UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY

CYNTHIA RUTH LEWIS

AFTERWARDS, IN FLUORESCENT GLARE

I wanted to tell you at the restaurant
after the drinks came;
something to help loosen my tongue
and ease the truth out

I wanted to tell you
about all the other men.
I wanted to tell you quietly
that your wife was a whore,
that she just couldn't help it
that they all somehow reminded her of her father,
that elusive man she still chased in dreams

but I couldn't; didn't want to cause a scene,
ruin the evening
and the meal passed in silence
save for slight clinking of silverware against dish
and the quiet hum of emotional devastation on the horizon

and afterwards,
trading the subdued lighting of the restaurant
for the harsh glare of Walgreens
to pick up a few forgotten things;
you grasped my hand in the toothpaste aisle
a small smile before contemplating which brand was cheaper--
which tube had more value for less cost,
and there amongst the display of mouthwash and floss,
slick as spitting fresh mint residue out of polished mouths,
the filthy words shot from my lips;
all the men and motel trips,
revealing the going rate for your wife these days--
compare her worth alongside
the cavity-fighting products spread
in harsh fluorescent glare before you,
you'll see she costs
even less


ENDURANCE

It's a sad day
when you realize you wasted your life
hating the wrong parent--
the one who never acknowledged you
the one who seemingly ignored you,
the one that you feared and wrote
countless twisted poems about
and sometimes saw in nightmares

and then you learn
through a lot of therapy and reflection
that your paranoia and over-all psychotic persona
is really a gift from the parent who doted on you
the one who never left your side
the one who instilled her psychotic beliefs in your mind
while you were still too young to know
what the hell was going on
and you drank from the offered cup, innocently,
because parents always know best
and you grew up wondering
what was wrong with the world--
why you couldn't trust anybody
why everything only enraged you
and why you could always only see
the tarnished side of the coin--

that kind of parental attention
I could have done without
but, they say every learned behavior
can be unlearned
and, even though I'm still a far cry
from achieving peace of mind
I find that mother dear bothers me less
as the days go by;
her poison tongue doesn't grate on my nerves
quite as harshly as before
but sometimes
the warm afternoon sunlight glinting off my father's urn,
slightly beyond the range of her maniacally gyrating arms,
is just a little too much
to bear









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