List 1

Prologue–Part Two
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definitions & notes only words
  1. articulate
    express or state clearly
    Toughness is what I was after,
    although I couldn’t have
    articulated as much.
  2. bravado
    a swaggering show of courage
    I peer into the past,
    pretending bravado,
    but still I shiver,
    as the ghosts of yesterday
    come screaming into the present
    without apology,
    dragging more baggage
    than I recall.
  3. sully
    make dirty or spotty
    Pain can sully your soul,
    if you let it,
    and rage held in reserve
    will turn to sludge,
    will obstruct the passageway
    to your heart.
  4. bout
    a period of illness
    I could tell you a thing or two
    about Harlem Hospital,
    not because I was born there,
    but because severe bouts
    of asthma made me
    an emergency-room regular.
  5. apathy
    an absence of emotion or enthusiasm
    Forget the Wild West
    of inner-city streets,
    bullets buzzing by
    on the occasional Friday night,
    propelled by a deadly combo
    of alcohol and apathy.
  6. linoleum
    a floor covering
    I don’t recall coming
    nose-to-nose with any rat,
    but there were mornings
    I did see
    an empty plastic bag
    on the kitchen table
    where a loaf of bread
    used to be,
    and the trail of breadcrumbs
    across the linoleum,
    a broken line
    of evidence.
  7. schizophrenia
    a psychotic disorder characterized by distortions of reality
    It would be years before
    paranoid schizophrenia
    grew roots
    in the soil of my own
  8. loll
    hang loosely or laxly
    That’s what they called it
    between bouts of laughter,
    heads lolling back, eyes the color
    of a blood moon.
  9. delirium
    a usually brief state of excitement and mental confusion
    But it was all delirium, wasn’t it?
  10. progeny
    the immediate descendants of a person
    Inside, Carol and I were whipped
    whenever the foster parents’ progeny
    misbehaved and pointed
    in our direction.
  11. tinny
    thin, metallic, and displeasing in sound
    We rang her bell,
    listened for the crackle
    of the intercom
    Her tinny voice came through.
  12. fitful
    intermittently stopping and starting
    Troubled thoughts
    clung to me like shadow
    through the day,
    and sleep that night
    was fitful.
  13. modicum
    a small or moderate or token amount
    A modicum of skill

    allows me to create as much—

    in story.
  14. seamless
    perfectly consistent and coherent
    There is no certainty of sequence,
no seamless transitions,

    nothing as neat and orderly as that.
  15. outstrip
    be or do something to a greater degree
    It is the invisible bridge

    spanning the abyss,

    the single light

    that outstrips the dark
every time.
  16. jabber
    talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner
    Kendall, not much bigger than me,
    headed upstairs, jabbering away
    to fill the spaces
    my silence left behind.
  17. shingle
    cover with building material used as siding or roofing
    With Clancy on my heels,
    I looked around the house,
    an aging, two-story
    brown- shingled affair with an attic,
    holding its own as the first house
    on the corner of a residential street,
    its property edging a building
    with a faded sign that said Con Edison.
  18. stoke
    stir up
    I gritted my way though his silly exams,
    stoking his words like kindling,
    hoping to God he’d choke
    on his inkblots
    and “games”
    of free association...
  19. elusive
    skillful at evading capture
    Hours passed, and
    sleep remained elusive.
  20. trellis
    latticework used to support climbing plants
    Hill Street was a sweet-smelling,
    rainbow-tinted place in summer,
    thanks to the trellis of
    American Beauty roses
    that hugged the house...
  21. anemone
    a plant grown for its beautiful, brightly colored flowers
    ...a tangle of wild grapevines,
    a patch of violets and anemones,
    and the saucer-sized
    white hydrangeas
    and blue hydrangeas
    that challenged the bushes
    for attention.
  22. escapade
    any carefree episode

    My assignment clear:
    pick grapes from the vine for jam.
  23. askance
    with suspicion or disapproval
    Maybe it was my father’s
    unlucky affection
    for games of chance
    that made me look askance
    at losing.
  24. impeccable
    without fault or error
    And did I mention,
    his taste was impeccable?
  25. abscond
    run away, often taking something or somebody along
    Mr. B. disappeared
    behind the sports page,
    and Mrs. B. absconded
    with the entertainment section.
  26. alchemy
    a pseudoscientific forerunner of chemistry in medieval times
    Sometimes we wake
    and the world’s gone white,
    streets and driveways
    made to disappear
    by an alchemy of snow
    children know
    exactly what to do with.
  27. prissy
    exaggeratedly proper
    Winter workers
    assigned to snow removal,
    Ken, Brad, and I
    climbed out a window
    prissy Grace had no intentions
    of squeezing through.
  28. stifle
    smother or suppress
    “Yes, ma’am,” we chimed,
    stifling giggles.
  29. wrought
    shaped to fit by altering the contours of a pliable mass
    ...I pumped the brakes
    a little too late,
    skidded sideways,
    and slammed into
    the wrought iron fence
    protecting the park
    from dangers like me.
  30. careen
    move sideways or in an unsteady way
    Kendall said
    careening into
    that fence
    was the perk
    that came along
    with the adventure.
Created on March 10, 2020 (updated March 10, 2020)

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