Melissa

Long sleeves throughout the summer, in retrospect, should have been a clue,
Covering up her dainty, fragile arms tattooed in black and blue.
I thought her reserved disposition was just because she’s kind of shy,
Until I saw her wearing sunglasses to cover up a new black eye.
Her husband was the sheriff, feared by all in town;
Now I’m serving a life sentence for taking the coward down.

His anger got the best of him, right in the middle of our town square,
As coincidence would have it, I just happened to be right there.
He slapped her for interrupting, then punched her when she slapped back;
I was on my way to a softball game, carrying my aluminum bat.
When he grabbed her by the hair, dragging her to his car,
With everyone simply staring, I stepped in to say he’d gone too far.

He said, “Mind your own business, before I throw your ass in jail”;
When he started reaching for his service gun, I heard Melissa try to yell.
It was my best swing of the season, a homerun you can be sure;
The sheriff of our little town would be battering his wife no more.
She visits me on Sundays; a three hour drive, at least, each way;
She wears short sleeves now in summer, so I’ve nothing else to say.

Advertisements

He Whispered to Me, “Goodbye”

He said, “Daddy, I didn’t mean to make my Mommy cry,
And I really didn’t want to put that tear inside your eye.
I didn’t know I was sick when I didn’t tell you ‘bout the pain,
I just wanted to make sure I could go outside to play again.”

He said, “Daddy, I am sorry for whatever evil I have done
To make God give me cancer; and an incurable one.
He said, “I prayed every night that he would take the pain away;
I guess God didn’t care to hear the things I had to say.”

I said, “Son, don’t you worry about your Mother’s and my tears;
You’ve given us nothing but happiness throughout your ten years.
I said, “Cancer isn’t punishment for any sins, don’t you know;
God just needed another angel and you have the purest soul.”

He said, “Daddy, I will miss you, but don’t you follow me too soon;
Mommy really needs you so she can sing again a happy tune.
I will look down upon you from the heavens up above,
I will send to you and Mommy, every day, all my love.”

I said, “Son we will miss you and think about you every day;
Your Mom will learn to smile again knowing you’re sending love her way.
It’s time to let the pain all go and close your little eyes.”
I kissed him on the forehead and my son whispered to me, “Goodbye”.

The Ruby Red Stilleto

I played my guitar on the corner of the street
The guitar case laid open for some change
She wore six inch, ruby red stilettos on her feet
Trying for a date to be arranged

On slow nights she would join me for a song
With a voice much too beautiful for a whore
She never would stay and sing for very long
Before another date she’d successfully score

I watched her get arrested once or twice
She said it was just a hazard of the trade
There was always enough demand for this vice
That the fines were far less than what she made

On good nights she would put twenty dollars in my case
After bad days I would let her take some out
She always wore a sad smile upon her face
Of our futures we both had some doubt

She said she would keep me warm through the night
If the shelter ever closed its doors
I told her everything would soon be all right
I just needed to practice a little more

Last night I played the corner all alone
Police were everywhere you looked
I overheard a reporter on the phone
Saying there was a killer killing girls who tried to hook

I saw a single stiletto of ruby red
In a plastic bag being held by the man
I knew then that my street muse must be dead
I knew then I had lost my only fan

I packed my guitar and left the city a final time
My search for musical fame packed away
I returned to the only future that was mine
And still work on my father’s farm today

The Kids from Chandler’s Hollow

The kids from Chandler’s Hollow didn’t wear shoes upon their feet;
They always tried to start a fight with us every time we were to meet;
Their homes had no indoor plumbing; their toilets were out back;
The things we took for granted, were the same things that they lacked.

The kids from Chandler’s Hollow were always late for starting school;
The teachers were kind’a tough on them, sometimes bordering on being cruel;
They were slow in learning lessons; they couldn’t add, write or read,
They stopped showing up after the sixth grade – for books and figure’n they had no need.

From our house on Summit Drive, high atop a Charleston hill,
We looked down upon the Hollow to a desperate and foreign world;
From my bedroom window, I could see smoke rising from their shacks
Often I would wonder about those kids in school who never had a snack.

One day I went down into the Hollow, through the woods behind our house,
On an early Saturday morning, sneaking out the back door quietly as a mouse;
The descent was rather steep, with no path the entire mile,
I had taken some Hostess Ho-Ho’s, I was traveling in style.

When I neared a row of houses, hardly larger than a garage,
I stared in awestruck wonder as if seeing a mirage;
Yards were littered with rusted vehicles, none of them had any wheels;
Backseats removed and on the front porch – not sure just how that made me feel.

A few roosters started crowing; a few chickens scattered about;
A few pigs were wallowing in the mud; the sun was peeking out.
I knew right then and there, I should go back up the hill,
When I turned around to do so, I was face to face with a snarling girl.

“Hey, whach’ya do’n? You come look’n for a fight?
My brothers would oblige ya – but first, I think that I just might.”
I didn’t know just what to say; my tongue was tied in knots,
I extended the box of Ho-Ho’s saying, “This is all I’ve got.”

She looked around very cautiously, then grabbed me by the arm,
I ran with her past the row of broken shacks to the back of a forgotten barn;
She looked deep into my eyes with anticipation on her face,
She said, “We’ll be safe back here, this is my secret hiding place.”

“Ain’t you that boy named, Joe? Ain’t you in my first grade class?
Ain’t you the one who’s the teacher’s pet? Ain’t you just moved here this month past?”
“I know you, you’re Sarah Mae and, yes, my name is Joe.
I don’t know if I’m the teacher’s pet – we just moved here from Chicago.”

I handed her a Ho-Ho; she unwrapped it with pure delight;
She didn’t offer me a “Thank You”; she gobbled it down in just one bite.
She smiled at me with chocolate covered teeth, asking, “Could I just have one more?”
I ain’t never had one of these fancy treats in all my life before.”

I handed her another and watched her slowly enjoy this one,
I never knew watching a girl eating a snack could ever be this much fun.
She asked, “What’r you do’n down here? You can’t possibly live nearby.
If you come look’n for some trouble – why, that ain’t someth’n ya oughta try.”

I said, “I live on top of the mountain, I was just walking through the woods.
In Chicago there are no places like this; just thought I’d go exploring, if I could.
I’m not looking for no trouble, just thought maybe I’d find a friend,
If you’d like, it would be easy for me to come down here again.”

She played with the foil from the Ho-Ho’s that she rolled into a ball,
Then looked at me real seriously and said, “Naw, we can’t be friends with y’all.
I’m from Chandler’s Hollow, you’re from some place nice,
I won’t be mean to ya at school, but this just can’t suffice.”

She said, “Now you go back up that hill and never say that you was here,
And if ever you go exploring agin, from Chandler’s Hollow ya must stay clear.
But, if’n I say it’s okay, just this once and never agin,
You can give me just a little kiss and secretly we will be friends.”

My faced turned all red as she kissed me then ran away;
My walk back up that hill again took the better part of the day.
For the next two months of school, Sarah Mae ignored me really good,
I often snuck a Hostess Ho-Ho into her desk on the days that I could.

Our parents then enrolled us in St. Anthony’s where no Hollow kids did go;
A Catholic School was better for the way they wanted their kids to grow;
I often looked down on the Hollow and wondered about Sarah Mae
But I never did return to her, never hiked again that way.

After the fifth grade we moved to Ohio – leaving all Hollows far behind;
Poverty to match what West Virginia offered wasn’t easy for me to find;
I grew up never wanting; I grew up in luxury;
But I grew up with the memory of Chandler’s Hollow deep inside of me.

The kids from Chandler’s Hollow didn’t wear shoes upon their feet;
I’ll never forget that one among them, on that Saturday that I did meet.

A Snow Angel

I stepped out of the barroom, six beers over my limit,
Fumbled with the keys, found my car and got in it.
An angel on my shoulder said, “Joe, you shouldn’t go”;
“Where, Oh Where Could My Baby Be” was playing on the radio.

I rolled down the car windows to let in the freezing winter air;
The smell of beer was on my breath, the smell of smoke was in my hair.
In the distance I heard sirens through the darkness of the night
I thanked my lucky stars, knowing my angel had been right.

I needed to quickly find a men’s room, settled on a telephone pole instead;
Walked a couple of empty city blocks trying to clear up my clouded head.
Somehow, I managed to get lost; I couldn’t get back to my car;
I didn’t know if it was close by or if I had walked a bit too far.

The cold was biting through me; I couldn’t find an open door to step inside;
When the snow started falling, I sat down on the curb and like a baby cried.
A homeless man came walking by and took me by the hand,
Led me down a dirty alley to a fire burning in an old trash can.

He covered me with a blanket then continued on his way;
When I opened my eyes again, it was the middle of the next day.

I got my circulation going; figured out just where I was;
My car was not too far; I no longer had a buzzing buzz;
It must have snowed throughout the night; four inches were on the ground;
When I got back to my car, a snow angel in front of it, I found.

It could have been random – schools were closed, the kids were out;
It could have been the old man, but, of that I had some doubt;
Was it actually an angel? Made me stop and made me think,
What I do know for sure is … it was the last night I had a drink.

Unconnected Dots

She wrote, “Hey, Joe, how are you?
It has been a long, long while;
I remember all the fun we used to have;
I still remember your constant smile.”

“It seems life has been good to you;
At least, that’s what your social network pages say;
I was wondering if we could meet up for drinks
When I pass through your town one day?”

Her face didn’t look familiar;
Her name, for me, didn’t ring any bell;
I lied and said that I remembered her
And getting together again would be real swell.

I said, my wife would like to meet her,
She loves seeing friends I knew from my past;
Hearing stories about all the stupid things I did
Always seems to make her laugh.

I gave her my cell phone number;
Told her to call if she ever comes to town;
We live a few miles from the city
But it is easy to drive on down.

I never received another reply from her;
That was over three long years ago;
I had forgotten all about it;
I had forgotten her name once again, don’t you know.

Yesterday, on our reunion website,
I saw her picture once again;
It was from a link to an obit,
Saying we had tragically lost a dear, old friend.

It seems she was one of the smart ones;
I don’t know why she would remember me;
I didn’t travel in those circles,
I doubt detention was a place she was apt to be.

I tried real hard to remember her;
What “fun times” we might have had;
But, dots were not connecting;
My forty-years-ago memories had all gone bad.

I sent flowers to the funeral home,
In the town I left those many years ago;
The card read: “Thanks for all the fun times,
Love, your old high school friend, Joe”.

A Little Bit Bereft

I babysat the neighbor’s kids,
My mother made me do it;
She was recently a divorcee
And had a hard time getting through it.

I had just turned seventeen,
The eleven year old girl had a crush on me;
She was destined to become a heart-breaker,
That was pretty plain to see.

The kids were in bed by nine o’clock,
There was homework to be done;
I finally fell asleep upon the couch,
It was already half past one.

I was awakened by a gentle touch
And the aroma of alcohol;
My arm made wet by a single tear
That off her cheek did fall.

When seventeen year old boys drift off to sleep,
It should come as no surprise,
The dreams that they are dreaming of
Become apparent in their Levis.

She sat down next to me;
Said, “I guess you should go home.”
“But, Joe,” she said, “I must confess,
I am feeling so all alone.”

Experience, I had none,
And I didn’t know what to do,
I lay silently as clothes came off,
Then she walked away when we were through.

She was already in bed, when I got dressed,
I didn’t ask to get paid,
I could hear her sobs through the quiet night
From the dark room in which she laid.

I checked in on the little boy,
Sound asleep with his Teddy Bear,
When I checked in on the little girl,
She was sitting up, twirling her hair.

I stared at her and she stared back at me,
We both had a tear or two in our eye;
I turned around and started home,
Neither one of us said, “good-bye”.

I went off to college at the end of that summer,
After babysitting no more,
Having seen the last of mother and daughter,
Of that, I was certainly sure.

Then, twenty years later, through the Internet,
Two individual requests, I did get,
Both of them saying that I was,
A boy in their past they’ll never forget.

The mother eventually got remarried,
After the kids had grown and left,
She said she remembered not paying me,
But, she was just a little bit bereft.

The daughter never mentions that night,
But, says she often wondered what became of me,
And hearts she has surely been breaking,
Now working on husband three.