Tag Archives: consequence

Silent Lunch

Leftovers find their way
To a paper plate in the microwave;
The container finds itself
Filled with soapy water.

Peach looks good,
Though bruised.
Paring knife supplied
Leaves bruised flesh behind.

And I’m near ready to eat.
But lo! There in the sink,
Another’s bowl soaks,
Now with leftovers and peach flesh.

The choice seems simple:
Do nothing, and risk that this other
Gets her feelings distressed;
Or, wash and deliver it to her desk.

I choose the latter,
Not wanting to hurt her,
Not even in the most harmless way;
Bright and fresh and clean,
I bring the bowl her way.

But she’s not there.
I kindly place the bowl on her desk
And return, unlike a house-elf,
On my own two feet, to the lunchroom.

I hear her voice as I depart,
Turning, I see: several yards away, she saw me leave.
“No matter,” I think,
“She’ll see the bowl and know.”

Quest completed,
I’m now seated;
My mind begins
To haunt me again—

Exploring possible thought paths
She might have started down.
Racing, racing around in circles,
A frenzy stirred up inside:

Fearing her wrath,
Or a giant frown;
An injured porpoise, I see tail heterocercal
As HR pulls me aside to chide.

Oh, to have been that house-elf,
And snapped my fingers to avoid this bind.
“Silence! Let me eat in peace!”
I yell into the void in my mind.

© 2014 H.K. Longmore

Field Mice

Walking down a desert path,
Sounds of stirring
Drew my eyes. Turning,
I beheld an object of wrath

Perhaps from the farmer’s wife.
It stopped, frozen: a deer
In headlights. A knife
Cut through my heart: fear.

Too dull, the blade, to last;
I laughed as I passed,
The mouse hoping I would not see.
Beyond his eyes, he turned to flee.

Walking down that desert path,
My eyes beheld
Another. He held
His youth as a tub a bath.

No sighting of farmer’s wife,
Too calm for cervine metaphor;
No fear of carnivore
Pierced him through with fear.

Filled with delight, he stood fast;
But before I passed,
He stopped his eating
In time to avoid a beating.

The many darting to and fro,
From hole to hole;
The two crossing the trail,
The first waiting for the second (aw, how cute!);

And the older fat one,
Too preoccupied with eating,
Too slow with his response,
So that if I had a heavier step
And a slower reaction time,
I’d be cleaning him off the bottom of my sandal.

© 2014 H.K. Longmore

What Profit?

“Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I wanted to give a gift to someone. Nothing particularly fancy, but getting it involved a lot of personal effort, and finding something appropriate required a lot of thought. Having selected what I felt would be a good token, I waited for the right moment to give it. I had planned to give the gift without any wrapping paper or other covering, but on the spur of the moment, just seconds before giving it, I changed my mind and decided I wanted to cover it. I used what I knew I had available: a facial tissue paper. I probably would have been better off to stick with my original plan. The moment came that I presented my gift, with a customary greeting for the occasion.

Nothing in my history of giving gifts could have prepared me for what happened next. She looked at my poorly packaged gift and after a moment of silence said, “I don’t think I want your gift.” Hurt, enough that I could have cried had I not been in a relatively public place, I said, “Okay.” I thrust my extended hand into my pocket, dropped the gift in, and withdrew my hand. Calm as a balmy summer day, a trembling puppy frightened by thunder, I walked away. It took all the focus I had to not run, not cry, not look back. I turned a corner, and put on a façade of normalcy as I interacted with those in the vicinity. Returning the gift to the place it was obtained would be impossible, so I put it where it would be available but out of sight.

When I was in junior high, an object lesson was taught using a slice of cake to represent the gospel of Jesus Christ. The cake was shown to the class, and the question was asked, “Who would like a piece of cake?” Several hands went up; one was selected. The person selected went to the front of the class to get their slice of cake. However, before they were given the cake, it was mashed up until it looked like leftovers retrieved from the garbage. The analogy made was that you might have a wonderful gift, such as the good news of the atonement of Jesus Christ, but if you present it poorly, the person you are giving it to may reject it. Thus, you need to take care that your life and your presentation of the gift match the wondrous quality of the gift, to reduce the likelihood that the gift will be rejected. Perhaps she was rejecting my gift because of how poorly it was presented.

There is another possibility. “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:33) Did the presentation of the gift matter at all, or was she really rejecting me? If I was on the other end of such an exchange, I would at least receive the gift, and if I didn’t like it or didn’t want it, I’d throw or give it away. But I have forgiven the rejection and the rejector.

And now I think of all the times God offers His mercy to us, and we reject it, either by refusing to apply the atonement to our lives, or by choosing to apply it for a time only to backslide our way to rejection of the gift. I think of how sorrowful He must be at our rejection of Him. His hand is extended in mercy, ready to deliver us from all the chains that bind us captive; it is extended all the day long, and yet we do not listen. And unlike imperfect me, who ran from rejection of the gift or of me on account of emotional pain, He feels but stands as before, His outstretched hand yet offering the gift. His gift is no apology for a gift, but the truest gift of all: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:13.

© 2014 H.K. Longmore

Asylum

Je veux—je veux faire,
Je veux mais c’est défendu.
Je veux mais je ne comprend pas le langue,
Et je ne sais pas le culture.

C’est mon veste droite.
Les puissances de l’enfer
M’ont donné les opportunités
Mais Dieu m’a refusé la savoir-faire.

© 2014 H.K. Longmore

The Southern Claw and St. Elmo’s Fire

The big dipper scoops the horizon
While Venus observes, trailing behind.
Do my eyes see better with egg on my face?
I see more stars tonight than I’ve seen in a while.

The Southern Claw is drawn by St. Elmo’s Fire,
Is drawn to Castor and Pollux.
With their touch the pull is strongest,
But touch they must or nothing will start.

Touch they do, and the Southern Claw is moved,
Moved nearly out of its place in the sky.
But the planets misaligned,
The omen of St. Elmo’s Fire misread.

The Southern Claw is forbidden,
Promises to never draw so near to Castor again.
This forbidding if held to brings foreboding;
An auspicious ending to the beginning.

Another misalignment of planets,
The Southern Claw tries to hold St. Elmo’s Fire.
But a claw can’t hold plasma,
So an offering is made.

But the effort and thought and distance are masked:
Poor presentation, or did Pollux instead
Reject the Claw? Offering rejected,
The Southern Claw examines the planets again.

Twice misaligned, twice misunderstood,
Two times the yolk dripping down my face.
It seems the Southern Claw and Pollux
Are separated by a gulf in the sky.

I stare bewildered at what happened,
Befuddled on the horizon.
Could it be I’ve been reading
The map upside down?

© 2014 H.K. Longmore

The Anonymous Burden

If you determine in your heart
To carry out an anonymous act
Designed to bring happiness
Or a smile to the recipient,

You must be prepared for the part:
Fully accept the burden of facts
Known to you and God—and security cameras—the madness
Of the temptation to tell, to take credit, your new companions persistent.

If you would walk the unidentified way,
You must quench the thirst for recognition,
Bury deep the desire to reap rewards; in sadness,
Leave not fully formed the hunger incipient.

When others comment, your tongue you’ll stay.
For leaving no clues you’d better have a knack;
Wipe that smile off your face at their gladness.
And it’s best to not write about what you’ve brought to fruition.

© 2014 H.K. Longmore

The Cost of Comfort

“Oh, my pillow, my soft, absorbent pillow!
What words of comfort have you for me today?”
Cheer up, all is not lost.
“And what will be the cost?”

Two drops is all.
“And what can I get for five?”
You are loved, even if some mistreat you.
You can have the pair for six.

“And how much for a verbal hug?”
Now that’s a tricky one,
A difficult task for a pillow.
What’s it worth to you?

I’ve saved up a lot,
Over days, weeks, months.
I wonder how much I should offer.
Would a cup be too much?

But as I start to pay
The dam bursts,
The stream won’t be held back.
“Is this enough?”

©2014 H.K. Longmore

Aggression

This is an older piece, from what seems a lifetime ago, if not a different life. It describes in part the difficulty of returning to a place where all that you thought you knew about a person and their relationship with you was turned on its head. In the “Aggression” alluded to, I managed to hold my tongue, and prevent an assault from becoming assault and battery.

I returned to the place of Aggression yesterday
Though it still seems like today,
As parted have my pillow and head been, torn
Since yester-morn.

The Aggressor was not there.
If he were, to go I could not bear.
Forgiveness he would have feigned
For a time, on a day I felt alienated.

In his heart
Real forgiveness had no part.
He wanted to keep his reign
Of tyranny.

He called that day to apologize
For the way he antagonized.
Wishing to talk to no one, warned by caller ID,
I left curses unsaid and receiver on hook.

The place is haunting now,
Full of darkness and shadows
Everywhere I looked.
I tried cursing a chair
That it might break—doing no harm
To the person who’d sit in it.
Let the La-Z-Boy die in retribution
For my suffering.
No pattern or form to follow,
No magic incantation—

Only me, my mind, my movements, imagination.
Break or not, I don’t care—
I did it, that’s what matters.

Enough about that, lest
My heart get left
In the darkness in the basement, in the theft
Of my pleasant memories,
At the time of the Aggression.

©2000-2014 H.K. Longmore

Related Posts:
  • The Shame of Going Back – Henry Lawson (I love that the Google search for “henry lawson the shame of going back“, without the quotes of course, currently has my old page from my undergrad days at the U as the top result.) Lawson’s poem describes a different situation where returning can be difficult.

Fruit and Fruitcake

“A potluck! Whatever you bring, bring fruit.”
The announcement came as no surprise:
His brother was on the planning committee.

Aiming for some humorous response,
He tried to say he’s a little bit crazy
“Can I just bring myself, because I’m a fruit?”

The room filled with the laughter
Of men, mostly twenty-somethings,
And the few women giving the announcement.

“That worked better than expected,” he thought.
Then, too late, he realized it was “fruitcake”
Not “fruit” he had intended to say.

Too much time had passed,
His explanation too feeble.
The label stuck.

Many moons passed;
A certain few still this label used
For far too long, until—

At long last, another opened his mouth—
The jaws of hell could open no wider—
And inserted his foot and leg, up to the knee.

Those who used the label still
Agreed this last faux-pas was far worse,
And bought the burial of the label.

On the Transmogrification of Pain

Emotional pain I truly disdain.
To feel it completely would crush my heart;
The resulting torrent would fill my lungs
With that saline solution from my eyes.

So I aim to transmogrify the pain:
Change its form, numb the ache, preserve my heart.
I run ten miles having not run for months,
Just my muscles and bones, sinews and fat:

There’s no water station for hydration,
And no supplemental source of glucose.
At eight-point-three my quadriceps seize up;
My pace is so slow I switch to a walk.

With every step my pain turns; legs now burn.
Sun gone down, the air grows chill, my hands numb.
But let this not raise a flag of concern:
The pain tastes better the second time down.

©2014 H.K. Longmore

Tiptoe

I’ve been bit by the “I can’t focus on any personal projects long enough to complete them” bug again. My banjo was calling to me a few weeks ago, telling me of how I’d been neglecting it for far too long. So I got it out, and had to get my chord book so I could remember some chords I’d forgotten. In so doing, I rediscovered a song I wrote, and another that I wrote lyrics for but no music, both nine years old. So I decided it was time to give the lyrics some music. And that’s taken me away from writing poetry, or finishing my edits for my upcoming poetry book. In the meantime, here’s a quick ditty to let you, my dear followers, know I’m not dead yet.

I’ve offended my Muse
She’s not amused
My pen feels used
The paper, abused

So now I tiptoe past
Unlike days gone by
When my footwear
Announced to all

My imminent arrival.

©2014 H.K. Longmore

Descent

Raindrops fall
Fast, wet, calm.
My vision is clouded,
But my car knows the way home.

I miss the exit,
Then take the wrong one.
My vision blurs,
But my car knows the way home.

My heart descends
Into sorrow and sadness.
At last, with no connection,
I must have found my cocoon:

The crawling of my skin
Must result from falling in.
Clouds cry,
And I shudder.

And my car returns
To where I would have been
Were the day drier,
The weather fairer.

Trying to numb the pain,
I miss my turn
When my focus falters.
But my car, it knows.

With the press of a button,
The shelter called home
Opens to protect
My car from the falling rain.

Inside, wipers run
To clear the remaining
Drops of rain
From the windshield.

Another button press
And the door descends
To shield and protect.
I turn off the engine,

Keep the music playing,
And release the pain.
I let it course
Through my veins,

Overwhelm my brain.
I feel wetness in my eyes
Streams of water on my cheeks.
For tears I’m too vain;

How can the wetness be explained?
There must be a leak in my house,
A leak in my car,
Letting in some rain.

I head inside, the moisture stops.
Sitting in my writing chair,
I put down some thoughts.
Writing done, I discover another leak.

© 2014 H.K. Longmore