Today IThrow the cat off my lapGive the finger to a driverGlare at the cashierToday ISnap at my loverSnip at the idiot who blocks my drivewaySnipe at the neighbor's barking dogsAnd your perpetual smile?I'd like to pinch it off and flush it.Today, on the inside, where the battles betweenThe Buddha and the Beast rage,The Beast has won.
I ask my mother What was it like when I was born?I don't remember, she says.They drugged us good in those days.But I didn't want you.Nothing personal.Your grandmother wanted me to be a singerSo I went to New York, sang in some cafes.Your father wanted me to be a motherSo I bought those awful tent topsAnd in the ninth month, tied the hair upOff my neck so as not to mind the heat.But what was it like when I was born?I had to stop looking in the mirror, she says,Then she pauses, takes a drag of her cigarette.Yeah. Too bad. Too bad.She looks at her long slender fingers. I wanted to play the piano.
Poetry and prose by Deborah Lattizori
After I got divorced I spent timeBeing angry and sad.In between, I tried out pens. Ball points. Felt tips.When I'd gone throughThe ones I had at homeI went to the store.Appearing then on the kitchen tableWere Bics in abundance.They were blue ink, black ink,Fine line, smooth grip.Some had clickers, some had caps.Some I twisted with a certainMalicious satisfaction.Once, I pulled three renegades from my purse.First, a green ink ball point. Too boring.Next, a fountain pen. Too much potential to bleed.The last was clear plastic And I thought, at least there'll be no surprisesWhen the ink is gone.It had bold red ink, bloody red, angry red.It felt good in my grip.
The speed of light
What is the speedAt which yellow sunlightTravels the spider's single threadBack and forth, a fingerOn the string of a cello,Sliding from one tree's trunkTo another's branch?There are questions I askWhen I silence the alarmAnd turn my back on the clockTo cheat the day's constant eye. I stare out the open windowFrom under my red wool blanket,The grey cat curled up against my belly.So many questions tumbleSlowly through still spaces,As I watch the cloudless sky sharpen colderAnd hear the green leavesRustled red by the breezeWhile the sunlight becomes the thread.
Sharp and shards. Shapeless when scattered on the floor after the mother hears the father talk too long about her faults. The scratching along the floor as she sweeps the pieces up with the broom from the closet. There is one long piece. A long triangle that she holds up to the window and looks through watching her husband now outside, moving the stove wood into stacks. A thousand raindrops race each other down. The wood shines wet. She takes the shard and runs the tip of it across the top of the wooden kitchen table where the remains of breakfast sit cold and congealed. The glass leaves a deep scratch. A long curve that follows the grain of the wood. She touches the wound with the tips of her fingers and feels small splinters here and there along the trail the glass has left. She looks at the scar on the table and the scar on the back of her hand. The healed over veins greyish white against her olive skin. She runs the tip of one finger up one long edge of the glass to its tip and then gently imbeds the point into her finger until a drop of blood forms. She wonders at its ability to hang onto her skin even as the weight of the drop would seem enough to pull away and land on the table leaving a stain.
Years ago I had a boyfriend named Ed. I'd seen this guy at a bar and asked one of his buddies, “Who's that?” “Oh. That's Ed. Great guy.” And clearly the guys loved him. They were always sayin’ “What an ED!”, ya know? It was how they praised each other. “You are such an ED!” they’d say, or “That was a real ED!” So anyway we started going out and I'm thinking WOW! This guy is pretty cool. So then comes November and one day he says “Let’s go for a walk”. So he takes me to this piece of land a few miles out of town that one of his friends owns and he’s got on this leather vest that’s mahogany brown with pockets. That was the thing about it. The pockets, ya know? One shallow one on each side near the bottom and two breast pockets. And BONE buttons. Ya see what I mean? And I’m thinking, WOW! What an ED! So we get out of the car and he pulls a rifle out of the trunk and throws it over his shoulder and we head into the woods and he starts telling me about the different trees and where the porcupines live and the habits of the deer. He shows me their tracks. And I’m thinking, I’m dating a real ED! He knows all this cool nature stuff. And even though we’ve only been dating for a couple of months, I start playin’ with the idea of what it would be like to a hunter’s wife.So about an hour later we’re walkin’ in these two ruts of an overgrown dirt road and up to our left is a flat topped hill, sort of an acropolis. It’s got this nice thick stand of pine trees and a big grassy spot that opens toward us. We can see up to the clearing and there’s these 5 jr high school kids. One girl and 4 boys and I’m thinkin’ whoa, ’cause she’s lying on the ground and one boy is pumping away between her legs and one boy is kneeling on the ground beside her getting a close view and another boy is kissing her mouth and the 4th boy is standing up watching each of them. And it’s all coming into my head real slow and I’m going, Whoa. But not Ed. He says “Let's scare ’em”. Now, my lips are stuck ’cause my brain is stuck and before I know it Ed takes his rifle and fires one shot into the air and yells out in his big low voice, “Hey, what’s going on there?” Well I gotta tell ya it takes those 5 kids 5 seconds to be up and running into the pine trees, and Ed is doubled over laughing and I’m thinking whoa. Wait. And while my eyes are still glued on the empty space, the girl walks out. Her back is noble. Her steps are cautious. Her eyes are straight ahead. Ed’s lookin’ now too. She stops and scoops up her underpants with one hand and bolts back into the spaces between the trees. Ed starts laughing harder. Man. Next thing, I see them all running down another dirt road on the other side of the hill. I look at Ed. His face is blotchy red and he’s wipin’ the tears from his eyes with his big finger tips. He’s been laughing so hard his vest is hanging off one shoulder. So I stand there for a minute watching him. And then I think, ya know, he should’ve been named Dick.
I look out from my second story windowover the field of grass that still needs cutting.There in the new dew of morningis the path your footsteps made earlier.I smile at the surprise of themup from a place I cannot see from here,from behind the apple trees fenced against the deerpassed the end of summer yellow leaves of the squashon around the patch of leafless tomato plants stillholding a handful of lush red fruit.The prints are steady and evenly paced.No dull matted down momentin the glistening moisturewhere you might have stopped and turned a bitto wonder about coyotesor seen a deer, statue still.I climb back into bedimagining you with your head downyour steps with single purposemaking your way to the coffee at the other side of the door.I breathe deep — glad I put off mowing.
I finally had my own checkbookBut I'd been taught that if you writeA check on Sunday with red inkThe bank won't cash it.And, having given up any notion of God,Sunday was the day I paid bills.I shoved the Bic into the discard drawer.The search went on for about a year,Through tears and hate filled wordsAnd a resolved sense of my Self. When it was over, I Felt a small trace of contentmentThat at last the pen I held was the perfect one. I don't remember nowWhat kind it was, but I remember what allThose pens had in common.On every scrap of paper, and on the edges of newspapers,On the fronts of magazines and the backs of grocery listsI practiced my name.