Archive for the ‘Sweet Tooth – Issue #16 – “SUMMER SOLSTICE”’ Category

Big Purse

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

She carries a big purse that smells like leather and tobacco.

Pink lipstick and spearmint gum are always inside.

The long strap is frayed at the shoulder

where her well-lotioned hands

have gripped for nine-and-a-half years.

She drags the sack toward her across the solid oak table,

across the two large marks where his well-greased forearms

have eaten through the varnish

for nine-and-a-half years.

Nine-and-a-half years

since he cock-a-doodle-doo’ed

in their wedding bed.

Actually stood up in the bed,

struttin’ and scratchin’ like a Banty rooster.

She sparks up a Benson & Hedges Ultra Light Menthol 100,

chews all the sugar out of a stick of Wrigley’s

‘til she can snap it good between her back teeth,

smears some lotion on her hands,

and vacuums the green shag carpet.

She slips her big toe in the hole from the bullet that just missed his boots.

She glares at him, all splayed out on the black plastic couch,

comin’ down after three days with his best buddies,

Jack, Johnny, Jim, and Mary Jane.

She props her cigarette between her front teeth

and slides her finger up his slick forearms

and sees a smudge of red lipstick on the collar

of the shirt she ironed three days ago.

She takes a long drag and holds it in a few seconds before exhaling completely.

His mouth is agape under his snoring beak.

She flicks ashes in the hole,

making him sputter and spit, “You crazy bitch!”

then fall face down back into the black plastic.

She clicks off the vacuum cleaner

and gazes out the large picture window beyond where he lies,

while the motor whirrs down to a dim hum.

She puts on her pink lipstick, presses her lips together,

and unlocks the front door,

leaving her big purse on the solid oak table.


Sunday, June 9th, 2013

I get up early these days.

Old bodies don’t need as much sleep, they say. Well, I don’t know who they is but what they say is hogwash. The only reason you get up early is either you have to pee or something aches. My hairbrush used to be filled with black hair and lots of it.  Now I am lucky if I have enough white fuzz to cover the scalp. As for aches, sitting cross-legged on a sidewalk was a piece of cake when Mary Nell and I…

Ollie, Ollie, Oxen free, Red Rover Red Rover, the sounds from the playground filled my ears. Recess was almost over. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mrs. Jenkins, the teacher’s aide, check her watch getting ready to call, Line Up.

Mary Nell and I had been playing Jacks the whole recess. Sitting on the sidewalk, we tolerated the idiots who insisted on walking through us. It was on purpose, of course. There wasn’t a person in Granger Elementary who didn’t know about the fierce Jacks game waged every day on that stretch of pocked, dust fringed concrete just east of the girls’ bathrooms.                                              

My turn. Ninesies. I threw the ball high. My hand flashed.

Whew! Beat that Jacks ball again.  

Ninesies filled my closing fist until I dropped one.


Shoot, so close! I’ll get them next time.

Handing Mary Nell the ball, I dribbled the Jacks into her cupped hands. The ten pieces of metal each with four prongs wore vivid colors two grades ago but after innumerable scrapes across concrete sidewalks there was little color left. Onesies, twosies, threesies, the game proceeded until Mary Nell beat the ball and threw ninesies. I tensed as the Jacks left her hand…five together, two apart but close together, and then three scattered. Looking over the situation, Mary Nell readied her hand to throw the ball. The bell rang.

Mrs. Jenkins’ Line Up reached every corner of the play ground.

Mary Nell threw the ball.

Dragging feet stirred the hot, dry dust as resistance to the afternoon’s lessons prolonged every precious second of recess time.

Mrs. Jenkins spoke the second time.

Give me the Jacks.

The ball rolled off the sidewalk and made a slowing path through the dust. I went after it. Coming back I saw my friend, her red hair damp from the summer sun, tendrils loosed from the head band by perspiration and concentration, collecting the ten Jacks. Using her fingers, she opened the bag and put the Jacks in it. Taking the ball from my hand she dropped it in and carefully tied the drawstrings.

Handing it to Mrs. Jenkins, Mary Nell got in line with me right behind her. 

Mary Nell and I didn’t play Jacks for two weeks.

When Mrs. Jenkins returned the bag, she said, I hope this will teach you a lesson.

Mary Nell’s daughter called this morning; my friend died at 2:17 a.m.

We were fierce competitors. I will be joining her soon.

Wouldn’t you know that she would die on June 20th, the longest day of the year, just to be able get in a lot of practice before I arrive?

I wonder if she has found out if God knows what Mrs. Jenkins didn’t; that no one ever interrupts a Jacks game once the ball is thrown.

Summer Solstice Surfing

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Summer Solstice Surfing
Midsummer’s night’s eve:
they stroll through the Vieux Carre;
a spectre flits, flies, flicks.

Spectre casts her bewitched sparkles:
elle dit “chanterez, gouterez, aimerez”
she says “you will sing, taste, love”

“mais le billet sera votre Coeur.”
“but the cost will be your heart.”
The couple becomes besotted;

the earth continues axial
slant towards its star. More
magic glitter flashes;

they blink and open their eyes
to a beach party, sand grits
their suddenly shoeless feet.

Over the roar of the ocean,
the sound of The Beach Boys
singing “Catch a Wave”

serenades them. The door
of a 1965 Chrysler Woody
swings open. Moondoggy shouts,

“Gidget, baby, let’s hang ten;
surf’s up!”