Tag Archives: Poem

First Cigarette

9 Apr

My Take

DiVoran Lites

 

 

 

I saw Daddy’s cigarettes behind the bar.
And thought of glamorous movie stars
Holding cigarettes in dainty poses

One Camel won’t be missed
But what if Daddy catches me?
What if Mother is disappointed in me?
I drew one cigarette from the pack
Snatched a book of matches
And ran the two blocks home from
The restaurant we owned.

Hunkered down in the tall grass
That hid me completely
Without thinking of the smoke
That must rise into the blue sky
Without thinking of the tinder dry grass
Catching fire and burning down the house
I took a drag
Coughed…coughed…coughed
Ground it out in the dirt.

Didn’t smoke again
Until eight years later
Beauty school in Albuquerque
And a big contest to test our hairstyling
So nervous
At Toddlehouse my teacher, Monique
Gave me a cigarette
Here this will calm you down
Is dizzy the same as calm?
Monique gave me a whole pack
Take these home and practice

My young husband and I shared the habit.
After three years I yearned for a child
I worked until my seventh month
Not smoking because even the smell
Made me nauseous
I stopped then, stopped for years
Through the birth of another child
And the move to Space Center country
And I started again.
By then we knew smoking killed people

One day Bill asked the Lord to
Take away his craving for cigarettes
He pulled the pack from his shirt pocket and
Threw it in the trash.
He never smoked again
I prayed too and eventually
God helped me quit
Neither of us ever smoked again
Nor wanted to.
Thank Jesus for His saving grace.

Dressmaker

2 Apr

My Take

DiVoran Lites

 

 

 

 

Every fall before school started
Mother took me to The May Co.
In Denver where they had a
Perfume fountain in which I dipped
My fingers and got a stern look
From a clerk. Well, what’s perfume for?
And I’d had a bath before we got there.
We ordered clothes so that they came
To our small town at the foot of
The Sangre de Cristo range.
On the mail truck.

When Daddy was away in the war
Fabric was rationed.
So, Mother and Grandmother
Took old clothes from
The attic and made dresses and pants
For my brother and me.
One time I was so tired of standing
For pinning up hems that I
Ripped the a dress from top to bottom
And ran out of the room.

Many years later, I had a toddler daughter
Who needed pretty clothes.
Why don’t I make some?
Oh, because I can’t sew.
So I signed up for a night
Class at the high school
And left our daughter at home with her daddy.

Our sewing teacher came from Hungary
With an elegant accent.
With a long history of European Couture
She knew everything about
How clothes had to be assembled.
Rip instead of cutting to get a
Straight piece.
Lay the pattern just so…
To take up the least
Amount of material
Line a jacket with satin, and
Hem the lining separately
Above all, match the natches
(Which we called notches.)
Cut one garment at a time
Cheap ready-to-wear pieces are
Cut in piles with power scissors
Which make the drape warped
When sewn together
Sew in the new invisible zippers by
Hand, not on the Singer.
Innovation is fine, sloppiness is not.

Then Bill and I had a little boy and
When he was two
I made matching sailor suits
For him and his sister
From quality gray gabardine—
Wide collars with red rickrack
And stars in each corner.
I wished that Mother and Grandmother
Could see my work
But by then, they were far away.

Collie

26 Mar

My Take

DiVoran Lites

 

 

 

When I was seven,
We got a brown ball of collie,
And named him Brownie.
One day when he was grown
He followed my brother and me
To our parents’ restaurant
Where we’d get ready for school
Somehow I dropped my belt in
The Main Street intersection.
When I went back
There was the dog
With his paws stretched out to
Guard the belt

Once Mother drove us to
The next town a mile away
Taking along a visiting cousin
Who screamed and cried
About Brownie running behind
The car until Mother stopped
And put him in the trunk.

In the fourth of July parade
Brother and I
Sitting at a small table
Eating dinner
Rode in a trailered boat
Behind a car
A sign on the side of the
Boat said, “Eat at Min’s Café.”
And Brownie followed with
A St. Bernard style keg
Around his neck to
Represent liquid refreshment.

On a 35 degree below, snowy day,
Brownie lay on the school stoop
Waiting for us until the
Teacher let him in to lie
On the floor bedside the
Pot-bellied stove and
Thaw icy fur into puddles.

Summers, we rode horses
Over the dry prairie
Watching for hidden mines
And prairie dog holes
Brownie came trotting
Along behind, always.

He went home with us at night
To watch over us in our crime-
Free town while Daddy and Mother
Finished up 16 hour days at the
Restaurant.

Black

12 Mar

My Take

DiVoran Lites

 

Painting by DiVoran Lites

 

 

I like black, it goes with everything,

Makes me look pale and ethereal

Don’t like my coffee black, though.

 

Mother hated black because…

She had to sew a slew of tiny black buttons

On her Mother’s funeral dress.

 

Red was out for Mother, too,

Especially for church.

It was the color for floozies

 

I wear red to church

I wear black to church

It goes with everything.

 

I like to wear white.

I had a white nylon uniform when I

Worked in the beauty salon.

 

I washed it every night.

When I was pregnant I wore a halter

So my shoulders could help carry.

 

Black is the color of sleep

White is the all-color-ness of purity

Red is the color of our blood

Christ’s blood, too.

Geese

26 Feb

My Take

DiVoran Lites

 

 

I don’t know much about geese.

I know they are big birds with attitude.

I know they are wild or domestic.

I know there are a lot of them in some places.

 

I know Daddy bought a goose

To fatten for Thanksgiving

And kept it in the shed.

I was supposed to feed it,

But I thought too much and let the goose out

Daddy sent the kids to look for it

All we found was a hut woven of willow branches

Among the willow bushes

Next to Grape Greek.

Inside we saw a mat on the floor

And a picture of a woman

With an old fashioned hair-do

Propped nearby.

When we got home,

Daddy was perturbed, but didn’t punish.

 

In a big lake in Orlando where swans live too

Geese challenge people for the right of way

And you have to stand up for yourself

After all, God gave dominion did he not?

 

In that park we saw a woman filling

A plastic bag with large white eggs

Goose eggs or swan eggs?

And taking them to an official looking car.

Where were they going?

Pencil Sharpeners

19 Feb

My Take

DiVoran Lites

 

 

I hear they have

Electric pencil sharpeners now

Bzzz and the point is made

When I was bored in grade-school

To amuse myself

I walked up front to the pencil sharpener

With my yellow number two.

Didn’t know there was another kind

Of pencil in the world

Nowadays I love to art

I have rainbows and lollipops of color in stick form

Inktense, watercolor, wax pastels,

Crayons, and colored pencils

Too many art supplies

But that’s because

Artists are art-store junkies

All my color sticks need to be

Sharpened periodically

I have many hand sharpeners

But for a tough job such as

A colored pencil with

A broken off head

I open to the secret on the linen closet wall

And hand grind the wood away

To expose the purple underneath

For stroking highlights into books,

Especially Holy Bibles on gossamer thin

Paper with light-catching golden edges.

Dog Saturday

12 Feb

My Take

DiVoran Lites

 

 

 

Morning Dogs:

We walked into Lowe’s not expecting dogs
One tiny old and disabled Pekinese on a blanket in a buggy
One terrier carried by a young man
With an old man’s long scraggly beard
He shows the on-off light on the dog’s collar
This is for when he goes out at night
It’s for in case a hawk or some other creature
Of the night tries to get him.
Course we might just see the light lifting
And what will we do then?

 

They let people bring dogs to Lowes now?
Yes, Walmart too especially service dogs
This one keeps me calm
I wonder if the young man
Has PTSD…an acronym for shell shock or
Battle fatigue. Or is he kidding?
Next, he says: they threw us out of a
dollar-type store.
I told ‘em they didn’t have to yell,
Just tell me quietly.
But back to Walmart.
They won’t allow dogs in the buggies
They say they ain’t sanitary
But what about babies in dirty diapers
Are they sanitary?
I bathe my dog once a week
Whether she needs it or not
I never take her into restaurants.
But his wife was already moving on
And I had lost my Will of the Wisp husband,
Somewhere in another part of the store.

 

Afternoon dogs:

Walking the trail I hear deep, heartfelt baying
I figured hounds on the trail had a squirrel or
A raccoon run up a tree.
Small animals for such big dogs to chase
I rounded the corner and saw
A standoff. A man and a woman each
With a very large hound on a leash
And a mother far over on the trail
Hurrying past holding a terrier in one arm
And guiding her tiny daughter on her tiny
Tricycle with the other hand
I said to the mother as she passed
The woman was out for a pleasant walk with her dog and daughter
The hound couple were out for a pleasant walk with their hounds
When the woman and her charges were gone,
I asked what kind of dogs these were.
The man said, “Hounds” and pointed
That little dog barked first
The woman said this here one’s a lab/boxer mix
And that black one is a Blue Tick.
I waved and went on.
They came behind me but they had
To get off the trail for everyone who passed
When I came back up.
They were still coming down.
The Blue-Tick bayed at me in a different tone.
“Tell me all about it,” I said.
The man laughed, and then I hurried by.
It was a beautiful Saturday as I
Danced home to the sound of jazz.

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