Denny E. Marshall live in the Midwest and has had art and poetry recently published.
See also: 4 drawings
We were the Sun
The musty basement couch was an ugly brown
and the fluorescent lighting poor at best,
but teenage romance adapts to any surroundings.
Tales from Topographic Oceans served as odd choice
for background music, the bells and tinkling percussion
did not suggest love, per se, but hours were spent
listening to repeated plays, kissing until mouths were
sore, groping to explore places that could never
be touched in public. There was passion and innocence,
the two an odd but memorable pairing, even now,
so many decades later. And the irony is that when
the song “Ritual” played its familiar refrain,
“Nous sommes du soleil /we love when we play,”
we were in fact playing at love.
Solo at Midnight
She’s never around
when the lava lamps bubble up
and he’s ready for battle,
plugged in, making vibration
an integral part of the sound.
As that clock counts down to zero,
he plays another ironic solo,
a showering crescendo of notes.
The band-a-thon runs long this year,
twelve bands covering a wide realm
of adolescent angst and rage.
Each millisecond’s song
says, “Listen to my heart.”
His says, “Why have you forsaken me?”
Postcard from the Old Man’s Barn
Can’t take another mention
of the phoebes living in the mailbox,
or the errant few in the rafters above.
The table’s full of antique farm implements
from when the white-haired gent policed the premises.
He was an uneasy man who liked to work alone,
a craftsmen of words, seeking perfection and a legacy;
most agree he achieved both. And now we come here
to appreciate the rousing views of the nearby mountains,
seeking his ghost’s inspiration and guidance
in hopeful sighs hence,
that whatever roads taken (or not) today
might still make a difference overall.
On the shoulders of influence,
your doppelganger stands proudly,
shaking hands, bantering with no hesitation,
braying bon mots that regale eager listeners.
Your old reputation for placid timidity
is promptly disposed, and laid to rest quickly
by this didymous functionary’s mastery
of you, the gestures, the implications,
the idiosyncrasies that comprise and define,
the je ne sais quoi of quixotic whimsy
that charms and delights all takers.
Yet you are more shocked than grateful,
seeing yourself from above, a stranger
plied by alcohol’s magic, working the room
like a visiting hypnotist, reciting short
incantations that may never work on the morrow,
leaving expectations bound to disappoint
come the harsh light of dawn and beyond.
Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, teacher, and music journalist. One of his works was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, another was named “A Notable Online Story” by StorySouth’s Million Writers Award panel. He took part in The Frost Place’s conference on teaching poetry. His work has appeared in 42 Opus, Hobart, Word Riot, Pindeldyboz, Smokelong Quarterly, and elsewhere. Some of his poems will be appearing in upcoming issues of The Compass Rose and StepAway Magazine.
Her mother had been pushing Alice to the brink of madness for thirty-eight years. For the last twenty, Mom’s determination to drive her crazy had been aided and abetted by Alice’s philandering husband, by a boss who took credit for all her good work and blamed her when anything went wrong, and now her three teenage children - amend that, the three delinquent Goth creatures who inhabited her home - drained her wallet, her energy and what little patience Alice had left.
Mom never asked Alice to do anything. She demanded it. It wasn’t necessary for Mom to mention all that she’d done for her daughter, all of her flaws and mistakes, or what a horrible disappointment Alice was. A look, a tear, a gulp from Mom and Alice dissolved in a puddle of guilt.
Neither of her parents drove. Mom claimed her eyesight was failing and, after his third DUI, Dad permanently lost his driving privileges and was ordered to attend AA meetings. His sponsor drove him everywhere. Alice had no idea where or how Dad and his sponsor spent their days and evenings together. She didn’t ask.
When Alice hesitated about attending an Al-Anon meeting with her mother, the reminder that Mom had stayed with Alice’s drunken father for forty years for the sake of Alice and now for the grandchildren was all it took. She caved in and drove Mom to the All-Christian Methodist Church of Murray, Minnesota. She wondered who went to church besides Christians but knew better than to question her mother.
The church basement was divided, one large room where the alcoholics met every evening at seven o’clock, and smaller rooms for other groups including the long suffering Al-Anon members.
Alice saw her dad on his way into the big room. He winked at her. She winked back. She never wondered why Dad drank. She knew. But she did wonder why he would consider spending whatever was left of his life un-anesthetized.
She took her seat among the morose women and gritted her teeth while they prayed the Serenity Prayer. Alice could hear the laughter and clapping coming from the big room, smelled the cigarette smoke and wished she could join the fun.
The women took turns sharing their stories of how they suffered, each trying to top the last with a more miserable tale. Then one woman who looked less grim than the rest began to speak about her journal and how she started every morning by writing an affirmation in it. She shared some of them: Today I will not kill anyone. Today I will remember it will make me happier to flip someone off than not to do so. Today I will be kind to someone who may be a psychopath, namely myself. A few of the women smiled and Alice laughed out loud.
The meeting ended at nine. Alice drove her mother home and all but pushed her out of the car so she could make it to Borders to buy herself a journal before they closed.
On the way back to her house she stopped and bought a bottle of Stolichnaya and some cocktail onions. Pulling back onto the street, she braked hard and gave the guy who made an illegal left turn in front of her the middle finger salute. As soon as she got home she made herself a martini.
She called her office and left her boss a message. “I won’t be in tomorrow.” She paused. “Or any other day. I quit.”
She called her husband’s latest mistress and told her to keep him. None of her children were at home. She made a sign and taped it to the front door.
Marie retired from her day job in 2003 to become a fiction writer. Her short stories have recently been published in Long Story Short, The MacGuffin, Insolent Rudder, Houston Literary Review, Timber Creek Review, Apollo's Lyre, Stymie Magazine, Linnet's Wings, and others. Excerpts from a novel in revision have been published in the anthologies See You Next Tuesday, Pen-siev and others. She won an Excellence in Writing Award at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, first place Flash Fiction Winner Abbey Hill Literary Contest, semi-finalist Black Lawrence Chapbook Competition, honorary mention Masks and Mirrors contest, finalist West Side Story Contest and various other awards. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband Michael.