meet hope

my heart is full.

 

coming back on a high note,

a wave, something that’s still moving.

 

“change is good for me, mom,”

she says.

 

i know what she means. it isn’t

easy; but it’s good.

 

we take the green for granted,

all around us, all the time.

 

it reminds us to keep growing.

 

we are going to keep going.

we are not backing, breaking down.

 

we put our feet in the rushing tide, in the sand.

she runs around like a little girl—under the night sky,

 

on the edge of the world.

 

there is no moon, but we keep looking for it—expecting it

to pop up right at our feet.

 

it’s that kind of night.

 

we go out to the place where we can feel,

and meet hope.

 

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going to seed

the world is full of levers

waiting to be pulled,

things waiting to be moved.

 

the levers can be hard to find.

since they’re invisible, you have to

bump into one to know it’s there.

 

they are long arms, reaching out

like the low boughs of a wise old tree.

many are on the edge of steep hills.

 

to get there, you have to breathe hard.

you have to feel as if you might die.

you pass many wry flowers along the way.

 

they nod as you pass; they are going to seed.

they ask nothing of you but to look

and take note and see your future.

 

you take step after step up the incline;

you wish you were a fish, even going upstream.

you wish you had gills, a long muscle for a body.

 

you are losing air; you are wheezing.

you feel the butterfly in your throat swelling.

it is not easy dwelling on land.

 

you pass many remnants:

broken houses, rusted fences, crippled farm equipment.

a fish out of water, indeed.

 

dreams of mother, father, child, lover follow you up the hill.

they trail behind you like a long ribbon of frames.

all your arms together reach out for the lever—and pull.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

favorite part of speech

i walk beside the river in the snow.

my cat curls beside me on the couch.

 

we are in this world to rub up

against other things and beings.

 

we define ourselves

in relation to others.

 

try to describe who

or where you are

 

without prepositions:

the words of relation-

 

ships. even an

island is in the sea,

 

far from land and

longing for habitation.

 

jump into the water

and see where it takes

 

you. cast off your

past, the weight of

 

mistakes, the heavy

anchor of indecision.

 

it is time to sail, to

take flight, to feel the

 

wind in your wings:

in, on, through, between.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

real heroes

a guy named barry at cvs keeps

calling me love, looks at my id and says,

 

don’t worry; you still look good.

i know he’s messing with me, but i

 

just want to get my wine and toilet

paper and go home. it’s the same

 

guy that tried messing with my girl

last week. i feel like i should make a

 

scene, but i don’t. i think the words

me too as i angrily shift away.

 

religion claims to save you from

the abyss, but religion is the abyss.

 

thank the gods for the creatives;

oh how we need the creatives.

 

we came out of the beautiful black

water—wet and fresh and squeaking:

 

a bull’s eye in the midst of the

mess. babies don’t have to care.

 

years later, i’m wearing my suit of

wet clay; i’m swinging my rudder

 

to wide extremes across a wide sea.

at the end of the journey, it’s just me.

 

i can feel the light shedding;

i can feel the need to flee.

 

real heroes don’t

feel like heroes

 

 

we will have words

there’s no room in my life

for new men; because the old

 

ones keep creeping in.

at night, they get the lay

 

of the land. still, after all

this time—they inhabit the

 

dreams of both body and

mind. every now and then

 

a new man will arrive on

the scene: in real life.

 

a good man. a man who

makes me feel alive.

 

we will have words;

so help me god.

 

we will have a new life,

a new touch, a clean rain.

 

and i will be reminded:

you are not your pain.