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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Keys to unknown places

~Inspired by Taylor Mali's "Labeling Keys"~

Sundays he would get up
before the rest of us.
He’d go out when
everyone was sleeping
and return with a paper
(always with a paper)
and a brown bag of sweets from La Boulangerie
sweet-smelling buttery pastries
which he’d cut into sixths
with his red pocketknife.

Dad kept gold bars, wrapped in a black
Stuck them up in the attic through a hole
in his closet.
He’d pull them out and tell us, don’t tell anyone
we have these- Do you know how much
they are worth? Gold is $300 an ounce.

He didn’t trust the value of the dollar but
In Gold We Trust.

There was a box-
I think it was an old Sucrets tin-
in one of dad’s drawers.
It contained keys of different shapes
and sizes. I’d take
it out when dad was at work and
study them.
Feel the cool metal in my
and try to
guess where the locks were
and what secrets dad may have had hidden

Dad had a scar on his belly,
& sometimes I would sit on his lap
after he had taken a shower in the evening
and I’d trace my finger along
the smooth silvery line
just above his belt buckle.

“Why do you have this?”
I’d ask, (when what I’d meant was
“How did you get it?”)
And he would turn away momentarily
from the Mets game he’d been watching
with a look in his eyes that I
could not place at the time (but I now
recognize as Regret.)
And he’d say
“you don’t want to hear that story.”

End of subject.

Dad had a purple heart
and a box of keys to unknown places

And stories
That I did


copyright 2012 Omy Keyes (all rights reserved)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Vulnerability in a poem

She presses her heart to mine,
Puts her hands on my soul
Puts her trust in me.
I am endowed with a responsibility
I have never felt before.
to keep my promises
to protect her.
I let myself forget that she is full of this fragility when she is comforting me.

She seems so strong to me,
I can’t forget she is also delicate
&              I                can’t                     break

The tear falls to the sheet
stays there on top
like a pearl
reflecting the sun
Then soaks in leaving a small
wet spot
below my cheek.

I need to be strong for her.
Hold her
Comfort her.
Let her cry into my shoulder

copyright 2012 Omy Keyes (all rights reserved)

Untitled, for the Muse

You are my heart, my soul, my truth,
my god, my goddess, my love,
my lover, my muse, my Mistress, my slave,
my my my my my Reverend.

How can you be so much to me?
How can you not?
It seems impossible that I ever didn't know you.

It seems we have been following this journey
from two opposite sides of a long string,
until finally we met each other. Doesn't it seem
to you that we were always meant to be in each other's arms?

my Love. It is for you. It is of you.
It is in you and around you and it surrounds you
at all times like a bright cloud.
Like the shower water that ran over my body
in Hawaii and embodied your love for me.
Like the jets of the tub that became your hands
for me. You are my water, my life-giving liquid,
my need. My ocean. My Mer.
I am your air, your clouds, your oxygen.
I breathe you and you breathe me.

copyright 2012 Omy Keyes (all rights reserved)

Sleeping (#9 out of 100)

100 prompts in 100 days or less

She’s sick. Shivering in bed beside me. This is when it moves beyond
“the honeymoon” into Real Life. It’s not the 1st fight, it’s the first flu.
I can’t sleep, so I wrap another blanket over her, wrap my body around her for more warmth, even though she is so hot it’s making me sweat.
The light from the partially open curtains seeps into the room and I check the clock.
1:00 a.m. She shakes. Her head is sweaty.
I wish there was something more I could do for her than
just lay on top of her, shaking my head, smoothing the hair away from her clammy forehead.
She will not remember this in the morning, and I prepare myself to sleep again, rolling over to my other side, stare at the blank wall. Don’t sleep.

In the morning I wake and ready the kids for school. She told me she will call in to work, which meant that I got to stay in bed another half-hour, since I did not have to drive her to her office.
Her start time is 7:00 and that means I always lose a little sleep when she stays over because we set the alarms for 5:15 and 5:30 respectively.

Last night I worried for her. Slept so poorly next to her shivering/sweaty body. Wished I could take this away from her. But I know I cannot take away her illness no matter how many vitamin pills I give her to swallow or how many cups of tea I make. This is the part of love that is hard. Loving and giving even when you know what you are giving and doing isn’t having any physical effect.

It is worth it though, knowing that it may make her feel a bit better emotionally, to be taken care of. She keeps telling me that I am so good to her, when I run her a bath in the morning and sit with her, talking softly and pouring water over her naked thighs, giving her a soft pillow to lay her head on.

I drink my juice in the morning, make coffee, worry for her. Take the boy to school. Go to work and worry some more. Hope that she is feeling better. Wish I had gotten a little more sleep, my eyes are dry and burning. I wonder if her kiss of this morning will give me what she has, or if I already have it since we were kissing the day she came down with the fever.

It doesn’t matter. I know she will take care of me like I took care of her. She will get the boys ready for school. She will bring me juice and run me a bath. We take turns taking care of each other. This. This is the love that I feel when it moves beyond the honeymoon into the light of daily life, with all its struggles.

copyright 2012 Omy Keyes (all rights reserved)


Friday, September 14, 2012

Strange Bodies (#3 of 100)

100 prompts on 100 days or less

Her body.
In my bed.
Actually in the morning when i wake in the dark she is not there
although we had gone to bed together
the night before.
I know she is in the next room &
I go to her,
find her lying on top of crumpled sheets,
her arm thrown up over her head like a small child-
her body exposed, clothed in only
a small pair of black and white striped
bikini underwear.
I climb in with her, my body
pressing into hers in the small bed,
the room is still dark and she curls into me, with
the relaxed sigh
I know so well and the soft
purr of a cat. her skin so soft
on mine, she throws her leg gently
over my hip and i relax completely,
though I have no pillow for my head I do not care.
She is my pillow.
Her body, at once strange and familiar. She is part of me now.

My hand cups her breast and
I settle in to watch the sun rise
over her skin.

copyright 2012 Omy Keyes (all rights reserved) 

Desk Space (#2 of 100)

Part 1 of a series: 100 prompts in 100 days or less

Who would possibly want to read
about the space that sits atop the place
where I do my work?
Would it not be more interesting for me to tell you basically any other
For instance why don’t we talk about the time that I climbed up a mountain
in Hawaii to find a secret beach
and back down in the dark (and lost a shoe on the way back).
Or the time I sat for hours by a man-made lake listening to “Sorry I am”
by Ani Difranco
& cried for all my perceived sins
and spent the hour apologizing to no one in particular (except myself.)

If I told you about my desk space,
know no more
about me than if I had rattle off a receipt itemizing my last grocery purchase
(quart of 1% milk, six cans of Kiltlifter, 8 oz bottle of Mountain Ocean Skin Trip lotion, 1 oz bottle of Amber Paste.)

See, even that would tell you more about the type of person I am--
Likes to drink cold beverages, puts milk in my coffee, fan of local brews and likes smelling good, soft skin and hippie scents.

Or, I suppose I could tell you
that I am sitting outside with earbuds in my ears,
but no music playing, so no one will try to talk to me, while I write this on folded printer paper
I stole from my office.

See, my desk space, filled with stacks of papers denoting topics I care not a stitch for
and the electric stapler that helps me keep things neatly organized and the
tiny black paper clip holder with its magnetic top--

Those things are not a reflection of my humanity,
nor yours.
Let’s talk about what makes you tick.
What things make your heart sing with joy make you want to cry out in sheer
happiness for just the simple fact that you are alive to see
another day?

I don’t want to see what is on your desk space and you don’t want to see mine.
Let’s talk about what makes us real. Let’s talk about our travels or the last time someone
really challenged you
or asked you to look beyond just what you were going to do from
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day for the rest of your life.

What’s that you say? I sound bitter? No, not at all.
What about YOU?

copyright 2012 Omy Keyes (all rights reserved)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Decay (#4 of 100)

(Part of a series: 100 prompts in 100 days or less)
Composed 9/12/12

(for Gil)
I am sorry that I never saw
the Pixies live.
I am sorry that Frank Black
(formerly Black Francis- or was it the other way around?)
is now old. And has put on a lot of weight.
I’m not sorry that he is aging,
per se, yet I am sorry to see this loss. I perceive it as a loss
of my youth.
A missed opportunity.
A decay of something intangible.
Something I never exactly held.
Something one only grasps for, or
can only hold for the briefest of moments
before it blows away
like so many dandelion seeds on the wind.
I did see the Breeders, Kim and Kelly Deal
sharing the stage under a white tent protecting
their instruments from the rain
on a November night
in a bar I was not old enough to be in.
I recall being crushed, picked up by the crowd of testosterone-crazed
men, and pushed forward to the point of
losing my breath
and I recall a man grabbing my ass
from behind me.
Shocked and appalled, I automatically shoved my elbow into
his groin
or wherever it landed
and got out of there, watched the rest of the show on the sidelines,
mad that I was now excluding myself from enjoying the show in the
way I wanted to
because a man had made the space feel unsafe for me.

So odd how the mind allows me to remember this
just as if it was a week ago,
rather than as if 17 years have passed.

I can remember Nils who had greasy hair and
a white-head pimple perpetually above his top lip
who asked me to
go see the Pixies with him
when he was 17 and I was 14.

I can remember gentle Gillam (sweet soft-spoken Gil) who killed himself.
I found out 5 years too late and could not attend his memorial
or even properly mourn his death. Only feel shocked by it, and saddened
that I hadn’t kept in touch.
I had always assumed it would have been his brother Ritchie who
would end up hurting himself-
he was the one who, it was said, tortured cats and bugs
in his neighborhood.
But Gil was gay and depressed and no one knew he was
hurting & he didn’t tell anyone.
I didn’t tell anyone either, when I was depressed. Depression is a disease
suffered alone, in darkness, until it is too late.
I imagine his decay began long before he hanged himself
from that rope, alone
in his apartment.
I wonder now how long it was before someone found him, and
I wonder if his corpse had begun to rot.

I always seem to have a piece of fruit
decaying in my fruit bowl.
My dear friend Liz said she thought it was because
I like to witness death, to watch it happen.
I think it is because I can’t bear to see something past
its prime go to waste. I cannot bear to
throw away
something that once
held so much promise.

copyright 2012 Omy Keyes (All rights reserved)

Self Portrait at 35 (#1 of 100)

(Part of a series: 100 prompts in 100 days or less)
composed on 9/12/12

A girl,
coming into her own. 35.
I forget sometimes whether my next birthday will bring me to 36, or if I am already there.
Is this what aging is?
Also, in love again.
I should not define myself by that fact,
but it feels overwhelmingly so.

Brown hair, with highlights the color of sunset
Always wanting to dye it some other color, but for now proudly wearing it naturally.
Shaved the sides. Still wants that tattoo I wanted when I was 17. Plus about four more.
A few Grays are starting to show at the temple. Proud of these,

as well as of the slight crinkles that have begun to appear near my eyes.
Badges of honor, I call them. I earned each one through tears and sweat and poverty.
Through midnight laughter and secrets.

Through divorce and through 2 births and one abortion and through late night feedings
and homework that should have been done hours ago but the children needed to be fed and put to bed first. Through reading bedtime stories (one more time, please?) and tucking them in even when all I wanted to do was to put my headphones on and ignore the world for a while.  
Through worry for am I doing this right? For is he going to get into college? For is he going to pass that class?
Through sleepless nights not knowing how I would go on, and sleep-walking through my days as a temp-worker, file clerk, receptionist, stay-at-home mama, school secretary, administrative assistant.
Through yoga classes and learning to teach what I love to others. Through massages given and received, energy work, reiki, angels, spirits whispering their dark secrets and their all-knowing wisdom into my ears.
Through remembering of things that I had long since forgotten,
shoved into dark chasms of my mind

to forget. But forgetting isn’t always possible. The mind will not let us forget completely
and we are forced to relive what we have not yet
made our peace with.

And so, the wrinkles near my eyes do not make me
ashamed. I do not try to conceal them
with pancake makeup
or with dark liner.

I wear them proudly, as I wear my heart on my sleeve.

And I continue loving
as hard as I can
and again.

And hope that my smile always shines through my eyes when I look at you.
Even when I am tired.

Copyright 2012 Omy Keyes (All rights reserved)