Melvin and the Wallet

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His weathered hands still trembled as he held the billfold he had found an hour earlier in the middle of Elm Street. Lately he experienced few pleasures in the long days at home, and walking to Freeze’s Grocery Store for a fresh sack of Bull Durham was the pinnacle. Melvin’s wife was known as a back-slid Baptist for the past ten years but one of the neighbors, Shirley Bassett, convinced her to attend Reverend Dr. Julius P Shoemaker’s tent revival last summer and afterward joined the Iron Creek Holiness Church and adhered to a very strict lifestyle for the past six months. Melvin was also held to a different standard and getting to smoke hand rolled cigarettes was about all that remained of his former lifestyle. Beer and hard liquor was no longer tolerated. Going to the movies or having a television ┬áset was forbidden as well as salty language. Melvin loved Joanne but refused her new rules at first, but then the accident occurred.

Eleven years at Morton Oil Company and he had never missed a day. Melvin toiled in the shipping department and loaded pallets of cooking oil to be sold in stores all over the country. Once he had a New Year’s hangover that lasted three days, plus he caught a bad case of the flu, and still he worked ten hour days the whole week. He winced as he recalled looking up at the full pallets of fifty five gallon barrels of refined cooking oil on the fork lift. This part of the plant took the manufactured oil and sent it to the line where it was bottled and shipped. The pallet cracked loud as the cascade of barrels fell. Melvin felt the bone snap below his knee before he fell into the sea of oil and passed out. The company doctor kept saying the injury was not permanent and his half pay disability would run out in three weeks. Joanne had to return to the diaper factory to help keep a roof over their heads and therefore was entitled to mandate new rules of morality. Joanne hated the fact he still smoked and spent many evenings thumbing to find Bible passages that would come right out and say God didn’t like it either. Melvin agree to quit by the end of the year.

That same morning he rolled over and bed and reached for the bottle of aspirin to quell the pain from his leg. Joanne was frying bacon and calling the children to the table for breakfast. Melvin wet down his hair and combed it into a presentable form and joined them. Guilt stabbed him as he waved goodbye to his wife and children as they walked to school and work. He sat on the porch hoping his leg would heal soon and life would return to normal. As they went out of sight, he reached for the sack of Bull Durham and saw it was almost empty. He reasoned there was enough for about half a cigarette. It still hurt to walk. He slowly moved across Elm Street and noticed the leaves were starting to fall and drift into piles. The air was cooler and that meant the hot summer was gone. He almost stepped into the pot hole, that would have caused even more problems, when he saw it lying there. He crossed the street and stopped, looked back and watched as a car went by. Was that a billfold? It must have fallen from someone’s car. Surely they would be back. Melvin waited and grew tired. He wanted to smoke. It was not his wallet.

He wandered around Freeze’s Grocery Store and was reminded how low they were on food. He bought the fifty cent’s worth of tobacco and begin his way back home. When he got to Elm Street, he was surprised the wallet was still resting down in the crater. He was sure someone would have claimed it by now. Melvin watched himself stroll over the pot hole, scoop up the billfold, and jam it in his pocket. No cars or neighbors were in sight. Melvin limped home and went to the kitchen table. Forgetting his tobacco crave, he pulled a wad of currency from the wallet and sweated as he counted.

Come back Friday for more of this story…

Strawberry Milk

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When I was just a boy, a wee little lad

sometimes when I was gloomy, sorry and sad

my grandmother would smile and wave me close

in the kitchen we would go for a happy little dose

she would slice and cut a big old glass

of red plump berries to pour in fast

good old milk and together they tasted fine

my child’s mood lifted my face to a shine

strawberry milk always did the trick

the concoction got me through even when I was sick

it reminds me of her and all her sweet love

I feel her smiling from the heavens above

 

Hotel

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rooms of people people in rooms

the cleaning maids using brooms

shoe shine in the lobby twenty five cents

over worked desk man sings a sad lament

men in suits ladies in dresses

adultery committed daily by villains and villainesses

tired train travelers seeking a simple bed

penthouse tenant lying there dead

crimes and holidays are celebrated the same

bookies and suckers pay the winless game

the colorful and the drab all check in

the era was segregation by the color of your skin

balls and happy weddings born every day

the welcomed guests were glad to pay

telephone booths were a plenty on every floor

wood was dark and polished on every door

royalty and commoners slept in beds at night

occasional ghosts were witnessed having a friendly right

twelve out of twelve you could always depend

the hotel would reach out and be a memorable friend

 

 

 

Travel Blades

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made of strong metal

snapped and curved

in a factory where

English is not spoken

it takes the body

the areoplane

up…up… into the sky

past birds and clouds

across the watery boundaries

into strange lands

for many years they seek

they travel even at night

carrying people and cargo

fruit and sometimes monkeys

sawing through rainy storms

icy droplets

tornado winds

and perfect skies

fast and in a hurry

where dreams await

and lives are knitted

together

or torn apart by war

and wounded

or killed

or coming home

or changing the course

of one’s life

travel blades

pull the air

and take you there

High Windows

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a way up there a century or so ago

twas a slower era during a season of heavy snow

a painter of unknown stature worked alone and sad

he painted in obscurity in images unclad

from his high window he made the street alive

from his high window he longed for a wife

days became years as he toiled in lonely moods

the canvas told the stories and their platitudes

his pain was always there as his hands made the beauty

he saw a young maiden going about her duty

she shopped in the market and made a daily walk

he fell in love from the window his feelings so unlocked

he wanted to go down there and say hello and more

his courage always waned but his desire went on to soar

he decided on the day as he rubbed his stubbled chin

but the ship had already sailed and she never appeared again

 

Parsimonious Pete

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Once upon a time down a lane so green and old

there lived Peter and his life of dust and mold

he never had a wife but he saved every penny

when it came time for friends, well Pete didn’t have any

a land owner he was with a long nose and chin

drab old clothes and face with out a grin

they said he was mean and very sanctimonious

but Peter was thrifty and just parsimonious

with a stove pipe hat and a corn cob pipe

he walked with a cane of an ivory type

stingy with the offering and when it came to the poor

no one ever ventured inside his blackened door

one day Peter died and they carried him away

his fortune was left behind and there it was to stay

 

Word Bites

 

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some struggle…for the words

the right ones

correct and makes the point

some never find them…the magic sentence

that heals

that wins the argument

that says “I love you”

others find them

treasure troves

silver tongues

eating shakespeare sandwiches

and charles dickens cakes

with fried steinbeck

and speeches of lincoln

served with sides of bukowski

hemingway fish dishes

melville snapper

playful nabokov sentences

f scotts naughtiness

and james joyce’s stories

words words to master those words

and feast

and love

Blue Numbers

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prices prices money the dollar

you need cash just to call her

devoid of soul and stand in line

punch the clock and make the wine

the rich the rich all that matters

the one percent make us scatter

digital lives in a money machine

ATMs count the beans

one to ten the survey demands

the wild frontier has been canned

horseback memories burned at the stake

worked to death to get the cake

blubbering minds sugary sweet

following rules or get beat

calendar days year after year

see the rich man drinking your beer

bank accounts numbered for you

fill them up till they turn blue

money money prices higher

shed our names to become the buyer

prices prices money the dollar

frozen hands tighten the collar

social security numbers all

workers toil to build that wall

blues and yellows red and green

milk the cow to sell the cream

days and lives valued with a number

cold of winter ate the summer

 

 

Waiting on a Bagel

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It’s so early and dark

sleep never came

Went for a walk

felt hunger pains

Strolled to the shop

where that dough is baked

The lights are on

and the workers all awake

Their hands knead the magic

but the sign says “closed”

Fifteen minutes

the heavenly smell rose

FIFTEEN MINUTES!

Damn that I’m early

A batch comes out

my stomach tends to worry

How can I wait?

What can I do?

TEN MORE MINUTES!

My teeth now chew

Finally the door

clicks and then swings

My feet know the way

my heart is on wings

Mountains of Fear

Unknown

looming in the far distance

acres of rocks made of fear

afraid to climb them

unknowingly grinding those gears

it’s those mountains

looking down at me

telling me lies

that I can never be free

maybe someday

I’ll swear and I’ll vow

promising tomorrow

will some way be now

afraid to try

or even think

gun to gun

they make me blink

heard tell of others

who can easily ascend

my leaky canoe

will sink around the bend

maybe I’m worthless

others swear I’m not

those mountains start to frown

their grimace a knot

a prisoner of fear

trapped in a room

If I ever get up there

it had better be soon