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Flat Right Palm

07 April, 2021: Flat Right Palm

Read a Poem

Flat Right Palm

By Brandon Noel

The shadow cast by Bar 154 in Kent was cold as bare iron.
We stood on an uneven brick path as our daughters played
in a kid sized wooden train engine and climbed the white boulders beside it.
I sipped at the bottom of my Tree City espresso,
now just a soaked styrofoam ring of rust water,
but I kept tipping it up so we could stay longer.
You were searching for videos of aerial yoga on your phone.
A new fever brewing in your brain.
I bought you a month's worth of classes,
but lied and said I got them for free.
The power of a gift is increased when it holds hands
with a secret, and I have a lot of both.
"It's warmer in the sun," I said,
and you took us to a bench swing.
I spilled the last of my coffee sitting down,
wiped it up with my flat right palm, and rubbed it
into the faded side of my faux-leather boots.
Our daughters, Raina and Abby, made a new friend
as children do by trading names.
They yelled out to us that their lumber locomotive
was set to leave its station, “All aboard!”
Wooden. Railless. Sliding up the hill.
Early March winds. Runny toddler noses.
Grass stains on white dress stockings.
The unending softness of laughter,
the girls pumped their arms in the air and said “chooo-chooooo.”
I can hear that train’s steam whistle.
There’s a draw on my heart to climb aboard with them,
to jump on the siren line out of the city, to leave
like the spirit does, quietly conjured away by the games
these little ones play. I wonder where they imagine it goes.
I could ask, but I'd just as well blind-buy a ticket,
and let it take me with no return trip in mind.
“Flat Right Palm” by Brandon Noel, from Infinite Halves. Lulu Press. 2017. Used by permission of the author.
Brandon Noel (He/Him), lives in Northeastern Ohio and has worked as a machinist for the
last ten years while writing on his breaks and brief moments of down time. His work often
focuses on working-class life, and has appeared in Door-Is-A-Jar, Jenny, Recenter Press, Empty Mirror, and The Esthetic Apostle. He is editor of Olney Magazine and is a contributing poetry editor for Barren Magazine. He has two poetry collections, Mongrel (2015) and Infinite Halves (2017),  and facilitates a monthly writers group called “The Makeshift Poets.” Brandon turned 35 last December and raises two daughters, ages 12 and 6, with their mother. Find Brandon on Twitter: @The_Mongrel

Write a Poem

Write on 2020 using the line, “By then, I thought I’d be somewhere.”
Laurie K
Like @Jan, I've got to say thank you, Brandon, for these lines:
The power of a gift is increased when it holds hands /
with a secret, and I have a lot of both.
4/9/2021 10:38:06 AM

I missed breakfast because we were supposed to eat together
you slept in that day
but you got up with a start and
rushed to pick me up
I skipped class with you that day
I didn't know where we were going
but I knew I was safe
nothing feels quite like home like your passenger seat
and your occasional glance over at me
while we talk about everything that isn't anything
you parked at IHOP
you treated me once again
I had breakfast after all that day
I didn't finish my pancakes but
they were definitely the best pancakes I've had
I remember how they tasted
I remember thinking
this could last forever but
it's only a matter of time
because you always know when you've found the one
but someone else found him first
you're so far gone now but these days,
I sometimes wish that I could know where you're going
so I could join you
like we used to
4/9/2021 2:00:49 AM

Love this poem. Makes me want to read more of yours. The lines mentioned in a couple posts above are my favorites, too.
4/8/2021 11:10:46 AM

Sierra Polsinelli
Poem about 2020

By then I thought I'd be somewhere ..
I had plans and places to be
There were trips near and far
Planned to a tea.

But then a darkness began to descend
We watched it happen
Amazed at its depth.
By then I thought I'd be somewhere …
But the streets were empty
The people were staying home … waiting
Waiting for a reprieve
There was no place to go
No one felt safe.

By then I thought I'd be somewhere …
But the death toll kept rising
No help was coming
No hope on the horizon
The experts were ignored
The people couldn't agree

By then I thought I'd be somewhere …
But the world spiralled out of control
Death, Anger, Sorrow, Mistrust
We could no longer count on tomorrow.

And finally, almost too late
We heard the voice say
"HELP is on the way!"
4/7/2021 7:31:13 PM

By then I thought I'd be somewhere...

Did my homework
Worked hard
Earned good enough grades
Graduated, then a masters
Where did I go wrong?

Recovering workaholic
Got healthy
Walking the Rocky River Reservation
Might as well be a treadmill
Because only the scenery changes
No matter what I learned

Exist, respect
Change jobs, repeat
Change cities, repeat
Come home, repeat
Leave again, repeat
Count down to my return

By then I thought I'd be somewhere
Knew where I belonged a long time ago
Wanted to stay
Forced to go
Knew where I belong
My beloved Ohio
4/7/2021 6:25:19 PM

Posted today's prompt (day 7-- your prompt is to write on 2020 using the line, “By then, I thought I’d be somewhere.”) on my blog. In 2020 had nothing better to do than create a poetry form: "the blog poem" and it does go on and on, just like 2020. So, so as not to hog space--there it is on my webpage/blog!
4/7/2021 2:01:04 PM

Believe me, I am reading every poem--they are all inspiring. It is just a little hard to comment on everyone. This April is Poetry month is especially excellent! Thanks for the prompts and the poetry!!
4/7/2021 1:55:17 PM

Enjoying the poems and commentary.
4/7/2021 12:03:51 PM

Bill Ritz
2020 Somewhere

In the winter of 2020
I purchased tickets
for a March concert.
By then I thought I’d be
No concert.
Spring brings rebirth and Easter.
By then I thought I’d be somewhere .
No Easter.
Baseball, the game of summer:
By then I thought I’d be somewhere.
No baseball attendance.
Fireworks on Independence Day:
By then I thought I’d be somewhere
No fireworks.
Neighborhood festivals flourish in July and August.
By then I thought I’d be
No neighborhood festivals.
Labor Day weekend:
Loads of fairs and fests.
By then I thought I’d be somewhere .
No fairs and fests.
Fall harvests and celebrations:
Thanksgiving Day feasts.
By then I thought I’d be somewhere.
No Fall Thanksgiving Feasts.
December brings Christmas parties of joy.
By then, I thought I’d be
No joyous Christmas parties.

2020, year of plenty:
Plenty of disappointments.
By then I thought I’d be somewhere,
But I never was.☹️
4/7/2021 11:38:06 AM

Love it all! My husband was a poet and this is exactly the kind of poem he wrote. I'm sitting here weeping--at your beautiful story, your beautiful words, remembering the love of my life.
4/7/2021 11:07:54 AM

Goodness, I thought I would have perfect sight by 2020.
Or, rather, perfect insight into what I should do with my life.
Instead I got endless of hours of introspection, Law & Order reruns, and bread baking.
I thought I would be, would arrive where I was supposed to be.
But 2020 was like the "pause" button on my remote.
Instead of clarity I got more questions.
Instead of answers I got more confusion.
Instead of a self-actualized me I got basic survival needs and behaviors.
But maybe that is good.
Instead of arriving at a destination I learned that life is a journey.
Maybe 2020 is exactly where I was supposed to be.
4/7/2021 10:51:36 AM

It painted an interesting picture. I liked it.
4/7/2021 10:08:58 AM

Mary M Chadbourne
In addition to that lovely line about gifts and secrets, I also admire this one, Brandon:
I could ask, but I'd just as well blind-buy a ticket, /
and let it take me with no return trip in mind.

It's a beautifully evocative piece.
4/7/2021 9:55:18 AM

Love this line: The power of a gift is increased when it holds hands
with a secret, and I have a lot of both.
4/7/2021 9:43:00 AM

READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.