Saturday, November 5, 2011

"We Will Walk"



We will walk all through the night   
and talk of ways to make things right.   
We will take the world we see   
and make our dreams reality. 

          With the strength of our minds,   
          we’ll erase the hopeless sighs   
          of weary men as they try   
          to make a living—to survive. 

We will fully eradicate   
all the envy and the hate   
that always seem to invade   
the souls of men every day.  


          With our strength we can change   
          the way in which our life’s arranged.   
          Our belief in peace and grace   
          can save us from the working race.   

Constant striving to be free    
can only open destiny.   
Endless groping in the night   
will always lead us to the light.   

           We will live to see the day   
           when our children can safely play   
           in streets not torn with racial fears,   
           nor gutters flooded with our tears.   

We will walk all through the night.   


Copyright 1980 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Another older poem today to celebrate optimism! Although this piece was written  more than thirty years ago, it displays one of my fundamental beliefs--that we can make the world a better place.

Friday, November 4, 2011

“A Speck of Dust”

Ever had a Fixated Brain day? Those days when your analytical side grabs ahold of some little piece of fluff that’s bouncing around like cosmic dust, and you must scrutinize said speck from every possible angle? I dove wholeheartedly into a Fixated Brain exercise today. My attention grabbed onto a random concept and couldn’t shake it free. I scribbled some ideas into my journal. I pondered different aspects while I washed and dried my favorite glasses. I considered multitude angles and dissected different interpretations. I spent hours on the internet researching permutations and postulations. The entire day drifted by with total submersion into the notion that possessed my attention. My zombie approach to everything else means I stumbled through my usual chores and absentmindedly answered my mother’s questions (I think?) My obsessing, by the end of the day, has left me feeling fuzzy and fatigued. The end result of all of this fanatical cogitating? The speck of dust turns out to be nothing more than—yes, a speck of dust!


Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

“Cuddling Under the Covers”

         During the night cooler air swirled into the house though the open windows. It fingered our faces gently and tickled our toes. It lured the dogs from the floor to the foot of the bed. As the temperature continued to drop, the dogs searched for warmth. Koi, with his thick white coat, sandwiched himself between me and David, flipping onto his back. I suppose he enjoyed the contrast of the cool air that pat his stomach to the body heat we provided. Short-haired Bridget dove under the covers. Nose first, she scooted under both sheets and comforter where she u-turned, slid up my side, and ended up resting her head on my pillow. Her sleek black body pressed against my back like a live heating pad.
         I burrowed under the blankets, spooning closer to David for warmth. In that hazy zone between sleep and wakefulness, I turned the dance of the wind chimes outside our window into a symphony of notes. Slumber pulled me deeper under the covers, cuddling with me against the cold. I resisted the alarm’s irritation and curved into Koi and David for one more minute of sleep. Finally, I dragged myself away when my mother called out from the other room to request her “first” breakfast. As I sit and write, I feel envious of Bridget, who lingers under the covers still.


Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

“Shopping”

         The plump, middle aged woman stood before the department store window display, subconsciously mirroring the pose of one of the mannequins. Her rounded belly and full hips fought against the constraints of her sweat pants. Her dark hair, cut in a bob, framed her pretty blue eyes. Restlessly, she tapped her left foot to the vocal-less rendition of “Rainy Days and Mondays” that piped through the mall’s sound system.
         A smaller, blonde version of herself nudged her elbow, “Will ya looka that outfit, Jessie! All black spandex and sequins!”
         Jessie turned to her younger sister, “Been studyin’ this outfit for the last five minutes, Marsha. Think I’d like to try it on. It’d be perfect for Kevin’s company Christmas party.”
         Marsha’s expression flitted quickly from shocked disbelief to amusement as she realized her sister’s deadpan delivery disguised her jest. “I do believe I’ll try on that red dress,” she joined the joke. “Yep. See how it’s slit up to here,” she gestured at her chunky thigh, “and it dips down to there,” her fingers tugged her oversized t-shirt to reveal her ample bosom. Her booming laugh resounded as she shouldered her large purple purse. “Wanna go in, or keep on lookin’?”
         Jessie caught their dowdy reflections in the glass. She hated shopping for clothing, which was why her wardrobe consisted of her husband’s castoff jogging pants and her son’s old t-shirts. However, she had to find something to wear to this special party. With purpose, she pulled up her rounded shoulders, tucked in her relaxed tummy muscles, and smoothed her hands through her hair. “I think I’m done with window shoppin’. Let’s try on some outfits!”
         With resolution, she strode into the department store, her sister a couple of steps behind her. Jessie skirted around the junior’s section and headed straight to the far right corner of the store. “You know what bothers me most,” she said over her shoulder to Marsha, “is that those mannequins stay skinny even when we move to the women’s wear. Seems like they should plump up a little.”
         “Guess it’s one size fits all when it comes to mannequins,” Marsha paused in front of a stylish row of outfits. Her eyes lit up when she spied both the red dress and the black spandex number in their sizes. “Wooo---eeee! Do you believe it? Those very same outfits in our sizes! A woman as rounded as me would be crazy to even think of trying on that red dress.”
            Her eyes locked with Jessie’s, her challenge acknowledged when her sister selected the black dress in the appropriate size. Before she knew it, her hands clutched the slinky red dress as she dashed behind her sister into the nearest dressing room.
            “Can I help you ladies?” a sales clerk blocked them momentarily. “I’d like to suggest you try on these outfits with slimmers.”
            “Slimmers?” Jessie paused.
            The clerk eyed each woman, guessed at their sizes, and intoned, “Wait here one moment, please.” She turned on her spiked heels and bee-lined it to the lingerie department. Before Jessie or Marsha could utter a syllable, she handed them each body shapers.
            You expect me to fit into this?” Jessie held the undergarment in front of her form with incredulity.
            “Trust me, ladies,” the sales clerk beamed as she shooed them into the dressing room.
            Jessie quickly skimmed out of her sweat pants and t-shirt and dubiously eyed the one piece shaper. From the next stall, she heard Marsha grunt, groan, and giggle simultaneously. Feeling foolish, she began wriggling into the body shaper, feeling frustrated as she squished and squeezed her flesh into the tight casing. Before she lost her nerve, she slipped the black dress over her head. Without looking into the distorted stall mirror, she opened the door and stepped out see her reflection in the three-way mirror. Her mouth dropped open in delighted shock at the transformation.
            “Stand on your tiptoes,” the enthusiastic sales clerk suggested. “You’ll be wearing heels with a dress like this one. It’ll give you a better idea of how your legs will look.”
            Jessie held her hand against her chest, too breathless to say anything. Her cheeks pinked with delight, her lips spread in a genuine smile lighting up her face. At that moment, Marsha sashayed on tiptoes out of her own cubby, her slinky red dress clinging provocatively in all the right places.
            “Holy moly!” Jessie exclaimed when she caught sight of her sister.
            “Sweet Jesus!” Marsha exhaled as she smiled at Jessie.
            The clerk, grinning in genuine pleasure, asked, “Will you both be purchasing these dresses today?”
            “Honey, not only will we take the dresses,” Jessie answered enthusiastically, “But I want four or five of these body shaper thingies!”
            Marsha turned left and right before the mirror and whispered to her sister, “Can you breathe?”
            “Lordy, no. But if I’m gonna die, I’ll go out lookin’ pretty good!”

           
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

“The Third Time”

Some evenings, they sit together, the television set’s glow casting shadows over their faces. The dim light hiding the emptiness in their marriage. Peter sips his second rum and Coke of the night, appreciating the warmth that spreads through him, taking the icy edge from Gwen’s constant criticism. Slowly, his muscles relax into his favorite recliner, and the petty vexations of his work fade away. He glances at his newest wife and winces at the realization that he can’t remember why he married her. Third time’s a winner? He downs the last half of his drink and studies the empty glass, pondering the wisdom of another drink.

         In his youth, his lust caught him up and landed him in an unexpected marriage to a girl far inferior to him or his needs. His sense of duty toward Patty and their children lasted only as long as she idolized him. Once Patty pulled him from the pedestal, once she demanded that he treat her as an equal, once she began nagging him and expecting to have a say in his decisions, he stopped pretending he cared. He managed to have several affairs without his young wife suspecting a thing. He even propositioned her sister on several occasions, certain that his in-law would never tell his wife. After all, Patty had no choice but to tolerate him. She had no education and no skills. She was nothing without him.
Eventually, pretending that he cared became too much work. When Peter fell to his lowest point, his second wife entered the picture. Leslie’s desperation to capture and hold onto him became addictive. She praised his every word and deed; she oozed adoration from every pore. She loved the excitement of an affair:  secret meetings, weekends secluded in hotels, private dinners in out of the way restaurants. Unlike his stay-at-home wife, his mistress earned a living and showered him with expensive gifts. He’d slip off the Rolex every evening, tucking it safely into his car’s glove compartment, and replace it with the cheap Seiko from his fifth anniversary. His cockiness made him suggest to Patty a wonderful plan. He’d come home few times a week to see the kids, spend all holidays with both their families, and pay all of the bills. In exchange, she would look the other way on his absences the other nights. His wife should understand that his happiness outweighed her own needs.
Peter began cheating on his Leslie, his second wife, within the first year. The thrill of their affair, he realized too late, summarized his attraction to her. Since he’d allowed others to pressure him into this second marriage, he began searching for a way out. Leslie accommodated him much better than his first wife. She ignored his affairs as long as he paid off her charge cards each month. Her face lift added a temporary spice to their life, and her liposuction made her seem younger for a while. Their drinking increased as the years flowed by, and the lavish praise and fawning of his second wife ceased altogether. Her complaints and unhappiness aged her, made her ugly.
Peter rationalized his affairs by believing that he deserved someone better. He desired a woman who complimented his looks and personality, not a vampire who sucked away his youth. The dance of flirtation drew Peter into and out of liaisons with careless abandon. He enjoyed the fact that he escaped these relationships before the women demanded more from him than he was capable of giving. He disdained Leslie’s cloying nature, but stayed with her. Divorce cost too much, and he had no reason to disrupt his life for his casual affairs.
         Then Gwen entered his life, all glitz and glamor. The lifestyle she lived, because of her wealth, enticed him to break from Leslie. He knew he could absorb the cost of a second divorce, even losing his home, by moving in with Gwen. Although Gwen appeared confident to others, he sensed her fear of growing older alone. His razor sharp intuition culled out her insecurities. He played the role of adoring lover expertly and charmed Gwen and her tight circle of friends. Always a player, he instinctively knew just what to say and do to secure a spot in Gwen’s life. An expert at manipulation, he’d played the long suffering husband and father role. He painted himself into a financial corner, knowing Gwen’s generosity would guarantee him a place in her home. Their wedding, a private affair without the showmanship he craved, began his dissatisfaction with his third wife.

         Now, less than a year later, Peter craves escape again. The pretenses he used to gain Gwen’s love and trust are too difficult for him to maintain. Unlike his other wives, Gwen’s acid tongue and spitefulness worries him. Knowing his past, she keeps tight control over his movements and his money. He senses that she’s no longer charmed by his humor, no longer deceived by his blatant flattery, no longer fooled by his ploys or lies.
Suddenly, the desire for his third drink of the evening overrides his need to avoid Gwen’s caustic comments. He abandons the comfort of his chair, fills his tumbler with rum, topping the drink off with a dab of Coke. He feels her disapproving eyes spear his back, so he raises his drink in salute to her irritation.

  Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman           

Monday, October 31, 2011

"The Second Spring"









That Spring the dew nourished us with fresh gentleness and endless hope
The world sharpened into polarized crispness with infinite scope
With loneliness, I strolled in an open meadow of wild flowers
Always longing for some answers as I strolled away the hours
I fell in love with the troubadour singing ballads and love songs
The youth of tawny hair, sinewy muscle—a heart true and strong
The artist stroking bold vibrant colors on a pristine canvas
The man embracing the possibilities of our love’s success
Moving from son to lover to father, he grew in each season
He donned robes of responsibility with capable reason
From sun to moon and moon to sun, our lifelines entwined forever
Through time’s heartbreaks and new challenges, we always stood together
Our youthful promise dried and died under an endless summer’s heat
Together we survived the long drought that led to other’s defeat
And now we enter the Second Spring where azaleas bloom all year
Paintbrushes, bluebonnets, and thistles blanket meadows both far and near
In the Second Spring love flows strong, and it sings in notes pure and true
It flourishes and grows in bountiful joy that’s forever new


Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

“Looking for Answers”

         Ever wish for the power to see into the future? Ever long for the ability to know ahead of time if the path you’ve set out on will take you where you really want to go?
In my twenties, I set out on a journey with David that meant we selected a trail and forged ahead no matter what barrier blocked our journey. During the first years, we struggled with meeting basic necessities. Like most people, our twenties meant scrounging for every penny just to make it through each month. I remember evaluating everything by gallons of milk or gas. Did we need to go to a movie? That would be “spending” three gallons of milk on entertainment. How much did I want that new top? It would cost me the same as a tank of gas to go see my family. By being budget conscious and frugal, we pulled together enough money to purchase our home, but it wasn’t easy. Our next goal, having a child, proved an unexpected challenge, too. While many of our friends and family members seemed to pop out babies with great ease, we found ourselves looking for the answers to infertility. The answer we found, adoption, led us onto the wonderful path of parenthood.
         In our thirties, David had the opportunity to start his own business and work from our home. We couldn’t turn down the chance of having one parent at home at all times. The freelance business brought its own trials. Clients loved to send contracts with short turnarounds on completing the work, but then they bogged down the payment process. Sometimes a project’s payment wouldn’t come in for more than two months. If we’d had a crystal ball that could have predicted the shortcomings and obstacles of self-employment, would David have attempted his business? Even with hindsight on the difficulties we faced, we probably would have made the same choices because the benefits of having a parent at home outweighed the uncertainties of sporadic income.
         Every decision we made as a couple, we made with the goal of keeping our family strong. Many times, life piled seemingly insurmountable obstacles on the trail before us. Often, we plowed forward blindly on the pure faith that if we put family first we couldn’t get off track. Sometimes onlookers from the sidelines catcalled and jeered, trying to steer us into another direction. They’d throw large bricks of doubt directly in front of us that made us lose our footing and momentum. Eventually, we learned to block out the noise of the faceless crowd and kept true to our trek.
         I thought, foolishly, that I’d eventually hit an age where everything would fall into place. Where the wisdom of my years and experience would mean I wouldn’t flounder on this winding trail of life. However, questions still plague my days and nights. Obstructions make me pause and second guess myself. I find that I’m still trying to divine the future as I take another loop along the path. My soul searching illuminates the road just far enough ahead for me to know that keeping family whole and strong will secure safe passage.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman