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A Tattered Map's Tale

A Tattered Map's Tale

by Jennifer L. Bruursema


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This collection of poems and prose illustrates a mosaic of crisscrossed time zones, personalities interrupted, and moments reflected. In between the doorways of bedrooms, the billowing gusts of brewing storms, and the endless queues of boarding lines, the author takes the reader on a journey of experiences that make up the human condition. Passion, regret, remorse, intrigue and innocence all poke through the surface of these verses. Whether each as a standalone, or combined as a mural, the poems in A Tattered Map's Tale string together like prayer flags at the base of a mountain, begging one to pause and consider love, latitudes and language differently than before.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481700528
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 01/15/2013
Pages: 134
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.31(d)

Read an Excerpt

A Tattered Map's Tale

By Jennifer L. Bruursema


Copyright © 2013 Jennifer L. Bruursema
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4817-0052-8

Chapter One

Because I believed you

    He's in the desert now

    He always liked the piles of boulders and the squat trees.
    How they clung to the Earth but clumsily interrupted the eye's
    I suspect it's where he'll stay, in this sacred space.
    Cobbling together his weary parts, he'll spend decades there.
    Until the bits of him all fit together, he'll fiddle tirelessly with
    word, wrench, guitar string and kite string.
    His sons will stop by from year to year, ask him how he's doing.
    He'll tell them the same lie, but they'll drive away content.
    And that's more important, he'll mutter to himself, that they're
    His daughter will make him meet her at the diner 40 miles away.
    She worries about him now, but her own two kids, husband and
    job, well, you know.
    She will, inevitably, make him smile, though, like only daddy's
    eternal little girl can.
    Visits from friends will be few. It won't matter.
    He will visit a place at the bottom of a big stone each week.
    Tuesdays, that's the quieter day in the park.
    He'll lean at the base of the granite, and he'll tell that rock about
    the cobbling.
    There will be no dialogue, just a man saying what it's in his chest,
    in his gut.
    A wind's dance off the desert floor will provoke the occasional
    I expect he'll answer that wind with the four same words he
    etched into his arm when he walked away from everything so
    long ago ... "Because I loved her."

    Stone heart

    I held you in my hands today.
    Your skin, smooth; mottled like granite, with flecks of jade,
    burgundy and slate.
    You were cool to the touch.
    I cradled your will and courage.
    I deflected others' contempt and frustration.
    Your weight imprinted my grasp.
    But your love bled through my palms before I could whisper,
    thank you.

    The archer

    You had a quiver full arrows.
    I was a willing target.
    Your aim, perfect.
    I'm barely standing, bleeding you out.
    Drop by drop, you're all I can see, all I can feel.
    You leave my body as a rushing motion.
    I am your thoughts, your love.
    I'm staining the ground beneath me.
    I am fading, your benevolent victim, your victory.


    I miss you
    I wish you'd let me say it

    I know my place
    I know it's a choice we both made

    She has your name
    I have your leftover dry-cleaning bag

    Still, though, I wish you'd let me say it


    He told her to take it easy ...

    She quietly advised him, "Don't tell me to lighten up."
    She meant it.

    He smiled, nudged her knee and didn't apologize.

    Listening to him patiently, she heard all about his nagging
    troubles and lagging needs.

    She waited, waited for him to ask anything, just something about
    her, about her own miserable day at least.

    He never did.

    She never called him back after that.

    And she thought to herself just how much freer she felt from
    then on, like balloons lifting her off of weary feet.

    Lighter than she'd every known.


    She left her Christmas tree up.

    Cause it made her nicer.

    But, it was June.

    And the scattered pine needles in the carpet
    and the colored lights reflecting in the window
    and the Bing Crosby songs no longer filled her ears.

    she wished it could be Dec. 24 all over again.

    More exactly, Dec. 24, 2002.

    And maybe he would be in her bed,
    waking her up
    pulling her in
    closer to his skin
    closer than the sheets that sheltered them both from the ferocity
    of the Michigan snowflake-laden air.

    Pitter patter

    The rain reminded her of why she loved him once.
    Ellie thought about this as the streaks washed down her dirty
    country windows.

    She had no regrets, though.

    Water trembled and leaked in through the screen door.
    She didn't mind it.

    She accepted what was.

    No hopes either,
    Let the river carry me, she sang.

    Kenny never knew her.

    He couldn't have, she was too good for his tin roof and ripped

    She was, after all, made of wind and sand and ocean.

    And long before his broken soles clamored onto the porch,

    She was the mermaid of another man's dreams.

    Ancient wisdom

    A bikini wax before bikram yoga class ... avoid it like

    sitting on the seat in an airport bathroom,

    forgetting your mother's birthday,

    drinking orange juice with chapped lips,

    trusting that politicians and police don't lie,

    believing in the tooth fairy after you crashed your mountain

    or hoping that he actually remembered your three-year

    Shivers and whispers from a bow adrift

    Pillow mountains quiet in the cold, windless night.
    An endless terrain of sheets in the tiny hull, scanning the outline
    of her soul's horizon.
    An aching, scarce nightgown lies like gauze across her pale
    thigh, reflecting the moon's arc of light through the sliver of a
    The girl is tossing, trembling and turning to the time of the
    ocean's lonely heartbeat.
    All the while, her bed is signaling for his warmth, sounds are
    dripping from her mouth, and the longing of his gentle kiss steams
    from some far-off coast for which there are no coordinates on
    the map.

    Promises not kept

    He said, I know it's not easy, that which I ask, that which I offer.

    She pulled tight the February air into her mouth, hoping to sooth
    the burning questions at the back of her throat.

    His hand laced through her hair, while his voice seized her
    yearning mind.

    He tugged on the roots of a thousand trees, each one sending
    trembles across the land beneath her feet. He shook her
    foundations and left her with little to hold.

    He promised to protect the friendship. Though she hadn't known
    going into that night it was something that required a promise.

    She knew not the language for which he chanted, only that
    she was perilously suspended, afraid she'd fall miles below the
    surface of truth.

    As desires fanned the fire within, her turmoil was scrawled across
    his left hand and the ring upon it.

    He reassured her that he would be open, that he would not give
    beyond what she wanted or needed.

    But for her, the agony was not what he would give, but what he
    had already taken.

    Matter of the heart

    I bought you a coffee.
      It might have mattered.

    I thought you might need it.
      Maybe it could have mattered.

    I had hoped to brighten your day.
      I wondered if it would matter.

    I was looking forward to how it would make you smile.
      I wasn't thinking about all the other things that matter.

    But then you sat away from me, and I couldn't give it to you.
      So I drank your coffee.
      Cause in the end, I guess it didn't really matter.

    Cold coffee tastes bitter when you're learning how to love

    That Old Damn Chevy

    His truck was parked outside.
    She kind of figured it would be.
    She half-hoped it wasn't.

He was the kind of heartbreak that her momma always warned her about. He was the one that could drink a girl's soul dry until she's got nothin but regret and a fist full of unanswered questions left to her name.

In the cold air of sunset, she stared at his bumper, wondering to herself if he could remember the smell of her hair and the touch of her skin. He probably never knew that she could map every wrinkle, every hair, every curve and slope of his body.

She was sure he didn't notice all that she put up with, like the empty nights when he'd creak their bedroom door open at some ungodly hour or he just wouldn't bother to come home at all.

Gazing at that truck, she wanted to load her daddy's old shotgun with a few rounds and blow the doors clear off the thing ... but then she thought, he's already in there with her, so what's the point?

She stood there for just one second longer, taking in every memory of his lips against her cheek, every pretty girl comment he had showered her with, and every last bit of the love she poured into him throughout the years.

And that's when she got back into her car, took a final drag off her cigarette, and aimed that rifle out her window. The young night sky cracked as that Wesson perfectly pierced his back right tire. She smiled to herself and didn't wait for a reaction. She just pointed her car down that gravel road toward the Interstate and never once looked back at her kid sister's house in the rearview mirror.

To hell with the both of them ...

    A Conversation at Her Doorstep

    She said, "It's just enough."

    He asked, "Is it?"
    And she admitted that it really wasn't.

    But how do you fill a leaking glass?
    I'm not sure you ever can.
    It's destined to always moisten your lips,
    but never to quench that thousand-year thirst in your soul.

    So it may just have to be enough.
    For now, tonight, with him.
    Yet not forever.


    Time for sleep
    Voices creeping up and around
    You're out there somewhere
    They try to drown you out
    But I know that song of yours
    It's my lullaby
    It's soon time for the sunrise
    It's soon time for the new shift
    Bartender pours me one last glass
    I tip him well
    He knows me better than I know myself.
    I'll walk away
    Find me a bench
    Lay down awhile
    Listen to the ripples at the shoreline coo me to slumber
    I'm all yours, baby
    I'm all yours and always have been


    You asked me to surrender.
    Because I'd like to know.
      I deserve a reason.

    You asked me to trust you.
      I want to.
      But I'm terrified of what you could do to me behind that
      wooden door.

    So I tiptoe through barbed wire to avoid you.
      And I'm not even sure ...
      that you feel the blood dripping down my ankles.

    What will you sacrifice?
    What can you live without?

      Me, perhaps?

    In the middle

    Things not said.
      Words tempered.
        Bridges uncrossed.

    You are a paradox to me
      of all I could ever want,
        but a lot of what I don't have a place for.

    When I step in,
      you take my hand,
        and it touches your world.

    When I withdraw,
      you let me wander,
        never really knowing if you'd like me to stay.

    I'm left only with these words on paper
      and this ache in my gut,
        wondering where you fall in my life.

    I give only so much.
      I get only so much.
        Stuck painfully in the middle.

Chapter Two

Natural instincts


    He told his minister.

      She still didn't know.

    He told his friend.

      She couldn't help but put two and two together.

    He told himself he shouldn't.

      She, deep down inside, knew he might.

    He hoped for an intrepid spirit to fill him.

      She started to lose hope.

    He saved and nursed it inside for months.

      She wondered for years.

    Then one day ...

      He surprised her.

    And she said yes, absolutely and completely yes.

    The crossing

    He said to her,
    "I love when the train comes."
    "I really do."
    "I just sit there and watch it go by."

    The roughness of the miles, running through the telephone
    wires, melted away.
    She found peace in his words, safety in his voice, a pause in his

    She could hear the rhythm and pulse of the metal on metal,
    the bowing and creaking of the railroad ties,
    the steel pins sighing and moaning to keep the track together,
    the hissing and groaning of the engine.

    She could feel his head hanging heavy, too, as he closed his eyes,
    wondering if he ran fast enough, could he hop into the open car
    and wake up to a new reality 1,000 lonely whistle stops away.

    Just then, the red lights flashed, the gates lifted, and he saw to
    the other side of the track ... the un-escapable world he was
    released from, if only for a brief, inspired moment.

    A body's terrain

    I used to lean to make lovers bend around me
    I watched them fold into this way and that
    I would yield when their weight was too much for my thin back
    They would, inevitably, find their way back to my doorstep
    Somehow, be it personal resolve or stoned will, they would
    persevere and stir my heart up with their kindness
    But it was never right



    Then I found someone who melded and boasted the strength
    of a steel beam, whose thoughts flowed like a cup of mountain
    river water in the spring
    It was that someone, that you someone, who taught me that
    instead of bending, I should lay still
    And allow you to pick me up and take me to the bedroom
    And allow you to watch me from afar, but never no, not too far
    Yours is a comfortable distance and a needful heat that both
    gives space and draws near



    I had no idea how to love a man
    Now, I just might


    I want to gather up all your eyelashes ...

    that fall into the bathroom sink ...

    and save them for an overcast day ...

    when I can wish for everything ...

    and it all of it comes true.


Excerpted from A Tattered Map's Tale by Jennifer L. Bruursema Copyright © 2013 by Jennifer L. Bruursema. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


1. Because I believed you....................1
2. Natural instincts....................19
3. A daughter to a mother....................45
4. All things living....................59
5. It's here, it's yours....................71
6. Jet lag....................89
7. Don't look back....................101

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