poems by xiaohuicaicai


									A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, lovesickness.
                                   —Robert Frost

                             Life is a long lesson in humility.
                                    —James M. Barrie

         Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
                                   —Mark Twain

             The Invisible

             live in the shadows,
             cast out
             not from want
             or laziness,
             but by the uncontrollable—
                   that seemed manageable
               at the time,
                   yet started a slide—

             A Shared Smile

             Sugar doughnuts and molten butter breads
             create a delicious display within
             to the man sitting without
             on the sidewalk
             against cold bricks.
             Each swing of the front door
             carries aromatic desires
             to his empty stomach,
             yet remains closed—
             to his empty-pocket entry.

             Stepping off—
             patrons skirt the walkway,
             preferring to tread on automotive drips
             rather than pass by him—
             too close.
             Invisibly noticed,
             then repulsed—
             he drops his head
             on bent knees.
Would you like something to eat?

A woman holding her son’s hand,
offers him the other.
Holding the door open
she welcomes him inside
where the crowded shop greets him
with a hostile pause.
He quietly sits down
as the mother steps up to the counter,
and places an order
   For Here.

Would you like cream and sugar in your coffee?
He nods once. She turns to order his choices
along with numerous sweet breads and pays
the cashier with a large bill. Laying the change
on the tray, she covers it with some napkins.
Her son sits on the counter, busy guiding
the clerk to his favorite! pink iced donut,
as she carries the food laden tray
to a lonely man. He mumbles
Thank you, ma’am.

The morning sun reflects
their mutual warmth.

Going Back

Warmth from a child’s breath, sets adrift—
a single perfect sphere
on biting breeze
floating before the park bench
and into her conscious sight.
Encased by slippery walls,
are her misplaced memories.

Harsh reality begins to slip, blur—
she fades from cold planks
to within the hovering orb,
and finds herself standing
among old friends
having a jocular argument
over simple recipes.
Their loud banter
mingles with scents
of sweet wine
and baked breads
to envelope her body
in warmth
and ease—

until seeing her older self
outside looking in, regret—
cutting aged cheeks.

Old woman watches the younger,
tiny encapsulated figure
splay her palms in horror
against the soap membrane,
paralyzed with fear
of the impending grass prick
that will destroy their perfect world.

faded embers of laughter
cast into cold autumn winds.


Darkness saunters through undressed trees,
drawing forth moving crowds
to crackle dry dead leaves.

Crisp evening air bites uncovered cheeks,
peeping out of detailed costumes
that drag the busy streets.

Sugar-rushed children with flashlights and bags,
race over darkened lawns, deep ditches
as parents group, then lag.

Teenage ghouls laugh at screeching rigged props,
while tiny princesses scream, cry out—
please make it stop!

Excitement flows with carefree laughter—play,
as neighborhoods join together
in amusing masquerade,
        but not all children see it this way.

Sometimes I open my door to a child pretense-free,
with bare arms holding a brown paper bag
in need of much more than sugar treats.

Haunting eyes linger, well after leaving my front step
as the lighthearted make-believe, vanishes—

Empty Mailbox

Wafting hot coffee, candles of cinnamon spice
mingle well as a scented aroma
intended solely to entice.

Cheerful decoration grace the warm cozy room
as lights—green, red, and gold—sparkle
for friends coming soon.

Wheels on the driveway crunch to a stop,
engine guns louder—pushing forth
to the next postal drop.

Bundled in a scarf, gloves, and rich supple leather
she steps out to gather greeting cards,
instead is hit by frigid weather.

              She shivers—

then wonders if homeless people are off the streets,
inside warm shelters on blanketed beds
and given hot food to eat.

Her conscience is pricked with concerns, not of self—
stopping to read a funny salutation, she smiles—
walks back inside and places it center-shelf.

Never Going Back

Icicles slip crystal teardrops
melting in rhythmic pain
clinging to shifting edges
warring forced change,

while angry grass shards pierce
slick, snow-crusted sheets, slicing—
stabbing pinhole victories
through the deadening cold lease—

rising up towards a lonely figure
slumped on wood and rust,
tired eyes downcast—shoes
surrender to seeping slush.

Out of age-roughened bark
some newly birthed buds creep,
beckon her forsaken form—away
from the lure of deep sleep.

Her strength, will to fight—dissipates,
as breathing withers to a final sigh,
unheard by marked strides with purpose
brisk in passing by.

When the southern winds whisper
through tangled branches leaf-bare,
calling for the battle to cease—
it’s too late for her to hear.

Long Road

Shaded boughs of young leaf
shelter four-petaled white bracts,
that meander in delicate layers
above lavender phlox,
stretching roadside banks.
The relentless—
pounding gusts
their fragile stems.

A young mother walks the highway
with a terrific load—an infant in its carrier,
weighs her right. Over stuffed backpack
slung the shoulder that sags
at keeping her trailing son’s carseat
off the dirt and gravel,
while he stumbles—
as each close-passing car
wobbles his small body.

Wagging heads
in hostile metal frames
or look away,
but never stop.

She turns to tell her son they are almost there,
high pitched words pass through smiling lips—
blood bitten inside.
Sunglasses hiding her fear,
dread at their being followed
as she presses forward—to nowhere.
Just away—from the violent rages,
that pummel her body
and paralyze her mind.

A late model minivan crests the hill,
nose dipping to a sudden halt.
Please, let me give you a ride!
The mother tries to smile
but her fragile façade crumbles.
We’re going to the women’s shelter.
         Silent pause—breaks,
with a gentle hand laid
on a shoulder slumped.

Summer Sleepout

Daylight nudges the reluctant night,
as I slip out of our home
before my family wakes,
taking only
a steaming cup
of creamed coffee
and the Sunday morning paper—
         heavy from moisture.
I drive to Old Town and park
at the city docks,
then wait—

for the eastern skies to ignite
with a scorching display—
flaming horizon ablazed
with roaring ambers
and deep blood infernos,
set as a backdrop
to the black,
outlined trees
on the opposite side of the river.
    Minutes move—
    fire fades to azure.

Clatter from a southbound train
shatters the morning peace
in crossing the cement tressels
that span our sluggish river.
Following the caboose, my eyes
drop to a young couple,
I had not noticed before—
rising from a blanket on the grass.
Standing up to stretch—they fold
their blanket into a bag,
then laggardly walk away.

I could not help thinking—
how damp my paper had been.

Tethered Dog

Sipping white chocolate frozen mochas
outside a coffee café, we sat watching
a tiny brown sparrow, bob—
near our wooden bench.

Gathering patron-donated crumbs
off tread warped bricks, it spirits
them away to a hidden nest, tucked—
within a shadowy eave.

Our industrious friend enjoys
uninhibited scavenging rights
until a young man hooks—then leaves,
his dog secured to the corner lamppost.

An onslaught of half barks, whining yelps
are aimed towards the busy bird, skittering—
closer to the dog that quickly wraps
his leash, tight around the pole.

A slow moving man nears the corner interplay.
His booted steps are vaguely familiar.

The helpless dog loses interest in the bird,
becomes agitated by the approaching man,
who stops—
frowns down—mutters low.

Confused—the animal growls,
barks, and wags his tail.
As the man reaches out
and untangles the mutt,

I remember—
a shared smile.

A Seen Truth

You think we are different,
not like you,
but we know
you too—
live close
   to that sliding edge.

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