The World Turned Upside Down
The sky and the earth traded places today.
Earth creatures whose feet gravitated to the
ground now breeze over shape-shifting
cotton patches. House morphs into horse
and horse gallops into mountains. These are
the New World. This upside-down reality
imposes Brobdingnagian challenges on little
cloud walkers. Scale and 3-D depth go awry.
Eyes must adjust. Little bodies are learning to
walk again on wispy feet shy of the blue sky.
All In The Family
His brother had been soft as pulpy leaves in autumn,
not soft and strong as parachute silk like Mom. In his
brother was enough of the quicksilver indulgence of
his Dad to spoil him and enough gentleness of Mom
to soften him, but not enough of either to stay his wrought
hand from a gun. Dad refused to plant any shrubs around
houses they occupied. His itch to move on could strike any
time. Mom would never have a home where she could get
to know other Moms and their kids, follow them through
the grades into adult life. Yet, his aimlessness somehow
made her what she wanted to be. As she grayed, the more she
flowered in herself. The older and wealthier he got, the more
the man of parts fell apart. His bluster and con waned as her
true strength waxed. His friends fled him as her circle grew.
He sank lower, as she rose. Her death did not veil his days with
mourning. He resented her leaving. Quick as a new house, he fell
into the trap of a young siren he adorned in his wife’s best clothes.
A month after he died, his last son heard about it with vast relief.
Glaucoma clouded my vision during palliative
care. I made a bad decision, staring at my liver
spots, my solipsistic stigmata of old age. I was
deluded, of weak faith. My mind, beset by dying
neurons, made me think myself a would-be saint,
a regular, good old boy Saint Francis, preaching
to the birds and staying the fangs of Gubbio’s wolf.
My body, my poor body, finds its way in shadows
with no view to see the peaks from this valley. My
electric wheelchair climbs the access runway as
I work the joy stick above the angry lake of fire.
My wash churned in suds cycle as she pushed a
laundry cart in. Sunday, 6 a.m. and society was
not around with its cleaner, 11 a.m. liturgical cycle.
I had seen her around, recently moved in on the
second floor. First sighting at this wash hole though.
Twig-thin, somber, her eyes hollow and stark for one
so young. She had a presence I felt strongly. We talked
as she stuffed a machine with her feminine stuff that
seemed to cycle more smoothly on her quarters than my
masculine stuff did on my quarters. (The ear can hear
sounds based on gender stereotypes, I had read.) Annoyed
I was there at 6, she was used to her choice of machines.
Her voice and the way she moved (also her under-things)
did not belong to a woman up for church I said. (We
sociologists like to interview.) She smiled thinly. She
needed to wash before her 8 a.m. Alcoholics Anonymous
meeting, a weekly washday where candor and tears cycle
guilt and redemption. I said, not in a superior way, I did not
drink. She wished she did not love drink so much, but now
she could hold down a job at the box factory. I could not
feel her pain. I am not privy to addiction. I do not even
imbibe that demon drink coffee. This I said. I knew the wash
was over then. But it wasn’t. She looked at me in a way that
connected our eyes in sync to the sturdy rhythms of the wash.
This has been going on for some time now as we try to cleanse
our souls in a baptism paid for by quarters from the local bank.
In these spinning pools lurk secret depths on Sunday mornings.
Bio: G. Louis Heath, Ph.D., Berkeley, 1969, is Emeritus Professor, Ashford University. Clinton, Iowa. He enjoys reading his poems at open mics. He often hikes along the Mississippi River, stopping to work on a poem he pulls from his back pocket, weather permitting. His books include Leaves Of Maple, Long Dark River Casino, andRedbird Prof: Poems Of A Normal U, 1969-1981. He has published poems in a wide array of journals. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org