Eulogy for Floyd

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4.25 Eulogy for Floyd

Light the matchstick torches!
Bang the Hollow Cans!
For Floyd the King of Rats is dead
At the hands of the humans!

I’ll tell you my friends about dear Floyd
Who was smarter than a cat
And just as big in size
His coat was lustrous, thick, and grey
He had bright brown beady eyes
The glue traps never stopped him
Though they ripped out belly fur
He ate the cheese off snapping traps
He hissed at all the curs

Light the matchstick torches!
Huddle in the night!
For Floyd the greatest rat is dead
He put up such a fight

My fellow rats are sad this day
For Floyd finally succumbed
To the cruelest of temptations
To the smallest of the crumbs
While sniffing bones left in the sun
He met his tragic end
As with a snap the lights went out
In those beautiful brown eyes
And so was Floyd undone

Light the matchstick torches!
We’ll have a garbage wake
In honor of our leader Floyd
Who made one big mistake!

****

Yeah, our apartment building has rats. One rat in particular, sometimes seen but not caught until recently, stood out for me.

I stuffed a plastic bag into the hole in the wall – it disappeared.
I glued a bean can lid to the hole – it eventually got pushed off
I laid down a glue trap – it got pushed away from the hole
I laid down a snap trap with cheese – the cheese disappeared off the un-sprung trap
I cleverly put a large glue trap in his “bathroom” (my unused guest vanity drawer) – he pulled himself free, leaving behind a bunch of soft belly fur.

I mean, I have to give Floyd credit – he really played a good game. I caught four other rats before the guards finally caught Floyd. As big as a big cat, according to my neighbor…poor Floyd. You were a worthy, disgusting opponent.

Cheers.

Sound Effects pt. 1

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4.24 Sound Effects Pt 1 – Youth

Youth takes the higher registry
In cackles, screams, and laughter
Meant to call down parents
And assert strong needs and wants
Because there is no other thing
Than the immediate, the now.
There is no more authentic representation of grief
Than a child who does not realize
Tomorrow is tangible.

In youth I seem to recall
Being able to sing well,
Well enough that even adults would listen.
I like to think it stemmed from my ability
To howl with indignation as a toddler,
Though never with the kind of sheer mad fury as my sister,
Who slipped and ran headlong into a corner,
And became possessed by the furies
At the level of her discomfort.
I can still see her raging eyes,
The little bleeding bruise in her forehead.

In time, the high-pitched sounds fade
As feet become steadier
And minds more sure of themselves.
I would not want to go back to the mad sounds of childhood.
I would, however, happily take back my
Ability to howl out my feelings.

A Small Promise

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4.22 A Small Promise

He said come here and hold me
All throughout the night.
I’d love to, Love, but I’m afraid
I promised I would write.

Your kisses make me smile
And your arms are my delight
But I’ve a second rendez-vous
I promised I would write.

For I’m a woman of my word
And words give no respite
I’ll come back to your warm embrace
I promised I would write.

Who knows how long I waited
For the muses to alight?
Cursing that I ever said
I promised I would write.

Your sleepy hands reached for me
In the waning white moonlight
I took your hands and kissed them
I promised I would write.

And I’m a woman of my word
And the words are tucked in tight
So kiss me love for I am here
I promised I would write.

Sea Change

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4.20 Sea Change

Every Sunday there is a man screaming at the sea.
At dawn, I hear him yelling,
Voice straining violently
As the low tide waves do nothing
To drown him out and let me sleep.
I want to warn him that this weekly ritual is probably bad
For those fragile little threads in his throat.
I can hear them break over the surf,
Especially when he reaches the top of his register.
It sounds like losing one’s balance.
At first I thought he was drunk.
After the third time I thought it was rage,
Then grief after the fourth,
And then back to alcohol-induced.
I went to yell to the man,
But saw he had headphones in and could not hear me.
“Madam, il le fait pour chanter mieux,”
The guard says at my shoulder.
He grabs his throat in his fingertips
And makes a gesture that suggests strengthening.
I nod as though I understand this logic.
“C’est le sel – c’est bon pour la voix.”
Ah yes.
If I wanted to sound like beef jerky
I too would scream at the ocean.
The salt would cure my throat so that it never got tired.
In front of us, just out of earshot
The man keeps sing-screaming to the endless ocean
Off-rhythm and Off-key
Hoping to have a voice as tough as the surf.

Knee-jerk

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4.18 Knee-jerk

I see us express our sadness
Only to be told told we are sad about the wrong thing
Or that our grief is misplaced
Knee-jerk reactions
To the sense that a perspective is skewed
The wool has been pulled over one’s eyes
Leaving them to weep as babies do
When mommy leaves the room.
How lovely, to be smart enough to know
The best use of other peoples’ tears.
Grief is not a zero sum game,
Nor is empathy.
There is no scale of proper sorrow.
Her dead cat and his dead faith are allowed to coexist.
If anything, since neither exists anymore,
They are more alike than they were before.
Pause before you kick out a pithy reminder
Of how misguided those tears are.
Allow for personal mourning.
At least for forty-eight hours, please.

***

I found myself really bothered by the backlash on my social media about those of us sad for Notre Dame. One post in particular drew my attention – a smug little tweet assuming that the people weeping for Notre Dame were blind and callous towards the immigration crisis or other tragedies. No. No! Grief is not a zero sum game (the inspiration line for today’s piece). I can recognize tragedy regardless of where it is.

(I know the backlash is more towards the Church / obscenely rich people – fine with that. But don’t lump all the mourners into an ignorant glob.)

This week the poetry has been difficult to find…

Standing in Faith

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4.16 Standing in Faith

What I remember most is the weight of faith you carried.
Centuries of faith.
The thickness of it, thicker than the incense
The countless spiritual atoms floating in your space
Made everything seem heavy,
Yet somehow also uplifting.
If there was a place for faith
It was under your grey arches.
There are taller buildings, but none reach like you.
Your frame yearned to be taller, and in reaching
You took us all with you, upwards.
I do not doubt we will look up again.
I pray we will.

***

I Cannot find a rhythm in the day

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4.12 I cannot find the rhythm in the day (A sonnet)

I cannot find a rhythm in the day
As gentle fingers probe along my skin
To coax the rotting problem on its way
I cannot stand outside and reach within.
A tiny discontented grain of thought
As light as finches dancing on a bough
Is traipsing through where it should not
And leaving little cracks along the brow.
Now blood does not move merry in the vein
Pulsing angrily beneath the eyes
My fingertips work circles, but in vain
Then defeated reach out for supplies.
When headaches think they’ve just secured the win
That the is the time to take the aspirin.

****

4.13

I can hear the busker approach across the sand
I’ve heard his tinkering from up the hill
And prayed he was luncheon entertainment only.
Sadly, he parks next to our umbrella
And starts to sing
Bienvenue, bienvenue
Bienvenue a Guinee

I want to be lulled to rest by the crashing incoming tide
Not by an improvisational musician
Bienvenue a Guinee
Bienvenue a la plage

It’s not an unpleasant sound, the guitar
Metal picks suspended over a gourd-like belly
Bienvenue a la plage
La plage est jolie-eh-eh

But it’s tin whistle plinking
Plink, plunk, plink, plunk
Bienvenue Monsier
Bienvenue Madame

I sit up abruptly and shove money at him
It disappears instantly and slyly into that big-bellied instrument
Merci, merci Madame
Bienvenue, bienvenue….