Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Tale of Spunky

We never actually talked       
about the treatment we received
from our parents. It was just our life,
the only one we had,
the only one we would ever live.
Kind of like the life Spunky lived.
Our other neighbors, the Boones,
had a big coon hound, Spunky,
which spent his entire being
chained to a tree, with only
a small piece of corrugated
fiberglass panel as a shelter.
It was barely large enough to protect
him from the sun and rain. Yet,
in all of this misery and lack
of attention, Spunky would be so happy
when Mr. Boone walked past,
that his whole body would nearly
bend horseshoe-shaped,
from wagging it with joy.

Once unchained, he would run
madly across the two yards,
as if screaming "FREEDOM!"
Mr. Boone would grab a stick,
broom, belt, whatever he could find,
call the dog, who always obliged,
and whack it several times. Spunky
went through the same routine,
rolling to his side, two legs in the air,
enduring the punishment for enjoying
his moment of freedom and happiness.

But he never whelped or whined,
as if he knew that doing so
would tell Mr. Boone that he was doing
a great job, encouraging him to do even better.
I thought Spunky looked at us
and smiled, knowing his silence actually
whipped the whipper.
Afterward, he jumped up, tail wagging,
got into the car with Mr. Boone
and went hunting.
We loved Spunky, not because he
was a dog, but because he was like us,
in a way. We loved those we feared,
and feared those who loved us. We stole
our minutes of freedom and joy,
endured the pleasure of our pain in silence. 
What other choice did we have?

No, we never spoke certain thoughts
as we leaned against the big oak,
with the Parker kids,
throwing acorns at lizards,
twirling the moss around our fingers,
and watching Mr. Boone and Spunky.
We didn't laugh about it either,
out of respect for what the other
was thinking.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Coral snake Micrurus fulvius

Red on Black

red on yellow can kill a fellow

I have never spoken with a dead
fellow, nor one ever bitten,
but rhymes do often sing
from reasons.

There is never a good
time or season
to stretch across a road,
end up like the flattened sleeve
of a rugby shirt,

or a bunch of crushed
crayons waxed over fresh

red on black, you’re okay jack

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I know nothing of Chloe, other than what has been told to me in the note, a note written to Chloe. It seems she has been to church recently. It could have been the church she regularly attends or, maybe, she visited a church for the first time, either in her life or, perhaps, it has been an extended period of time since her last visit to her regular or any church. In any event, I think from this note that she has gone and has gotten involved in a group at the church, a group that met on Saturday. Or, it could be that it was not about a group. She could simply have had a meeting with a minister, pastor or priest, depending on the church. She may be seeking spiritual or physical comfort, or both, due to recent or ongoing events in her life. Chloe has shared those events, very openly, with a man of the church. I know it is a man, I see it in the boldness of his signature. He signs to impress and show authority. It could be that she is merely interested in becoming more involved in church functions and groups, but I believe it is the former reason, that she is seeking advice or comfort, because of things in the note.

The man wrote “YOU” which leads me to believe that he wishes to bolster her confidence, emphasizing that she is important and should see herself as such, in the time of difficulty that she has revealed. He also describes her family as “beautiful” which I believe is his way of redirecting her current feelings about her family. He may or may not even know the family, but must try to truncate the ill that has set in. This also is a prompt for Chloe to consider that there are usually two or more parties in a conflict, that there are other points of view to be considered before there is resolution and that other parties are not always evil.

She likely feels confused and misunderstood, at home. The man tells me this through his words, “…remind you about what Jesus and your parents think about you..” He is attempting to bring clarity to her mind and the situation, letting her know that others see her perspective and, regardless of the current turmoil, they accept her as she is and respect her opinions. This statement also bestows upon the parents the perception of wisdom and compassion. Then, the verse he uses is designed to put her at ease, take away some of the feeling of guilt and anger she may harbor, place her as a dependent, a child, a precious reward. That, in time, will be what brings her and her family to wholeness, to a healthy restoration from the separation she now feels.  

The Saturday meeting may or may not have been of value to Chloe, depending on whether this note I found in a parking lot on Sunday, the day following the meeting, was lost, or discarded on purpose, but the man, with the last line, has offered her options for either spiritual or physical comfort. Since I found the note and have thought through all this, I realize I know nothing certain about Chloe. In fact, I know nothing more about her than I did before I found the note. I know nothing of Chloe, other than what has been told to me in the note, a note written to Chloe.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lost my cousin, Jimmy, on April 2. Seems like we packed ten years of living into two years, 1969 and 1970. Maybe we really did.

He knew the beer was being filched, four or five bottles on hot summer nights. He had to have known. The rickety garage door smiled, with its slight sag in the middle, and it complemented the neighborly look of the red brick ranch overlooking the river. It was a perpetual invitation, during the summer of 1969, calling our soon-to-be sophomore hormones, begging us to indulge in the newness of an alcoholic offering, pleading to join us and the cigarettes we lifted from my aunt and uncle. Come as you are. No RSVP.

They did not have pets, the man and his wife, so what reason could there have been to leave a garage door lifted about a foot off the concrete floor? Still, there existed, along the perimeter of that friendliness, a fear, each time one of our arms slid under the door, that a handcuff would bite the wrist, spotlights shoot out from a dark corner and deputies would spring across the prickly yews. But there was nothing more than a fresh case of Carling Black Label, a couple times a week—as though the man had hijacked an entire beer-loaded barge—always placed in the same spot, flaps open, teasing us with the honey voice of a goddess, “Last call, gentlemen, last call.”  We drank responsibly, before the phrase was ever invented, and respectfully, sneaking the empties back into the cases. 

Nights on the bank of the Auglaize—bugs buzzing, mosquitoes buzzing, us buzzed—the water so perfectly flat it was hard to tell which view was reflection, which real, and the current so glacially slow you could dig a hole in it, a hole to hold the wishes, wants and dreams of fifteen year old boys.

Once I caught a flicker of light, too strong to be a firefly, in front of, or behind, the huge window on the back of the house. Likely a cigarette lighter or match. Could be he was there wading in the shallows or swimming in the deep of his own darkness. Perhaps stirring up old July evenings from decades past. Regardless, Mr. Treat could not have had a more appropriate name, as far as we were concerned. When summer ended the garage door lost its smile, rolled all the way down every evening, squeaking, screeching along the way, like some witch of a waitress calling, “Bar closed. Bar closed.”

Jimmy Lee Floyd, March 14, 1954-April 2, 2011