Breaking Wordchains

Breaking Wordchains

V sits
Head cunningly mobile
Like a bird’s
Eyes quick like one
Her tongue even quicker
She lashes me with wordchains
Bad daughter
Bad daughter
Horrific
Menacing
No longer charming
And observable
But repellant
Like any plague or swarm
Or mass of faces
Even rich ones
Repellant

I almost see them in his mind
International Deadbeat Dad’s
Wordchains
Rapid fire
They click against each other

Bank today
I’ve earned my whole life through
Got not to wait one second
The right to want
Without excuse

Other people his chattel
The imp dances in his
Twinkling blue eyes
Freezer cases of lies

He flies
To the highest reaches
Of breathable air
To survey
His fraudulent kingdom
All spread there
For Sale

#wip #amwriting #poetry

Baaad GMC Pickup

The first time I heard the phrase “One Egyptian minute”, I was in Suez, Egypt visiting my father. My sister had to return to the States for her Senior year and graduation, so I was feeling down. On that sultry and sandy September morning I woke up with a hangover. Again.

A cold shower and a hot cup of coffee cleared the fog enough for me to hop into the truck with the driver and off we went. Our destination is Ain Sokhna, where I will join my father and the Dingbat, which is what we secretly call his current mistress and our future first stepmother. While Dear old Dad works, the Dingbat will entertain me at the guest house. We’ll shoot countless games of pool and watch Benny Hill videos until it’s time for the first of many drinks.

My driver and the truck are both exhaling smoke as we leave the town of Suez and paved roads behind. A cassette of Egyptian music is in the tape deck and the driver sings along, tapping out the beat on the steering wheel with gusto. The windows are down and I’m perspiring, unsure if it’s mostly the heat or the journey ahead causing it.

Desert surrounds us. We see a camel train here, a wadi there. In the distance I see the Jebel Ataqa mountain range, one part of an ancient Bedouin smuggling route. There are no other vehicles. We pass several areas surrounded by rusty barbed wire. Signs attached depict the skull and crossbones, the only warning that these areas are filled with landmines. The driver seems unconcerned, still singing, smoking and tapping. As for me, I’m still perspiring, perhaps even more than before as I wonder if they might have missed a landmine or two.

Clouds of dust billow in our wake as the driver accelerates. We hit one particularly bone jarring bump. I feel gritty and think I might have left my stomach behind on that last stretch of rough desert trail. The driver turns to me, his face filled with glee. We’re both bouncing up and down, up and down. He’s hanging onto the steering wheel, I’m hanging onto my “Oh crap” strap. With a smile of pride and joy on his face he says, “This one baaad GMC pickup!”

At this point in the journey I feel the need to ask a question. “How long ride?” “One minute, no problem!” he replies. Many jolts later, I ask again, “How long ride?” Once more he replies, “One minute, no problem!” Then he cuts his eyes toward me, his cigarette dangling from the corner of his smile and says, “One Egyptian minute!”

I was young then and always searching for anything to fill and kill time. I didn’t want to think or feel and drank a lot to numb the pain caused by family dysfunction and domestic violence. That ride through the desert filled with landmines, camels, Bedouins and a singing, smoking, smiling driver made a lasting impression. It was adventure! It was fun!

All these years later, I can’t remember how many games of pool we played or which episodes of Benny Hill we watched. What I do remember is the enjoyment this man got out of driving me through the desert in his baad GMC pickup. I would love to see that driver once more so I could thank him for giving me a pleasant memory of the adventure we shared. I would also thank him for teaching me a new concept of time. The Egyptian minute.

Three Blinks

Sheila’s life changed in the early morning hours of July 15, 1984 when she lost control of her car in a curve and hit a telephone pole. In ICU, I look down at my little sister, my sidekick through life.

Our Sheesh. A beautiful young lady with plans to attend college and become a pharmacist. We called her Doll when she was born because she was so beautiful.

She is still beautiful. I try to process the shock of the accident. A portion of her honey blonde hair is shaved. They had to remove a piece of her skull as her brain swelled. Her beautiful blue eyes are closed. A tube is in her mouth, a mouth made for smiling and singing. All I hear is the sound of the ventilator as it breathes for her.

Her manicure and pedicure are perfect. One small cut on her chin, a broken collarbone are her only other injuries. My sister is in a coma, not expected to live.

Our parents, in the midst of an acrimonious divorce, must now make a choice. Do they keep the ventilator on, or do they turn it off? For the first time in years, they agree on something. The ventilator is turned off.

Sheila keeps breathing on her own and after three months in hospital she is home. Get Well Soon cards cover one wall of her bedroom. Her bed is now a hospital bed, surrounded by medical equipment and visitors.

Months pass. Her friends and family visit less. Years go by and her friends don’t visit any more as they get on with their lives. Family visits become few and far between.

More time passes. Sheila and my mother now live in government housing with no insurance and no support from International Deadbeat Dad. They spend most days alone.

Our mother works with Sheila, teaching her to communicate by blinking once for yes, twice for no. Sheila smiles sometimes. The only sound she makes is when she cries. It breaks my heart.

I wonder why she cries. Is she missing her Daddy who never visits and is now defrauding her? Sometimes she cries when she wakes up and I wonder if she’s been dreaming of life before the accident.

I cry when I wake up from dreams of us together, sharing our secret language and laughter.
Survivor’s guilt consumes me. I feel I should not enjoy a normal life with my sister and mother housebound.

Our mother keeps working with Sheila. One day she tells me that Sheila started blinking three times. She asked Sheila, “Are you trying to tell me something?” Sheila blinked once, “Yes.” Our mother says, “Let me think about this awhile.”

Later in the day, they’re doing Sheila’s physical therapy. Our mother asks, “Sheila, are you saying I love you?” Sheila smiles her little smile and blinks once. “Yes.”