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Maria Mitea May 14
At the first encounter,
I thought that he stole my mother’s tablecloth, and
called it “great”, while she turned the flour into bread.

After I thought.
What if they were lovers? and shared the same tablecloth, while
my father was sweating in his shirt, and they called it “great”
when the mother was sipping wine from her fields,
and he was writing a desperate song as he could not have both.

I shake away my childish thoughts and doubt even more.

What if they were traders?

trading the tigers, the bread,
the tyrants, the grim teeth,
the wine fields and hard eyes,
the lamb, the onions,
the hunger and the thirst,
the hours of eating the strawberries
and the blossoms on the great tablecloth.

I am childish, and  jealous, and curious, and
can not stop the thought of stolen tablecloth.

What if when desperate and lonely he put a spell on her?
and he spread a tablecloth
for those who never eaten, and
those who never loved,
for those who never cried and  
those who never turned the flour into bread.

for those who never let their hearts be
Neruda's great tablecloth.
Pablo Neruda was a Chilian writer that wrote  "The Great Tablecloth" poem. I have had this poem in my heart for a long time. It feels great to have it written in English. :)
Robin Carretti Aug 2018
Where do we meet
    Oh! No He_*
Getting onto
the next courses
Oh La- La "Cheri"
K>ANSAS>>City

_ Prime spot pretty

 let's >- jump ))) To Love
Please raise the horses

What a skirt steak in her
Petticoat Junction
Going to Kansas City affection
Different tribe or breed
What needs to love me
tender Elvis meet Beavis Buthead
    More  T.L.C  
computer DOC Tick Tock
IRS taking a meat beef
chunk is everybody drunk
IOS what is really the meat
Business Politician Trump

Subscribe well done
Cooked or rare spooked
Taking a Spin City kick
She got canned and licked
The prime meat hot seat

The ******* who arrives
first class steak knifes
Ms. Pork hard chew 
Mr. Beans second rate
Dark pumpernickel
Saloon *******, he
is eating
The young tender
chicken leg

High five thigh? Hands
up Robin Fly
Save the meat "let it be"
  "Let it Be" Beatles
The beat Colonel deep fried
Grade A rare meat slicing

Eating in a board meeting
The pig meat market
of pricing

Doe a deer
he loves
International beer
A very sensitive time
Slaughterhouse no way out
His poker face meets
potato heads beef jerky
Surrender Weds
maple smiles picky
The rich Syrup
Disney Mickey Mouse
Kansas City Wonder
meat house

The beauty of animals
"Moms kettle she is talking
to Parrots" meat
the market for rings riot
Six enemies making
6 rounds
Six servants 666 carats
Robin smiles heartily
"Campbells Chicken" little


He's the Beef Man stew
If you only knew

He's spitting tobacco chew
She peels the potato for the
meathead bad to the
T-bone Dachshund I Bone

Garlic knots heart of the
Sausage wearing the
meat corsage Superbowl
My sweet basil good soul
Grilling your bullhead
Pirate Ribeye steak pupils
Mr. "Billygoat" Bachelorette
Hair flat crepe Suzette

Moms Korean style fuss
coleslaw
what a seesaw
Playing Porgy and Bess
 Scarlet the red rare meat
Rolling stone baking pin
Mississippi one or two
Under my meaty thumb

Comes in three-4-5-6- Lucky 7
-Crazy 8 furries
Nine meat ribs-10 babies
with bibs
Hungry Man meat when!!
Country plaid tablecloth
"Kansas Men" of the cloth
The Pig approval
Kansas City Mayor
new arrival

Family together eating
Don't eat our animals
Why is life so unfair
Feeding the poor
with cans
The bad cut of meat devil
this is not the "Grade A"
This is not a ring
circus trainer Bullseye

Robin coffee animal-friendly
Two peas in a pod I pods
  I tune like Gods
Were the luckiest people to have
animals  

The Floridian with dog murals
Palm trees green thumb
plants sunshine events
The symphony dog tails
of hunts
Whats to compare her twilight
eyes hold the moment stare
Talk to the animal's hearts care
The barbecue all the meat men and the women who love their fruit listen to the Owl lady how she hoots those Kansas city slicker boots and the Hehaw have a good time with family and friends treat the animals with tender loving care
Becca Lansman Nov 2015
When he tells you he is sorry, do not hand him the feast.
Do not make him dinner like he never tore the tablecloth out from under the dishes.

You are not a menu item.

remember that his love is not a reward.
You are not a reward.

You are dinner for one.

Remember how you pulled yourself up on shore. Taught yourself how to breathe again.

You are no longer drowning.

you are the beach, you are the lifeguard, remember how you saved yourself.

Remember to say no.
Say it in the dark, whisper it in his ears, remember your body is not a love letter; it is not a vacation home.

When he says, “ I love you.”
 Do not mistake his lust for affection.

Remember how he ate pieces of your heartbeat one at a time? turned you into a carcass?

Made you believe you were road ****.

Remember how you put yourself back together? Mending each stitch carefully. Embroidering your heartbeat back one lull at a time.

You are still sewing.
You are still making dinner but it is ok.
It is ok to eat dinner by yourself.

It is ok to say no.

Tell him, you only made enough for one tonight.
c quirino Jan 2011
We walk to it in silence, passing over earthen layers of leaf and twig, never once touching dirt en transit.

Then it escapes vertically from a jungle less than ninety years old.

The Beautiful Monolith.

At one point when the jungle was young, it was an integral bridge of some great scheme of railroads but is now a cement Taj Mahal only undiluted, uninhibited youth could create.
 
Where alabaster paint found in post cards and archival footage had once been, several layers of outsider art, scratchings, bible verses and amateur-drawn genitalia are the monolith’s primer, base and top coat.
 
We walk past two crosses next to the river, one for a young man who had jumped into the three foot deep river from the monolith’s former train tracks, another carries no name but is nailed to a neighboring tree.

An unnaturally yellow tulip lies beneath this cross.
 
At the Monolith’s feet are vines with sprouts of two-or-three leaves each pointing arbitrarily in directions they can grow.

“And my, how they grow,” she whispers.
 
My Sunday dress, a former ivory table cloth of mother’s imagination is consumed by the jungle.

It is not tarnished, but given life. An existence it would not have known under mother’s elbows rained upon by her cigarette’s ashes. It is ‘colored-in’ life, like these are some vanilla pages of little nephew's coloring book.

I try to tell him, but he does not understand, and says that I shouldn't talk about things being “colored' because it makes me sound like a racist.

I laugh, plucking leaves from the tree bearing the unnamed cross and rub them across the Flat of my torso, leaving green streaks across the former tablecloth.
 
He whispers into my ear about taking me to the top of the Monolith. I nod and attempt to rest my chin on his shoulder, but he starts swiftly up the hill.

He tells me to “lose the prissy mary-jane’s” on my feet saying it would be easier to climb without them.
 
I do this, and my bare feet touch the leaves and twigs. The feeling is *******, but in real life, I don’t even know this word exists. We climb, resting halfway on an embankment in one of the Monolith’s Roman arches. The second half of the climb is slightly more difficult, but we reach the top.
 
The tracks are gone, replaced by a coating of gravel, rocks and beer bottles. And then I see it, the reason why the Monolith is beautiful. Two states converge on this spot where I stand, my tablecloth dress begins to take flight as I spread my wings. His mismatched eyes look at me with something close to amusement as he takes out a bright yellow acetate stencil.
 
The cupola of Animal Mansion pokes out from the jungle like my ***** right ****** in this former table cloth.  
 
A thin veil of red paint meets my waist. He gasps and his eyes widen, allowing me to see every individual real life pixel of his unmatched eyes, the hazel left, and the kelly-green right.
 
He mutters some kind of apology I cannot understand.
 
I respond by slipping off the tablecloth. They bounce slightly. You know which ones I speak of…
 
His eyes remain wide as he comes closer to me, telling me that I have to put my clothes back on. In his hands is the crumpled , grass stained, table cloth dress.
 
I ask if this is what he wants. He manages to say “yes” but apparently…not under these circumstances…or at least not on the Beautiful Monolith. I drop to my knees, and am able to unbuckle his belt before he pulls me up by my forearms.
 
My tears make it hard to see what is happening now…I feel my arms pushing him back from me, and then the sound of rocks tumbling out of place.

He is over the ledge now, flying through the portion of damaged railing where no fence stands. His mismatched eyes, the left hazel and right kelly-green stare warmly into mine.

In his hands is the crumpled, grass stained, tablecloth dress.
This, is see perfectly.
© Constante Quirino
howard brace Oct 2012
A nervous shiver rippled briefly across his shoulders as Dunstan peered over the balcony, it was a long way down from his penthouse suite he guessed, shrinking back from the handrail... at a rough guess somewhere between the upper observation deck, Eiffel-Tower, Paris, France and lower basement mezzanine at Miss Selfridge, London, England... and Dunstan was terrified if heights.
  
     It scarcely seemed anytime at all really since he'd relocated to his new and upwardly situated des-res, yet for all that he could hardly recall living anywhere else, once you'd seen one, well... you got the idea,  after a while they all looked pretty much the same, you just had to be able to haggle, but for now at least he was obviously safe enough where he was, sunning himself on the balcony watching the world go by as he scribbled down a shopping list... but lunchtime was almost upon him and then all hell was sure to break loose.

     Having finally determined to put down roots and raise children of her own, his mother Elvera, finding herself in the family-way had wasted no time at all in tearing several well thumbed pages out of her mother's book, then taken both Dunstan's father and his gene-pool straight to the cleaners, just to keep them, so page three informed her firmly in the family... so Dunstan grew up knowing a great deal about laundry and dry-cleaning, but very little about his father, just the occasional anecdote cast to the wind like so much bird seed, about their early courting days and how they'd both wanted him to grow into a strong, healthy lad and do well at school, climbing the corporate ladder, so-to-speak and go to Boy-Scouts every Tuesday evening just like his father had done before him... and learn all about knots, but Dunstan had vertigo and couldn't tie knots for toffee.
                                    
     All hell was certainly dead set on breaking loose that lunchtime, or rather Houdini were they to continue and remain on first name terms... and there was nothing Dunstan loved more than a captive audience.   Reflecting deeply and never wanting a repeat of the previous week he studied the hastily bound swaddling, perhaps the odd tweak here and there just to be on the safe side should ensure the safety of his dinner guest for the remainder of the afternoon.   As Dunstan snipped the final thread he considered that simply nothing was too much trouble where todays 'entree was concerned, he now sat before Houdini smacking his lips in anticipation, quivering in the front parlour waiting for the dinner gong to sound, the Sunday lunch however, now in a mounting state of frenzied agitation continued bouncing around on the embroidered tablespread.  

     Dunstan could never understand what the fuss was all about... I mean, it wasn't as though his dinner guest hadn't been invited, he argued and that for the umpteenth time, as he reached for the carving knife and steel, he simply wasn't going to take no for an answer, leaving his dinner guest still bouncing about, insisting that he'd merely dropped in for directions... and that he, The Great Houdini, currently billed at The London Hippodrome for the remainder of the season had a far more pressing dinner engagement elsewhere, with a diary for the foreseeable future distinctly at odds with those of his host... leaving Dunstan so he hoped, far behind and in no uncertain doubt that not only had he been left hanging in stickier corners than this one, but had every intention of extracting himself from being principal dish of the day before third curtain call... and having done so, wish Dunstan a very good day and remit his professional fee by return of post.

    Meanwhile, insisting that his guest needn't feel obliged to dine elsewhere when they could both enjoy a really splendid one right here, chewing over happier times together, although should Houdini wish, then Dunstan felt confident that his dinner guest was more than capable of punching his way out of as many wet paper bags as he liked... and just what were the Marquis of Queensberry Rules anyway... so encouraged, Dunstan continued sharpening the knife. 

     "Well really", thought Dunstan... 'and without so much as a by-your-leave' carefully examining the damage to his new lace tablecloth, torn in Houdini's haste to depart, he really must be careful as he rummaged for his darning needle, not to fall through.  It had been the shortest dinner party in living memory, Dunstan sighed, it simply would not do, what would all his neighbour's think, he'd never hear the last of it, his reputation they would whisper, well... it would all end in ruins, mark their words it would.  Dunstan's tummy rumbled, he'd been filled with nothing but anticipation that day and very little else, but other than a torn tablecloth and superfluous items of Houdini, shrugged of in his bid for freedom, no one would be any the wiser... having said that, Dunstan would have to make do with a cold repast for luncheon instead, hanging quite still in the larder.

                                                        ­     ­ ...    ...   ...**

A work in progress.                                                        ­                                                               831
Nigel Morgan Nov 2012
She said, ‘You are funny, the way you set yourself up the moment we arrive. You look into every room to see if it’s suitable as a place to work. Is there a table? Where are the plugs? Is there a good chair at the right height? If there isn’t, are there cushions to make it so? You are funny.’
 
He countered this, but his excuse didn’t sound very convincing. He knew exactly what she meant, but it hurt him a little that she should think it ‘funny’. There’s nothing funny about trying to compose music, he thought. It’s not ‘radio in the head’ you know – this was a favourite expression he’d once heard an American composer use. You don’t just turn a switch and the music’s playing, waiting for you to write it down. You have to find it – though he believed it was usually there, somewhere, waiting to be found. But it’s elusive. You have to work hard to detect what might be there, there in the silence of your imagination.
 
Later over their first meal in this large cottage she said, ‘How do you stop hearing all those settings of the Mass that you must have heard or sung since childhood?’ She’d been rehearsing Verdi’s Requiem recently and was full of snippets of this stirring piece. He was a) writing a Mass to celebrate a cathedral’s reordering after a year as a building site, and b) he’d been a boy chorister and the form and order of the Mass was deeply engrained in his aural memory. He only had to hear the plainsong introduction Gloria in Excelsis Deo to be back in the Queen’s chapel singing Palestrina, or Byrd or Poulenc.
 
His ‘found’ corner was in the living room. The table wasn’t a table but a long cabinet she’d kindly covered with a tablecloth. You couldn’t get your feet under the thing, but with his little portable drawing board there was space to sit properly because the board jutted out beyond the cabinet’s top. It was the right length and its depth was OK, enough space for the board and, next to it, his laptop computer. On the floor beside his chair he placed a few of his reference scores and a box of necessary ‘bits’.
 
The room had two large sofas, an equally large television, some unexplainable and instantly dismissible items of decoration, a standard lamp, and a wood burning stove. The stove was wonderful, and on their second evening in the cottage, when clear skies and a stiff breeze promised a cold night, she’d lit it and, as the evening progressed, they basked in its warmth, she filling envelopes with her cards, he struggling with sleep over a book.
 
Despite and because this was a new, though temporary, location he had got up at 5.0am. This is a usual time for composers who need their daily fix of absolute quiet. And here, in this cottage set amidst autumn fields, within sight of a river estuary, under vast, panoramic uninterrupted skies, there was the distinct possibility of silence – all day. The double-glazing made doubly sure of that.
 
He had sat with a mug of tea at 5.10 and contemplated the silence, or rather what infiltrated the stillness of the cottage as sound. In the kitchen the clock ticked, the refrigerator seemed to need a period of machine noise once its door had been opened. At 6.0am the central heating fired up for a while. Outside, the small fruit trees in the garden moved vigorously in the wind, but he couldn’t hear either the wind or a rustle of leaves.  A car droned past on the nearby road. The clear sky began to lighten promising a fine day. This would certainly do for silence.
 
His thoughts returned to her question of the previous evening, and his answer. He was about to face up to his explanation. ‘I empty myself of all musical sound’, he’d said, ‘I imagine an empty space into which I might bring a single note, a long held drone of a note, a ‘d’ above middle ‘c’ on a chamber ***** (seeing it’s a Mass I’m writing).  Harrison Birtwistle always starts on an ‘e’. A ‘d’ to me seems older and kinder. An ‘e’ is too modern and progressive, slightly brash and noisy.’
 
He can see she is quizzical with this anecdotal stuff. Is he having me on? But no, he is not having her on. Such choices are important. Without them progress would be difficult when the thinking and planning has to stop and the composing has to begin. His notebook, sitting on his drawing board with some first sketches, plays testament to that. In this book glimpses of music appear in rhythmic abstracts, though rarely any pitches, and there are pages of written description. He likes to imagine what a new work is, and what it is not. This he writes down. Composer Paul Hindemith reckoned you had first to address the ‘conditions of performance’. That meant thinking about the performers, the location, above all the context. A Mass can be, for a composer, so many things. There were certainly requirements and constraints. The commission had to fulfil a number of criteria, some imposed by circumstance, some self-imposed by desire. All this goes into the melting ***, or rather the notebook. And after the notebook, he takes a large piece of A3 paper and clarifies this thinking and planning onto (if possible) a single sheet.
 
And so, to the task in hand. His objective, he had decided, is to focus on the whole rather than the particular. Don’t think about the Kyrie on its own, but consider how it lies with the Gloria. And so with the Sanctus & Benedictus. How do they connect to the Agnus Dei. He begins on the A3 sheet of plain paper ‘making a map of connections’. Kyrie to Gloria, Gloria to Credo and so on. Then what about Agnus Dei and the Gloria? Is there going to be any commonality – in rhythm, pace and tempo (we’ll leave melody and harmony for now)? Steady, he finds himself saying, aren’t we going back over old ground? His notebook has pages of attempts at rhythmizing the text. There are just so many ways to do this. Each rhythmic solution begets a different slant of meaning.
 
This is to be a congregational Mass, but one that has a role for a 4-part choir and ***** and a ‘jazz instrument’. Impatient to see notes on paper, he composes a new introduction to a Kyrie as a rhythmic sketch, then, experimentally, adds pitches. He scores it fully, just 10 bars or so, but it is barely finished before his critical inner voice says, ‘What’s this for? Do you all need this? This is showing off.’ So the filled-out sketch drops to the floor and he examines this element of ‘beginning’ the incipit.
 
He remembers how a meditation on that word inhabits the opening chapter of George Steiner’s great book Grammars of Creation. He sees in his mind’s eye the complex, colourful and ornate letter that begins the Lindesfarne Gospels. His beginnings for each movement, he decides, might be two chords, one overlaying the other: two ‘simple’ diatonic chords when sounded separately, but complex and with a measure of mystery when played together. The Mass is often described as a mystery. It is that ritual of a meal undertaken by a community of people who in the breaking of bread and wine wish to bring God’s presence amongst them. So it is a mystery. And so, he tells himself, his music will aim to hold something of mystery. It should not be a comment on that mystery, but be a mystery itself. It should not be homely and comfortable; it should be as minimal and sparing of musical commentary as possible.
 
When, as a teenager, he first began to set words to music he quickly experienced the need (it seemed) to fashion accompaniments that were commentaries on the text the voice was singing. These accompaniments did not underpin the words so much as add a commentary upon them. What lay beneath the words was his reaction, indeed imaginative extension of the words. He eschewed then both melisma and repetition. He sought an extreme independence between word and music, even though the word became the scenario of the music. Any musical setting was derived from the composition of the vocal line.  It was all about finding the ‘key’ to a song, what unlocked the door to the room of life it occupied. The music was the room where the poem’s utterance lived.
 
With a Mass you were in trouble for the outset. There was a poetry of sorts, but poetry that, in the countless versions of the vernacular, had lost (perhaps had never had) the resonance of the Latin. He thought suddenly of the supposed words of William Byrd, ‘He who sings prays twice’. Yes, such commonplace words are intercessional, but when sung become more than they are. But he knew he had to be careful here.
 
Why do we sing the words of the Mass he asks himself? Do we need to sing these words of the Mass? Are they the words that Christ spoke as he broke bread and poured wine to his friends and disciples at his last supper? The answer is no. Certainly these words of the Mass we usually sing surround the most intimate words of that final meal, words only the priest in Christ’s name may articulate.
 
Write out the words of the Mass that represent its collective worship and what do you have? Rather non-descript poetry? A kind of formula for collective incantation during worship? Can we read these words and not hear a surrounding music? He thinks for a moment of being asked to put new music to words of The Beatles. All you need is love. Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away. Oh bla dee oh bla da life goes on. Now, now this is silliness, his Critical Voice complains. And yet it’s not. When you compose a popular song the gap between some words scribbled on the back of an envelope and the hook of chords and melody developed in an accidental moment (that becomes a way of clothing such words) is often minimal. Apart, words and music seem like orphans in a storm. Together they are home and dry.
 
He realises, and not for the first time, that he is seeking a total musical solution to the whole of the setting of those words collectively given voice to by those participating in the Mass.
 
And so: to the task in hand. His objective: to focus on the whole rather than the particular.  Where had he heard that thought before? - when he had sat down at his drawing board an hour and half previously. He’d gone in a circle of thought, and with his sketch on the floor at his feet, nothing to show for all that effort.
 
Meanwhile the sun had risen. He could hear her moving about in the bathroom. He went to the kitchen and laid out what they would need to breakfast together. As he poured milk into a jug, primed the toaster, filled the kettle, the business of what might constitute a whole solution to this setting of the Mass followed him around the kitchen and breakfast room like a demanding child. He knew all about demanding children. How often had he come home from his studio to prepare breakfast and see small people to school? - more often than he cared to remember. And when he remembered he became sad that it was no more.  His children had so often provided a welcome buffer from sessions of intense thought and activity. He loved the walk to school, the first quarter of a mile through the park, a long avenue of chestnut trees. It was always the end of April and pink and white blossoms were appearing, or it was September and there were conkers everywhere. It was under these trees his daughter would skip and even his sons would hold hands with him; he would feel their warmth, their livingness.
 
But now, preparing breakfast, his Critical Voice was that demanding child and he realised when she appeared in the kitchen he spoke to her with a voice of an artist in conversation with his critics, not the voice of the man who had the previous night lost himself to joy in her dear embrace. And he was ashamed it was so.
 
How he loved her gentle manner as she negotiated his ‘coming too’ after those two hours of concentration and inner dialogue. Gradually, by the second cup of coffee he felt a right person, and the hours ahead did not seem too impossible.
 
When she’d gone off to her work, silence reasserted itself. He played his viola for half an hour, just scales and exercises and a few folk songs he was learning by heart. This gathering habit was, he would say if asked, to reassert his musicianship, the link between his body and making sound musically. That the viola seemed to resonate throughout his whole body gave him pleasure. He liked the ****** movement required to produce a flowing sequence of bow strokes. The trick at the end of this daily practice was to put the instrument in its case and move immediately to his desk. No pause to check email – that blight on a morning’s work. No pause to look at today’s list. Back to the work in hand: the Mass.
 
But instead his mind and intention seemed to slip sideways and almost unconsciously he found himself sketching (on the few remaining staves of a vocal experiment) what appeared to be a piano piece. The rhythmic flow of it seemed to dance across the page to be halted only when the few empty staves were filled. He knew this was one of those pieces that addressed the pianist, not the listener. He sat back in his chair and imagined a scenario of a pianist opening this music and after a few minutes’ reflection and reading through allowing her hands to move very slowly and silently a few millimetres over the keys.  Such imagining led him to hear possible harmonic simultaneities, dynamics and articulations, though he knew such things would probably be lost or reinvented on a second imagined ‘performance’. No matter. Now his make-believe pianist sounded the first bar out. It had a depth and a richness that surprised him – it was a fine piano. He was touched by its affect. He felt the possibilities of extending what he’d written. So he did. And for the next half an hour lived in the pastures of good continuation, those rich luxuriant meadows reached by a rickerty rackerty bridge and guarded by a troll who today was nowhere to be seen.
 
It was a curious piece. It came to a halt on an enigmatic, go-nowhere / go-anywhere chord after what seemed a short declamatory coda (he later added the marking deliberamente). Then, after a few minutes reflection he wrote a rising arpeggio, a broken chord in which the consonant elements gradually acquired a rising sequence of dissonance pitches until halted by a repetition. As he wrote this ending he realised that the repeated note, an ‘a’ flat, was a kind of fulcrum around which the whole of the music moved. It held an enigmatic presence in the harmony, being sometimes a g# sometimes an ‘a’ flat, and its function often different. It made the music take on a wistful quality.
 
At that point he thought of her little artists’ book series she had titled Tide Marks. Many of these were made of a concertina of folded pages revealing - as your eyes moved through its pages - something akin to the tide’s longitudinal mark. This centred on the page and spread away both upwards and downwards, just like those mirror images of coloured glass seen in a child’s kaleidoscope. No moment of view was ever quite the same, but there were commonalities born of the conditions of a certain day and time.  His ‘Tide Mark’ was just like that. He’d followed a mark made in his imagination from one point to another point a little distant. The musical working out also had a reflection mechanism: what started in one hand became mirrored in the other. He had unexpectedly supplied an ending, this arpegiated gesture of finality that wasn’t properly final but faded away. When he thought further about the role of the ending, he added a few more notes to the arpeggio, but notes that were not be sounded but ghosted, the player miming a press of the keys.
 
He looked at the clock. Nearly five o’clock. The afternoon had all but disappeared. Time had retreated into glorious silence . There had been three whole hours of it. How wonderful that was after months of battling with the incessant and draining turbulence of sound that was ever present in his city life. To be here in this quiet cottage he could now get thoroughly lost – in silence. Even when she was here he could be a few rooms apart, and find silence.
 
A week more of this, a fortnight even . . . but he knew he might only manage a few days before visitors arrived and his long day would be squeezed into the early morning hours and occasional uncertain periods when people were out and about.
 
When she returned, very soon now, she would make tea and cut cake, and they’d sit (like old people they wer
Rob Urban Jun 2012
Lost in the dim
streets of the
Marunouchi district
I describe
this wounded city in an
  unending internal
monologue as I follow
the signs to Tokyo Station and
descend into the
underground passages
  of the metro,
seeking life and anything bright
in this half-lit, humid midnight.

I find the train finally
to Shibuya, the Piccadilly
and Times Square of Japan,
and even there the lights
are dimmer and the neon
  that does remain
  is all the more garish by
contrast.
I cross the street
near a sign that says
  "Baby Dolls" in English
over a business that turns
out to be a pet
  shop, of all things.

Like
the Japanese, I sometimes feel I live
in reduced circumstances, forced to proceed with caution:
A poorly chosen
adjective, a
mangled metaphor
could so easily trigger the
tsunami that
    sweeps away the containment
             facilities that
                   protect us
                        from ourselves
                                                            and others.
  
The next night at dinner, the sweltering room
     suddenly rocks and
        conversation stops
                  as the building sways and the
candles flicker.

'Felt like a 4, maybe a 5,'
says one of my tablemates,
a friend from years ago
in the States.

'At least a five-and-a-half,'
says another, gesturing
at the still-moving shadows
on the wall. And I think
     of other sweaty, dimly lit rooms,
      bodies in slow, restrained motion,       all
          in a moment that falls
                         between
                                     tremors.

         Then the swaying stops and we return
to our dinner. The shock, or aftershock,
isn't mentioned again,
though we do return, repeatedly, to the
big one,
         and the tidal wave that
                           swept so much away.

En route to the monsoon
I go east to come west,
   clouds gathering slowly
     in the vicinity of my chest.

Next day in Shanghai, the sun's glare reflects
  off skyscrapers,
and the streets teem
with determined shoppers
and sightseers
wielding credit cards and iPhone cameras, clad
in T-shirts with English words and phrases.
I fall
          in step
             beside a young woman on
                 the outdoor escalator whose
shirt, white on black,
reads, 'I am very, very happy.' I smile
and then notice, coming
down the other side,
another woman
wearing
        exactly the same
       message, only
                        in neon pink. So many
                                  very,
                                          very
                                                 happy people!
Yet the ATMs sometimes dispense
counterfeit 100 yuan notes and
elsewhere in the realm
      police fire on
      protestors seeking
                more than consumer goods,
while officials fret
about American credit
and the security of their investments, and
     the government executes mayors for taking
                       bribes from real estate developers.
    
    A drizzle greets me in Hong Kong,
a tablecloth of fog draped over the peaks
   that turns into a rain shower.
I find my way to work after many twists and turns
through shopping malls and building lobbies and endless
turning halls of luxury retail.
               At dinner I have a century egg and think
of Chinese mothers
urging their children,
'Eat! Eat your green, gooey treat.
On the street afterwards, a
near-naked girl grabs my arm,
pulls me toward a doorway marked by a 'Live Girls’
sign. 'No kidding,’ I think as I pull myself carefully
free, and cross the street.

On the flight to Bombay, I doze
   under a sweaty airline blanket, and
       dream that I am already there and the rains
         have come in earnest as I sit with the presumably
           semi-fictional Didier of Shantaram in the real but as-yet-unseen
            Leopold's Café, drinking Kingfishers,
              and he is telling me,  confidentially,
                     exactly where to find what I’ve lost as I wake
with the screech and grip of wheels on runway.
            

     Next day on the street outside the real Leopold's,
bullet holes preserved in the walls from the last terrorist attack,
I am trailed through the Colaba district
by a mother and children,  'Please sir, buy us milk, sir, buy us some rice,
I will show you the store.'
    A man approaches, offering a drum,
                        another a large balloon (What would I do with that?)
A shoeshine guy offers
                                           to shine my sneakers, then shares
the story of his arrival and struggle in Bombay.
     And I buy
             the milk and the rice and some
                      small cakes and in a second
                          the crowd of children swells
                               into the street
               and I sense
                     the danger of the crazy traffic to the crowd
                         that I have created, and I
think, what do I do?
           I flee, get into a taxi and head
                             to the Gateway of India, feeling
                                                                                  that I have failed a test.

                                       My last night in Mumbai, the rains come, flooding
     streets and drenching pavement dwellers and washing
the humid filth from the air. When it ends
           after two hours, the air is cool and fresh
                                  and I take a stroll at midnight
          in the street outside my hotel and enter the slum
   from which each morning I have watched
the residents emerge,  perfectly coiffed. I buy
some trinkets at a tiny stand and talk briefly
      with a boy who approaches, curious about a foreigner out for a walk.

A couple of days after that, in
the foothills of the Himalayas,  monks' robes flutter
on a clothesline like scarlet prayer flags behind the
Dalai Lama's temple.
I trek to 11,000 feet along a
narrow rocky path through thick
monsoon mist,
   stopping every 10 steps
to
   catch
        my  breath,
              testing each rock before placing my weight.
Sometimes
    the surface is slick and I nearly fall,
sometimes
    the stones
        themselves shift. I learn slowly, like some
             newborn foal, or just another
                clumsy city boy,
                   that in certain terrains the
       smallest misstep
                            can end with a slide
                                             into the abyss.
                  At the peak there's a chai shop that sells drinks and cigarettes
                                of all things and I order a coffee and noodles for lunch.
While I eat,
      perched on a rock in a silence that is both ex- and
      in-ternal,
the clouds in front of me slowly part to reveal
a glacier that takes up three-quarters of the sky, craggy and white and
beautiful. I snap a few shots,
quickly,
before the cloud curtain closes
again,
obscuring the mountain.
                                                
                                     --Rob Urban: Tokyo, Shanghai, Mumbai, Delhi, Dharamshala
                                        7/13/11-7/30/11
Anonymous Freak Jul 2016
I'm having tea with Life,
And his band of Disappointments.
They dine at my expense,
And they're a hungry bunch of guests.

Tea turned into Supper,
Where the Disappointments drank
My finest wine,
And Life wiped his cruel mouth
On my tablecloth.

You can't have supper without dessert,
So they ate up more of my
Food for thought.
And if you stay for dessert,
You may as well spend the night.
So they did
And burgled my pantry of hopes
For a midnight snack.

One night was lovely,
So Life cackled, "Why not stay two?"
And two turned to a week,
And a week turned into
My sickeningly merry guests
Moving into my dreams,
And inviting in Doubt,
To live with them too,
And of course
Pay no rent.

So I watch my chaotic household
Of a skull,
Where Life has made himself at home
And brought all of his friends.
I stare dully at my ruined
Dining room of thought,
Which they have dominated.
And look wearily for a spare idea
In my raided cupboards.

I've never been one
To evict friends,
So I suppose they're here to stay.
But learn a lesson from me,
And don't ever
Have Life over for tea.
Nick Huber Nov 2017
Our love was like a tablecloth.
White, pleated, and stuffed away for special occasions.
You wouldn't let me take it out, half the time.
I'm clumsy, and you didn't want me to paint it red.
Just let it's gleaming brightness adorn our table.
But keep it hidden.
As for special occasions, I can name three:

One-- The day I met you, while the flowers bloomed outside.

Two-- When we walked beneath the city lights, all in the dark of night.

Three-- The day you left, disappeared from my sight.

So today I'll bring it out...
That white pleated tablecloth,
You're not here, I'll paint it red.
ryn  Jun 2016
Obscure Agenda
ryn Jun 2016
"Yet you feed us lies from the tablecloth"
- B.Y.O.B. by System of a Down*

We sat across the table
as we feasted on misguided notions.
Our integrity tenderised,
thoughts manipulated,
traded with unconditional compassion.

Twisted ideals,
served upon the finest china.
Delectable treats,
laced with shards of
such distorted agenda.

Multi-faceted truths,
all lobbied for self-centred gains.
We're the ones who'd worry
and cower under tattered brollies...
To anticipate for when it would rain.

Between us still sat the table.
We'd still be served age-old (t)ale
while the room stank of rancid broth.
But I have lost my appetite
the moment we were fed lies...
Offered on the most extravagant tablecloth.
John Updike  Jan 2010
Relatives
Just the thought of them makes your jawbone ache:
those turkey dinners, those holidays with
the air around the woodstove baked to a stupor,
and Aunt Lil's tablecloth stained by her girlhood's gravy.
A doggy wordless wisdom whimpers from
your uncles' collected eyes; their very jokes
creak with genetic sorrow, a strain
of common heritage that hurts the gut.

Sheer boredom and fascination! A spidering
of chromosomes webs even the infants in
and holds us fast around the spread
of rotting food, of too-sweet pie.
The cousins buzz, the nephews crawl;
to love one's self is to love them all.

— The End —