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Your not so slender form stands
in the bedroom door. You yawn.
I remember you before the
drugs took you to the ends
of my life.

Old now, the reckless
times are gone. Still you try,
hanging onto the threads of
yesterday.  Tangents of

You strive to steer your
way through the long sleep,
the crash after
the burning addiction gets
you. You climb into
tomorrow like a crawl
Into infancy

and you tell me it's all
right Mom.

Caroline Shank
No matter what I will celebrate
the deterioration of my body.
I will forget the sacks of my neck.
The scarfs flesh burdens will
       not remind me that I have
six minutes to escape and that
I will fail.

No matter what you see look
closer.  I am only a ticking
clock away from myself
you knew then. I look to the
        calendar, truths that
my mother knew, the due
date is ordained.

I don't delay the search for
company, I am sitting on the
edge of my genetic map, Henry,
waiting for my skin to turn
tan, as it always did, every
summer. No matter what.

I am not gentle.  I am a kick
away from screaming. The
lies of every soap manufacturer
are written in my old face.
And I don't like it.
         I want to be loved
again, to rise in the warm
morning singing.

To be alone at the cracked end
of the sidewalk is to be tempted
over again as I was at twenty
seven. The last real estate is
sold to the younger woman.
          The light skin of my
youth is pasted on his memory.
I would no longer
           be of interest to him.

The tomorrows of then have
passed and I am in the window.
The mirror is not true, it sees
me old and alone as the last
            line of the play.

No matter what I want to
remember the suntan on my
ripe body
but gone. No matter what
I cry to be remembered
in a life of gone by


Caroline Shank
The voice, the bell-yellow
voice of the sax plays on.
Under the mind like a layer
of canvas lie the brushes
and strokes, the arms and legs
of memory.  The arrival on the
skin of sound is the moment
of love.  The unfurling of
the pallette.

You say, listen, the wail of
breath on brass is mine.  No,
it is yours.  The voice, no
longer alone, even when
unaccompanied, falls from
the blues of evenings or the
reds of afternoons, approaches
with footprints in sand.  We
are castled in music, our
colors unfurled.

Our fingers on the keys.  We
see the archetype of design in
the sound of the sax, the
movement in the fabric of
stripes.  The sound’s colors
draw us to each other.
Listen.  The wail of breath
on brass is everywhere.

This has gone through several iterations.
Did I help you at all, those long
months of clawed pain?  Were
you my soul search and did I fail?

The reach beyond the cuffs of
poetry.  Did you tell me so I
would pull out of some bag of
broken metaphors
a salve for your aching limbs
swollen with unheard prayers?

You lost your balance and fell
against my sorrow.  Did you
mean to throw me out that
night you pushed all the
furniture against the door.

I ran my irritation along the
upside down days of your
disease.  The sleepless in
the living room chair was not
enough.  I took your frail limbs
to myself when you did not see.

Did you smile that ghastly smile
to scare me? Or then I did not
exist in your dementia.
I was so ill myself that I couldn't
climb the ladder of your need

Did you die alone in that room
of helpful people and did you
see me frightened and alone?
I could not watch you in your
emptiness, your shell of lonliness.

I am still crying for the memory
is in my soul of your departure.

Caroline Shank
There is fire in the sky, the
green mountain frames a
landscape of contradiction.

Alert now, here there, birds
must fly behind the hot winds.
The sounds abound over the
landscape.  It was 4:00 of a
June afternoon. You called

to stop my journey. The  warmth
of a June afternoon lay like silt
on the place where we made love
only yesterday.

Goodbye to the birds and beasts
who sadly left home for the
last time.

I will remember the heat, the
touch, and the memory of
before ever you touched

my hair.

Caroline Shank
Written for a contest with a plume of fire rising up
I have tears still Un fallen from
my eyes.  They ambush me.
Your birth the
unexpected star of my
life.  Your full face, my
glowing reflection.

Early twirling years in
yellow plaid and a brown
horse named coffee cakes,
dancing on my lap.

You turned to leave me in
the middle of the afternoon.
Eons ago to my heart's ache.

I rock in old clothes on a
winter afternoon.  Your
lost Angel faces me.  I
did wrong.  I cried for
your beauty.

Lord of little girls forgive
me. I run after the early
years, pray for another
moment's innocence.

Turn me away from these
falling tears. Bring me
another time I may

not forget.

Caroline Shank
I could be dead by tomorrow,
wrapped in the comfort of
silence. Spread out on the
floor of yesterday.  I loved
you so many years ago there
is a calm scrape on the days

I turn myself in for being
ridiculous.  " Do I dare to
eat a peach? ". I cross the
sandpaths of memory and
kick the castles yesterday
left.  No tomorrow for us.

I, like Prufrock, dizzingly
look for the summer night,
walk unsteady in my old
age lest I die to finally

and forget.

Caroline Shank
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