collapsing face down under the high noon,
my father shares the film’s sentiment of justice served.

But once the lawman says what little he needed to
and trots his journey back to where he lays his head

I couldn’t help wondering what he was returning to.
If, at every sunset he rode into, every lone cactus

and tumbleweed he passed, he would see the faces
of the men he turned to belt notches

staring at him like cattle before supper; spurs sunk in the soil,
boots worn as if running was all they had known.

Or, after leaving her more times than chambers emptied,
whether his wife considered him a dead man;

not so much to prevent his silhouette
from appearing in every lantern flicker

or the bodies propped up in the mortician’s window
from resembling him,

but more a shooting star wish to spare his soul
from the duty that made his heart as hard as a badge.

Before the final shot faded into credits
I turned to my father and asked, who really won?

And with a stern look and a blank stare,
he replied, the man with a clear conscience.

Funk & Fire

Added on by David S. Hooker.

for SCUL

Traversing the dark,
shouting "Bust a Funk" as we
pedal personaes,

Echoing each their
own safe return—not to home
but a self yet found.

May our ship's glow pale
in comparison to the
fire which propels us.

Day

Added on by David S. Hooker.

I loved you from afar
on this island I call “myself,”
watching you travel across a dark sky
to light the night.

When you were here
the sea shined a blue I never knew
and once you left the beauty stayed,
reminding me of you.

I knew your name yet never called,
expecting you to return as easily as you came;
now I scream in hopes you’re near
but you are too far to hear.

Wherever you are,
a cascade of hue surely following,
know that it was you who showed me the day
and nothing could take such a lesson away.

Past the Mountain Ridge

Added on by David S. Hooker.

Let us go into exile,
tame the ghosts who hold our feet
for where we stand
we cannot see past the mountain ridge.

Let us make our lives
no longer mere moments
but our moments, entire lives;
whisper our tales to the ancestors,
make them honored to share the sky.

Let us forge our children from the earth,
take a piece of the sun and place it inside them,
explain how there are no lords here;
we hold even the soil as siblings, as ourselves,
for when we make our return
we are held as softly.

Let us see our final day standing,
our last breath coming
as the first time air entered our mouth.
Carry what we leave to the rituals,
offer our thanks for it was a noble vessel.

Worthwhile

Added on by David S. Hooker.

For her

Before saying that one thing
you always wanted to say to someone else
but hardly say to yourself,
breathe—

know there is something inside
that is worthwhile,

that sometimes a friendship
is the closest you’ll ever get
but it’s better to laugh than not,

and, more often, a simple detail
makes her notice
that you notice her,

and when she does
remember that voice in your head which screams
“she deserves better than you”
isn’t a bastard,
just that part afraid of getting hurt again.

When she lays next to you, head on your chest,
listen to her breath
and know, in that moment, nothing else exists,

and if you’re unsure
of where your hands should go
let her guide you—

in each other you’ll find a missing part.

When she asks what you’re afraid of,
tell her—

tell her it’s fucking all this up
and being forgotten,

and when mistakes happen
don’t pretend they won’t linger and grow
into problems,

and know that words are no one’s strong suit
but even half a syllable weights more than silence.

When you see her slipping away,
don’t just reach out into the dark,
run—

run and, if it’s a distance you can’t outpace,
keep going;
there’s no use returning to empty space.

When you find yourself alone
in a crowd, like times before,
listen to that beating within

and know everything that was worthwhile
is still alive.

Craft

Added on by David S. Hooker.
With hands so precise
Prometheus granted his clay creatures
such form they knew to learn
and carve their own way.

With forethought most sincere
Prometheus stole them fire
to fear no darkness
and, once serendipitous, taste fine meals.

With understanding a form yet mastered, claws so coarse,
Prometheus was cragged from his grace;
punishment for believing his craft
was no less than the gods.

With hope so small it fluttered, Prometheus endured;
his clay learning what flame had taught
—never having wished to understand yet understood
and then, themselves, created.

Distraction; or, Mistress

Added on by David S. Hooker.

Could, or would, or should
someone married to their work
be a polygamist, or, at least, an adulterer?

If, or as, or when
Distraction tempts me—as she often has—
puffing her cigarette that clouds more than vision,

I ponder, or long, or wish
to ask if she would stay a bit longer,
to let the smoke settle enough for me to see the muse

I think, I hope,
I know
she hides.

"If my words sought to speak..."

Added on by David S. Hooker.

If my words sought to speak
what these last moments had said
such a vignette would, instead, be a memoir,

Yet for all which detail does describe,
detail possesses not a syllable
for watching someone dear die

Nor will death dare return their voice
to speak just once more—
knowing not whether death deals such a choice—

But if my words could reach them as before
my lips would utter no goodbyes,
just shout their name to the skies.

Letter from Corpus C. Callosum

Added on by David S. Hooker.
Complaint #5012630768439704
RE: You’ll never read this, nor will you respond.

To David S. Hooker
c/o Frontal & Temporal Lopes

Our department has received the complaint you filed to us recently,
stating a “growing distance between yourself and those around you.”
With your permission we reviewed your files and, after careful study,
have noticed this was part of a pattern.
Upon further digging we found other reoccurring notions such as
general feelings of not belonging,
your "invisible hand reaching out for inclusion,"
as well as, more often than not, that your "fate is to be alone forever."

While your complaint states that you have tried to work through this on your own,
as well as talk to close friends and even see a therapist,
it also mentions that “all has proven temporary as the isolation returns.”
At this time, we regretfully have no solid resolution to offer you
but wanted to let you know our best man is working 'round the clock troubleshooting this problem.
In the meantime, we suggest remembering how welcoming a horizon can be
no matter how far away it seems.

Sincerely,
Corpus C. Callosum, head of the R&D Department