Prompt: Trees


During the sweet frog summer of 1984 things got complicated for me.  I was nine years old and truly, miserably in love.  His name was Geoffrey, my neighbor 3 houses down, and 10 years later he would grow up to a legend of jacking cars, tapping just about every other girl in his class, and being semi-literate and halfway bald.  But, at nine years old, the only thing that mattered was his sweet blue eyes.  I look back now and think about how we almost had it all, true love without any of the trappings of romance or marriage, something pure.  I didn’t deal back then in the trade of racial consciousness, class warfare.  Naw, back then, it was me, Geoff, and a timeless tale of unrequited longing.
My sister and I were swinging around in the backyard tree wearing tees and our oshkosh trousers, lost in the handiwork of our bare hands and wild legs.  She was a mature maple, sitting with a certain airy grace and lengthy limbs near the side of our front yard.  Autumn would shake her leaves down to the annoyance of raking, littering the world with orange and mahoghany.  From my perch, up in the tree, I’d use it to spy on passerbys, the crown of the tree framing me, a silhouette, unnoticeable unless you chose to look up.  Every single person in the block would pass by our tree.  And we’d sit there, munching on apples.  One time, I saw Geoffrey.  His mom was grabbing him by the elbow, dragging him through the street.  He was screaming wordlessly, and his eyes were bottomed out with pain.  He looked at me, and from my perch, I remember falling down.  Big blue eyes.  I wondered then why eyes like those haunted me.

I remembered the crunch of Maple leaves when I saw Geoffrey 10 years later, smoking a cigarette, dark circles under his eyes, hunched over and staring through me, a lump of coal in my throat as I wondered what he would say.

    “Hey, Kid, you want some shit?”  His voice was raspy.
I wanted to say something.  I nodded because I was shy, and us Asianz didn’t talk to whites on the block now.  People had moved out, so we didn’t have to be close together.  Like back then.
He looked at me, as if he was going to say something.
A maple tree shed some leaves.
I understood that frog summer something about families.  They screw you up, and you never get better.
Geoffrey listened to me say yes, and then he couldn’t do it anymore.  He saw me nod, but I think some part of him chose not to listen.
“I always knew you were better than that.”  That’s what I imagine him saying.
But instead, he scrunched up the hood of his sweatshirt, and he loped away, gracefully, like a foreign animal.
I watched him until he grew smaller and smaller in the distance.
Life seems so sweet, from the perch of a tree.


Posts from the Corner Booth

Each of the following is a 5 minute Free Write from The Corner Booth of the Undeniables, hosted by Edren Sumagaysay

PROMPT:  Unusual Vampires

The couch was dingy, and I shifted my weight.  Getting bitten by her was kind of shocking.  It wasn’t your usual ear-nibbling, love nip, yeah-i-want-to-make-out moment — nope, instead it was a disturbing i want to see if you taste like bacon or a ham hock moment.  It’s hard to explain what it felt like to feel her tongue, coarse like a cat, exploring my collarbone.  In that moment, I could feel it happening.  Kind of like a tb shot, and not the kind you get at the doctor’s office, but the kind you get with a triple espresso.  I shot up out of the couch, the ding-dong making a crinkling sound.  I knew it!  I knew it!  She was a fucking vampire, and she had just bitten me.  Of course, the oddest thing was that she suddenly wasn’t there anymore.  She had disappeared.  What was going on?  Vampire ghost?  I was definitely bleeding.  I looked around for a Q-Tip.  Fortunately, there was an extra one on the ground.  I scooped it up and prayed I wouldn’t get an infection.  I worried about the ding-dong packet next to my ear.  It seemed to be making a lot of noise each time.

PROMPT:  Open Wound

It was leaking slowly from the engine block, piling dark and bottomless onto the gravel, seeping down the grate into the ether of the sewer.  I was stranded.  The cars on the highway made distant moaning sounds as they raced by me, separated by a concrete wall.  How long had I been driving?  Had I really crossed a State line?  It seemed only yesterday that he had told me how he had really felt.  “You and I, we’re like buds, really good buds, and sometimes we make out, but we both knew it didn’t mean anything.”  I slammed the hood shut and pounded it with my fist to make sure that both the car and me standing here underneath the street light were real.  It was sick how he could always flip me upside down, and I was definitely turned out.  I sank to my knees and watched as the liquid continued to drip, drip, drip from its mysterious source onto the ground.  I wanted to fix it, to be the kind of independent woman that I always thought I would be when I took shop the first time.  But, you never really grow up to be the kind of person you think you’re gonna’ be when in junior high.  Naw, you just grow up to be a poor, desperate yesterday forgotten on the side of the road.  I walked away from my car, from the sounds of the leakage, pressing my hands to my chest, and to my forehead.  A salute to what we had.

PROMPT:  Trinity

Yeah, I’ll tell you a story:  a ghost, a vampire, and a saint walk into a bar.  The saint says to the vampire, tell me about when you are first bitten.  The ghost says to the vampire, tell me if you’ve ever wanted to have kids.  The vampire says to the saint and the ghost, shut up — i can’t hear myself thinking because of all the ruckus you are making!  Once upon a time, there was a wee little lad that wanted to be a vampire, so he took about 20 vicodin, washed it down with Jim Bean, and then jumped from a building.  When he woke up, he was already a ghost, and he was very sad that he was dead.  He got up to the pearly gates of heaven after about a half century of penance, and being a ghost sucked because grass would always get stuck on his shiny parts whenever he went down into the dirt.  Well, at the pearly gates, he was greeted by a saint, and the saint said — hey i never saw no ghost here before.  The ghost went white as a sheet and said, hey – i want to be a boy.  Well, they argued for a bit, and there was no compromising, so the ghost decided to go down back into the earth as a vampire.  You may wonder if any of this is really possible?  But anything is possible.  So the ghost, now a vampire, realized that when he was a boy he always wanted to be a vampire.  That made him a saint, and being a saint is something that happens when you try really hard to be who you really want to be.  And it happens.

PROMPT:  Nails

Nails, the Butcher said, is a sad, pathetic name for a cat.  The Butcher was immensely fat, like his stogeys, and he had the kind of fat fingers of a man who could wear a ring on each finger and still look like he was royalty.  The Butcher was lecturing his son at the precise moment.  His son was slender, like a fig, or an asparagus wrapped in bacon.  The Butcher thought his son was too slender, and he often brought home giant racks of lamb, giblets of Turkey, and the liver of a moose to feed his slender son.  But now, he realized that his entire family structure was doomed.  Meat was life.  Meat sustained them, payed for the electricity bill, payed for the college fund, paid for happiness.  But now, the meat was going to go to nails.  How unjust could life possibly get?  The Butcher drew his formidable thick eyebrows together, and he roared down at his son, “You and your damn nails don’t belong in my home anymore.  Get out!”  The son looked at him and said, but when I become a carpenter I’m gonna’ need nails.  And then the Butcher knew that his son was not actually his — and the cat meowed plaintively.  The Butcher realized that to save his family he was gonna’ have to kill nails.  He wondered, even though he knew it was wrong, if he should feed Nails to his son.

the first day

first day of the month

first day of the week

first day of ramadan

blessings.  this year is special — i feel it deeply.  my many misgivings about engaging in a spiritual practice which embraces me, and with which i am braced.  despite all the confusions, and all the doubt, i know faith.

it is a step forward to fast this year, as i grow farther away from the specifics that brought me to ramadan — romantic love, which has now matured into its summer hue — not the adult of fall, but no longer the child of spring.

ramadan feeds

it inspires

it perseveres

so much solidarity and anticipation and hunger — i know not how i choose, only that this is my choice and i take responsibility for it.  i am lucky to have friends who fast, and who are my guides into this spiritual awakening.  stay awake, Friends, do not fall asleep — oh rumi, i long to be close to you and drunk with you.

to ramadan

with love


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