What I Say to You After Work: for Naomi It’s just a bad day, Darlin. There have been others before this and we’re still here, still breathing, still waking up in the morning to do it all over again. I know. I know it has to get better. It will. Let’s go for a walk and look at the maples in our neighborhood budding their fresh green leaves, shedding the whirlygigs with their veined helicopter wings. Let’s feel the warming spring Kansas breeze on our faces, let it tousle our hair like a busy mother’s touch. Let’s leave the smart phones and music players at home. Let’s talk out the frustrations and the humiliations and the fuckups. Let’s talk about planting flowers and tomatoes, playing guitars, grilling, inviting friends over, getting out of the house. Let’s stop at the corner where the redbud ignites against the greening grass. Let’s curse the dandelions but enjoy the yellow. Let’s give the bad day the attention it deserves, which, really, ain’t much. © 2019 by Shawn Pavey
I should have outgrown cursing
digital alarm clocks
stabbing me in dark warm sleep
next to you, waking me to rise
into a cold blackness
of hardwood under my feet.
It is a dance with dread, this search
by touch through passion’s shed
clothes for just anything to cover
myself on the January stumble
to the white tiled bathroom floor.
Water steams and bounces off this skin
that only minutes before touched yours
and the feel of you burns through water
into my brain where it will stay all day
never letting fully go,
while I scrub then dry then shave then dress
and wrap a noose around my neck
and before slipping into my coat, you
slip around me and softly kiss my throat
and sacred unsacred rituals
of doing the job mean nothing
as I stare at the clock
counting its ticks and tocks
as the hour’s component parts
reassemble into one whole longing
that never goes away.
© 1997, 2008 by Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.
At The Waffle House
“Behold, I show you a mystery;
we shall not all sleep
but we shall all be changed“— 1st Corinthians 15:51
Out of beer and out of time,
last call puts Tyler and I in a place
where mysterious blendings of caffeine and nicotine
work our Budweiser dulled brains awake,
where redneck jukeboxes full of whiskey voices
lament great losses of the true ones
and how we all get stomped
flatter than lonely Texas highways
complete with tumbleweeds and dust devils
simply by love.
So where are the rest of those Hank Williams poets
whose tears fall to the ground like rain
making puddles only bleary-eyed drunks
drinking their way through their blues can see?
When thy cup is empty, it shall be filled.
When she gets around to it and isn’t bellowing side orders
of bacon with those hash browns.
So go ye then on down to a place
where things somehow come to short order
in those small hours before dawn
through fogs of conversation
rambling through coffee steam
and cigarettes piling dead in testament
to a new faith healing
busted hearts in confirmation
that you will never be the same.
© 1997, 2008 Shawn Pavey
I am invited to everything on Facebook and it’s my own damned fault because, you may be shocked to discover, I invite people to events on Facebook. Goose, gander, bed, lying — all that stuff. It’s become such a pervasive issue that, for the last year or more, I ignore event invitations. They just stack up and I ignore them.
But someone who always makes insightful, poignant, and, yes, interesting posts, a Washington Post contributing acquaintance of mine, sent me an event invitation. Only it wasn’t an event, but a project. A woman by the name of Jodi Barnes in Chapel Hill, NC, is going to, on February 14th, that most insipid of Hallmark-fabricated holidays, gather a group of volunteers to stand on street corners in Chapel Hill and hand out poems. The invitation is to write 14 word poems around the theme, “One World, One Race, One Love” in defiance of the 14 Words so commonly associated with the White Supremist movement.
Jodi and her All Volunteer Love Army will gather on the streets of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro in North Carolina to distribute these small poems to any and all they meet. Here is my contribution:
14 Word Poem in Defiance of the 14 Words
“The Fourteen Words is a phrase used predominantly by white nationalists. It most commonly refers to a 14-word slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.” It can also refer to another 14-word slogan: “Because the beauty of the White Aryan woman must not perish from the earth.” – Wikipedia
Water, soil, and time
I want this for you, me.
So, if you’re in the Triangle area of NC on Valentine’s Day, look for Jodi’s volunteers. Take a poem. Love fiercely. Defy hate.