A Sheltered Life – an original poem

A Sheltered Life
by T. K. Jones

“She needs friends,” the mother says.
“But I don’t think she wants friends.”
She takes another long drag from her Virginia Slims
Not realizing it was largely her own fault
that her daughter had no friends.
No, not a single one
Always caged up in the apartment
Overprotected
A sheltered childhood
Preteen years of dwindling invitations
To the beach or to the mall
Not that anyone ever had any money to spend
“I can’t.”
“I’m not allowed to.”
She’d sigh, half whimpering, into the phone.
“She won’t let me go.”

The girl becomes strange.
Stranger than before.
A stranger now
A stranger stranger.
Some days not responding, or even acknowledging
Anyone or anything
A catatonic state.
Other days speaking in riddles and rhymes
In a low, ethereal voice much like a weeping cello

“She doesn’t have any friends,” her mother would tell everyone
as a matter-of-factly at family gatherings,
Leaving out the part about when her daughter was just a child
and asked if she would ever get married
The mother’s reply was, “No.
I’m the only friend you’ve got in this world.”
Destined for spinsterhood
An Emily Dickinson life.
An Emily Dickinson death.

Copyright © 2015 T. K. Jones

Becoming Nick Drake

Here’s a piece I wrote that I actually really like. It was rejected by Indiana Review, though. I will share it here:

Becoming Nick Drake
by T. K. Jones

She played Nick Drake’s “Day is Done” on her outdated laptop. On loop. Mouthing the parts she knew. Even after all this time, she didn’t know all the lyrics. Her fingers jumped on the fast guitar licks which were sparsely sprinkled throughout the song.

As she mouthed the words that came through her clunky Sony headphones, single syllables occasionally escaped from her throat, sounding like a deaf person speaking. Half muted. A moan. It embarrassed her. She was alone in her room but always looked over her shoulders. She would shake her head. Chuckle at herself. No one there.

Sometimes she got so caught up in the song, she became Nick Drake. In a music video or performing on stage. This was even more dangerous, as she would make faces so full of emotion. Going for long stretches of time losing touch with reality. She didn’t want people to see her lip-synching and making melodramatic  faces as she sat at an intersection so she switched to talk radio for drives. Angry, shouting conservatives. Rude lawyers hanging up on nervous callers. Financial analysts quoting Bible verses.

How could she drive safely if she had to make such fast transitions from air-guitar to air-cello and back to air-guitar? How could she listen to her mother in the passenger seat? Her mother had a habit of starting her nostalgic storytelling at the most inopportune times. While someone else was in the middle of a sentence. As an interesting bit of news came on TV.

She needed only to look in the mirror to remind herself that she wasn’t a long-deceased, broody Englishman with a soulful voice. Such a shame.

Driving alone one day, she purposefully crashed her car. A suicide labeled an accident. Leaving her mother one more story to interrupt people with.

(300 words)

Copyright © 2015 T. K. Jones