Write to Life

Heidi M. Bauer’s poetry, writing, and commentary

Chapbook: The House Next Door

with 2 comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The House Next Door

                                                                                    By Heidi M. Bauer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The House Next Door©

 

   By Heidi M. Bauer

 

    HMB Publishers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedicated to all those who have survived trauma

 

““There is a positive that lies in the negative of the traumatic experience. When we are triggered and re-experience the trauma; we are given the chance to let light into that room and see the experience emotionally and spiritually. As we embrace our trauma, it becomes our medicine—a positive force. ‘Making light of the dark’ is the binding force that can help empower you. When we understand that, the violence no longer owns us. The traumatic experience is revealed and knowing this you are at peace—the trauma is no longer a threat to your present consciousness.”–Coral Anika Theill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“And the time came when the pain to remain tight in the bud became greater than the risk it took to blossom.”–Anais Nin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

 

Heidi M. Bauer began writing in elementary school as a hobby. At age 30, Heidi left her corporate business career and went back to college to pursue her English and writing degree. Her goals are to attend graduate school, publish her writing, and teach English at the college level. She is currently a junior at Kent State University where she is a member of the Honors College and holds an Academic Achievement Scholarship. She is also a 2005 and 2006 GED Initiative Scholar’s scholarship recipient and the 2006 Steiskel Scholarship recipient. Her essay, “How the “The Rape of Nanking” Has Affected My Life” won an honorable mention in the 2006 Iris Chang Memorial Essay Contest.  She is a member of the National English Honorary, Sigma Tau Delta and also works for Kent State University at the Client Services Helpdesk. She is a lover of history, politics, and reading. She lives in Kent, Ohio and is the single mom of her four-year old son, Keagen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Friendship Street                                                                       7                                             

What I Never Told You about Your Grandfather                            8

Grandfather                                                                               10

June Rose                                                                                11

Salina, Kansas                                                                          13

The Black Rose                                                                         14

Loss                                                                                         15

Stone of the Franks                                                                   16

I Had a Dream Last Night                                                           17

9-11-06                                                                                     18

Cracked China                                                                          19

You Cannot Taste Me                                                                20

Katrina, 2005                                                                             21

Ode to Black Women                                                                 22

Civilization                                                                                24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friendship Street

 

Friendship Street sits fantastically loud and quiet

in small town Mid-west America

I remember you falling down over curbs

to collect that last Buckeye of the season

 

Broken bones mend over years

that you and I fought

With hammers, markers, and candles,

that bowl of cereal splattered on the door

 

Mildew that Mom scrubbed off the sweating walls

The Snoopy that even paint could not remove

Thumping of the furnace signifies Dracula’s arrival

up the basement steps to get me underneath the covers over my head

 

Fantasy Island, the Love Boat, Charlie’s Angels, Eight is Enough

 was enough to burn our floor model T.V.

1970 Encyclopedias that Dad bought but Mom paid for

collect dust with science books but not nearly as much as the Bible

 

Dog gnawed, wooden legged furniture

A VCR with a message taped to it, “Mom, don’t touch the remote!”

Chalked raspberry walls, “Heavy metal rules” Bad boys who really weren’t

more than afraid and insecure young men

 

Roasted marshmallows on the flames of the gas stove

or the charcoal of the five-dollar grill on the side wooden porch

In the rain dancing and singing to the Grease soundtrack

in a bed sheet wrapped around my frame

 

Lying to get into The Breakfast Club to hear cuss words

we’d already said a hundred times ourselves

Marijuana brings impressions of Nixon, “I cannot tell a lie”

and chicken nuggets wedged in nasal cavities

 

Cheech and Chong skits on the front lawn; Basketball Jones

was never a chubby white girl before

Hiding in evergreen shrubs from boyfriends with tempers

and fists they could not keep to themselves

 

The Ouija Board in the closet with Q-tips and home permanents,

mismatched towels that never stacked neatly

On Friendship Street, 313 even, the dead would talk to us.

Can they still, even now?

 

What I Never Told You about Your Grandfather

Inspired by Alison Townsend’s “What I Never Told You About the Abortion”

 

How afraid I was to be slammed against the wall

for something as menial as looking the wrong way

 

How embarrassed I’d be to bring a friend

home from school with me one afternoon

 

How I cried in my room after school listening

to my older sister’s pleas in the next room

 

How badly I wanted to tell your grandmother

but kept utterly silent instead

 

How I couldn’t wait to grow up

just to get out of that house at last

 

How my guilt ate away at me after leaving home

knowing my little sister was left behind

 

Why I never let my daughters be

alone with my father at any time

 

Why there were always tears and tension

at every Thanksgiving Day dinner

 

Why I would never tell you about him

when you asked what had happened

 

Why I would get defensive and angry when

you persisted to keep questioning me

 

How I wept at his funeral even though

I swore a thousand times I wouldn’t

 

How I never really forgave him

and my tears were not for him but for me

 

How angry I was at my mother for not knowing

enough to know and to save me and my sisters

 

How angry I was at myself for not having

the courage to tell someone sooner

 

 

 

Why I kept my married name even after I divorced

because wearing my father’s name was even worse

 

How much I hated him and had often

before prayed for his death

 

How ashamed I was to tell anyone

not even my mother, let alone my children

 

How even more ashamed I was

that I was glad he was dead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandfather

Inspired by Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”

 

Keep your chin up, walk along the sidewalk with your back straight but not too straight. Don’t fight with your sister; she’s the closest thing to you, you’ll ever know. Don’t put the gearshift in drive when you’re in the passenger seat, alone in a car—you never know where you’ll roll. Don’t leave the lights on when you’re done in the bathroom. Were you born in a barn? Don’t forget to do the dishes. Get them cleaner than you’ll ever be. Don’t go out wearing those wrinkled clothes. They reflect back on me. This is how you should think; the way I do. This is how all men are. Never be dependent on them but still this is how you behave politely; never stand up for yourself. Don’t make your grandfather upset. Don’t smoke those filthy cigarettes—the smell distinguishes your character. Be perfect but not as perfect as your sister. Grow up! I won’t always be around to repair the damage. Clean up your plate—there are starving children in Africa but you know you have such a pretty face. This is how you crochet an afghan. But all your squares look like Christmas trees! Never be alone with your grandfather. This is how you write a check the night before payday. What do you mean, you’re overdrawn? This is how your father behaved—I see him every time I look at you. This is how you prepare “Mom’s Super Supper”. Potatoes; the poor man’s meal. Don’t take the good scissors or I will ransack your room. Don’t skip school; I don’t want my closet door broken off the hinges again. This is how you attend a family function and pretend you like it. Don’t embarrass me. Don’t bring home a bundle of newspapers you find on the street. Go outside and play—I’m too tired to play games with you. Get a job and keep it! Don’t be like your father—even though I know you already are. If you have children, I hope they are just like you. This is how you scrub the walls of black blood. This is how you mop the floor; use a washrag to get around the edges. This is how you make a glass of iced tea; always use sweet n low. This is how you write a poem. Rhyme every line or it’s not really a poem.

“I never was alone with Grandpa.” This is how you reuse leftovers—waste not, want not. Don’t leave the house in the middle of the night all gussied up; smoking and drinking and sleeping with boys. Your talents were meant for others. “Just like yours were for Grandpa?” Don’t ask me that and I won’t tell—until he is dead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June Rose

 

I went to the grocery store after you died

to find Meatball Alphabet soup

I searched the Campbell’s shelves frantically

but they no longer sold that type

so I bought a bag of oyster crackers

They were dry and brittle without the coating of the broth

 

I have killed every plant I ever owned

even the cactus and the huge floor standing one

with big plastic like leaves that I specifically bought

because I thought it was indestructible

Your plant garden was always green and lush

in the sunroom at the back of the house

 

You always bought me bubble bath for Christmas

I do not take baths anymore, grownups take showers

We do not have time to linger in the water

inhaling the scent of bubblegum.

I remember how soft your paper-thin skin was

I so loved to touch it, watch it strain and bunch

as you worked your hands over the crochet needles effortlessly.

I still drive by your house when I am in town

to see if you are home but someone else’s car

is in your driveway. I rarely visit your grave

 

Once when I was talking back to Mom

from the backseat of your turquoise Caprice Classic

you turned from the front passenger seat

reached your hand back, and smacked my face

It was the only time you had ever, or would ever hit me

If only I could feel the sting against my cheek now.

At Thanksgiving you always let me dig

the stuffing out of the turkey

This year when I stuck my hand inside

what I dug back out, was not nearly as much as I got back then

 

I saw a carton of Copper Glow

in the detergent isle the other day

I used to love spreading that powder

all over the bottom of your pots and pans

watching them come to life again

shiny and reflecting back my delight

There is no Copper Glow for the dead

 

 

I won another award today and after I called Mom

I instinctively started to dial your number

then had to stop halfway through when I remembered

Your great grandson still remembers you

We keep your picture up

a dead woman in our living room.

I think that I will go tomorrow

buy a June Rose

and place it on your headstone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salina, Kansas                                                                         

 

This is a “roll your sidewalks up at night” kind of town.

All we have to do for fun is go to the Dairy Queen

And then the two-screen movie theatre

and later hang out at The Barn.

We drive just to the outskirts of town

listening to the shrill sound of the town’s test siren

slicing through the music coming from the dashboard.

 

Bonfires on cool autumn nights.

Mark will take me up into the hayloft

and relate to me why Dale Ernhardt Jr.

is better than Jeff Gordon. I am thinking of Charleston though

as I play with a piece of straw between my fingers.

He hands me the large Cherry Coke we are sharing.

His chap stick still lingers on the straw as I take a sip.

 

I lay back and cradle my head in one hand.

The scent of dollar store baby shampoo caresses my nose.

“Shit!” Mark swears. I see him pull out a small rusty nail

embedded a fraction of an inch in his jean clad thigh.

The smell of coppery and tangy blood drifts towards me.

 

Suddenly the brown spot on my arm becomes insignificant.

I scoot over to him and touch the sleeve

of his flannel button down shirt.

“Are you O.K.?” I ask as I reach up to my shoulder

and readjust my bra strap for the sixth time today.

He play acts the big tough man as he

presses his hand to his wound to halt the leaking liquid.

 

“Yeah, it’s just a scratch.” He reaches over

and pulls me towards him. Leaning in, he kisses me.

I can taste the remains of sugary breath mints.

He must have snuck them while I wasn’t looking.

We both jump, startled

as the familiar siren goes off downtown again.

 

“Why do they sound that damn alarm so often?

Nothing ever happens here.”

I don’t answer. I’m still staring at his lips

and wondering what they would look like in Charleston.

He moves towards me again.

“Maybe you need a Tetanus shot.” I exclaim

before he can take the battlefield again,

an advancing soldier stopped by a stray bullet.

The Black Rose

Inspired by William Carlos William’s “The Red Wheelbarrow”

for Kaitlin

 

Nothing much to

say

 

when she shows me

roses

 

with plastic and unreal

petals

 

that convey such human

emotion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loss

 

Like a limb cut off

You are gone

With the mist

A disappearance

Around the corner

And I feel like

 

A part of me has died

As I wait for you

To come back to me

And put things

Right again

And I see things

 

In daily life

Taken for granted before

Now they all have

Your imprint

Upon them

The streets we drive on

 

The stores we shop at

The paths we walk

The toys left strewn

Across your bedroom floor

The legos I step on

The trucks I trip over

 

The water all over

The bathroom floor

The scent of you

On your blanket

And the thousands

Of photographs

 

That chronicle

Your life

All I have left

With my sweet memories

Of love so great

Producing my weight in tears

 

 

 

 

Stone of the Franks                                                                              

                             

I, the modern Prometheus, created you

from my deepest fears, my deepest desires

in that year without summer when ghosts came

to my sleep and awakened my subconscious.

But you, unlike I, could not write your fear.

Vindicated and transformed into innocent violence,

I killed that young woman with a veil in her hands.

But you, my beautiful wretch, took the blame.

Would you have told them all of my morbidity?

My ugliness? My goodness?

Did I not give birth to you, my child?

Did I love you as long as my mother loved me,

then turn away from you and leave you alone?

The hue of your translucent skin

I formed with my tiny hands,

yet had to look away from your watering yellow eyes.

Your straining lips trying to speak,

I breathed life into.

What is life without communication?

Just body parts, animated for my pleasure,

to inspire men to greatness.

The science of religion, the religion of art, the art of killing

lay in the wading pool of my cerebrum,

begging for forgiveness of curiosity.

Not killing the cat, but you, born in fear, torched in ice.

Is this how God felt when he flooded his world?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Had a Dream Last Night

 

I had a dream last night

Naomi Watts was giving a blow job

To Harvey Keitel.

 

Michael Jackson was having tea

With Queen Elizabeth and the Dali Lama.

 

I had a dream that rich people

And rednecks finally came out

Of their stupor.

 

They called up radio stations in masses

And requested Twisted Sister’s

“We’re not gonna take it anymore”

And dedicated it to George Bush.

 

Did you know there are no eggs in Arizona?

That’s because there are eggs in Arizona.

 

I had a dream I choked the Daily Kent Stater’s

Editor to death.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9-11-06

 

Five years of fear. Amazing grace

Remembers the stoic faces of ashes

Separated by streams and rivers of tears.

Slippery rocks the rubber of our souls

Could not hold onto

All the King’s horses could not

Put steel and sheet rock back together again.

Bent credit cards in handcuffs

Poisoned with smoke.

Draw your bagpipes and trumpets out.

An ounce of prevention is still

Worth a pound of cure.

The divorced widow still weeps in dreams

When the radio plays that song.

You know the one.

You listened to it when you still knew

What love meant.

You will remember after

The ballgame and Big Mac

On your way home from Wal-mart

Where you bought a cheap kitchen scale.

Later while weighing three ounces of turkey

The salt mixes in from bowed head souring it

And you hate yourself because you forgot

To remember but you remembered

That you forgot.

And the radio plays that song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cracked China

For Iris Chang, author of, “The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II”

 

Ashes and bones of forgotten empresses

lie in heaps of rubble

I float over the channel and see Hirohito

living out his remaining days

still an emperor in Chinese silken robes

which underneath are rusted bayonets drenched

in old dried blood, human hair and tissue
they impale the hearts of long forgotten victims

China dolls dressed up pretty

with tear drops painted on their faces

A friend or relative residing in each one

One accidental slip chips and cracks their delicate shell

 

I awaken. I am back in Korea

I wipe the sweat from my body

but the sheen of fear is still left behind

It has long ago taken up permanent residence in my bones

I have dreamt this silent terror for fifty years

I am an old woman, frail and tired

seeking justice where none can be found

Red sun rubbing salt in my wounds

 

I used to be a little China princess.

I see myself: black and white and faded

I run my fingers over that once smooth skin

Now I only feel the thick scar tissue

Like a noose around my delicate neck

A constant reminder that I am alone

No children can come from my womb

My body so broken that it was never possible

My eyes still reflect the visions of slaughter in their irises

My throat too raw to ever scream again

But from within my dream I do scream at you, “Remember Nanking”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Cannot Taste Me                                                                           

Inspired by Alex Haley’s “Roots”

 

Break out of your chains. Break Out! Explosions! Cannon Blasts.

Then nothing but the creaking of sails. Not even fit for Satan.

The underbelly of human nature. Joyless fruit upon my lips.

Nourish me to keep me fat with fear then slice me open

And drain me of my history. Break the bones of my ancestors.

Scatter my Diaspora into select killing fields. Burn sulfur to keep

The stench of human excrement out of profitable tobacco.

The Gambia River runs with blood to the Atlantic.

Scarred with tar upon my back. Blacker than am I.

A handbill that advertises my sale.

My flesh is no longer mine, but yours, my flesh imprisons

My spirit, which is mine and mine alone. You spread and burn my skin.

My pain will bring about your downfall. I foresee. I reckon. Chattel. Cattle.

Shall I moo for you? Milk my udders. Drain me again now of

The life sustainer for my children. Drums beating in my veins.

Pulsing. Terms of trade. Cash or goods.

Do I wet your appetite? How many pounds am I worth?

Tip your hat for one hundred and fifteen. Why do I still struggle?

When I know what it brings me? It is all I have left!

Struggle! You make my own brother lead my chain. Yes, I am in America now.

I do my acrobatic routine for you and you chase me with ten my number.

I am the best of the lot. You love to joke with me, jokes that cause my death.

You pick a name for me as if I were your child.

You cannot give me a name. I am not your name. I am not.

I am a fine animal to you but you are a cannibal to me.

You consume everything of me except that which cannot be consumed.

What you cannot see in my flesh and bone. You, cannot taste me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katrina, 2005

 

Battered bumpers, dents compressing

The shiny surface

That was Creole and Cajun spiced

License plates now drowned

In the waters of Mother Nature

And negligence

South Africa

Ethiopia

Rwanda

The Congo

Darfur

Sudan

New Orleans

Mississippi

Burning

Poor is poor

Black is black

Out of Africa or in America

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ode to Black Women

 

Oh, black man,

Did Martin blister his feet

over thousands of miles

to have you so indiscreet with wide smiles

call at us: Bitch and ho?

 

Did Rosa resist

To enlist

In her own segregation

So that you

Can persist

To objectify her in this alien nation?

 

With thick lips and chocolate kissed skin

Your kin; the same hands that would lash

your flesh to shreds

Now fork over cash

for collagen injections and tanning booth beds

To look closer to you.

On the outside but not in.

 

Picture frames hang on your walls blank.

A husband dead, a son in prison

So they said

So many promises fell short

from that good book you read.

 

You ache inside as you cook biscuits and gravy

Someone else’s maid, just another form of slavery

While the neighborhood children

Call you Auntie and look at you with

questioning eyes to explain the myth

of where their Daddies’ have gone

 

Where are you black man

to teach our sons?

You, who bought into the white mans’ game

now you are the one who commits self-genocide

The instant gratification

Paid for in nihilism

More expensive with every tear cried.

 

 

 

 

Mothers of humanity taken out of Africa

on a quest of misery.

Your past erased like chalk on a slate

You, who raised and taught yet inside fought

parental teachings perpetuating hate

 

Generations of white children

You fed, clothed, and loved them.

Enfolded in your apron.

You, who never lost faith,

in the white Jesus

Through your own Crucifixion, you prayed.

 

The rest;

left to rot in Africa

under the festering sun.

Your blood has spilled

From between your thighs

From mutilated genitals

Your pleasure denied.

 

No way to stifle the pangs of hunger

behind the famine of the body

and disease ravaged mind

Of opposing tribes

Tortured, Raped and Ostracized.

 

Your colored robes

Hide your scar tissue

But not your pain

The issue;

is to stay or leave

Descendent of Eve

 

Rise up and feel no shame.

The blame;

can belong to somebody else.

It is time for dignity and time for self

Esteem and love

Rise above

Oh, beautiful black woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Civilization

 

Wandering eye. Thoughts of red spots

On the sun. Distant galaxies

Pulling on the Milky Way

The Ether, invisible matter

Clear blob like gelatin

Similar to the substance

In your brain

The stem connects you to

Civilization

Brutal Civilization

Savage Civilization

Set your clocks back an hour, or more?

Could you imagine that do over?

Investigate your reality

Shine your flashlights

Point your magnifying glasses

At fingerprints left behind

You know who they belong to

Even without DNA.

Can you admit your crimes?

 

 

 

                                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by hbauer

August 2, 2008 at 4:16 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I’m in tears again. All of your poetry is wonderful but of course the ones that are about our family are the most touching because I was there too and they really mean something to me as well. Great work, Heidi. You are an excellent writer!

    Sherri

    August 2, 2008 at 6:09 pm

  2. VERY TOUCHING!!! I TOO WAS MISTY EYED!!!!!!

    DIANNE

    August 4, 2008 at 1:00 pm


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