Then there are the days when I play the buffoon, the juggler whose balls come crashing to the floor bringing tears to the crowd of joy or sorrow, I cannot hope to tell, for this day I can only flail about, the circus clown, and you had best keep your distance lest I break you as well.
Each morning we stood as the Principal intoned the Pledge of Allegiance over the tinny PA system. One morning as we rose, hands over hearts, we noticed someone had put up the Canadian flag in the holder over the door. The Principal threatened to call all of our parents unless the guilty party came forward, and we struggled vainly to swallow our giggles. No one came forward and they found the Stars and Stripes stuck in a large mixing bowl in the kitchen. The Principal scheduled an assembly to remind us of our need to honor the flag and the country, because it stood for all that was good, for all that we had and that everyone else wanted, but we were under our desks in the painful tuck position we would assume if they ever dropped the bomb. They didn’t tell us that if we were close enough to ground zero the position would let us leave a neater shadow on the floor. Some days we sang My Country ‘Tis of Thee all except for Larry who preferred God Save the Queen until the Principal told him it was sacrilege, since we created it and the Brits stole it. Years later, outside the Federal Building the Principal, now retired and girding for battle with Social Security, saw me, protest sign in hand, flag sewn across the seat of my jeans. He stared, then looked away ashamed at still another failure, not like his two sons who lay in eternal repose in the Federal cemetery on the Island of Oahu.
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press, (2008)
I have fond memories of a childhood I never lived. Those are the best childhoods from for they reflect life as you meant it to be lived. In this life my father is in his late nineties, still smiles when he sees me, not didn’t clutch his chest sixty-one years ago, didn’t fall to the floor, didn’t leave me half an orphan again, doesn’t live only in the periphery of my dreams.
forty-three years I’ve searched for my voice a whisper cracked hoarse one moment fluid another then silent. I shape words which fall off my tongue and lie in puddles on the floor. I step in them slipping regaining perilous toehold. I scream strangled thoughts dreams are forgotten the night laughs, she touches my forehead with her lips I welcome the silence of sleep.
First appeared in RE:AL The Journal of Liberal Arts 23:2, 1998