The year of the ceramic Christmas tree
“Uncle” Dell was a skinny Santa with whisky breath
I was handed a cash filled envelope from dad
“For what you want—your brother got the same”
Holiday Inn on the television
Mom had eaten by the sink during supper
Embarrassed by her teeth
Later I drove down empty streets
Looking into lighted windows
Then headed for the State Park
Where I was the sole occupant
Smoking pot on a swing set in headlights
The stars above it all
Sirius and the Winter’s Circle
Orion’s Belt Taurus the Bull
I was smiling now happy
The perpetual amateur
I am late
I steal a ghost bike
And pedal guilty on the BQE
White paint flakes fall behind me
Cars honk and judge me
Wishing my death
celebrate the introvert
who blew the acceptance speech
found a corner at the party
closed eyes as the cameras snapped
felt faint at the notion of talking
greeted your compliment with silence
went home early
out the side door
I want to write a poem about
I could write it in my sleep.
I fell out of a life,
And into another,
Intimacy is listening.
A shrouded full moon
In the middle of an ice-cold August,
The hapless corn shrunken and trivial.
Mother hadn’t recognized me in the line-up
Of relatives crowding her room,
A dutiful silent vigil.
“Sleepy?” offered my father.
She blinked at the lamp, annoyed.
She had called me “the moustache man” when I arrived,
Waving her hand to shoo me.
I stepped out into the dark
Through the wrong door,
The alarm sounding like a school bell,
And lit a cigarette.
I did nothing else, just stood there, on my feet,
As frozen bugs fell to the sidewalk.
What I heard:
Pins being struck
At the bowling alley next door,
The demolition derby at the fairgrounds
Just across the road.
A television inside a window
Above my head,
Trash skidding across the parking lot,
Pushed by the frigid breeze.
One last long drag,
Then I re-entered the square brick building,
Now mother is free of her oxygen cords,
And struggling out of her gown.
“Behave,” says my father, his voice high and hoarse.
She sees me in the doorway,
And lies back on her pillow, panting.
I replace the cannula into her nostrils,
And brush back her cotton ball hair.
Her arm comes slowly up,
As she touches the tip of her finger
To her upper lip,
Another swipe at my moustache.
I nod and feign a grin,
But she shuts her eyes tight,
And holds them like that in protest,
Until I leave.
Terry Kinney is an actor /director/writer living in Brooklyn, NY with his two children, Maeve and Carson. He has worked in film, television, and theater. He is a graduate of Illinois State University, and was born in Lincoln, Illinois. He wrote these poems for Facebook. Some have titles, some don’t.
He took the photos, too.