The smile that never runs dry

There are so many ghosts here. Behind closed eyes they are brought from elsewhere. They sink their claws into the web, sending out images and stories where the fancy will take them. Such a ghost is “the boy next door”. From the hood of children in the far provinces, he blooms like a dusty river. His source, the street without trees; cold and shingled with litter of dead weeds along the sides. Unlike the other ghosts his smile never runs dry. Nor does his burden of embraces and their stories. My current encounter begins here outside the house with a white picket fence.

It all depends on the way he smiles. Often, dreamers walk up to him and sit and watch and wait by the side of the road for whatever his smile may bring: that night it brought me.

His voice beckoned, like a distant hiss composed like a hymn. It was more than just a call; it unwinded roads before me. And in the morning at five o’clock when I got up the memory was already waiting for me; humming faintly at the back of my head. Sanity had dropped its guard, and rivers, wild and barefoot, slipped unseen between the cracks, across the heart. I listened for his smile as the dust rose with the sun. But the roads were silent, only lies rattled through the undergrowth. If they were true, he would have hunted them down and set fire to the wind to make them come running out of the burning air. But the promises are long gone, stretched and gutted and pierced on sticks as a reminder and a warning to folk on their way out of the dark.

That is the only song the dreamers hear: lullabies from golden smiles bringing home what was sent away. But sacrifices must be made. And those sacrifices will be cared for very well. He will see to it. His claws invisibly sunk into hearts of gold swelling painfully into river rafts woven by a smile that never runs dry.

I wake in the morning with a plentiful catch of lies cleverly woven into memories still waiting, after all this time. In the mirror I don’t see the claws scarping along the delicate skin under my morning gloried eyes. I only see a smile that never runs dry.

*This short story/narrative poem is inspired by a dream I had.

Barely touching the ground

I am a tree growing up-side down

My crown barely touching the ground

Just enough for little frightened birds

To seek shelter under from the eagles.

I am a tree growing up-side down

My roots securely fastened above.

But it is so far away…

It is unfair, I have realized that now,

Comparing all love to the one I am planted in.

No one will ever live up to it.

Maybe that is why I will always be just a little bit lonely.

They all say I am an Angel…

It rains when I cry; stars come out when I am alone.

Maybe that is why they mistake my leaves for wings.

But I am a tree growing up-side down

And I sprout beautiful flowers in the spring.

Otherwise, why on earth would I be here?

But don’t you realize… when you touch me…

Your touch reaches further than you think

And when you make me cry…

My tears come from somewhere far away…

So be gentle, be kind, and accept that I might always be

Just a little bit lonely… even with your arms around me.

I am a tree growing up-side down

My crown barely touching the ground

Just enough for you to reach

When you stand

on your toes.

The last day of Summer

It is the last day of Summer on Blossom Lane. It is coming on midnight and it looks like it is going to be a golden hour at last, even though the violet darkness has settled in among the few leafy flakes of russet pink foliage breathing gently in the wind. But it is enough. Ghosts have learned to walk in between the shadows of stars. They will have an hour. That is the rule. One hour of ghosting once a year. The golden hour. Because that is when everything changes. City pavements stop spitting up wildflowers, the rooftops lick out the lights from apartment windows and crows prune their feathers to make it rain the next morning. And now, as the first leaves prepare to journey to the wet concrete, you can see them, the spirits of the past, coming out from the shadows, reaching out their golden-edged claws to plead a waltz from the night owls and poets, musicians and janitors sweeping leaves and serenading the dark from half-closed doorways and winding escapes. There is little Miss Dearie, crooning from the old films, never looking away from her close-eyed dreams, already dancing under the yellow streetlights, catching a black feather to steady her swirls. And Mister Cackle, with his broom, loving the tango so passionately he didn’t even notice the nails in the claws. They know what to do, the golden-eyed spirits, they laugh softly in the face of the night, stringing peals of gold on the trees, the roofs, the garden tops, and around the growing moon curving around the clouds. The cold sets in and the hours start dreaming of the sun, worrying about the summer dressed neighbors twirling in the streets. Here comes the inkling of dawn with its peachy beige brush strokes across the horizon. And the ghosts start to sparkle. You can only go so far in an hour. The baker touches a match to his stove and the first leaf falls. Eyes flash. And the silver-heeled Mary-Janes of little Miss Dearie tap together for the last three times. Feathers carry her to bed and claws lift Mister Cackle back on his broom. It is time to go. The poets are all asleep and the music has travelled too far to be heard. It is the first day of Autumn on Blossom Lane. It is coming on dawn and the streets are paved with leaves. A child steps onto the street, sees the leaves and starts laughing. The laughter carries the rest of the day into existence. The ghosts have all vanished.