Childhood

brown wooden armchair on brown wooden floor
Photo by Marcelo Jaboo on Pexels.com

 

CHILDHOOD

Chair in the corner of the dining room,

and Daddy sitting in it, and only the orange glow from the ashes,

and gray puffs of smoke,

gave any signal of human presence.

Otherwise it was just the darkness and a chair in the corner,

otherwise it was just daddy in the dark and all alone.

I watched the firelight from the cigarette, as a child,

and wondered why the night was so black,

and why Daddy was so alone, and why voices rang out in the night.

I thought of Mama in the next room sleeping,

and I wondered why I was so small, and why Mama and Daddy never laughed.

And I felt like the night, cold,

and like Daddy,

and like Mama.

so all alone.

Copyright 2019, Jenny W. Andrews

 

My poetry book “Life at the End of the Rainbow” is currently available at Amazon/Kindle. I would love to hear any feedback about my poetry. Thanks.

-Jenny

 

Not a Hallmark Holiday

NOTE: Hi everyone, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and that means that families will be gathering around the turkey, et cetera and so forth. . .but, the reality is that families are complex social systems and the reality is that oftentimes these gatherings are fraught with emotional baggage, such as abusive and bitter histories that make the holiday less than joyous. Out of obligation, some family members feel pressured to attend these Thanksgiving Day dinners. Those family members who opt out of the mind games and abuse and choose not to subject themselves to the family drama are often left to feel inadequate and ostracized from their family and society as a whole. We are supposed to all be the Hallmark movie family with the two sets of happy, smiling grandparents, wonderful parents, and loving siblings; of course, all our houses are two levels with spacious lawns and even more spacious dining rooms in which we gather with generations of family and dear, lifelong friends. Oh! Only if this were reality! Well, it isn’t true for everyone. If it is for you, then bravo for you and have a Happy, Happy Thanksgiving. But, if your Thanksgiving Day feast is more like “I’m going to turn off my cellphone, put on dark sunshades, grab a novel and a notebook, and head to Starbucks for a holiday latte, and be totally incognito until January 5th,” then this short story is for you.

Short story: Not a Hallmark Holiday

Pollie Johnson polished the pink porcelain figurine. Carter Cumbee had been restive in his long, dramatic life. Never satisfied, he had changed jobs like most people changed their underwear. She laughed at her witty analogy regarding her mother’s third cousin, twice removed. Looking around at her family gathered for their Thanksgiving feast, she bit her bottom lip and felt the pit of her stomach churn and lurch a bit. But, they were her children and extended family. And, well, nobody’s perfect.

Ganymede jerked the tablecloth from beneath the Thanksgiving dinner plates. Aunt Sue and Uncle Hobart scooted their chairs back, their chair legs scraped against the hardwood floor. Plates shattered, teacups clattered, silverware hurled heavenward. Grandma Martha’s turkey toppled over and landed with a sickening thud at the white paws of Miss LeMeow, Pollie’s 14 year old Himalayan cat.

Mouths agape, Julius, Cyrus, Cyrene, Lydia, and Micheala, Ganymede’s siblings, jumped to their feet and stared at the hardwood floor strewn with stuffing, green beans, sweet potato pie, and the turkey.

“But, why?” Julius screeched, his hands shoved towards the culinary mess.

“Because he has to always be the center of attention. It’s always like this. Always,” Cyrus yelled in response, and slammed his white linen napkin against the white linen tablecloth.

“He just likes to ruin everything for everyone.” Micheala and Cyrene chimed in together.

Lydia clutched her sides and screamed. “I’m panicking. Panicking. Can’t stand this!”

“What the heck is your problem, Lydia. No wait, let me guess. Your ulcer is acting up. Always something with you. You, you hypochondriac.” Cyrus lowered his voice and spoke deliberately as if he were lecturing a small child; then, he sneered.

Ganymede knelt down and scooted Miss LeMeow up and scratched her behind the ears. He rested his nose against her warm, pink nose. “Miss LeMeow, it was an accident. My foot got caught in the tablecloth. It’s too long.”

She nuzzled his neck and purred.

Pollie blinked back tears and looked at each of her adult children as they yelled, criticized, and berated each other. Opening her arms, she asked Ganymede to give Miss LeMeow to her.

One hour later, Pollie and Miss LeMeow sat at a booth at Starbucks. Miss LeMeow’s pink tongue licked at the tiny styrofoam container of milk Pollie had placed on the floor. Jumping, Miss LeMeow landed in Pollie’s lap, snuggled up and fell asleep.

“Next Thanksgiving Day, Miss LeMeow, let’s make this our tradition.”

Miss LeMeow’s bright blue eyes opened. Pollie felt sure that she saw a smile cross the little cat’s face.

Jenny W. Andrews Copyright 2021

American Irony

As of late, I have noticed the increasing number of homeless standing in the shadow of recently constructed million dollar condominiums in the downtown riverfront area of my city. It is a cruel juxtaposition of wealth and poverty in this land of alleged riches and opportunity; a land where people from other lands are risking life and limb to set foot into this mirage, this smoke and mirrors, this illusion, this sleight of hand. Poverty is real and it is increasing by leaps and bounds in this land. It is ironic that the land known for its wealth and opportunity is fraught with poverty and lack of opportunity. There is a face, an American face, that the world would never recognize if all it depends on are the images of the wealth of Hollywood stars and movies, the Big Tech executives with their massive wealth, and the nearly complete lack of coverage of the American homeless crisis.

Why am I writing about this?

Well, for the last few months, I have driven past several homeless men and women who have increasingly began to gather at the intersections that I travel to get to work. I have noticed that the county’s downtown library parking garage is now becoming a homeless encampment with tents, blankets, boxes, shopping carts, and a growing group of homeless. I have witnessed homeless sprawled out on park benches along the sidewalks. With them, they hold duffle bags and other bags that indicate that they are carrying all their worldly possessions with them.

Why is this happening?

How could this happen when billions of dollars are being wasted on other nations when Americans need the help here in this very city that I live in?

This is a crisis of epic proportions. It is growing and I am witnessing it first hand. I have seen women with small children, and on several occasions I have seen men with signs indicating that they are veterans and will work for food.

On a personal note, a dear friend recently informed me that they are potentially facing homelessness in the northern city they had moved to for work. Life has a way of falling apart in mid-step; oftentimes, homelessness occurs through a series of events that just go terribly wrong, so never think it cannot happen to you.

It most certainly can, and especially in this land of smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand, financial waste, and lack of compassion and care for its own citizens, and apathy from the rest of the world. The world sees the United States through a distorted rose colored lens much like a toy kaleidoscope with all the pretty, pretty colors swirling inside it.

Maybe it wasn’t always like this.

But, in 2021, it is painful to watch this decline. Truth is housing is way too expensive, wages way too low, and health care costs criminally excessive.

The real United States should be shown to the world. The homeless camps, the grinding poverty, the abandoned storefronts, et cetera, et cetera.

The American dream has devolved into the American nightmare; it is painful for me to witness it. In the past 40 years since I was a college student, I can truthfully say that I have never seen such decline.

Just a few days from Thanksgiving Day, I ask that you join me in praying for the homeless Americans who at this moment are sleeping in tents beneath overpasses, huddled in doorways in sleeping bags, digging in garbage bins behind restaurants in search for food, and living in tents in wooded areas on the outskirts of any number of American cities.

The stark reality is that there is no “American dream.” That is an illusion.

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, please be thankful if you have a roof over your head and food in your refrigerator.

Not everyone has food and shelter, including in the United States of America.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2021

Multiplicity of Memo Acquisitions: A Short, Short Story

Note: It has been almost 30 years ago since I worked in the legal department of a major mortgage company. This short, short story is actually based on some “corporate language” that our supervisors and management staff cooked up. I guess they thought all the verbal acrobatics made them sound smart or something, but it made me laugh. I hope you get a laugh out of it, too.

Story:

“What do you suppose it means?” Abigail stared at the pink Post It with the block letters. “Candace, are you listening to me?”

Candace gathered up the loan closing files and inserted them into the alphabetized cabinet slots. “Read it to me. I need to get this done.”

“Okay. Here goes. Legal review specialists and post closers will be reassigned to interface positions with primary goal intentions to achieve and acquire transferrable skills. Steve left this at my cubicle and wants to see me at two o’clock in his office.”

“Uh?” Candace suspended the last file half-way into the alphabetized slot. “I need to read that myself.”

Abigail handed over the pink Post It to Candace and said, “It makes no sense.”

“Steve sent it so naturally it makes no sense,” Candace said as she took the pink Post It. “Interface? Transferrable skills? Uh, why doesn’t he just come out and say what he means? He’s probably the single worst supervisor I have ever had at this mortgage company.”

Abigail eyed the natural scenery landscape posters with peppy little captions such as each step is a step towards greatness which lined the hallway to Steve’s office. She paused and cringed at the sharp pain behind her right eye. The mere thought of him made her migraine flare up.

“Steve, you wanted to see me?” Abigail stepped through the half-opened door.

“Yes, Abigail. Sit. I have been reviewing your work logs. You have slipped from ten complete reviewed files to nine from the usual ten. As a legal review specialist it is imperative that you exhibit team work, therefore, you are assigned a post-closer mentor so that interfacing with other team players will assist you in achieving and coordinating your goal acquisition.”

Abigail stared at Steve as he leaned back in his swivel chair. It sounded as if a drum was thumping inside her head. He swiveled in a half-circle creating a motion that made her nauseous.

“I’ll try to do better, Steve.” She rose to leave as visions of her unpaid medical bills, childcare bills, and late rent replayed inside her pounding head.

Jenny W. Andrews Copyright 2021

Hydrangeas: A Poem

Delicate deep blue petals spill onto the rain-drenched ground.

Little white clapboard house squeezed between two other little white clapboard houses, like life left to gasp at its final defeat.

Nothing ever blossomed there,

except those deep blue hydrangeas Mama grew beneath the black wrought iron banister next to the front steps leading out.

Railroad track across the dirt road, I thought of it as a potential exit strategy in the event that the inevitable occurred.

In front of our little white clapboard house, that railroad track laid itself out among tangled weeds, and escaped hydrangea petals.

Jenny W. Andrews Copyright 2021