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Friday, April 30, 2010

Messages from Mama - © 1998 - Claudia Schlottman

Messages from Mama

An unsettled goose, the phone clangs.
The machine dutifully answers
each call, records each message.  Slurred
speech, garbled words slide into the 
quiet air, crowding, clouding it.

Fuddled, my mother claims neglect,
abandonment, alleges pains
belittled, overlooked, ignored,
says she can’t breathe, her heart won’t beat,
feebly searches her addled brain
for clues to where she is and why.

I hear confessions of antics,
scenes to earn attention.  I see
her strip naked, struggle to pull
the mattress from her bed, steer her
wheelchair down the hall, the stump--once
her leg--exposed, waving wildly.

More incomprehensible words
follow.  The air is thick with mum-
blings laced with strident demands:  drugs
for the pain, Kroger toothpaste, a
pen to replace the one they stole.
And I should bring them right away.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lisa © 2010 Claudia Schlottman

Cowboy boots, red & black & scuffed
swallow spindly legs   chemo-smooth

& pale.     Khaki shorts droop past a 

waist whittled by a tummy tuck
the one good thing   she says   to come

of this cancer.   A ripped white tee cascades down 

her ravaged chest   both breasts carved away 

the healthy one   they say   just to be sure.

Gray hairs sprout from a worn

bandana tied in a do-rag over her ears

 & cold-blue eyes tattooed with sooty semi circles 

sink in an ashen face laid waste 

by poisons meant to buy her one 

more spring. 

© cj Schlottman 2010

Linked to Thursday Poetry Rally Week 53      

I nominate Delible at Cat's Blog                                  

Hand and Glove

When you were here you were
the glove & I the hand
safe & balanced & strong.
Then the fever of your
dying melted the glove &
it dripped off the ends
of my fingers, spilling
itself into a pool
of sadness in which I
stood naked, afraid. I
crawled beside you in
our bed, warmed by your
fever, knowing it to be
your last warmth, as your breaths
drew longer, your heart slowed
& stopped.

I held tight to you, listened
hard, desperate for any
hint of life but there was none.
I lay with you, my head
pressed to your still and quiet
chest, feeling a chill fall
over me & wanting to
follow you.

© cj Schlottman  2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Bell Ringer - ©2010 Claudia Schlottman

I tack into a cold wind across the
Wal Mart parking lot, eyes focused downward.
At the crosswalk, I look up and see her.
The Bell Ringer.
Boots, black and spikey and pointy-toed, white
fuzz spilling out of the tops, tight black jeans
look painted on long legs, shapely yet slender .
Under a black leather jacket a red
turtleneck hugs her swan’s neck, a jaunty
green and white scarf wrapped around it.
Dark red lipstick just matches her sweater.
Breasts, small and high push against the fabric.
“Merry Christmas.” “Thank you.” “God Bless You.”
I look into her cafe au lait face.
She grins, revealing gold caps on two front teeth.
From under a Santa hat pulled over
her ears, golden hoops, the size of bracelets,
dangle, brush her shoulders, twinkle in the
sunlight as she jumps and dances, keeping warm.
She must be six feet tall without the boots.
I think I should drop a dollar in the
red bucket suspended on a black frame
but decide to wait, give on my way out...
Too cold now to dig into my purse.
I shop for dog food, eye drops, beauty cream,
check out, but at the door I realize
I’ve not kept out a dollar for The Bell Ringer.
I scurry past, a rat hiding from light.
Didn’t I put a check for $100.
in another bucket the day before?
I load my purchases into the trunk
start for home, her golden grin shining from
every light pole, stop light, oncoming car.
I brake and turn, speeding back to her post
only to find she has evaporated
vaporized into the cold.
Dark is falling hard and I drive home
at a creep, not understanding just
who it is that I have disappointed.