Saturday, May 23, 2009


That noise. It has stayed with me

For as long as I’ve been sucking oxygen.
It’s like the sound of a fiberglass fishing pole

whipping the air in rapid succession.
No. It’s more like the sound a rubber hose makes
when you twirl it overhead. Helicopter blades slicing

the atmosphere? That noise. The memory of that day
is tattooed on my gray matter. ‘Think ink’.
Me. A thirteen year-old punk, a pisspot.
My acne-pocked, “Pizza-with-the-works”

pre-pubescent self-portrait. Attitude running rampant
and in search for an outlet for pent up male aggression.
Enter my big mouth. My mother, God Bless her,
had her hands full with a half-dozen kids
and my father, sometimes passionate, most times

inebriated. Sometimes a funny drunk. Most times
Not. And me (see description above) looking for my place.
Aimless, self-guided and a batch of stupid ideas
in my ever inquisitive psyche. That day. That noise.
Set the scene.
Sunny, summer, Saturday afternoon.

Dad, soberly sitting at the kitchen table.
Sports page spread, cigarette –
his unlit and dangling oral fixation.
Mom, the housework Houdini, hands
submersed in suds, her sincere
supplication to a snippy, spoiled brat son.
It all hinged on that simple request. “Can you take out the trash?”

I don’t know what prompted my edgy (read ignorant) reply.
But the words fought each other to be the first ones across my lips.
“I don’t feel like it. Why don’t you take it out?” Silence. Jaw dropping silence.
I looked over to my father thinking, “Look at the man you raised.
A chip off the old shot glass.” But two words were all that emerged
from my cavernous cavity. “Oh Shit!” Strike two.

He extricated the cigarette from his pucker. He folded his newspaper.
By the time his palms hit the table to push himself erect,
I had bolted out the screen door. I ran as fast as my
wiry Wally wheels could carry me. There was a second slam of the screen.
Then it came. That noise.
That fiberglass fishing pole, that rubber hose,
low flying helicopter. It came faster and louder

than my fumbling flat feet could carry me.
I found myself cast in a Peckinpah movie.
In slow-motion I went down, felled like a sequoia.
Face first and tumbling like a handicapped hedgehog.
My father, not one to waste unnecessary movement,
only got three steps outside the door. He reached

for the broom that had previously leaned lazily
against the clapboard. He deftly flung the aluminum
projectile like an anodized boomerang.
As it followed its circuitous path it cut the air,
like a fishing pole. Rubber hose. Helicopter, catching me

perfectly at the back of my neck. Lights out. Down for the count.
I lay there stunned as my father slowly approached.
He stood over my prone body pointing a reprimanding finger at me.
“Don’t ever let me hear you sass back to your mother again!”

Then broom in hand, he turned and headed back to the house.
Stopping abruptly, he made a sweeping motion in the air.
“A clean sweep” he laughed. From that moment I made it a point

to mind my verbiage around my mother. And in case
I had a lapse of memory, I hid the broom.

And I still hear that noise.


  1. Just as flashbacky as it was the first time I read it! Kudos on the new site. (If you have space to spare and are willing, feel free to add my humble site to your blogroll. Would it be okay to add a link to here from mine? )

  2. Patricia, Thanks. Still a W.I.P. but I'm liking it so far. I've linked to yours and would be honored if you linked to mine.