Praha Notes

Stumble on stones
that speak to my feet
seven centuries past
Too long ago to recall
A love gone by.

Sky aided by clouds
darkened in an instant
to cool a steamy day,
raindrops and thunder
fluffed into marshmallow
dreams by midday.

Your gifts linger, a
72-hour metro ticket
takes me on a red train
to green line, then
yellow line to find Zlicin
through the park to Zitna.

A hot day adorns
your head, along with
a baseball cap to keep
the sun away, a
thousand-koruna note,
gift for a weary traveler.

Franz Kafka, Adolf Born,
blond Chrystina in an Alfa Romeo
points out the world’s largest
castle, streets below
teeming with selfies and
a car that attracts attention.

Czech list of things to do,
dancing house beckons
as bridge traffic lessens on
way-finding maps to
a jazz club of singers,
drums, and saxophone tunes.

A kiss on the hand, a wave
goodbye from one train to another
as I dine alone next to
Charles Bridge, me and
my glass of red Bourguignon
from France, no Czech beer.

Laughter of child’s play
on monkey bars at a nearby park
makes music for my single dinner,
void of smiling Irish eyes,
no direction to
my last evening in Prague.

Lost in colors, I search
for the yellow ice cream cone
to lead me out of the
Namesti maze toward the Vystad
where I will drift
back to normalcy, if I can.

–Victoria Emmons
copyright 2017, Prague, CZ


Random communiques appear,
Signal a familiar ding at all hours
To make me feel important, feel loved
In an otherwise ordinary life
Of early morning battles with my cat,
Both of us stressed over boxes.

Headlines selected daily by news editors
At The Washington Post or NBC Bay Area
Foist themselves upon me, assuring
Intelligent conversation with friends
Mourning the loss of a kind sheriff who tried
In vain to help a drowning victim.

My realtor asks about furniture, do I want any 
Of the beds laid in, chairs sat upon,
Tables eaten at by children growing into
Adulthood as their parents age in place,
Now selling out for a condo in Hawaii
And margaritas on a black sand beach.

Carly Fiorina needs my help, as do
A host of others scratching and clawing
To reach the very top of the world,
Earn the right to pin a medal on a hero
Or start a war with China, perhaps Iran, or
Unknown corners of the Earth yet to be found.

An invitation to breakfast in September when
Graduates of a Chamber Leadership Class
Offer pats on the back to neophytes
Only starting out, eager to become what
You are, what looks like success from 
Their vantage point, if they only knew.

FaceBook comments on whatever was said
That day of frivolity with photos taken in jest
And posted for all the world to see when
They should have been deleted before 
The submit button was pressed but
Could we have known the outcome.

Six clutter-busting tips to solve my problem,
Accumulation of life’s debris as it piles
High with unread copies of The Economist,
London Review of Books and Bon Appetit
Each crowding my mind for the little space left
To compete with collections of unlit candles.

Attachments carry an offer of employment 
Eagerly awaited after interviews, visits and
Proper conversations on goals and benefits,
An airplane trip away to the north where new
Friends will be made, new rooms to decorate await,
Life promises to be fulfilled or at least chronicled.

Neighbors write about a vacation to the east, so
Keep watch over their house while they are gone,
And by the way, did you get the job? Have you
Heard anything about paying for the asphalt?
Did you ever get your garage sale organized?
What did the house across the street sell for?

Contractor inquires about a check not yet received
For painting, building, repairing a bathroom,
Replacing a balcony, renewing a home to be
Lived in by someone else, except the same 
Sparrows that come back in the spring, as they
Always do along with the deer and bats.

A receipt for $3.99 to continue iCloud storage,
Small price to pay for false security that precious
Possessions will never be stolen or lost 
To thieves who lurk in CyberSpace, followed
By announcements about new data breaches
In the government and my health insurer.

Nothing in my e-mail speaks of love, no sweet
Words to arouse my sense of desire save
The Poem-A-Day from The Poetry Foundation
That graces my inbox regularly, yet today
“Enough” by Ellen Bass is about death,
But also about love of family and self.

Then love arrives electronically with two words
That ring in my ears, two simple sounds that
My brain allows me to recreate exactly as spoken
For more than 30 years, words taught over time
Part of a lesson in communication essential to life
A single key to my existence … “Hi, Mom!”

—Victoria Emmons, copyright 2015

In Air

A very bumpy plane ride
Makes me rethink my priorities

It happened once before
An hour out of Houston

Fire in the cargo hold
The pilot told us

Life flashed before my eyes
Nothing I could do

Except be grateful
My kid was not there

If life is to end on an airplane
It should be romantic

Shouldn’t it?
Or at least over Bermuda

But Odessa, Texas?
Not too sexy, I think

Nothing to be done
Except imagine

What novels be written
Or poems to create

Were I to live
What shall life entail?

The skies are full of danger
Bumps and grinds galore

I feel the end is nearing
And what have I to show?

Hurry up now, dearie,
For your time is short

The bumps are even stronger
And the sounds very coarse

Clouds do not obey
Their master or even pretend

Every glass defies its space
Upon my dinner tray

All I can do is think of you
And how we are no more

This flight has me in ecstasy
Of purpose going forth

For I am free of thee
Free of me

My life is holding court
Judging all that is

As bumps and grinds
Take me onward

This plane in control
And I am not

My mind expands
And as we land

I am down to Earth
Once again

A normal being
Life without trauma

Life just another
Bumpy plane ride

—Victoria Emmons © 2015

Engine No. 2

Niles Canyon

Black steam churns and spits
From every crevice of the old maid
Her body worn with travel
Soaked with time and stories to tell

She coughs with every breath
Attempting to please the crowd
Those who decry her age
Love her no matter what

Each chug makes her believe
She can, she can, she can
She thinks she can and she will
Fly down the rails yet again

—Victoria Emmons ©2015

Morning of a Different Kind

Wet nose nudges me
In the morning
Tells me a new day
Is about to launch

I groan for it is early
My brain not awake
My body too heavy
To face tomorrow

Dawn will not allow me
To linger too long in
The comfort of my pillow
Warmth of my covers

Outside of the bedding
Lies grief and pain
Too much sorrow
An empty world

I hide in my blanket
A castle of safety
Far away from
Impending storms

Wet nose a memory
A mere dream
Of what was
Will be no more

So on this day
This new year
Of a different kind

In memory of Allie, 2001-2014

–Victoria Emmons, © 2014