Table of Contents Kerouac’s Scroll
Musings of a Mother
No. 3 Amity
© 2012 Poetry by Trish Hopkinson © 2012 Artwork by Skyler Bradley and Elsie Hopkinson
Kerouac’s Scroll 1951, Manhattan loft window gave way to Spring on my birthday, as Jack taped end-to-end the tale lengthened my fate. I unrolled when commanded, ‘round the carriage, return lever slid me back past ribbon spool, and uncovered pale—the place where keys smacked face, one hundred hits a minute. For twenty days, Jack howled. Out on my surface engravings made shapes—lines and slants, curves and turns, sometimes spots, sometimes smudges—my suit of ink, mental tattoos of traveling, hitchhiking, fast cars, and friends, all on the road. One hundred twenty feet of me unraveled ‘til all was out, raging and raw. Then Jack pushed pencil on me, pulled eraser across me, carried and cared for me, (except that episode with the ending, above which “Ate by Patchkee, a dog,” was lovingly scrawled). Then he gave me to a stranger—unrolled, read and reread, before I saw Jack again. Then Jack was gone. Another stranger took me in; took me to Italy and Ireland, to the U.S. and England. I was born by taping end-to-end. I’ve finished, on the road.
Calf Creek Soft sand, red rock, prickly sage terrain, where blinding heat strikes like a fist and broods each drop from the ground. Yet, abundance still scurries and flowers, peaks and hides, scavenges and burrows. 'Rounding a curve, shadows lengthen and lush beginsâ€”moist breath of a cooler wind comes to meet me and the calm whisper of water falling in the distance greets my ears willingly. Calf creek is playful and giggles as fish tickle with fins and tails. A sympathetic shade hovers overâ€”protection from sun's tough love. The trail reaches onward with eager fingers, corners jut and jog. My core anticipates. Gush, splash, mist, vibrant mossy pool surrounds, while plants scale walls like sprouting children.
13.1 Toe and ball push pavement behind while Saucony cap rim rallies forward and shields sunshine. Numbered bib pinned crooked to last yearâ€™s pit-stained tank. Laces looped, pulled precisely for each foot. Beats bump in ears and course through to set pulse and pace from canyon road start to downtown finish. Out of the mountain mouth, elevation levels to city sideline spectacle applause.
Muscles fight forward motion, mind motivates quads and calves, pushes past thresholds with each stride. Marker â€œMile 13â€? spent, under arch, into shoot, name called, chip clipped, and around neck, medal.
Musings of a Mother The receptionist said, “Did the Dr. say 90% chance or more?” “Oh, then he is sure. You will definitely be having a girl.” “Congratulations!” Months of careful deliberate name-picking, baby showers in all their pinkest glory, only the girly-est of gifts will do. Sleepless nights wondering how to raise her, at what age I will tell her about the birds and the bees? When will I let her wear makeup? When will I let her date? Putting her clothes in order, folding them gently, hanging each ruffled dress with utmost anticipation. I thought the day would never come. Once in the delivery room, we were all so sure of your feminine status we were calling you by name, using pronouns of “she” and “her.” The nurse wrote “girl” next to my last name on I.D. bracelets, preparing for your birth. “I’ve never done that before,” she said later, “and I’ll never do it again!” The next thing I knew your heart rate was lowering. The nurse went for the doctor who pulled you out with forceps, the cord around your neck quickly removed. “Congratulations!” “It’s a boy!” My head went spinning with confusion. Who is this little boy that’s come out of my womb? He seems a stranger. What of my daughter? 10 | P a g e
My mind was a blur, not sure who I was anymore. I held you for a few minutes, stroking your cheek to calm you, still unsure of my own identity. Before I knew it, they swept you off, to poke you and prod you, test you and wash you. When my heart finally slowed and I had time to catch my breath, already I missed you. I phoned the nursery and said, â€œWhere is my son!â€?
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Corked Bordeaux, it fills the bowl on stem on base, so shaped from swirl to scent and hand to hold. ‘Tis glass one and cork is put back in place. The nose, it dips in; rim against the face, the waiting lips apart, then swallow slow. Bordeaux, it flows from bowl on stem on base. The flavors friendly, sipping picks up pace. The tannin’s body full, a fine Bordeaux. ‘Tis glass two and cork is put back in place. The stomach warm, a comfortable space, where words are willing, lights are lazy low. Bordeaux, it spills from bowl on stem on base. With laughter, soda launders white of lace. The last of drops on tongue, flirtations flow. Glass three, cork recklessly put back in place. The moon of midnight shows its sunlit face as shyness fades and bodies come in close. Bordeaux, it fills the bowl on stem on base. Glass four emptied, no cork put back in place.
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Lipstick Read A stranger is in my head, my own film noir narrator. Yet, my stories left unsaid. Trenchcoat shadows, lipstick red, Lynchian plot and actorsâ€” all are strangers in my head. Psycho noir, Blue Velvet-ed, fuzzy thoughts and mind a blur, unclear stories left unsaid. Characters sadly mislead, audience to decipher of this stranger in my head. Myself unknown, cast instead, performers in theater. Yet, my stories left unsaid. Credits rollâ€”starred, directed, bright white screen, film reel flutter. No more stranger in my head. All my stories left unsaid.
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Oasis Crusted white in corners, mouth still sandy from kissing the grit of your skin. Tongue swollen with words, eyes dry, and palms clammy, I pick my teeth with a cactus needle in anticipation of flash flood. Dark clouds sweep in, bursting spit from lips, draw deep from the well. God’s faucet opens up and pours trickling veins, nourishing streamlets, slipping roots between rocks, pulling nutrients within, relinquishing nothing. Helpless in night’s cool breath and day’s light, the way it sneaks in and persuades. A sidewinder mirage caress, dunes curve into the small of your back, the jutting bone of your hip. Your abdomen sinking like quicksand devours me. You are drought’s enabler, my thirst for intensity, the reason for summer’s heat, autumn’s rusty crackle beneath feet, veiled in bare branches of winter’s shadow to soon bare flowers in fragrance of spring. Tumbling miles between us keeps no distance of seasons— all dormant, until you come again.
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Calloused Weakened by you, I shift discomfort from hip to heel, shoulders slump and my gaze darts downward. A familiar new-shoe tightness burns and blisters between ribs and backbone, stops and smolders in my soft middle, hesitates, waits for your response— either harbored hang-nail tenderness or diluted dissonance digs in just left of right lung. Repaired by you, I slip into your hand’s heaviness, temple rests on shoulder, lids relax. A knitted mitten warmth tugs limbs and lips to you, dissolves distance between us, salves scorched spots, bandages beneath skin wrap organs. Your therapy— with coolly controlled calculations, compress and cover injuries, inside callouses remain.
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Dis-ease We wait for tumors’ crude malignant growth in brains, in breasts, in bones, in lungs, and limbs. The cells’ descendants snub remedial technique attempts. We wait for hearts to starve from melancholy forced to apathy, from plaque-blocked pathways—pure pathogeny. We wait for dark dementia—wilt and wane the intellect in logic, in language, in recollection. We wait for foul plagues, immune deficiency, and viral strains. We wait with roses-colored flesh, with wet and tilting eyes, with steaming breath, with chests collapsing, lifting, in apprehension.
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Dog-tired Sleep is a dog, who never comes when you call, hind legs perched and crouched to assault, wet-nose snorts, and growls through drooling teeth. He senses my rhythm when I breathe deep and nips without forgiveness at heels of counted sheep. I try to sedate him with drugs and drink, but there’s no loyalty in this man’s best friend, ears perk, paws twitch and jerk when dreams come romping in. Sleep is a dog, the bad boyfriend who cheats, late night work, lipstick shirt, all signs I should heed. I play digital-clock solitaire each maddening night. It’s a gamble, turn and toss, throwing the dice. AM or PM? Red or black roulette spin— marble bouncing ‘round, to and fro in my head. No mercy from torment—a dog-pile of stress, door scratching and the chewing of shoes, bitten postal workers, and howling moons.
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Sleep is a dog, who failed obedience school. I’ve taken all advice, both kind and cruel. Kindness attempts are risky and pointless, my begging returns not any benevolence. A badly kept pet, cornered by too much caffeine, chained to a house of poor decision making. Maybe with age drowsiness comes too soon, and I’ll yearn for alertness, the restlessness of youth, but tonight, I’m exhausted from this animal agitation. For now, I’m rolling up the Sunday edition.
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Emissions Your fire is lit and pollution emits—billowing bi-product from atop smokestack trails upward into untamed sky. Stifled, you stumble on your own exhaust. Factory fumes of poisoned perception engulf your expression. Built-up mighty and resistant, yet engineered to keep your distance, with concrete exterior and smut-blackened insides brushed raw with thirst. Emotion exudes slight in painful puffs—a stuttering sphincter. Burn-away blinks and putting mask to face, you’re not the heavy industry you seem to be. Lifting my mask, I offer a blown kiss that bumps through haze to anoint. Breakthrough sweeps across your facade and my palms stretch out to dustpan the molten mess. The sting in your eyes is not contamination this time. Saline repression drizzles out lash and corner, dilutes perspiration on nose and lip, slides recklessly until dripped and caught with fingertip. In smoldering digress; lack of reaction draws you in, coaxes and calms. Belched up from a pot-bellied stove, your gibberish relaxes. Rage, spit, and sputter turn to ashes, then float, and rest beside me as words.
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Espresso Noir In he walked in his cap and chinos. This guy was a cool drink of water, I mean real hot cup of joe. He was my kind of guy— organic, shade-grown and extra tall. He had a skinny vanilla latte on his arm, but her disposition wasn’t too sweet. She had a sugar-free aftertaste, if you know what I mean. She was as bitter as over-steeped tea. What was a guy like this doing with a drip like that. She was iced to the core, a real frappucino. I’d bet all my Starbucks she was going to put a real tamper on things. She was far from harmless and I knew right away she had a grande scheme to squeeze him dry. Now I don’t mean to vente here, but I know a femme fatale when I see one and she had it in for him. She was an iced latte with legs and once she had what she wanted, she would leave him with nothing but froth. I went to the counter, the sly barista that I am and in my best French roast accent I said, “What can I get ya?” I knew right away it was a mistake.
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“Can I get some ice water? It’s pretty steamy out there today.” “Sure,” I said. I moved like honey to fill his “complimentary” cup with ice water. I glanced half-n-half-heartedly at the empty tip jar. “Any charge?” he asked. I said… “It’s on the house.” I percolated pathetically as they mocha’d to the door. I was too pulled short to do anything about it. Next time, I’ll expose her true syrup flavor. I’ll knock box her around and even use a double shot if that’s what it takes. In the end, it’ll be him and me, brewing a breakfast blend.
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No. 3 Amity Flip-flops slap paint-peeled porch steps, and skirt sticks to humid summer thighs as I follow you forward on Baltimore sidewalks. Checking notepad, paper address, and faded metal signs directing us down horse drawn buggy-sized streets, backtracking and veering, one-way arrows instruct cars, but add distance for walking feet. Suddenly, rumpled girl perched in short shorts shouts, “You lookin’ for Poe’s house?” Confused, suspicious, clutching camera and purse, we follow her shadow through the right-sided alley. 203 Amity eyes our approach somberly. Old-aged bricks of gloom in a sad standstill enclose thin doors and steeper stair to his attic room. Barely width to stand erect in the gable’s middle, single window casts panes of stifling heat, slight desk and bed fill in between plastered wall and planked floor. Poems and stories flow onto curling edged paper by dimness and darkness into death by delirium. Though “The Raven” was not written within these slants, it was spoken here.
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Spicy You’re my salt shaker baby. You add flavor and zing to my life when I’ve had a bitter grapefruit day or a bland tomato sandwich week. A little shake as you walk by or when you greet me on the street makes my cookie dough rise. There’s no MSG for me— like the salt seasons the sea you dissolve into my soul. You’re my pepper grinder lover. You give my stew a little kick when the world is plain and lacking or the celery in my bloody mary just ain’t cuttin’ it Sunday morning. A little twist to the left and then back to the right makes it just spicy enough to drive away my boredom and quench my yearning.
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You’re my sugar shot darling. You sweeten up my morning latte with pleasantness on my tongue, change the perspective of my day and lead me out into the sun. A pump or two into my cup, maybe caramel or sweet vanilla, drowns out the noise, slows the pace gives me the energy and vigor to enjoy myself. Though life, I know, is worth living it’s the taste of your essence your pizzazz and your zest that makes this mundane existence a pleasure to partake in— tantalizing and delicious.
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Stemless Sightline on Angelou poetry, I reach where wine presumably awaits. Fingers stretch and grasp air, realizing the stemmed glasses remain in the cupboard; and I oddly selected stemless— sitting fat, its ass on the table, rather than perched atop a slender stand. I curiously move my glance to glare at its unyielding shape and snatch it up manlike, taking a long slow pull, like Bukowski on a young slut’s slit— he’d be proud of this poem.
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Untitled (Tanka) Waning morning moon slides on telephone wire trapeze. Tires grind along newly paved asphalt in the cool quiet of dawn.
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About the Author Trish Hopkinson loves words and digs poetry slams. She has been published in the CWC newsletter, recorded and read live on KCPW and KRCL, and won first place for poetry in the 2007 Utah Arts Festival Iron Pen competition. She has been published in Utah Valley Universityâ€™s Touchstones literary journal in the Spring 2009 and Spring 2012 editions. She is an English Creative Writing major at Utah Valley University and project manager at a software company by profession, residing in Utah County with her handsome husband and two outstanding children.
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