SPOTLIGHT: Junkyard Souls by Mark Tulin

Tears of Philly

I shed a lot of tears in Philly,

the grist of the gristle,

the crude and the earthy

It was my home for years,

my identity and place of persecution

The sports pages were full of me,

the cold, dark box scores

chronicle my failures,

my shutouts, and lack of production

My name was etched in the fabric of William Penn’s hat,

buried in Ben Franklin’s grave,

alongside of a Mario Lanza mural

Frank Sinatra sung a melancholy song about me

The Eagles flew in Kelly-green jerseys,

chanted in painted faces with cheesesteak hats,

climbed the steps of the Art Museum,

tailgated on cold Sunday mornings

I was once dry-walled to the city,

nailed to the Walt Whitman Bridge,

swinging from the chandelier of the Chrystal Tea Room

My DNA was cemented into the red bricks of Citizen’s Bank 

I was in the stands when the dunk hit the back of the rim,

and on the rooftops when the bombs exploded.

An Aura Remains

Darkness hovers like a smoky cloud

Crows have scattered from the trees,

leaving several black feathers behind

and the shrieking caws of grief

The rose in front of the door has wilted

The mourners sit motionless

in the anteroom of their loss,

waiting for the shadow of his face

and the footsteps to be heard

The husband’s vehicle remains

parked in his favorite spot

He washed the car on Saturday

and took family trips to the shore

that no one could replace

Now, the only thing that’s left

is the aura of the man that passed

An aura that never leaves

A spirit that can’t be released.

San Simon Rest Stop

I found a rest stop

traveling across the Arizona sun

where the bathrooms were clean

and the hand sanitizers full

I stretched my legs,

watched the pale blue sky

and a few lazy clouds

drift along with cacti and tumbleweeds

The wildflowers blew on the hillsides

making the mountains yellow

with a western breeze

Here in the desert nirvana

the twirl of my tongue rattles like a snake-

the tarantulas welcome me

with a nice silky gift.

His Last Vignette

My father loved the smell of beer,

the salty stale pretzels,

and the pigs’ feet floating in a jar

He loved the neighborhood saloon,

small-town men with fat bellies

and balding heads, telling of their salvation

while serving in the war

My father loved the freedom of the stool,

the way it turned but never spun off

He loved his mom and dad tattoos,

and his crooked jaw,

broken during the Korean War

He loved to tell how he stood

with the Honor Guard in Leghorn, Italy,

marched with the Queen’s drummers

in London, England,

and counted the thousands of crosses

of the Unknown Soldiers

As my father told his last vignette,

he put down his drink,

took a drag of a Lucky

and grabbed his balls

while the ceiling fan circled

his immortalized youth.

An Ancient River

An elderly mother lives in a corner duplex,

surrounded by untrimmed green hedges

An easterly breeze occasionally blows

from an ancient river

In the spring, she plants tomatoes,

patiently waiting for them to ripen,

picking each gently from the stem,

and cradles a half-dozen in her apron

In the summer, she sits on a folding chair

with her legs dipped in a kiddie pool,

a pool of motherhood

where the waves of painful memories

ebb and flow

She imagines her son as a boy,

splashing in the shallow water,

sailing his wind-up motorboat,

his eyes green and hair a light brown,

his youthful skin glistening from the sun

As she dips her toes into the fresh water,

under a little beach umbrella,

she gives a wistful smile

A lifetime of raising a stillborn child

few people would ever know.

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