Brandon K. Nobles – Lullaby, 2010

I

They were young—
when first they met,
in history at school.
Casey saw him look her way,
and she looked at him too.
Not too popular, you’d say—
they sat apart at vacant tables,
in the lunchroom every day.

Those islands of shame—
for kids without names,
with whom no one would play—
became their shrine,
for pantomimes,
for love they often prayed.
They only wished for normal lives,
perhaps God was away.

In both of their young lives
they felt:
the touch of tragedy.
Casey lost her little brother,
Daniel lost his niece.
These living scars-
they never heal,
and not with passing time.
Cuts will fade away from skin,
but never from the mind.
while it may be the heart that bleeds,
it is the mind that cries.

Her curly hair was doll-eye black,
her face a constellation-
of freckles down her rose red cheek
in endless variation.
She always bore a smile which seemed,
like polished ivory that gleamed,
a lovely girl, a lovely face,
with tired and darkened eyes.
It seemed as though, despite the show,
She was alone and cried.

Daniel was the quiet type,
devoid of social grace.
And often he became befuddled
when he saw her face.
His hair was short-
his eyes were sharp.
When classes ended,
he pretended—
played with figments,
of his mind.

Behind the school,
and in the park
on his own alone ‘til dark,
he felt just like a bum.
When he got home, his music on,
he played with his gun.

His brother was a poet, whom,
Daniel asked to pen-
some sort of lovely melody,
some tender ode to send.
After the note was written,
And he shaped it like a rose.
Daniel left it on her desk—
a flower made of prose.
When Casey came into the room
the origami flower bloomed.

Daniel looked upon her face,
his heart thumped in his chest:
Her eyes traveled down the note,
and read such tenderness—
the likes of which,
she’d never seen—
not in the world,
not in her dreams,
not even in her fantasies.
There is no better place to end,
than where you came apart;
there is no valley deeper,
than a fragile human heart.

When she finished with the note,
she cast a glance that somehow spoke:
his heart beat faster still.
Her tired eyes, to his surprise,
were radiant with hope.
When the old school bell had rang,
the children grabbed their books
and things,
and shuffled through the halls.

They met after school that night
on a playground eerie quiet,
and swung on creaking swings
the carousel, as it goes by,
the lives around us seem to die,
And when the ride slowed down we got,
off the ledge and to the stop—
the door to the other side.
In one door and out another,
nodding vaguely at each other,
a new group boards the ride.

They started on their short walk home,
while Casey eerie hummed along,
to the beat
of some forgotten
melancholy song.
Under streetlights, as they passed—
they walked together hand in hand.
Life was good again, that day,
for them,
as they slept well that night.
A ballet cut short far too soon,
down went the stage and paper moon,
the spotlight gave way to the night.

just like the setting of the moon,
they’ll soon blink out of sight.

They arrived on Casey’s porch
and stood before the door.
Goodnight, he said,
and turned to leave.
He wished he had the nerve to say,
What part she played in all his dreams.
Then she kissed him on the cheek,
and turned to walk inside.
He stood a moment on the porch,
and looked up at the stars.
But his concentration
was disturbed
by passing cars.

As time went by,
the years died off;
Before they met,
they both were lost—
in a forest dim and dark,
trying to find their way;
They yelled, and yelled,
“Hello? Hello?
Is anybody there?”
In the vain hope someone may,
call back from the darkness, “Hey.”
And save them from themselves.

As two birds in the fog that fly,
through the mist into the sky
to find one of their own.
Only to get lost in storm,
before they make it home.
And if the birds—
can’t find their way,
they fly forever on.

They had never loved another,
nor braced another nude:
All day every day they saw,
each other through and through
And they had the one real love,
the rare and selfless kind:
when alone, to past the time,
they danced a waltz to Patsy Cline:
I’m crazy for loving you—
was the line.

2

Only for so long can fate,
Spare our lives and, as we wait,
we count the hours,
check the dates:
the hours as they fly.
The ones we love may disappear,
in one blink of an eye.
Here they are,
and then they’re lost—
to live, to die,
so high a cost,
These lullabies—
for loved ones gone,
we make them live again—
through song.

Daniel was a child that day—
a static television gray,
he sat there with the gun.
It was taken from its place,
inside of the old gun case—
He played with it for fun.
Cowboys and Indians, my friends,
ran around fake guns in hand;
some Western fantasy, perhaps,
his rusted shotgun, and his hat.
“What should we play today?”

Casey with some effort sat,
and barely seemed to murmur back:
“I don’t have the cash to go.”
I’ll pay your way, he said.
Or we can go play in the snow.
“I don’t feel so good right now,”
Casey said and lay back down.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, and:
“Can I help?”
“I just need some rest,” she said.
“Maybe an Equate would be best.
Perhaps a Tylenol.”
Daniel stood, walked down the hall—
his shotgun propped against the wall.

He came back and weary said,
“Nothing in the cabinet.
You’ll have to wait it out.”
“Christ!” she said,
“Just shoot me now!”
Daniel grabbed the broken gun,
and laughing he said, “Pow!”

This will help you, said the gun.
To a not so far off beating drum—
the black angel Death had come,
and stood before the bed.
On the floor—a pool of blood,
on the white wall spattered red.
Her dying body twitched and shook,
violent spasms on the floor,
just like a fish upon the shore.

The ringing noise within the room,
was the harbinger of doom,
the ear cells swan song blue.
As she writhed about the floor,
Daniel realized no more,
would they hear their favorite tune—
I’m crazy for loving you.

He clasped his hands around her face,
and felt again her body shake:
He shook her harder, and he screamed:
“Please don’t leave me now, Casey.
Somebody help, somebody please!
Call an ambulance for me!“

And while they waited for some help,
Casey arrived at Death’s doorstep.
Her heartbeat fading, Daniel felt—
You are the world me, Casey.
There is nobody else.
Casey, Casey, come back please.
Don’t leave me by myself.

Her slender fingers on both hands
had began to shake:
Daniel lay beside her on the floor,
and watched her fade.
He held her shaking hands,
and remembered their first night:
when she hummed that haunting jingle,
under old street-lights.

She wasn’t moving;
Daniel screamed.
He put his lips to hers to breathe;
Casey? Casey! Casey, please!
What now will I do?
My life was nothing but a joke,
before I fell for you.

Again and again
her name he called,
his tears the taste
of salt would fall.
When in his dreams
her clothes, her rings,
glistened amidst
the golden beams.
He saw but half her face.

The cops arrived, the EMS,
went inside and almost left:
when they glimpsed the lovely girl,
their hearts were heavy,
almost torn:
And standing in the living room,
a crowd began to mourn.

They bagged her
and brought in the stretcher,
and Daniel rushed to see:
them take away his dying love—
his honey bird—Casey.

The living room was full of smoke,
Daniel like a toy had broke,
and struggled with the cops.
He slammed his fists against the wall,
as they drug him down the hall,
into the street outside.
He shouted but said nothing,
in his incoherent screams.
He managed to get loose from them,
and slammed his head against the street.

They put her in the ambulance,
yet they knew she had no chance,
Her pulse was weak, and fading still,
they kept the green light on,
until—
that awful monotone;
the dead end voice that told the world,
about the soon forgotten girl,
who died so far from home.
her breathing stopped,
her pulse had dropped—
the laughing girl was gone.

As people gathered in the street,
people stopped and whispered weak:
our baby girl is gone.
Now she’ll see her little brother,
and her lovely old grandmother,
on that long walk home.

Her plastic arms had clutched her face,
one side of which was still in place,
with rosy cheeks which had flushed red.
Blood like snakes ran down her head.
and of this world, her one last glance:
was Daniel speaking of their dance:
“I’m sorry son, just look:
she’s dead.”
A policeman in a white coat said.
And like a lifeless mannequin,
they held her by her clammy hands,
and loaded her into the van.

Later on the news was read:
“A fourteen year old girl is dead.”
It happened as an accident,
She was shot in the head,
there was little left to do,
when her mother heard the news,
“She’s not dead!” her mother said,
screaming in the streets.
A crowd of people stood in silence,
Yet no one dared to speak.
They sat in silent circles, sad,
they cried:
the beautiful fireside angels cried.

One moment sitting there alright,
she died under the pale lamp light.
Here one moment then they’re gone,
You love them,
and they love you back.
And all that’s left,
our rights, our wrongs—
about her earrings—abalone,
her lullaby—that haunting song.

The poet from his mind, had read—
a lullaby written for the dead:
There once was a girl I knew,
who left our world and far too soon.
They called her Casey,
lovely girl,
her tasseled hair in vibrant curls,
Her skin was ivory white.
Casey lived for fourteen years—
and bled to death that night.

4

I remember when I met her,
laughing in the sand.
I sat in a sandbox with her,
and she brushed against my hand.
The warmth and softness of her skin,
was as soft as porcelain.

The image in my mind remains:
the couch they left outside,
with stains,
that every day I had to see:
a blood soaked couch,
with trash thrown out
the dreams I had of she:
in a cemetery’s haze,
we walk together through a maze,
with nothing but her grave to see.

To the next world—
just to see,
her younger brother,
laugh with glee.
and with him walk—
the golden roads.
And upon the walls of stalls,
she hears our lilting loving calls,
of this posthumous ode.

They disappear and one by one,
like lilies underneath the sun,
they abide their time and go.
With another season done,
another field of flowers come:
and all is gone too soon.

It happens in a past forgotten,
when a life on Earth begins,
when a child whose newborn eyes
are so much closer to the end.
One moment there,
and then they’re gone,
to hear an echo of the song.

Daniel drank, and Daniel sighed,
And line by line he lost his mind,
his eyes erratic showed:
He slammed his head against the road,
yet did not feel the blow.
Again and again,
He spit in the wind;
and turned a crusty red.
He had killed what he most loved,
and he inside was dead.
And the man who gunned her down,
himself so soon he’d try to drown,
in beer and drugs and guns.
And many times upon the table,
his revolver spun.

At her funeral in the fall
I stood with her family, all,
gathered ‘round to silent speak:
she lay there peaceful, solemn,
quiet:
no one by the casket
‘till her father spoke beside it.
And he hummed that same old song,
that haunting far flung sing-a-long,
that Daniel heard on that walk home.
And as it filled the hallowed hall,
the shadows crept along the wall,
and no one felt alone—
even though her lullaby,
was now forever gone.

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