Mostly Me

Frankly it was summer
and hot.
Air wouldn’t move
and fences were blocked
so no one could enter
even if you didn’t
want to go inside.

I did. I wanted to see
what his world had been like,
all hundred or more years of it.
There he was, a stone general
frozen in thought
astride a white mount
blackened by time.

The pressure
weighed upon him,
I am sure of it.
Please the family,
children need bread,
a new nation cannot breathe
without a leader.

Easy enough to live
on a peaceful farm,
ignore the critics
and haters,
ones who shame
into leadership
those who might win.

Oh, cousin, why did
we fight to defend
a way of life
gone for the ages,
too radical
for our time,
but not yours.

Conflict need come
to an end, they say,
no war between us
or remains of vast
valleys full of blood,
soldiers no more,
only crosses on a hill.

You watch from atop
your loyal stead
new soldiers who
never learned history,
nor learned from it,
mistakes made and
lives lost, teach anew.

They do not listen,
nor will they know
that you remain a leader
teaching lessons from your day,
remind them of wrongs
gone by, not wiped away,
remembered for a reason.

Dear cousin, show them
from your Traveler’s perch
so no one will forget,
that our battles
from home to home,
brother to brother
must surely end.

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

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

Three-Quarters of a Breath

Soft sounds count each breath with
clarity, mindfulness and motion.
Every swell erupts into hope, rises and falls
in fullness, leaving joy as a postscript.

Breathe in to fill three-quarters,
that which is left of a lung, a section
disappeared one sunny morning, a favorite
corner rendered useless by a scalpel.

Pushing air out even harder,
pain shoots down the spine,
suffocates the rib cage and the heart.
But the heart still loves, still smiles.

Life breathes in three-quarter beats,
arouses a heart to sing, a soul to pray,
a mind to dream. Invites love to play
under a delicious full moon.

Count the breaths. One. One-half.
How many birthdays, he asks.
Grandma, that’s a lot of birthdays.
A lot more to come, you say.

Smell a future filled with fresh air,
even in three-quarter beat. Hear the
sound of laughter, the voice of strength
residing in a cage meant to be opened.

Make songs with every breath when
air and music wed as one. Sing for
respite. Sing for hope. Sing for life,
notes attaching to the summer wind.

–Victoria Emmons, May 2017

For Jill.

If eyes could tell

If life resided in darkness, eyes disappeared into
caves where feelings navigate the world
amongst dangers of the sea,
who would be  
me?

If skies were never blue, only void of color and light,
causing fear in a vast unknown universe,
where would flowers
grow?

If bumps in the night, the ever present night,
were all that could be seen for miles of highway,
what road would we
take?

If life mirrored that of a blind cavefish,
born with vision lost to age and a film of
skin, a cataract of sorts,
how would we
see?

If age dissipated vision, unable to differentiate
black or white, left or right, male or female,
rich or poor, young or old, half or whole,
when would discrimination
vanish?

If life had no pigment, simply blank void where
reliance on touch, sound,
emotion guided every step,
could we escape larger prey for hundreds of thousands of
years?

If we escaped our fears, learned to love blindness,
to embrace what lives in the dark, to lie side by side,
skin to skin, smile to smile,
could we not better survive, like an ancient blind
fish?

–Victoria Emmons, 2017

Clean

I remember the 13 x 9 x 2 aluminum version
Carving out perfect brownies for a crowd
Or the glass model 8 x 6 x 2, the smaller size
For the rare few who stayed up late

I remember baked-on grease forever embedded
Into the fabric of the pans, creating their own
Modern artwork in a chaotic kitchen
The result of motherhood gone awry

Baking meant sustenance, but more than that
It revealed ingenious fortitude, cleverness and pride
Combined with creativity that surpassed all else
I remember that creativity, that strength

And I remember the love that went into each egg
Fried into a perfectly shaped circle inside a slice of bread
A circle that we called breakfast, along with crisp bacon
And always a glass of whole milk or juice, our choice

I remember taking turns at the bar, slipping onto a warm stool
In front of a previously occupied plate still wet with yellow yolk
That she shoved aside to replace with a new, warm toad
One that would be consumed in time to catch a school bus

I remember the burnt days, too, clouded with emotion
Fervent spirit doused for an hour or two, yet
Toad-in-a-hole breakfasts kept flying out of her kitchen
Into our hearts and souls, all four of us children

I remember her pans as I retrieve my own small one
From the dishwasher, not as clean as I would like
The glass still living with some of last night’s meal
My carelessness, the wrong machine setting

I remember we had no dishwasher then, a luxury,
Washed by hand, each greasy skillet or brownie pan
Thus why the grease remained, no doubt, what strength
Do children have to scrub away the toughest stains?

Tools at my disposal, I begin to work, fingers dry and sore
From steel wool combined with cleaning powder that
Lasts as long as I do to see every last speck of memory stain
Removed forever, or until the next chicken Marsala bakes

–Victoria Emmons, ©2017

Lost and Found

Remember the day, the moment, the loss
Perplexing, annoyed, forlorn and cross

Locked out of life, transportation and gold
Keys to the world have clearly been sold

All that I cherish resides on a ring
That circle gives access to everything

Late summer drew nigh, I prepared to depart
Thirty years of a place that won over my heart

How could I misplace so important a treasure
In the chaos of packing and farewell pleasure

My search through trash cans high and low
Revealed nothing but remnants of junk let go

Pause for a moment to think and review
Each step I had taken the previous two

Days of forgetfulness and check-off notes
Hundreds of details to fill up my totes

No wonder my key ring was missing in action
When months of planning had been a faction

I needed those keys to my house, to my car
Without them I would never go very far

Keys to my storage unit, keys to my bank
Keys to a life that seemed suddenly dank

Lost forever they were, I began to assess
My options for moving ahead with this mess

Costly new car keys, remote control, too
LoJack to replace, so much to do

Buy a new storage lock, notify the teller
Make sure car keys are there for the seller

Thank heaven for duplicate keys all around
Searching my house for where they might be found

Three hundred more dollars to replace a car key
Seems way more than needed for befuddled old me

But cost me it did in both money and grief
As I abandoned my thoughts of a mischievous thief

Surely I was the culprit of this mystery distraction
Own up to my faults and egregious reaction

I set about fixing the damage I had done
Finding or buying keys one by one

Eighteen months passed by, a thousand lifetimes ago
Lost keys were forgotten in favor of snow

Then holidays arrived, an invitation to stay
At the home of my daughter not too far away

I leaped at the chance to wake up Christmas Day
So near to grandchildren who giggle and play

My bag packed in seconds, my car filled with toys
I tackled snowdrifts to join sweet girls and boys

When morning arrived, little footsteps awakened me
As grandchildren stood in awe of the Christmas tree

Quickly washed my face, brushed my hair and teeth
Grabbed my turquoise robe and shoes to warm my feet

Reached top of the stairs, eager to join family crew
Hands dropped into my pockets to hear a jingle or two

Fate intervened, my old robe revealed a prize
A metal circle of keys that belied my eyes

Lost …. then finally found myself, if I may
Puzzle solved at last on this Christmas Day

–Victoria Emmons, © img_07202016

Longing

I know how to define longing
Feeling it as I do this day
With joyful news that I
Cannot share with you.

Longing to speak with you
To hear your laughter amidst
Guttural sounds that create
Music for my soul.

We now speak only in code
Your message somewhat blank
And mine only hesitant
Lacking in style or craft.

Longing so real that it hurts
A deep, agonizing pain
That makes me want to fly away
To a far-off destination.

I have nowhere to fly
Only stuck in my memories
Lost in dreams gone by
Longing for what will never be.

–Victoria Emmons  © 2016

What to do

Gypsy

When daylight offers
Nothing more than
Funny cat videos
For eight hours

And blinds are meant
To remain shuttered
Food never consumed
Nor books devoured

The real cat awakens me
Her claws prick my neck
Startle me from a dreamland
Of fanciful dancing and love

My anger frightens her and me
She finds solace under a chair
I find it online in a site
Leading me elsewhere

A story on detergent choices
Liquid, powder or pacs
To clean the oils and scents
He left on my sheets

Buzz

A familiar buzz creates the strange backdrop of my kitchen, and my world. The sound of distress is repeated often in my head, but now it lives. I cannot locate the source. It continues to fill the cool air of an October morning. Where is he? I heard him in pain, buzzing so loudly that I must listen. He wants my attention as he cries for help.

I wait. I must be dreaming, my head repeats. He is gone. He no longer lives on this Earth. But then again, I want to think otherwise. I want to believe the signs that he flew my way six years past. The flutter of his wings upon my cheek. His flight was soft and gentle, aiming for me, for my face. Certain it was he, I broke into laughter. No disrespect, my love, but your wings tickled my nose. Made me smile. I knew it was you, free from pain.

So why now? Why this distress call to me? I look in every room as the sound grows in voice. That buzz remains. I cannot find you. Searching every fold of the house in which I call my home, but not really home since you are not here. Or are you? They tell me I am mad. La Femme Folle. But ’tis only folly, I know. I believe you, mon cher ami. Mon amant, mon amour. I believe you.

And there you are. Upside down, with your tiny wiggling legs. There you are wedged between the bends of a blue kitchen towel. You buzz with vigor, waiting to be freed. Who said a fly should be let free? You chose to be there, mon ami. You wanted to fly, so I let you free. Fly away now, safe to the outside air. Come alive. Don’t die. Keep flying. I love you.

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2016

Letters

First placed in a dresser drawer
Migrated to a shoebox
Burgeoned to a steamer trunk
Hidden away in a space in the wall
Letters kept safe over 50 years
Uncovered in a renovation

Home owners open them one by one
The story of two lovers unfolding on paper
Over time, through wars, marriage
And children born and died, the letters
Filled with life and hidden passion
Secrets that only lovers share

Those who discover the musings
Seek to find the children, now grown,
With no inkling of correspondence
Between mother and father, letters
Revealing struggles, patience, deep love
And devotion one to the other

Email is not wrapped in purple ribbon
Nor kept in a dresser drawer, perhaps
An iCloud drawer to be savored later
Or uncovered like Ashley Madison clients,
Not quite the same as thin Air Mail paper
With the familiar red, white and blue logo