June

by Camilla Jean Welsch

Cats and crows
and a slight drizzle of rain,
driving out into the countryside,
when it’s a soft 80,
and flowers are issuing forth from pots on porches.

My dog will ride
in the back,
in a tunnel of wind,
as we go a fast 50
over the smooth, winding road.

I look for the produce stand.
Which house is it again? There is no sign.
Oh, but it’s only June,
I remember,
having been in the city too long.

Then I dream of corn and watermelons to come,
and my mind says to me:
“you can at least get frozen custard in a cone,”
served up by girls with ponytails,
who are otherwise with their ponies
in the summertime.

Yes, we can at least stop for that — ice cream.
My dog will quickly take off the topmost part, if I let him,
his eyes wide and innocent all the while,
and of course he always gets the last bite.
Like, how could he not?

It is summertime.

Bounce

by Camilla Jean Welsch

Something new, please. (Rejuvenate me. Revive me.)

At least massage my head with a good shampooing. (Hot water, but please don’t burn me.)

Cut more off than you dare. (Pare me down to the green shoots.)

Add some mousse. (Am I sparkling now?)
Heat and shape me. (Am I silky?)
Tousle me. (I also need a little edge.)

Oh, and don’t hit me with such a hefty bill at the end. (It’s such a downer.)

Because… you know,
what I really want,
when all is said (and unsaid) and done…?
Is to bounce out of here,
bounced fresh, and done.

myself and me

by camilla jean welsch

my tears
are the clear hemorrhaging
of my soul.

I say:
self, get up!
but I am sinking
till I am sitting,
and soon, very soon, I am lying down.

my self says:
I am going to lie here a while
until I can get back up…

I say:
will you ever get up?

it says:
maybe, maybe. and by the way,
how many years till we can never get up again?

I don’t know, I say.

it says:
well, let’s just count them then, shall we?

OK, I say. OK. But after that, let’s get up, OK?

if that’s what you really want… it says back to me.

so we do,
and we do,
and the hemorrhaging is done.

my self wipes my face and blows my nose for me.
ready now? it questions.

ready as I’ll ever be, I say sitting, my head still hung.

OK, then we agree, it says and nods my head at me.

I get up.
we are up now.

myself and me.

Passing in the Summer Night

by Camilla Jean Welsch

I called out to the man approaching:
“Is that Ghost?”

He crossed the street now with his white Husky dog
(for my Malamute was bigger),
and removed an earbud,
leaning into my direction.

I called out again:
“Is your dog Ghost?”

“Spirit,” he said.

“Ohh… Spirit!” I said.
The dog was white even in the hazy night light.

Then I told the man it was nice to see him,
and his hard front cracked.
And me, he replied back. 

My dog looked on, but said and motioned nothing to me, 
yet put his nose near the green grass ground, 
his neck stretched down, long and powerful,
his eyes still on the white dog.

He paused, and looked away now,
taking a few soft steps
onwards
with large, cushioned paws.

No longer in competition,
they simply ran on opposite sides,
in opposite directions,
as it had been decided.

Just two cool sled dogs,
passing in the summer night.

Couples

by Camilla Jean Welsch

The couple was from San Luis Obispo. I had to look it up when I got home. I hadn’t the foggiest idea where in California it was. But nodded one nod, acknowledging that, at least I’d heard of the place, not more.

“Well, what do they expect from a Clevelander?” I thought.

“We’re here a couple of weeks actually just for a conference,” the wife said.

“Medical conference” I thought, but didn’t say. After all, the Cleveland Clinic was taking over the city. Not in a bad way. That was good for us.

“But we’re really enjoying Cleveland,” the husband said. His hairline was slightly sweaty where tanned skin met tight, grey curls that grew blacker at the top of his head. But he smelled good. A waft of cologne, just one. That changed everything, didn’t it?

The wife had French-tipped nails. “OK, scratch medical, maybe business,” I thought now. He, on the other hand, looked a bit casual in his red polo shirt to be working. And he was exuberant, which meant he was truly on vacation, I guessed.

The wife had Bear’s face in her manicured hands now, and was smoothing his cheeks back, looking into his face. He was tolerating it well. “A good person,” I thought. But in a minute she was going to be pushing it. A slight growl might come out. She moved away in time, and I reeled him in, relieved.

We spoke about the tour they’d taken around town, and they told me the history behind “Cleaveland” turning into “Cleveland.” I said, turning on my charm I’d learned at charm school: “Tell me more about this city I live in!” He laughed, but she took it as a small offense, and was probably wondering if that was a flirtation. I’m not good with that kind of thing. I’m always stepping out of someone’s way to make sure they don’t think I’m taking their boyfriend or husband.

They needed to head back to their car. He indicated he wanted to walk with Bear and me a ways. But I called to the wife, who was now getting out of earshot, “Nice talking!” as a woman-to-woman offering. My last words would be to her, as I walked off in another direction on the wood chipped trail. A direction I didn’t really want to go. But I didn’t want to make them uncomfortable, this couple.

Bear and I took our time getting back to the car, but not without startling two geese families that were walking together at the edge of a pond. Two sets of parents and some teenage goslings, and then some younger, fuzzier ones. I wasn’t going to stick around and get hissed at or rushed, so we hurried off in the opposite direction, a direction I didn’t really want to go.

We went the round-about route, and then I got Bear up into the car. He wanted his hind legs lifted this time. I never made him jump any more unless he felt like it. And to tell you the truth, I was proud to lift him. He was my other half. And a better one, at that.

I waved to another car, thinking it was the couple from San Luis Obispo, and they did not wave back. Oh, again I had overstepped.

But I was wrong. It was not them. Because as I made my way out of the cemetery, I saw them still walking. They had gotten lost.

The Artists

by petite camille-jean, l’artiste amatrice amoureuse 😋

After I looked at their art I said to myself:

They’re all like that, the good ones…

but simpler and cooler somehow

than one thought

in their thoughts,

given what

that’s all about,

and the complications

and what not.”

If you really want to know

how to “become”

the question is not “how?”

(the art shows that),

it’s “from what??”

(Oh, sigh, you’re ready for that? Maybe yes, maybe not….)

But, if you want to know more anyhow,

stick to the “how?”

Yeah, that’s right.

Because that’s all they’re concerned about at heart (their art).

And the good ones?

Yes. That’s precisely where they’re smart.

(Shhh. You can tell the others apart.)

Of Course

By little Camilla Jean Welsch

I got playful, I admit.

You know, it was because her eyes

were showing it.

The secret.

The secret what?

Well, love of course,

in the form of a game you have to keep hush about.

I said it to the cashier

(not out loud of course).

In my mind,

I said, “I got you, girl,”

(not out loud of course,

because that’s not part of the game,)

because when I saw her

I knew, of course,

we both knew,

that it was a bad day,

and that I needed to eat peanut M&M’s

straight from my purse, of course,

and she was not-judging-in-the-slightest, patient with my payment form

(hey, 3rd time’s a charm),

and that she couldn’t bear

to somewhere find some bigger bags

when she had 5 people behind me in line,

so she just stuffed some big items into small bags,

and they stuck out ridiculously of course,

but I didn’t mind,

and thanked her for each little gesture

of handing to me, of course.

And when we said goodbye

we twinkled again in each other’s eyes.

Later, I even had a little cry in my car

and hoped she’d hang on to the lingering memory of the game, like I did.

Because her day was worse than mine,

and she had played 

with the secret just fine, of course.

And I admit that,

yes, it was,

her game was better than mine.


Both, to a Point

by Camilla Jean Welsch

A formerly hostile neighbor
waved to me
because now I am sort of her friend.
Funny thing, that,
how things can change
when you smile and laugh a lot,
and aren’t afraid to share what other people just won’t
because you somehow got close
and struck on a note of humanness.

A currently hostile neighbor
postured at me,
feeling confident
because she was wearing a small black dress
and had turned her hair color from beige to red,
a power front.
Funny thing, that,
how things won’t change
when you frown and avert eyes
and try to get in and out of each other’s way,
because if you think you’ll be friends?
Well, you just won’t.
And a lot goes unsaid and unknown
because you’re two too different humans
at your cores.

And both these scenarios are true, to a point.

My Angel Child

by Camilla Jean Welsch

My job is to kiss you,

to hold you gently while you purr,

though you are a big dog and not a cat!

But it is my job to do just that…

to kiss your paws,

though no one else would (because of the dirt),

to assist you with your leg stretches

(like you were a primo ballerino)….

Yes, to feed you, hydrate your healthy pink tongue,

and basically make sure you are all right all the time…

to talk to you, even debate you and then lose the argument,

which ends with a milk bone from the top shelf or a meatball from a simmering pot… whichever is dearest at the time…

You’d think you were my child…

but you are my angel.

My angel child.