swappin’

right now, shit is complicated
cuz I’m bearin’ a heavy load
makes it hard for me ta decide
if it’s time for me ta hit the road

this country – this man I love
they’d both be hard to leave
& if I give them up
is it just because I grieve?

mah Daddy is long dead
& now, so is my Mother
yet there’s family that love me
I’ve two sisters & a brother

long ago I left them
for a love I thought would never die
more fool me,
cuz that turned out to be a lie

now that my beloved Mother
has been laid to rest
I’m thinkin’ I shoulda stayed
with those who loved & knew me best

that said, leaving Scotland
would make me unbearably sad
for the life I’ve constructed here
has not been all bad

my heart, my brain burn
lit by the consciousness molotov
I struggle with reality:
all life is a trade-off

copyright © 2017 KPM

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lipstick kisses (for my sister Kim)

she’s punch drunk
sittin’ peaceful in the sun
too-much-wine-with-lunch drunk
& the feelin’ is like fun

today the sun is out
black dog’s asleep – she got no blues
sun’s as warm as her mother’s arms
& the mailman brought good news

from afar the letter came
in an envelope of brown
words from a beloved sister
that made her dance around

& the letter was sealed
with kisses of lipstick
memories of home
pierce like an ice pick

but she’s happy
in spite of this
the familiar handwriting
suffusing her with bliss

remembering secrets
they’d tirelessly share
those times her baby sister
would lovingly braid this author’s hair

she hears tiny footsteps following her
remembers teaching her sister to walk
she can hear her sister’s voice
echoes of their every talk

& now she has a letter
sealed with lipstick kisses
she says a prayer for her little sister
as she smiles & reminisces

lipstick kisses on a letter
like their Mother used to do
from one sister to another
lipstick kisses: “I Love You”

copyright © 2017 KPM

 

a poem for Jourdy

“she’s mine” you smiled
with gritted teeth
“I got her” you said
all steel underneath

you saw my heart was breaking
you got that the rain was too loud
you musta known I couldn’t take it
that sympathetic, well-meaning crowd

“I got this”
pulling my arm as you insisted
that everyone leave me alone
to my surprise, no one resisted

so tight you held onto me
with one youthful, tattooed arm
in that moment I was grateful
I knew you’d keep me safe from harm

so long have you loved me
when did that begin?
why do you love me so?
when we’re not blood – we’ve different skin

yet on the day of the funeral,
a horrid, slow-motion blur
you stood at my side
a warrior you were

many have said they love me
but they ignored me when I cried
so many people claimed to love me
but it turned out they lied

many have said they love me
in my 59 years
on the worst day of my life you said it
as you wiped my tears

unconditional is your love
on that day, you showed your care
I’ll always love you, Jourdy
cause on that day, you were there

copyright © 2017 KPM

happy birthday, Dr Stonefinger

you’ve missed another birthday
‘n this is a big one
you’d be turnin’ 60
we’d a had such fun

I’ve learned how to cook
so in the oven I would bake
your very own special
extra chocolate birthday cake

just to tease you
61 candles would be on top
‘n the rest of the day
we’d party non-stop

following the
passionate love we’d make
we’d shower together after
then head out to the lake

for a change
you’d defer
you’d let me drive
I’d be your chauffeur

you’d be in charge of music
‘n you would navigate
you’d play air guitar
as we flew down the interstate

but it’s just another daydream
we’ll have no picnic at the beach
you dwell in heaven now
forever out of reach

happy birthday, beautiful boy
my most precious first love
one of the many angels
watching over me from above

happy birthday, Dr Stonefinger
be at peace, whatever you do
no matter where I go
I carry the love I had for you

copyright © 2017 KPM

summer solstice

it’s still light
as I walk through Riverside Park
it’s still light
when I need it to be dark

I need it to be dark
don’t want no one to see my face
I need it to be dark
as I walk through the grievin’ place

it’s still light
why has the sun not gone?
it’s still light
shinin’ on a life gone wrong

I need it to be dark
a camouflage for all my fears
I need it to be dark
so no one can see my tears

but it’s still light
& following me is a lone sunbeam
it’s still fuckin’ daylight
my heart aches – I wanna scream

copyright © 2017 KPM

suicidal

so young they are
each in their high-viz vest
she can see their concern
how they’re both struggling to do their best
an anonymous phone call
from someone who wants her to live
their assistance is unexpected
but it’s all they have to give

so young these PCs are
firmly entrenched in their belief
they still have faith in law & order
what do they know of grief?
do they know about obituaries,
the goodbye glance in a mother’s eye?
have they any knowledge of guilt so heavy
it makes one want to die?

yet now, here they sit
in the Sunday sunset’s gloom
non-judgemental as they admire
her tidy living room
“have you seen your doctor?
is there someone you can phone?”
so earnest in their desire
not to leave her all alone

she dries her tears & smiles
(she’s been here before)
reassures them both
as she walks them to the door
“thank you for your time,”
she says, gliding across the floor
“so sorry for all the bother –
you don’t need to come back anymore”

copyright © 2017 KPM

no one like you (for my Mother 1935-2017)

there’s no one like you
that’s why ever since you left
all the people who loved you
are endlessly bereft

poster mother for contentment
smilin’ as each child made their bed
every day your children remember
the wise & funny things you said

they think of breakfasts you made
all those school lunches, too
discipline, food & love:
it was your special glue

there’s no one like you
that smile, that glorious hair
& the rare gift of acceptance
despite the burdens you had to bear

your life wasn’t always easy
yet your faith remained steadfast
you gave love to all you met
joyous memories that will last

such grief your children feel
as they remember all your care
though a higher plane you’ve entered
each child feels that you’re still there

there will never be another
as wonderful as you
thus your children watch the skies
hoping to glimpse your residue

copyright © 2017 KPM

no thunderstorms in Dundee (for Ellie G)

in Eleanor’s bed
I lay safe ‘n warm
peacefully listening to
a Cleveland thunderstorm
though my heart is heavy
I feel a touch of glee,
as I listen to the thunder,
so rare in my Dundee

cause there’s no thunderstorms in Dundee
thus I snatch this moment of glee
it’s a fact that often bothers me,
no thunderstorms in Dundee

in Eleanor’s room
there’s nothing frightening
I’m content under the covers,
watching the lightning
my heart may feel a touch of gloom,
but I’m lovin’ those flashes –
the way they
light up the room

cause there’s no lightning in Dundee
so I revel in this glee
it’s a fact that often disturbs me
the lack of lightning in Dundee

in Eleanor’s room
with its cool green walls
I’m comforted knowing
Miz Gregory’s across the hall
the bed might be unfamiliar,
but I’ve got my Eeyore,
so I just listen to the thunder,
knowin’ there’s love outside that door

all too soon I’ll be on that plane
carryin’ my photos & my pain
takin’ back the love of many friends & family
hopin’ for a thunderstorm in Dundee

copyright © 2017 KPM

we are the Patton kids (for my brother & sisters)

four adult children
born of one father & one mother
a brother & three sisters,
we’re unlike any other

four children born from love
we were no accident or mistake
my brother & my 3 sisters
deeply bound by heartache

he makes everybody laugh,
my brother, the only son
whenever he is present
everybody has much fun

my middle sister can be quite bossy
& she’s the one who keeps the peace
she dimed us out when we were younger
but her love for us will never cease

last but not least is the youngest
everybody’s baby girl
watching her grow has been amazing,
seeing the young woman unfurl

I am the eldest child
Mommy called me her “firstborn”
her curious child, the one who left
once I was happy, now I’m forlorn

we are the Patton kids
we’ve endured many a childish spat
forever bound by grief & love & blood
time & distance can never change that

copyright © 2017 KPM

on the last night in Cleveland

on that last night in Cleveland
it’s the engine’s roar that calls
Bob Seger & the 5th period bell
that echoes in JFK’s halls

she’s safe with her friend in the Nissan
encased in a blue cocoon
out-running Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”
chased by a full spring moon

271 North to 90 West
a road she knows so well
racin’ through the night
speedin’ away from this new hell

Coventry is all lit up
tequila keeps misery at bay
the bar’s filled with cheering people
watchin’ the Indians play

he is silent at her side
they feel no need to talk
neither asks “what are you thinkin’?”
as through shared memories they walk

time to reverse the process
90 West to 77 South
radio volume’s cranked louder
speakers blastin’ Bush’s “Mouth”

she makes him stop on the corner
she walks to the Gregory house alone
she doesn’t look back or wave goodbye
thinking of her mother’s love, which shone

copyright © 2017 KPM