Ancient History

I put the suitcase I borrowed from
my mother in the trunk and got in
the car.

My father drove and smoked. And
smoked some more. He is usually
lecturing nonstop by now. I cracked

the window open to get some air
then closed it again. His visible
nervousness made me even more

nervous. He started talking. After
each cigarette, he’d open the window
just enough to flick it outside then

close the window without interrupting
his monologue. He never wanted to
hear anything I had to say, so I

listened to his World War II Army
stories again about his basic training
in Burlington. No post there now.

Ancient history.

I think he was trying to give me advice.
He pulled up to the front of the AFEES
building in Newark. As I got the small

vinyl suitcase out of the trunk he asked
me to please write. We sort of hugged.
I started up the steps as he drove off.

Seems like just the other day. That trip
to Newark ended with a late-night bus
ride to Ft. Dix for basic training.

It was fifty-five years ago yesterday that
I enlisted in the Army. Thank you, my God,
for your protection and care. You are my

refuge and strength. You alone are God.
The rest is ancient history.

Shadows in Life

all things are forgotten
by humankind
by time
by design

except for the memories
of war
of abuse
of pain
of suffering

for they are our own
they made us who we are
maybe not who we thought
we wanted to be

and what of the other memories
of joy
of love
of peace
et cetera

they cast light on the shadows
in life with hope for the life
to come

just like the knowledge of God
cannot be listed as a memory

If Owl Could

Will I live long enough to see a cold clear
glass of water become a thing of the past?
I think not.

Will I live long enough to see no more
women and children being abused?
Or teenage gang shootings or high school
killing sprees? I think not.

How about no more rape, road rage, or
sexual abuse? No more abortion or fetuses
found in dumpsters? I think not.

Our culture has become a stagnant pool.
Unfit to drink. But the people say, “Drink!
It is good!”

How will history remember our culture?
History might record that we saved some
trees and a few birds. But in Heaven,
the record shows a culture filled with
pervasive hatred and a high body count.

What about the owl, who neither grieves
nor frets his place in time? His specialty
is simply owling. That is what he does.

If Owl could, he would cry out to our
Maker on behalf of mankind, who has
forgotten who he is and who made him.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

Laura Revisited II

Hurricane Laura hit us about one in
the morning. The noise and the heat
awakened me. The power was out.

It sounded like there were two big
powerful locomotives moving at top
speed. One flying past the front of

the house and one in the backyard.
The two large elms and giant oak
in the front cast elastic shadows.

I sort of slept from three to six or
so. A cold water clean up. No shave.
No electric but the stove is gas. I used

a lighter and boiled water for coffee.
I went to the top cupboard and took
down my old Bodum French press.

It was fine for the two of us. We moved
into the TV room where I opened two
windows and the side door to get some

air. Hot air is better than no air. A light
breeze crisscrossed the room. The rain
stopped. By dusk the wind started to

die down. We talked back and forth all
afternoon. I cooked as the light faded
from the windows. We ate by lantern.

Back in the TV room, she shrieked.
Her fan came on. Power was back on.
God is good. The gift of another day.

A Candle of Faith

I can’t be having the thoughts I’m having.
The thoughts of past abuse never go
completely away. I understand that.

Those thoughts spawn other thoughts.
And before I know it, I’m back in a place
I don’t want to be.

Pain and pleasure converge once again
and I’m in touch with the confusion of
the eight-year-old that was me.

It is Satan’s fuel fanning the fires of past
abuse freezing my thoughts for today.
Fiery arrows aimed at the heart to destroy

whatever is true. The breath of an angel is
all it takes to quench this Hell fire and
bring me back into God’s grace and truth.

Light and darkness can never occupy the
same space. All it takes is a candle of faith
to dispel the darkness.