Saturday, October 27, 2007

Silence is Deadly (Written in 2004)

They eat alone at the same table. Neither appears aware of the other, totally engrossed in their reading. Slight sounds of disgust come from his end of the table from time to time as he reads the afternoon paper. Seemingly absorbed in her novel, she looks away from it only long enough to pick out the next morsel from her plate. Neither has turned a page for the last ten minutes. They eat slowly, deliberately, quietly, as if in a backwards race to see who can finish last. Finally she gets up from the table. As she carries her unfinished plate to the kitchen, she stares at the floor in front of her while passing his end of the table, almost as if she expects the hardwood boards to buckle and trip her as she walks.

He drops his fork to the plate as soon as she leaves the room. Lowering the newspaper he stares at the partially eaten meal in front of him. Seeing something other than his abandoned chicken and potatoes, he seems lost in his own mind. Sadness, anger, frustration alternately pass across his face. Cradling his head in his hands, he closes his eyes. He hears her in the kitchen, scraping the remains of her dinner into the trash.

After rinsing her plate and glass, she loads them into the dishwasher. Her face controlled, she begins putting away the remains of the meal. Wiping down the stovetop and counters, she stops for a moment, leaning on the counter, head bowed in seeming defeat. Covering her face with her hands, every inch of her clenches. Hearing him stir in the next room, she turns back to her cleaning.

Calm now, with a neutral face, he carries his dishes into the kitchen. Her back is to him and for a few moments he watches her methodically wiping every inch of countertop with deliberate slowness, as if it were a meditation. He leans toward her lifting his hand, his face twisted with indecision. Emotions again play across his face as he stands frozen, watching her wipe the same stretch of counter over and over. For a moment, sadness seems to win and he starts toward her. As if she can sense his decision, she tenses, briefly pausing in her cleaning. He stops, the sadness disappearing from his face, quickly replaced with anger. He turns and dumps the remains of his dinner into the trash, throwing his empty beer bottle in behind it with a loud thud. He drops his plate to the counter, silverware rattling, and stalks out of the kitchen.

Only then does she turn away from her cleaning, tears puddling in her eyes. She leans back against the counter, arms crossed, hugging herself. Looking up at the ceiling, she bites her lip as the tears stream down her face. Racked with sobs, she drops her head into her hands and weeps. Some time later she lifts her head, eyes dry but full of misery. The sweet scent of burning tobacco floats in the air and the sounds of the street below drift in from the balcony. She moves to the living room, watching him from behind.

He leans on the railing, staring at the glowing tip of his cigarette. The anger is gone now from his face, sadness has won over. He senses her watching him. Aching to turn to her, he watches the street below, wondering if any of those tiny people have the same barbed wire wrapped around their hearts. He decides to go to her and tell her he’s a fool, tell her anything to make the silence end.

Wanting so much to say something, anything, she steps into the night air. Leaning on the railing next to him, she stares at the cars in the street, trying to think of what to say. Feeling his eyes on her she turns and sees her misery reflected in his hazel eyes. A sound, half sob, half sigh escapes her lips and she leans into him, touching her forehead to his. Together they watch the street below, in silence.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What Would Buddha Do? (Written in 2004)

By Rebecca Moore

I gotta say, I’ve never been too overly impressed with folks who like to brag. So let me tell ya, I ain’t braggin when I say I have what they call a high tolerance for pain. I’m just tellin ya the facts. So the other day, I was workin on my second hour of sittin and my legs felt like they were twistin out of the hip joint and my feet weren’t just asleep, they were freakin comatose. I tried to wiggle my toes every now and then, but the message only got ‘bout as far as my knees. But a little pain ain’t gonna stop Jimmy Riggs from gettin his serenity!

I read an article once bout the old flagellants back in the dark ages. You know, the guys that wandered round beatin themselves with whips. And them asthetic fellas in India that wrap their weenies round a stick and twist em every which way. The article said it’s not really the pain them guys’re after. It’s the buzz those nut jobs get from all them endorphins their poor nerves put out in self-defense. So when Buddha started talkin to me I wondered if maybe that’s what was goin on with me.

So like I said, I’m workin on my second hour of sittin and I hear this voice, all Brittish-soundin and proper-like, sorta like John Cleese from that Monty Python show.

“You’ll never find serenity that way you know.”

Boy I jumped. Guess it was more of a start really, since my legs were still dead asleep and twisted into a pretzel. I squinted ‘round my room, twistin as far as I could, tryin to see who was messin with me.

“Hello! I’m over here.”

This time I can tell it’s comin from in front of me, but there’s nobody there right? Then I see my Buddha’s missin from the little altar table and now I’m gettin pissed ‘cause I don’t like to be messed with like that. Cept then I see my Buddha’s not gone, but it’s way over by the edge of the table. So I’m goin to move the little guy back to his spot right? And that’s when things get really weird. It moved. It moved and said “Pardon me.” For a second I still ain’t figured out what’s goin on, so I go to pick it up again. And that’s when it does this prancy little side-step.

“Really, do you mind?”

“Holy Shit! What the hell?” I bout killed myself tryin to jump back cause my legs were still in a pretzel and I couldn’t get em undone. I’m tellin you I scooted back on my hands and butt so fast I had rug burns on my palms.

“Now come James, is profanity necessary? I must say I imagined our first conversation would be much more positive. Say, are you alright old chap? Is something wrong with your legs?”

“They ain’t workin. I’d be long gone if they were.” Heck, I can’t feel my feet at all. I ain’t goin anywhere anytime soon. And I‘m over bein scared anyways. Now I’m just flabbergasted.

“Ah, well, that’s why I’m here. I’ve watched you for some time now. I have to say you’ve got on the wrong track quite badly. I’m not sure where you aquired this notion that pain is a good thing. I imagine from one of these books over here.” He’s headin over to the small bookshelf beside my altar now, windin past the incense pot and the flower vase; runnin his hand through the water as he passed by the water bowl. “And really, what is all this clutter on my altar? Oh yes, and by the way, I loathe sandalwood. If you must burn that rubbish could you please use something else?” He’s lookin at the bookshelf now, pacin back and forth.

“Sorry, I didn’t know. The books all say…”

Now he’s danglin his legs over the edge of the table, lookin down like he’s tryin to figure out if he could make the jump.

“As I suspected, the books. They’ve got it all wrong you know. I should have written it all down I suppose, but I’m such a procrastinator. I might have known they’d muck it all up. Can’t do much about that now, can I?”

“Well what’d they get wrong?”

“That whole bit about the sitting for one thing. I never taught people to sit until their legs can’t work properly. How can you possibly focus on your mind when your legs hurt so. Now tell me honestly, that last half-hour you’ve been sitting there in agony, did you learn anything? Did you have any great insights into your inner being?”

“Well… no. I guess not.”

“Right! Of course not! I’d say all you’ve learned is how long you can torture yourself and how long it takes for the feeling to return to your toes. And then there’s all this stuff,” he says, lookin around him. “I don’t know where all this rubbish comes from. It’s all very distracting, and I’ve never liked incense. The smoke makes me sneeze.”

“So what am I supposed to be doin?” And I’m gettin all excited now ya know. Thinkin I’m about to get the real deal right? But get this, he takes off. He looks at me and says, “I believe I’ll be going now,” and he jumps. He jumps over to the bookshelf and starts climbin down. And I can’t stop him either ‘cause my feet’re just now gettin to the pins-and-needle stage. So I’m like “Wait! What am I supposed to be doin? If I’ve got it all wrong, then what’s the right way?”

And he stops. He looks back at me and I’m thinkin here it comes, here comes the good stuff.

“There is no right way,” he says and walks out.

I never did see him again. Never did get me another Buddha either.


We live together
our separate lives.
He has his space
and I have mine.
This is not what I thought
marriage would be.


Flying at thirty thousand feet
Night, the moon almost full
Staring at the earth below
Silver flashes on the waters
Sequins on an evening gown
Enchanted I gaze for minutes, hours?
My neck aches and I turn away.

Shedding Skin

I slough the old, dead me
one layer at a time
Slowly exposing the person
I’ve always known I could be -
deep down inside of me
She’s hidden for so many years
Afraid to emerge into the day
Afraid of the stares, the scrutiny
of those who would tear and pick
at my fragile new skin
to find the weak
to get their poisons in, again

Shit Brown Subaru

Shit brown
were my

Not really
but on
loan for a

My ticket to

How I
cherished you

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Prying my mind away from its
wandeRing i try to fOcus and
Cannot. swiRling thoughts
floAt about vaSt
In desperatioN i
write A poem
abouT that with whIch
i struggle, my dOwnfall,

His Hands

His hands are worn
and beaten and thick with
scars. They have plowed
fields, picked cotton and
planted seed.

They have driven horses
and cattle and wagons. They
have steered tractors and
trucks, freighters and
fishing boats.

His hands have nursed calves
and branded them, and led them
to slaughter. They have shot and
skinned and gutted rabbit, squirrel
and deer.

They have shoved brothers, beaten
men, caressed lovers. They
have cradled, spanked and comforted
children, grandchildren and
great grandchildren.

His hands have been
mangled and bruised and blistered
by the work of a lifetime full
of toil and sorrow
and joy.

Once strong and sure,
His hands carry the weight
of a full and hard life,
and tremble.