Meeting the Devil in Myrtle Beach outside Woody’s, Hwy 17
Published in Referential Magazine
Nominated for a 2012 Best of the Net Award
Aren’t I the one you’re looking for? he greeted me
at the restaurant door. I should have done laundry
or zoned out to VH1 instead of meeting friends for beers.
Who was this man with a bald head shaped like a squash,
a nimble slug in a Dick’s T-shirt and jean shorts.
Who could be this fugly with such confidence?
I didn’t mean to nod at, Do you like dancing?
He poked me with questions about lasagna. White or red?
He told me I preferred a bloody cardinal vintage.
Karaoke? He knew I sang every Wednesday night. Then
he asked me about any hoop piercings in my lady parts.
A smirk from his thick, swine lips. You look like you have
a thick clit. How could he know or not know?
He smelled of Brut and Bensons & Hedges, not brimstone,
but, oh, yes, it was time to leave and take a different way home.
Damn my good manners.
Damn the concrete attached to my black mules.
Damn my shitty dating pool at this tourist trap.
Damn my heart’s echoes.
I didn’t mean to vaporize seven minutes from my life.
I didn’t mean to never forget his face.
“My writing has blossomed during the three years I have been working with Alice in her Memoir from Afar class. Something about the 10 pages each month organizes me to get pieces prepared and sent. Over the course of the time we have worked together, I have had one article published in a peer reviewed journal, and two other articles accepted pending minor revisions. I have also made progress on a book I’ve worked on for years, and have written several memoir pieces. Alice’s responsiveness and feedback have been very helpful and very important to me.” —Dr. Irene Lazarus, Chapel Hill, NC
August 31, 1997
in After the Steaming Stops
Thanks to the front page,
I found out like most people did:
how she lay dying in a Paris tunnel,
how the impact raked her in like soft hay in a baler.
With Binky the Siamese cat plopped on my lap,
I stop spreading strawberry jam on rye toast,
his skin folds and dusty white fur escaping over the print.
I wish he could lick all of that black type and spit up
a vicious hairball I’d shovel inside wet beach sand.
Loss reminds you about change,
and what you are willing to throw away.
One week later it’s too early
for the calls of pelicans and egrets,
as I drive to a friend’s home on Folly Beach
to view the prince-demanded funeral. I could
have watched at home, but her day demanded witnesses.
My boyfriend didn’t know who she was
and couldn’t understand her power.
It’s the second time in 18 years
I’ve set my alarm to see such pageantry.
Eight horses carry the hearse
instead of the bridal carriage.
I cry more for her than I did
for any family death. I cry
for another death coming.
I see it’s time for me to move out of his place,
tell him what he’s afraid to say,
and take his fat cat and a few towels in the parting.
Enjoy a taste of Alice’s award-winning poetry!
Ice Cream Party
Award Winner, Poetry Council of North Carolina
Pale plaid dresses brush
against pink walls, patent leather
Mary Janes kick white tiles.
Two balloons escape into rafters,
and I haven’t tasted even a teaspoon of ice cream.
I won’t, not on this day.
My third birthday, high voices
squeal above the store’s door chime.
Hands clap—my mother’s—
demanding silence. Guests disappear
like popped bubbles. The girls go home
because I’m not behaving my mother says.
I never find out what I did wrong,
but I remember her saying:
I love you, but sometimes I don’t like you.
For a long time I feared the chance
of friends leaving early.
Will anyone love me when they know me?
Will they show up at my parties?
Now after a decade of marriage and two children,
I fear my tongue-sealed invitations
go unanswered. While cradling white wine
I don’t want anyone to leave me.
I smile too wide, needy for crammed rooms.
“Alice did a wonderful job teaching this memoir series (Advanced Memoir) and I enjoyed it from the first class to the last. I gained insight not only into my writing, but also into myself. My fellow students were great and also offered valuable feedback.”—Jerri Harrell, Cary, NC
The King of Cool Looks at Fifty
published in the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, April 2012
I idle my bike in this empty field,
dry as a Southern Baptist wedding.
I cough from the exhaust and
the scorched wildflowers on the edges
smell wasted, me on pot.
Don’t smoke, don’t drink anymore…
My body’s given up way before telling me the score.
As a kid, I don’t remember my mother much,
and I never met my father.
He saw me on TV as Josh Randall
on Wanted: Dead or Alive,
priming the “Mare’s Leg,”
and never bothered to call.
Uncle Claude threw me
against walls on Sunday nights
after spending the day drinking Bushmills.
Saturday mornings he taught
me how to shoot ‘em
rabbits and squirrels
in that shitty dump
I had to leave.
Mom showed up,
I couldn’t stand her.
Her dyed blonde hair, legs up in the air
men passed through her
like watches at a pawn shop.
At twelve, I was tumbleweed that blew into Chino,
the reform school where I
was never tall or strong enough,
yet hit hard without hurting my right hand.
(My first two wives would agree)
When I made it in The Magnificent Seven
I asked Big Money to give
soap and jeans to the Chino boys.
Yeah, man, I worked my own stunts,
almost filmed me and not Bud jumping my bike
over the barbed-wire fence.
My dune buggy ride
made Ed Sullivan piss his pants.
They needed to know I drove the Mustang,
I always get the last word,
don’t they know?
Maybe they could fail
but I couldn’t.
When I die, it’ll be
Honorable Mention Winner in the 2012 Carolina Woman Writing Contest
Ode to Hamburger Helper
Come to me my enriched pasta and rice,
packaged cheese and red powdered sauce—
I pull out the milk and water for you
on school nights when the kids
are starving for Beef Pasta or Crunchy Taco.
My husband prays for your buck a box special at Food Lion,
a week of dinners—just kidding—but seriously,
I did you three times a week
when we were first married.
Well-meaning friends demand I open
a cookbook once in a while—
there’s way too much salt
and MSG in your gloved Helping Hand boxes,
evoking a certain late pop star.
They tell me to avoid your yellow starches,
cook real pasta and veggies—forego the quick prep.
Run past Aisle 4—“Prepared Foods”—run!
And what the hell are you doing in Food Lion anyway?
They can keep their organic carrots and hand cut pasta;
I’ve got 27 Box Tops to collect for my son’s school.
I blame my mother—oh, I know, but it’s true!
She created all from scratch,
spent hours in the kitchen, and nary a Helper or a Kraft
noodle crossed my lips till I was 20.
Like skirts, pendulums swing
and I love your Italian, Chicken and Asian Helpers
over browned lean beef.
I promise not to burn you.