Archives for posts with tag: marriage

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Still Waiting
by Mary Anna Kruch

I.
When I walked to our meeting place
to wait for you by the river,
it was another 70s evening
for girls with flowers in their hair
and boys lucky enough to snag deferments
or low lottery numbers.
Students strolled by in a restless shuffle
back to dorms for dinner.
Light grew dim, and I waited.
Night classes stirred sandals into a growing hustle
past the peace sign on the big rock,
past the tents in People’s Park.
Still, I waited.
Guitars strummed; leaflets and weed were offered.
A boisterous group with signs marched to Beaumont Tower.
They had no problem speaking their minds.
But you did.

II.
I thought back to a night
soon after we met.
We sat up until 4 a. m.
under a faint, blue light on your bed
where you spilled what guts you did not lose
on the front lines.
You spoke of women and children—
huts you would not set ablaze,
the surprise attack,
and the men in your company
who were gone—while you lived on.
The war took so much more than your body—
for a time, it took your voice.
As I dared to reveal myself,
you held me at a distance,
masking your face,
closing me out of all but the most required talk.
Did I misjudge you? Expect too much? Push too hard?
I was aware of my naivety—
you who had breathed death.

III.
Still, in the beginning, you had agreed
to walk and talk and just be together.
So I resolved to be patient,
to hold my peace     to give you room
to move beyond my need   to know your mind.
So I waited at our meeting place.
You did not see me
waiting for you by the river.
An hour went by—
and then another.
When at last your headlights
came into view,
you drove right past
without a look in my direction.
Why couldn’t you see me
waiting for you by the river?
Branches whispered, entwined
over slow, black water.
The breeze kicked up, grew cold.

IV.
We are better now.
I learned to leave you alone
in your dark moods,
and we don’t always talk with words.
At the river, we did not know
the depth of Agent Orange’s
destruction: leukemia.
Now, infusions restore some lost power;
you stand tall in the growth of our landscape.
Dark times are rare.
Nonetheless, years later
I pass that place and remember
the fear the hurt the dread
as crowds of students still head to class,
still gather at Beaumont Tower,
still form a never-ending flow.
I wanted to talk, but you didn’t.
See me. I am here,
will always be here.
I am still waiting for you.

PAINTING: Green Target by Jasper Johns (1955).

This poem was published by The Mark Literary Review in 2018.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a snapshot of one day shortly after I met my husband, a disabled Vietnam veteran. He had been drafted just before graduation, wounded the first month there, and then sent to various overseas hospitals for 18 months. He soon  returned to school to finish his degree program at Michigan State University, staying with one of his two brothers also enrolled at the university. The poem is set on the MSU campus near the river, where we would sometimes meet, and it is addressed to him. At 19, I did not have a lot of experience with boyfriends and knew almost nothing of PTSD, but found after nearly 48 years of marriage, I am persistent—stubborn even, and we are both all in. There have been many weeks, especially in the first half of our marriage, where I have been forced to, as the poem says, “… hold my peace    to give you room    to move beyond my need    to know your mind…” The final stanza, IV, brings the reader up to date. Since the night described in stanza II, my husband has not spoken of his experiences. He was just one of a few men in his company who survived an ambush by the Vietcong. Over the past year, the pandemic lockdown has exacerbated my husband’s restless need to get into the car and just leave. But over the years, he has also learned to navigate my anxiety and depression, so I remain, as always, there, still waiting (for him). My poem, “Still Waiting,” was the first of many that I have written over the past four years that are my way of working through the ongoing process of sharing my life with a man who carries so many physical and emotional scars.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Anna Kruch is a career educator and writer, whose poetry is inspired by her Italian and American families, social justice, PTSD, and nature. She leads a local writing group and mentors new teachers and young writers. Recent poetry appears in Wayne Literary Review, Third Wednesday, Snapdragon, Humana Obscura, Panyplyzine, Blue Heron Review, and five anthologies. Her first poetry collection, We Draw Breath from the Same Sky, was published in 2019 by Finishing Line Press. Visit her at maryannakruch.com and on Facebook and Instagram.

hokusai plum
My Wife Says—
by Shahé Mankerian

In your poems, you remember the kiss
your mother gave you under a loquat tree.

Pressed between stanzas, a blind dog
hides in the residue of a demitasse.

In the melted snow of Mount Ararat,
you always trace the face of God.

You’d rather describe death by skewers
in the sewers of Beirut than kiss me

in a steamy sonnet beneath the stained-
glass gown of the Virgin. I don’t need

morning walks on Champs-Élysées
or a blue heart pendant from Tiffany’s.

My needs are minimal like a haiku.
I’m still waiting for a poem, a pristine plum,

like the kind William Carlos Williams
stole from the fridge—so sweet and cold.

PAINTING: Plum Blossoms and Moon by Katshushika Hokusai (1803).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always loved and admired Charles Bukowski’s poem “one for old snaggle-tooth.” It’s an exquisitely vulnerable love poem dedicated to FrancEyE, the mother of Bukowski’s only child. The poem I wrote is dedicated to the woman I love who reminds me periodically that I no longer write her poems. The prompt “I am still waiting…” coupled with Bukowski’s inspirational verse provided me with a poem of redemption, a long overdue birthday gift to my wife.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Hovsepian School in Pasadena, California. He is on the board of the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). His debut poetry collection, History of Forgetfulness, will be published by Fly on the Wall Press in October 2021.

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Reassurance
by Barbara Eknoian

You left without a goodbye,
leaving a sticky residue
in my mind.
I’m wondering,
if given the chance,
what you might have said.
Honey, it’s been a nice ride,
but it’s time for me to go.
Maybe, I’ll see my folks,
get some answers,
and finally learn
what it was all about.

I’m waiting for a sign,
perhaps in a dream,
not like the one
that appeared when
you first left me:
You were singing
in your high school choir,
which made no sense,
since you always said
you had refused to join
when your music teacher
pulled you into his class
by your collar.

I am still waiting for you
to tell me
all that you might have said
about your romantic feelings
in our long marriage.
I am waiting to hear your voice
in a dream say,
I’d marry you again, Honey.

Previously published in the author’s chapbook, Life Is But a Dream

PAINTING: Artist and His Wife by Marc Chagall (1969).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I became a widow, poems about my husband flowed out of me because I wanted everyone to know what a wonderful husband, father, and grandpa he was. I had enough poetry to have a chapbook published by Arroyo Seco Press.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Eknoian writes narrative poetry and novels. Her work has appeared in Pearl, Chiron Review, Red Shift, and several Silver Birch Press’s anthologies: Silver, Green, Summer, and Self-Portrait. Her poetry book, Why I Miss New Jersey, and her latest novel, Hearts on Bergenline Avenue, are available at Amazon.

4
Trepidation
by Thomas R. Thomas

I am nervous
venturing out
from the safety

of our home
My wife
bedbound

susceptible
to any virus—
stray bacteria

and now
especially—
so I gear up

when venturing
out the door when
in dire need

Breathing the
warm air behind
the mask

I start the engine
drive to the
pharmacy

put on the
purple gloves
then toss them

before I
get back
in my car

wipe all that
I touch  with
clorox wipes

and throw my
clothes in
the wash

before I feel
safe to greet
my sick wife

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas R. Thomas publishes the small press Arroyo Seco Press. Publications include Carnival, Chiron Review, and Silver Birch Press. His books are Scorpio, Five Lines, Climbing Eternity, in which the world is turned upside down, the art of invisibility, Star Chasing, The High Cost of Dying, and, soon to be released from Tebot Bach, three on a wire.

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Masks
by Joan Colby

Our daughter is at the door with
A plastic baggie containing two masks
And some alcohol wipes. Ordered from China
A month ago,they have finally arrived
In time, we hope, to save us.

I contemplate if you had survived
How would we have managed—getting you to the
Clinics for the treatments that kept you alive.
These clinics might be closed like
Everything else. To shelter in place, for you
Would have been suicide.

Anyway, you died before that could
Happen. One bad thing, at least, that you
Dodged. You could hardly breathe—
How would you have tolerated this mask?

O my unmasked love, I’m glad you didn’t have
To bear any more even if, for me, it seems
Unbearable
To venture into the poisoned world
With a white cup over my face
Like a muzzled animal—no words, no cry.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written after the death of my husband on Feb. 27 just before the Covid-19 virus hit us. This poem will ultimately be part of a book to be called The Salt Widow.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She was a finalist in the GSU Poetry Contest (2007), Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize (2009, 2012), and received honorable mentions in the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Contest (2008, 2010). Her poems are winners of the 2014 and 2016 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. She also was selected as an International Merit Award Winner in the 2015 Atlanta Review contest She has published 22 books including  Selected  Poems, which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize  “and Ribcage, which won the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her latest books are Her Heartsongs  from Presa Press, Joyriding to Nightfall from FutureCycle Press and Bony Old Folks from Cyberwit Press. She has a new book forthcoming from The Poetry Box titled The Kingdom of the Birds. She is a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Good Works Review.

Tennille door
When Peace Departs
by Alarie Tennille

You pack a bag, leave
our house, pull the front
door closed between us.
Silence soon rumbles
room to room, scratching
itself. It rattles
windows, presses
an ear to the door, leans
over me in bed. Clicks
its teeth – tick, tick, tick.

CREDIT: A version of this poem was first published in the author’s collection Waking on the Moon.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For almost 43 years, my husband has made me feel happy, safe, and loved. I get nervous being alone at night on those rare occasions when Chris travels and wrote this poem while he was away. Our cats, though meaning well with their house patrols, often impersonate intruders. Now, like many of you, I’m a bit bonkers over being housebound, but togetherness is still a blessing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alarie Tennille graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she serves on the Emeritus Board of The Writers Place. Her latest poetry collection is Waking on the Moon. Her first collection, Running Counter Clockwise, was first runner-up for the Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence (both books available on Amazon). She was recently honored to receive a 2020 Fantastic Ekphrastic Award from The Ekphrastic Review. Please visit her at alariepoet.com to check out her blog and learn more about her writing.

Patrick T. Reardon.......
Saw you at the hop
by Patrick T. Reardon

I was nine when I saw
you through open
eighth grade door —
before you went to
Army, to Europe, to
Normandy Beach a
week after D-Day,
and hernia, and
British nurse Betsie,
and Germany, the camp.

Later, a man at the
Thomist Club dance
in school basement —
what was that year? —
your head close to
low ceiling, thin, solid,
arms akimbo.

I told you to dance
with me. Your eyes
dove into my brain
and neck and lungs
and chest and heart
and stomach and dark
place, full of light.

I am your island,
you, my fortress.
We close our front
door around each
other, over us, like
a counterpane, and
I am persuaded
that neither debt nor
wealth, nor demons,
nor powers, nor
tempting, nor
weaknesses, nor
now, nor future,
nor then, nor
height, nor depth,
nor width, nor sons
nor daughters in
their wildernesses,
nor all, nor nothing,
shall separate us.
We are enough.

PHOTO: The author outside his home in Chicago.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My parents fell in love at the post-war dances in the late 1940s in the parish hall of the church and school they had earlier attended, four or five grades apart, St. Thomas Aquinas.  This poem is, in a roundabout way, about their front door and about their eyeball-to-eyeball love for each other.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon, who has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize, is the author of eight books, including the poetry collection Requiem for David and Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious analysis of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence. His poetry has appeared in Silver Birch Press, San Antonio Review, Ariel Chart, Cold Noon, Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Ground Fresh Thursday, Literary Orphans, Rhino, Spank the Carp, Main Street Rag, Down in the Dirt, Picaroon, Time for Singing, The Write Launch, Hey I’m Alive, Meat for Tea, Tipton Poetry Journal, UCity Review, Under a Warm Green Linden and The Write City. Reardon, who worked as a Chicago Tribune reporter for 32 years, has published essays and book reviews widely in such publications as the Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, National Catholic Reporter and U.S. Catholic. His novella Babe was short-listed by Stewart O’Nan for the annual Faulkner-Wisdom Contest. His Pump Don’t Work blog can be found at patricktreardon.com.

Jen&cat-Lodi House
The Ring
by Jennifer Lagier

My first husband slipped
the honeymoon gift,
a tiny gold band,
onto my little finger.
I wore it ten years,
through good times and bad,
sickness and health.

After our traumatic divorce,
I used my settlement
to buy a run-down old house,
spent days pulling weeds,
pruning roses,
patching and painting
crumbling plaster.

One night while bathing
after hours of hard work,
I discovered the pinkie ring
had disappeared,
fretted, but let it go
like everything else
I had relinquished.

Months later, while
turning compost,
it magically reappeared
among potato peels,
coffee grinds,
rotten grass clippings.

I took it as a sign,
benediction of my new life,
renovated home,
flourishing friendships,
flowering garden.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me, 1981, in my restored Lodi farmhouse. Taken by Bill Rickard.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I thought about the theme of “Lost and Found,” I remembered a time of uprooting and upheaval in my life—going through a wrenching divorce and starting over on my own. At that time, I lost everything, including my ring, but discovered self-sufficiency and the satisfaction of independence. Rediscovering my lost ring was a karmic affirmation that I was on the right path.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published 13 books, taught with California Poets in the Schools, and helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Her newest books are Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press), Harbingers (Blue Light Press), and Camille Abroad (FutureCycle). Forthcoming: Like a B Movie (FutureCycle Press, 2018). Visit her at jlagier.net.

Author photo by Laura Bayless. 

Collins

Key
by Clive Collins

I lost our car key somewhere on the sand at Governor’s Beach, or if not there, then coming or going along the forest track that led it.

Governor’s Beach was one of the most beautiful beaches along the Freetown Peninsula, a long white curve with a winding, shifting river that emptied out of the mangroves into the Atlantic Ocean. There was seldom anyone on the beach, and so it was a favourite, but we had been stopped and robbed before on our way to it, and so it had become our routine to leave everything locked in our Renault 12 and go down to the beach in our swimming clothes. The single key to the car stayed in the pocket of my shorts.

Except that afternoon, it did not.

It was our fifth year in Africa, and our last year there as a couple. We had quarreled that morning and during the afternoon at the beach, scarcely exchanged a word. Late in the day, thirsty, tired, hungry and each of us still nursing our own private grievances, we got back to the car and I found I no longer had the key. We looked everywhere there was to look: it was pointless.

Finally, my soon-to-be-ex-wife in her bikini and me in my shorts, we walked up to the paved road to try to thumb a lift back to our house. We felt exposed, and we were. The light was gathering. Night would soon fall. Afraid, for the first time in a long time, we held hands.

Someone or something blessed us. A car came. The people in it were our close neighbours.

Back at the house, I burgled my own home. We were quiet that night, but also sad. Perhaps we understood that more than a key was lost.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me, somewhere in Sierra Leone, 1978.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I found this a challenging prompt because, it seems to me, the things we possess and then lose are never simply what they are, but all the myriad associations that we as possessors invest them with either over a long period of time, or at the moment they are lost or found, or even after that moment.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Leicester, England, Clive Collins has spent the greater part of his life working as a teacher in Ireland, Sierra Leone, and Japan. He is the author of two novels, The Foreign Husband (Marion Boyars) and Sachiko’s Wedding (Marion Boyars/ Penguin Books). Misunderstandings, a collection of short stories, was joint-winner of the Macmillan Silver PEN Award in 1994. More recently his work has appeared in online journals such as Penny, Cecile’s Writers, The Story Shack, and terrain.org. He was a short-listed finalist in the 2009 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. A chapbook of his short stories is to be published by Red Bird Chapbooks in 2017.

Find your soulmate love concept icon road sign
On the Road to Matrimony
by Howard Richard Debs

The escapade had its just desserts,
as I met my wife of now 50 years on
account of it. Back in 1958 when
I was just 15 dear old dad,
in the automobile biz himself
at the time, slipped
someone downtown a little
incentive in return for a driver’s
license with my name on it
a year before its time.
Compounding the “felony” he
rewarded me with a dilapidated
brown Dodge sedan, rust
spots to match, but rust or not
that car put me
ahead of the pack.

I was attracted to her
right off the bat
when first we met
at a dance on the Northwest Side
in Chicago; to get there, I drove
petrified through city traffic
from way out in the boonies
where I lived. The next day I went
to pick her up, met her folks;
they let me take her for a drive.
On the way back we stopped at
Amy Joy donuts for a baker’s dozen.
Sitting in her kitchen, I ate
12 she had one. I was in love.

IMAGE: “Find love” by clenpies, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Back in the day, it seemed everything in life depended on driving.

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PHOTO: The author “having his fill” after a hard day on the road, c.1958.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard Richard Debs is a poet, writer, photographer, sometime artist, musician, singer/songwriter. At age 19 he received a University of Colorado Poetry Prize; after some 50 years in the field of communications with recognitions including a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Educational Press Association of America, he resumed his creative pursuits. A Finalist and recipient of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards, his latest work appears in Blue Bonnet Review, Yellow Chair Review, Crack The Spine, Poetry Life and Times, Clear Poetry Magazine and its 2015 Anthology, among others, and On Being online in which appears his ekphrastic Holocaust poetry series “Terezin: Trilogy Of Names” and also in On Being online his essay “The Poetry of Bearing Witness.” His background in photography goes back many years, both creative and technical, and his photography will be found in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. Born and bred in Chicago, he now lives in sunny South Florida with his wife of 50 years Sheila, where they spend considerable time spoiling their four grandchildren. Visit him at the Poets & Writers Directory and on his website.