rolling

let me know when you’re passing through;

i don’t want to miss you.

 

we’ve already missed so much:

the blue-grey felt, the touch

 

of memory, days spent

punching a clock

 

as if it’s to blame.

how can love be a

 

game of chance? of fate?

an unformed baby falling down

 

basement steps; a balcony door

cracking open.

 

must i attend the funeral

of this fetus?

 

of that which lives in the womb, but

can never be brought into the light?

 

i can’t seem to give up this fight;

i refuse to look, to see what lies in the

 

coffin, fault-lined with orange lanterns:

a deep trick laughing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rain on a Tin Roof

The church on the corner with the red door holds much to be mirrored back. It sprouts, shoots up visceral devotion. There is no shortage. It’s right where she left it all those years ago. She watches from a distance. She likes to be still, quiet. Like a side prop.

This town has her heart; it’s where her daughter was born, amid several things dying and being reborn. She wanders within its mountain walls and wonders who named them all; if every peak has a name; where the ranges begin and end.

When her grandmother was forced to leave her own heart town, she nearly died. And then she did, slowly, over the next five years. The tension between roots and branches—it has always existed.

She thinks about the doctor who delivered her baby, the way he reached right inside her without knowing her: her body, her story—before pushing her legs apart. But he must have caught a glimmer, because after the head and shoulders were out, he said, “Reach down and deliver your baby.” Her tired, strong arms, connected to her capable hands, connected to her knowledge of labor—tucked under those slippery shoulders and pulled just enough to bring the rest of that tiny body to bear. Her beautiful girl.

At that moment, a few people pass through the parking lot: an older couple and, behind them, a tall boy hunched in a hooded jacket. The boy, coming up behind the couple, seems to push past them to get to the door. But then, after pulling on half of that heavy red rectangle, he stands back and holds it open for them in the dripping rain. Her heart thrills at the unexpected; at her own false judgment proven wrong; at the hope inside that hood.

She wants to go in. She wants the boy-man to hold open that red bivalve for her. She wants. She wonders where he came from, what he is holding inside his bulky jacket, whether it is full of contiguous angst. She wants to know how he pursues happiness, what works, what fails, if his earbuds block out the earth noise just enough for him to hear the call: to real self—non-self; to block out the entity that will die soon; to exit the ego that needs, worries, lies awake at night need-worrying.

She knows she will not go in. She will not find the right configuration. But she has come this far, within vision, within reach. Soon it will be time to turn back to her own life, to tend to it like the beautiful garden it truly is—deep down beneath the weeds and marsh and trash and wreckage.

But first she will visit the coast, watch the ships come and go, study the lighthouses to learn how she, over time, became one; that light, that reference point, that anchor; and to understand how—if ever—she is to move on from it. A lighthouse cannot abandon its post; it cannot become a ship, as great as its desire may be to unmoor and move across the sea at will. Too many other ships depend on it, on its steadfastness, its anchored light.

Maybe she is not the lighthouse after all, but its keeper. Maybe she can pass that on to another. How to inhabit a lighthouse for a time, bring it to bear, save a few souls, and then pass it on.

The thought is enough to jolt her upright in her car. She can leave the lighthouse. She can be a ship for a time, if she wants. She can be a buoy. A windowless cabin. A silo. An open bivalve. She can be whatever she wants, needs to be. Except inside that church, on this day. And that’s OK. She starts her engine and drives off into the rain.

crazy

‘Crazy’ is often associated with love. Crazy for you, crazy in love, head over heels. I think at times you have to be crazy. You have to let go. You have to lose your footing and let yourself float above it all. What do I mean by footing? Grounded- on this earth- in the soil- in the body- aware of the parameters and boundaries; capabilities and limitations.

But we are more than that. We are more than earth. Dust to dust- but with breath. The floating is the breath; the erratic movement is the crazy. Without that, we are just a rock. Don’t get me wrong: rocks are great. They hold up giant landforms and caverns and walls and monuments. They tuck magically into your pocket. They are tossed freely into wells with wishes. But there are limits to a rock. There are limits even to the water that flows over them, to the fish that swim among them, to the bears that lumber across them.

In the air, the atmosphere, it keeps going. It is limitless. Once released from a jar, a vessel, a set of lungs- the air just goes. And if nothing stops it, it dissipates back into source as it reaches the heavens. I don’t know why this would be considered crazy. I guess because our bodies can’t fly — at least not in their current state. And those that think they can … have fallen to their death.

But once we cut our tether, our anchor, our umbilical cord, our solar plexus — we are limitless. We have no need for food or water or even sun. We are the sun. We become the energy in its purest form. Is it so crazy to want to be that? Odorless, tasteless, colorless, radiant light? What do I mean by light? Mystery. Indefinable being. Rushing with abandon. Plundering the galaxy for beauty — and leaving behind even more in its wake: like a vast comet. I don’t know what I mean by any of this, but I like it. I want to be it. I crave the nature of beautiful nothingness. And everythingness.

five points

i am soft in the center.

don’t tell. i dry out

and wave my angry arms around.

but even my spikes are soft once i come back to life.

you see this once you are close up; you make this happen.

 

my daughter’s tiny hand used to spread out

over the hill of my breast while feeding.

my chest would rise, and fall—and her plump hand,

her whole plump body—would fill up

like a happy balloon.

 

she lets herself get very empty these days;

she likes the feeling

of being light and airy,

of floating—playing with non-existence.

in dreams, she flies weightless over the sea from which she was fished.

 

i, in contrast,

am so full. full of worry; full of fear;

full of love and gratitude and joy.

full of food, wine, sadness, thoughts;

full, at times, of empty.

 

we are each the star in our own galaxy.

things revolve around our soft openings as they are commanded;

other things shrink, collapse, get sucked into a black hole;

and some things laugh as they expand—like a wide-open mouth—

glinting beyond our greatest imagining.

 

 

the queen of afterthoughts

i’m the only one

the puppy won’t love.

 

maybe it would have been me,

eventually, who cheated.

 

inside, i think i am safe;

but i just feel tiny.

 

i twist and turn, a mini-cube

trying to solve all my problems.

 

you started dying in utah.

 

the three of us were outsiders;

together, deep in thought.

 

now you are both gone.

 

she’s always there, now,

when i dream of you.

 

this means something.

 

meanwhile, my girl holds up the

walls; blocks the door, the windows.

 

her arms are exhausted.

 

and she is wading into the

deep water of adulthood.

over & over, closer & closer

i finally took down my christmas tree.

she was a beauty. she brought us so much joy.

i hated to pluck the fragile ornaments off, one by one,

and toss her outside. but i know she will break down gently

into the soil and help create new life. she was already breaking down

in my living room: pine needles and sap and bits of branches everywhere.

 

part of me wanted to leave her there by the window and watch her decompose,

watch her finish her process of drying up, falling apart, withering to bits on the floor,

to see how long it would take, what it would look like. i don’t think this would bring me as

much joy as seeing her fully fledged with ribbons and lights, but in a more tangible way, it would

remind me of my own fleeting life, my own gradual breaking down, my own gentle (de) composition.

 

in her place by the window sits a large house plant that had been dying in a dark corner. now she can

sit in the sun and revive. she looks at me gratefully, watching me work, watching me watching her.

she reminds me of how happy my father was to sit on the balcony in the florida sun, soaking up

the warmth. there’s a picture of him somewhere in a rocking chair, facing out to the world,

slightly smiling. he knew he wouldn’t make it through another winter; he was ready to

go toward the light … into the light … through the light … to become light.

 

these are the rituals we need. these are the things we live to observe,

experience, write down, and remember. we do the same things

every year, over and over, as if getting closer and closer to

the bright light center with each magnificent spin.

 

Note: When viewed in a word doc format, this poem forms the shape of a pine tree on its side. I don’t think I can show landscape view in this platform.

 

 

hush and hum

the poem is a

prayer

 

you write all alone

in your closet.

 

it fights

you;

 

it demands

a blessing

 

from the

shit.

 

inside time’s

attenuated tip,

 

you wrestle

with the

 

wooden chest

of your heart:

 

all the

kindling,

 

the hush

and hum,

 

the red

sharp,

 

the perfect

death.

 

deeper still,

you move

 

through the

electric blue

 

darkness, the

great lost-ness,

 

a tiny sign of life

hunting another.

 

you see the

silver sparks;

 

they brush up

against you—

 

but you cannot

feel them.

 

you are here

but not here.

 

you remember

your father saying

 

every thing is

going to be okay

 

with his ragged

breath and big

 

chemo eyes.

even then,

 

on the edge

of death,

 

he was full of

hills and hopes.

 

now, the

big banyan

 

and creeks and

deer and wolves

 

tell you: it is time

to move into your

 

own life. it is time

to stop inhabiting

 

family history,

family religion,

 

family memory.

put whiskey in

 

your coffee and go

out into the world.