Polishing A Gem On The Surface Of The Sea
The day I met Jack a single yellow balloon floated into the yard.
Before I drove to the beach I tied the balloon to my VW’s antennae, imagined it spinning like a twister beyond my view.
Jack is now my Jack, and he loves Jack Kerouac, but I love my Jack more than Jack loves Jack.
When we read On The Road, there is momentum in the moments we share.
Judy Garland is singing, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Jack is driving and I’m watching it all go by.
I’ve only been awake for a minute, but Jack has been on my mind for hours.
On our first date, Jack got down on one knee and asked me to visualize a diamond ring.
We are moments, elegant and simple, “Mm,” I say, “Pavarotti with a latte.”
Jack and I find a collector’s box of butterflies in a second-hand store with “Jack” written on the back.
Kismet and irony is what Jack and I eat for breakfast.
The clouds are like goose down at a distance, blurred and gray, soft and unreal in the fading light.
I wonder who drove the pins through the hearts of the butterflies in the box?
Jack says, “Those two people look like owls.” I ask Jack what we look like, he says "Surfers."
When the pale blue sky turns to night, I look deep into the universe, and I can feel it looking back.
Lying on my surfboard with my arms out stretched I feel like a giant Blue Morpho butterfly.
Jack says the Blue Morpho is the most beautiful creature he’s ever seen.
Jack and I like to play Breakfast at Tiffany’s every chance we get. Today, we’re on our fourth cocktail by noon.
We are constant change, falling asleep in an LA Wonderland on Friday, waking up in the Emerald City of Seattle on Sunday, wondering what happened to Saturday.
It’s wine with La Wally and all is well.
Our imperfections are thrilling.
When my parents meet Jack, they say, “That is enough of that.”
Rerun Dorothy says, “There’s no place like home.”
Jack and I read Alice In Wonderland aloud.
Our neighbors Richard and Sheila ask, “Do you know what happened to our rose bushes?”
Later, as I watch Jack pull a snarl of crimson and brier out of our lawnmower I wonder if I’m dating the Mad Hatter.
I usually write when Jack is asleep, but sometimes we write together on cocktail napkins.
I obsess over Dorothy’s ruby slippers - Jack vows to buy me a pair.
My handwriting is that of a drunken child.
We both want to make our home in Wonderland.
Our neighbors cross our overgrown lawn to tell us that they hate weeds.
We are happy daisies.
At times I sense myself on a meandering river headed toward a waterfall.
We wear the shadows of leaves when the sun streams through the filter of our Oak tree.
We throw seeds that look like helicopter blades into the air and watch them flutter to the ground.
We find a heavy black cat and call him “Magic.”
Jack and I contact the spirit realm on our Ouija board until an entity guides Jack’s hands to spell out the words “See you soon.”
Rain shoots holes into puddles in our driveway.
After a Saki induced sleep, Jack suddenly opens his eyes to say, “We should move to Japan!”
When I think of Jack my mouth waters.
Jack hasn’t come home.
His crazy blonde hair recalls to my mind Slivics Manual: A Guide to Trees; I pray that he hasn’t fallen like a Yellow Birch, a tree that rots from the inside out and is too easily taken down by the wind or snow.
Jack is so handsome that if he were to pass out on the floor most women would try and pick him up.
Jack says, "Don’t worry, I was only drunk."
Tonight Jack is laughing on the phone, he sings, “The girls all get prettier at closing time.”
I am never going to say Jack’s name again.
Jack. Jack. Jack.
Jack says that I’m an unapologetic distortionist of events, but he misses me all the same.
I ask myself, “What sort of assholery is this?”
I watch a raindrop defy gravity as it clings to a leaf.
I dream of flying monkeys.
Jack tells me he loves me more than surfing, writing or whisky.
He tells Magic that black cats are the luckiest in the world.
When the butterfly box falls from the wall the Great Monarch is dislodged from its pin.
Jack and I are two hearts painting the roses red, two lovers, rarely apart, spending the day in bed.
“Over time,” I say to the students in my meditation class, “I have come to believe that it's my spiritual duty to never to get upset.”
Fuck you Jack!
Jack tells me that I make him laugh as he kisses me on the nose.
I worry that the Monarch loose in the box will fall to pieces but I can’t get myself to put it back on its pin.
On our Cali vacation we drink so much that Jack tells me he’s seen God in a wetsuit carrying a longboard.
Jack puts his hand on my head, and I put my hand on his head, and we walk down the street holding heads because holding hands is so passé.
The clouds have wound through the Evergreens like cotton through the teeth of a comb.
Every morning we kiss each other goodbye.
When Jack knocks the mirror off the wall, he cries uncontrollably for an hour.
When I say, “Jack, don’t be so superstitious,” a chill shoots down my spine.
We have cocktails before we go out for cocktails.
Jack gets a speeding ticket going 110 in a 55.
Our lives have taken on an apocalyptic vibe that we call “fun.
Jack is a love “10” and responsibility “2” on a scale that doesn’t exist.
My fortune cookie says, “You are loved more than you will ever know.”
Jack and I play nude croquet on the lawn beneath a full moon.
I can feel our neighbors disapproving glare from beyond their darkened window.
When Richard and Sheila ask us to keep it down as we shout, “Off with their heads!”
We do tequila shots until we're cut off.
I laugh so hard in my dream that I wake myself up.
Jack and I both say, “Drunken Boy” at the same time when we see it in a film’s credits.
On 9/11 we are twin towers falling down over and over again in perpetuity.
Jack says, “Everything is an illusion, except love.”
When I watch the police officer walk away from our house absence gesticulates around me.
I’m a single balloon floating away from a party.
A hole has been torn in time and space, the illusion flaps wildly.
Blackness pulls me past the tattered edges of my home.
Nothing tastes like anything.
The next day Magic goes missing.
When Richard comes to the door with a garbage bag, I become so hysterical that he drops my dead cat and runs away shouting, “It was an accident!”
Christmas tree lights blink and snow tumbles from invisible clouds.
I’m afraid to look at the Monarch’s wing for fear that I’ll fall headfirst into one those little black holes.
I listen to the story of when my parents met Jack; I love what they’ve done with it.
The story begins, “Jack showed up drunk and late for dinner.”
They are 80’s comedians doing a gag.
The story ends with my mother saying, “And we both collapsed on the kitchen floor laughing.”
I walk outside and into the dark wood.
After a long time I manage to bury the box of butterflies in the hard winter ground.
The world is uncanny, manufactured, like a movie poster, everyone is laughing with their heads tossed back.
I watch a video of Jack surfing in California last summer.
He rode a wave to shore, picked up his board and walked toward me saying, “If Gertrude Stein were born later she might have surfed here.”
I see a woman holding hands with a man and think how repetitive it all is.
“Do you miss me?” I ask myself in the mirror.
I run as fast as I can through the forest at night, barely missing tree branches, up and over rocks, until I sense the edge of the cliff and my body knows to stop.
On my flight to Japan I fantasize that Jack will meet me at the gate.
Melancholy is such a pretty word.
Jack Kerouac once said, “It will all end in tears.”
I eat Chinese food from a carton and it is a new moment; it doesn’t taste like regret or remorse or longing, it just tastes like Moo Goo Gai Pan.
Two hours later I cry uncontrollably.
Monocentris Japonicas, “Ghost Fish,” glow beneath my surfboard.
Seven months after Jack died Richard and Sheila learn the truth and write to ask, “Why didn’t you tell us Jack died?”
At the end of their letter they ask, “Have you met anyone new?”
One of my favorite memories of Jack is of the two of us lying in the sun, our feet barely touching, and the only sound is the sound of the sea.
I’m looking for a word that means, pining that causes an emotional indent or depression. An affliction caused by tragic loss. Pain that lingers that is accompanied by obsessive thoughts and despair, but there is no single word for that in the English language. I invent one, everpine. Verb use, I was everpining until I surrendered in meditation.
My Sensai of pain must be fired so that my Sensai of joy can be hired.
I meditate until I float out of my body into space connected by a strand of light.
Jack isn’t there, but Buddha's serenity soothes me.
I meditate upon Buddha’s lap; sit on his stone knees rubbing his belly, as he tells me of his drinking days.
I fly paper airplanes with poems written on them to the people passing below, and when someone picks up a poem, and puts it in their pocket, it pleases the poet. It pleases the poet.
I find treasures, a gold ring, an out-of-circulation coin, many things, even myself, but I never find what I’ve lost.
I take Jack’s ashes out of my suitcase and pour them into the sea.
I want to go home because there is no place like home.
My Jack once told me, “I will love you forever.”
Jack Kerouac once said, “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
Previously published in My Myths (Yellow Chair Press, 2016).
Yellow Chair Press published Kelle Grace Gaddis’s poetry and fiction collection, My Myths, in December of 2016. Other recently published works appear in Dispatches Editions Resist Much / Obey Little, Vending Machine Presses Very Fine Writing, The Till, Five Willows Poetry Review, The Hessler Street Fair Anthology, LOLX, Moonlight Dreamers of the Yellow Haze, BlazeVOX in BlazeVOX15, The New Independents Magazine, Thirteen Myna Birds Journal, Knot Literary Magazine, Entropy, Writing For Peace, Dove Tales: The Nature Edition, Blackmail Presses Edition 37, Knot Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. Ms. Gaddis has written three chapbooks It Is What It Is, It Was What It Was, Visions Of, and American Discard. She is honored to be one of 4Culture’s “Poetry on the Buses” contest winners in 2015 and 2017 Ms. Gaddis is a 2016 Till Writer’s Residency alum. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington in 2014.