GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
—Patricia L. Nichol, Sacramento
old woman walking down the street
a basket full of groceries:
milk bread apples guns and fury
old woman hunched back
heart filled with agitation
family games were risky things
games that could kill
guns and rage abandonment
old woman weathered face
heart filled with desolation
old woman walking with secrets
she’s held for many years
guns and rage and secrecy
old woman battered soul . . .
she’ll tell the truth
tell it blunt:
they left her on the farmstead porch
left her there without a word
a little girl suffused with terror
old woman walking with the truth
she’ll tell all who listen:
abandoning children on a porch
creates an anguish
that can destroy . . .
that can kill . . .
—Patricia L. Nichol
I am old
fearful of death
which I’ve seen
visit loved ones
visit those who
as a child . . .
of anguish fury
me . . .
a woman hero
for other children
left in blood-
splattered rooms . . .
with no answers
A WRITER OF MERIT
—Patricia L. Nichol
(for Wednesday poets, Hart Center)
I took my poem to Auntie Joyce.
She said that I’d not found my voice
Then I went to Auntie Norma.
She said the poem had no forma.
So I trudged to Uncle Bill
who said to sharpen up my quill,
and then to Bill’s wife dear Aunt Gail
who said I should be sent to jail.
I took those words to Auntie Blu
who said that they were quite a stew,
and then to dear sweet Auntie Nancy
who said the words made her antsy.
So to my friend dear, old Carol
who said the poem was really feral,
and over to Marilynn with her cane
who said my words could clog a drain.
Then to my new auntie, Auntie Pat,
who said the poem was really flat,
and my second new auntie, Sharon,
who said the thing tweren’t worth the sharin’.
I tried them all. . . . Oh wait! . . . Ione,
who said the poem was quite a groan.
I was finished; I was done:
I’d tried them each and every one.
Oh no, I’d missed dear uncle Richard
who sweetly said I was no bard.
Ah, woe is me! . . . Oh, there’s Patrice
dressed in purple and cerise
I love your clothes! I love your shirt!
I love your orange hat, I did blurt.
She read my poem, all those fine words,
said they were the best
she’d ever heard.
So I went on to win big prizes
and all the money that implieses.
I wish I would have written
down your words
when we talked.
I wished that sometimes your life
was scripted, so I could read
scenes of it
line by line
and envision them, picture myself in them.
Only thing, I am sure there were scenes
that I wouldn’t be able to direct
because they were so great
because you were so amazing.
I have forgotten some of our days together.
I have forgotten some moments.
I have forgotten some of the words you spoke to me.
I do remember what you taught me.
I do remember that your life
was never scripted,
you, you were always yourself.
Always be proud of who you are.
I do not need to explain
what you meant to me
for I will play out your legacy
throughout my life.
It’s a pity that you never
will see your film,
in my eyes it was simply glorious.
ORGANIC WRINKLE CREAM
Find the song in your heart
Find the time to laugh in the darkness
Find the small flowers hidden in the weeds
Find the sunrise in the wake of morning
Find the shimmer of the moon in the night
Find the freckles of your childhood
that remain on your face
Find the music and dance to it in the silence
Find the smile that you lost in the sea of sharks
Find your dreams that have been less traveled as of late
Find the love that was twisted and coiled up in your heart
Find the childhood memories of you
blowing out candles on the cake
Find the dolls, the hot wheels and the hula hoops
in the aisles of the stores every time you shop.
At the end of the day take a deep breath,
close your eyes, and take it all in,
run your hands up and down the contours
of your body and try to reach your soul.