Filling Station

A woman and her husband
Stopped at this place

She, eight months with child
He, thinking about walking out
And the drive had been a tense one
Old wounds reopened
Fresh hurts on display

And an old couple was there
At the same time
Laughing while they pumped gas
They asked her when the baby was due

She said, “One month.”

The old man asked her husband
“Are you excited?”
“Nervous,” was the reply

“Don’t be. Just remember:
Loving someone
Who loves you back
Is the greatest thing in the world.
And your child
Will love you back.”

Forty-eight years later
The woman is no longer young
She stands at this abandoned place
Her young granddaughter in tow.
“What is this place?” the little girl asks

This place?
This is where your grandaddy and I

Decided to stay in love

(“Filling Station” – 8-15-2014)

The Play of the Waves – 2 – Prequel

“You still read those? I didn’t even know they still made comic books!”

“Why are you going through my stuff, Sarah? And yes, I happen to like Supergirl.”

“I like to see what people do at lunch,” Sarah answered. “I just figured at age twenty-six, you might have outgrown these.”

Ingrid looked at her friend. “Did you by any chance see Avengers Endgame?”

“Yes. Three times.”

“Well, I’d like to keep chatting, but you just overloaded my irony meter.”

“So I noticed Fuller, that guy from accounting, has walked by here several times. I think he likes you. He doesn’t work anywhere near here, but he seems to walk by a lot.”

Sarah looked at Ingrid, expectantly.

“I’ve a one o’clock meeting, Sarah.”

“You’re not giving me anything, are you.”

“Nope. You’ve insulted me and you’ve insulted Kara Zor-El, so you’re just gonna have to guess what’s going on.”

“Fine!” adding she marched off, “You know I’m going to find out.”

The truth was, Fuller had stopped and talked to her right before lunch, although she had actually spoken to him first. They were both scheduled to go in six days with about twenty other people out to Hawaii for a company event that included people from the Atlanta and Tokyo offices meeting up. She didn’t really know him, except they had been part of the same volleyball team when the company threw a team together for a city charity event. She gathered that he was single, had never been married, and been with the company and in Atlanta about eighteen months. He was apparently from somewhere up north, but she wasn’t sure where.

“Hello,” she said to him, the third time he walked by.

“Oh, hi,” he said, stopping suddenly. “It’s Ingrid, right?”

“Yes. What brings you down to this floor? We don’t see many people from financial here, unless there is some sort of problem.”

“Oh, no, there’s no problem, I’ve been working with Ajith on a statement of work with one the new agencies you all have. I just got assigned Marketing, so I’m trying to learn.”

“I hear you’re headed out to Hawaii next week?”

“Yes, I was happy to be invited. Have you been before?”

“No, at least not since I was old enough to remember. You?”

“I’ve only ever landed and taken off from there. The only part of Hawaii I’ve seen from the ground is the airport.”

“It should be fun, although meetings with the Japan team tend to last a long time.”

He took a deep breath.

“Would you be interested in maybe going out and having dinner some time? I hope it doesn’t seem too forward, but I’d like to get to know you better.”

So there it is, she thought. “Yes,” she said, trying to sound like this was a new idea to her. “That sounds like fun.” She took out a piece of notepaper, and wrote her phone number down on it. “Let me have your number, too, so my phone doesn’t robo-block you.” He wrote down his number as well.

“Well,” he said, “I’ll be talking to you.”

“Bye,” she said, as we walked off, smiling.

10 days later, she was coming down an escalator at the hotel towards the convention center as he was coming up. “Hey can I talk to you a second?” he said.


“I’ll come around and meet you at the bottom”.

When he got there, they stepped aside towards some empty convention booths.

“They’ve left us a free day Friday, since the Japan team has to go back early, and I was wondering if you’d be up to having that date while we’re out here?”

She had made plans with Sarah, but she was pretty sure Sarah would let her go as long as she told her what she was doing. “Yeah, sounds great. I was going to try to get some shopping in, if you’d be up for that first.”

“Ok, let’s meet around 10:00? Is that too early? That way we can shop before the crowds get there, and when or if we get tired, we can just call it.”

“Alright, I’ll see you down in the lobby, Friday, 10:00am.”

“I knew there was something going on with you guys! Do you like him?”

“I don’t even know him yet. It’s a first date.”

“Yeah, but out here… in this tropical heat… amazing things can happen.”

“Oh, really? Have you had a lot of Hawaiian flings?”

“No,” Sarah said, reflectively, “but I watch a lot of cheesy Hallmark movies. Christmas and Hawaii are always good for romance.”

“I’m kind of nervous.”

“Why? He’s going to love you!”

“I haven’t done great with boyfriends. The last one was so clingy, he… he essentially turned into kudzu, is what he did.”

“Well, this guy is an accountant, so I doubt he’s anywhere near as emotional as the actor you were dating previously. He could probably tell you how much it costs to get rid of kudzu. Well, you can break our plans and go out with this guy with my blessing. You just owe me a report on how it went immediately after, if not sooner.”

“Ugh, I’m so pale, I’m going to look horrible in Hawaiian sun. I look something that haunts a hotel, not stays in it.”

“You really are nervous, aren’t you? It’s just a guy, it’s just a date, sounds like he set it up so it starts super-casual, and you both can end any time without it being awkward. Just relax. You’re amazing, and it he doesn’t realize it, he’s just a loser.”

“I appreciate your loyal and heartfelt insincerity, Sarah. But I will relax. It’s only a guy… it’s only a date.”

9:44 Friday morning, she was staring at the room clock as it turned over to 9:45. They weren’t originally supposed to have this day off, so everything she brought to wear was either too formal or too casual, but she did have a sun dress she felt was presentable, and after more worrying about what her mom always called their “Swedish complexion”, she took a few deep breaths and told herself to just try to enjoy the day. She did a few more last minute things, then grabbed her purse and phone and headed off to the elevator.

She didn’t know any one of the six or so people on the elevator, but they were all dressed for work, and she felt like she was wearing a “going on a date” sign. Which was insane, she realized, which, for whatever reason, struck her as funny, and so she began to relax.

He was standing between a sofa and the main doors. Thankfully, he was not attempting to wear a Hawaiian shirt. “You ready?” he asked.

“I am,” she said.

The Play of the Waves – 1 – First Date

She had wanted everything to be perfect, and it was; still, amid a spectacular sunset, and after a wonderful day, some part of her worried.

Something is bound to go wrong, she thought.

“What is this called?” he asked.

“Guri guri,” she answered. “It means something like ‘massage’ in Japanese.”

“It’s a good name for it,” he laughed. “You look beautiful tonight, by the way,” he added, his eyes glowing with the last bit of the setting sun.

Yep, she thought. Something is bound to go wrong any minute.

“How much Japanese do you know?” he asked her.

“Very little. I lived in Japan between the ages of 1 and 4, so I know I learned some, but I haven’t really spoken in it in years. This is the closest I’ve been to Japan since then, and we’re — what? 3,000 miles away?”

“Something like that, or 4,000, maybe. Do you know any other languages?”

“I can actually speak a little French. N’est-ce pa une belle nuit?”

“It is,” he answered. “We are about to see a bunch of stars, too.”

“What about you? You obviously know some French.”

“My grandmother on my mother’s side was French. I studied Spanish in school, but I wasn’t very good at it. I’ve had to travel to Japan for work, but I know maybe three sentences, and I mispronounce those.”

There were a few moments of silence as they listened to the sound of the distant waves, mixed with music coming from the bar inside.

“Is something bothering you?” he asked. “I know it’s a weird question, since I don’t know you that well, but you seem a little… on edge.”

“Yeah, I’m a worrier,” she said with a sigh. “You might as well know that about me now. I worry a lot.”

“What are you worried about? Or is it more… general?”

“I haven’t had great luck with dating, honestly. I keep expecting something to go wrong.”

He looked at her, waiting.

After some seconds thought, she added, “What about you? Since we’re being honest, what’s going through your head?”

“I normally am very nervous going out, but I feel very comfortable with you. We’ve spent the last eight hours together, exploring the island, and the time has just kind of flown. It’s been really nice, to just be able to, you know, be, just be with someone. You are really interesting, and I was honestly thinking, I hope she’ll want to go out again.”

“Do you ever worry that stuff will just — go wrong?”

“Yes, well, if you predict doom, you are certain to be right eventually, but it comes at a cost. Still, sometimes, if things feel wrong, you have to trust that; that’s certainly part of dating.”

“How old were you when you started dating?”

“Ooh, that’s an embarrassing one to answer. I was eighteen, and my high school prom was my first ever date.”

“That’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“How old were you?”

“I was sixteen, and he was nice. A little boring for me at that age, but nice.”

“Do you know what he’s doing now?”

“Of course! He owns a contracting business; I think they do, like, doors and windows, in particular. I know his wife really well. She and I have known each other a long time.”

“And, since you brought it up earlier, if I do have a fear, or a worry, when it comes to dating, it’s that the other person will think I’m boring. So, my worry takes a rather predictable shape.”

“You are not boring. Not at all. I’ve had a really good time today.”

He smiled at her. “Me, too.”

“And I would like to go out with you again. But it will have to be back home.”

“Yes, I don’t think the company will pay for us to stay here and go out, sadly, so. If you are up for next Saturday, we should both be over jet lag by then.”

“Sounds great. Only I’m paying next time.”

Back at the hotel, she sat down on her bed, sinking back into the pillows. Nothing went wrong. You made it a whole day, and nothing went wrong. She heard a ding from her phone that indicated a text message.

So… how did it go? It read.


He thought they’d had, for them,
A quite good day.
He took the garbage out
Before she asked, complimented
Her on the new hair style, and
Listened for some time after
Inquiring as to her day

He tried to make eye contact as
She was taking unusable things out
If the refrigerator and moving them
To the garbage can, smiling on
Occasion to show his sympathy with
The vicissitudes of that day’s battle

He commented on how selfless she
Always was, and how people took
Advantage, sometimes; as she finished
Drying her hands after washing them,
He lightly placed his hands on her shoulders

Whereupon she recoiled, turning at
Once to pass that off as a gesture of
Busy procedure on to the next task, while he
Realized with the first dim realization of
A new forever that
What used to be good enough for her

Wasn’t good enough any more

He Couldn’t Help

He couldn’t help but look,
She was so elegant —
He couldn’t help but try
To talk to her

He couldn’t help but fall in love,
It seemed so right;
The next few weeks and months
Were all a blur —

But she was more than just a look,
She’d known of hurt:
The monsters that she feared,
She’d seen herself —

And so she reached out to him,
Just to find that when
It wasn’t about him,
He couldn’t



“No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.”

Part 1

Cruel laughter rings
Around a five-year-old boy

Look at the little baby!
He carries a teddy bear!

And tears appear in the eyes
Of the young, confused boy

And the toy bear

Part 2

She was a lithesome seventeeen
Wanting to leave girlhood behind;
He was so handsome, quiet, forceful
He filled her soul, her heart, her mind

Giving herself to adult pleasure
Finding too late the price of lust;
Violence breaking out in ruin
Having a baby, broken trust

Young single mom setting up a nursery
Worn teddy bear for the baby’s bed;
The only gift that his father left him
So many things must stay

Part 3

His mother died when he was only six
He had no father that he’d ever known
He set off with his grandmother to live
Some other place, with everything unknown

His only friend, a tattered sewn-up toy
The house smelled funny, all his tears were spent;
He hugged his only friend up to face
Just trying to recall
His mother’s scent


One “Can’t”

“You can be anything,” she said,
  In a quiet moment before bed,
  But the child could see some sadness there
  And so asked, “Mom, what’s wrong?”

  The mother paused with a distant stare,
  As though she could see someone standing there;
  And said, “You could be President, for sure,
  Or the reason we find a famous cure;

  You could be a parent, a star, a friend
  Who is there through the joy or the bitter end.
  But there is one ‘can’t’ for us all, you see:
  You can’t be the person you used to be.”

The child looked up, and said, “If that’s true,
She must have been great to be better than you.”

{ humble. }


The mist and rain, a gray wet towel
Upon the earth. The trees in layers,
Steeples, traffic lights – and one,
A straggling car, drives slowly down
A hidden byway, fire hydrant lost,
A wood fence rotting in the damp,
Along a pitted driveway where
A bent mailbox sits rusting.
Pulling in.

= = = = =


The fire crackles; plaid and coffee,
Outside, inside,
Feet stretched out and music,
Mellower than mocha, looking
Over at the rain upon the window.
Lights reflected warm,
The cold fall mist highlights
The swing of headlights
Into the dull gray yard beyond
Her thoughts.

= = = = =


Borders of a shared aluminum
Shell, the edge of that small town;
A year apart, and everywhere else
Together. Humble Oil
And Burger Chef nearby.
An era lost, or never found:
And from that place
They each emerged – she married,
He enlisted – and both determined
To get away from all that stained
Their pillows: decades torn
And skin shed wrinkled,
Only Holiday letters, then
His car arrives.

= = = = =


The mist runs now inside, the gray
Is shared, the once-young faltering;
But love is never really old,
It’s only shivering unspoken,
Cold and rain, that
Brother, sister
Bringing once again the sound
And scent of once
A trailer park
And humble that became
Their long escape.
Too late, it never is,
To do what’s right.

Reroutes (3)

He worked a farm in summer
To save and pay for college,
Just sun and soil and sweat
He traded in for knowledge,

And though things didn’t go
Exactly as he’d planned,
He told his son that one day
He would understand.

The jobs were hard and varied,
His effort though, unflagging,
His son could never see.
Why work when pay is lagging?

And when the son was old enough,
He wanted his own brand —
Because he’d seen the toil
And didn’t understand.

In time he gained a family:
A daughter by his wife —
He knew there were no limits.
He would give those two his life —

And driving to the farm
His father’s buried on, he stood,
And said, “I understand, now, Dad.
And all of it is good.”