Monday, March 28, 2016


He sent her poems. Not love poems—she should be so lucky—nature poems. Poems about trees and birds and the sun. Oh, the sun. He had a thing about the sun. And the poems didn’t even rhyme. Not a one of them, not even once, did one line rhyme with another.
            How could that be? A poem without a rhyme? He was trying to write, she knew that, wanted to be a writer, called himself a writer, but give her a break:

                        The fingers of wind
                        left the bare willow branches
                        of your hair, unmoved
                        but touching me just the same.

Okay, so maybe the latest poem he emailed was about her hair, meant to be complimentary, but her hair was nothing like a tree. It was long, straight, red this week. Oh! So a tree in autumn, perhaps, a September tree, but that would mean it would all fall out by October. Another example of the uselessness of poetry. She did not want to be bald by the end of October and, in fact, resented him thinking so, even as a remote, he’d say, very remote possibility.
            He could just keep his damn poems or learn to rhyme like a normal writer.

                        Take your poem

            Now that was a poem. She hit send and felt better for the rest of the day.

© 2016 Kathleen Coskran

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Happy Birthday

Spent my birthday in prison. Again. How many years? The same bars. Different guy in the next cot. At least this one isn’t crazy, sick, schizo. Said “Happy birthday” when I told him.

Rich kid. White collar crime. Has manners. Is polite. Reads some. Doesn’t talk. Well, yes, he talks, but what’s he going to say? Have a nice day. Looks like rain from our peep hole to the sky. What’s your position on Obamacare? All our health care needs are taken care of. That’s one thing about being in rather than out. Full service government health care plan. Food plan too if you are on a carbohydrate diet. Fry this. Fry that. Protein. Bologna and American cheese. All American cheese.

Cheez, no wonder he doesn’t have much to say. Glad he’s not a shouter.

I was a shouter once. Rattled the cage like a gorilla. Was so pissed. Scared. Lonely. Terrified. Yelled and cursed until they put me in the hole. Which shut me up. When was that? 20 birthdays ago? 30? Who’s counting? Well, I am, but nobody else. I’m 59 years old, a writer now, not a talker. Wrote my cellie a note. Today's my birthday.

He looked surprised. Real expression on his face and I would say a tear in his eye, but hard to say. The light isn’t that good, but he’s young—20 something. In here with an old guy celebrating his birthday. How sad is that? Would make me tear up if I still could. Which I can’t.

Which is good.

Is there any way to say Happy Birthday without saying happy?

Maybe glad you’re still here another year

 I am glad about that, not happy, but relieved. Yes, that’s it.

Relieved not to be dead. Dying in prison, the ultimate shame that keeps me knocking off the birthdays. Once I’m out, I can die in peace. 

That’s what I want for my birthday. To die a free man.

© 2016 Kathleen Coskran

Monday, March 14, 2016

Cooling the Planet

Ides of March, 80 degrees outside, sun on the horizon, chickadees trilling their two-note song, ran-dal, ran-dal, and he’s angry . . .again.
“It’s going to be a beautiful day,” she chirps. “Listen. The birds are calling to you. Ran-dal . . .Ran-dal.”
“It’s too goddamned warm for March.”
“You love summer.”
“Not in March.” He refuses to be happy about clear evidence that the planet is headed for destruction before their grandchildren turn 40.
“We don’t have grandchildren.” She has pointed this out more than once. She could also have said, we don’t have children, but that was a sore point with them both, one of those places rubbed so raw that to look at it or acknowledge it would pierce an artery, a flow that couldn't be stopped. So they talk about other disappointments and impending catastrophes.
“I agree with you,” she says. “You know I do, but . . . but . . .” She almost says there’s nothing we can do, but enjoy the beautiful day God gave us, but doesn’t.
“There is something we can do,” he says.
“We do a lot,” she says. “We recycle.”
“God,” he yells, “separating paper, bottles, plastics is not going to save the planet.”
Yes, she knows that, but what else could she do? 
A thought--they’re not contributing to the population. “When we die, there’ll be two less people,” she says. “That will help.”
“Yes,” he says, cheering slightly, “and one less car.”
“Fewer unrecyclable pizza boxes.”
“A house off the grid.” (His will stipulates that the house be razed upon their death and their city lot made into an urban forest—not park, forest.)
“Less water wasted,” she says.
“Less oxygen inhaled,” he says.
“Less dust in the air from all our walking,” she says.
“Less hot air from all our arguing about the atmosphere,” he says.
“Hot air that dooms the planet,” she says.
“Better stop talking,” he says.
And so they do.

© 2016 Kathleen Coskran