—David Iribarne, Sacramento
I am from the neighborhood
where people know their neighbors
by name and watch out for them.
I am from a sector that is close
to the fabulous forties
where Reagan lived
but the prices are not as high.
I am from a time when hair was big
colors were loud
and music was recorded
on something called a tape.
Meat and potatoes was a staple
for our diets and not a rarity.
Families ate and talked at the dinner table.
Parks were just down the street.
I played ball until dusk
rather than playing with a controller.
I am from the time we rolled up our jeans,
wore more than one watch
and they were called swatches.
Our hair hung over one eye
and we were called a skater
even if we didn’t skate.
We put a hole in our jeans
not to rebel, but to fit in.
I come from a street that
has painted trees to represent it
and on the street there lived
a man who helped build the undergrounds
of an amusement park named Disneyland.
On my street people have lived there longer
than I have been alive.
It was a place where it is safe to walk at night.
I am from where we jump the tracks
to get to school
and the sound of the train
would be your music to sleep by.
Thirty years ago my mother
thought she lost me, my sister.
Screech of brakes
mother tried to hold me
like all parents do
trying to make their hands and arms
act as an extra human seat belt.
Withstand my body, head
from plummeting to glass.
Front windshield broken
Car window cracked from one end to another.
No bloodshed, just a lot of pain.
The old green station wagon withstood
but not here, my childhood head was too much.
My mother cradled my face with her hands
Her hands were cold
almost as if they had been crying with fear.
She whispered to me and my sister, “I am sorry.”
I was still alive
not a scratch on me
I gritted my teeth like she told me to.
I felt no pain, why was she apologizing.
Wondered as I looked at long crack
on the windshield how I had no cuts, bruises.
My mother stared at both my sister and I
hand over mouth sobbing, trying to catch her breath.
She hugged my sister and I, squeezing us with all her might.
Thirty years has passed
She has since passed.
Think back to that moment
don’t focus on the accident
don’t focus on huge crack on windshield
don’t focus the sound of brakes.
All I remember is her holding us tight.
Never do I want that moment to crack.
I've never heard silence quite this loud.
Flashbacks occur, difficult ones.
You hurting me with words and your hands
though these four walls would protect me
from your presence, but in this quiet
your voice become all the more clear:
“You bitch why don’t you ever do anything”
followed by a slap in the face.
Walls vibrate, world ever shaking.
Thought when I left I would be done with you.
Thought life would be more peaceful, more calm.
Lights go off and I could hear you again
circling the room telling me to “shush”
to “shut up!” I cried in fear
thought once I had been gone
you would be too—
those harsh noises in my head
are still there, ever echoing.
You cast a shadow over me that
seems to follow me, haunting my life.
When I was with you, you were very powerful
telling me where to go, telling what to do—
you were in control.
Now, even without you here,
you are still in command.
I have taken the first step,
I did not stay, I left you
left the terror, left your hatred,
left your abuse.
You may have damaged me
but you did not tarnish my spirit
and soon the silence will not be so loud.
MY MOTHER'S HANDS
They used to look big
coarse and little flabby like mine
where you couldn’t
see the definitions of her bones.
Now that’s all you see.
The veins as blue as can be
looking like they want to bulge out.
She prepares the bread
hitting the dough with her fists
slamming it with all her might.
She tosses it up and down.
I ask—“Are you alright?”
She says—“I am fine as always.”
She never complained
but inside I knew she was not well.
I look at how she hits the dough,
I know that’s how she feels.
Autumn began with overcast;
already I was looking toward its end.
You died near the end of autumn.
It brought a change of scenery
a solemn end to such a beautiful season.
Standing at your grave, mom’s grave
think of how you were sprinkled
upon her, within her.
Your tombstone weighs on her chest,
as your death still does on mine.
Wondered how much of you was able
to reach your wife’s soul as you
were sprinkled on her 14-year-old corpse.
Sure she harvested every drop
as you are scattered all over her body.
You died just as you wanted
turned everything off
to be with the one you loved, finally.
Ran my hands through the grass
hoping maybe I can find a speckle
a reminiscence of you.
Cradled some dirt in my hand
thinking at least by chance
you will be somewhere in the soil.
Stared at both of you again
sitting on your lap
even to age ten.
Watching you bake pumpkin pie.
So many come to mind.
Rain begins to fall
I wonder are you raining on me.
Open my mouth, hoping to taste you.
Savor the water like I never did.
A change of scenery
was brought that day.
Enjoying the quiet in your arms
finding comfort in solitude
radiance and beauty together.
The muse of music.
A Way to disappear into thoughts and emotions.
A way put you into words.
Keeps me away from me at times
And brings it all back together.
It is the ripples in the water
the rock that skips in the pond.
Nature’s guide and script
A way to capture earth’s moments.
Searching through words to find you.
find our dreams
find the things that most matter.
It can be what happened in that moment
what happened years ago
or years ahead or even what hasn’t happened at all.
Explaining the unexplainable
Bringing into words
Making it clear to you and me.
Makes words into instruments.
Alliteration allows beats and twangs
to come into play.
We tap our feet and we snap our fingers.
We come alive, we are its essence.
Poetry feeds me, allows me feed you.
It nourishes me and nourishes you.
It invites you into my world and me into yours.
It invites me into your world and you into mine.
Thanks for today's poetry, David! David Iribarne graduated from CSUS where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English. He resides in Sacramento, CA where he has lived for 38 years. He works in social services and plans to enter the Masters of Social Work program in fall 2012. He has had several poems published in Poetry Now, Susurrus, Catchword, and won second prize in Sacramento News & Review’s student poetry contest in 2005. Iribarne has a book entitled Bones, Skin, and Soul which covers such subjects as breast and skin cancer. He also recently finished a chapbook entitled The Soul of Love.
The tree frog
Rides on a banana leaf—
How it sways!
May I call your attention to two of our freshly-refurbed "pages" under SNAKE ON A ROD in the green bulletin-board box to the right of this: Placating the Gorgon, in which many mysteries of Medusa are explicated, and Calliope's Closet: Ideas to Rummage Through While You Wait For the Muse, which has been straightened out and polished and made better ready for company—you! Both pages, by the way, ask that you put your names on every poem you send. I know, I know—'tis a pain. But it would be helpful to poor old Medusa's addled brain...
And happy birthday to our Taylor Graham!