Voices of Guilt
There’s the finger-wagging voice that tsk-tsks
when you turn down a party invitation from your best friend
to stay home and binge-watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
when you don’t accept a friend request from the guy you met
last weekend at Trader Joe’s, who’s probably just lonely,
but gave you the creeps anyway
when you forget your brother’s birthday, even though
the last time he remembered yours, George W. Bush
was still president.
There’s the “you should” voice that shames
you for not writing in your gratitude journal every day
even when you don’t feel all that damn grateful
for not de-cluttering your house because no one needs
three-hundred paperback books or jam-packed shelves
of Star Wars figures.
Then, there’s that jack-hammer voice, the one
that refuses to let you forget the hurt you caused
by your broken promises, kept secrets, told lies
the one that makes you feel as if you’re wading neck-deep across
a dark river under a moonless sky, your pockets filled with heavy
stones. The one that can lead you, wet and trembling, to the other side.
Van Gogh’s Cafés
“The night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” – Vincent Van Gogh
The Café Terrace at Night (September 16, 1888)
Imagine the painter lonely on cobblestones,
candles in his straw hat illuminating
the canvas as he paints the dream before him.
Notice the silhouette of star-studded indigo sky,
the Christ-like figure standing among crowded tables,
the glow pulling towards hope.
The Night Café (September 5 – 8, 1888)
It’s startling how Van Gogh makes you feel
as if you’re standing in the doorway
torn between attraction and repulsion,
a rubbernecker at the scene of a car wreck,
unable to look away from the nightmare crash
of loneliness, desperation, abandonment of hope.
A neglected pool table casts a solitary shadow.
Beside it, the proprietor stares out, confrontational
daring you to judge the figures hunched
across tables overflowing with empty wine bottles.
A nosegay of roses rests, incongruous on a tender green bar.
Even haunted places have their beauty.
Lines on the café floor lead past a curtained door, through
a mysterious room in the back, to the vanishing point.
Dianne Mason grew up in Mississippi and attended Millsaps College in Jackson. She received a Master’s degree in English from the University of Alabama in Birmingham and taught college English in Dallas, TX, as well as Charlotte, NC where she now lives. She began her writing career as a screenwriter but has recently begun writing poetry. Her poems have been published in County Lines: A Literary Journal and in Voices from Within, a collection of poetry. When not writing poetry or gardening, she travels to dark sky locations to indulge her other passion, astronomy.