Past fiddle creek, p.1
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       Past Fiddle Creek, p.1

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Past Fiddle Creek



  Spit & Vinegar Publications

  ISBN: 9781370440283

  © Copyright 2017 RC Monson

  All rights reserved.

  Cover art by Livewire Productions

  Cover photo by William Wallace, Sr.



  Sudden Vision of Louisa

  Ella’s Umbrella

  A Blooming Codependency

  When Gravity Wins

  On Klamath Lake

  The Only Truth

  Orlando Begat Robert Who Then Begat Me

  Banker on Your Back

  Haiku Postcards

  Corrida de Gallo

  Noelle’s Pastels

  My Heart Is a Child

  Passion’s Circus

  Long Division

  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,

  spinning yarns,

  embroidering a garden of happy children.


  Ella’s Umbrella

  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 fi

  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.

  Gravity wins.

  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.

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