Not quite Robin’s blue, the only domain that’s reminiscent of Tiffany’s is Holly’s…We make our beds in old shirts, old dreams
Bits and pieces, a penance, but it’s ours
We lounge and soak in the heat of our old-new houses
There’s no signs of modernity we haven’t transplanted
Drops and capsules of modern science, held captive on our palms
We vitamize, vitalize, economize…
Tomorrow’s just as drowsy but promising as the last
We can’t help but toss ourselves…
There’s so much brush and burnt bricks
St. Louis clay fired
But that red twilight, periwinkle dawn, industries’ kaleidoscope
Sweeps past our eyelids
Seeps over our beds
The baseboards are swept and kept as best as possible
But our hearts are elsewhere
Nat.A. Moore, Jun 2013
She was so obstinate. The nurse was nervous about allowing her so close to the edge of the riverbank.
After all, a girl whose family—except her grandfather of course, God save his soul—dies in accidents daren’t be so bold.
Marie wasn’t afraid though. The nurse thought she was a fool. Her mother had kept everything in an attempt to save herself and her older two sons during the war: rabbits’ foots, strict rules regarding umbrellas…the nurse held her breath for a moment. Nothing had kept her from that accident along the Seine. Or the boys from the Phony War. Monsieur and Madame Allard had managed another child before their deaths. But well…
The Allards were simply…unfortunate. And she was a girl, unable to carry on the family name.
Mr. Baudin, the shopkeeper, said they were pathetic. He’d waved his hand over his broom one morning, clearing the waste and refuse from the previous night’s strollers and shook his head, “It’s not the girl’s fault. But really her great-grandfather’s.”
There was a scandal there. Something involving an excursion to America and a failed attempt to use the family’s fortune in the great New West.
He’d failed. And calamities had befallen the family since.
Now that blasted girl was leaning much too far over the railing, trying to wave at the boats.
“Marie!” The nurse insisted now, breathing sharply when the girl tipped up on her toes and mistakenly dropped her handkerchief in the water.
The nurse rushed forward now—not prepared to explain how the only granddaughter of their once illustrious family drowned in full view of her caregiver—and yanked the girl by her coat’s belt.
She scolded the little one and took her hand. “Don’t you care about your poor mama? How would she feel with you being so reckless, you silly?”
Marie squeezed her hand resolutely, Marie was really was too proud. The nurse had to strain to hear, the girl was muttering in French, “Ashes to ashes.”
Source: Edouard Boubat - Little Girl on Pont des Arts Watching Barges, Paris, 1958: http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/detail.php/32/girl/0/13317/1, also, Audrey Tautou’s performance in “A Very Long Engagement.”
The man asked him to pose, for just a moment. Easter Sunday. He was waiting. His suit wasn’t new by any stretch. His brother Paul wore it two years before him, but it was clean.
Ma sat up Friday and Saturday before, washing, sewing and mending and making the old new enough.
Pop saved enough nickels to send the kids to the movies that afternoon, and ice cream too.
Somewhere in the magazines, white kids with families in places like White Plains or Greenwich were ordering up their Easter Ham by now. The old lady would place it on the table and fade beautifully in the background.
He wasn’t worried. The man snapped the photo and he ran off.
They’d had a good breakfast, early enough.
He’d awoken before dawn and stretched out of the bed. Bobo, the baby boy, still lay with a curved belt upon his back. A warning to stay in bed and sleep.
He’d had his own skin goosefleshed one time or another. But now he was the next big boy.
If it was dawn, either it was his time to drag in the coal if it was winter or wait for the ice if it was summer. Paul was at work early selling the Defender.
This being April, the middle, he didn’t have to do much.
He watched Ma spoon lard from the mug by the stove and listened to the sizzle. They were having bacon, grits and biscuits with gravy. Then she’d scrub and dress and slide a dime into each fat little hand.
They’d wait and itch in their clothing till Pop let the door open and sent them off from their one-room flat.
Later, after church. They’d line up at the movies and later on, Ma would get dinner on.
Somewhere. Some other families were having that thick, shiny red ham. Or Lamb.
He’d practically licked the pages of the Life magazine. Stereocolor photos of grinning faces, all too pleased at what their own Ma had wrought.
Maybe. More like the maid. He knew better. His Ma and Aunt Mabel both kept place in Hyde Park.
But he fidgeted through the newsreels and the movie, some Clark Gable feature, and tried not to lick his lips too much.
Tonight they’d have the have the ham they brought home from those houses they waited in. Aunt Mabel wouldn’t have much, she said more than once that Mr. Farrow as a mean ol’ cuss. But Mr. and Mrs. Leigh were kind enough.
Even if they didn’t approve of Ma taking scraps from the table, they never complained.
When the movie was over, he set his brother Bobo and sister Lizzie on the curb and they waited for the Ice Cream man. His stomach growled and he tried not to think of spoiling his supper.
No way, never on Easter.
They heard the bell tinkalink. He set them back with his hands and marched to the cart. Paul wasn’t interested in Sunday shows anymore. Joe alone remained to keep the babies in line.
He bought three ice creams from the Good Humor man. He watched the nickels slip into that waist belt purse.
He sat back down and handed out the dessert. “Hey, Bobo, mind your shorts man.”
They ate greedily and waited. Waited for night and the prayer and the food. The pieces that were deemed too fatty for the family. He always relished those. Felt the good gluttony of someone who’d made off with the richest bits.
Ma and Pop shunned the fat, bacon or ham or otherwise.
But even at Eastertime, he didn’t let his greed go. Afterall, when else could he indulge?
N.A. Moore, 2013
Source: http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y121/HermosaSuerte/Oveja%20Negra/8a15599v.jpg, Library of Congress, Southside, Chicago, 1941
Headforward he dove into a soft, slightly lowered place in the ground. There was no time to dig a ditch. To even locate his trench tool was an exercise in futility. The ground pulsed and vibrated. In these moments, he felt like a bell in church. Like he could shatter if the pulse was too much.
The planes buzzed overhead.
He grimaced despite himself, unmistakably foreign soil blotting his American tongue.
This morning he’d hunched over his tin pannikin, ears buzzing, annoyed at the fresh recruits. All anxious to see some Action.
He felt a slow hood of shame envelope his shoulders. After all, he’d been fresh-faced and anxious to prove his manhood too once.
He’d volunteered out of the newsroom. Tired of running memos throughout the office, he’d raised his hand earnestly when the Boss asked who wanted to go with this Roosevelt kid ova’ ta Spain. The Brooklyn Eagle. Danny Roosevelt, Eleanor’s nephew. Prep school, Harvard, the whole nine.
The fellow had spirit; he had to give him that. And nothing if not too much fearlessness. He hadn’t intended to play the part of secretary meets orderly meets personal protection, but darned if that kid didn’t feel none too obligated about his safety.
The kid, coming from such a background as his, couldn’t help but sympathize with the situation of the nobility, with the whole rotten affair. But none too many estates being ransacked can stand up to regular ladies and men who hadn’t done much but be in the wrong road at the wrong time lying dead with handkerchiefs on their faces.
It got downright unintelligible with the Soviets barely supporting the Republicans on account of their own brand of Communism being more sacred and what have you.
They were both back stateside soon enough and then Daniel died in a plane crash. Mexico. With an uppercrust friend of his, Harriman or somesuch. He read about it in the papers and sent a letter of condolences to the First Lady and—don’t that beat all—she wrote back! She even said she knew of him from Daniel’s personal letters home.
But he’d read Hemingway’s accounting of the exact same place and time and all of its befuddlement suddenly sounded romantic. He couldn’t believe it.
Then Pearl Harbor happened and all of a sudden he was anxious to get himself into action again, like a kid with a toy pop-gun.
Now he felt foolish and waited as the bombardment—such as it was, a few stray lobs, probably some low-level tryin’ to show off—eased away.
Here he was in foreign territory once again, but only worse. No Press slip could get him away now.
He drew up his knees in his elbows and scratched at the ground. He figured he should probably dig a trench though he was dog tired. Gotta get safe though. Gotta lay down.
N.A. Moore 2013
“Claude’s face look so sullen,” she said with finality.
I was in Big Mama’s parlor, a little place that passed for a sunroom. There were scatter piles of LIFE magazines and an armchair. An old nightstand that passed for an end table. Innumerous sweat rings from the mason jars that held poor-man’s mint juleps & tobacco spit equally—depending on her mood—wore the tabletop. She’d handed me an old photograph that held her family, firm and stiff and hating the glare of the camera as anything.
She nodded her head.
I hadn’t seen what passed for a father in seven years. Pa. Claude Johnson. Now I wore slacks and hung with a so-called Hippie crowd. Not really. That’s not to say these kids didn’t really harbor their own parents’ hang-ups, but their free spirits didn’t allow them to speak on it. And I didn’t really see eye to eye with my own crowd. Negroes seemed to get miffed somehow when you were transferred to a private school, even on scholarship. Tokens…like the subway.
Dunbar High, Chicago, originally. I still remember trying to squeeze in the crowds in the stands. Football days. I’m very high yellow. And my eyes are gray even. Big Mama says from some Mister Johnson way back somewhere…
I’ve heard the stories. At least from my father’s side. Mr. James Johnson was the son of a slave-holder but he loved her. Same old story.
He never took any lover but her. His legal wife died young and childless. Yeah.
I watched Big Mama shift through the room, her housecoat more worn than anything I’d seen on my friends’ mothers. They lay abed till noon, and got up to ride or maybe have a poorly mixed cocktail and request the maid make their husbands’ meatloaf or something else nearly three o’clock. But always bland. Not the way my Ma made it, with barbeque sauce.
I hadn’t visited Big Ma in months. I felt guilty but even more uneasy. But she’d bathed me and hugged me when I was little. I remember my mother describing baths with blue soap in tin tubs. No radios then, too poor. They made music and lived their own lives outside of the glare.
I looked down at the regular glass Big Mama had shoved in my hand earlier. She knew I’d made a scholarship to Barnard and floated with my freewheeling friends in Greenwich Village. Natch. She’d tried to make me a cocktail she read about in LIFE and LOOK. I’d noticed the covers didn’t read past 1949. She made me a sort-of Margarita.
I sipped and smiled, my heart boomed. Home. No glare. Just home.
Also, the cocktail menu as of Feb 2013 at Rodin, Park Shelton, Detroit
N.A. Moore 2013
Touring Austria, Germany
Blank, frozen, frosted doorways; small & large figures curling against such a tight space, trying to stave off death by…exposure
Chamber pots where there are no toilets
No reminders of modern civilization
Weimar temporaneous, contemptuous…bust, 1929 stole all of us, but they didn’t really know the wretchedness till 1931-33
Our hope, such as it is
There are no shortage of girls looking to trade faces for a warm bed
Plath said You eat men like air
Langston let him come home to die
A collection of narratives that explain far more than words or Pre-Code examples can ever convey
Greece now, exploring tepidly, despairing, 1930
What happens when the Golden Dawn sees ‘33-ish returns
Sparks their own Reichstag Fire…
Burns modern governace in a furnace of Nationalism & exaggeration
Will Detroit be any sort of Arsenal of Democracy again?
When we are rebuilding our place & aspirations brick by St. Louis brick?
See you on Labrosse
Don’t let’s turn our backs on the gypsys…Jobbik being what it is…Hungary may be too hungry soon to see modern, Euro-zone reasoning…
Don’t let us point our guns inward too soon. Our hearts still beat with hope