Archive for the Pris Campbell Category

Three Poems by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on October 1, 2019 by Scot

Floral Rearrangements

In my Portnoy-like adolescent years,
feet too long, clumsy elbows —
my resemblance to a towering
sunflower was most obvious in my bathing suit.
Thick yellow blossoms sat on my cap.
Stick thin body, supported by knobby knees,
lept awkwardly into out town pool.
Search as I might daily, not a hint
of a curve was to be found anywhere
in this damp suit, sewn, I’m certain,
by some sadist somewhere
strictly to reveal my imperfections.
I envied the short, flirty girls
with their tight cashmere
sweaters, rounded butts,
colorful bracelets from boyfriends
jangling on proud wrists.
How I longed to be like them,
held by some sexy boy in the erotic night,
fumbling for my breast, breath hot on my neck,
fingers reaching for another kind of petal,
as he begged ‘do it, let’s do it’.

____________

 

A Better Dream

I wake in my glass house,
coach restored outside,
slippers sparkling by the bed,
but the prince is still missing.
I flip through my album
of dreams gone wrong,
find him in torn jeans,
hair long and scruffy,
arm wrapped tight around
a blowing in the wind sort of gal,
the type he fantasized having
when he tired of my ballroom
gowns and perfect hair.
I wonder had I stepped
into another fairy tale,
would I have survived
the wolf, still awakened
from my needle-pricked
slumber, regrown my plait.
The glass castle fades
and I sleep again, prince
pushed out of mind for now.
Cinders float to blanket me
from that long-doused fire.

____________

 

Rise and Fall

He could have starred as Rhett Butler,
had there been a remake,
making his fortune in the hotel business
rather than uncivil wars, Atlanta on fire
in his checkered background.

Closets, big as my bedroom, were filled
with hand tailored suits for his broad shoulders.
Gemstones, locked in a safe,
were for his four children’s inheritance.
Two convertibles for his own use,
took barely a third of the garage,
but everybody knew he had sex
with men barely out of their teens,
keeping them happy with baubles
and rent free rooms at his hotel.

When we sat on his sofa after
my much younger cousin’s funeral
holding hands, retelling stories,
weeping off and on, I never thought
about his wife’s icy silence
from the rocker squeaking
across from us.

No reason for jealousy over one
of a gender he would never cheat with.

When our eyes were dry,
he took out his Caddy convertible
to drive me home. Stars, Highwayman-bright,
lit up the country road.

He pulled over
for a closer look, then suddenly kissed me.
Not the kiss of a gay man.
A kiss that made me feel like Scarlett.

After that night I never saw him again
during my visits back to relatives,
heard years later his wife had died.
His business, his home, the gemstones,
the closets packed with expensive suits,
and convertibles all were lost,
gone with that elusive wind,
and he was sharing a trailer
with an equally impoverished son,
dependent on dad for his future.
This man we all thought we knew,
but didn’t.

3 poems by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on July 12, 2018 by Scot

Beginnings/Endings

She trips over her feet,
clumsy in this beginning
of nudges and sighs,
inept in what came
naturally in her golden days,
days of men sprawled carelessly
on her now-junked blue velvet
bed, arms reaching
to pull her down, drown
her with mind sucking kisses.

But what of this new man,
a hot, then cool faucet;
a hurricane, then a windless
day, herself the same,
walking backwards
to his forward, hoping
the blackbirds will give her
a sign, circle the red
or the green, help her
learn where hearts go to hide
when those cared for before
have passed into shadowed
valleys, littered with salt.

____________

 

Floral Rearrangements

In my Portnoy-like adolescent years,
feet too long, elbows banging
into mother’s ceramic knickknacks,
my resemblance to a towering
sunflower became obvious in my bathing suit
at weekly swim practice.

Gold rubber blossoms adorned my cap.
Stick thin body, supported by knobby knees.
Not a hint of a curve was to be found anywhere
in that damp suit, sewn, I’m certain,
by some sadist, strictly to reveal my imperfections.
No southern belle, to mother’s dismay.

I envied the short, flirty gals,
the ones with the tight cashmere
sweaters, rounded butts,
colorful bracelets from boyfriends
jangling on proud wrists.

How I longed to be like them,
held by some sexy boy in the dark southern night,
while he fumbled for my breast, breath hot on my neck,
fingers reaching for another kind of petal,
as he begged ‘do it, let’s do it’.

____________

 

Potholes

Sara stumbles across Norman’s latest book,
has stopped googling his name,
avoids poetry readings,
but there it sits on a site she rarely visits,
a pothole, waiting for her to trip over it.

She can’t catch her breath.
Her heart Is already running,
leaving her behind,
a pale, frozen ghost of a woman,
to deal with feelings she was certain
she’d boxed up in an attic somewhere.

Now she remembers the hint
of mint when he kissed her,
his clothes always folded just so
on the chair before the wilder Norman
came out to carry her up mountains
she’d never climbed with other men.

She wonders if he ever runs across
one of her paintings in a gallery
and loses his breath, too, his heart
galloping, wonders what it would
be like if he’d had the courage to stay
with her and the boy, now grown,
let go of the walls he built stone by stone
around himself, fearing that one day
the castle would collapse
and he would lie there
in the rubble, unable to deal with fists
that still had the urge to strike out,
unable to ward off memories of a childhood
that branded him too deeply to risk
what he might do to their son.

Going Home by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on June 20, 2017 by Scot

 

The old man walks down
the center line of Jenson Boulevard
in his best suit, shoes spit-shined.
Cars honk.
Curses abound –
get out of the road you crazy fool!

A truck driver pulls over,
tries to guide him to the sidewalk,
only to be whacked by the old man’s cane.

Cell phone users gather.
Some call 911. Others record in case he’s hit.
They’ll have the video for the evening news.

The old man doesn’t understand the ruckus.
Mother will be waiting for him,
with milk and cookies.
He doesn’t want her to worry.

Two cops finally pull up, take him
by each arm, check the bracelet
on his left wrist, load him into their car.

A woman in white wrings her hands
when they park beside a squat,
institutionalized building. She takes
him to a small room, tells him he’s home.

The sun knows and the moon knows
this isn’t home. Home is somewhere
along that big road outside.
He’s determined to find it.

He’ll try again the next time
a door is left open.

For a Moment by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on May 9, 2017 by Scot

 

I wake from a dream,
fingernails dug into his back,
his mouth hard on mine,
remembering those days that were
siphoned away and won’t return
in this lifetime.

I was the one to leave,
so why the crocodile tears now?

One of his emails popped up
in an old folder yesterday
and, for a moment, I forgot he was dead,
doctors exhausted from attempts
at a heart restart and I want to answer
the email all over again just
like when I called mother’s old number
until the line went silent,
telling her secrets I never
could utter when still alive.

____________

Pris Campbell has been mostly housebound with ME/CFS since 1990 so writes her poems to escape into the world again. In addition to numerous journals, she has published seven chaps/books of free verse poetry and, most recently, her first romantic tanka book, Squall Line on the Horizon, through Nixes Mate Press. She makes her home with her husband in the Greater West Palm Beach, across the waterway from where Trump twitters in his southern White House.

Heading South by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags , on November 23, 2016 by Scot

 

Polar caps float past the White House.
Men and women leap from the roof
onto rowboats, purloined sailboats,
documents about the myth
of global warning shredded quickly.

Security Guards cling to the top
of the Empire State Building.
They wait for a large piece of debris
to float by before they jump,
hoping to cling, Titanic style,
until the lifeboats come back
to get them.

The Statue of Liberty sighs in sorrow,
takes a deep breath before the tides
overcome her.

At the docks, immigrants, already loaded
for deportation, let loose the dock lines,
pick up floating men and women of all colors,
the elderly, women from rape camps,
Gay couples separated, now united again,
the homeless, lost children.

They add poets and artists to document
this shifting New Age, head south
with a crude map to where word
has spread that Atlantis, long sunk,
has risen again just for this day in history.

Invasions by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags , on November 17, 2016 by Scot

 

Pearl long-legs her way
through her teens in her
la de da, Jesus Saves,
southern hometown.
She doesn’t fit into
the who said what or
who got drunk world
of her classmates,
reads Sartre in her spare time, recites
King’s not yet come true dream
to her bored cats, fingers
the old McGovern pin bought
at a pawn shop. She weeps
over stories of the KKK
emerged again, Muslim
children given fake deportation
papers by school bullies
for a laugh.

She sits on soft pine needles
in the woods behind her house,
inhales silence, wishes
Tonto, (looking like Johnny Depp
would show up with Silver,
dangling the Lone Ranger’s mask
from his beckoning finger,
Silver pawned for Santa’s old sleigh
and his back-up group of reindeer,
lasers stashed in the candy bags in back.

They could flash red across the sky
each night, vaporizing weapons
and rescuing the disenfranchised,
their light so bright people would gaze
in wonder, reporting UFO invasions
or even the second coming.

Advance Notice by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on January 28, 2015 by Scot

Coins in your eyes,
unwritten ‘forgive me’ notes
embedded into your fingertips,
the ladies in black prepare you.

This is your eulogy,
my second ex, writ in advance.

I touch my hand to my breastbone
where blood flowed, staining
the sidewalk, when you left me
for the gal with peter pan hair
and the saucy behind.

My chest is dry now.
The sidewalk is dry.
My eyes are dry.

A flicker of sea air
drifts past, carries away
the  remaining remnants
of sails raised, boat keening,
dolphins tracking our
every maneuver.