#71

it’s not the dying that’s so hard –
but this incessant surrendering o a life
you’d expected to beat.
against the odds we made it.
drenched and exhausted on some metaphorical shore
on an island of nothing.
we made it.
thank fucking god you were there too!
otherwise i would have swam back out to the sharks.
just said “eat me, cruelties, i’m through.”
But you were there –
reminding me we made it –
then this.
another round of chemo or fires or loss –
grief like a beggar lady we’ve simply let move in.
charming as the crazy and the sullen and the gone.
when i first met you
we had longing by the balls –
and we dared to cultivate everything –
desire, freedom, innocence –
loss. buried underneath honesty –
all of it true.
now this.
my awakening is thick like maple syrup
and dark like greed.
borrowing Medusa’s eyes
i sank the ship.
and again
you save me.

#70

yesterday when i died –
the black sky parted its lips
and said nothing.
what i hadn’t finished was my hellos.
and when that black sky refused to speak
and the eerie silence
made our insides tremble –
the everyday suffering people of the world
prayed for us.
they prayed for us.
it feels like there are less soft places
to land –
yet here we are –
living through our deaths
like the octopus.
a camouflage here –
hiding in a crack there.
i wonder how many arms we can live without?

#69

sometimes staying in bed or just disappearing
feels like a better option
than one more pull on the bootstrap
or half-hearted acknowledgement
of just how silver the lining really is.
we are tired.
it does not seem fair that while children are starving
simply because they are not our own
and people around us are ailing and dying
simply because its “part of being alive” –
that we should have to also put up
with some hack job politic or crumby job
or even a hurt of our own.
we are really that tired.
i’m hoping it will be okay someday
for you to tell me how broken you are
and for me to just hold you
without trying to fix you
or telling you how fortunate you really are.
and i am hoping that once we have all admitted
we are worn to the bone
by all this busy-ness of being alive
we can go back to feeding people
simply because they are hungry
and caring for people
simply because they are ill.
i’m not sure there is much more to figure out than that.
maybe feeding and caring
would be enough to change the world.

Sunrise

Your death is an angry wasp –
a hungry bear –
desire turned on it’s side,
blue.

I always wanted to tell you
something meaningful like god.
As if words could summon a heart –
a tiny rainbow of hope –
taking its cue
from some other side.

You were a Diva who understood dying
well before you were sick.
I was a poet
who traded my name for numbers
and lost my death
in a life half-lived.
Both of us always running
to beat our own lovely fall.

Your falling was a quiet farewell –
no more talking our way out of this one.
I said good-bye like a broken drum
while you commanded that heart to stop.

It seems we are both still trying to speak –
Me – a mad pen, tired bones, an ache –
You, a deplorable sunrise
another moon
the light.


 

#66 Grief

grief is a quiet color - 

gardenia who lost her scent -

a reckoning.


grief is without an hour -

has no second hand -

the face on a clock, gone.


there is only space

and a vacuous ledge to lean into.

my fear - not of falling

but that i will jump.


when i am a whirling dervish of doing

i can only be one way -

productive.

my heart sits on the sidelines

cheering us both on

but would never dare to interrupt.


i come here to be reminded of the color:

magenta
 fuscia 
aqua marine 
blue 

a light yellow blouse carrying bones.

flesh and heart held up in the mix.


i come here to celebrate

even though i do not recall the occasion

until I am here

and sometimes
 not at all.


i sit.
i admit.
i pull away from the ledge

enough to breath

but not so far as to pretend

it isn't there.


my grief is a yellow tricycle -

empty basket -

under a timber of sun.


my grief is a magical final good-bye

i was not there to make -

with all the busyness

of being busy.

the doing of regret.


they say that is a stage of grieving -

as if recognizing its components

could allow for some dismantling -

but it is intact, i say.

as certain as a two minute timer.

this is how we are given a reprieve.

maybe even forgiveness.

the landmark for time.

#64

when i reached for the moon
and fell out of the crib
i was moved to lower ground.
when i fell out of the tree
and broke my ankle
i said who likes tree climbing anyway.
when i wrote a poem
and you said it moved you
i thought i could write forever.
then forever became a mighty long time
and somewhere i decided
it was maybe better not to reach.
or to climb
or to write.
because what if with falling
or breaking
or resting
i could no longer move you?
and what if not doing means not being?
and what if the climber leaps?

for Yvonne

i cannot say why
it should be okay
to have faith drawn out on a limb
        hanging     
        mid air
as if some sort of reconciling 
could warrant what's broken.

there is no word nor sign nor even prayer
that might at once undo the ruddy ache 
of having
and losing     and finally   
losing heart. 

what is terrible then
is that we love.
and our loving, like balloons in a hurricane,
is torn from us - 
even as we covet the softest sweetness inside - 
where only his aliveness has touched you - 
where only he has been

for you.

i imagine though
that he finds you - 
even now, through crooked slumber
and honest despair - 
where if your eyes were closed
you both could see
and even if you did not touch 
you both could feel -

there where your loving has allowed
a living 
and a leaving - 
and both as honest 
       as a thousand migrant winds -
back and forth forever undoing
and confirming 
what we think we know
about life
about death 
about love.

 

#63

people are dying -
and also there is cancer
like a maniac      bully
breaking our hearts.
i wanted to feel something - 
one time for itself - 
without another something
to hold it up against 
or toward.
but what's so is the tragic beauty
of everything we love - 
        dissolving in front of us
as we become.

 

#59 for margaret ann

your dying is a lazy mountain waterfall
without an end.
i am looking under rocks -
in between the manzanita and madrone -
under moss and lichen -
hands deep in a hollowed oak
trying to find the empty.

but there is still too much.
an overwhelming overflowing of your aliveness - 
a certain surely still at home 
i am here
about it.
a lie. 
or not.

you left me a ruby rimmed with diamonds -
a crimson and aqua rug -
some china and a desk.
ee cummins,david sedaris,the best loved poems of jacki o.
a life of scripture, "everything that is yes"
love.

we pretended to bury you yesterday.
but you were there at lunch
running the show.
and now i am thinking about what is lovely
and there you are again
and me
and we.

#57

i wanted to bring you flowers - 
lift the scent of jasmine out of the air
or carry the wind with me -
to where you were hiding,
under the sleep-strained sheets
and the empty bottles - 
to before pills and drink and men
could destroy you.
but you won't answer the phone
or the door
or the possibility of things being different -
because, you say,
there is no hope -
inside these dark hours - 
these endless moments of grief - 
this constant feeling of loss. 
i say i have been there - 
have run full bore into the darkness myself -
trying to get there 
before it could come get me. 
how i have buried myself also - 
under the impenetrable longing and the shame -
and the elusive promise of forgetting.
you still think i couldn't possibly understand,
that no one can possibly understand. 
but we do. So many of us truly do.
i once held the hand of a beautiful woman
while she pushed a baby out of her body
into the world.
Two years later, I held that baby 
while we buried her beautiful mother
into the earth.
She'd been found dead - 
   kicked to death 
in a crack house 
just outside of town.
She was one of us -
someone with dreams and fears and love and concern -
a lifetime of new beginnings and loss.
And it started with just one little pill.
When i call you - 
which i will do - 
again and again and again
until you answer,
because i recognize that you are ill
and not just a pain in the ass - 
i will say
come outside and smell the wind,
watch the morning unfurl with me -
she how it just opens up quietly
into the darkness instead of against it - 
until all signs of night are simply gone.
and look how we are standing here alone - 
just you and me -
and also a million other people
inside their houses and their cars
under their bridges and in alleys and parks.
All of us watching the light open up -
wondering how we will do it.
what we will choose -
while there is still a choice to be made.

#48

i am thinking about dads today
and how my own died way to young -
and how so much of who i have become
was because of this man -
that, in some ways, i barely knew.
but i knew him.
i know your dad died early too, and yours.
and how hard it is for all of us
to look at our boys, our sons, our nephews
and think - 
they will never get to meet him, or - 
god, my dad would love you.
i am proud.
to have had a dad. to have, 
through marriage and love
helped make one. to understand
the delicate fabric
that holds our men together -
that shapes our boys.
I feel dangerously too close sometimes -
to the essence of things -
how i catch a glimpse of my child
walking passed in a man's body.
he carry's my father's death with him, you know
and lends him another life.