Woman Unseen

can you see me
over here
still alive
still breathing
still wanting
still needing
needing what
I just don’t know
no longer young
but don’t feel old
not enough wisdom
in my weary soul
lived all these years
and learned
so damn little
Rome burned
while I fiddled
where was my heart
where was my mind
picking up sticks
wasting time
erstwhile friends
slipped away
to a time and place
of yesterdays
children grew
and moved away
don’t need me
to find their way
when I was young
and not yet old
still traveling
an easy charmed road
did not think
this day would come
old as the hills
but still
too young

©2021 KT Workman

(Note: Though this doesn’t seem to apply to men, we women of a “certain age,” become invisible. This poem is for all the not-seen ladies out there.)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Granny Tucker

My Granny Tucker was the kindest, gentlest soul I’ve ever known. And patient, lord above, did that woman have patience.

She came to live with my family when I was about three years old, following Grandpa’s death. I don’t remember Grandpa—probably just as well that I didn’t since according to my mama, he was a mean drunk—but I do remember Granny. I was still young, twelve or so, when she died, but many wonderful memories were crammed into those seven years, memories I’ll carry with me to my grave. And a few bad ones as well.

But I’ll get to the good ones first.

Granny read to me when I was a wee one. All my siblings were in school, and it fell to her to entertain me. But I don’t think she did it out of any sense of duty, but out of love. After I became a grandmother myself, I realized just how special grandchildren are. As a parent, one is often too busy to appreciate the company of a child, to experience the joy one feels in seeing their joy, to savor the love that fills one’s heart to bursting with love for that special little person.

But I digress.

In my mind, I see little me scrunched beside Granny in the old wooden rocking chair she favored. I hear her soft voice, feel the warmth of her thin, bony body against mine as she reads.

According to my siblings, Granny and I played teacher and student, with me insistent on being the teacher. I don’t remember this, but since my sister says I was a stubborn little thing, I’ll take it as fact. Being the spoiled baby of the family, I’m sure I was used to getting my way. I’ve mellowed since then. (“Yeah, right,” I can hear my siblings saying.)

When Granny’s sons (my uncles) visited, one of them—I think it was the uncle who always wanted money from her—invariably brought her a box of chocolate covered cherries. I don’t think Granny ate a single one; instead, she doled them out to her grandchildren. We seldom got candy, so the sweet, gooey chocolate mounds were pure delicacies to us. And to this day, my sister who is three years my senior, and I love chocolate-covered cherries with a passion.

The only mean thing I recall Granny doing was tattling on said sister and me. And looking back, I know it wasn’t really mean of her; it just seemed that way at the time.

One weekday morning, Sister and I decided we didn’t want to go to school so we pretended to be sick. Well, as soon as Mama headed out to the barn to milk the cow, Sister and I got out of bed, and if memory serves me correctly, went outside and played on the teeter-totter. Granny came out of the house and told us she was going to tell Mama as soon as she came back from milking. I suppose we got in trouble, and I suppose I was a little mad at Granny for a bit.

But I got over it. She was way too good to us kids for me to carry a grudge.

She got thinner over the years she lived with us, and frailer as well, but she told no one that she hurt or felt bad. The first clue we had that something was wrong was when I found her outside after she’d fallen. Mama took her to the doctor. I think exploratory surgery was done, and it was discovered she had colon cancer, was in fact so eat up with it that the doctors sewed her back up and sent her home to die.

And it wasn’t a pretty death; it was ugly and horrible, the way cancer most often is—at least that how it was in those times.

She had pain medication, but it could only do so much. I remember Granny telling Mama that rats were eating on her, and her taking my mama’s hand and placing it over her pubic hair to show her the rat.

Now, and even when I was just a kid, I wondered why such a good woman had to suffer so. And how could a loving God allow it?

I wasn’t in the room with her when she died, but for whatever reason, wasn’t in school that day. I remember seeing my mama crying and Daddy holding her. I remember my Grandma Workman, who was there helping out any way she could, coming into the front room to tell me what my Mama’s tears had already told me. I remember Grandma asking if I wanted to tell Granny Tucker goodbye. I remember going into the small bedroom where my Granny had breathed her last and staring at her beloved face.

But I didn’t cry. I knew that at long last, her suffering was over.

My Granny Tucker had loved to read, and that love was passed to Mama, then to me. I believe whatever small talent I have as a writer originated with those two wonderful women. That is why I use the Tucker name (It is the “T” in KT.) as part of my penname: to honor them with my words, the only way I know how.

An old Conway Twitty song titled “That’s My Job” just about sums it up. We go through our younger lives depending on our parents and grandparents to be there when we need them. But there comes a point when we step up to the plate, so to speak, and be the ones “doing the job.” The final stanza of Conway’s song brings this point home.

If you care to listen to it, I’ve added a YouTube link to it below. And if you don’t at least tear up listening to it, you’ve got a pretty hard heart.

©2021 KT Workman

That’s My Job

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Seasons

When did I step into winter—
That I’d like to know.
The last I remember,
I was walking in the woods,
Autumn leaves, brown, red, and gold
Cushioning my way.
Azure skies above,
A brisk chill to the air,
Alive and invigorated.
Strolling fall’s path,
I recalled days gone by,
Fondly, a smile on my face.
Though I had suffered some loss
Of loved ones and missed opportunities,
The days yet stretched ahead,
Full of promise,
Things to do, races to run.

Like the nature of all springs,
Mine had been turbulent,
Full of self-inflicted storms
Interspersed with calm tides and winds.
But as spring had waned
And I became an adult—mostly—of mind,
Not just a hormone-driven body,
The storms grew farther and farther apart,
Until, somehow, without realization,
I strode tall and strong into summer.
Ah, how those days did shine
With family, friends, rewarding work.
Playtime at the beach every year,
Just the ladies and I splashing, laughing,
Drinking margaritas, singing, more laughing,
While lounging on the deck
Watching moonlight dance on the waves.

Autumn sneaked in there somewhere,
Easing through the door so gently
I barely noticed its entrance.
Thought my body wasn’t quite as strong,
It yet served me well.
And life went on—
Work and play uninterrupted.

When the leaves began to fall,
At last, I slowed down,
Smelled the proverbial flowers,
Worked less and played more.
I basked in my new-found freedom,
Did what I wanted when I wanted
With few exceptions.
I brushed off aches and pains,
Explained away the ladies’ and my abandonment
Of sand and sea and margaritas—
For we weren’t getting old.

Then, just like autumn,
Winter arrived unannounced,
Slipped through the back door
With barely a chill—
The old goat parked his frigid ass
In the center of my life
And refused to budge.
I called him names, cursed him, denied him,
But he did not go away,
Just became more entrenched,
Chilled my blood, brittled my bones,
Dried my skin, thinned my hair,
Invited gravity to sit at his side.
Winter waged his war
Without a shot being fired
And captured my youth.
Did he drink it?
Did he eat it?
Where the hell did it go?

Though I had fought him tooth and nail,
At long last, I humbly dropped all store-bought defenses
That no longer camouflaged what I had become.
Yes, I collapsed into winter’s embrace,
Those cold, bitter, lonely arms
And now—
Now—
That old goat sits at my side,
Sucking me dry.
I shrink and I stoop, forget things.
No smile now, I remember times past,
Of rivers that have run dry,
And seasons that have gone by.
Gone by—
Gone by—
In the blink of time’s eye.

©2021 KT Workman

(Note: Free verse is an open form or poetry. It doesn’t use consistent meter patterns, rhyme, or any musical pattern. It tends to follow the rhythm of natural speech.)

Image by Simon Berger from Pixabay

Senryu 1

The days march along,
Flying faster as they pass,
Till I breathe my last.

When my life’s time ends,
Will my soul find contentment,
Or haunt night’s sloe gloom?

Eternal unrest—
Is that what my death will bring?
Or an aught of peace?

©2021 KT Workman

Note: Japanese Senryu—3 lines, 17 syllables. 1st line, 5 syllables; 2nd line,7 syllables; 3rd line 5 syllables. Subject matter usually the human condition.

Image by jplenio from Pixabay

Should Of, Could Of

in a wan wistful voice
swaddled in tarnished regret
the roads not taken
calls out to her
across the years and miles
of seasons past
from a long-ago time
when she was free
young and innocent
not yet compromised
by original sin
man’s heavy hand
or her own conscience
beginning a life of promise
unencumbered
by the weight of wrong choices
and could have beens
and should have beens

she recalls the things
absently gathered
along life’s path
stashed in a Mason jar
shoved under the bed
she takes them out
and one by one
weighs and ponders
the old woman smiles
drops them back inside
the crystal-clear glass
and as she dies
shakes the jar
pours the should ofs
and could ofs
onto the brand new road
and with a saucy grin
takes her first step

©️2020 KT Workman

Image Via Pixabay

Contentment

I don’t write to be famous. I don’t write to make money. I write because I have to. The words are there inside me, whispering, cajoling, whining, and sometimes screaming to be let out to dance upon the page.

They’re not always pushy, though. I go through periods of time when the words are relatively silent; and there were a couple of occasions I thought they were dead and buried, but like in The Walking Dead, the zombie words rose again. Guess it would take a head shot to quiet them for good.

I have no illusions anymore of having a novel published (though that was never the main reason I wrote/write), for I’m too old and undisciplined to see it through. I write when I feel like it. To be a successful author, one has to treat writing like a job, show up and do it whether one feels like it or not. Life, whether it’s going smooth or bumpy, can’t get in the way. One’s moods can’t get in the way. Absolutely nothing can get in the way—at least not in the long term. I let practically everything get in the way—books, TV, YouTube, Facebook, walking, shopping, cooking, etcetera, etcetera. And that’s why I’m not successful.

But that’s okay. There’s more to life than being successful. I suppose it’s possible that contentment may make for a better life than success.

Did you notice I said contentment, not happiness? Happiness is such a fleeting thing, coming in short, infrequent bursts throughout one’s life, balanced by bouts of heartache and hard times. Years ago when I was a twenty-something and coming to the realization that my parents were people too, I asked my mama if she was happy. She told me that she didn’t know if she would say she was, but that she was content with her life. Once I passed through middle-age into old, that’s what I started shooting for: contentment. I can’t say I’ve always hit the mark, but I keep striving for it.

I’m content not to be a rich, famous writer. I’m content to write when and if I feel like it. The words are accepting of that. As long as I keep channeling them, let them be heard when they need to be, they too are content.

The new year is almost upon us; in a few hours, 2019 will give way to 2020. Lord, how the years have flown by. I have a lot less years ahead of me than behind, and I choose to spend whatever time I have left being content. I hope whatever your age, you do the same.

May 2020 bring you more sunshine than rain, more laughter than tears, and more happiness than sorrow. May you be content.

Happy New Year!

©️2019 KT Workman

Images via Pixabay

Around the Bend

running down
that dusty road
impervious to rocks
her shoe-leather soles

chasing sister
chasing brother
watch the baby
said their mother

her short legs
falling behind
a dollar short
and always behind

alway a bother
always a chore
sometimes left alone
and often ignored

she didn’t talk much
cried not at all
and stone by stone
she built a wall

to protect a heart
too tender to show
keeping it hidden
from friend and foe

every passing year
saw more bricks
added to the wall
rick by rick

until one day
she opened the door
stepped outside
joints stiff and sore

and hobbled down
that dusty road
cut and bruised
her old thin soles

chasing what
she didn’t know
only knew
it was time to go

she was ready
to reach this end
maybe it’d be better
just around the bend

© 2019 KT Workman

Photo via Pixabay

My Way

Not long after I pitched the last of Ted’s fingers out the Winnebago’s window, I saw the mean man and the sad woman.

Still on I-10, I had stopped to fill the gas tank when they pulled in beside me at the pumps. Now, I’m usually one to mind my own business, but they made it kind of hard, screaming and carrying on like they were. You could hear them even though their windows were rolled up. Him, at least. His voice was loud and pissed and carried a ways.

I tried my best to ignore the goings-on in the dusty red car. I had always figured what went on between a man and his wife-or whatever they were to each other-was their business, and nothing good ever came from sticking your nose in. So I stared out over the desert, thinking about Ted, while the gas went glug glug glug into the tank.

The slamming of a door pulled my attention back to the car. The man, a banty rooster runt of a thing, stalked around the front of the car and grabbed the nozzle on the other side of the pump I was using. He screwed off the cap, shoved it inside, then palmed his sweaty dark hair back from his forehead. His eyes met mine, narrowed. “What the hell are you looking at?” he growled. Continue reading “My Way”

Little Girls and Old Ladies

Taught to honor and obey
Little girls can’t find their way
Lips zipped against food and speech
Gotta stay skinny, gotta stay meek
Or lasting love won’t come their way
Submerging self, the price they pay
Striving to be who he wants her to be
She loses her and becomes his she

Put Prince Charming on lofty pedestal
Feed the ego of immature male
Make him feel like a mighty king
No matter the fact you’ll never be queen
For him, queens are the porn-star pack
Perfect dolls all waxed, maxed, and stacked
Standing by, always ready, willing, and able
Not real women…just juvenile fables

Poor little girls become old women
Before they realize there is no winning
For the enlightened, this epiphany brings joy
No more worries about pleasing a boy
Just march to the beat of your own crazy drummer
Pick white daisies in your own field of summer
Dance in the rain while the devil beats his wife
And lest it be you, carry a big suspicious knife

©️2019 KT Workman

Photo via Pixabay

Myra’s Funeral

So this is how it all ends, Myra Dunbar thought. My whole life laid bare for the entire world to see.

Well, not quite the entire world; just her family, friends, and a good portion of Welbly, Louisiana, the town she had lived in her entire life.

It was a good turnout, and it pleased her that so many cared enough to come see her off. But it was embarrassing too. After all, who in their right mind wouldn’t turn a bright red to hear their worst transgressions read aloud.

She was glad that John had already passed. He wasn’t sitting here now on the pew in front of her and the current speaker, their daughter Lily, while Lily recounted the time Myra had gotten high and let the five-year-old cook her own dinner, resulting in a nasty burn.

But Myra got through that and a few other mortifying tales without squirming too much in her seat. And Lily moved on to more mundane memories that characterized what an exemplary mother Myra had been.

She was doubly glad John was gone when the last speaker, Marshal Whitacre, the town recorder, took the podium. As was custom, he recited her list of sins first, starting with the time in third grade she had called Milly Simpson a soulless ginger, making the redhead cry, to her third affair that had ended shortly after John’s passing. Myra had learned at John’s funeral that he’d had four flings, sort of evened them out, she supposed, but was still glad he had gone on not knowing.

Then Marshal moved on to her list of deeds.

Head held high and shoulders squared, Myra’s lips curved in a small, modest smile as he recounted her acts of kindness, and exalted her public service, respect for authority, party loyalty, and small carbon footprint.

Ending with her work history, Marshall said, “As most of you know, Myra Dunbar devoted most of her adult life to the upkeep of our library, overseeing the uploading of countless books and their distribution over the internet. And just as importantly, she tracked down and deleted books banned by the Party, even going so far as to erase all mention of them on rogue servers. Furthermore, she was a front-runner in the Party’s initiative to ferret out and destroy false narratives, from history to science that pervades the internet, poisoning our children’s minds.”

Beaming, he turned to Myra. “And so on this day, March 25, 2031, we owe her our thanks for a life well lived, and a job well done.”

The mourners clapped. Myra demurely lowered her eyes, as was expected when one was praised.

When the applause died down, Marshall continued. “Today Myra Tyson Dunbar turns seventy-five, and as is custom, she passes from us. But she will live forever in our hearts.”

Applause again broke out.

Marshal took Myra’s hand. “Come,” he said.

She stood and looked up into the smiling, middle-aged face of her son-in-law.

“Are you ready?” he whispered, tucking her arm through his.

“Yes…yes, I am,” Myra said, though now that the time was here she wasn’t so sure. But she knew she had to put on a brave front, if not for her own pride, then for that of her family. It didn’t sit well on one’s permanent record if a family member behaved badly, even at their passing.

All stood as Myra walked with Marshal down the center aisle toward the back of the room where two soldiers waited on either side of the double doors.

Among the applause and smiling goodbyes, Myra heard a woman whisper, “Can you believe that young people used to have to fight the wars? Imagine squandering productive life that way. Barbaric…”

Then white-haired, stoop-shouldered, Myra Dunbar passed through the double doors and into the Army.

©️2019 KT Workman

Photo via Pixabay