Not too deep within our skin, seamless stuff we’ve all taken in.
Things that made you, made me, and these bystanders between.
I mean, we all have dents and scratches, strains to surmount,
We just don’t know how, they’ll work themselves out.
Little impressions become expressions, like the mess I made in the second grade.
At our store, stuck my thumb, one by one, red ripe tomatoes, oh the fun!
Why did I do it? “What have you done?”
My moment of truth, my lies had begun.
What got in her head, and led Sue Butchko to eat,
Those round rabbit droppings, she brought back to her seat?
“None for me, thanks for the offer.”
Taken in, how did it alter?
How did my mocks, hurt and pock?
Could she shove it back, push it off with a grin?
Did she take it deep in, or just in her skin?
How deep was my action, to think of dear Charlie, in cheap satisfaction?
One day I delayed, walked home with a cupcake, I had put away.
His smiling didn’t slow down my try, sure and swift, stuck it right in his eye!
Why would I shove it so hard? We loved that knock-kneed crossing guard.
There are wonders in the stuff we thrust upon those who trust in us.
How does it feel, as the truth lies, apart, asunder, a’bust?
Once again Charlie took it hard, missed his dear Barbie, he let down his guard,
Helpless, the frozen panic, the blood in the street, that truck just struck! Sent her twenty-five feet!
Holding that drunk, alone in my eyes, I watched from the curb, his pus-gut rise.
What was the harm? We shared just one breath.
What drove him so far? What was the welcome he got at the bar?
She recovered, ailing all summer, the mulish grace the impact could not erase,
Though sad to see, her gleam it seemed, now washed from her face.
As the look of Tex, a doggone, far gone look of calm, he, my meat-end vagabond,
His face, a mix of power and pain, with surrender above, simmered fire below, his smoldered strain, a lone sparrow in the rain.
Going nowhere, in his ’63 Valiant, silence, blank stares, are the moments we shared.
Lit beneath ivory gold skies, I’d watch him a’rope, plastic ponies in the rye.
Each day I’d want more, to connect with ol’ Tex,
‘Til the day, sitting still without snore, impressions to take from him no more.
In stilted silence, I wished I’d been there.
When dying alone, who takes in your last stare?
Memories, like people there for the taking, some get recalled, others forsaken,
Like dear Mrs. Weiner, why did we sneak around, why’d we pick your lines to cut down?
No sense, no reason, how did you dry? We never gave pause, did you wonder why?
It was only a game, something made me push, his face to fence to squoosh “Catman” Lusch,
We were just kids with some anger and street hockey sticks, soon he found jams, ones he just couldn’t fix,
His life turned to robbing, found windows to slide in,
Found dear Mrs. Weiner, alone in her bed, in one gutless slash, transformed living to dead.
What runs through your mind, what leaks in the air, when blood, spit and teeth, fill in your last stare?
I was stuck in my life, blurred in feeling, each strife upon strife,
‘Til set up before me, my Mom’s final days, I’d be lucky to gain, some sight from her gaze,
I searched for expressions, one lucid impression, anything, something, just one last connection.
Both struggles and contentments, have long seared my skin,
Lessons now learned and welcomed within.
Ronald Rabenold –
(Author’s note: These stories are true except, one name was changed and though I was mesmerized by Tex and would get him meat ends from the butcher block at our store, we were not that close and to my knowledge he did not die, but lives on with his plastic ponies in fields of rye. We did cut wash lines down at that end of town as part of our late-night mischief and we often played in the pines near Mrs. Weiner’s property, but I can’t say that I ever spoke to the woman while she was alive. And the day Barbie was hit and run at 4th and Coal, I had already passed through hearing about it once I got home. And seven years after losing my temper in that slushy game of street hockey at Third Ward with Eddie Lusch, “Catman” murdered Mrs. Weiner in 1987, in a burglary of her Orioles home. She lies with her husband in the Temple Israel Cemetery.