Otherwise by Gregory Liffick

Page 1

© Gregory Liffick 2012 Published by Philistine Press www.philistinepress.com

Acknowledgments “Weather,” “Rooted,” “Broke,” “Q-Tip,” and “Bank” were previously published in Mouse Tales Press. “Wrong-of-Way” was previously published in The Montucky Review. “Care” was previously published in Nerve Cowboy. “Guard,” “Tears,” and “Party” were previously published in Northern Stars. “Strum,” “Fib,” and “Hold” were previously published in Advocate.


Table of Contents Weather Spot Rx DĂŠcor Chirp Pest Into Thump Rooted Fall Fill Proof Breaks Hide Q-Tip Fib Touch Music Stony Punctuation Slug Broke Hold Lid Crucifix Author Camouflage Bank Sour Arson Globe Tears Wrong-of-Way Purification Easter Party Hobble Case Island Niagara Strum Tithe Curt One 3

WEATHER Doing a rain dance in a bare, dirt field, a clear blue sky laughing at the attempt. The high desert is not known for its wet kisses, but for its dry sense of humor.


SPOT The Bible was dog-eared, but didn’t heel or fetch. His pet religion needed a collar and a leash. God didn’t come when called and too often bit the hand that fed Him.


RX Crazy under the second skin of pills. An empty prescription opens the Pandora’s Box of troubled. Take the medicine and seem to be normal.


DÉCOR A kind of feng shui to the placement of bodies around the neighborhood. Shot so that they fall in a certain direction. The chalk outlines and police tape complete the design scheme.


CHIRP Bird in a cage singing blues to match its feathers. Sad to be captive near a window on its soul revealing the sky outside.


PEST A fly in the house disturbs the peace of the universe. Have to swat it to put fragile order back in place. Does the fly know its power?


INTO Her brown eyes said things in the middle of a day. Caught light from the sun and were deep like the long shadows against the nearby buildings.


THUMP A cavern semi-deep below the town. Main Street the skin of a drum. Cars and trucks passing over made an echo like hands beating.


ROOTED In the shadow of a fence, a stubborn dandelion grows. Grass around it, without much light, has given up the ghost. Surrender is not in the make-up of the weed.


FALL His leaving broke her already half-empty glass into wet shards on the floor. She suddenly got the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme where all the pieces could not be put together again.


FILL A fresh page tastes better to the pen. Wants to sink in and dine on the clean surface. The poem is a recipe served on the empty plate.


PROOF Half pint by the pool table trying to stretch to a quart. Drinking a gallon of whiskey. Fifth of ego bottled up, wanting to pour from a hip flask size frame.


BREAKS Pauses in the river of talk. Dams of breath in the stream of language. Hesitating boulders and logs which words must struggle past.


HIDE Raisin in the heat. A walking figure on the high, dry mesa. His tan wrinkles blend with the terrain. Far from the local desert road already lost in the wild itself.


Q-TIP Crayons come in many colors, unlike the wax in my ears. Only made in a soapy yellow. Can’t help you make a card for a sick relative.


FIB Put words in the mouth of what he told himself. Made up lies he knew he would buy. To fool his pride was as easy as a twist of phrase.


TOUCH A laying on of hands seemed needed to heal the hurts. Maybe a higher force in the tips of the fingers. Hope in something more than the feeble wringing of palms.


MUSIC Apart from the lies, he liked their little talks. Their voices always made sweet melodies, despite words without the ring of truth.


STONY Made sparks. Two hard rocks hitting it off at a brick wall club. Whiskey poured over ice like their smiles. Cools the friction of rubbing them together.


PUNCTUATION Changed her name to ‘Star’ and had one tattooed above her lip like a beauty mark. She sees it as an exclamation point. Others see it as a period on the end of a sad sentence.


SLUG His anger didn’t look back. It was busy with right now. A list of blows to land and chins stuck out too far to resist. His past had already met its quota of landed shots.


BROKE Took from herself until no change left to her name. Life was always at the bottom of the piggy bank. Almost thought the porcelain face was laughing at her.


HOLD Pauses for effect in their dialogue sometimes lasted years. A needle in a haystack picking up the threads of what was said. Stayed together out of doubt who had last word.


LID He put on his life with the hat. Take it off and he parttimed as a clerk, when not ceasing to be at home. His clothes were only a stand for the fedora.


CRUCIFIX With so much soap, easy to wash the blood from our hands. Don’t have to first do no harm. Get in up to our elbows. Just be sure to clean under the nails.


AUTHOR She was to him a blank page he could fill with his wants. Unaware, she went on living as if she had written her own story. She wouldn’t like the plot he had in mind for her character.


CAMOUFLAGE The almost adults change their hair color like chameleons scared by the latest trend. Not a whim. Don’t fit in with surroundings and you are eaten by fashion.


BANK Put coins in a jar to add up to a five and dime dream. Ends up mostly pennies after a robbery for pizza money.


SOUR Bit an apple from his own tree. It wasn’t all truth. Had a worm in it that told suspect stories. Adam and Eve were in a whole other garden.


ARSON He struck her head like a match, leaving burn marks on romance. Any heart can catch fire. But he poured gasoline on hers.


GLOBE Eyes set apart like windows in separate houses. Face as round and wide as a pie plate. His head was more than a look could take in in a single trip.


TEARS A few drops of rain on a clear day. Is He crying over the beauty of His own work? Even the allmighty gets choked up by the simple things.


WRONG-OF-WAY The roots of the growing trees pushed up the sidewalk. The marriage of the two was shortsighted. What seemed like a good, young couple didn’t age well for passersby.


PURIFICATION Hit him with an old soap on a rope to back him off in the shower. Wasn’t invited in. His thoughts too dirty. Had been with him, but now wanted to wash off the shame alone.


EASTER Rolled the boulder from the door, but didn’t rise from the dead in his man cave. Sunday just another day. Hung over from Friday.


PARTY Tried to be detached as the plot and air in the room thickened. Hearts jumped off sleeves where liquor had worn them. Guests bounced off walls like marbles in a tin bucket.


HOBBLE Tried to walk away, but his legs weren’t under him. The knees had gone, always trying to stay a step ahead. Should have stretched more when the flesh wasn’t so weak.


CARE Wrong word like a knife in the back of a poem. See the language bleeding, its life running out on the page. Remove the blade and close the wound with healing editing.


ISLAND His own company was a crowd. Kept to himself even in his own mind. Only visited himself for repairs and other upkeep.


NIAGARA Authorities talk down their noses in the air. A stream of words well and fall from their mouths over their stuck up chins.


STRUM She played guitar to let her fingers move through memory. Ears that wanted to listen to past songs tuned the strings to strike those chords.


TITHE His faith was running a tab with the Lord. Hadn’t been a prayer of paying with an “amen” in a month of Sundays. Would someday have to make good on the bill. Maybe washing dishes. Or feet.


CURT Not much in his greeting but the time of day. His awkward hug a sheet of ice not a blanket of warmth. If there was ever an ember, it had died from the chill.


ONE Let his nephew slip through life cracks. The bond was not thicker than water under a burned bridge. He cried “uncle� on the job when he chose to work alone.


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