Steam rises pulling the soft scent of peppermint skyward. Its wisps and whorls dance between bleak slate walls and imperial pines, whose reaching arms of February are weary, like mine, from bearing the heft of a coat encrusted with snow.
Act I. Unselfish compromise, meeting halfway, and conceding, time and again.
Act II. ANAGNORISIS (Character A.) traveling the wrong direction with an empty wine glass and less than one bite of cake. The END.
You’d think after all this time he’d know.
that the poet would rather have dark chocolate than light,
and nuts rather than creams.
You’d think he’d know
the poet pines for peonies and
Even a small note containing the
obligatory words would suffice.
But realists aren’t built to love poets.
There too many are unspoken rules.
Realists filter stars with purpose,
exists, like the sun
with only utility.
Magic isn’t real, wonder is explained, and
emotion mustn’t grow
expectation must be discarded
like kitchen rubbish.
Cluttered words, squirreled onto scrap
are swept into hiding.
In its place remains
The long slog through
an onerous day, is met
with tea-kettle and
an creative turn
The Poet knows that the
cost of loving a realist is
but, she sees
stars filtered with possibility
knit… knit, purl… knit and purl
enough repeats creates a rib–
a rib of utility.
Is this how Eve was conceived?
Doubt prickles deep,
knit, knit, knit, turn.
The story of Eve was written by men,
or one man.
Slip, slip knit.
An interpretation of creation,
by beings without capacity
to create, alone,
the fabric of existence
out of string spun
Candy pink carnations
wrapped in the daily news
of a seventeen-year-old you.
Worn jeans and
glacier-water-eyes filled with first-love-longing.
A thirty-year-old memory,
casting a perpetual shadow
and on those,
who tried later.
Now that I know,
how much I don’t know,
I don’t quite know where to begin.
I’ll do something familiar,
and fill up my teacup with gin.
Remember My Dear,
images can’t always be seen for what they are
through cloudy films of tissue and ribbon.
boisterous and commanding
with what’s underneath.
Though uninvited and oft maligned,
as a good guest,
bearing different gifts
after the struggle
when resignation supersedes refusal.
You see, time strips trappings.
Tissue fades, ribbons dull with sun and wear.
As Experience breathes her benediction in your ear,
And we become what we’ve always been.
Hopefully, filled with substance and grace,
unveiled and unfettered.
Emotion often grows too large, transmuting your space into opaqueness. And rather than reaching, I retreat into displaced air, my back turned toward the warmth.
Twelve breasts lost of twenty
in three generations,
in the direct line.
More have been lost, indirectly.
So far, two sets of lungs, of three,
in addition to the twelve breasts
before we knew of BRCA
and selective genomic testing.
As for spoilt ovaries
and breasts of friends
so far, I’ve lost count.
This goes for mislaid surviving
Profuse history to report,
in the boxes on the forms.
But no boxes exist
for sadness and fear.
So I wait, which,
in light of this history
feels like a round of
The growl of the air conditioner chafes
turning the atmosphere
A resentful ocean reverberates artificially in my ears
evoking what must be
a subconscious imprint.
The smell of salt and kelp, and
a reoccurring memory of what comes
creates hardening in my jaw.
The surf foams green and white with fury.
I stand stiff
at the edge.
My silhouette, stark, reflects
against the darkening sky.
Rust grit gives way beneath my feet.
The moment lasts a millennium,
one thousand years without a breath.
Impact–expecting water, but it’s only matchless air
Black and white shadows circle
pulling me deeper
to a death I’ve died countless times
within the obscurity
of your face last night
and heard your laughing voice.
The familiar warmth of your hand covered mine.
In the gray foggy moment between sleep and conscious
I wondered, how time equates to distance,
and, which is farther,
thousands of unfathomable miles
twenty silent years.
they dance across a four-inch screen
so I continue,
These graceful images are a two-dimension macrocosm
of both hope and disappointment,
exemplifying an existence
in a reality that isn’t
Pretty things slide by eyes that no longer have any need,
melancholy eyes follow,
Hands, wrinkled with burgeoning knuckles, clutch dainty rings,
placed in a box, for safe-keeping.
Imagination once agile,
stiffens, abdicating a rebellious psyche,
clinging to aspiration.
Such acts, profane in the clear light of youth,
are not meant for polite conversation,
In silence, my eyes search the words in three different horoscopes desperately pursuing anything, maybe hope… a window of opportunity, soul-soothing validation, or some stupid signpost to indicate a new direction. It’s a critical study and betrayal of every atom of my being; considering, I don’t believe,
because, I know, the stars deceive.
At sunrise, our mountain sits above this lowly place where I perch feebly
under unseemly artificial light,
practicing clumsy French from simulated recordings, while
drinking half-warm tea.
Her illuminated face evokes a nobility
absent from our new existence;
consequently, in her gaze of condemnation,
I feel shame.
Before I was,
My grandfather, creased and brown, was in an accident.
A big rig full of pipe ran over a stock trailer.
Even after 40 years, he couldn’t forget, so I was told,
the smell of burnt flesh and pain.
I watched exotic looking packs of unfiltered camels rotate in his hands
and witnessed bottles of Wild Turkey appear
from a beat-up, two-tone, Dodge pickup
every time someone lit a grill.
Those days I held my breath and waited quietly
for the sharp words to begin.
Wild Turkey was the signal he was headed back to war
where ghosts and screams swirled in burning wreckage.
I endured years of boots and hats,
George Jones eight-tracks, county fairs, depression, and finally cancer
scrutinizing every move, but I never once saw him look directly
at a horse,
he only offered broken glances,
shrouded by clouds of smoke.
Knitting pins click metallic in an uneven rhythm, urging clenched hands to relax and shoulders to fall. In the moment of pull, loop, slide, pull, worries drift to the fringe to become the halo that circles the moon.
Wind whips and ice clings to the barren boxes, sad and empty.
In empathy, I stand taller and stronger
in solidarity with the red twig dogwood
and her ongoing battle with the bitter North wind.
My fingers skim the slick print on the glossy packets that wrap tiny vessels of possibility,
sleeping until the days grow longer,
when the hardness of earth begins to retreat
and the frozen pain within my chest
with forgotten hope
at the first sign of green.
Today the Prairie calls, luring me
to vast horizons elegant in their mercurial colorscapes.
Reminding me of dreams, I have eschewed for
the ease and convenience of monotonous urbanity.
She exists luminous. Simultaneously with the anxious sun,
golden raptors sit above cold fire or thin snow, with the approach of each day.
Structures of swirling grass and cottonwoods stand against a blueness
that cannot be mimicked with an architect’s paint and pencil.
And at dusk she dons the Moon as jewelry and revels,
knowing this image makes the mountains feel small.
The promise of hoof fall against clay and perfume of bruised sage
rests at the margins of memory, impossible to recreate
in noise and confusion. I sit quietly, straining to
remember, the sound of the wind running through limb and leaf.
Eyes and ears clenched against traffic noise and artificial light,
chest tight, summoning her image, while wishing for a space to breathe.
When we were beautiful, we spent hours telling secrets, side-by-side, cosy
whispering bracketing our day. But no secrets remain, so your mind has left the warmth on my right to return to what, you thought, should have been.
Prey animals, we’re beasts
trained to endure.
In hushed silence
goaded into submission with simple looks
and brought back with, perhaps, a kind word
stingy and cheap.
Shame keeps our secrets
hidden from polite company.
In the best case we’re dismissed like children
with expert explanations and exclamations.
In the worst, we taste the sting of a whip, the bone of a fist, or
too often, the ache of hunger.
Kept for whims.
Forced to travel in herds,
intuition sharp as needles, keen eyes looking for wolves
in the street or the office or… anywhere, really
Discarded when we’re no longer of use
retired, subdued, and simply ignored.
I used to think it was only my lot,
But the stories proliferate. Her and her and her Ad infinitum.
It’s a collective history, a sisterhood of oppression.
the fear becomes so great we turn upon ourselves
knowing if we show vulnerability, predators will take us.
Regardless, we feed, and care, and shelter
and learn, and work, and build
children either in the image of the other
or the reflection of ourselves.
Be quiet, be nice, be pretty.
We’re asked to trade compliance for spirit.
And then wonder why, we’ve arrived here,
only called upon when the mortgage is due.
Our education devalued, we are medicated,
shutdown, and broken;
or shrewish and lame.
Men have disparaging names for these beasts
That don’t pass our lips, in public.
we take the bit between our teeth and run
or we buck with joy. Kicking in defiance with the wind
we dance. We follow experienced mares, keeping foals in the center, sheltered if only for that moment, prey turned protector.
Glowing in the yellow wash of the sun.
Not mythic or magic, just unrestrained power- our salvation,
relics or heirlooms, that if you listen, are passed down from wild horses,
our filiation from the wind.
An unacknowledged kinship between the crush of people scrambling for admiration in the frigid gray day rises from the frozen pavement. Acrimony from unspoken obligation binds them into a reluctant brotherhood, punctuated by twinkling lights.
For a fleeting moment, I’ve viewed an other-worldliness, that cannot be contained or described. Meager words, flat and hollow, fail to illustrate the universe contained in the color of your eyes.
Freshly scrubbed, but bleary-eyed, he caught me off guard.
“What do you think”?
“Would you consider”?
The question hung in the air.
Pausing. A million small disappointments swirled–
fairy dust dancing in front of my eyes
illuminating larger regrets who filled the room
to steal my words without contrition.
One split second grasp then a spark of
outrage grew fat from assumed conceit.
Refusal touched the inside of my lips,
slipping through the open gate with No.
A smile and a swirl through the air is no longer payment
enough for a girl in a blue dress
to be left waiting with dishes and duties.
The only voice of reason.
Time is too costly to continue
pretending that abandonment is independence
and duty builds dignity.
It’s time we quit saying
I believe. I believe
It’s time to say goodbye to the girl in the blue dress,
the accidental custodian
and keeper of lost boys.
we were supposed to fight with virtue, claiming our grace with an epistemological scaffold whose empirical base took us to the moon.
we’ve substituted grace for zealotry,
and progress for hate,
and knowledge for opinion.
we hear the dirge of dueling banjos, a ringing accompaniment
to our future, crafted by despots
and viewed from a corner office.
It’s becoming more difficult to see as she grows, it’s hidden like the beauty
of a tree ring in unvarnished wood,
or the nap of moss on a boulder,
ever-present, but taxing to locate with aging sight.
But aware, these eyes are always looking– looking
for the light,
the used-to-be half-smile,
an artifact of idealism.
Like these eyes, the look of expectation dims
as she becomes guarded
by the disappointment
that chaperons fleeing youth.
I’m trying not to rush Spring… #PhotoFriday
After nearly half a century, my body should feel broken-in and comfortable like a threadbare sweater or a pair of jeans,
soft and pale from experience.
Worn with love, each beat and fiber familiar.
Each pulse of of nerves threading toward the tangle of emotion,
carried day-to-day, as a swaddled child, slung on the hip.
But sometimes, I wake in the morning with hands sore from clenching one another. Right locked with left, a mind of their own, grasping in the prickling chill of dark. Searching for dependable warmth –a habit worn as a child.
Now, the weft of this impulse is woven through the warp of my breath.
It’s a reminder that promise with time, right locked with left, shuttle towards certainty while whispering,
“wool cannot become silk”.
And after nearly half a century this body, defiant, still feels as if it’s dressed in a stranger’s stiff vestments, borrowing more space than intended,
and each pulse of nerves question why
I never bothered to weave my own trousseau.
My favorite photo of the week…
The parentheses of darkness brackets both sides of the day. While dressed in a mask of indifference, I depart for the duration, to sit in fat discontent, as a fixture.
“Congratulations” they say,
sending gifts of yellow, and pink, or blue.
And you wait, heavy and slothful.
Making lists and washing clothes,
angry at your body for its revolt.
You have plans and ideas
but, too many Hollywood endings obscure your intuition
and there are stars on ceilings and a new rocking chair.
“You’re Lucky” they say
Waiting for happy photos of tiny fingers.
And you wait too, for the tubes and needles to vanish.
Trapped alone in a bed for an invalid,
angry at her body for the revolt.
You have little more than desperation,
morphine drips, and bandages.
And there are nightmares and hallucinations.
“You must name her,” they say,
trying to shake you out of your ambivalence.
And you refuse, for four more days.
Holding court with trepidation,
despite, the stars, and the lists, and the sky.
You have little more than disappointment
and a fragile kitten of a being in an incubator,
angry at The Charities for their revolt.
Whiskers forward, impeccable engineering with symmetry in stripes.
Three slow blinks and a steady gaze through striking eyes,
then, we become–
How I wish I could show you what my eyes see in the slanted light, when the world purples and the sharp edges soften; but your eyes are closed, willfully, to the insignificant moments of the day. Purposefully deaf to the soprano’s vibrato, I become, in your darkness, incomprehensible.
Every then, not now, with something small,
a song, a place, a sparkle of light
I remember Highway 92, wrapped in fog on a stolen afternoon,
top down and numb with cold.
A baroque ring, with impressive heft.
A long weekend of falling in California snow,
she was better, you said, at not falling.
I am quite sure everyone was better at not falling then.
I remember 5 AM drives between fields of gladioli,
with windows down, Nirvana drowning my doubt.
Racing the clock,
after painting on the cement at the edge of the pool in a blue gingham bikini.
It was a compass star,
and I was looking for direction.
I remember, unintelligible words whispered among your friends,
no translation was needed. Did I know, they asked each other?
Cleaning your bathroom,
while her cat sat on the counter.
But afraid to touch too much, including you,
and overstep my place.
I remember, Thanksgiving was coming with family
Wine glasses to buy and tile to lay
I was young and selfish and angry.
A box arrived with a velvet coat and a goodbye.
It was, I thought, because she was better.
When I go deep enough,
what I remember most, aside from the baroque ring
with an impressive heft, is the shame.
The shame, a black dress, and a good friend
who held my hand and tried to show you, what I didn’t believe.
I could be better.
So, every then, not now,
I put on the velvet coat, hanging in my closet for over 20 years.
And recall the music and the tiny white kitten rescued from your doorstep.
Both have long since passed.
I flip through the photos of that black dress and good friend
to remember how I felt.
Now, not then
it’s almost Thanksgiving, I’ve been shopping for wine glasses
and preparing my house for family. These chores transport me back,
and I wonder, If you ever found someone,
other than yourself,
who was better
at not falling.
A thing can be true and still be desperate folly, Hazel.”
-Richard Adams, Watership Down
No smile or wave in the gray light of dawn, instead a dark look and turn.
She melts beside me, shrinking.
Wondering, like a scolded pup, what she did to earn
the coldness—and how long it will last,
In the light of day, I wonder too.
Thoughts tumble, memories of words and phrases, like a bad novel
that put me in her place, but without a mother as a shield
with words to deflect
Stilted exchange in the cool color of evening.
Too bright with effort of an olive branch, extended,
tersely brushed aside in censure.
I am shrinking too.
After eight weeks, a coating of dust obscures the wax-coated surface that once reflected a construct of me. It is a malevolent reminder that with time, the scorching heat of a rolling boil can be reduced to an insipid simmer.
Trick or Treat? I don’t have chocolate, but I’ll offer some Halloween writing inspiration instead:
- Darkness, by Lord Byron
- Sonnet 100, Lord Brooke Fulke Greville
- Black Cat, Rainer Maria Rilke
- Song of the Witches, William Shakespeare
The scratch of pencil on paper echoes the clear sustained harmonic of a mediation bell. They both announce infinite possibilities of the undiscovered—listen.
I’m adding #PhotoFriday to my post rotation. Each week I plan to post my favorite iPhone photo from the previous week.
Perhaps you can think of each one as a visual prompt for two-line poetry?
Vestiges of an old life, sit, perched upon the table—their fragility announced in starkness. These familiar strangers of bone and crystal occupy liminal space in a house remade for stoneware.
Red ribbons, magna cum laude, and three quarter time mother.
Second wife with no proper honeymoon,
clearance racks, and used cars.
A haphazard life of hand-me-downs tempered
with speculation of what ifs…
Flat mirrored planes passively reflect other lives, a facsimile of nature—envy lands, looking for a permanent home.
But, in copies we lose detail—gratitude sweeps in, and with a breath, offers release.
Wrinkles rest beneath my eyes, engraved like the veining of a jade nasturtium leaf,
as a memento of the innumerable smiles shaped by the thought of you.
Arsenic disguised in the brilliant green of information, slowly compounds
in the psyche, poisoning hope–during these dark hours.
Average girls don’t get grand gestures,
this fact, though outwardly cruel, is a gift.
Instead they build their existence and learn to exchange bitterness for pragmatism early.
Except in the violet of dusk-
Mad electricity from stolen kisses in dark corners does not distract
from perfunctory arrangements requiring sensible shoes.
Silk and skin don’t touch,
rather, cotton and wool become a shroud for the daylight,
announcing respectability while scrubbing away the margins of dreams.
Except between pages of books-
Appreciation of the impractical beauty of watery satin isn’t mislaid;
with a sideways glance,
tucked away with linens for someone else’s exceptional daughter.
Except in the few silent moments of an ordinary day-
Volumes of velvet roses, travel past
trailing a specter of perfume
and coupes of Champagne decorate other’s hands;
which, diminish recollections of enchantment.
Except under the influence of stars-
Fear, cold and tight slinks in, compounded with age and experience;
a narrow coat worn to evade the distress of humanity.
I sit here in pearls, an eternity away from the slow quiet dignity of you
My fingers itch for warmth
And, when it gets too hard
I breathe to conjure your presence
I sit here in silence, soul extracted from the clamor of the sooty street
My mind wants for calm
And when I can sit no longer
I recall the smell of the sun filtered through the dust on your neck
I sit here with restraint, a begrudging servant to expectation
My whole longs for magic
And when the misery becomes too thick
with the consolation that we are the same
both built from stars