(a response to “Good Bones” by Maggie Smith)
You have shortened your life in so many ways,
and yet, you’ve lengthened it in so many more.
You are alive now because you have made
enough right decisions and enough coincidental choices.
You curse the traffic around an accident,
but leaving five minutes earlier
could have put you in the wreckage.
You will never know every time this has happened,
but you are living proof that it has.
You say that the world is fifty percent terrible,
but it is also fifty percent wonderful.
For every stone thrown at a bird,
there is a bird finding food for its chicks.
For every stranger to knock you down,
there is one to lift you back up.
Do not keep this from your children.
This place is already beautiful;
You only need the power to see it.
I remember the day my father went to space. Mom and I went and watched them count down. Each second on the clock hurt my insides. Mom and I saw as Dad was carried into the air. There were no clouds except the one made from the bottom of the rocket. That was more like really intense dry ice, though. I held Mom’s hand and cried into her grey sweater. It itched my face and her tears wet my head. As the technicians stood with us, they whooped and cheered insensitively. Only one man resembling the KFC mascot knelt to my level and put a firm hold on my hand.
“Your dad’s doing a great thing, son.” He reassured.
I knew that, but I still hated that he left me here on dumb, old Earth. He left all of us like we didn’t deserve him.
Before I knew Dad had to leave, he took me up to the roof. I climbed up first, then he followed, our favorite telescope under his burly arm. It was the clearest night we’d seen yet. That’s why we used the good telescope. I stood up the telescope and pressed my eye on the eyepiece. I could feel Dad’s warmth as he stood right behind me. When he spoke, the air tickled my head and neck.
“How amazing is this, Simon?” He said, with the same wonder that I felt.
I smelled his dinner beer on his breath. I couldn’t even reply. Venus was right there. The whole universe was just right there. It wasn’t a picture of the planet, that WAS venus. That red sphere was a whole world, and my eye was claiming it. I looked up from my planet to see my dad’s astronomy face. His eyes glowed and his mouth fell stupidly open. Even his whiskers were dowsed in starlight. I felt a sudden burst in me.
“Dad! Turn around! There’s a shooting star, it’s number 100, we got them all!” My prepubescent voice squeaked.
He snapped out of his daze and turned around.
“Buddy, I didn’t see it. You know the rules, we both have to see it.”
I felt the disappointment in his voice. We were almost there. We had made a pact to spot 100 shooting stars together, and it was like our last one never existed. It was gone.
I have never stargazed since then. I moved to the city, so that I had the excuse of too many busy lights. I was cooking noodles for one when I heard a knock at my door. I turned off the heat, and walked to open it. Through my peephole, I saw a distressed Ms. Bates. I opened the door with a sigh.
“What’s wrong Ms. Bates?” I asked lacking interest.
“Simon, my cat is gone. The good one, Rudy! He lept up my fire escape, I think he went to the roof. Could you please help me, Dear?” She begged, coated in a thick Chicago accent.
Admittedly, I knew that, out of her five cats, Rudy was the tuxedo. I really did not care to know that, but this woman bothered me so much, I subconsciously memorized her cats. I looked at the small woman, her mouth gaped like a goldfish, and her hands actually folded in pleading. I couldn’t not help. My noodles would have to wait.
We climbed up Ms. Bates’s fire escape with reggaeton and fire sirens below us. I helped her to the roof of our building, and watched her scamper, looking for her “little rascal,” as she called Rudy. Without thinking, I looked up. Looking at the sky again was a breath of fresh air. Beautiful stars tonight. Almost the clearest sky I’ve ever seen. I claimed the world above again. I didn’t think of Dad at first, but then I saw it.
A shooting star.
It was a perfect one. Lost in space, I knew Dad had seen it. Even if he was adrift in the unknown, I knew that he thought of me. He remembered me.
“100,” we whispered together.
America, I feel like the child of a drunkard
and a business tycoon
I am raising my kids, my generation,
completely on my own.
So busy yourself with the zeroes
that will never shrink or go away
even if we elect the man in the red hat
or the lady who smiles too wide
I will turn my music up louder
and go to work, practice what I have learned.
America, you need to keep your eyes
on your own paper
let me live the life I love,
I will pay the bills, I will vote each fall,
but don’t expect me to cover my heart for you.
America, let me have a word with you
America, think before you speak.
He was the youngest of the group
Hangin’ with the adolescents who indulged in mystery soup
They raved about it leaving him curious about trying a scoop
He was pressured into testing it out for proof
Slowly but surely he phased into another universe
Struggling to find a cure to speak at least one verse
The boy was trapped in somewhat a somniloquy
Experiencing a foreign joyful meraki
His body was overtaken by the heat of the night
On the verge of becoming more than high
The boy hasn’t been seen since it seems
Was this the best nightmare or a terrible dream?
She was a goddess unlike no other
He was the product of a poor and saddened mother
Longing for affection and sensation
He saw her sinful physique as a source of temptation
She gave him a certain stare
He gave her a significant glare
As they followed each other up the winding stairs
The king sized bed, where the two came face to face, teeth to teeth
Wanting to find some healing between the sheets.