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Mothers

I was planning to call this “Blank”.  I had even typed it up at the top in preparation, but at the last minute I decided to change the theme, so I guess you readers have dodged a bullet.  One that creates much noise and smoke while signifying nothing.  Just a typical exercise in poetic reflecting, or columnity, or something to that effect.  You know what I mean.  Hopefully.  If not, don’t worry.  You are not alone.  There are many out there who have no idea what I mean most of the time; possibly all of the time.  Besides the ones who have never heard of me, let alone met me or read me, which is virtually indistinguishable.  I am really much more me when I am read than when I am not.

With that said, or mumbled (I think I was mumbling or muttering it, though I cannot be certain since it was all in my head) . . . I see we are off to another fine and confusing start.  How nifty!  I do so love to obfuscate.  Or is it discombobulate?  I can never keep straight whether I am doing one or the other.  Suffice it to say that I am being vague and rather muddled.  We’ll leave it at that.  It may not stay left, or right for that matter.  It may wander off and stay something else entirely.  It’s so unpredictable.  We’ll just have to see what it ends up being, I suppose.  Whatever it is.  To tell you the truth, I’ve already forgotten.  Let me grab something and stick it here.  Hold on . . . (rummaging) . . . got it!

Oh, sorry, it scurried away.

Wait, I’ve got this.  Or that.  (Digging deeper.)  Hmm.  I’ll just put some duct tape over the empty spot.  There, good as . . . well, the gaping hole is gone.  Let’s move on, shall we?  I think that would be best, rather than dwelling on the obvious patch in the middle of the page.  Pretend it isn’t there.

Didn’t your mother teach you it’s impolite to stare?  Oh come on, I bet she mentioned it once or twice.  Of course she did.  She must have.  You’re in denial, that’s what.  You should listen to your mother.  That’s the problem with this world.  People stop listening to their moms, and pretty soon it’s a jumbled heap of unpicked-up havoc and chaos.  Haven’t you heard that mothers know best?  It’s true.  Ask anyone.  Ask me, I’m a mother.

Ignore it, I said!

Okay, I see we’ve become a little obsessed with the duct tape.  Just because it has silly yellow ducks on it is no excuse.  Really, you’re behaving rather juvenile.  We were trying to have a nice one-sided conversation in which I do the talking and you do the listening, but now you aren’t even paying attention.  I might as well be playing Tiddly Winks, or Badminton.  I could be.  I was playing them the other day.  It was very nostalgic.  I used to play them a long time ago, a long long time, and I’ve taken them up again.  I was a bit rusty, but it’s one of those things you never forget, like riding a bike or twiddling your thumbs.  You can forget how to swim (trust me), but you don’t forget Tiddly Winks.  Or Badminton, also known as Batmitton at night since you have to avoid swatting bats.

I’m teaching my sons everything I know about the games.  Noél and Rafael were soccer players and Mexican folklore dancers growing up.  This is all new to them.  After mastering the art of skipping, which Rafael had managed to skip until he was an adult, I thought it was time they learned something useful . . . something serious and more competitive.  As a mother I need to prepare them for the world we live in.  It’s never too late.  We had overlooked these vital skills.  What manner of mother would I be if I failed to share my experience and valuable knowledge with my kids?  Not that I claim to be great at being a mother.  I tend to worry about it, actually.  Hoping I’ve been a positive example and influence.

Whether you’re a mother or not, I’m sure you can relate.  We all have moms, unless we’re especially odd.  Even then, even if we hatched from an eggshell or sprang from a can that stuff pops out of when you open the lid, we must have started this crazy thing called life the same.  It’s fairly universal, the whole mother thing.  Whatever our language, beliefs, customs, species.  Just think how incredible it is that we’ve had one, or somebody like a mom.  Every child needs that.  Just as, I believe, every woman needs to experience a maternal bond with someone else, or another creature, a furbaby, a kid with feathers or scales.  We make connections of the heart, and the roles of mother and child are essential, whatever side we may be on.  Then again, we are all children of the earth.  We should, every one of us, feel connected — with each other as well as with Nature.

Phew, that was a heavy thought.  My head feels lighter now.  Oh no, here’s an afterthought:  The roles of parent and child are often interchangeable over time.  There, my mind feels much clearer.  I fear I went off on a tangent, making statements instead of the usual cotton-candy fluff.  I do my best to skate around such unfortunate bother, the starched-socks bee-in-the-bonnet nonridiculous nonsense that can creep in and spoil a rambling essay that says so little and means a lot less.  Now and then I may lapse into something which nearly resembles a point (if your pencil hasn’t been sharpened for a while).  You’ll have to forgive the occasional outburst.  It must be a personality dysfunction.  I am kind of quirky.  And kooky.

Now that I have explained myself thoroughly, let’s talk about mothers.  I don’t know why that popped into my head, but it’s as good a topic as any to go on about in a roundabout sort of way.  I was first typing “a roundabout wort of say”, which is fairly different.  I’ll save that for next time, perhaps.  It’s a subject that requires adequate time to rattle off with as little attention as possible.  Yes, I will have to shelve it for future discussion and hope it doesn’t roll from the shelf to be lost under a table or sofa, or collect dust in a corner.  My mind’s attic does tend to get dusty.  I wonder where all of that dust comes from?  Is it outer-space dust?  Is it the soot of candles burned at both ends or the ashes of burned bridges?  Might it be those chips off old blocks, the splinters or slivers pulled out of fingers, the sediment of eroded rocks and cliffs and beaches?  Maybe it’s spilt fairydust, sleep or hourglass sand that has trickled out of place.  Could it be the Moon’s dried tears, the hardness of clouds, the fog turned to powder?  Stray particles escaped from that Hadran Collider contraption?  Old brittle grease from the gears that keep Time slipping away and everything else going like clockwork?

Speaking of which, we’ve run out of time to discuss mothers.  I shall have to write poems missing a theme after all.  The slate is blank, folks.  Please disregard the title.  I’ll send a little painter with a bucket to redo it in due time, whenever that might be.  Perhaps when I’ve paid my dues.  Wait, I thought I already did.  Is Life trying to double-deal me extra charges?  That’s some nerve!  Hold on, I must go and argue with those quacks in the Bills Department.  In the meantime, here are a few poems about whatever they’re about to entertain you.  Like elevator music.  And the recorded jingles they play when you’re left holding the phone — not to be confused with holding the bag . . .

 

 

    mothers

 

A mixed bag, you never know what

You might get, reaching into the pot

Or the hat to draw a mother.  A hugger

Or a slugger; a nagger, gagger, lagger,

Washragger; baker or shaker; comforter,

Quilter, or a blanket excuse for screaming.

You could be mothered, smothered,

Tothered, sister and brothered . . .

Will she dress you up or dress you down?

Will she understand or reprimand you,

Teach you or preach to you?  Will she

Reach out from the darkness of her past,

Lead you into the sunlight of a golden path

Or new day, encourage you to cross rainbows

And let smiles keep you dry, take your hand

When you are lost yet leave you the space

To find yourself?  Can she make you laugh

When you feel like crying — make everything

Fine again after the world clobbered you?

Did she do her best to love you and provide

As much as she could of the essentials;

Give you life without giving too much

Or taking too much in return?  Don’t fret,

The odds are in your favor of landing

A good one.  Chances are, if you have

Known a mother in your life or ever felt

A mother’s touch, a mother’s protection,

Her absolute affection, then you are rich

Beyond compare and there is nothing that

Will ever compare with that.  Everyone

Has a mother.  Good, bad, or indifferent.

But if nothing else, know that you are

A child of the universe and you are blessed

With the ability to dream your dreams,

Sing your songs, dance your dances,

Write your wrongs, most of all to live.

And eventually to change your life if you

Wish, if you so desire.  Because a mother

Granted you the chance, carried you and

Gave you a birthday.  Whether you have

Eaten your cake or not; whether it was

Upside down or weighed a pound . . .

Know that you were loved at least that much,

For that is love.  That is sacrifice.

It is the greatest gift you will ever receive.

Have you given her your thanks, forgiven her

For any of the mistakes she was bound to make

If she was human?  Even if she was an alien,

They’re probably imperfect too.  So give her

A break, give her a hug . . . in your arms or

In your heart.  It is not too late.  It is never

Too late.

 

 

    Mama

 

The tolls of years were too evident

The toils of a life could press and chisel

From so many sides until what remained

Was sculpted to a woman

 

Once a carefree child, a budding girl

Then a comely maiden whose high degree

Of fairness did not guarantee being treated

The same, for the world could be so mean

 

But the woman was stronger for it

Smarter and wary; ever more cautious

Of changes and artifice, the double faces

On strangers who lied with straight tongues

 

Tired of their smooth talk, crooked morals

Weary of a twisted route and false paths

Even at times of friends who could be

Twin-edged or masked like Zorro

 

She spoke softer, more reluctant and shy

Than when she was fresh to the world

Of landslides and woes.  Time must whittle

Away that charm-school polish and naiveté

 

Disappointment erodes the eagerness and

Confidence of youth, leaves a trail littered by

Rubble and lost hopes, tears melted to glass

Fragments of dreams lay scattered in her wake

 

The paragon of womanhood, she became

Entangled by the ties of deception, abandoned

In her prime; the only good man she had ever

Known was married to The Law

 

Handsome and courageous yet a coward

Unable to commit himself for a family, for her

The fraud claimed to love her too much; a fool

He would spare her from bereavement

 

She lost him anyway, finding the door

Walking through it such a difficult thing

She kept the secret when she left him

That was burning in her womb:  an egg

 

As a single mother she raised the child

Without support; fingers pointed, scornful

Looks, belittling words cast in her direction

But she held her head up and endured

 

The girl was her light, the only reason for

Her smiles.  Calling her Mama; a small thing

Can make all the difference, change a dismal

Day into an array of sparkling moments

 

Or rip open a soul to let everything of worth leak

This woman would know the horror and pain

The grief and heartbreak at last when her child

Was hit by a stray bullet one bright innocent morn

 

Her sorrow could not be measured like rainfall

It was devastating.  She felt her life had been

Extinguished, as if the bullet sailed through her too

For an eternity she wandered in a haze of misery

 

Until she chanced upon an egg without a nest

And carried it home to hatch.  The bird emerged

Fuzzy and pink, gray and brown, kind of purple

Then grew to a brilliant hue of crimson

 

Red was her daughter’s favorite color

The bird reminded her of the girl, the way

His black eyes peered at her, thinking she was

Mama; how he hopped and pranced with joy

 

The softness of his feathers rubbing her cheek

The notes of his cheerful tweets and whistles . . .

An offbeat pair, an oddball family, they had

Each other.  Both were saved from being lost.

 

 

    Mother Nature, Mother Earth

 

At the apple’s core, the center of all things,

The nucleus of organic and mineral elements,

There is one voice that speaks loudest,

Bearing the authority of a vast web linking

The cosmos, connecting each strand, each heart;

Flowing like a river of silk in every direction.

Her emotions are renowned, widely feared

By those who lack a depth of perception,

Who fail to acknowledge that her spirit

Lies within us as well as around us.  She is

Our anatomy, our character, our composition

And constitution.  We are in tune, we are one:

Liquid and solid and gas combined,

Part of the ether, part of the past and future

And everything between.  The ground below

Our feet, the atmosphere we inhale in a gasp

Of pleasure or exhale to speak out and sing.

She is as stunning when she wakes as when

She goes to sleep.  A pin-up queen, the ideal

Of breathtaking charm; the duchess of

Delicate balance and proportion; the epitome

Of dignified, feminine, matronly, maidenlike

Grace; of grit and determination, glorious

Unconquerable attitude.  As close to perfection

As you can get.  She is beauty and inspiration,

Wisdom and purity, life and death and birth.

She is the current that generates creative thought.

The spark that ignites artistic brushstrokes.

The charge that leaps from braincell to braincell

Conducting moods and actions like an orchestra.

The impetus for change.  The melody of hope.

The harmony of peace.  The motivation to be

Bold, to be brave, to be different.  She is

The stardust of dreams, the fabric of love,

The essence of imagination.  She is the mother

Of invention and Nature, which have been known

To clash like siblings; she is who we come home to

After drifting a sea of constellations or swimming

Against moontides.  She may be riled by

Random circumstance; watch out for her

Tempestuous personality.  When reacting to

Contempt, neglect, the ravaging of her gifts,

Beware a woman scorned.  Her wrath is

Tremendous, and there is nowhere to run

From her unladylike behavior.  Angered,

She will hurl lightning with a cacophony of

thunder as if the heavens were crashing down.

She will pour a flood of tears; inflict a wave

Of anger, anguish, provoked emotions.

Try to understand, underneath the drama

There may be a wound unhealed, scars from

A history of disrespect or lack of care.

She is first a lady, like any mom, and requires

Courtesy.  Like the female of a species,

Her strength and perseverance deserve

A shining regard, a reflection of her love,

Though she may linger in the background

Unnoticed, forgotten, less flashy and

Attention-seeking.  A nurturing force,

She furnishes a bounty of thankless support,

Asking so little of her children while

Imparting a diversity of unrivaled treasures,

Shelter and nourishment.  It should be a crime,

A mortal sin to not appreciate her —

To not protect Mother Nature, Mother Earth.

 

 

    Mummy

 

Once I had a mother

Who was not like any other

She was a lot like yours, I’m sure

But yours was not a lot like her

My mummy was rather odd

As if emerged from a creepy pod

Or a moldy old sarcophagus

Raveled in linen straps like a truss

Then she produced a kid like me

As out of the ordinary as can be

Possessing attributes uncommon

Wearing one long rag like a cup of ramen

The same as you in certain ways

Yet sorting the gnarliest of Bad Hair Days

Every strand in a perplexing knot

Which vexes and flusters me a lot

But isn’t why I seem abnormal

It’s that I’m never quite conformal

I use strange words that don’t exist

And like to give my life a twist

As if it were all a sinister plot

In fact, I’m not so sure it’s not

We were born alike, I guess

Unless you crawled from a gothic mess

Where you were being put together

A jigsaw puzzle of flesh and weather

Sparked to life by nuts and bolts

The limp target of electric jolts

It wouldn’t matter in the least

If you were made of ginger and yeast

Concocted by a spell, a voodoo curse

Spat out by a cat or something worse

As long as you don’t pull my threads

Unwind my bindings, mock my dreads

We can play here all day and night

My mummy’s tomb is sealed up tight

She likes to take the lengthiest nap

We won’t disturb her if we clap

Her ears fell off countless years ago

She’s bandaged so it doesn’t show

I think she’s the prettiest mummy ever

Rigorous too, rather ghoulish and clever

Except while playing possum or passed out

Dead to the world as a drunken lout

Silent and brittle within a box of stone

Or stiffly chiding to let her alone!

At times I’m cradled in her cold embrace

A little mumby, wrapped toe to face

Rocked by shriveled arms and breast

My head against a vacant chest

It is then I sense a special flutter

Like wings inside thicker than butter

Forever could I sleep in her gaunt hug

Cozy and still, never feeling more snug

A mummy’s love is a sacred treasure

Enduring beyond all earthly measure

It is there I am safe at last to slumber

And nary a care may dare encumber

Until her withered appendages break

From too many games of Paddycake

And a swaddled babe would sorely tumble

To the museum floor then crack and crumble

I will lie at her feet in strewn decay

To be swept, repaired, and made okay

My owies glued, the bandages restored

And my mummy laid flat as an ironing board

To rest in one piece with me at her side

But I always slip out, then skip off and hide.

 

 

    With Respect

 

These days a mother might be scoffed at

For staying home, as Feminism battles to

Gain recognition, as women fight for equality.

It’s unfortunate that this is necessary

In a world where mothers are so important

And should be revered, considered valuable;

Where ladies have demonstrated themselves

To be as smart and wise as any man, as

Talented and skilled, as strong in so many

Ways.  We have nothing left to prove.

Yet it’s sad that men born of women could

Still put females down and treat them

With disdain or even violence.  A shame

That humanity has not even reached the

Level of intelligence and civilization

Where no culture will consider women

Objects, possessions, property.  Where

No person will be enslaved, no girl forced

To wed, no worker paid less for being

Branded an inferior gender.  Why is

The modern world so unfair to women?

It is as inexplicable and absurd as bias

Over the color of one’s skin.  Until we

Judge everyone by their individual merits

And deeds rather than superficial traits,

We cannot call ourselves a civilized society.

Men are not the only persecutors; women

Need to stop pressuring all women to be

This or that, to be champions of whatever

They now view as feminine.  I am for

Balance, for a middle ground between

Extremes.  I think the world needs more

Gentle men and gentle women.  Let us

Remember, ladies and gents, to be kind,

To be decent, and to treat others with

Respect — just like your mother taught you.

 

 

    even monsters have moms

 

I

I have heard it whispered

along the edges of the zones

where nobody is foolish enough

to enter, afraid of what prowls

the interior.  I’ve heard a lot of things:

idle talk, truth or wisdom, advice

for staying alive.  Words are like rain.

You know you can’t rely on the drops

to be clean, to keep falling.  They just start

and stop when they please.  Ghost rain,

it comes and goes.  That’s all there is

in these parts.  The great storms of the past

are gone.  They say the monsters guard

lakes underground, secret pools in the

desert, tarns sheltered by mountains.

There are many rumors and legends

about the creatures, driven by hope

and desperation; by greed, humanity’s

bane.  We battle them to stay alive.

It keeps us from fighting each other,

makes us feel civilized.  We might be

reduced to mere savages — packs of

marauding beasts, without actual beasts

to set us apart from them . . . establish

who, correction, what we are not.

They set a standard of behavior,

Not that everyone is polite, considerate.

We are all just dealing on our terms

with the collapse of society, the demise

of anything good or sane.

 

II

A repeated wisp of gossip flashed in

my skull like a beacon.  The catalyst for

this adventure:  I wondered if it was

a fact the things could have mothers.

Such a wild notion sounded quite

incredible, fantastic, yet I knew

from studies of history that most life

originated from a womb of some sort.

It’s my belief there is a cosmic mother

for everything, a maternal source.

I carry a sense of this inside,

on a deeper level, and there the idea

didn’t seem far-fetched or impossible,

struggle as my brain did to grasp

that these hideous beings of nightmare

were young and vulnerable at any point.

What is real does not necessarily

have to be reasonable.  Only tenable.

After most of the animals disappeared,

monsters came down from the hills,

out of the wastelands — dreadful,

so nasty and harsh-tempered.  Men were

still organized; governments hadn’t failed,

been overthrown, the concept abandoned.

With the monsters came pernicious wars

that halted internal conflicts between

human beings, who must now bond

and band together against their

childhood fears, these wretched ogres

out of a distorted mind’s imaginings.

 

III

They are winning — thrashing us with

sly unpredictable attacks, untraceable —

striking anyone, any age, in devilish hits.

The methods vary; no certainties exist.

A single constant, that they are brutal.

Utterly vicious; terrifyingly cruel.

My hands tremble as I scrawl this.

I wanted to be a writer when there

were presses, practically a lifetime ago.

I scribble thoughts on scraps found

in abandoned houses, with ink or paint,

dirt mixed with spit or sweat, blood

from an arm if I must.  Anything.

I feel compelled to record the horrors

taking place, to serve as witness in case

we disappear.  We cannot last . . .

They allow no chance for us to rest

or rebuild, to prepare, as if the earth

has simply opened up and spills them

forth in retaliation, out of self-defense,

an endless legion from Hell.  I did not

need to seek them, crossing into Badlands,

the infernal hinter regions they inhabit.

I must know, must see with my own eyes;

as my mother said, curious to a fault.

Are they born or shaped with vengeful

nonchalance . . . spewed out of a molten

mud frenzy?  They come to feed and toy

with us.  At first my kind had hunted them

for water; we cower from their raids.

 

IV

Resistance seems an exercise in futility.

The will to survive is frail, splintered by

brain-numbing assaults.  We are human

after all, subject to emotions and faultlines.

Anger fades to acceptance, to inevitability,

the embrace of fate, a doomed mentality.

We are a lost species, perishing like others,

soon to be extinct.  My days are numbered

by the odds as well as years.  I have little left

to relinquish.  The sacrifice is purely selfish.

I need to glimpse them at their root, their core.

It won’t be long . . .  Steps crunch black soil

that is firm yet fragile.  Courage flares, a torch

blazing with interest, fascination, kindled

from a meager wick, the wavering flame

of a candle.  This will be my glory, my last

hurrah!  Fingers do not shake as I pause

to pen a final statement, a belated insight:

Knowledge is life; love is water,

to be sipped and savored; truth is

everything and nothing, for it cannot

be held in your hand, only your heart.

I will carry it to my grave, but in the end

have an empty fist clutching air,

grabbing the wind as I topple and die.

All I wish at present is to endure

long enough to reach my destination —

to have the satisfaction of a small

yet profound victory.  Coarse snarls!

I duck behind a ridge, pulse throbbing.

The frightful cretins have no mercy.

 

V

Brawny, bold, they stalk these barrens

to protect what the creatures claimed.

I do not begrudge them terrain or water;

they can have it, these diverse masters

of the planet, like dinosaurs before us;

apex predators.  Hail the current kings,

it is their turn to reign.  I hope they’ll be

kinder, not treat the world as we have

despite our intelligence.  We brought this

on ourselves, a new age of violence,

unleashing a dominant species to replace

corrupt rulers.  Could it be that we created

these monsters somehow?  Playing God.

What stupid malignant lords we were.

It saddens me, for some of us did not

deserve this awful conclusion to the

human chapter.  It is the sweetness, the loss

of innocence I mourn once the beasts

are distant from my position.  Recovering,

resuming the journey, I scout discreetly

then hear a chorus of howls as if baying at

the Moon, but the sky is pale not dimmed.

Sunlight still gleams, and through its radiance

I can view a circle of ogres prancing, parading

gruffly in a festive tenor.  Apparently a custom!

Orbs round with astonishment, I stare between

two rocks, then gasp in wonder at a crying infant

nestled by the arms of one that squats within

the ring of celebrators — each unique and ugly.

Here it is; I cannot believe my fortune!

 

VI

There has been a birth, an addition to the tribe

of abominations.  However crude and vulgar,

the fiends are capable of sentiment, compassion,

not mindless rampages without a trace of

cunning or concern.  More exceptional;

more depraved, barbaric and revolting than

I could have conceived.  A chill travels my veins.

Cold fog penetrates my soul, the brume of

terror seeping into my bones, crystallizing

the marrow to bits of ice like a shattered window.

I cannot believe my eyes, no, they must be lying!

How could these killers — these heinous unholy

slashers of men, women, and children — have

families of their own?  Then I recall the crimes

of mankind, the slaying of lambs and calves,

baby seals, jovial dolphins, whales and elephants,

and each other . . .  There has been no lack of

wars and slaughter by human beings during

the ample generations of our existence.

My guard is lowered.  Abruptly I am moved

to uncontrollable sobs, gut-wrenching tears.

The wails betray my presence.  Monstrous brutes

detect my location.  Abruptly I am in the midst

of a new circle.  The mother saunters near,

bringing her baby to join the throng.

Trollish beasts salivate like I will be their

banquet, the feast of demons.  My gaze is locked

on a child.  All babies are cute if you squint.

This one is beautiful.  And I realize in a burst

of madness:  You can indeed love your enemy.

Authors: 
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Lori R. Lopez

Rafael Lopez

Noel Lopez