Swing Set – (as published in Southern Quill)

It’s a brisk morning,
the kind that only comes on the cusp of spring
where the sun is high and warm and
burns the frost off the greening grass
but hasn’t yet burned it from the air.
“It’s cold,” I tell her as I go out.
She pushes hard on the screen door
and steps barefoot onto the concrete,
holding her arms up toward me
and trying to dance away the cold.
She’s still in her shrinking, mismatched PJs.
There’s a hole in her left pant leg.
“Get me get me!”
I pick her up and carry her with me to the shed,
showing her how the latch on the fence works,
letting her open it when we come back through.
“Daddy, what dat?”
She points at the swing set.
We found it on a yard sale page,
dog-chewed and sun-stained
and free.
I scavenged and swapped out parts for her,
but winter hasn’t let her play on it yet.
“That’s your new swing set. Wanna try it out?”
I put her on the see-saw.
“Hold on tight, sweetheart.”
I push her as the wind blows.
The sunlight bleaches her hair,
and her laughter mingles with the bird songs.
Tomorrow is the Equinox, but
for me it’s spring already.


I down another can of Dew
or something else to get me through.
I do it so much I bleed it,
no, it ain’t that I need it,
not that I gotta have it
like some kind of relapsing addict;
I do it just to feel okay
to try and take the edges off
the weight I carry every day.
Lock it away for a minute
knock rubber wedges up in it
and take a moment to breathe
but some how inevitably
it sinks it’s teeth into me,
and I freak eventually
the way these pills boil in me.
I lay there seething and shaking,
I’m breathing too fast and pacing,
eyes on the ceiling and glazing
I start to bawl and go crazy
gotta find my mind cause I lost it
my entire body’s exhausted
watching the clock and I’m waiting
tick tock my drive is deflating
and then I’m stuck here debating
if I’m gonna keep taking these things
the pharmacist’s making for me
but it seems voice that would scream
was also the one that could sing.
I guess it’s working
’cause now I can’t hear a single thing
except a whisper,
that panicked voice can no longer yell
and the lights flicker
I guess they silenced my cries for help.