Sunday, August 10, 2008

Strayed

by Trudy Osteen Crow

Love leaned
then snapped
us back
like the spring
of an old screen door
Back -
to hearth
and home
Back -
to lukewarm

STORMS

Suddenly,
Rain
fell in
torrents
leaving behind
the Scent
of slow
DECAY
along with the 
PROMISE
of new
beginnings

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Heart STUNG














Does he ever feel her hand in his
or see her in a passing face
or wish that it were her embrace

that lays him down at night?

Does he look up at the stars above
and think of the girl who he once loved
and of all the dreams and plans they'd made

before being swept apart by fate?

Does she slip into his dreams unbid?
Does he feel her arms? Her legs? Her kiss?
Her
heart thumping wildly against his chest

as if it were Summer of '65?

And LOVE?

Oh, how love was sweet!

in his '59 Impala's red-leather seats
on a cul-de-sac to a yet-named street,
to a Carolina girl and her Georgia guy -

whose hand's imprint she feels in hers
as though it were yesterday -

So young -
that girl whose heart was stung
by a Tech "Yellow Jacket" wearing madras plaid.

And although years and youth have passed
that sting still lasts . . .
and lasts . . .
and Lasts

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lover's Lullabye


t.o. crow

Whisper me your lies,
let them disguise reality
with all their little bends and twists
until reality no longer for me exists.
Before we embrace and sweet salt taste,
Sing me a lover's lullabye
about sun and moon and starry skies.

Whisper me your lies . . .

Friday, February 8, 2008

Pretty


t.o. crow

They never called her pretty so how was she to know?
They teased her as a "fatty." She couldn't fit small clothes.

She could wrestle with the best of boys and pin them to the ground
until her "nubs" began to sprout when 'tween time rolled around.
There was always something wrong with her - nothing ever right -
The only comfort that she found was on her blue, Schwinn bike.
There, she channeled big, tough "Jim" who followed every dream.
She could fly a plane or fight in war or any skill you named.

She was strong and kind and loving but that seemed to matter not
for they focused on her "tummy" her other traits forgotten.
Each day she waked she had to face her Mama's consternation
and Granny often chimed right in comparing her to cousins:
"So tiny, feminine - petite," she said. Their clothes are not size dozen!"

So, what was she to do but slouch? To stoop her shoulders low?
And from that purchase see the world and not be noticed so.
Her vanishing tactics failed to work, added misery to her pain.
She ate cake each day to compensate and lost more self esteem.
More scorn for that she did attract, which hurt her deeper still,
and the girl who once was pretty inside herself withdrew.

She gave up trying to please them all and into depression sank.
No one noticed the sponge she'd become or the negative she drank.
They never acknowledged her intrinsic worth so she internalized
all the "bad" they labeled her with and carried it through her life.

That little girl that I once knew so very long ago
was really very pretty but how was she to know?


Feb. 05/2008

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Revelations

by Trudy Osteen Crow

It is his third attempt at a four-in-hand
on his red power tie. “It's silk,”
he explains offhandedly. “It got wet.”
Mute, She nods knowingly.

(Though, in truth, she knows nothing of wet silk)

One more effort and the knot is satisfactory.
The red noose is tightened, tugged twice,
then patted into position
against his pale, starched shirt.

He gazes into the mirror - toward the future -
while she gazes into his white-shirted back
and remembers her baptism in the murky waters
of a now nameless Alabama river.

The muddy current snatches
at the white innocence
of her 10-year-old's dress as
the minister admonishes “Trust in Jeeesus!”
then covers her face with a folded white handkerchief
and tilts her back into the silty water -

"I now baptise you in the name of
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost!"

She hears as she struggles for air
and is suddenly righted.
The congregation's solemn “Amens" greet her
as she rises and sludges toward them -
her soiled dress clinging fiercely
to the goosey flesh of her developing body.

She shivers, seeking cover from their scrutiny-
the first fires of passion quelled by the chill reality
of the river's water.

“. . . after a brief goodbye,” He says
drawing her back to the present.
He turns to face her and the white of his shirt
is muddied by the red silk of his tie.

She shivers, as he tucks with finality,
a folded square of white handkerchief
into his pocket.

Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award Winner

Original: 1985
Revision: Nov, 2009
TOC

First Day of Spring 1973

t.o. crow

I have stumbled onto the backwater of the River of Life.
No light glimmers on its dark surface.
No quickening stirs the fetid water.
Though its stillness appalls me,
I am compelled to stand vigilant on the shore.

“You must wake up!”
An insistent voice
beckons me back from the Valley of Shadows.
Yet, I resist the brightness that shrouds the voice in light.

Leaden,
I wander through a wilderness of sorrow
Crying: “My son! My son!”

My keening wail echoes through the valley.
Ricochets in the hollows against tall peaks of despair.
Flows back to me in great waves of lamentation.

I call once more but he does not answer.
The only sound
Is the bright, distant voice
Luring me from the valley.

“My son is gone!”
I cry in agony.

A puzzled voice asking,
“Who told you it was a boy?”
Breaks through my crest of mourning.

He told me!”
I cry
as I flutter toward the light,
then turn abruptly,
plunging headlong back into the brackish water.

There,
I wept alone.

In the valley where there was no sun.

Original: 9/29/1986
Revised: 11 /29/2009
TOC


"First Day of Spring 1973" tells of the birth of my only son. It was one of the most traumatic events of my life - made worse by the fact that mothers were not allowed to see their stillborn babies at that time. I was kept in the hospital and not even allowed to attend his funeral.

The only comfort I received was from the nurse who was with me throughout his delivery and through most of the night when I refused to wake up. What she could not understand was how I so adamantly knew that it was my "son" when I had never been told plus, I was so deeply sedated at his birth. (At the time, we had no ultrasound or other tests to identify the sex of babies).

What I was trying to explain to her was that my son had "told" me in a vivid dream around 3:00 am on Saturday morning to "get off your stomach, you're smothering me." In the dream, I could see him curled in the birthing position in my uterus. I jolted awake but I was not on my stomach and he never moved again.
It was St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1973.

At a friend's insistence, I saw my doctor on Monday. The doctor couldn't find a heartbeat and told me that he was "gone" and sent me back home. I was devastated. He induced labor on Tuesday, March 20, 1973, since I was already scheduled for that day. When my son was born, there was a knot tied in his umbilical cord which my doctor described as being: "Tighter than a knot in a plow line." My son had, indeed, "smothered to death" just as he had "told" me in the dream.

When I returned home, my well-meaning mother and husband had removed all traces of my son's being from our house. All of his things down to his crib were gone. My grief was so deep that for months after his birth, I could not sleep without dreaming of a tiny baby in a long, white christening gown. I could see tiny hands with fingers folded laying across its stomach and tiny feet with toes but under the cap where his face should be was just a blur.

That image haunted my dreams off and on for many years to come. My only guess is that it came from the nurse assuring me that there was: "Nothing wrong with him. He had all his fingers and toes and lots of black hair."

According to her, the only marks on him were where he had rested at the bottom of my womb in the amniotic fluid until he was born. Because of that, the left side of his face and his left arm were puckered like he had sat in the bathtub too long.

We did not name him.
His grave is at the foot of his paternal grandfather's who died before he was ever conceived.

Lady in Black

by t.o. crow

The lady 's dressed in black
from her boots up to her neck.
Would it surprise you to discover
that she's looking for her lover?

Her face is lined in symmetry
like the winter landscape's trees
whose barren limbs
hold back spring leaves.

Would it please you to discover
She's pining for her lover?

Reflections of her face in glass
stare mutely at me as she passes.
Her crystal eyes grow colder
as she casually glances over.

She's wrapped in her mythology
of frozen hope and empty dreams.
Her life's devoid of bright-hued things.
Of passion, joy and angel's wings.
Does it surprise you to discover
that she's never found her lover?

The lady's dressed in black
from her boots
up to her neck.

.

The Masterpiece

by t.o. crow

Deftly, you stroked the soft clay of me
into fine art.
You pressed and shaped and molded me
until my being was defined by your hands,
your lips,
your body.

My essence disappeared.

I could not breathe
without you present.
I felt priceless
until you shattered me
against the stone cold
of mourning.

Dogwoods


by t.0. crow

For over 25 years, I have watched them leaf,
flower, and fruit through the frame of my
living room windows.
Some years the flowering is breathtaking,
making the heart ache
with the beauty of their whiteness.
Other years, the fall color is the spectacle:
The leaves bleeding red.
The berries full and ripe causing limbs to droop
from the weight of them.
This year, I watch as the squirrels
go about the business of winterizing
knowing they are happy for a good year.
For the berries are thick and bright and
wild lives will be changed by them.
Both fur and feather will be fed
and tiny seeds dropped to make new beginnings
in some fertile place.
It is almost two years since you've gone.
The berries hang fat and ripe on the dogwoods
but my heart is heavy with a yearning -
a longing - that I cannot name.
If I were a young seedling,
I could be transplanted to new ground.
But my limbs are no longer supple and
I fear they might break from the weight of my solitude
as they creak and moan at the coming of winter.

October 2001
Revised Dec. 2008
TOC

High Voltage

by t.o. crow

I brushed
against the Wool
of you
And
Sparks flew.

Fantasy Man


by t.o. crow

Fantasy man, fantasy man,
take me away to a fantasy land
where we'll run barefooted
in warm sand by the sea
- and dance -
naked in the rain.

You my dark hero,
slayer of giants,
will pivot the sun at noon
and turn time back an eternity
- until reality becomes -
an extension of the dream.

TOC

Kindlings


by t.o. crow

In the kindling,
you were the stranger
who torched my passion.
In the fire,
I forged you whitely
against a backdrop
of red-dawned skies.
In the embers,
reason engulfed me
and cooled the image
I had fashioned.
In the ashes,
you are the smoke
which irritates my eyes.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Small Wonders



by t.o. crow

Granny called me through the window.
"Mama's here!" she said.

The screen door squeaked
and slapped closed behind me
as I raced inside.

High heels tapped staccato across old wood floors.

The sound stopped and in the doorway stood
a dark-haired beauty in white
beaming a lip-sticked smile of red.

My Mother
held a box wrapped in white paper
with a pretty blue ribbon binding it together.

I looked at the box in wonder.
A real, wrapped present!

What is it for? Is it mine? A surprise?

Granny smiled
As I tried to remove the ribbon
but could not because it was stuck.

Scissors were found.
There was a snip, snip sound.

Off came the top
and I inhaled the most delightful fragrance of
cardboard and new plastic!
Tissue paper crackled and rustled.

As I reached for the treasure inside,
my mouth flew wide.

"A DOLL!" I cried.

There in its paper bed,
lay a baby doll who drank
and wet!

I pulled her from the box
to investigate her magical features.
Removing her clothes exposed how she functioned
when "fed" water from her doll-sized bottle.

I have never received a gift so special
as that Tiny Tears Doll from my beautiful Mother.
Nor one that I remember more,
than on that birthday when I was four.

Much love was wrapped in that small box
along with a memory that will never be forgotten.

The Wolfwalker


by t.o. crow

I met a man one night.
He walked into my dream.
I watched him through closed eyes.
My mind meandering.
There was beauty there -
and sinew to this art
towering in my head -
like some giant tree formed into man
by one bold lightening POP!
I wondered at the vision standing there -
naked in my dream.
My eyes sought his but, failing that,
found strong square shoulders
and a well-muscled back.
His long brown hair
in a ponytail bound
touched a farmer's tanned neck.
He had long, strong arms
and hands accustomed to work
(with fingers designed for
carrying out the business
of baiting hooks, holding hammers
and saws -
and pleasuring).
My eyes paused on his hands.
For the briefest instant,
they opened to release balloons of gratified moans
which floated into the air and burst
into "Ohhhh, BABY!" sighs and
rocking the quiet like the wake of a baby Lear jet.
One REM blink and the image was gone.
My eyes moved on to peruse
long legs with well-shaped feet.
(And his full manliness.)
Still, there was something amiss.
Perhaps he needed a kiss?
In dream paralysis, I extended my arms
in open invitation.
He looked at me in mild surprise:
"Could you please explain the meaning of this?"
He asked as he sat by my side.
"Why yes," I sweetly replied.
"Your heart has a hole where love should go.
I can see it in your eyes."
He held me close and together we rocked.
Locked as two lovers should be.
Then I heard his voice whisper
as a tear hit my shoulder:

"My Dear, I am only a dream."



TOC

Chiaroscuro


by t.o. crow

I wove our tapestry in colors
unpleasing to your sensibilities.
My design was for clarity
like prisms in sunlight.
You preferred obscure patterns
in gray.
I've stored the delightful textures
of my handiwork within easy reach.
In time, the colors will fade.
Then, perhaps, their subtle muteness
will be more pleasing
to your discerning eyes.

Dance Card from the Maniac's Ball


by t.o. crow

You lay me down on a bed of ice
when you took me for your bride.
You warmed me with your lies
- so nice -
as I lay by your side.

You teased me like the wind
teased Marilyn's skirt
on a grate outside the Trans-Lux.
Yet, you left me no roses
like Marilyn's Joe did

Only thorns that ran with my blood.
Blood and Ice.
We danced all night until I neared exhaustion.
Then you took me home and stole my youth,
while I slept in Egyptian cotton.

There you turned my heart to frost
and our marriage became a glacier.
With no thaw seen to be coming in Spring,
the depth of my misery deepened
Until my heart broke

which set afloat
A million icy shards in my veins.
It was Summer when the thaw started.
The glacier shattered - with a great crackling shudder -
to open a chasm of pain.

I woke once more to a world filled with sunlight
and felt life stirring again.
Fall came.
My days grow cold now,
I'm a virgin no more and

All my dreams are dead.
Yet, you'll lay me down on a bed of ice.
You'll tease me with your lies.
Then,
We'll dance again to exhaustion.

(Shhhh!
The gun's there for later.
Can you feel the cold metal?
Or, see the blood splatter?

BANG!)

Heavy Metal


by t.o. crow

A train raced by my window
in its heavy metal flight.
Ghostly cars slid past my lids
as I lay paralyzed.

Freight banged and clanged
against cold steel rails
as the train shot through the night.

Cacophonic sound rumbled 'round
in the tunnels of my brain.
Eerie incubus stirring 'bout
filled the night with dread.

As the last car passed
a somber wraith
Scattered ashes from the rail.

He wore a tuxedo and a
black top hat -
which he tipped my way-
As the train roared straight to hell.

Revised Jan.18, 2008
TOC

The Summer Nap


by t.o. crow

The spoken words swirled
round and round
oscillated into murmuring sound
by the old fan as they floated
on its currents of air
and blew gently through my head.
There the words turned into dreams
that reeled through my brain
like old movie scenes
filled with fairies and dragons
and princes and things.
Images all so real.
In the space of that nap,
on my grandmother's couch,
Time stood condensed
and Still.
TOC

The Philosophy of Love

by t.o. crow
(for 'Bella)

How much do you love me, YaYa?


I love you to the moon and back,

to the stars and back, to the sun and back,

to Mars and back, and 25 gazillion, million times

around the world and back! I reply.


My young philosopher thoughtfully mulls it over:

Doesn't some of it get lost along the way?


Yes, some of it gets sucked into a black hole here and there

but, what really matters,

is how much of it comes back to you

in the end.


Oh, she says.

Then sleeps.


Feb. 01, 2008 TOC