Archive for the Pris Campbell Category

Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on December 5, 2022 by Scot

 

 

Unexpected Changes

He rides his bike daily
down the cul de sac
past our house, this half-man
half-boy the kids call retardo.

He doesn’t seem to notice.

I think of when my own legs
pumped my bike over
the waterway, then north
past Mar A Lago when Trump
with his private club Beach Boys concerts
was still failing in his attempt
to break into that Palm Beach haven
of old money.

The bike route dead ends
at the inlet where our sailboat
entered one rainy midnight returning
from the pink and yellow house
covered upper abacos.

My balance held me in good stead
on both bike and boat,
rather then bouncing off of walls
unless grasping a chair
or waving my arms like someone
on a balance beam.

I miss the sweet smell of grass
when I mowed, soil under my nails,
driving to the store for a sack of coal
to grill chicken with the neighbors.
I miss long chats, longer kisses.
Gone, all gone.

My brain, once an A plus, falls
to an F after short chunks of concentration.
The teacher is strict.
My body buckles, a knight trapped
in a welded-on suit of armor.
I topple, exhausted, into chairs or bed.
My fork weighs a ton.

So many doctors….but in those earlier
days of this inexplicable illness called
myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome
that has taken me captive, I’m told
it’s emotional, that I’m depressed….
even ridiculed by a smug faced neurologist.
I long for the hand of my always-kind,
dead childhood doctor.

Thirty-two years now chained to my house,
but not a thief like Marley, friends gone
around corners I can’t follow. I write poems
from this twilight zone of life’s curve ball, play games
with memory. I dream the sea calls my name
and I fall into the surf. Sirens carry me
to new shores where nails from
this crucifixion are at last extracted
and I trace steps down long paths
always hoped for but never taken.

Changing Times by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on November 9, 2022 by Scot

The Sanibel bridge, torn apart in the middle
by Ian appears on t.v. looking unreal.
The lighthouse keeper’s dwelling is
washed away. Houses are submerged,
residents stranded, like in Ft Myers, next to them,
where I visited my friend and her brother,
my boyfriend, during Easter our senior
college year. I felt safe, just as I did
when my husband and I stayed in a rental
oceanfront condo at Ft Myers Beach
five years ago, never thinking water
would one day wash the land from beneath the bed
we lay in, that the birds we saw in the sanctuary
on Sanibel would be the only ones able
to fly right away to safer homes.

Meteorologists say warming oceans
are feeding the storms, making them worse.
Our home sits eight miles from the sea
on the other coast of Florida. I hold
my breath wondering if that biggest
chunk of Arctic ice will indeed break off,
etching new shorelines everywhere.
Perhaps it’s time to buy another sailboat,
load it with clothes , food, books,
fishing rods, a desalinator
and paper for hopeful poems I’ll pass out
to groping hands camped out on high rooftops,
purloined surf boards their only transport.

BIO: The poems of Pris Campbell have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including PoetsArtists, Nixes Mate, Rusty Truck, Bicycle Review, The Red Fez, Boxcar Poetry Review, and Outlaw Poetry. Nominated seven times for a Pushcart, the Small Press has published twelve collections of her poetry. Truth and Other Lies, from Nixes Mate Press is her most recent book. She also writes short forms and took first place in the Marlene Mountain monoku contest and the Sanford Goldstein tanka competition in 2021. A former Clinical Psychologist, sailor and bicyclist until sidelined by ME/CFS, a neuroimmune illness, in 1990, she makes her home with her husband in the Greater West Palm Beach, Florida.

Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on November 9, 2022 by Scot

Unexpected Changes 

 

He rides his bike daily
down the cul de sac
past our house, this half-man
half-boy the kids call retardo.

He doesn’t seem to notice.

I think of when my own legs
pumped my bike over
the waterway, then north
past Mar A Lago when Trump
with his private club Beach Boys concerts
was still failing in his attempt
to break into that Palm Beach haven
of old money.

The bike route dead ends
at the inlet where our sailboat
entered one rainy midnight returning
from the pink and yellow house
covered upper abacos.

My balance held me in good stead
on both bike and boat,
rather then bouncing off of walls
unless grasping a chair
or waving my arms like someone
on a balance beam.

I miss the sweet smell of grass
when I mowed, soil under my nails,
driving to the store  for a sack of coal
to grill chicken with the neighbors.
I miss long chats, longer kisses.
Gone, all gone.

My brain, once an A plus, falls
to an F after short chunks of concentration.
The teacher is strict.
My body buckles, a knight trapped
in a welded-on suit of armor.
I topple, exhausted, into chairs or bed.
My fork weighs a ton.

So many doctors….but in those earlier
days of this inexplicable illness called
myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome
that has taken me captive, I’m told
it’s emotional, that I’m depressed….
even ridiculed by a smug faced neurologist.
I long for the hand of my always-kind,
dead childhood doctor.

Thirty-two years now chained to my house,
but not a thief like Marley, friends gone
around corners I can’t follow. I write poems
from this twilight zone of life’s curve ball, play games
with memory. I dream the sea calls my name
and I fall into the surf. Sirens carry me
to new shores where nails from
this crucifixion  are at last extracted
and I trace steps down long paths
always hoped for but never taken.

Our Bodies, Our Selves by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on July 8, 2022 by Scot

 

Gloria Steinem, do you weep
over the loss of Roe versus Wade?
Do your tears fall on the ashes
of burnt bras, the footprints
embedded into the many marches
women have made to find our rights?

Do the ghosts of the Suffrage fighters
revisit their cells, weeping, too,
for the loss of power our votes
have brought us after their days
suffering for the best for us all.

Do the MeToo women, so filled
with hope at the rally in Washington
search for their hiking shoes
to try once again to keep men’s hands
and laws off of our bodies?

I add my own tears to the growing flood
that will one day wash us away
into the primordial pit of those
who have no hope of that rainbow
with bluebirds singing overhead.

 

Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on July 8, 2022 by Scot

 

 

Flying

The old man ties a sheet
around his shoulders,
climbs a forgotten ladder
to the roof of the nursing home,
pretends he’s Superman.
His favorite show as a kid.
His parents are long gone.
No sibs.
No children, either.
They baby him in the home
because he forgets sometimes,
gets day mixed with night
But who wouldn’t be mixed in the closed
off corridors, the dark lunchroom,
Lysol stenching his senses
down to zero on mopping days.
He’s not on the roof to fly
but bets he could if he wanted to.
He just wants to look out
over rooftops, children playing,
a fresh garden being dug.

Mother lived until she was 89.
She lost nearly everyone, too.
She told me it was hard.
I thought I knew what she meant
but didn’t until the people I’ve loved
have disappeared one by one
and there’s no-one around
to kiss a boo boo or hug me.

The graveyards fill too quickly.
Here and everwhere else.
Sadness seeps the sap from you
until you’re ready to climb a roof, too,
and remember when you played
marbles, had sling shot wars,
hung from trees, had men fighting
over you for a sweet kiss.

Perhaps I can pretend to be Lois Lane
and invite Superman over. Either that
or borrow his cape and fly.

 

After by Pris Campbell

Posted in Pris Campbell with tags on May 26, 2021 by Scot

 

After she had tried the scalding baths,
drank gunk someone told her would work,
she used the coat hanger. No blood gushed .
The boyfriend broke it off
when he heard, leaving her
still in love, desperate and too broke
to go for a backroom abortion.

Years have deepened and Roe vs Wade
has released our bodies, our right
to say yes. Bad back, ten hour work days
in a career I studied years for,
no wish to marry the rage-ridden father
of the just fertilized egg in my womb,
I sit where my back-then friend should have sat.
She disappeared with no warning.
I wonder if she’s still alive
or another abortive attempt took her.

The spirit of my own child follows me
for a year…

Why didn’t you have me, he asks.

I try to explain, feeling a bit crazy
to think this is real—I’m not psychic.
I tell him I love him.

When his footsteps finally head in another direction
I sense he’s been born elsewhere.
I hope he found a good home, a mother
to sing pretty lullabies.

When strangers ask me if I had any children
sometimes I say yes,
with no explanation.

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.