What You Owe Me

Sycamore Seed in Child's HandYou owe me
Nothing.

You do not even owe me understanding
That I mean this.

You owe me
Nothing.

How can I believe you
If you are indebted to me?

How can I trust your words
If you are obligated to say them?

How can I feel
Close to you,
If you owe me
Performances?

The world is yours.
Your thoughts are yours.
I will not reach in
To you,
Or ask you to reach in
For me.

When you do so freely,
That is love,
Because I know
You know

We owe each other
Nothing.

Books by Julie Roberts Towe

Now Available: Hold This Close: A Winter Seedlings Prequel

Hold This Close: A Winter Seedlings Prequel is now available at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and soon OpenBooks. The storyline spans a 12 hour period in 1989 and follows Allie as she struggles to come to terms with her past abuse and what lies ahead for her. The novella is 24,000 words but has the first four chapters of Winter Seedlings tacked onto the end which makes it 34,000 words total. The book opens with this poem which I wrote over a decade ago. It fit well with Allie’s story:

Suffuse

Some bled to the next
On to the one over
And again.
Pieces parted
Then the patchwork.
Black line art
Against vibrant reds.
I stared at it for a dream hour.
You were there with me
In a silent corner
Fingering the dust on the window.
“I like it,” I said.
“Finally,” you said.
But I didn’t tell you about the past
Coming among us now.
I wait for you to look away
Then turn
Something in my hand
Pulls.
And I separate from the reflection.
I’m leaving this all
To you.

Hold This Close Cover

Tropical Depression

Bill lost his title sometime in the wee hours of the morning.
Obviously, it is sad to become only remnants.
He is drowning Dallas with his tears.

I can relate.

Rain, the steady kind that lasts for hours,
Makes me feel trapped, unable to go
Anywhere, anytime I want to go.

I could drive around, listening to
The whoosh of puddles splashing beneath the van,
The wipers with rhythmic thunking.

But I am still trapped within it.
Windows fogging.
Claustrophobic.

Once, I might have ran through it.
But I am not a singular being.
I have four kids in tow.

It’s easier to stay in.
All day. All. Day.
Until he stops this madness.

Weather Radar

Books by Julie Roberts Towe

Buy my books. Your heart will appreciate the adventure.

Pulp Fiction

You wrapped pulp fiction in a cardboard box.
You mailed it with a privacy label.
I didn’t care much for the violence
And became unsettled by love’s absence.

You talked for hours while I twisted the phone cord.
I half listened; I half spoke.
Like a grocery line, long distance.
“Have we met?” I feigned ignorance.

Subtleties you always lost
In too much smoke and incense,
From someone else’s tall shadow,
You said I would bring the light.

I had held the match for you,
Held the candle for you,
Held my breath for you.
When my altar burned to ash, I swept.

I don’t read anymore.
I can’t quite hear the ring in the words.
But the wind still stirs
The rise of music in the chimes outside.

Radio.

Maybe that’s why, today
That box caught my passing glance.
Torn open,
Left cornered and tripped over.

Those stiff bindings,
Pages heavy with all the love
Poured out of your eyes
From when you last read them,
Tucked like dead trees
Withering after they pleased you,
And you alone.

How I Lost My Anchor and Made It Rain

About childhood anxiety disorder… and a sort of parenting fail.
Because I have an anxiety disorder,
I sit on my bed,
Watch my older sister clean my room.
She is picking up all the shoes.
So many shoes, clothes, bits of paper.
Overwhelming.
This isn’t our normal morning routine,
I have no anchor.
My mind is reeling with ideas,
Distractions, escapes.
I sit here watching until Mom calls.
“It’s time to go to school!”
I have bare feet, tangled hair, and teeth in need of brushing.
I don’t know where my shoes are,
Or which shoes I need.
Mom tells my brother and sister,
“Just go on without her.”
But I scream, “No!”
I don’t want to be left behind.
I am running late.
I shouldn’t have been sitting on my bed.
They are mad at me.
They probably hate me.
They always hate me.
Me. It’s always me they hate.
They don’t understand.
“Put on your socks!”
My hands shake as I pull,
I give up, lie back, cry.
Mom sighs.
She says, “I’m going outside, just get ready. Hurry.”
She leaves me.
She isn’t going to help.
I have to focus now.
Focus.
But I have no anchor.
Where’s my other sock?
Untie my shoes.
Forget it, leave them tied, shove my feet in.
Get my backpack.
Homework, crap, I forgot it.
Get homework, put it in.
Back downstairs to brush my teeth.
I hear Mom outside.
“Go kids, go on to school! It’s going to start raining. You can’t wait, Go!”
I stand in the bathroom holding my toothbrush,
Rain slaps the window over the tub.
I stare at it, panicked.
Dad comes in, “I need to get in here, hurry up!”
“I’m sorry!” I scream.
I’m sorry!
I’m sorry!
I’m sorry!
“Stop saying you are sorry and just brush your teeth! I’m going to be late for work!”
I do. I brush them while staring at my puffy red face.
I’m a mess.
I don’t want to go to school.
I spit the toothpaste into the sink,
Rinse the brush,
Place it into the holder.
Dad ushers me to the door.
Mom meets me there,
An umbrella over her head.
Her shoes are soaking wet.
She tells me to go back in,
And closes the door so no one can hear.
She says,
“Because you were late,
Because you wanted them to wait for you,
Because you weren’t ready to go,
And because they didn’t leave you,
They waited for you,
The rain came and your brother is soaked.
I couldn’t get to him with the umbrella.
He is soaking wet now.
Next time, no one waits.
If they are ready, they go.
No more waiting!”
I nod.
I take the dry shirt she hands me,
“Now you have to take this shirt to your brother,
Check on him.
If he’s upset about being wet, give this shirt to someone,
So they can help him change.”
I nod.
She gives me the umbrella.
I walk out Into the pouring rain,
My shoes get wet.
Like my cheeks.
I lost my anchor and made it rain
Because I have an anxiety disorder.