Anniversary in Seaside, Oregon

                        We are spending this celebration
                        at a painter's seaside canvas.

                        Even students on Spring Break
                        came in from the storm last night.

                        Soggy hail covered sea grass and beached logs.
                        Now salty tennis shoes dry in the bathroom.

                        Sand floods the tub
                        from socks of our hours walking the beach.

                        Waves tore at our footprints
                        as we hunched inside Gore-Tex and pockets.

                        Later, high schoolers presented "Oklahoma,"
                        with a small town encore in the school auditorium.

                        We returned to my mint frosted zucchini cake,
                        toasted with champagne from our Coleman cooler.

                        Dark spread the night to waves and breakers,
                        our lights out to see a horizon of both light and shadow.

                        Today joggers and walkers appear in our window.
                        We trade binoculars to invade them after each chapter.

                        This is our honeymoon beach, the same long boardwalk,
                        The same restaurant chowder,

                        The same salt water taffy churning in shop windows
                        we mailed to our parents.

                        Then it was youth, desire and Vietnam
                        spurring us to the altar too soon.

                        Today it is a beached log, a float rescued,
                        two unbroken seashells in a tide pool.

by Contributing Poet:     Mary Ellen Talley   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   2017 )


                        We needed
                        the damage deposit
                        from the studio
                        in Port Hueneme
                        for the next one bedroom
                        in Seattle
                        so we could use
                        your G.I. Bill
                        and what I earned
                        at the Navy Exchange
                        after you didn't die
                        in Vietnam
                        we could return
                        to college
                        so we cleaned
                        the olive rug
                        stove and fridge
                        woodwork and windows
                        when the apartment manager
                        came to inspect
                        and lifted the sink trap
                        to find scum
                        we forgot
                        but she didn't dock us –
                        we were so young.

by Contributing Poet:     Mary Ellen Talley   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   2017 )

  The Things We Carry   *

                        I am reading a memoir of the war that incited our marriage.
                        Inside our lilac scented city, you and I carried desire
                        like youth's cranking jump rope and I counted revolutions
                        while wearing those tan oxfords, tennies, or flip flops
                        we needed to protect our feet from Spokane's hot pavement.

                        Growing up near one another in a parallel universe,
                        not friends, but sometimes playing kick-the-can in Healy's spare lot –
                        I've forgotten the rules that have slid past open doors
                        of synapses tacked on telephone poles in our hometown.

                        I sip tea in our married house and open the book of war
                        someone must've watered down or it would never be
                        on students' 10th grade reading list. Just now I turn the page
                        to sense the war that never stole you from me
                        after you commuted to college with friend, Claudia, war widow next door.

                        Regretted folly to avoid the draft, you joined the Naval Reserve
                        but your lottery number was in the three hundreds,
                        your flag-draped coffin I had imagined would never come to pass.
                        Claudia's lives in the same house and has since buried her second husband.

                        Your Eastern diploma scored you typing memos for Seabees near LA
                        while other grunts with low draft numbers racked up PTSD and addictions
                        on rugged jungle shrouded mountains. I joined you, & we newlyweds watched
                        medics calm a GI returnee near our studio apartment – writhing in flashback
                        for carnage he had seen, buddy who found a mine field with his foot strike.

                        Today we mail shamrock cookies to your mom, your sister,
                        our son, our flower girl and my sister whose husband survived duty
                        as a Medevac pilot in 'Nam but died early, in the end wielding
                        an oxygen tank, his pulmonary arterioles defoliated from poison Agent Orange.

                        I spread green frosting for the Irish month of our marriage.
                        The author tells readers that his text contains fact and fiction. In addition,
                        everything is truth. Soldiers carried photos, pebbles in the mouth, a hatchet.
                        One wore his fiancé's nylons wrapped around his neck
                        and knew they brought luck even after her Dear John letter.

                        Disheveled vets walk our city. Divorce courts spin romance
                        on a turn table. No pesticides for our yard, we dig to remove dandelion roots.
                        Our early union is an anecdote I add in telling teens of social history.
                        I tell them you're alive and we even drove to Vegas to see Elvis near his prime.

*   Title taken from Tim O'Brien's novel/memoir The Things They Carried

by Contributing Poet:     Mary Ellen Talley   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   2017 )

Bio:   Mary Ellen Talley   is a Seattle, Washington poet whose poems have most recently been published in and Kaleidoscope as well as in recent anthologies, The Doll Collection, All We Can Hold poems of motherhood and Raising Lilly Ledbetter Women Poets Occupy the Workspace. Her poetry has received a Pushcart Nomination. She has worked for many years with words and children as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) in Washington public schools. Mary Ellen's husband, Ken, was on active duty in the Navy 1970-1972 at Port Hueneme, California. Her brother-in-law served in the Army and flew Medevac helicopters in Vietnam. Her son-in-law is currently serving in the Navy, stationed at Bangor, Washington.

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