GAIL ENTREKIN : Nothing (after Sartre)
CHARLES P. RIES : Stars Suspended from Branches
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Nothing (after Sartre) Stars Suspended from Branches Brush Strokes in D Minor

Nothing (after Sartre)

          A three-year-old wanders to a corner.
          Does she climb into a car
          and disappear?

My bare feet
thump softly on the carpeted stair
pause before each closet,
each hiding place, my breath loud
in the silence.  Her name
pierces all the dusty corners.

The children rush up and down the street calling.  The neighbors assemble.

Lifting the phone
in the air too thin to breathe,
it is clear that in the next few minutes I will fall:

             on one side, laughter
             over dinner, how silly it all turned out to be;
             on the other,
             an impenetrable blackness.

Her sweatshirt is blue,
yes, blue, with a snowman holding multi-colored balloons.  Her hair is blond.

The children race up for new assignments, rush off to check the corner, the 
meadow one more time.  I am amazed at the difficulty of breathing.  With my fist I 
try to press my lungs and heart back into rhythm.

                   The phone rings.
An officer has your daughter
at the corner of Derby and Telegraph.

I fall.  I feel the falling as small explosions in my eyes everything watery flowing 
and running and all those police cars arriving and she comes calmly saying 
Mommy, you were looking for me everywhere and everyone is patting me, joking,
smiling indulgently, because it was the thing but not the thing.  It was nothing.  Nothing.

 You Notice the Body (Hip Pocket Press, 1998

I have many things to write unto you but I will not write with pen and ink
--JOHN the theologian

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Nothing (after Sartre) Stars Suspended from Branches Brush Strokes in D Minor

Stars Suspended from Branches
My grandfather often told us that on the day of his birth they put him in the corner to die when he, the weaker of two scrawny twins, came into the world. "But I didn't die. Here I am." he laughed. His brother died a few days later. Funny how death works. Shortly after my father died, my mother announced that she would soon be passing, and eleven months later with a slight smile on her lips, she released her final worry and said good bye. Death was not in the room. My mother didn't believe in death. At middle age I stand tonight on the field where we played 10,000 soft ball games as children. Where I called my brother the longest litany of swear words my ten year old mouth could spit out. I am standing here looking at the sky trying to remember something. Maybe stars are the souls of the glimmering dead, or perhaps meteors are the tear drops of souls soon to be returned. Souls like me who dread their plunge back into life's unpredictable sea. But tonight I mainly think of my grandfather Peter. Who at 94 could laugh about the day he chased death from his door. He didn't believe in death. He died sweetly with a smile on his lips just as my mother did. As a small boy, I sit under the Elm tree that spreads protecting arms over my grandparent's cream city brick home. I watch my grandmother as she cleans her attic. Hurling, tossing the accumulated treasures of a life time out the garret window high above me. Beneath her, and before me, rise a pile of memories, treasure and heartache. "I'm cleaning up. Clearing out. Getting ready to leave" she says, in that succinct way she spoke about everything important. "For what?" I wondered, until eight months later she died and I realized she too was chasing death. Someday it will be my turn to die and when it is, I will laugh, clean my attic, and cast away my last worry. I will await release into an ocean of night where stars hang suspended from the branches of a massive Elm tree and souls who've returned home swing for eternity shedding tears for the living.
Poetry endangers the established order  of the soul - Plato

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Nothing (after Sartre) Stars Suspended from Branches Brush Strokes in D Minor

Brush Strokes in D Minor
The water shuttered as I threw a rock in the pond, the wake pushing out, stirring the life beneath the surface. Walking amidst the sorrows of the Holy Land… These camouflage fatigues are heavy like the heat bearing down on this desert. Holding my breath I pulled my rifle up slowly glaring through the infrared, impressions stalking the twilight in the summer of resolve. Sending a rock into the pond I watched him fall slowly to the bottom, pushing out the sand that lay in his path. Continuing my escape into the life behind me, underneath soft brush strokes of percussion… In the kitchen, she's cooking dinner. The girls are chasing a dog's wagging tail running and screaming in delight, at the near chance of catching it. The sounds of jazz adhering to every crack and crevice of that old house. Father I call on you, Send me home far away from this. Where the peace of this world is stirring; the peace that throws so many rocks.
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GAIL ENTREKIN : Nothing (after Sartre)
CHARLES P. RIES : Stars Suspended from Branches

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