Monday, March 31, 2014

Was It That The Earth Was Large

Was it that the earth was large
And my feet were small
That I could not reach the place
Of topicality?
Or was it that I could not sense
The direction of the call
And couldn’t bridge so tropical a fence?
Or was it that I was too large
And the universe in me
Too limited
By its mortal laws and physics
To be
Set free?

-jenn long

Back To Formula

Something about the way that he loved her,
Took her all the way back to formula,
Took her back beyond
To some motionless shore.
And something about him, reassured her
That Life was there
To cradle and rock her,
And nourish her, even
Long before she was born.
And Life would be there,
Even and especially,
At that place
Where time and space divided,
And his Love
Would wait there
For her to come again.

-jenn long

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Scot Free

He always had that innocent look
Like he might think of it
But never do
But me, I get accused of things
That I could never dream up

He would slide
Like a perfect fried egg
Right off the coating
Of a non-stick pan
From one of those cheesy

But ya know
They never slide off that way
For me

-jenn long

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Game of Life

He took my turn
And played the game of Life for me,
And tried his best to make me lose again.
But I released the board
And let him take all my turns.
I watched from a distance—
My life, as he knew it,
And that must not have been as much fun—for him,
For pretty soon he started a brand new game,
And I did too.

-jenn long

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Big Break

You might not even know what you want
Til the door opens
And you can see.
So just keep doin’ your pushups there,
And be ready,
And when you get a peek
At daylight,
Pray that you'll have the gumption
To be everything
You're cracked up to be.

-jenn long

Monday, March 24, 2014


I go from waitin tables
Ta waitin in the car
Waitin on the dryer
Wishin on a star
I'm tired a waitin
For all my dreams ta come true
I'm tired a waitin
I'm tired a waitin on you

Wait on my coffee
Wait on my tea
I'm waitin on you
You're waitin on me
I'm tired of waitin
For all my dreams to come true
I'm tired of waitin baby
I'm tired of waitin on you

I got some dreams
I got some plans
I need some time
Here on my hands
Instead of waitin
For something better to do
I'm tired of waitin
I'm tired of waitin on you

Gotta do your makeup
Gotta do your hair
Gotta shave your whiskers
And change your underwear
Wanna see some action...
I wanna get somewhere
But,,, I'm tired a waitin...
I'm tired a waitin out there

Einstein has cursed me
With relativity
Cause when I'm with you
Time is at warp speed
But when when I'm waitin
There's nothin else ta do
I'm tired a waitin
I'm tired a waitin on you

Wait on my coffee
Wait on my tea
I'm waitin on you
You're waitin on me
I'm tired of waitin
For all my dreams to come true
I'm tired of waitin baby
I'm tired of waitin on you

-jenn long

Dry Eyes

West Texas people have dry eyes.
A tear just starts to form,
And before it can lip
The brim of the lash,
It evaporates into thin air.

They say that all the tears collect
In wispy nimbus clouds,
And when the limit of heartache is reached,
A salty rain showers down,
And the beans grow
On the Mesquite Trees.

-jenn long

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Fat Man

His legs were huge
And covered with sores,
His feet so fat that his toes were bleeding.
And they sat on the porch
And ate birthday cake
As if nothing had ever been wrong—
As if he'd never been molested,
As if he'd never suffered abuse,
As if he’d never gone on that god forsaken mission trip
To try to escape, and get away,
And found himself sequestered
With even worse pedophiles,
As if he'd never contracted elephantiasis
Or over indulged to dull the pain,
To the point of becoming morbidly obese
And hopeless in every way.

But one little child,
A neighbor’s boy,
Stopped and stared at his bloody toes,
Then looked up, at his eyes,
And asked,
“Mister what's wrong with your legs?”

There were roads in that county
That nature'd reclaimed,
When, finally falling out of use,
And old timers out those ways died off,
And the trees that lined them grew up tall
Til they blocked out the light of day.
And in the shade the molds would grow
And break up clods,and chirt, and rock,
Until the hard packed road got soft,
And not every car could make it now
Down the sandy lane.
And seeds blew in, and squirrels dropped them
Til grass and bushes and brushes grew,
And after a time, unless you remembered,
There was no tellin' that even a trail
Had ever led down that way.

That night the fat man plopped in bed,
Stretched out, and pulled a greasy sheet up over his oozing masses.
It was the sheet his wife had given him
To cover himself before he covered himself with the regular sheet.
He could smell the odor the bacteria put off.
Sometimes he would block it out, and simply refuse to notice,
But tonight, he allowed himself to think,
And tried to perceive it in every way.
Was it advancing?
Was it getting worse?
Was this the best he was ever going to feel?

He rarely permitted the vanity
Of wandering down this less traveled way.
It scared the hell out of him
To think of actually dying.

But sometimes, when he was very still,
And something about feeling something thrilled him,
And something about it,
Pierced his awareness like nothing else

And left him completely cold in every way.

His wife plopped down in the bed beside him,
And pulled gingerly at the regular sheet.
"Honey," she started, and in a long, shallow sigh,
"I don't understand why you won't consider
Goin' ahead with the surgery."

West Texas people have dry eyes.
A tear just starts to form,
And before it can lip
The brim of the lash,
It evaporates into thin air.

They say that all the tears collect
In wispy nimbus clouds,
And when the limit of heartache is reached,
A salty rain showers down,
And the beans grow
On the Mesquite Trees.

Maggie wolfed down her chicken strip salad.
She sat in a crowded sports cafe with her two sons and her husband.
Everything had come out franchise acceptable,
And they would soon be on their way.
Suddenly a guttural urge came over her,
So strong it nearly caused her pain,
And she knew she would be embarrassed,
Like having a bowel movement
Right there in public,
Or having to vomit on the side of the road.
But a deep compassion swelled inside of her
For the young girl who had waited on them.
The girl was butchy
And covered with piercings,
And Maggie had considered a bit,
And finally decided she was in fact female.
Even one of Maggie's sons
Had whispered, "Is our waiter a girl?"
“Yes,” Maggie had replied, offhand,
Watching the waitress disappear to the kitchen,
“I'm pretty sure she is.”

But now the urge
Had laid upon,
And Maggie felt the angst within,
A stern command to encourage with specific terms:
“Tell her she's going to make a great doctor.”

“Oh my god, no!”
Maggie said out loud,
And shook her head in abstract denial.

But Maggie knew
There was no other way.
She knew she wouldn't sleep for weeks.
Her heart would burn.
Her eyes would water,
And so she breathed,
And waited for the words to come again:

“Tell her she's going to make a great doctor,”
Was what she heard again.

The fat man waddled out from his trailer,
Squinted his eyes at the morning sun.
The cool of the breeze stung his blisters
And he felt a flash of chills up the legs of his shorts.
He hoped the mail had already run.
He hoped that the supplemental check was there.
He would take it to the bank
And go somewhere out to eat.

The mail had come,
But there was no check.
Disgusted, he flipped through the various bills.
He leaned on the mailbox,
Caught his breath, and waited for the cars to go by.

He tried not to meet the passing eyes.
He tried not to think about what they thought.
He had gotten too used to the disapproving stares.
But just as it looked safe to go,
Another car came round the curve,
A minivan with a middle aged mom driving by.
The woman’s eyes were glued on him,
And he couldn’t cast his glance down fast enough,
And something about her review of him
Focused his own gaze in deep introspection,
And then, he even rubbernecked behind him

To watch as she disappeared down the blacktop road.

Maggie perched on her three legged stool,
Elbow on knee, fist on chin,
And stared at the flames that curled ‘neath the heated pot.
She was vaguely aware of the vapors that steamed
As the noodles continued to boil in the water.
In the fire she saw the face
Of the fattest man she had ever seen,
And the living hell where his heart dwelt night and day.

The flashes that the flames gave off
Produced the snapshots of his life,
Just enough so Maggie could see and know,
And identify with all the pain
And sickness that the man held up—
The torments that he held at bay.
The abuse was there, the victimization
The denials of his parents
The years of gaining pound after endless pound.
The years of hiding in church and at home,
The ways the fat had armored him,
The little ways that grew and grew
And then the turn
As he began to be
Attracted to the innocence
And the honesty of little boys.
The battle within himself
Not to become
Some horrid product of his past—
Not allow the vicious cycle to be repeated out in others,
To ruin their lives,
As the weakness strengthened day after agonized day.

Something about the woman’s gaze
Mesmerized the fat man.
Her eyes were like two open holes
That fell into the cosmos.
There had been no pity there
But no condemnation either,
Simply eyes that reflected him
As he was--
As could be.
No one looked at him like that
Except for little boys.

Fantasy caught hold of the fat man.
All the way across the road
He dreamed of taking her soft, long hair in his fingers,
Bringing it to his face,
Smelling it,
Kissing her,
Making love to her.

He stood on his steps
With the cool breeze still giving him chills.
He could smell a faint sweetness
Of something blooming somewhere.
He had never fantasized about a woman—
Had never been attracted to them,
Not even his wife—ever.
But he stood a moment before going on into his trailer,
Aware that he was fully aroused.

Women aren't idiots, ya know?
They know when a poem’s been written for them.
And... when it hasn't.
Like a cosmic clink of champagne glasses,
A woman can hear the pure tones of love
That are meant for her heart alone.
But recycle it
Just once,
And it's garbage.

Maggie could feel it in her bones,
A poem was being written,
And so she stood in the margins of the paper
In white go-go boots
And a polyester halter,
Shakin' her ass
And cheerin' it on.
“Write it!
Write it out there, Baby!
Write it, Baby!
Pour your heart out!”

She could feel it—
Pumping, pumping,
Starting to pour,
Rusty at first.
Then Aire and Water—
Bursting, bursting.
Finally a clear thought
Poured forth,
And it was sweet!
It was good!

“Yeah, Baby!”
She nodded
In a long, drawn out, “Yesssss!”

The Fat Man hadn’t written since seminary—
A liturgy writing class he took.
He had thrown most of his best stuff away.
He knew it wouldn’t work –for church.
It had a raw, uncut edge.
It was passionate,
Sexy even,
And sometimes it would overtake him,
And he couldn’t stop
The overflow of the churned up words,
The hurt,
The possibility of wholeness.
The power of belief
He felt was real,
The wonder—in his deepest parts,
The search for this thing the people worshiped
This life revealing thing called love.

He doodled with the pen at first.
A beautiful swirl from the stroke of his pen—
It resembled a treble music cleft
With eighth notes floating all round it.
But then the words,
Both confident yet searching,
Began to spill out and adorn the page—
An ode to love,
And an ocean of questions to sing.
The last words ran together with tears.
He never picked the pen off the page.
Two exquisite lines of coupled magic
And an artistic swoop with flair
Rolled uninterrupted to a renaissance calligraphic “T”
And then the rest of his name
In proud cursive

Maggie walked by the shore the next morning
Almost at a skip
With a smile and a heart
That was close to overflowing
A song came out of her painted lips
And she raised her arms to the sky
She sang it quietly to the wind
And twirled and danced as she walked along
Listening to the song intently herself
To understand its words

They sounded Kiowa to her
Or maybe they were Japanese
It didn’t really matter
For finally a meaning of some kind would emerge
And if even a phrase or two was all that she could understand
It would be enough to light the way
And she could make it through another day

When Maggie walked like this
It took her to another plane
It elevated her from her dirty life
To a place where she was a rockstar
Even a Goddess, maybe
And she performed there in this way
While mega crowds cheered her on

And when she finally quit her singing
The people cried and begged for more
Just one encore
And sometimes Maggie would oblige
But sometimes there was chicken to fry

Not very often but occasionally
Maggie would see “real people” on her walk.
They thought she was drunk.

Maggie stood on the rocky pointe
With dramatic finish to her song.
One hand on hip,
One hand high, above her head,
And then she flung herself into a humble bow.
Her head hung down
Almost to her shins,
Her hair blew down into the sand.

Then she straightened and nodded,
Blew a kiss,
And turned to go.
She saw she could head back east to go home,
Or she could walk south into wind,
Down a thin strip of untouched woods
That backbordered the fat man’s trailer park.

Maggie closed her eyes and walked
like a blind initiate,
touching the trees with her hands and listening
to the sounds emanate in her mind.
The big trees had a hard wood bark,
rough, and pulsed a solid vibration,
while the saplings were smooth
and sent a growth spurt of cell division
into Maggie's searching touch.

She could tell when she reached the place in the woods
directly behind the hospital.
A tangible hum of electrical power
buzzed the forest there,
and a smell of institutional food and use and wastedness
created an oily film on the leaves and in the air.

And then there were two churches,
only a block or so apart.
One was large and smelled like tires.
The other was small
and smelled of long lost mothballs.
Maggie learned from the bush behind them
the state of the affairs of each.
Both proffered little but meaningless strife
and festered discommunication.

But the trees absorbed it all in an objective way.

And Maggie kept making her way thru the woods
until she came to a place of diversity,
an admixture of everything at once pure
and contaminated thoroughly.
She breathed it deeply into herself
and kept her hands on the trees and brush.
She steadied herself against an onslaught of thought.

And tears and joy mingled together
and dripped down her cheeks
and into her mouth.
She bent her knees down on the dusty trail.
She reached the powdery dirt to her nose
and then she stretched herself back up,
and swayed to the rhythms the plants were singing.
And then with both hands in the air,
and both eyes still closed against the seen,
she twirled a slow and inviting rhumba
and hummed in harmony there.

Dont ever think the woods is full of ‘em,
Cause they ain't.
They ain’t but one
In about ever square million,
And if you ever get the chance,
I pray you recognize it.

That kind of love is a burnin’ ocean.
That love is a flamin’ sea.
It's here.
It's devourin’ me.

The fat man leaned with his back against the deck,
One side of his butt hitched up
Half assed on the porch.
It made him look about four foot wide
And terrible misshapen.
He liked to get out in the mornings like this
And piddle as the children caught the bus
So he could watch the little boys go by.

He longed for just a touch of their youth,
To put his hands on their gosling hair,
A brush of one finger on some young skin
Uncorrupted by age—
Or elephantiasis.

But something unusual caught his eye,
Movement in the brush behind.
He strained his neck and turned his face to see.
A shadow moved between the trees,
In plain sight, then hidden—
A small shadow blended into leaves
As natural as a fawn.

The fat man heard the usual sounds,
The bus groaned to a stop and clunked,
A big door swished and opened wide
To receive the children onboard.
He heard the teasing and the play
That would soon be hushed and ceased
By the grunts and the glares of the stern old driver,
The slamming door,
The rev of the engine groaning again,
Complaining off to school.

But the fat man didn't watch today
As the kids pulled out of sight,
For he could swear right now
The woods were haunted.
And he would swear that he could hear
The wind call out and beckon him.
“Trevor,” it said in its own ghostly way.

And curiosity got his best.
He got up and began to walk,
Labored and with tremendous halt
The hundred yards back
To the thin strip of woods behind the trailer park.

The fat man reached the edge of the woods
And peered into them like a bleak trespasser,
Just leaning his head in a little bit,
Turning his face this way and that.
His eyes adjusted to the shade.

He reached his hand out to steady himself,
To catch his breath.
He was exhausted.
He wasn't sure if he could make it back.
His heart was pounding from the walk,
And now from fright.
What had he been thinking?

What if the something came after him?
He'd never be able to get away.
His pupils dilated.

But just as he touched the skin of the trunk
Of the tree that gave a bit at his weight,
His fingers tingled,
And chills ran up his arm.
He huffed and drew a bigger breath.
Was he having a heart attack?
He bent a bit at the waist
And tried to breathe.

He reached out again,
Without even looking,
Without any thought now of peril or gloom,
Just trying to live,
Just trying to breathe,
And there was another sturdy tree.
He steadied himself,
And began to feel a pulse.

It felt like a circuit of electromagnetics
Ran between one tree to the other,
And now the current buzzed alive through him.
The trees were young
And full of life,
And Trevor pulled himself up to one.
He put both hands on its waist,
Caressed it,
Pulled himself in,
Hugged it,
Put his nose on its smooth bark,
Smelled it's green,
And kissed it.

That night Trevor lay in bed,
Both his sheets across his legs,
And stared up blankly at the ceiling tiles.
His wife came in,
Sat on the edge and took her slippers off.
She groaned a sigh as she laid back,
And the bed groaned with her.
She hoisted herself around
And turned her girthy back on Trevor.
“Honey,” she sighed,
“Did you think anymore
About having that surgery?”

Next morning, soon as Trevor got up,
His wife insisted he step on the scales
So she could record his daily weight for the doctor.
Her head bobbed down to look again,
And in surprise she questioned,
“This says you have lost like seven pounds?”

Trevor shrugged.
“Are ya sure?”
And she said, "Step off a sec.
Ok, go ahead and get back on.
Yeah,” she said, quite surprised,
“You lost seven pounds yesterday!”

“Well I didn't eat that much,” he said.
“Wasn't hungry yesterday.”
And went on in to the bathroom to find his clothes.
He shut the door behind him,
Stood for a minute,
And looked in the mirror.
Seven pounds didn't make a hell of a difference to him.

He didn't tell her about his walk,
But he did feel stronger today.
He thought about walking back there again,
But today was Saturday,
And he always caught the transit shuttle to town on Saturday's.

And so he washed his face and hands,
Brushed his teeth,
And went on out to the stop
To wait for the bus to come.


Trevor waddled off the bus
And hobbled into the grocery store.
He waited inside and leaned on the shopping carts.
He caught his breath and finally
Somebody returned the mobile shopper,
The only motorized shopping cart they had.

He plopped down on it
With all his weight.
Both butt cheeks hung off either side,
His huge legs wide apart and looking awkward.
He labored to adjust his shorts,
To make sure he was covered,
And pulled his underwear out of his crack.
Then he backed the little cart out
And headed to the dairy section.

Heavy cream was on his list,
And then he saw French onion dip.
His mouth watered a little thinking how well that went with cheese.
He held the plastic bowl in his hands,
For just a minute in reverie,
Before placing it in the basket with the rest.

As it swished down onto the wires,
He thought he heard someone calling him.
The voice said.
It came from over by the broccoli,
And so he turned the cart around.
He could swear he heard again.
This time there was a lady there,
Squeezing the yellow squash and zucchini.

“These are really goood fried,” she smiled at him.

Trevor felt sick and stuck in the moment.
He felt condemned as judgment day.
Every horror of reality filled his soul.

He was in the presence of beauty and love,
And here he was,
Ugly as sin,
And fat—
Horridly morbidly so.

The woman turned,
Her cart in front of her,
And he watched her hair so smooth,
Swishing back and forth
Following the gait of her ass.

He followed her now,
Silent and at a distance.
This was the woman he had seen
Driving the minivan.
He wondered at her,
Because she seemed so happy,
And yet a deep solemnness present as well.

She wasn't what most would call beautiful,
But she had some striking features,
Small waist,
And hula girl curves.
He had noticed her rounded breasts,
Her pearl white teeth
And golden skin,
But what he wanted to see again
Were her eyes.

He was devastated,
And thrown deep into his rut all at once.
He desperately wanted to look at her,
But was terrified.

Normally in the grocery store,
If he wanted to stalk some mother with children,
He would go opposite them up every single aisle 
To meet them coming and going.

That way he could see them,
And take his mind off the other people
Who stared in various degrees of disgust.
Sometimes in pity, the mother would chide their children.
“Don’t be rude.” They would say,
And encourage the kids to be nice to him,
And by the last aisle
He might even get a smile.

But he just couldn't do that with her,
So he went and hid in the bread corner.

Give us this day
Our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses.
Forgive us our trespasses.

Oh, the bread smelled so good.
Smelling it made him so hungry, though.
It almost made him sick.
His head swam a little.
He needed to check his blood sugar.

Suddenly she was in front of him.
Those two eyes
Laser locked onto his,
Seeing him
For what he was worth,
Seeing him
For what he was.
He was a deer caught in her headlights.

“I'm Maggie,” she said with a smile.

“You're going to be a great doctor,”
Maggie said to the butchy waitress.
The waitress stopped in her tracks.
“Excuse me?”
“You're going to be a great doctor, I said."

Tears were instant and brimmed unchallenged.
The waitress closed her eyes and they squirted out
Like a sprinkler system.

“I haven't told anybody.”
The waitress stared unbelieving,
"But I applied to medical school yesterday.
I've been reneging, all day doubting,
Wondering if anyone would ever let me be their doctor.”

“You're going to be a great doctor,”
Was all that Maggie would say.

“I’m fat,”
Trevor said to Maggie
As his way of introduction.

“Nice to meet you, Fat,”
She said and never batted an eye.

“I was molested as a child,”
Trevor continued confessing.

“I know that too, Maggie said.
“I'm sorry for your loss.”

Maggie let go of her shopping cart
And came around in front of it.
She sidled up to Trevor
And touched his opened ear.

“But listen to me,”
She whispered
And leaned in close to tell him
Something in a language he couldn't understand.

“What?” he asked her bluntly.
“What was that you said?”

Maggie put one finger across his lip
She said in a most encouraging way.
You will hear it.”
Then she took away her finger
And kissed his lips to hers.

The fat man got up.
It was Sunday.
It was early.
His wife was still asleep.
Morning hadn't broken yet.
He longed for something.
He didn't know what.
He waddled his way back to the thin strip of woods.
“Maggie,” he cried,
With one hand on his head.
“Oh godddd, Maggie!”
He plead to the trees,
“Oh godddd… oh godddd… oh godddd….”

The next morning Maggie was in the woods
Behind the fat man’s trailer park.
The fat man saw her
And couldn't believe his eyes.

He waddled
As fast as a fat man could
To try to get back there to talk to her.
She smiled and shook her head and waited for him.

He reached out
To steady himself,
One hand on her,
On her right shoulder,
The other on a tree.

A tingling ran down from his fingers,
Shot up the nerves of his left arm
Into his jaw,
And down his gonadic artery.
“Hohhhhhhhh!” He let out a raspy sigh,
And drew a breath into his lungs.
He wanted to talk,
But couldn’t catch his wind.

Maggie didn't say a word,
But stretched out her hand out
And placed it under his arm.

In a minute,
The fat man straightened.
He put up his chin
And looked down into her eyes.

“What do you want with me?”
He asked.
“What you want with me,”
Maggie reflected calmly.

“Do you want to get together sometime?”
“Want to get together now...?” she echoed.
Maggie's answer, was it a question? Or an understatement?
The fat man’s stomach churned and rumbled.
“Oh god,” he hoped his irritated bowels would hold.

“What do you want to do?” she asked.
“I don't know,” he lied.
“Uh, want to go out and get something to eat?”

“I rather go in,” Maggie said,
And giggled as his eyes got big,
“But whatever you want to do.”

The fat man felt a twinge in his crotch,
Then an ache, and then a throb.
He looked down to see a bulge in the top of his shorts.

Maggie reached out and brushed the bulge.
The fat man eased back on the tree.
Maggie said, “Ya know,
We're together here and now.”

Then she began to get dance and play.
She sang in Chinese or some foreign language.
Under the cover of the trees,
She began to love and cover
The fat man’s huge body with oil.

The fat man came to
On the forest floor
Covered with sand and leaves.
His shorts were still on,
Stuck to his belly 
Like sap to the bark of a tree.
He could see Maggie
Off to his left
Completely naked now.
She came to him
And dropped more leaves on him from above
She smiled at him
And he smiled
The first one maybe in ages

Maggie grinned and shook her head,
Straddled the fat man’s chest.
“I have to go home now, Baby,”
She said. “Will you be ok out here alone?”

The fat man nodded,
As Maggie got up and left,
Putting her clothes back on as she went down the trail.

The fat man laid still
And looked up through the shadows 
Of leaves and the leaves themselves.
He vaguely wondered if he might be dead.

He always thought they'd find him
Dead in his own bedroom,
And have to take some giant can opener
And cut the end of his trailer out,
And load him on four stretchers
To get his body to the morgue.

The fat man giggled
At the thought,
That maybe they would find him here, in the woods,
With flowers in his hair.

He closed his eyes,
And with one finger
Began to write a poem in the air.
Delicious ideas poured out of his soul
And he touched even his own heart with the words.

“You are my poet,”
The fat man heard.
He stopped his writing.
His heart beat in terror.

“You are my poet,”

He heard the big voice say.

The fat man sat at the kitchen table,
Doodled with ink pen on a napkin,
First by shading in a pattern that was already there.
Then with larger strokes and swirls,
Design emerged outside the lines,
And then with one powerful urge,
Poetry happened.

The fat man groaned and sighed and cried.
He put down his pen,
Held his head in both hands,
Shaking it side to side
In grief and in sheer joy.

He looked at the beauty of what he'd created,
Lying there on the cluttered table,
The work he’d spilled out on the napkin
Was a classic masterpiece
Of the ilk of Byron or Shelley,
But more prophetic—something like that of Blake.

The fat man picked the pen back up,
And signed the note
Simply –Trevor,

And carried it back to a drawer in his bedroom desk

Maggie had only ever played
Sweet hide and seek games with the fat man.
She would hide, and he would try and seek her as best he could.

And when he got tired,
He would sit right down on the ground cross-legged,
And they would talk about the great books they’d read,
Movies they'd seen, plays, music—
But mostly,

"This is what you shall do!" 
Said Maggie, quoting Whitman.
And went on to talk about loving the earth, the sun, the animals,
And...most importantly to her, the mothers of families.

Something about her diatribe
Hit Trevor rather solemnly.
He lay back on his back
Like he always did,
And Maggie took her cue.

"You ready for me to rub your legs?"
She asked him rather sweetly.
"No Maggie," he took her by the hand.
He looked deeply at her
So that even she couldn't stand 
The weight of the staring contest.

"Baby," he started, so thankful
For her, his one true friend,
"Baby,” he asked,
 “What do you need from me?"

He pulled her very close
And waited for her to answer,
So that they were eye to eye,

And nearly cheek to cheek.
He pulled her in.
She sat on his lap,
Nose to nose in an Eskimo kiss.

And in the spirit of cooperation,
And obeisance to the great loving Whitman,
Trevor wanted to love this mother of families,
And so he engaged her in a passionate open-mouth kiss.

And something about the way that he loved her,
Took her all the way back to formula,
Took her back beyond
To some motionless shore.
And something about him, reassured her
That Life was there
To cradle and rock her,
And nourish her, even
Long before she was born.
And Life would be there,
Even and especially,
At that place
Where time and space divided,
And Love
Would wait there
For her to come again.

That night the fat man dropped into bed,
Flailing his legs to find the sheet
That went under the regular sheet
And couldn’t find it there.
His wife came in and screwed her lips up,
Hands on hips, and said, “What are you doing?”
“I’m tryin’ to get my legs under the under sheet,”
The fat man said.
“Oh, I took it off,” said his wife.
“Your legs haven’t oozed in over a week,
And I’m not smelling that odor anymore.”

“Honey?” she asked as she plopped in beside him,
“Did you weigh yourself today?
It looks like you have lost a little more weight.”

“No,” the fat man lied to her,
But he had weighed himself that morning
And he had lost a little over 32 pounds.

“The doctor said if you could lose
A hundred pounds,
They could do the surgery fine,” the wife continued hopefully.
“Have you decided you might go ahead and try?"

“No,” the fat man bluntly said.
“If I could lose a hundred pounds,
I wouldn’t need the damn surgery.”

Maggie and Trevor met in the forest.
Trevor had brought his notebook this time.
He wanted to read his poems to Maggie
To see what she thought of them.

Maggie’s eyes shone like fiery sapphires
When she spotted Trevor.
The attention validated his worth and existence,
And he loved her more and more.
But she had fallen in love with him,
And found that she was happier
Than she had really ever been
Knowing his heart turned for only her.

They found a place in the woods where soft grass
Had been wallowed down the night before
By deer ‘neath a fragrant cedar.
They lay down together and loved, and then,
Trevor opened his journal up to her
And began to read his works.

The words he’d written were raw and wild,
But edible to those who know how to forage.
They were fresh,
And blue collar tough,
And yet they flowed with finesse,
Like the cadence
Of a renaissance drummer
The rhythms came through,
And a timeless meter.

And Maggie cried big salty tears,
For Love and for the Tragedy,
For Joy of the Genius,
And for the Purity.

And Trevor watched her as she cried,
And thought that she was beautiful.

He also thought she’d gained a bit of weight.

They teach lawyers not to ask
Questions they don't know the answers to.
But Maggie wasn't a lawyer
By any means.
And she had a question
She needed to ask.
She needed to know the answer.

And though she was pressed for time today,
She felt the need to walk the woods,
An urgent need to talk to Trevor
And see him eye to eye.

And so she walked the thin strip of woods,
And as her custom,
Touching the trees,
But she stopped abruptly behind the hospital
When a sharp pain shot through her abdomen.
A dull thud at the back of her head
Caused her to pause and listen.

She could hear the fat man calling,
Crying from the hospital,
I'm dying, Maggie, I may already be dead.”

“No!” she shook her head in shock.
“No! I don't believe it!
My mind is playing a cruel trick on me!”
But she picked a sprig of sage
To hold to her nose to quit the smell—
The awful smell
The hospital was putting off.

And she turned up a little trail
That raccoons and wild dogs had made,
That ran from the thin strip of untouched woods
To the dumpsters behind the building.

Maggie followed her deep premonition
All the way through the hospital lobby,
Up the stairs to the bowels of the ICU,
To a glass pane, where she cupped her eyes,
And pressed her face to see.

There, a fat man
Lay in a coma.
His legs had just been amputated.
He had slipped into a coma,
And they were checking his brainstem now
To see if he was alive.

But this fat man wasn't Trevor,
And Maggie breathed a sigh of relief,
But still she whispered through the pane,
“Do you want to stay or go?”

And then she saw him lift his right hand
Up as if it were on a Bible,
And he swore,
"I want to stay!
I want to stay,” he groaned.

I see the tan lines of the river—
Thin strips of cleavage to the bay
That has its tank top off its shoulder,
Smooth worn stumps expose themselves,
Drying in the summer day.

The high water mark is falling, falling,
Dizzy and drunk on living love.
Death and parting both surrender
To the nymphy vows and shrug
And wink
And seal it with a juicy kiss,
And dance in waves of cuddled bliss.

And Maggie sits on the banks of the river
And asks her question to the winds
That know, because they blow all over,
And they tell the honest truth
And not just what one wants to hear.

And now she's good,
And has her answer,
And the limits set her free.
She detaches from results
And burns the chains of karma away.
She can breathe
Once more.

That night Trevor dreamed a memory
In vivid color and just as it occurred.
He relived the trip to Mexico.
He had ridden with the missionary,
And they had stopped in a filthy border town
For gas at a little store.

Trevor had noticed a pool of liquid 
Under the bus's chassis,
And had gone in to tell the preacher about it.

"What’s the color of the liquid?" 
The old, fat father placed his hand
Flat on Trevor’s back as he asked him.
"It's red," Trevor had answered looking up,
Watching every move of the pastor’s eyes.
"Of course it is," the old, fat preacher mumbled.

And that is how the two were separated
From the rest of the flock that fateful day,
And wound up having to get a motel room for the night
While the transmission was being worked on—
The longest night that Trevor had ever seen.

And now, in his dream, Trevor parted
From himself, the old boy separated from the young,
And he sat, as an ordained elder, 
A cloud of witness from above,
Helpless, unable to stop the action,
Unable to change a single thing.
Angered, he watched his inner child become a prey,
Conned, and captured
And ruined.

Suddenly, Maggie appeared in his dream,
Saying, “Do you want to stay?
Or do you want to go?”

And Trevor looked into her eyes and said,
“I want to kill him.”

“I will help you bury the dead,”
Maggie said solemnly.

Trevor googled the old fat father
And found he was still listed as a pastor
Of a small church just 20 miles away.
He called for pick up by the shuttle
And was dropped off a block from the address.
He waddled down to where the parsonage sat,
On the corner, next to the little white church.

Some cars were parked in front of the church,
So Trevor figured someone was there.
He opened the door up into the shaded vestibule.
Some women were in the sanctuary,
Folding flyers and stapling papers,
And Trevor asked them
If their pastor was in.

“No,” one of the women frowned.
“Our pastor is actually very ill.
He's in the hospital down at Bradentown.”
Trevor stood and caught his breath,
A good excuse to cover his shock.
That hospital was less than a quarter mile from his lot.

Trevor walked the thin strip of woods
Behind the trailer park where he lived,
Holding on to various trees
To steady his failing gait.
The breeze that day was gusty.
It sent a tone straight from the small leaves
That shook and fluttered up top,
All the way down into the trunks.
Some leaves we're even falling
Even though it was spring—
Set free from the hold the branches had
To fly out from above.

And Trevor could feel something in him letting loose.
He flashed back to a time before,
When he genuinely dreamed of flying,
Of taking hold of two kites,
Like the reigns of a great Pegasus,
And taking off
With a liberty stronger than death,
And a mission to split the skies wide open.

And when he had come to the place in the woods
Behind the Bradenton Hospital,
He stopped,
Bent at the waist,
Leaned heavily on a tree there
And caught his breath.

Then he made his way to a hospital entrance at the rear.

A woman at the information desk
Looked concerned at Trevor.
“Do you need to get to Emergency?”

“No,” he stammered,
“I need a room number, please.”

And then he said the name aloud,
The name he had sworn never to speak,
And the woman looked at her computer, and said,

“That’ll be Room Four Fourty-Four.”

And Trevor headed for the elevator.

Trevor stooped over in the elevator,
And just as the motion jerked a bit to go up,
Nausea overcame him and he chortled,
Regurgitating uncontrollably.
About then, too, he lost control
Of his bowels, and fell in the floor.
Everything went black as he collapsed,
Right there in the elevator.

He could vaguely hear some nurses shouting,
“We need help in the elevator—STAT!”
Trevor felt his body was light and floating.
They were saying his pulse line had gone flat.
“Bag him,” they cried, as Trevor could remember,
Then it was cool, and he was under a tree.
Birds were singing sweetly--sans conductor,
And the shadows played hide and seek with the leaves.

And Trevor could see the prayers reach up for heaven,
Genuine wishes for his health and welfare.
Most of them went so far, then popped.
Maggie’s looked like butterflies
That fluttered free and aimless,

But they kept a steady rising up.

There are things that she will never tell you.
These are the things you really need to know.
But it’s taken Maggie a lifetime
To realize that no one had ever known what to do with her.

Maggie got a call that night
From a man she used to know.
She dropped the fat man like a hot potato,
And her heart tiptoed off
For someone else.

She couldn't help the fat man kill!
She couldn't help him bury the dead!
Only the dead can do that, anyhow,
And Maggie was very much alive.

But one day, many years to come,
Maggie would walk down a thinner strip of woods,
And find herself in front of the fat man’s trailer.
The breeze blows through wispy hairs of baby spring grass,
Uncut, and tiny, lilac wildflowers
Grow, scattered all over the yard.

~the end

-jenn long