stages

where is he now,
she wonders
the first boy who kissed her cheek?
they were five
so unsuspecting
of the havoc that kiss would wreak

‘n whatever
happened to
the first boy who carried her books?
so brave,
with his steamed-up glasses
blue plaid coat with metal hooks

she always smiles
when she remembers
the boy whose virginity she took
those lustful
teenaged kisses
his shocked, delighted look

never
has she forgotten
the boy who played the biggest part
her first passion
her first real love
the boy who left ‘n broke her heart

lovers
husbands, toy-boys
some would say a life of sin
she offers
no apologies
for the life lived way back when

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the revelation

as a kid, I was OG
raised on cracked concrete
sashayin’ down Harvard
in the bakin’ summer heat
one of many black girls
growin’ up in da hood
in a time when things were safe
‘n people were good

a proud OG
from back in da day
when authority was respected
a parent’s word held sway
we had limits that were clear
we weren’t allowed to run wild
cuz all the grown-ups around agreed:
it takes a village to raise a child

a joyous OG
with sisters ‘n a brother
we knew nothin’ of divorce
we had our father ‘n our mother
with our siblings
we were not allowed to fight
‘n we knew to get our asses home
before the street lamps shone bright

one more OG
for whom life was sometimes hard
blessed with parents who did their best
to provide the home with the big backyard
softball, kickball, hide & seek
grown-ups were stern but nice
block parties, card parties, barbecues
a childhood paradise

I’m older now
this OG has greyin’ hair
falls asleep durin’ movies
gets excited by new hardware
my heart is still youthful
although my knees are goin’ bad
I’m proud to be OG
those were the best days I ever had

copyright © 2020 KPM

a revelation

please observe the speed limit

these days
all her thoughts
are runaway trains
destination
nightmarish plains

reflections speeding
with a will
of their own
stopping at stations
largely unknown

the engine
struggles to pull
numerous cars
overloaded
with uncounted scars

a locomotive
barrelling
down a dull track
unable to reverse
no way to turn back

copyright © 2020 KPM

everything she needs

she’s so not bothered
by the arthritis in her knee
she’s happy with her brand new glasses
cuz that means she can see

pretty fish swim in their tank
lots of meat in the freezer
she worries not about grey hair
it don’t make her an old geezer

her favourite foods are in the fridge
there’s a roof over her head
& when she wants to sleep at night
she’s got a big warm bed

she’s got a job she likes
that helps to pay the bills
& the blessing of free health care
to take care of any ills

can’t forget that lovely garden
with its sweet-smelling flowers
here she finds her greatest peace
digging & weeding for hours

does she miss her family?
hell yeah – they were there first
sometimes she misses them so much
she fears her heart will burst

but there are many folk who love her
she thinks this every day
folks whose smiles hold her up
when grief wants to stay

when her tears fall,
when there’s nightmares,
when heart breaks & bleeds,
her mother’s memory reminds her
that she has everything she needs

copyright © 2019 KPM

as the storm approaches

everywhere I look
as far as my eyes can see
everywhere I look
there’s another memory

when the sun is hiding
when skies are fat with storm clouds gray
I remember all those summers
the tunes that we would play

something simple I’ll be doing
hoovering or mopping the floor
when – unexpectedly – I hear
your laughter at my door

I remember washing the car
while you drank beer on the deck
asleep, I often dream
of the taste of salt on your neck

I don’t know why I love you
I’m oft unsure if you love me
so far apart we are
love is futility

sometimes I wish I didn’t love you
I wish the past would set me free
but you’re the keeper of all my secrets
so I need you to love me

copyright © 2017 KPM

Sunday worship

the roof is high
endless miles of miraculous blue
I gaze on it reverence
inspired by the view

so high is that ceiling
spare white clouds like wispy souls
for such a space I’m thankful
I know God’s at the controls

the floor is well-laid
older than countless years
its borne the weight of thousands
eons of shocks & tears

done in a hopeful shade of green
that must have taken hours
my heart dances in awed silence
while bees sing amongst the flowers

I’m a gardener, I’m a shepherd
paying no heed to the clock
sending praise to God above
as I tend my floral flock

& when at last the church bells ring
the words “Hi Mommy” leave my lips
it’s then I smell her in the air
she lightly clasps my fingertips

once again I’m reassured
the Lord has heard my anguished cries
my Mom is forever with me
her love is infiniteit never dies

copyright © 2017 KPM

time zones

when it’s 12pm here
it’s 8am there
she’s making her lunch
as her sisters dress with care
though miles apart
the same sky is above
& she can feel their love

3pm here
but there it’s 10am
as she works in her garden
she thinks of them
smiles at the memory
of her mother
feeling the love
of her sisters & brother

6pm where she lives
means lunchtime where they are
she remembers their closeness
times they’d jokingly spar
though her love for them
is tinged with regret
they share the same blood
this she’ll never forget

bedtime in Dundee
dinner time in Ohio
she’s watching TV in bed
as outside Scottish winds blow
she says a prayer for them
all the people that she loves
asleep, she dreams of them
the stars they share shine above

copyright © 2017 KPM

no one like you (for my Mother 1935-2017)

there’s no one like you
that’s why ever since you left
all the people who loved you
are endlessly bereft

poster mother for contentment
smilin’ as each child made their bed
every day your children remember
the wise & funny things you said

they think of breakfasts you made
all those school lunches, too
discipline, food & love:
it was your special glue

there’s no one like you
that smile, that glorious hair
& the rare gift of acceptance
despite the burdens you had to bear

your life wasn’t always easy
yet your faith remained steadfast
you gave love to all you met
joyous memories that will last

such grief your children feel
as they remember all your care
though a higher plane you’ve entered
each child feels that you’re still there

there will never be another
as wonderful as you
thus your children watch the skies
hoping to glimpse your residue

copyright © 2017 KPM

no thunderstorms in Dundee (for Ellie G)

in Eleanor’s bed
I lay safe ‘n warm
peacefully listening to
a Cleveland thunderstorm
though my heart is heavy
I feel a touch of glee,
as I listen to the thunder,
so rare in my Dundee

cause there’s no thunderstorms in Dundee
thus I snatch this moment of glee
it’s a fact that often bothers me,
no thunderstorms in Dundee

in Eleanor’s room
there’s nothing frightening
I’m content under the covers,
watching the lightning
my heart may feel a touch of gloom,
but I’m lovin’ those flashes –
the way they
light up the room

cause there’s no lightning in Dundee
so I revel in this glee
it’s a fact that often disturbs me
the lack of lightning in Dundee

in Eleanor’s room
with its cool green walls
I’m comforted knowing
Miz Gregory’s across the hall
the bed might be unfamiliar,
but I’ve got my Eeyore,
so I just listen to the thunder,
knowin’ there’s love outside that door

all too soon I’ll be on that plane
carryin’ my photos & my pain
takin’ back the love of many friends & family
hopin’ for a thunderstorm in Dundee

copyright © 2017 KPM

on the last night in Cleveland

on that last night in Cleveland
it’s the engine’s roar that calls
Bob Seger & the 5th period bell
that echoes in JFK’s halls

she’s safe with her friend in the Nissan
encased in a blue cocoon
out-running Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”
chased by a full spring moon

271 North to 90 West
a road she knows so well
racin’ through the night
speedin’ away from this new hell

Coventry is all lit up
tequila keeps misery at bay
the bar’s filled with cheering people
watchin’ the Indians play

he is silent at her side
they feel no need to talk
neither asks “what are you thinkin’?”
as through shared memories they walk

time to reverse the process
90 West to 77 South
radio volume’s cranked louder
speakers blastin’ Bush’s “Mouth”

she makes him stop on the corner
she walks to the Gregory house alone
she doesn’t look back or wave goodbye
thinking of her mother’s love, which shone

copyright © 2017 KPM