Between A Hard Place

Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Between a Hard Place

He had not meant to go
for the jugular.
He’d just aimed for the cheap shot,
the kind of thing
that might nick a wing.

The others’ laughter rippled
a shallow pool,
but the face she would not turn to him
was like the face of a stone he’d sometimes kick
the way home, as a child,
the sun burning through his bangs, for he was mad,
mad that he could keep that stone
to his curbed path, but not roll back
the day.

Truly, any rock would do,
but he found his shoe searching
for one of those round smooth stones, that kind that looked long soothed
by blue water, and sometimes, when he found a good one
he’d pick it up at last, rubbing his thumb and forefinger over its coolness, imagining
some soft stroke back.

More often, he’d pick up what he kicked
and throw it at a sign or car until
the rattle spun so loud it shot him
into a flight whose speed alone near petrified him; he tried then
to ape insouciance, but would end
in a side-armed lope that made him
look the nicked one,
the wounded.

Now, he tried
to make her look at him,
but it was like making a stone
look back and the heart that wanted to fly to her
soon wanted to throw something, tightening
like a fist around
what that might be–what beat at him.


8th sort-of-poem (yes, I know it’s really a draft story, not a draft poem–sorry! ) for April, 2015 National Poetry Month for Marian’s prompt on With Real Toads to write about a poem one regrets.  I really just could not write about that subject right now but went with words that one regrets. 

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11 Comments on “Between A Hard Place”

  1. Jim Says:

    Wonderful little story, poor misguided fellow. It is my kind of poem, k, sort of a little puzzling. Perhaps since you don’t like it very well, it may not have a solution.
    I am falling in love with your little elephants. So cuddly and cute looking and they are perfect for your illustrations.
    Not falling in love perhaps, but ever since one of my college literature classes I have been liking the phrase, “between a rock and a hard place.”
    That is because there I found the source of quotation in a poem telling of the sailors having to sail between Scylla and Charybdis, a big rock and a hard place to sail because (how I remember it) of the dangerous currents off the coast of what we call Italy. If you missed it you might like to check on it.

  2. M Says:

    stones litter our pens, yes? ~

  3. he found his shoe searching
    for one of those round smooth stones, that kind that looked long soothed… very nice.
    I like this. I’ve known people like this, so angry within but always directing it outward. So much misery and it feeds a cycle. Well done, very descriptive.

  4. Marian Says:

    Rub with thumb and put it in your pocket, or throw it at a car? These are good questions, real ones, I think.
    There’s a children’s book about picking out your own rock to keep. I think of it all the time, the instructions for choosing and pocketing your rock.

  5. hedgewitch Says:

    There is a Rolling Stones song you may remember from our misspent youth ,k–‘Heart of Stone’–that came flooding into my head reading this–that terrible cynicism and cruelty of youth that masks its exact opposite–this is full of amazing lines and equally profound but lightly presented insights on that rock that skips and hops on its path,never a smooth skipped stone, always sharp, staccato, and never ever reaching flight before veering off to do its impotent but very real damage.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Yes, I remember that song now. I am so much more a story writer than poet–doing a bunch of them is quite hard for me with that issue–they all want to come out as narrative! Which is okay but really not expressing the truths that can come out in a poem. Agh. Today’s one (scribbled on way to work) may be more “poetic.” k.

  6. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    Oh, you have captured this so beautifully. I don’t see why a poem can’t be a story. 🙂

  7. This is a brilliant study of human nature – so telling that the face turned away because of his words makes him wind up feeling – not sorry – but angry because he knows he has behaved badly. Still directing his anger outwards instead of learning from it within. Ha.

  8. Mama Zen Says:

    This is really outstanding, K. Gripping. I have known this man.

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