Mud

A gift of mud
From a dear friend
Turns my head
In a new direction

Not just any mud,
Of course, since
This mud traveled
Long distances

Through customs
Weighting down an
Already heavy suitcase
Of trinkets and souvenirs

This mud revered
By millions over time
Anecdote for pain
Soothing an ache or two

And now mine
To ease the hurt
Of an aging body
And cloudy mind

The mud draws me
Closer again
Pulls me toward
The clear water

Falls tumble
Over the edge
Like so many
Nights I remember

The sound of the flow
As it eased his pain
Warmth the only remedy
For his affliction

All these years
I could not go
Near the water
Or the memories

Of that huge tub
Filled with pain
And agony
Loneliness and sorrow

At night I hear
The faucet running still
As it was those dark
And deadly nights

Awakening me with
The reality of a cancer
Poisoning life as
We once knew it

The mud equals
Renewal and healing
Fifteen to twenty minutes
Is all it promises

Skin renewed, soft
Gentle kindness
Rinsed away in
Warm waters

I can do this
My aging flesh
Will accept the hot
Pool beneath me

No longer must I hide
From the bathtub of death
When life beckons
Me to play

Ironic somehow
The birth of
This renewal mud
The Dead Sea

—Victoria Emmons © 2015

Hope

Found in more than a thousand places
Hope takes on so many faces.

Will I pass my science test?
Does my father think I’m best?

Will this baby stay alive to
Live nine months and always thrive?

Will the judge be kind to me
Even I when I try to flee?

Will this flower bloom in red
Or only bloom inside my head?

Will I find sweet Allie dog
Lost today amidst the fog?

Will I finish this long race
And, win or lose, accept my place?

Will my love be always there
Even when I need his care?

Will Mom live another day
To smile with me, to laugh and play?

I hope for this, I hope for that
I hope I look good in this new hat.

Hope takes on another face
Hope I keep up this grueling pace.

—Victoria Emmons © 2015

Rhyme

Sweaters too large conceal self-control
About to deteriorate into a pool of blood
Razor sharp threats pierce the softness
Barking orders to run and hide away

Run and hide away while you watch
From a distance, your height in charge
Of keeping calm and stone-faced despite
A crumbling world of madmen and goons

Madmen and goons shake the very core
Of what is goodness, charity, love, hope
As flagrant lies begin to believe themselves
Cherish false words, worship a dead horse

Worship a dead horse to make a fake point
About being serious enough to die together
End everything and everyone before it’s time
Because your life and mine is nothing but rhyme

—Victoria Emmons © 2015

The Sting

of the palm
as it reaches
the cheek,
the innocent
cheek, all
glowing and pink.

The pain
of the sting
as it crosses
the lips,
the sensuous
lips, so
worthy and free.

The wrath
of the world
as it crushes
the head,
the pulsating
head, once
brilliant, now dead.

The sound
of the crowd
as it mimics
the man,
the jabbering
man, once
noble and proud.

The hush
of the wind
as it drifts through
the hair,
the beautiful
hair, all
silky and clean.

The joy
of the girl
as she opens
the lock,
the garden
unlocked, now
sodden and flush.

The birth
of the bud
as it carries
the sting,
the heart-wrenching
sting, all
hidden and fine.

The cry
of the babe
as he wants her
to stay,
the boy not
at play, so
tearful and pained.

The sting
of the palm
as it reaches
the cheek,
the hardening
cheek, all
knowing and deep.

The pain
of the sting
as it crosses
the heart,
the withering
heart, no
longer a part.

— Victoria Emmons ©2013

D-Day

Paula had warned me they were there. I had my doubts. It had been 15 years since I moved into my house and I had never seen one. She was certain they were hiding out there somewhere. I just hadn’t found any yet. Today was the day.

I was washing the brick barbecue area in my back yard. The sink next to the gas grill was filled with dry, crinkled leaves that were clogging up the drain. It is nearly autumn and my oak trees have begun to discard more of their leaves and twigs. I reached in and pulled out a handful of the debris that had filled the sink. And there they were hiding under the mulch….two medium-sized scorpions each with their claws extended. I had been cleaning this sink with my bare hands. I took a step backward in disbelief. I knew I could not wash the creatures down the drain. I searched for a sturdy twig on the ground, picked it up and began my task. The pair had to be destroyed.

The larger one, the female, was slower since she was carrying her future children. She went first. As she died, she deposited her eggs, a final effort to assure her progeny survived. I felt like a beast. The smaller of the two, the male, fought hard. Even when I thought he was gone, after my sword had crushed his body, his wiggling claws demonstrated his vitality.

I was still uncomfortable about my own safety. I knew a scorpion bite could be very painful and even deadly. Only 30 of the 1,500 species of scorpion can inflict potentially fatal stings. But which 30, I asked? I didn’t have time to look that up before I dealt with these two scorpions that had taken up residence.

Despite the huge variance in our sizes, the scorpions and I battled until the end. The eggs were washed down the drain to their own fate. I snagged the scorpion bodies with my twig and moved them up onto the brick countertop. I needed to reassure myself that they had been properly exterminated. And then I saw a third. He had escaped my sight earlier, hiding along with a medium-sized black spider under the mass of gunk in my sink. This one seemed to move slower than the other two. Yet he was equally as difficult to destroy. All three of the scorpions living in my sink were unaware that today was D-Day. The spider was set free.

—Victoria Emmons, © August 31, 2014

White Horse

Rescue me, mon ami,
from the debris of life
save me from the
threads that weave
my heart to yours

I need saving now and then
my head is tired and
my body aches for you
to save me some day
on your white horse

I’m not your Fairy Godmother
flying in and out of your life
to save you from yourself
I carry no magic wand
to make it all better

I can only offer one gift
my eternal love for you
wretched soul that you are
so rescue me, mon amour,
save me from myself

–by Victoria Emmons, © 2014

Open Doors for Baudelaire

BaudelaireI will not be ruled by my cat. No more is he allowed to curl up in the warmth of my lap. No longer is he invited to live under my roof. I brought him home five years ago when he only seven weeks old. The cute, little champagne kitten stood out from the rest of the litter in the cage that day. I only needed one kitten. That’s all. But the volunteer with the pet shelter convinced me I should have a pair. This kitten would need a playmate, she advised.

I have had cats for over half a century. I know all about cats. Or so I thought. I did know the volunteer’s suggestion had merit. Kittens like to play with one another, especially when I am off at work and they would be otherwise all alone. Having a playmate helps keep them from climbing curtains, scratching furniture and other untoward behavior.

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Enough

How much is enough
To show her you care
How many times
must you weep

How much is enough
For a father to say
He loves his child
More than life itself

How much is enough
For a daughter to hear
That her papa is grieving
Her loss from his world

How much is enough
To tell her you love her
And kiss her brow
As tears wet her cheek

How much is enough
To say you regret
The pain and the prison
That one moment caused

How much is enough
For peace to restore
And pride to erase
The memory of a face

–Victoria Emmons, © 2014

The Legacy of the Sisters

Be that as it may
They came
With no warning
Just like the cancer

They raked
They cooked
They sat with him
In his loneliness

They laughed
At TV game shows
Puzzled through
NY Times crosswords

They worried
They fretted
They gave their time
And their love

And they brought
The small, white
Plastic trash bags
For the remains

Neatly lining
All five of the
Small, round cans
In the bedroom

They dutifully
Emptied each bag
Once a day
Of its toxic contents

Their legacy
Of love…
And then they
Said goodbye

-Victoria Emmons, © 2011

Scream

A tiny scream
Inside my head
Awakens me
From my bed

What thought say I
To none but me
What woes are there
Or dreams to be

What lies within
My gentle skin
What thoughts persist
When light begins

And thus is born
A year of pain
Of restless nights
Am I insane

–Victoria Emmons, © 2012