Him, her and the poem

She had been scribbling furiously for about two hours. They sat on the side of a forgotten road, waiting out the rainstorm that had bombarded them for the past hour. It had been morning since they passed the last town and they were both hoping and praying another would be around the next corner, maybe three corners at the most. But neither of them could see with the rain so they soon pulled over to wait it out. To save on gas, they had turned the van off. There was no music. No conversation. She wrote. He occasionally drummed his fingers on the steering wheel until she asked him to stop, getting more adamant with each request – she had made seven.

He looked around for something to read, but found nothing of immediate interest. He had read just about everything in their current collection and gone through the two issues of Wired about three times each. He even sifted through the August issue of Vogue.

His next search was for food. Sometimes boredom did get the best of him and he would look for something to snack on. He tried not to let it happen too often. Unfortunately, though, he found nothing. They would have to restock at the next town too. With nothing else to really search for, he sat in the driver’s seat, staring out at the driving rain, twiddling his thumbs, an action that surprised him. Who twiddles their thumbs anymore?

“Ok. I’m done. Wow, it’s really raining,” she said looking up from her notebook.

“You’re just noticing? Why do you think we pulled over?”

“We’ve pulled over?”

He sighed.

“What have you been writing anyway?”

“A poem.”

“Can I read it?”

“No. Maybe. I don’t know if it’s ready.”

“How else will you know unless you get someone else’s opinion?”

“I guess.” She sat for a moment, contemplating the potential results of reading it and not reading it.

“Ok. But no making fun!”

“Promise.”

“Alright. It doesn’t have a title, so I’m just reading from beginning to end.”

“Ok.”

“Ok.”

Somewhere he sits –
(generic) no name who
enjoys his women dark-haired
and dark-eyed, eclectic –
his music odd and
underground –
his gin dirty, his whiskey straight –
he sits writing
profound poetry of the soul
just around the corner from the diner
you want to frequent
and on the night they ruined
the blueberry pie,
you walk around the corner

He paused, waiting to see if that was the end.

“So?” she asked.

He waited even longer, thinking about the poem, what it meant, and the way her voice changed to something deep and subtle when she read it, like she had finished smoking a cigarette and a glass of bourbon in a smokey bar at night. He wanted to applaud, but thought the confined space of the van and the lack of other people, a bar, and a stage would make it seem like he was mocking her.

“Say something,” she said, almost pleading.

“It took you two hours to write that?”

“Yes. Why?” Her voice was guarded, ready to strike at any insult.

“It’s good, that’s all. I’ve heard most people read good stuff after working on it for days, weeks, sometimes even years.”

“Well, it’s not finished. I’m sure I’ll find something to change down the road.”

“The literal road, or the metaphorical one?”

“Maybe both.”

“Ok.”

They sat and looked out the window. It had stopped raining.

“Look, it stopped raining! Let’s go find a town!” she said pumping her first into the air, slightly though so as not to punch a hole through the van’s interior ceiling.

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Him, her and a 1967 VW van.

“Summer is well under way now, or at least a week into it. And I’ve got BIG plans,” she said with gusto and a fist pump to the unsuspecting air.

“Oh yeah? Like what?”

“Well…” she smiled coyly at him. Or at least she thought it was coy until he said something.

“What is that face? What are you trying to do? Is that…is that coy?” He couldn’t help but laugh. This was absurd. What could she possibly have planned for this time? Every summer was the same. Stay at home, work, swim, occasionally babysit or house sit. He sat down, crossed one leg over the other and folded his hands in his lap with a look on his face that said This is going to be amusing, but please, do continue. She took no notice and she moved around the tiny kitchen, her thrifted floral print dress swaying with every movement.

“Coy, no. What? Anyway, this summer…” she took a big breath before continuing. “I’m going to travel across the country!”

The amused look on his face dropped. “Seriously?”

“Yeah! It’ll be great! I’ll work on my writing, live out of an old VW van…I’ll be the next Jack Kerouac, just with different body parts.”

He was astounded. She had never done anything like this. “What about money? Food. Comfortable sleeping? Showering? You hate going without showers.”

“Well I have some money. And I’ll be working a few more weeks before leaving. So I’ll use most of that for gas and food. And showering, well I’ll figure that out as I go. I’m sure there’ll be creeks and stuff along the way.”

He reiterated his point. “But you hate going without showers.”

“I know. But I’m trying something different.” She sounded pleased with herself. Then another idea came to her. A wide Cheshire cat grin appeared on her face. “Wanna come?”

“Uh, no,” he said very matter-of-factly, slightly scared of the grin that continued to get wider. How is that possible?

“Oh come on. It’ll be great! The writer and the artist. Oooh, we should invite other people. Like a chef. Who do we know that can cook? Oh and someone who knows a lot of useful things about plants and stuff.”

You can cook well and I majored in plant biology before art. But that’s besides the point. Listen, this is crazy! What drove you to do this?”

“Well I never do anything excited for the summer. While everyone’s off on an island or meeting celebrities – ”

“Ok, who do we know that met a celebrity?”

“Jen met that one guy from that soap opera.”

“No one watches that. He’s barely famous…”

“Whatever. I’m tired of spending my summers doing the same thing! I wanna go see the country, meet fascinating people in grungy diners with really great pie and coffee.”

“But you make great pie and coffee! Why can’t you just stay in your own kitchen?”

“Listen. I’m leaving in a few weeks. I’ve already got the van. I’m eating the bare minimum so I can save the food and the money I would have spent on the food, and it’ll be great! We’ll get a tent and some tiny mattresses and we’ll sleep under the stars. Ooh, see the mountains! Come with me!”

He could only sit there. His leg now uncrossed and both feet firmly on the floor. It’s not that he wasn’t the adventurous type, but to hear this from her was unfathomable. But why shouldn’t he go? If anything, she’d need someone to protect her from eating the wrong plant, going into the wrong diner, parking the van on the wrong side of the road.

“Ok. Ok. Let’s say I do go on this trip – ”

“Ah! I knew it! You couldn’t resist the call of the wild!”

“First of all, it’s not the wild. It’s the open road. Second, I’m speaking hypothetically right now.”

“Ok, ok. Continue.” But she couldn’t keep the grin off her face. She knew she had won him over. There was just one last detail she had to convince him on.

“Where would we go? How long? Do you have any sort of destination in mind?”

“Yes.”

She paused for a second.

“Well?” he asked.

“I wanna end up somewhere on the west coast.”

“Like?”

“Portland?”

“Portland? And that’s where I’m out.”

“Please?! I just don’t know why you hate Portland so much.”

“Well it could be due to the fact that she lives there.”

“Portland’s a big city,” she said innocently. “We’ll probably never run into her. It won’t be so bad. Maybe she’ll have moved too by the time we get there.”

“What’s in Portland, anyway?”

“Only the greatest food and music festival ever! So I thought I’d spend the entire summer getting there.”

He thought about it for what seemed like years. She started fidgeting.

“Stop fidgeting,” he said.

“Ok.”

He thought some more. The second hand ticked past the numbers and notches, getting louder for her with each tock. Finally he stood up. He walked over to the fridge, opened it, and grabbed a drink. He took a long sip before finally speaking.

“Alright. I’ll go.”

“Yes! It’ll be great! I promise. We’ll start planning tomorrow!” She walked over to him and gave him a bear hug and a kiss on the cheek. She smiled, took his drink and walked out to her apartment balcony to finish it. He sighed, grabbed another drink and went outside to join her.

Homeopathic

I’m a part of a poetry group that meets once a week to read and review each other’s writings. It had been a few weeks since I had written anything and as the meeting was approaching I felt that I needed to bring something. I had about an hour and a half and I’m looking through my notebook to see if there’s anything I could use. I start writing a poem about a night I spent with friends and conflicting emotions I felt not only from myself but from them with themselves and toward other people – confusing, right? Anyway, I didn’t think it was working.

But something sparked. And I started writing something else entirely. And I was really content with it, but also scared out of my mind. I felt as though what I had just written was something from the deepest parts of my soul. It was that moment that made me think and wonder if I had truly shown my soul to anyone before that poem.

But I took it to the group and they helped me with edits, gave me constructive criticism – I feel as though there resides the next Ginsberg or Williams or Angelou within this group.

Homeopathic

I’m a struggling writer,
one who has lost touch with the art – with the ability to write something
worth reading
worth caring about.
other writers become scientists
scrutinizing every faulty element
every disease
every germ –
minor ones, maybe,
but they’re all precursors to the soul of the matter
the disease that can “the end” my life
I search for the answer in prescriptions and formulas,

avoiding the perfect remedy I know exists

there are times when I start down that homeopathic – natural – way of life – road
but I’m so addicted to the drugs –
to the words and advice of the scientists
that I digress yet again
telling myself there’s time
because it’s just benign
but in the back of my mind
I know it’s malignant

this malignant cancer coursing through my vessels and veins –
the cancer that damns up the flow of words
from soul
to heart
to mind
to hand
to pen
to page


right side of my brain

Rain like Seattle’s
nine months out
of the year
Thinking, remembering
Insomnia nights
spent watching Amelie.
Dara Woods
who
I haven’t seen since
fourth grade
NY Times crossword puzzles
tentatively done in pen.
Impatient boot
tapping, waiting
for the toaster
Relaxed as I would
drive
past Trimble, knowing
I was just
miles from
home