Past Fiddle CreekRC Monson / Humor
PAST FIDDLE CREEK
Spit & Vinegar Publications
© Copyright 2017 RC Monson
All rights reserved.
Cover art by Livewire Productions
Cover photo by William Wallace, Sr.
Sudden Vision of Louisa
A Blooming Codependency
When Gravity Wins
On Klamath Lake
The Only Truth
Orlando Begat Robert Who Then Begat Me
Banker on Your Back
Corrida de Gallo
My Heart Is a Child
Past Fiddle Creek
Sudden Vision of Louisa
In a waking dream I envision
a beautiful young girl in the garden,
standing way off in the distance, two generations away,
this would be long before my mother
was a twinkle in your eye.
I picture you embroidering a garden
of asters, geraniums and my Uncle Fred,
violets and Vicki
and jonquils and Josie,
Eva and Louie bundling up bouquets
of tulips and marigolds and Archie, Terri, Al and Art,
the twins tumbling among honeysuckle and baby’s breath,
to say nothing of three children who died,
your bitterroot and bleeding heart-
so much suffering and grief
make smiling come a little more easily
than when you and Grandpa stood for the portrait,
the only photo I know of that depicts you as a girl-
in black and white you seem so stiff,
all spruced up in your Sunday best,
you look so serious and solemn,
so modest and humble,
and so camera shy that I’d swear you honestly believe
the camera might steal your pious soul away.
Not so in my vision.
I watch your busy hands
accompanied by the soft humming of a favorite ballad
embellished with that sparking smile of yours
brightening up everyone’s day
by adding a note of quiet optimism and calm unwavering faith.
Grandma, your flowers bloomed all year around,
they sprouted like icons, candles and whispered prayers,
like mountains of laundry to wash, hang out on the line
and then iron,
like mounds of Christmas wrapping paper
piled high beside the glistering tree,
like heaping stacks of tortillas
warming in a hand-embroidered towel-
I lost track of the cousin count at thirty-three
when I left home and my hometown and you,
but I still cover myself on cold nights
with the blanket you made of suit-fabric squares
from Grandpa’s old sample books;
I carry with me the sense of your firm gentle hand,
the gladdening cheer of your voice;
I compare the mouth-watering aromas of your kitchen
to every kitchen I ever set foot in;
and when I start feeling a tad melancholy
I just remember trying to decipher your crazy Spanglish,
I picture you and all of your daughters laughing,
embroidering a garden of happy children.
The coffee shop and I have been sitting
a long time in the searing sun.
Plastic chairs and tables, like wax cartoons,
gaze up into a blinding white glare.
Vulnerable, I look straight into the spot
that would make me blink, make my eyes
water, if not for the makeshift umbrella
of Ella’s statuesque form.
Like a study in chiaroscuro spiritual
chanting riddles of second-hand
boutiques and art galleries.
Age-old hymns sprout new growth
and cultivate shadows
along the corridor of Ella’s umbrella.
Without rattling the garden gates
the seemly impala dashes away
from a jigsaw body politic
of law-abiding citizens, mesmerized
by a flashing glare of desert mirage.
Perfumed with thoughtful laughter,
her lips are succulent as a shady oasis.
A Blooming Codependency
She lives in a house with bad plumbing,
slip-shod wiring and a leaky roof;
she’s not as young as she used to be,
and the car breaks down on the way to market.
Pulling over to offer assistance,
he already has grease under his fingernails,
and it just so happens that he always carries
a tool kit with him everywhere he goes.
She wrings her hands and cries, “It just died.”
So he pops open the hood and takes a look inside.
She leans in and he glimpses her cleavage,
which doesn’t bother her as long a the car gets fixed.
After fiddling with her distributor awhile,
he hollers, “Fire it up,” and that makes her
wonder if he’d like for her to fire him up a bit.
The car doesn’t start but her motor’s humming.
He tells her, “The coil needs to be replaced.”
She says she’d better call for a tow truck.
But when he offers to fix the car and drive her home
she instantly accepts his kind offer.
She asks if he’s sure he can fix it.
He laughs and tells he can fix anything.
She asks how much he charges for his services.
He says, “I charge plenty. If I charge at all.”
She asks if he’ll do it “in exchange for,
oh say, ten wholesome home-cooked dinners?”
He assures her he’s been a bachelor so long
he’ll do practically anything for home-cooked meals.
He installs the coil and she feeds him dinner.
They drink too much wine and when he notices
everything in her house is broken, he asks,
“How can you live in such a nonfunctional space?”
She says she has always lived in this house,
her self-image has been formulated in this place.
“With the right incentive,” he declares, “I can fix it,”
reminding her that he always keeps a tool kit handy.
Laying new foundations is easy as foreplay.
He nails in a long stud to hold her ceiling up
then takes a poke at the faulty plumbing, showing
off how adept he is with a big monkey wrench.
Rusty old pipes are torn out and replaced,
and her smile gleams like brand-new bathroom fixtures
as he unfurls great lengths of insulated wire
destined to alter the way she turns her lights on.
When at last he starts flipping switches,
her face glows with a sort of luminous ecstasy.
They curl up together beside her cozy hearth,
scarcely noticing the weeks turn to months and then years.
In time they rebuild the whole place, piece by piece,
and she is amazed at how deep a coat of paint can go.
It makes her feel good to have a handyman around,
regardless of his dirty fingernails and stinky boots.
When Gravity Wins
It started with a big
a genesis of emotion.
I kissed her.
Radiant as the night sky
in my telescope,
Estelle was just too kissable
for a schoolboy to resist.
I kissed her on the playground.
We still had our baby teeth,
and boy was I surprised
by what I’d done, and so was she.
We were dazzled,
baffled by the attraction.
We struggled against gravity
but in the end we were repelled.
A few years later
I held hands with Sandy,
skipping down the sidewalk
into the mid-1960s.
Like an aging red giant,
too dense to further expand,
the Cold War sent home
daily body counts from Vietnam,
assassination reigned supreme,
angry mobs jammed the streets,
cities went up in flames,
while rockets went up in glory
and men landed on the moon.
Dr. Leary turned on LSD
and the Pope banned the Pill,
my draft card got burned
and so did Diane’s bra.
Somewhere far away
in some distant galaxy
a swollen star collapses
into a single point,
super nova, surrounded
by a smoke-ring halo
known in my universe
as Angela’s nebula.
Change may be
fundamental to the cosmos,
but it shudders from within
and makes it hard to measure
the curve of my universe.
In a flash the star expires.
Too many radiant
ravishing beauties to remember
all at once,
and I loved each one, each in her own way.
And I’m still just as baffled
and I’m still just as dazzled
when I look through my telescope
and there’s the one
I lived with for ten years.