Hello dear reader, and welcome to Busted Flip Flops. Here we explore observations of life, musings about being mom (and sounding like your own), weird dreams, unpretentious recipes, ’80’s nostalgia, picking up strays (the furry and the non), and unfeigned poetry. Watch for weekly/monthly posts as these beach reads build and form like, well, a castle in the sand...
I saw myself in the California skies
where I was not
Half-hidden darkness and half-hidden gems
in a southern middle class suburb
We walked to school
and envied the neighbor’s portable television
that occupied the car where our friends watched morning cartoons
as their mom directed street traffic in her blue uniform
except the ones we highlighted in our minds
the girl who played softball like a champ
I couldn’t even catch the ball in our own backyard
Dad tried to teach me but I could never get it
I cried in frustration
My dark bangs and protruding belly
ugly in comparison
to my golden-locked neighbor
who had a stomach like an Olympic gymnast
She was the daughter of the mom
with the portable TV
But she wet the bed
and I always felt like a stranger
in her house.
Interesting are the crows
Their nasal squawks permeate Sunday’s silence
from the mouths of dormant chimneys
There is a purpose to their short, fevered flight patterns
a reason for their dominating calls
But I cannot entirely gather why
as surely it would mean hours upon days to do so
And here in my backyard moments
only a glimpse of their day
The Tufted Titmouse and Chickadee’s chime
barely audible against theirs
Two mourning doves ruffle feathers along the fence’s ridge
and brown squirrels await fallen seed
at the floor of the feeder I have put there
Our human ears distaste that loud caw from above
muffling pleasant birdsong
and perching proudly on our rooftops
But we are in their home.
Picking up the pieces
strown items on the floor
from a basket hurled in solitary anger
where did this come from?
pent up frustration about this stage of life
he was a baby cooing
gazing into my eyes
a boy playing trains and Legos
a teenager on the cusp of manhood
finding his way
now I am the baby
mewing for attention.
The teenagers are here.
Our house was always the one the kids came to. How many breakfasts of waffles did I make? How many trips to the park did we take? How many Nerf wars battled in these rooms and outside the pale, wooden perimeter? Years and years later, I still find those blue, spongy bullets tucked in corners and hiding among domestic tumbleweeds.
The sleepovers and and get-togethers are less frequent in these late teenage years, but they do happen. Last night my son had friends over. They whooped over video games and a backyard fire pit. This morning they drove themselves to get donuts and we shared laughs in my small, crowded kitchen. I love being a part of their conversations, which normally include musical interests and the mundaneness of high school. I also know to slink away to give them space, as much as is possible in a modest, one-level condo.
But I love the closeness. I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are too many distractions for us to not enjoy the closeness. Everyday I go out on my lanai to watch birds. He doesn’t join me in this. It’s not his thing. But he invites me to walk dogs with him on occasion. We snicker about interesting neighbors. Sometimes we don’t say anything at all.
It’s not easy to catch time with him. If I have just five minutes I am grateful. But there’s never really enough time. I love his company so damn much.
On a hill just beyond the view of the Gulf
a seaside town with freshly repaired sidewalks
and paved, perpendicular streets
welcomes a walk at dusk.
The tops of the palms and oak gather darkness
as the backdrop of sunfall illuminates the cirrus clouds
and horizon of slated rooftops.
There is no hurry to run, but rather an urge for a strong-gaited walk
for energetic muscle and new shoes.
A whiff of cigarette smoke permeates from an open garage,
a front door is slowly opened,
potted plants, white gravel, and vine-encased trees
rest on manicured and unruly lawns.
Sprinklers of reclaimed water spray on some dewy earth;
other patches are dry as decayed bone.
The quiet of Sunday plays peacefully
with absence from blaring sirens and piercing landscape machines.
I bury my face in the descending sun as I wander the footpath at dusk,
On a beach walk I saw a sailboat in the distance on the gulf of Mexico. From the shore it loomed nearer, although not in a morose way. It was big and sturdy and coasted easily on the calm, December water. Its sail was brown like dry earth, with writing I could not make out. All alone out there, no other boats crowding it as they usually do on a sunny, Saturday afternoon.
The boat made me think about people in my life. How some are just a long view away. Some are gliding along the shore, some so far away you can barely feel their presence. Others are lapping at the shoreline, either in happy rest or wanton attention. Some do not cast their nets. Some are long gone, or shipwrecked at the bottom of the sea.
There are the boats I try to hail and bring to me, to sit and take comfort in. Those I do not want to sail away. But sometimes they do, or will. And this brings a terror in me I cannot cultivate. It will end the peaceful stature I’ve tried so hard to bring forth and maintain.
Living in the present moment and letting things be as they may is not always simple. The past tries to spin me into its tormenting monsoon. Sometimes I want to moor the hailed boat on my shore and anchor it there forever. But the more I try, the more the boat wants to cast away to sail other blue waters.
If I let it go, will it come back?
If so, will it be solo or bring along a fleet of its own?
. . . . .
A sailboat glided along the distant shoreline
its stately stature coasting on blue December waters
The sail the color of dry earth with writing I could not make out
It appeared as so many people have
Some as that sailboat, just a long view away
Others so far away, their presence barely felt
And more, lapping at the shore line
In happy rest
Or wanton attention
Some do not cast their nets
Others are long gone
or shipwrecked at the bottom of the sea
I hail those which envelope comfort
and pray they stay
But some boats sail away
as they are meant to do
And I try not to think of this as a torrent of
sadness and regret
or fight to anchor them forever
For the more I struggle, the farther they sail
along other blue waters.
One death at a time
For I can’t bare more
And they say you are at peace
And this may be so
But watching the breath leave your body was gut wrenching
You are surrounded by rainbows
And there are more songs I cannot listen to
Lingering too long on your exit is a death sentence for presence
Fuel for suffering
All the days of your life cherished
All the days in your absence regretted
Let us grieve not in solidarity
But space in between
Just one death at a time
Splayed out like veins from wrist to hand
like neurons transmitting in the body
or spacetime in the cosmos
An elaborate (sinuous) network, arrangement
from dampened sodden earth
to root to trunk to canopy
The muted sky shines white
through the bored holes in the leaves
they dance ever so slightly
to the rythm of July
And the mangroves below intertwine
like so many fingers
in a connection
cool north wind
wisps gently around the brick corner
welcoming autumn’s first dance into the air
and on cotton-covered skin
the red swing beckons for gliding conversation
amid a back yard of years of soil tilled by hand
now a green landscape which to run and gather memories along the edge of blue grey horizon
this is how I remember the beginning of the season at their house
before their driveway goodbye waves floated solely into the chasms of my memories
Written in the midst of the Covid-19 stay-at-home order, April 2020.
This place a kind of ghost town
like the emptiness of your heart
from the isolation
and absence of embrace
chairs stacked away
and the pastry cases bare
We walked these streets when you were little
and twice while he was alive
You rode the carousel but I
never saw him ride
I like the quiet
this solace to
So I have a space to linger
where there was
But you are always better