hello, heart

hello, big bowl

of purple plums,

 

rising up and

bursting forth

 

in cool sweetness

and simplicity;

 

hello, exigent

machine: pulsing,

 

pulsing to its

emery end;

 

hello, beautiful

redundancy:

 

our intrinsic need

to hear it again

 

and again; that which

keeps us human.

 

hello, heart.

 

 

from when you died

there are missing pages in my

diary from when you died.

 

it was not a time for growing

poetry; all the words went in-

 

to the eulogy—which made every

thing else seem meaningless: even

 

music felt foreign and wrong. i

questioned every thing—my job,

 

my place in the family, my space

in the world. all my energy went

 

into finding documents, finding

pictures, trying to find you in the

 

boxes and piles of audio cassettes,

ledgers, sewing kits, coffee mugs.

 

it wasn’t until much later that the

words began to knit together; they

 

were in my head all along—but

needed to be brought to cohesion.

 

there’s a reason this time remains in

my mind: it is a hunt, a meditation, a

 

docking station for the spirit. i must

remember the things that god can do.

 

i must remember that music is for

feeling, and poetry is for eating.

 

i must remember the empty pages

from when you died, with love.

 

 

 

 

 

you are the poem

sit silently with your self;

listen to your breath, to last

night’s dreams, to the hammer

heart-beats which carried you

 

through. listen again. do you

hear your treble, the shaking

space between your stanzas,

the tremble of your verse?

 

you are the poem.

 

stop letting in all the noise. make

your own noise—just for you. if you

don’t want to rhyme, don’t. let your

capitals go. be un-titled. let the

 

line

breaks

surprise

even

 

you. swim in the imagery, steep in

the buzz of beginning over that of

belonging. watch a being give

birth. you are the poem. it will

 

all be over soon. taste each syl-

la-ble in your mouth, feel the tug

of adrenaline in the pit of your

stomach: the closest to the center

 

of child hood you will ever get

again. take cream in your coffee.

romance your selves and those

clinging to them with satin

 

static. if you take a title, own

it; sing it out with each pulse.

hug the children, love the world,

speak the beauty, love the poem.

 

you are the poem.

 

 

 

 

dust has nothing to fear

i’m on a long journey, and

i don’t know the way.

 

the dust under my feet

has nothing to fear;

 

it’s been here before,

but it has a lot to say—

 

to the fingers, to the

rib-cage, to this feast, to

 

the miles walked across

this beach: once you are

 

thus reduced, you can only

transform into some thing

 

new—a diamond, a sand-

storm, a brilliant planet.

 

take every thing that is

happening, every thing you

 

feel, every thing you keep

silent, every thing you shout—

 

and kneel: turn it,

churn it into art.

 

it is the only way in,

and the only way out.

 

permanent record

when she was a child, she

realized she could move

things with her eyes. she

remembers them levitating,

flying about, crash-landing.

 

she’s in the middle of her

life now; she feels what

people call a crisis. she

talks to herself, and is the

nicest person to talk back.

 

she reads novels that are

going no-where; she keeps

seeing under-utilized words that

aren’t there. she thinks one thing

and writes another. she knows

 

you can say things in a poem

you can’t say any-where else.

people are weapons; even the

kids playing on the lawn in the

warm snow are getting away with it.

 

 

 

 

snap shot 4

“I’m in trouble.”

She woke with these words in her mind, almost on her tongue. She wasn’t sure if the words were spawned by her feeling of despair upon facing another day with the chronic aches and pains (some inhabiting her body, and others visiting from an unknown place) and still no answers—or if they had been triggered by the random patchwork of dreams from the night: her wedding to an old love, her pregnancy by an ex-husband, her strange reunion with an old friend.

At least she was human in these dreams. And, lately, sometimes Kevin Arnold. She smirked at this, at the knowledge of the television world seeping into her reality—of her growing dependence on nostalgic shows to help escape from what felt like a dying garden. There was still beauty—all around—and some soil, and some water, and a little cold sun, and a few people wandering about; but there was also the nagging feeling of death, of things being slowly starved and shriveled, of other things sprouting oddities and twisting off in the wrong direction.

Lee often tried to be optimistic. Not quite cheerful (that emotion typically surfaced only when buzzed or caught up in a love balloon), but grounded in a larger picture of herself and this life—stabilized by an ever-present, irritating really, knowledge that things would somehow work out, would somehow be okay. She had felt this stoicism from her father, this cautious confidence. But lately she could feel herself slipping, her knowledge fading, her hope becoming heavy under the weight of loneliness, age, teenage cynicism, doubt, and now—injury.

Leonard Cohen knew. And he knew that everyone else knew, too. This life was unbearable, harsh, cruel even. And yet, startling in its beauty and unpredictable kindness. Navigating between these two extremes was a heroic, gymnastic effort which exhausted the trifecta of mind, body, and soul. No wonder she could barely get out of bed some days.

Some of her friends were tired of hearing about it. She didn’t have as many friends because of it, and usually she was relieved by this. It meant less expectation, less energy, less investment. But the reverse was also true: fewer people were invested in her. Less energy was being tossed her way. She knew her readers would also become impatient eventually—especially if she didn’t throw in a love scene soon. At least some suggestive dialogue. She laughed out loud as she struggled to stand.

“Love waits for no man.”

She thought of all the love that was happening all around her—and of her own small doses being exchanged within this house, and without. Within this world, and without. There were so many different types of love, and she would be damned if she was going to let herself get caught up in one or two tiny definitions. And anyway, was it love that waits for no man? Or time? Were they one in the same? She pictured a wild time-love horse charging away into the tide without its rider.

After all this thinking, Lee became tired. Coffee was up next, with a side of berry yogurt to cushion the belly against the delicious acid. What came after that was a new hope in the form of a phone call. There was a treatment for her broken foot, and she had been approved for it. A new path—beginning next week. She would throw everything she had into this hope.

She thought about her fear of surgery, and wondered if it was related to her other fears. She would not name them just yet. She would not give them credence. Instead, she would spend days, weeks—months even—trying on yet another opinion about how her life could be improved.

snap shot

She was thinking about moving again. It had only been six months in this apartment. Six months, and it still didn’t feel like home. Half a year, and she still hadn’t unpacked that room of boxes, moved the piles out of her bedroom to make room for living, hung any color or curtains.

Her baby sister would have had the place remade in a weekend—paint, tapestries, candles, made-to-order colors. Instant cozy. Simone knew what she wanted, and she didn’t let things get in her way. She knew what other people wanted, too, and she had that unique ability to help them see and achieve it—if she agreed with it.

Lee sat in the middle of ‘her’ house, of her possessions, of her many unmade decisions. She couldn’t even decide which name to go by. Currently she was using her middle name—as a nod to her deceased father, yes—but also as a cop-out because she still didn’t like her own name and she couldn’t think of a good alternative. Someday she would be a published author. She agonized over what name she would use. She lay awake at night putting together different combinations, signatures in her head. The notepad, computer, journal sat mostly empty by her bed.

There was too much truth in writing. Too much she wasn’t ready to face, to accept, to believe. Too much she still didn’t understand. She thought she would have had more figured out by now. She thought back to when her parents were her age—and how old she had considered them. Odd how we measure time and people. We think of people as old when they have gained a certain amount of knowledge and experience—but at the same time we label them as out of touch, as if we can’t have both at the same time. We want to swoop in and brush up against their knowledge and experience from time to time, but we don’t want to touch them. We don’t want them touching us or our ideas or outcomes.

Suddenly she heard church bells, which reminded her that it was Sunday. 10:46 a.m. A call to worship. She had never heard those bells before. She pictured people coming out of their doors, gathering on the sidewalk, walking to the big, brick church on the corner with the giant stained-glass eye that watched over the town. Driving past at night, headlights would hit the window and light up a massive image of Mary and Christ, side by side, looking somber under their halos. Their eyes would stare back at you, into you, with that shimmering light, and you had to remind yourself that it was trickery—the work of physics and man-made headlamps.

Her coffee sat cooling in her hands as she stared out the window, past the cat, past the fighting, fledgling tree in the front yard, past the street and the neighbors’ houses and the skyline. She needed to get away, to go somewhere she had never been, to meet people she had never met. She needed, deep in her core, to find herself, her name, her color, her sound.

“Mom!” a voice shouted from the hallway. “We’re out of toilet paper!”

Lee sighed and stretched and rose from the couch.

“Coming!” she called back as she made her way to the linen closet.

She had never had a linen closet before. She thought it was going to be so great, to have a place for all those ointments and products and sheets and towels and things that had cluttered up her bathroom before. Now the closet was stuffed to the brim with every manner of item which did not belong, which begged for order, which sat hidden all day on a dark shelf.