Prompt: Heart

Prompt: Heart
Plouton’s realm is guarded, as is his heart.
A perished land, the unseen one presides
Goddess of Spring offers her loving warmth
Hark thee, King, she sings, your dread Queen has arrived!

I, Persephone, will be yours — ichor and soul, flesh and bones.
My undying devotion, I hope to depart with one hundred roses. 
I offer companionship for the rest of our lives. To Hades,
King of the Underworld, I offer myself as your bride.

----

Lore Olympus (the art used) belongs to Rachel Smythe.

Prompt: Alacrity

Prompt: Alacrity
Darling! Darling! Tap tap tap!
Her casement window rapped. On the other side —
	in the blackest of nights — a rakish, ruby-eyed chap.
The demon king extends his hand to his lover behind the glass.

I’ve come to whisk you away. Together, we shall lord over my domain.
I promise vitality. I promise eternity. And of course —
	my ever lasting love. If only you take my hand.
And with joyous alacrity, she accepted, and was never seen again.

Mama’s Favorite Flavor is Grape

Mama’s Favorite Flavor is Grape
Mama’s favorite beans when cooking are black beans.
Jade Seneca, the Chinese place a block up, and around the corner,
she orders chicken and broccoli. When someone’s sick, we order 
chicken and rice soup. Sometimes she makes Lipton 
with a packet of Sazon and sofrito, a cube or two.

Breakfast on the go is a cherry danish from the coffee stall in the city.
Hot chocolate all winter long. 
In New York, the winters are long.
If you stop by here when it’s winter, guess what you’re getting?
Quiere chocolaté? We’ve got plenty.

At the Japanese place downtown, by Chambers, I think?
She orders lemon chicken. Never sushi.
She doesn’t like mochi ice cream, so she lets me take it.
She doesn’t drink. Only a pina colada. It has to be virgin.

While we’re shopping on Myrtle, to cool off on a hot summer day,
there’s a pidaqua stand on the same block as Payless. 
Her pidaqua is either grape or cherry flavored.
When we’re buying candy for the theater or at home, her favorites 
are Mary Janes, Peanut Chews, and Snow Caps. Random days my dad will come back 
from the bodega with Sno Balls to surprise her.

She hates olives. She uses her fork to take them off her plate, and drop them onto my father’s.
At the dollar store, she grabs a pack of jelly rings, chocolate covered cherries,
and when it’s Easter, it’s Peeps, and chocolate covered marshmallow eggs.

Whenever I visit, and I’m homesick, she makes fricassee de pollo for lunch.
At the all you can eat Chinese buffet, my mother likes crab legs.
Ice cream from the Mr. Softie truck, always vanilla.

Grape juice, cranberry juice, apple juice — always juice in the fridge. And iced tea.
My mother bought the frozen kind, concentrate. 
Where she mixed it with water and stirred it in a pitcher.

She doesn’t like spicy. She buys Franciso Rinaldi
pasta sauce. Meat flavored. So she doesn’t get heart burn.
Always Tums in the house. Heart burn is something she always has.

She expects nothing less than Whitman’s chocolate for Valentines Day.
If we’re making a trip to the bodega for munchies, honey BBQ chips it is.
Come church events, she’s bringing potato salad.
Sunflower seeds on the train, we spit our shells in the plastic bag.
She’d always tell me, when your father and I were dating, 
he took me to Outback’s.

Burgers and steaks, always well done.
Applebees for birthdays.
McDonalds: Big Mac, Burger King: Whopper, Wendy’s: 
Either a taco salad, chicken sandwich or baked potato with cheese and broccoli.
I know all her favorites, and all her orders like the back of my hand,
even though I don’t remember what I ate for dinner yesterday.

I’d do anything to cook for her. She doesn’t have to cook for me.
I’d do anything to eat with her again. 
I’d do anything to treat her again. 
To meet her for lunch during my work break.

I’d do anything anything anything
	everything
to just share that last piece of cake 
we baked together from the box
always white cake mix
always vanilla frosting or cool whip on the top.
But I can’t, because it’s four years later,
and my mama’s still gone.

And I still use present tense because these things I know about her
still are.
Just like she still is.
In my memory, in my dreams,
even if not physically. 
Here
with me. 
She’s in my heart.

I hear Jade Seneca closed. It was our go to Chinese restaurant ever since I was a kid. The place was probably as old as, if not older, than me. I think the pandemic must’ve hit it hard. Was sad to hear it’s gone now.

The Roads Our Hearts Know

The Roads Our Hearts Know
We know all the avenues, and all the roads.
I can walk to Mrytle, Wyckoff, or Knickerbocker 
with my eyes closed.
And I do. 
More than you can imagine.

The way to the post office, the supermarket, the cuchifrito.
Street fairs, and flea markets.
All across Brooklyn and Queens. 
Times Square, 34th Street, and Broadway.
All the bus lines, all the trains.

My soul aches 

the way people’s broken bones ache
on rainy days. Except for me
it’s every day
when my eyes are open.

We roam Bellevue, Memorial Sloan Kettering,
the dollar stores, and the parks.
All the places I don’t visit anymore
in New York. We’re like ghosts 
replaying records new and old. Except one of us
is alive, 
and alone.

All the time,
I hang out with my mother.

Nowhere fancy. Nowhere grand.
Just a mother and her daughter buying groceries together
every night
since she passed.
I dream, and I long
for the roads our hearts know.
And for the life mama, and I
no longer have.

Prompt: Petrichor

Prompt: Petrichor
Nestled between two giant sequoia trees.
As old as earth. As old as time. As old as fate.
Teeming with fauna, flora, and mystical energies.
Under aurora flushed skies, a hidden path awaits.
Redolent of petrichor, home to mythical beasts.
Elves reside protected — by sword, spell, and pointy gates.

Prompt: Ancient

Prompt: Ancient
My lover is three centuries ancient.
A dragon with a penchant for savants.
Smooth carborundum scales calefacient.
Shallow beauty or station — he cares not.

Brick chested in mortal transformation.
A tail of smooth ebony hair, tied taught.
A true gentleman — devout, and patient.
My dragon is a handsome juggernaut.

Dragon art by Kekai Kitaki @ http://www.kekaiart.com/

Ice Chips

Ice Chips
Ice chips.

I gasp from a night’s fog.
Ghosts came home with me from the 9th floor.

Ice chips.
None of the nurses said anything to me 
whenever I entered the employee only pantry 
with a styrofoam cup to get

ice chips.

Unstrapping the bi-pap mask feels like
apologizing for plunging my mother’s head into water.
If we’re lucky,
I can slip a third ice chip into her mouth before
I re-strap what must feel like a bear trap 
of air wrapped around her head.

She points out the window.
She flicks invisible shackles 
off her legs before trying to swing them over the side of the bed.

I ask her where she’s going every time,
knowing that she can’t answer until
finally 
I ask:
“Do you want to go home? Is that where you’re trying to go?”

She nods yes —
delirious.

I clutch my heart,
clutch her hand
and, tell her,
“Yes, you can go home if you want. Don’t worry about me and daddy. We will meet you there.”

Every hour I flinch now.
Ice chips.
Bed up.
Bed down.

Mama there’s nothing behind the curtains what are you pointing at oh my God.
Whatever ghosts were at her bedside followed me, 
and jolt me awake as my leaden body 
moves to get 

ice chips.
Except I’m already home.
Without her.

I wrote this is in December 2018 when my mother was rushed to the ER, and she spent one night admitted on a regular hospital floor until her ICU admission the following morning. Only one person was allowed to stay with her. No one else volunteered. I wasn’t going to leave her alone.

I didn’t sleep that night. Was not at all prepared physically or mentally. Every time I was about to drift off, I jolted awake for one reason or another.

Oxygen deprivation makes you hallucinate. So does sleep deprivation.

It was traumatic. No one else, but my therapist, know the details of that night. I had nightmares about it after where I’d wake up in my own bed, and swear I was still in the hospital, already halfway up to get my mom some ice, or fix her blankets, or move her bed, or keep her from trying to leave the bed, or or or or…

I know it’d hurt her to know how much pain this memory caused me. And at the same time, I would do it all over again. When faced with the hard stuff, you see just how much effort people are willing to put in. In the months leading up to her passing, I did the hard stuff when no one else was willing.

Why? Because I was an asthmatic, hard of hearing, anemic, colic, preemie, and my mother took care of me all her life. Surgeries. Hospital admissions. Doctor’s appointments. Chicken pox – twice! Cracked my skull open once. Ear infections so bad, I would literally scream like someone was stabbing knives in my ears. I remember her breaking nights to slip the nebulizer mask over my face or to give me some nasty medicine. Even after I was an adult, and lived on my own, sometimes if I had a doctor’s appointment, she’d go with me just because. And when she got cancer, I tried to return the favor. My efforts definitely pale in comparison compared to the years she put into me, but I still did it because I loved my mama.

And while the pain has… become more of a scar that aches really bad on some days. A limb I was forced to live without, but life has never the same. I don’t regret being there for her. I’d do it again.