Post-weekend Poetry 044: And In His Pockets by Marlene Caroselli

Welcome to Post-weekend Poetry and the forty-fourth poem in this series. This week’s piece is by non-fiction author Marlene Caroselli.

And in his pockets

Fuchsia infuses the sky outside
His hospital room
And seeps into my memory banks.
With forced insouciance, I tell myself
It’s time to undo the emotional handcuffs.
With a heart strafed by loss,
I begin the final sorting, shifting between
Fugue and practicality.
Will I ever know answer to those pocketed questions?
 Why the scavenged toy?
Why the oft-mocked cross?
 Why the telltale coins that bespeak
Poverty…never of the soul or of the mind
But of the outcomes of his long labors,
Finally ended.

***

That was really touching, thank you, Marlene!

Dr. Marlene Caroselli is an author, keynoter, and corporate trainer. She has published over 60 books, including Jesus, Jonas, and Janus: The Leadership Triumvirate, and Principled Persuasion, named a Director’s Choice by Doubleday Book Club.

***

If you’d like to submit your poem (40 lines max) for consideration for Post-weekend Poetry take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with multi-genre author Rolly A Chabot– the five hundred and twenty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books and I also have a blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays.

Flash Fiction Friday 054: Gabriele by Marlene Caroselli

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the fifty-fourth piece of flash fiction in this series. This week’s is a 831-worder by non-fiction author Marlene Caroselli. which will be podcasted in episode 19 (Sunday 30th December).

Gabriele

Does it matter that I come into that classroom every day smelling of linseed oil? Is it not more important that I, like my heavenly namesake, can herald important information to them? After all, I have been to Rome. I know how a lecture at the university can festoon the soul, how giddiness can follow the scanning of a perfectly metered poem. I have, if the truth be known, been praised by the professors at the university. And, were it not for my ailing mother, I would be far away from his town with its tepid appetite for knowledge.

They snicker, the little ones do–but they dare not say a word. I see the slight wrinkling of those tiny freckled noses as they come into my presence. But no matter–one day they, too, will understand the inexorable chains that pull a child back to his mother’s bedside. They will come to know the meaning of responsibility to family. They may not have to rub linseed oil on limbs gnawed by arthritis, but they will have to do something.

Perhaps then they will think of their old maestro and remember his devotion to his ailing mother. Each morning, I stop by her house with its clean dirt floor. I wonder if she is still breathing in that bed with its spumes of lace, a bed that dominates her one-room inheritance. I approach the bed cautiously, trying to discern the rise and fall of her chest and inevitably, the croaked request comes, “Gabriele, the oil. Could you rub it on my shoulder?”

But today, my anger with these boys causes all thoughts of my mother to fly away. Just a few minutes late so I could bathe her and look how they are misbehaving. The laughter, the noise, the antics–it all assaults me before I even open the door. One look at me standing in the doorway, though, is enough to drive icicles into their veins. A solemn silence descends. They are afraid to look anywhere but down at their small hands, smooth as the skin on olives. I am gratified to see a few of them trembling.

How shall I punish them, these children in whose arteries the legacy of Dante flows so carelessly, these profligates whose ancestors painted chapel ceilings and explored terra incognita? How can I make their backbones straighter so they can continue to carve out the landscape that marks this glorious land? These unthinking ruffians are more inclined to view life as a fortuitous hazard, a masquerada at which they alone are entitled to unmask men, women, and mystery. They think of Italy as a place that is sweet for the body instead of an elixir that is sweet for the mind.

What will make them remember their heritage, incite them to learn, comprehend the reason why they are here? This is the land that Shakespeare extolled, that British poets sing about so lovingly, that wealthy Americans come to see. This is the land that produced the man who defied wisdom and gravity alike to sail off the supposed edge of the earth. This is the land that spewed forth scientists and artists and musicians and writers, saints and military strategists, explorers and poets too numerous to tabulate. But these children are content to enjoy the glory of the terrain without contributing anything to it.

I decide on a simple retaliation for their lapse into joy, a time-honored means of forcing them to confront their own ignorance: I will test them on next week’s lesson. One by one, I call upon them. Naturally, none of these poor excuses for students know what I am talking about–which is exactly how I planned it. Taking each one in turn, I have the opportunity to slap the perfect roundness of their wastrel cheeks. Not hard, but hard enough for the thunder in my voice and the anger in my palms to leave imprints on their bliss. For variety, I slap their hands with a steel-edged ruler, chosen specifically for this purpose.

A few of them try to help their comrades. They pull out the text and surreptitiously find next week’s lessons. They try to show the ones about to be slapped. This gives me another opportunity to go back and hit them again for their foolishness.

Only one escapes my enormous capacity for punitive strokes. Only one. I call on him and he knows the answers. A sudden pastel silence fills the room. The bumblebees can be heard outside the window. The other boys slowly swivel their heads toward me, fearing, perhaps, that I will decide the recitation is wrong after all. They are frozen in that golden sunshine, their pencils poised above their desktops–as if this show of dutiful obedience to the god of learning could make me forget their transgressions. They wait to see how far my rage will go. But I am a fair man. Renato knows the lesson. He must remain untouched.

***

“tepid appetite for knowledge” I loved that. Thank you, Marlene.

Dr. Marlene Caroselli (www.saatchionline.com/LainaCelano), is an author, keynoter, and corporate trainer.

She has published over 60 books, including Jesus, Jonas, and Janus: The Leadership Triumvirate, and Principled Persuasion, named a Director’s Choice by Doubleday Book Club.

***

If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with romance author Sheri Fredricks – the five hundred and fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Flash Fiction Friday 045: Modestina by Marlene Caroselli

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the forty-fifth piece of flash fiction in this series. This week’s is a 825-worder by non-fiction author Marlene Caroselli.

Modestina

In that room of shadows and half-lights, the crucifix on the wall stood silhouetted by the sun. I remember that–the memory is carved, a wooden memory. I moved to give that infant a regular if abrupt passage from his world in the womb to the light outside his mother’s stomach. I saw her weep then and I wondered: Were her tears for the belly that would soon be emptied? Were they for the pain that left her quivering still? Was she looking ahead to the other savage lacerations that inevitably were to come? She was still a young woman; more pregnancies were in store.

But I did not have much time to think about this. The child had come. There was no wail, though, and I soon saw he had somehow tied a knot in the thread that bound him to his mother’s inner life. I had to work quickly then. I had to untie that knot before it strangled this tiny creature, had to try instead to weave that thread into the fabric that makes up a life. I sliced the cord but already, I could tell it was too late. The baby was nothing more than a limp, gray lump. One look at his charcoal skin and I knew: the cord that lay tangled around his neck had strangled him after all.

Erminia became my only concern then. I plucked that shriveled lump away–laying him aside, on the floor, to be disposed of later. I went to her. This was her first child and she had been laboring for many hours now. With my hand, I wiped from her forehead the glistening sweat that smelled of acid. Gently, I placed my other hand upon her stomach and rubbed. I, too, have known the pain of birthing.

Hoping the tone of my voice would be like sawdust on the fire of her unspoken question, I told her she would be fine. But Erminia would not be fooled. “My baby, my baby,” she cried. “What have you done with my baby?”

“Stop!” I scolded. “He came out dead. Forget him!” I hurled the words at her, hoping to startle her into concern for herself. But grief clambered from her heart, too awkward, too grotesque to be stopped with mere syllables. She raised her white arms in that room of terra cotta shadows. “Give him to me,” she demanded, her voice rasping against the soft stillness of the afternoon.

I refused. I am not proud of the thoughts that came to me next but they came, unbidden. I thought that her husband Pasquale would be very disappointed. Probably, he would not reward me as he would have if the baby boy had lived. Would I receive one chicken when I had been expecting two? The thoughts evaporated almost at the same moment they slithered into my head.

Again, I told her the child was dead and she wrapped her arms around herself as if she were sheltering a ghost. She pulled that sadness into her being and sank back upon the pillow, her mourning already begun. She was not speaking words, only sounds that came from deep within her. I stood there helpless. Finally, I began to clean up the room, my thoughts punctuated by her half-sighs and stifled moans.

And then we heard a mewling. I looked at her and found the same perplexing question in her reddened eyes that I had bouncing in my head. From that placenta-shrouded bundle we heard it again. It was fainter this time, almost like the whispered good-bye of a lover reluctant to leave, an utterance more felt than heard.

“Lui e renato,” she shouted, raising herself on her elbows, her eyes straining to see movement in that heap on the floor. “Renato! Renato,” she cried, her words curving around the inert form, as if willing his rebirth.

Could it be? Was God so good that he would restore life to this bundle of flesh and provide another chicken or two for me? I ran to him and saw his tiny fists raised in triumph. I turned him over and slapped his back to clear whatever residue of his previous life lay in his throat. And then I took water from my birthing pail. It was still warm, still good for making little blood-flecked rivers run across his puny chest. My hands had done this hundreds of times; they moved with little direction from me. Even as I cleansed him, I was reaching for the blanket that would offer an early protection from life’s sorrows.

She held out her arms, beseeching me to give her what she had carried inside for nine long months. The baby’s color was restored by now. The danger had passed. I helped her cradle the tiny form in her arms.

She cooed the whole time, “Renato. Renato.”

This is how he came by his name. He came to life a second time.

***

Wow, thank you, Marlene.

Dr. Marlene Caroselli (www.saatchionline.com/LainaCelano), is an author, keynoter, and corporate trainer.

She has published over 60 books, including Jesus, Jonas, and Janus: The Leadership Triumvirate, and Principled Persuasion, named a Director’s Choice by Doubleday Book Club.

 

If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with octogenarian memoirist, non-fiction and fiction author Johnnie Johnson – the four hundred and forty-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.