Memory Hangover – penned 2014

Memory Hangover


I opened up the magnum of memorabilia that is
Life, until death did us part
And let the warm taste of remembered love
Fill my mouth, overflow my lips and spill onto my chest.


As it soaked into my skin near my breastbone
It felt heavier than before
When it was a living thing
Infused with the daily breathing in of you


I traced the line of your jaw on the screen
Looked deep into your brown lively eyes
And fell backwards in time
Like a drunken sailor on first shore leave


As I fell, images flashed past my mind’s eye
Sex on the beach (and not in a cup)
A fight in an alley in a downpour
People-watching from balconies, making up their lives in snippets


Broken bones and torn flesh in a hospital bed
Pale freckled face awash in computer screen back-light
Frolicking with the dogs in the pasture with frost
Hands on my shoulders and a kiss on the head


It is an old-time carousel slide show that lives in my brain
Locked tight, unmoving, until release becomes necessary
To let grief seep out through selected pores
So as not to overwhelm the universe with the heaviness


Curled up on the floor of my memory, eyes open wide
Dry heaving up love, tears, laughter and pain
I realize I have done the previously thought unimaginable
Lived, without you by my side


It looks different though, from out here
Than it did from beside you back there
Hindsight is twenty-twenty it is said
And one cannot un-know the known


Like an abandoned tortoise shell
Some of the intricate scaling
That transforms the bony carapace
Swings loosely, revealing the hard truth


The love stands unscathed
Even as in acknowledged, willful destruction
I smash the magnum, watch it shatter explosively
And I tiptoe warily through the sharp edges of broken illusion,


I swallow two doses of reality, served up by elapsed time
Before I lay my swimming head down on the pillow
And hydrate my weary blood as it pounds in my head
With the waters of understanding


And so, when I awaken in the morning
Hopefully I will circumvent
The disorientation, the wincing, the vulnerability
Of a memory hangover of you


Inspiration: I finally gained access to an external hard drive, inaccessible for several years. Inside were photos, E-mails written, poems, fragments of a ten-year segment of my life. Even a .wav file, with my late husband saying “To my love and my wife, I love you now, and forever”, recorded over ten years ago. And there were other, more bitter, things.
I’ve never had a hangover personally, don’t get them; but I watched their impact on him for many years.
Thanks go out to a friend, who, a few months ago, in one sentence by a fire-ring, made a hairline crack in the illusion, something that I was too weak to do.

The Shell Man – penned in 2011

For those who have served, and those yet to serve. Thank you.

The Shell Man

I met a man who lost his soul
On foreign soil in some foxhole
His thoughts and words were black as coal
As he let slip actions and places just to hear the words unfold

Body scarred and broken
But those were just a token
The mind was bled dry, as the words cracked open
As if he could erase memories from him if they were just spoken

He searched my face for…revulsion or fear
His hands shook and his voice cracked as he drew near
I was just a nameless person who entered his sphere
And out tumbled horrors, things hidden from those he held dear

I listened and marveled at this shattered man-child
Still alive after rucking in lands so wild
Wondered how I could help from inside my life so mild
So I shook his hand, met his eyes and then I just smiled

I thanked him for his sacrifice, for he is a dead man walking
His rushing flow of words were more than mere talking
And the things that he spoke would have had the impolite gawking
So I listened and listened as his thoughts he kept stalking

Everything that is good in a man, judging wrong from right
Was lost in this child somewhere in the night
He knows not whether to run, to hide or to fight
He fears he’ll no longer feel or see the beautiful and the light

He says that his soul is permanently black
And that from where he has been there is no turning back
He didn’t follow, he led, the leader of no pack
A one man terror show with just a rucksack.

How can anyone, anywhere return from this place
Without fear, without madness, marking his face
And how does one reach inside for that beautiful place
Turning darkness to light and those things begin to erase

I have no answer, no wisdom, no bandage for this
Only God can heal all the things inside that are amiss
But how can I enjoy a falcon, a sunrise, feel my natural bliss
When now I know that man-shells like this exist?

Nothing I can do or say can ease or repair
A man whose heart is so full of despair
The only wisdom I can try to dispense out there
Is that when you see a veteran, think about the burdens they bear.

Right wars or wrong wars, the choice is not theirs
Doing commanders bidding, their feelings they cannot air
Don’t mock them, or spit on them, or curse their heirs
For goodness sake, show them that somewhere, someone cares.



Inspiration: A newly discharged soldier returning from multiple Middle East tours that I gave a ride – he was heading to the VA in Memphis as he had nowhere to stay.  His story was tragic and black. I found him in the newspaper later, arrested for crimes against his family. How utterly sad.