Harold lives contentedly, his neighbors not included.
He sees their dreams of grandeur, grandly self-deluded.
Locals squirm and shiver, don’t know how to dress amid the general squalor.
Harold Haberdasher goes to work, grabs stumbling apple jacks by the collar,
Turns them into genuine gentlemen
Even gentle Benjamin
With his quirky regimen
Of gritty diner coffee and high voltage special Ks,
His lucky charms of power for surviving lightless days.
Crack sidewalk traffic staggers, this street life ain’t for kids
It’s iron-taste-in-the-mouth nonexistence on these back alley skids.
Lillian at dVerse Poets Pub asked for some brand name noodling. My inspiration was Special K which as most of you will know is street language for the horrible drug Ketamine. I mixed up the rhyme scheme to match the mixed up world of the setting.
You find it a bore most days. Fifteen years in an indelible ink rut. You keep your head down and get on with it: tramp-stamping nineteen year olds, piercing the folds of chubby bodies, asking drunken longshoremen if they want it spelled M-o-m or M-u-m. You grind your teeth every time one of the morbidly tattooed requests another skull.
You’re thinking of that and you’re thinking of nothing as you clean the machines in the back, when the bell clangs purposefully against the shop’s front door. You step through the strings of beads to check out who’s come in.
You see him waiting by the poster of Janis Joplin. A waifish sort. Pale with red flushed cheeks. Black hair that makes him look paler. You’re about to tell him you don’t tat minors, when he reads your mind and produces photo identification. He wants a tattoo before he enlists. Not only has he got i.d. but he’s also got cash.
You walk him to the client room and ask him if he knows what he wants. He pauses, then pulls a piece of notepaper from his pocket. It’s folded into precise eighths and he takes his time revealing the image he’s drawn. At first you think he’s kidding. It’s hardly an appropriate brand for an army recruit. But he’s not kidding and he won’t be deterred, even after you tell him it will be three hours and five hundred bucks.
By the time you’ve finished, you’re perspiring and feeling light-headed. You pretend it’s from the ink fumes. You take his money and say goodbye.
As he heads out the door, you thank him for lifting you up out of your rut today. Then a cry catches in your throat. And as you watch him disappear down the street, you silently plead to whoever is listening that if that boy gets stuck in a rut, in whatever land he’s bound for, those full-size angel wings now so delicately inscribed on his pale freckled back will lift him up and bring him home.
This piece was written about 5 years ago. The only time I’ve tried second person point of view. A shout out to my friend Edward Lorn for reminding me about the power of second person and how darn difficult it is to get right. Edward is doing a series on his Youtube channel called ‘From the Desk‘ that provides extremely valuable insights for fledgling writers like me, you, us.
He didn’t glance back before falling forward
Into the still unknown of shocking cobalt.
No one there to fuss or hold him
No one to cry out at just the right moment
Into the midnight afternoon breeze –
For those he’d loved always, eventually
Let go of his hand.
Left him stranded.
And when he realized this, his fate
He’d grieved. Hardened.
Become impenetrable stone.
Then (against even the quirkiest laws of nature)
Frozen to fragile ice, cracked, shattered.
If not submerged within this serene, sharp sapphire
Where else was he meant to be?
Written for dVerse, an ekphrastic poem responding to a work of art. Here that work is a beautifully complex, yet simple, evocative painting by Fay Collins
Zippo snaps, sparks the flame,
Essential for this daily tinder routine.
Zig zags contain dusty, seedy remains of
His birthday stash from Lex and Jean.
Dad’s lighter, used over years
Engraving’s worn off and disappeared.
What a crazy old ride from cigar to spliff.
Photo by Evan Phillip on Unsplash
Written for this week’s quadrille prompt on d’Verse: use some form of the word ‘zip’.
My days as dangerous and echoing as a tin with razor sharp edges thrown into the bin.
Then summer. You.
Your free spirit like birdsong, trilled,
Found me, loved me, filled my world to bursting.
Egg shells cracked mosaic-like,
Fledgling life peaked through.
For Monday’s d’Verse Quadrille prompt: Egg
Sinewed hands grab my shoulders, shove me sideways down unfamiliar streets.
Glowing in the distant dark there shimmers a landed mermaid, enchanting, enticing,
Melting in the tarnished silver spoon I wasn’t born with.
Burns my hands. Burns my veins.
Soundless, the world is ash.
44 words (quadrille) for d’Verse. Prompt word: burn