MUSIC SERIES – Return to Sugar Mountain

This poem was based on Sugar Mountain by Neil Young. Let me know what song I should look at next in the comments!

 

Return to Sugar Mountain

 

A handful of smoke-grey pebbles

and piles of decomposed granite

were all that I found on my return

to the fabled Sugar Mountain,

 

that, along with a pile of cigarette butts

burnt out underneath the stairs

beneath the broken-down church cemetery

where they buried old man Barker.

 

I remember dropping to one knee

to dust the ashes from the tombstone

and decipher the inscription his wife left.

It was from a note she wrote him in school.

 

All the candy floss at the carnival

couldn’t match the sweet in your eyes,

nor could the colored balloons

rival the vibrance of your life.

——

 

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FIFTY WORD STORY – The Poison Apple

It’s so beautiful. Like a green goddess, crafted in Eden. How nicely does it dangle in the wind; a perfect sphere—unblotched, unblemished. How the sight of it made me salivate. I couldn’t help but hold it for a moment; to pluck it, to taste it—just one small bite.

——

 

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Shot Glass

Shot Glass

 

They are like little bullets

lined in brown lead

that burns the liver

with every drop consumed.

 

When the copper taste

rolls over the tongue,

remember the six-caliber shells

you told your kids were not a toy.

——

 

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FIFTY WORD STORY – The Corpse

The sour smell of the corpse rose through the air. It smelled of feces and dirt, though the snow gave it the bite of icy wind. The blood had faded into a deep brown with time, and when he finally wrenched the body free, it seemed to whisper, “come back…”

——

 

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LOVE POEM #85 – Late

Late

 

in life,

when love seems as difficult as laughter

the amber light of your reading chair may grow so dim

that you will struggle to see the letters on the page.

 

The white stationary of the note will be distant

and the scrawled, black handwriting so thin

that you may begin to wonder if her specter really existed

or if she was simply an illusion shaped by your sour heart.

 

Still, you will stay up, sunk into your chair

reading through a misty pair of glasses

at the page you have folded so many times

that you know the story of every crease.

——

 

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Snowfall on the Mountain

The grey wool coat clung to Harrison’s shoulders like a child to its mother. The first snow of the year was falling lightly through the brisk winter air as the last lights of the day arced over the horizon. It was his favorite time of the year.

In addition to his coat, Harrison had bundled himself in three blankets that draped from his neck down past the bottoms of his feet. Still, the cold had set in, and he felt it shiver through him in spite of his attempts at warmth. Up at his mountain house, the temperatures were half what they were down below, and even there the lakes had turned to ice. Still, the view of the pines daunted the grey city buildings he live for day in and day out. Their calm, cool whistle sounded to him like the voice of his grandparents, calling out to him from decades past.

The house had once been their house—though when they owned it, it had been more a shack than the manse he had built it into. The lawyers of the estate sale gave it up for less than a hundred thousand—a good price, but likely not much less than it was actually worth. The first year he had owned it, the roof gave out under the heavy winter snow, and he had had to bring in a work crew to fix it in the spring.

The memory of it brought a smile to Harrison’s face. It was bitter sweet to think of his grandparents, even all these years later. He had broken down crying that first year, after pushing his mourning to the back of his mind for work.

He lifted an arm out of his bundles, and reached for the Earl Grey tea he had brought out with him. It had been boiling when he brought it out, but the cold had swept the heat from the mug, and it hardly qualified as lukewarm now. The cold made the honey he had mixed in stronger, and for a minute he wondered if he had added a second spoonful by accident. He poured the rest of the tea onto the deck, though it simply painted the piling snow a grey-black color.

It was Harrison’s favorite time of year because the sunsets up the mountain turned the sky into a shimmer of yellow-orange diamonds. The light reflected through the snow, bouncing every which way, and from where he sat it looked like the stars had settled above the trees. In all his exotic business trips, he had never seen a snowfall to match the first of those up on the mountain. Eventually, the snowfall would grow thick, and even the highs of the day would become so cold that they would threaten a person if they stayed outside for more than a few minutes, but tonight it was still warm enough that Harrison could stay to see if the moon would be full or not.

He lost track of the days up here. Somewhere inside, his phone was waiting with an alert that would break the silence of his weeks off, and let him know he had to leave the next day, but for the life of him he couldn’t tell you where it was. All he could see were the snowflakes floating across the skyline, and the whispers of a long gone youthful innocence.

——

 

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LOVE POEM #81 – SCRAPBOOK

Our bench beneath the Jacaranda tree,

where we watched the birds bounce

in the blossoms of purple snowfall

that swirled in the summer breeze

 

is the last happy memory I have of you.

It sits in our scrapbook next to the letter

you wrote to me longingly from Spain,

which in turn is by the tickets

 

we took to the concert in Claremont,

not two miles from where we conceived

the first of our two children

under a thicket in the corner of the park.

 

To think that the pages of our scrapbook

would end up only partway finished

when it came time to place in on the shelf

to gather dust for the rest of eternity

 

save perhaps for the evening of the party

that Penelope will undoubtedly throw

a year from today, where I will remark

how you beamed as the birds ate your bread.

——

 

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BEAT

Beat

 

I am lying in the dark

with a hand held over my heart

listening to the heavy thud

of blood pumping through my veins,

 

and the beat seems to blister

as the blackened air grows thicker

in this hollow veil of smoke

that cloaks my body from pain.

 

Still I wonder about the chains.

The stains that silence the soul,

dragging behind the cinder

like the cross behind a sinner.

——

 

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THIRST

The thick pool of blood soaked through his pant legs as he knelt. A ravenous thirst had overtaken him, as it did everyone eventually. He scooped palmfuls to his face, lapping at it as it trickled down his wrist like a dog. In death, he had never felt so alive.

——

 

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BARE

Naked ladies are the favorites—

both the bulbs and the baristas,

where their ephemeral blossoms

breast the mid-August mountainside.

 

And yet the bare winter flowers,

cloaked tight in their snow white blankets,

know the veil of rosy lips

cannot stay unblemished for long.

——

 

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