The park bench for a nighttime bed
or the alleyways along city sidewalks
where she catches a few winks under an old
blanket she has kept all these years,
Homeless Hannah trudges through her days.
Children poke fun but she’s blessedly deaf
and nearly blind. Hardly a tooth left now
in her old woman’s mouth; still, she
plods along, dragging varicosed legs
heavy as the doric columns of town hall.
In her pocket, food crumbs rummaged
out of garbage cans behind McDonald‘s.
In her pocket her prize possession:
a photo of the house she once owned,
creased so often it was hardly visible,
a kind of phantom photo that
could have been Hannah in her youth
or her children lined up like stakes
in a picket fence or the face
of the man she once loved when life was good.
She holds the photo in her arthritic hand.
Nothing else can make her granite face smile
or squeeze tears from the depths of her being.
Once she lived beneath its roof. Laughter rang there,
the walls took in secrets that keep her dreaming.
NOW YOU SEE IT
Magicians can pull rabbits and scarves
popping out of tall stovepipe hats.
They can saw folks in half, make coins appear
and disappear, wave wands over a handkerchief
from which out of nowhere ascend white love doves.
I have only an alphabet of letters
to form words fashioned from what keeps my heart
beating against the chest of me,
only new-made poems to walk you through
line by line until you are taken by surprise
and dancing light and carefree you take
to the soft mid-air as the angel you are.
These poems wrapped in good intentions
are my only gifts, my only sleight of hand.
I have no white gloves, no real magic at all.
(I confess this with words.)
THE VOICE WITHIN
In her last years she explained it away
by saying she was afflicted with
a touch of poetry. Her lungs rasped
with words that had strayed from a heart
heavy with secrets to tell in metered lines.
A touch of poetry in the trembling
of her gnarled fingers that gripped the pen
against the white field of paper, shaking
out words like seeds dreaming of springtime,
like the hand waves of a queen tossed at crowds.
She had spent her days in the busy vocation
of housewife and mother. In good health
She did her best to make a difference
in all their lives, but for herself, she ignored
the voice within that begged her time.
A touch of poetry in the way her thin lips
quivered when she mouthed the rhythmic words of
a heart bursting with the need to dictate
those escaped moments, those tiny joys and sorrows
she had experienced once and needed to write down.
The years had galloped by. Evenings she lay in bed
Remembering and could not sleep.The years
Had galloped by. And her pen would tell the stories
Line by line: ink and tears, tears and ink—a legacy
Of sorts. She hoped they would find her in those verses.
A touch of poetry and eventually
she’d go to sleep and dream herself away.
A still life, old woman with folded hands,
Mother, wife, friend, neighbor, recorder of dreams.
What, they’ll ask, took her from us? She seemed fine.
And if they read those notebooks lying there,
Read each poem that filled her lungs, coursed through
Much traveled arteries, spoke to her in lonely times,
Said all of her reasons for being born and living long,
they will be comforted and treasure those words she touched.
let’s get even one last time
let’s not burn old bridges yet
instead we ought to shake our heads
at spilled milk, at water under bridges
we should cry in our beers
lie in wait to ambush once more
commit more transgressions
trespass against trespassers
let’s repeat how much we love
Our Father Who art in heaven
Then with all that past hurt
finally out of our systems
we can begin to forgive ourselves
forgive others forgive what we must forget
but first allow this one last time
To clearly say you hurt me deeply
before we turn to one another in peace
to one another with our guards down
free of masks our old selves our weaknesses
and say (not so much I am sorry)
(not so much I forgive you)
but How does it feel to finally be free?
Salvatore Buttaci is an obsessive-compulsive writer whose work has appeared widely. He was the 2007 recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award. His poems, stories, articles, and letters have appeared widely in publications that include New York Times, U. S. A. Today, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, Cats Magazine, The National Enquirer, Christian Science Monitor, and Cavalcade of Stars.
His collection of short-short stories Flashing My Shorts is available in book, e-book, and audio book versions http://www.amazon.com/Flashing-My-Shorts-Salvatore-Buttaci/dp/0984259473
He lives with his wife Sharon in West Virginia.