These Boots Are Made for Walking
Mom’s torn bloody blue dress
Quentin Collins: Dad asks Are you in love?

German chocolate cake
Catechism and First Communion
Fingers pointed skyward in prayer

Upstairs closets
Hidden treasures
Games children play

McCulloch chain saw’s whine
Dad’s big blade, its morning growl
How he made his living

Sizzle and stink
Wet woolen mittens
Rusted red-hot furnace drum

Blizzard revelries
Snow tunnels in howling darkness
Snapshots of forgotten strangers, stranded for the night

Rats in the brooder house
Gutted Brown Swiss
Suspended in air, the winch from Dad’s boom truck

Sponge for adult gossip
Me, glued to the kitchen table
Women whirling drinks, inhaling their cigarettes

Who I was
where I came from
what I might have become

I want to immerse myself
in your kind of ugly,
to understand the impulses
driving your cruelty,
your indifference.

Internet access not available
so I avail myself
of an ancient set of Funk & Wagnalls,
dust covered volumes stored away
in the forgotten bowels
of an old stereo cabinet,
their chocolate brown bindings
cracked and faded, pages
yellowed, musty and fragile — like me.

There’s less of me now
than there once was,
driven to endless apologies
for caring gestures
that others might relish.

Saying I’m sorry
for getting too close,
for wanting you near,
for snuggling against your lithe, warm body.

I’m sickened by my need.

If only I could examine your motives,
unlock the hurt that nurses your pain,
expose the wounds you hide so well.
Dry your tears,
soothe your sorrows.
Urge you toward redemption.

I begin to explore. I flip the pages.
Your psyche here somewhere
in black and white…

In spite of those who say you’re no good,
that I deserve better,
that I should leave you —
I look for answers
to keep hope alive in my heart,
my heavy, heavy heart.

Left you at the club
on a short leash
with only a ten-spot
and an Uber gift card
to find your way home

If you’re still interested, that is.

That cheeky blonde giving you the scent-eye,
the one doing a few lines in the Ladies,
she’ll learn soon enough what you’re made of.

Maybe then you’ll realize
I’m not the controlling bitch
everybody thinks I am.

Bumble bee circles round my head.
Coco tries to engage,
wants to play.

Careful, my curious friend!

Plump fuzzy fella burrows deep,
inhales magenta pansy treasure.
Its furry bristled legs
coated with pollen,
Old Yeller zooms off.
Other floral banquets
entice and allure.

Puppy and I sidestep Stingapalooza.

Red-winged blackbird,
perched above me
on slender telephone wire.
Is that your trilling ring I hear
or a patron call for take-out Chinese?