Haunted Groceries

I like ghosts just as much as they like themselves. Occasionally they put on a show, either for our entertainment and theirs (they’re bored perhaps, watching us dull humans), or they want to make a statement. I believe it’s more of the latter.

For instance–two of the houses I’ve lived in have had ghosts. One house had  the spirit of a small child who padded around in the middle of the night, ringing bells that hung on the inside of the doors, playing with my sons’ toys (he or she loved trains), or opening kitchen cabinets, playing with the mixing bowls, then walking away. The house I live in now has a spirit who likes to play with some sort of tiny ghostly metal ball in the attic, rolling it across the boards while we (try) to sleep. Or once when I was angry, she shoved my shoulder so hard I lost my balance. (And yes, a ghostly hand feels very real.) I told her to knock it off and she floated away.

Today I shopped at my favorite supermarket, the kind where the employees know my name, my sons’ names, and my husband’s job. It’s like meeting up with old friends every Tuesday (discount day). I stood chatting with two employees at the head of Aisle Nine when a package of candies flew off a hook nearby, as if thrown by an unseen hand. Laughingly, I said, “So you have ghosts here now.” One of the employees nodded her head and the other said, “We’ve always had them here.” Mind you, this is a store that is only twenty-eight years old, built on a horse farm. What spirits would wander a 24-hour, brightly lit, supermarket, where horses used to roam?

I must have looked bewildered because they began to regale me with stories of framed pictures of their coworkers being flung from the wall, or, like in the tossed bag of candy I witnessed, throwing a pizza or two at a passer-by.

So now when I push my shopping cart up and down the aisles, I’ll be watching the shelves and my head. I really do hope, though, that the people I meet there are all on this side of the grave.

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MY SONS, MY ADVENTURE

Your size ten sneakers grace our front porch,

too caked with dirt to wear inside,

they greet friends and family as they knock on our door.

 

I buy groceries as if feeding a football team,

and you willingly carry the bags inside,

then devour half the contents.

 

Your music blares from your speakers,

announcing to the neighborhood your presence,

as I do my work to its rhythm.

 

All of this I greet as an adventure, relishing the unexpected hugs,

the parent-son talks, knowing that no matter how old,

you are my sons.

 

And I love you.

 

–Anne Skalitza 2018

MENTAL ILLNESS (as an observer)

All is good
for a day, an hour.
The puzzle, almost complete,
falls apart..
Pieces missing.

It is unique.
It is insidious.
It creeps.
It moans.
It screams.
It lives.

Feeding on fear,
anxiety
stress
sadness
euphoria
seasons
full moons
new moons
change
cold
heat.

A train
gathering speed.
No light, no light,
at the end
of the proverbial tunnel.
Racing forward,
unstoppable.

Most days,
it just is.

–Anne Skalitza

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EVIL VS.DEMONS

The other day I sat among a crowd of people in church, some of us listening, others snoring softly, as a person whom I respected tried to engage the congregation. He began with a mention of The Exorcist, the movie from the ’70s about a priest exorcising a devil from a child, well-played by the actress Linda Blair. He segued into Jesus exorcising demons from certain people who, as we now know, to be mentally ill. My hands clenched into fists and I willed myself to not jump up and yell, “This is the twenty-first century!” I didn’t want to wake up my husband whose eyes were slowly closing. Besides, embarrassment and I don’t get along.

Unfortunately, more than a few people nodded their heads in agreement as the speaker regaled us with stories in which he compared evil with demons. “Sin is all around us,” he stated. “And alcoholism and drug addiction and schizophrenia and….”

No. Just no. Sin is one thing. Sin, as in those with no morals who kill and then smile for the cameras and jury. That is evil. Facing one’s demons though, as in mental illness and addiction is another. They’d be horrified to physically hurt others.

We are not in the Dark Ages. Heck, we’re not even in the twentieth century. Let’s call evil what it is, and leave “demons” out of it.

SUMMER’S OVER (Hear Me Sigh)

The air is crisp,
my walk is brisk,
to lose the weight
from funnel cake.

I breathe in deep,
the climb is steep,
summer’s over,
must get over
chocolate ice cream,
(now a dream),
cannot forget
sweet baguettes.

Boardwalk food–
cannot brood
for greasy fries,
tomato pies.

Must bid adieu
to barbeque,
Margaritas
with fajitas.

The fall
it calls–
pumpkin lattes
mocha lattes.
Cider donuts,
luscious spiced nuts.

Beef stew,
comfort food.
I bid adieu–
my waistline too.

OF ICE AND ZEN

Grass crackles under feet,
hair like hay in this heat.

Wetness pools underarms,
Eau d’ Sweat doesn’t charm.

Rush inside for cooling drink,
central air is on the blink.

Lemonade made with ice,
would be better if it’s spiked.

Freezer has ice cold air,
I think I’ll keep my head in there.

Husband wanders in the room,
laughs out loud–who’s this loon?

Hair and eyebrows frozen stiff,
I dash outside till air is fixed.

Pavement hot, bare feet sizzle,
I dance and jump and do a jiggle.

Race back in and heave a sigh,
day is done, and so am I.

–A.S.