Ricky

It was a beautiful fall day
And a rain soaked night
With leaves covering the street
The night they hit that tree.

No one was drunk
No one was high
Kids just drive too fast
over wet leaves.

I used to play with Ricky
He was kind of a tool
He came off as arrogant and snobby
Even in the fifth grade.

But he could run
And I know he lit up his parents eyes
And I’m sure they expected a lot
And I’m sure he felt the pressure.

But a lot of us did
And we were just kids
So we played baseball and softball and wiffle ball–
I don’t think we cared as long as we could get on the diamond.

We played kickball too
Which just proves my point
We just wanted to play
On that diamond, which happened to be across the street from his house.

I buried a time capsule near that diamond once
I wonder if it is still there,
I buried it years before Ricky died
I don’t even remember exactly where.

I hate that his parents don’t get to see him
They don’t get to fight
They don’t get to make up
No one gets to grow with each other.

I remember the diamond
And how we used to play
And I wish that he were here with us
and not just in spirit.

That Bathtub Had Fancy Claws

There was a moment
When I was much younger
That stands out still
A moment where someone really went all out
And made me really smile.
Of course it was a girl
(I am still a flirt,
and a sucker)
but it was so heartfelt
And wonderful
And no one expected anything wrong
Or much at all…

It was when she said,
“Let’s go upstairs,”
that I began to feel better
and no, this doesn’t go there–
get your mind out of the gutter.
We were at a dance
in a mansion
and the upstairs was off-limits.

She wore a long sequined evening gown
and it sparkled in the light
as she bent
to step under the ropes,
pulling me by the hand behind her.

I don’t know
if I could ever
forget
what it was like
for two teenagers
to sneak up those stairs
her in that sparkling gown
and me in my step-father’s black tuxedo…

and there is no guilt,
and no shame,
and even the memory of it
makes me smile.

She was ravishingly beautiful
With long dark locks
and big beautiful eyes.
And,
I don’t dream about her
and don’t pine for what once was
I just am happy
that it was
Her dress sparkled
and so did her eyes
and upstairs
it was with mischief.

“Let’s get in here,
and take pictures…
it will be funny.”
It was
but it was a lot more
than just funny–
it made me smile.

Sugarface

The indomitable spirit of Sugarface
Was tied to mortal coil
And cut down like a blade of grass
By a large american car.
Sugarface was a cat
White from head to tail
and looking at her bleeding out
shocked my little child’s mind.
I miss that cat
with the indomitable spirit
that cat with the attitude…
of a cat.
I hope some day
at long last
that Sugarface,
now larger than life
will return.
I would like to put a saddle on her
and ride her into battle–
obviously this might require some strong drugs
but Battle cat was always cool.
Maybe I should get my next cat a helmet.

The Smell of Papaya

Polka-dotted dress
hair cascading down your back
you wore those “flats”
and talked to me,
as if I knew what “flats” really were.

Living memories of joy
feels like flying in the clouds
I remember many things
and many smiles all around
Though the way is often rough–
more than I would care
I know that life continues on
but polka-dots still make me smile.

Witness

A blind man
a man from Nigeria
Stayed in my house when i was a child
Just for a few months.

He always asked me to pray
He was a pastor
He may have been
the happiest man
I ever met.

He taught me to sing a song
Perhaps you know it…?
It goes like this:

“I found a new life.
I found a new life.
If anyone asks me,
what’s a matter with you my friend?
I’ll say I’m saved,
sanctified,
Holy-Ghost-filled,
Water baptized,
Jesus is mine,
Heavenly bound,
I found a new life.”

We would sing this song
on repeat
clapping-
sometimes off beat,
very,
very,
Loudly.

He would laugh when it was over
He would clasp my hand
and hug me like a bear
it made me
uncomfortable
at first.

Now I think back
and remember
my blind nigerian friend
and his joy.

Best witness ever.

The Ice-Cream Girl With Big Large Breasts

remember that time we went out for thai food
and you had just found out
that you had to turn around
and go right back
to the sand
remember how cute the girl was?
the one at the ice cream stand afterwards?
they told me about your dreams
your nightmares
the ones that came true
they told me how the second time,
he didn’t miss.
I got the call
the telling me you were dead
not too long after that
I was in an airport
Everything went silent
I only heard my heart
and I just wanted to scream
and the beating wouldn’t stop
It continues even now…

The Stairwell

The church was big
The building, that is
I was small
Very small
There was a stairwell
A quiet place
That climbed from the solid basement
To the third floor height.
Unless people were exiting a service
It was
almost always
empty
but not empty
entirely
It was bathed,
soaked,
saturated
in prayer.
How many people stepped into this quiet place
To say thanks?
To confess?
To plead on their own behalf,
or that of someone they loved?
I could not have counted then
It was too many
And the place
to me
seemed holy.
No matter what pain,
no matter what had been done,
no matter what I did,
no matter what happened–
when I stepped into that stairwell
I felt
God.

I always lingered in the stairwell
Hoping He would speak
Afraid I would hear
Not feeling I deserved such things

It was electric magic in that place
It was one of the few places
My spirit
would calm down…

When I left that church
so many years later
(“a country-club,” I said)
it was very hard
to leave
that stairwell.

What if I went to another church
and they didn’t have a stairwell?
or what if it was always choked with people?
never still?
never quiet?
what if God would not visit other stairwells?
what if I was leaving God?

I’ll always remember
the peace I felt
when all my world was hell
it wasn’t hell
in that stairwell.