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Coming Off Small

Counting The Long Days, Tilling The Greens

All Tarted Up

Don't Tread On Me.

why We celebrate the losers



Home, Ghuey, Sweet Home

what makes a monster (sympathy for the monster)

I Long For Stars

If This Is Any Art For Which You Care

All Beings Considered

Little Water Bug ( learning the lesson of true pain)

Hope You Enjoyed The Eclipse While It Lasted

Written For My Father Who Isn't Here To Know

And Even Stars Die

Crowded Out

I Feel Fine(r)

Make (of) Me A Snow Angel

Used to Think I Could Fix Them.

Sometimes Love Comes With Electricity

Into The Swirling Sea Of White.

Max on the max

So You Do (May 10, 2010 written for June 1987)

Boy Restored

The Light Goes On In The Attic (WeAll Have Addictons)

Life's A Candle

Malla Batsick

(A Prayer of Intercession--Brief Joy)

Love A Cat

Cuba Libre

Fragile Shell Of Morning

Disappear

A Little Bit of Harlem in Your Life

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Mrs. Stine, Isn't It Time?


Mrs. Stine
who lived down our street
was a plain woman
and always kind
soft-spoken,
gentle in her own subtle way

Mrs. Stine
gave patient violin lessons
for very little money
to the very young and unaccomplished
she played the violin in the small town community orchestra
for all the years she lived of her life
in Fargo

once upon a time
Mrs. Stine
possessed three children
who attended grade school
she lived with a very
stern husband
in a fine sprawling ranch house
in a quieter, uneventful
middle-class neighborhood

one winter afternoon
she returned home earlier than usual
from one of her patient violin lessons
to find her quiet home emptied
of her three children,
one stern husband,
and all they owned

I can imagine her reaction
perhaps she fainted dead away
or fell crying in a heap
with no chair to keep her from collapsing
onto the bare, formerly carpeted floor
all the furnihings gone
her three children gone
and blurred visions of her stern husband
echoing in her aching head
his fingers a-wagging
his voice raised and rising
again and again

the husband
who had been the town Rabbi
the pillar of her community
one who'd now whisked away her
three overly-polite children
who, I imagined,
rarely, if ever, made their Father angry
always doing as they were told

however,
the truth was
I never saw her publicly shed a single tear
nor any hanging of her small head in shame
I wouldn't have blamed her
if she had gone mad
made a public display of her grief
flailing her arms about
like one who'd like to fly away
from so much grief and shame
but she never did

she wore her inherited shabbiness of circumstance
in other more subtler ways
she seemed to wear the same coat
for most of her days
the same clothing was layered for small comfort
to hide the wear and holes for years

and she lived in a less than modest
two room dank basement apartment
damp cold in the winter
to make up for the compromise of coolness
she may have relished during
the steamier North Dakota summers

Mrs. Stine
was our long-standing
holiday dinner guest all those years
she wore her tired smile
as someone would wear a newly purchased outfit
I think she wore her cheerfulness
to ingratiate herself into our company
so greatly she feared abandonment

her smile so much a constant costume
so she'd not have to be so alone
I know for a fact
she did not see any of her children again
until they were nearly fully grown
to early adulthood

more than eleven years later
she brought her daughter Jessie
to meet me again at the store where I worked
Mrs. Stine playing her best well-acted role yet
the Sainted Mother who had never experienced
abandonment
how well she did her best
to give no evidence of ever being bereft
at being forgotten,
penniless, childless
and alone
in a community which only valued
status, children and wifely accomplishments

what had they left her
but small stubborn pride
and a will to survive
a waif, a wisp in the high prairie winds
of North Dakota

she ought to have brought her violin
instead of bringing her daughter
to the vintage store where I worked
her playing had become so beautiful and poignant

I took no pleasure in meeting her
haughty daughter
who many years before had been
my childhood nemesis
my own personal bully

with age
the daughter had become plain and unremarkable
but Mrs. Stine never understood
real ugliness
she reintroduced her daughter
as if the two of us had been friends always
it was important, after all,
for Mrs. Stine
for me to like Jessica

I embraced Mrs. Stine warmly
but only coolly acknowledged her daughter
I couldn't help myself

how many times had my family
welcomed Mrs. Stine to our holiday dinner table
I knew all too well
her daughter was only passing through again
her Mother, a temporary obligation

I looked right through Jessica
who realized
I recognized her ruse
and blushed amber red

how do people obliterate a family member's memory
as if they never existed
nor had any former association
I could only imagine how
Mrs. Stine must have been forced to live
in a kind of protective amnesiac's world

how else could she have hid her pain
and given all those patient violin lessons
was this the reason why she played her violin
so beautifully
so poignantly

Mrs. Stine,
isn't it time,
you were remembered,
immortalized
in all of your pained and patient beauty?

(for those who are wondering,
this is not fictional, but all too true.)

MARCH SIXTEENTH 2017/ 11;12AM TIME AND DATE STAMPED

LEGAL COPYRIGHT FOR THIS WORK/POEM
AND ALSO BY THIS AUTHOR
MELISSA A HOWELLS/AND ALSO FOR THIS
LEGALLY COPYRIGHTED SITE TITLE
MELOO STRAIGHT FROM HER TILT-A-WORLD





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