Dear Jerk

Dear jerk-off guy,

I was the person stopped at the red light behind you Saturday morning, headed for a weekend at the beach with my family, waiting for green in the burgundy SUV. You sat in the driver’s seat of a dirty, open, military style Jeep, with another beefy young guy in the passenger seat. While we waited, you (surprisingly, horrifyingly) heaved a grocery bag filled with fast food containers toward the bed of the large red dump truck that waited ahead of you. Physics guaranteed that you’d miss the truck bed, and the bag of trash fell to the road and scattered in the breeze. I honked. Not a quick, friendly “hey the light is green, stop looking at your phone” honk. Not an “I’m laying on my horn because you almost killed me” honk. But an in-between “I can’t believe you just threw trash on the street, get out of your car and pick that up” honk. Your reaction to my honk was shocking; you raised your hand into the air and flashed the rarely seen outside of middle school “jerk-off” simulation. The jerk-off move was followed by a “gangsta” style pointing move that said “come up here and say that to me”. My family felt the wave of your arrogant, angry aggression crash into our safe hybrid haven. As the light turned green and we made the left to head south, I hung back from you and your continued gesticulations. Who knew if you had a gun.

“If I were a cop I’d have a hard time not beating that guy up” I mused.  “But I think that’s the kind of guy who becomes one…”

After a long pause, from the back seat our daughter added “part of me wants to chase after that guy and follow him to wherever he is going”

“There is nothing you can say to a person like that to convince him he’s wrong” said her mother.

“And someone like that would have no qualms about hitting me” I piped in. “Don’t ever chase after someone like that” I admonished, looking back to make sure she heard.

Our conversation continued on from there, for two hours until we were at our Rehoboth door. So, thank you, jerk-off guy. You were the catalyst for a thoughtful conversation about misogyny, feminism, stupid arrogance, road rage, police brutality… also the recommendation from my loved ones not to call this poem “the jerk-off guy”.

I hope we never meet again.


The Tent

“Did you see my tent?” she asked as I cuddled her new baby brother (Hello little boy, welcome to the family).

“Susan gave you the tent. Why don’t you wait a minute” said her mom, my sweet niece who was the same imploring 3-year-old just 5 minutes ago.

“Come into my tent”, she said with pleading eyes and a half smile.

“Do you like your new baby?” I asked as I kissed his tiny fingers.

“Yes”…then… again, “come see my tent”

Giving up the bundle of a boy to his mom, I trail to the living room, home to Ikea’s best orange & yellow carnival tent; a child’s oasis from the stream of eyes for the newborn boy.

“Here, get in” I crouch to climb through the tiny flap to the precious space.

“I have a pillow, see, sit down” I sit, and she lays her head on the pillow with a sly, secret smile of success.

Cinnamon Paws

“I need to find a poetry prompt”, I said as I sipped the last bit of my 2nd cup of coffee. “It’s been a couple of weeks since Mary Lambert’s poetry prompts ended, and I need something to keep it going” Then I headed to shower. “Cinnamon Paws” she called after me. “Cinnamon Paws?” I called back to her as I ascended the short flight of steps to our bedroom.  “Cinnamon Paws, what can I do with that,” I thought, as I blew my hair dry. Cinnamon Paws is nothing like an un-invented invention, a repeated phrase, or a letter to my younger self. But what did she mean by Cinnamon Paws? Our Mr. Pierre has special and rare charcoal black paws. What could she mean by Cinnamon Paws?  Does she (suddenly, unexpectedly) want a kitten to go with the perfect Mr. Pierre?  Dressed for work, I headed downstairs for a goodbye kiss. She was tucked-in on the purple couch in full work mode, computer on lap, 2 phones and headphone close by.  Mr. Pierre was right there, cuddled & snoozing on the comfy sling chair. I rubbed his head and lifted his front paw. “What did you mean? Cinnamon Paws? His paws are black” I said as I turned his paw and rubbed the jet black paw pad. “Are you thinking about a new kitten?” “Pierre’s are Cinnamon Paws,” she said.  And then, I saw, the top of the paw. Pure Cinnamon.