"I am hearing poetry when awake, dreaming poetry when asleep, breathing poetry with each breath, I am living in a poem."

Friday, July 26, 2013

Scratched 45 of Humilty

It was hard living
in four small rooms
with mama talking shit
and dad two arms
holding a newspaper.

My sisters and I crawled
through that one way
conversation collecting stones
for our baggage.

Dad didn’t always keep his silence.
He had expert aim with his rifle words
that could hit mama’s last nerve every time.

A volume up radio tuned
to WHB was target practice
when dad shot sniper fire from the lip,
“Rock n roll isn’t music,”
Mama would look down her gun barrel
to pull the trigger with, “Shut the hell up.”

Our family only had one family tradition,
an annual Christmas fight.
Mama hated the season of pine needles
dropping from a scrawny tree
and two weeks wrapped in lights.

Words would fly in the frosted back and forth
until dad would proclaim,  “I think we all
should go our separate ways!”

Shell shocked by the expected
we girls would wipe tears
while thinking, “I wonder if Santa
will leave us a doll before
we leave for separate ways?”

Life was shouts lived behind
the sound proof glass of neighbors
too far away to hear it.
My sisters and I were too young
to know reasons, our parents 
too wounded to find healing.
As I think back I can hear, be it ever so humble….
Scratch that 45, humility might have been
in the plaster, but it didn’t live in flesh
glued to baggage a family didn't know how to unpack.

©Susie Clevenger 2013

Ok, over at Real Toads Herotomost ( Corey Rowley) wanted us to write something he could feel. Real Toads ~ Friday Night Raw
I need to clarify that in the poem the reference to Mama's gun barrel was a verbal one. It wasn't until my parents passing that we found out about circumstances in their lives that contributed to their pain and tension. Most people carry baggage. There are those of us who are blessed enough to find ways to no longer carry it.


Marian said...

argh, children wondering if Santa will visit before everyone goes their separate ways. that cuts to the core, Susie.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Susie, this poem took me along with those girls, "collecting stones for our baggage. "dad two arms holding a newspaper" is perfection, and the unhappy barrage of words from mama just so real. That last line is a killer. You wowed me with this one.

Susie Swanson said...

I really did feel this one and felt so sad for the girls. You sure know how to pull the reader in.. hugs, xo

Fireblossom said...

What a charged, unhappy atmosphere for two girls to grow up in. My word.

humbird said...

What's the blessing that you, Susie can express the past, embrace it and therefore heal yourself and your family memory...strong write

Lolamouse said...

I could definitely feel that one! Adults so seldom realize the damage they cause taking shots at each other.

LaTonya Baldwin said...

It is the closing for me. Charged, poignant.

sidenote, I'm desperate to learn how to record. Can you drop me an email?

Sam Edge said...

You really said something here - I'm not sure how much of you is in this but I liked the raw honesty of it.

"He had expert aim with his rifle words
that could hit mama’s last nerve every time."

Perfect. We should al have the courage to write like this.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Susie, you have such a powerful voice for poetry. Your tonal qualities just hit the sensitive nerves of your listener,and leave them twanging. Most importantly, you read with the intellectual content in mind, and the piece never becomes maudlin. I was completely blown away by your words and performance.

ayala said...

Powerful and sad. Great capture.

Loredana Donovan said...

Not sure if this is autobiographical, but it's raw and honest. It takes courage to write like this, with such emotion ... and I hope it's cathartic and healing.

Ellecee said...

Wow, Susie, so much life in this one,,,raw and open wounds,,unfortunately not unfamiler,,,so well done,,

Helen said...

This is one of the vividly descriptive poems I've read lately .. can't imagine how one overcomes .. good that we do.

hedgewitch said...

This is a strong one--and so spot on in the child's POV, Susie. 'Collecting stones for our baggage' is exactly the right metaphor--that weight you must carry till you too learn to unpack it, and hope it's before it's too late. Too many excellent lines to count--a fine write.

Grace said...

What a story, so difficult to read and understand why ~ My heart is with the children, who deserves more than just dolls and sniper fires during Christmas time ~ Tough write, I applaud your courage to pen this ~

Herotomost said...

I swear to God we lived in the same house. The annual christmas fight and all. I remember almost every Christmas eve my dad would be drunk and before the end of the night I would hear"then I guess we will just burn the god damned christmas presents and be done with it." You and I need to sit down and compare notes.....the worst part was the anxiety I felt as a child when these snippets of conversation would go on and wondering what they would boil down to. I sure hope my kids don't see me the same way. What a great piece Susie, I mean the poem not you....well I am sure you are too but....enough....sorry it came out wrong but too funny in my mind to go back and retype...just don't send Charlie over here to kick my ass! Great job!

Kay L. Davies said...

There was just enough of this in my childhood for me to be able to relate, and to know every word is true. Probably why my dad quit drinking between Christmas and New Year's Eve when we were children.

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