The Seed is Watered

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Pop, I have studied men

on the street of your generation

to recreate your smile

and admire that 70s bop,

although I knew it was

a feigned coolness

in a world that didn’t care

if you walked upright or not

because it was determined

to stop the new seed anyhow

or bend you like putty

one way or another

until your manhood, your family,

and your race could not be revived.

For this, I have cried

too often for your shortened life.

Pop, I have heard your voice

in the tone of anointed pastors

and thought, that’s how my dad

would have said that, if

he had said that, if

he had broken free…

if he had made the choice, if

he had continued to live,

if he could only see if.

 

Pop, I have unearthed you 1,000 times

and birthed you from Mary’s womb,

given you power, prosperity, peace,

and divine wisdom–I saw

possibilities in you.

I reconstructed you

on the faces of distinguished men

and finally in the eyes of

your grandson who reflects

your charm and intellignece

in the absence of

homemade adversity-

just everything you wished to be-

plus male poetry walking straight

in God’s destiny

breeding generations of saved men.

The world will not win.

Shawn R. Jones

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Poison Rain

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As he crashed away from a harlot’s womb

At seven-years-old he was made to taste

The dark fur beneath damp powder and lace

And change the sheets of whores from every room,

Then cry hungry inside a city’s gloom.

Grandmother is the only one to face

For the junkie status that slowed his pace.

Will the tombstone message be carved to soon?

 

He mixed on last shot of poisonous rain.

I can still hear the demons laugh and moan…

His pleading eyes faded away from me.

My childish heart died in my daddy’s groan…

Final orgasms exploded the vein

On a haunting face of black memory.

Shawn R. Jones

Reprinted from Womb Rain

Finishing Line Press, 2008

Before You Eat Another Candy bar…

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Backseat Conscience

About a year and a half ago, my husband stopped to get some gas at Wawa.  It was summer and a pretty hot evening.  I, as greedy as I was at the time, said, “Hey, honey, can you run in Wawa and get me a pack of Peanut Chews?”

My daughter, who was home for the summer warned from the backseat, “As soon as you eat that you are going to gain ten pounds.”

Did she really think her comment was going to stop me?  It most certainly didn’t, but she continued to be my backseat conscience.

My husband got back in the car and handed me a pack of Peanut Chews. My hero, I thought, smiling, as I unwrapped the package.  I quickly shoved one into my mouth,  my conscience still grumbling in the backseat, saying things like, “Mother, you have no control.  I thought you weren’t eating sweets anymore.”

“Oh, be quiet, ” I mumbled with my mouth twisted in pleasure.

My daughter gave up. My husband drove in silence, and no one was prepared for what happened a second later.

I felt small legs moving on the left side of my tongue!   I screamed and spat  candy all over the center console, digging frantically in my mouth, searching for tiny parts that may have been left on my tongue.

My husband yelled, “What?  What’s wrong?!!!”  He thought I was choking.  I am sure he thought I better be choking, spitting all over the place like a fool.

I am not sure what I was saying as I spat, but I called on God a few times, tears in my eyes and nauseous with disbelief.  I remember holding  my hand over my mouth and saying, “Oh my God, Jade, what is it,” as she examined the half chewed chocolate pieces and watched the creature crawl. At first she laughed so hard she couldn’t speak.  ”What?!  What is it?” I asked again.

“Mom, it’s beetle!!!! Ah….ha….Ah…..Hahahahahahahaha…”  I have never heard her laugh so hard!  ”Mom, that’s what you get for being so greedy! Ah…hahahahaaha….”

Now, I was thinking, my mother always told me to never eat chocolate in the summer.  I thought back to the time when I was ten-years-old and had maggots in my Clark Bar.  I couldn’t even get mad at my daughter for calling me greedy.  I rode home, in silence, with my hand over my mouth as my husband drove with one hand and wiped off the console with the other.  I told them I just needed to get home and brush my teeth.

I haven’t had a candy bar since that experience, and I don’t want one either. So, the next time, you think you may want a candy bar, think of me and my beetle incident.  It sure helps me think twice every time a see candy bars displayed below the front counter of CVS or in the aisle of a grocery store.  I am now my own backseat conscience.

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 Me with my backseat conscience

By Shawn R. Jones

Author of the devotional book, Pictures in Glass Frames   http://t.co/BxiNwWRG

and the poetry chapbook, Womb Rain, 

http://www.amazon.com/Womb-Rain-New-Womens-Voices/dp/1599242699/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337717218&sr=8-1

Death of A Mistress

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An uneasy death

comes in seasons

when her fastidious soul

refuses sleep.

A long,

insidious death

kisses the last

colorless drool

suspended

on his lover’s lips.

Brief moments

of loneliness come

from thoughts swelling

in the invisible

darkness of night-

the dreary, lifeless,

uneven blackness

in the absence of light-

hearted matrimony.

Shawn R. Jones

Reprinted from  Womb Rain

(Finishing Line Press, 2008)

The Results

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I walk hard, like my mother, moving as confidently as I can across the porch.  My boots pound the wood loudly.  No one is watching.  No one is listening, but I need to convince myself that I’m okay.  Maybe if I don’t act sick or look sick, I won’t be sick. I wrap my sweater around me and rub my neck, feeling insecure without my scarf.  I turn back toward the house and remember all my scarves are dirty.  The washing machine’s broken, and I’m still waiting for that darn part to come in.

I move down the walkway and look back at my house.  There is a vulture sitting on the roof.  That can’t be a good sign.  I laugh to myself, shake my head, and keep moving.  I get in my car and drive past the bank, the elementary school, the Quaker Meeting House, and a field of wild turkeys.  Everything is the same, but it doesn’t seem the same because my thoughts are different.  I make a right into the driveway.  I park, get out the car, and move slowly towards the entrance of the small building.  I read the words on the door, “Oncology/Hematology,”  and my muscles turn muddy and the brown welcome mat sinks beneath my feet.

The patients in the waiting room are old and very pale.  A few of the ladies wear scarves on their heads.  I am used to wearing one around my neck for style.  One lady is crying softly.  I cannot see her.  She is sitting behind me. “They hurt me,” she whispers.

“It shouldn’t hurt,” says a man with a shaky voice.  I assume it’s her husband. “It never hurts when I have it done. I’m going to talk to them about it.”  I imagine they have been married for years. I imagine he feels helpless.

I watch patients come and go.  I cannot believe I am sitting in the waiting room for over an hour-an hour, just long enough to become more anxious.   I hear nurses in the back say words like “chemo” and “marrow.”   I tell myself to think positive.  I tell myself to pray.  A young lady opens the door that leads to the back.  She calls my name, searching the room.  She smiles when she sees me rise from my chair.  Not a sincere smile, but the tight lip kind that tightens even more when her eyebrows raise. It’s that smile that lets you know she’s just doing her job.

In the back, I am instructed to have a seat and pull up my right sleeve.  It’s a process I have gotten used to.  It is the fourth time I have had my blood drawn this winter.  I don’t feel nervous at all until the phlebotomist says, “Hmm…I don’t know why I’m having trouble with this.  It’s not coming out.”  She jiggles the needle a bit while it is still in my arm, and I give her a dirty look.  Then I swear I hear air and then a slurping sound. “Oh, there you go.  Now, it’s coming through.  It’s tough because that vein is right near a small bone.”  It is the first time in a long time I have wanted to smack someone.

In the back I wait another hour for the doctor,  my thoughts growing darker with each minute and with each conversation I hear through the walls.  The hematologist walks in smiling.  She extends her hand.  I extend mine, wanting to skip the formality and ask, “Am I dying?”  Instead, I compliment her on her shoes.

She sits at the computer.  We chat like old friends, and I wonder if she is just trying to relax me before she gives me the results.  In the few seconds after she says, “I have your results,” I review my life.   I am surrounded by love.  I am deeply satisfied, and I no longer care   who is responsible for the the dime that got caught in the pump of the washing machine.

“I’ll give you the good news first.  You do not have lymphoma or leukemia,” she folds her hands and continues, “but you do have a platelet disorder and severe anemia. My mind searches through a string of definitions from Biology 101.    I must look a bit clueless because she further explains, “Your blood does not clot properly. That’s why you had to have the transfusion six months ago.”

“I see,” I nod.

“Well, I am going to put you on an iron supplement and, ”  she removes her glasses and rubs her eyes, “I will be in contact with your gynecologist so we can start you on hormone therapy also.  We can’t transfuse you every time you have your menses, that’s for sure. That would be ridiculous.  But… you are a relatively young woman, so if you decide to have more children, we are really going to have to sit down and discuss the risks first.”

“How come no one has ever picked up on this?  I’m thirty-one-years old.”

“I’m not sure, but we know what’s going on now, and we will have you back in great shape in no time.”

“No more blackouts?”

“No, no more blackouts or days in bed unable to lift your head from the pillow,”  she scribbles on a small blue sheet of paper. “Here’s your script.”

She follows me to the front desk and hands the receptionist my folder.  “I’ll see her in four weeks.”

After I make my appointment, I walk through the waiting room pass  a new group of women, wearing scarves wrapped  tightly on their heads.

Mountain Fern Road

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While on the deck writing, I look over at a small orange sliding board in the backyard.  It has been sitting in that same spot for at least fifteen years; yet, I can still see my daughter going down the slide, wearing her purple coat and purple, pink, and lavender hat, ears covered.  She is about four.  Her brother stands beside her, cracking jokes.  He is about eight, thin, and always smiling.  She is mostly serious, even as she slides.  However, there are many times he makes her laugh harder than anyone else in the world.

I look over at the snowmobile.  I see my son, wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals.  He lifts the snowmobile’s cover and reaches his hand inside.  A swarm of bees fly out. He yells.  One got him on his ankle.  My husband takes the stinger out.  Then, I stare at the four-wheeler, wrapped in blue tarp.   I see my son walking up the red stoned driveway, helmet in hand.    He accidentally ran the four-wheeler off the road into the bushes, showing off for a couple boys his age.

My eyes avert to the rock pit.  Wild colors dance through the darkness as marshmallows roast at the end of long sticks, our brown faces aglow with delight.  Char and goo stick to our tongues and lips. Snakes slither from the pit of warm rocks.  No one is afraid. The night is too perfect.

I stop writing.  I walk back in the house.  It is quiet.  Our children are grown.  My husband and I come up alone now.  We browse antique shops that hold small and large items of history.  We examine unique treasures like zithers, Roseville pottery, vintage watches, and signed photos of living and deceased stars.  I purchase a signed photo of Debbie Allen and a book of poems by Helen Steiner Rice.  We dine at our favorite restaurant and enjoy the foods our grown children tell us we should not eat.

In spring and summer, we walk by the lake and take pictures. Butterflies are shy and fireflies pose in flight. In fall, we bear watch as they roam down the side of a wooded road.  In winter, we talk and play cards by the fire, remembering and forgetting shared and unshared moments our lives.  We swap secrets like candy as snow piles up outside for hours.  But we do not worry.  We do not regret.  The night is still perfect.

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