#60 for sarah

in the evenings, when even the bones are tired
and every bit of energy that could be conjured
has been - 
there is still a young rapper in his room -
discovering the magic of words -
and another boy, taking a vacation
from the wonders of the cosmos
and finance
to play a video game with a friend.
the noises are absolute.
my dog curls up like a pinto bean - 
his big ears on alert.
something inside me hungers.

so much of a day spent doing
remains undone
until the heart has had her chance to rumble.
the fingers their chance to skip
               across the black pavers - 
at last awake.

#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.

#55

for a minute i forgot you.
or maybe it was a week or a month
or any time really - 
that is longer than okay - 
until suddenly something leapt
from a quiet divot in my chest
and, remembering, 
i raced to tell you
that i am still 
every minute and week and month
so much enamored with you - 
my friend, my heart, my gift.

#52

when they forgave me -
for words i had not spoken -
i hurried to use my voice again,
for forgiveness's sake itself.
before i changed for the better,
i broke things.
a stampede through time
unaware of the china -
a hurricane of doubt 
in a trusting heart -
oblivion on top of indifference -
and the tiny riot of fear.
people said come back -
there is room here -
in-between the pictures you left,
are all these blank pages
upon which to show you care.

#47

i spoke to an old friend today
who belongs at the beach
but lives somewhere else.
and i wanted to erase time for him
and destroy space
so he would be here again
in a town that loves him.
"they have no idea who you are, do they?"
i asked, thinking how absurd
you can be famous in one town,
and a total stranger in another.
"No they don't," he said
and i wanted to cry for what they're missing.
we are these little worlds to each other
meaning so much
depending so much
on each other for our rotation.
i think when you remove one of us 
from the solar system -
all of the other planets wobble.
or, at the very least -
i mean to say -
i miss you.

#46

when i was a child
i very much wanted to be famous -
so that everyone would know
how special i was.
at four i decided 
when i grew up
i would marry johnny cash
so i could make him happy.
they seemed such useful goals.
now,as an adult,i only want to be more reflective -
so that the people who love me 
can see how special they are instead.
and if i could -
i would marry my husband again -
this time not trying to make him 
anything different than he already is.
i know i got a much better life than i deserve.
when i go to bed at night,
i try to think of new ways to pay it forward.
sometimes it's just shutting up.

#44

i don't like mean people
as well as i like the nice ones.
kinda like it's better to be healthy
than barfing in a bush. 
some things are simple like that.
still, life makes you suffer a bully or two 
before you get your free slurpee.
eventually, if you don't let the bad stuff get you down,
you'll own the whole 7-11.

start with a few good friends.

#42

i dont drink but tonight
i wore a missile toe and mimosa t-shirt
with the arms cut off
to qualify for the ugly sweater party.
all of my friends are beautiful.
they donned their santa-riding-a-unicorn sweaters
and acrylic reindeer shells
and tried to neutralize their exquisiteness with Tacky - 
but it is just impossible.
one friend showed me an app 
where she could wipe her screen with her index finger
and she swore it was erasing our wrinkles.
i could not stop laughing.
not because i couldn't tell the difference
but because i thought it was so damn funny
that she would try to erase the wrinkles
on a photo
of something so imperfectly perfect already.
plus it was the way her finger rubbed back and forth
naive almost, the finger,
i could barely take it.
friendship cannot be measured in cocktails poured
or hors d'oeuvres served
or even sweaters worn.
but little fingers on screens
and white elephant re-gifts
and the magic of reading the bill
held out three feet in front of you...
one eye closed for squinting
the other shot full of love.
girlfriends are just the best.
there is no other way to say it.

#40

Forty is a magic number
like 7 and 11 and 13.
Forty is when you are closer to fifty
that you are to twenty
and you just cannot believe it.
It is also when mean people start to not matter
and your real friends show themselves
and your occupation is only part of who you are.
It matters who you love when you are forty -
because you realize you may be half way home
or on the back nine
or however you say
to old to screw around anymore.
It matters who loves you back now also -
more than it did before -
because who has time anymore
for half-assed love affairs
and broken promises
and the greatest insult of indifference?
Forty is great because you really start to care
about things that matter -
differently than you could
when you were thirty -
and you've lived enough life to simply reply
"because i said so"
when someone asks you why.

At 46, I'm thinking 'hells to the yeah'
just watch me put in some crest strips 
and hit Facebook -
i'll write a poem all about the life.

#38

sometimes people ask you a question
and then get mad at you
because they don't like the answer.
sometimes you give someone your trust
and they give you back
a knuckle sandwich.
sometimes you think every little thing
is a-okay in the world
and then you wake up.
sometimes it hurts to laugh
and feels good to cry
and you have to ask
am i little crazy?
someone who really loves you
will say "no."

#37

sometimes i think about what it was like
when i was three.
you were four and a half
my brother -
showing me the ropes.
when you taught me how to ride a bike
you put me on it 
and just let go  -
i was pointed down hill. 
i rode as fast as lightning
until i hit the curb
and flipped over the bars
into the bushes.
you hoorayed and clapped so hard 
i felt certain i was a hero
and didn't dare to cry.
so much of how i came to believe
the world was good and safe
was because you were always there -
pulling me in and out of danger -
keeping me steady on my tiny feet,
yelling pedal! pedal!
run dani!
fly!

#35

tonight i left a piece of who i am
on the dance floor 
because Stefani Keys was playing 
and i thought 
man, i wish i could sing like that -
like god was walking 
down an empty road
and someone stopped 
to give him a ride. 
that's a particular sound you know - 
two lanes. one car. and god.

#31

the rain is back
this time like a no nonsense bag lady
collecting hours 
and their passing.
i wanted to say something important today
but there was turkey and cranberry mold
funeral potatoes and green beans
crispy onion, corn  and cream -
plus cookies and cake and pie.
that shut me up
like a million lazy minutes
and all i could say was
thank you.
when we decide to age together
and i mean really age -
without all the trying - 
i hope you will remember that i am cute.

#30

i used to think 
there was so much beauty in the tragic - 
or such tragedy to be found in beauty -
and now i realize 
everything, really,
is just a stepping stone
                 either towards 
          or away from 
divine compassion.
Off highway 5 at Livermore today,
a lady held a sign on the overpass
"I bet you can't hit me with a quarter."
I gave her twenty dollars and pleaded
please don't let anyone hit you with a quarter.
she spilled a broken tooth smile 
and crossed herself
and i could see in her eyes
exactly who she was when she was eight.
my husband asked don't i ever worry
people will just use my alms for drugs?
no, i told him,
i only care that for a second
they have hope -
that they feel worthy of something.
i have heard a lot of addicts speak 
about a "moment of clarity" -
and never did the story take place 
while meditating in some cave somewhere. 
That twenty dollars may not have changed her life
but she changed mine.

#29

last night i played hooky -
not on purpose -
but because how do you stop
or even think to stop
and write a poem
when you are living right
in the middle of one?
He is 92 and was married for 67 years.
What's left of her, besides memories
is tucked away in drawers -
clip-on earrings, vintage prescription lenses
empty bags
in side of empty bags.
socks.
he wants me to have some pieces of hers -
gives me gold and diamonds
precious metal and stone.
i want the tarnished chinese wiseman
in the costume jewelry drawer.
i will wear it
i say
until you move into my house -
old man.
we will grow young together now.

#27 a love letter to my friends

i am trying to find a way 
to say i love you 
that sounds like i am saying something different.
because you are my special forever friends
and there should have been some words reserved
from before you were even born.

i love you because sunlight
and acorns and messy green trees
and the call of the wild and dangerous men
and sugar and heartache and pink. 
i love you because old old memories
and new beginnings and broken dreams
and hope.
i love you because you read and laugh
and argue and worship and regret and cry
and demand so much from life
that even life gets tired - 
drops a leaf or two,
trembles when you roar.
i love you because you are kind and silly,
ridiculous and mad,
compassionate, cuddly, and soft.
you make me soup
and vegetables and cake.
you bring flowers and worry and trust.
you peel back decades of things that hurt
to let the sunshine back in
day after day
and you weep
beside me when i am hurt
as if there were no other place on the earth to be.
and you let me do the same for you.
i love you because there so many things happening
all the time, everywhere -
but when we are together
we stop
to be together
for real and forever
even if it only lasts a minute.
i love you because you care
about people who have less than you
and people who have more
and you share your beautiful inside hearts of hearts
with people who do not always deserve it.
i love you because when we met
we did not have to court each other
like lovers who would date - 
but instead we were married
the moment we first laid eyes...
like the best of friends...
because you can
because it is possible
because it is okay even
to love someone the moment you meet.
i love you because you have made me full
of so much beauty and depth and good
that i am having to teach myself to bow -
so i look less crazy bent over - 
dragging around this bulging heart
entirely filled with you.

#24

tonight i am listening to a cello concerto
on a vintage garage sale turntable
i scored for twenty bucks.
last night - a law and order re-run.
tomorrow - maybe cake.
it's easier not to be perfect.

people think if you are happy all the time
there must be some lack of depth - 
as if only misery or worry or grief
could be measured against the truth.
i think happy is an unmeditated reprieve.
a joy for something not forgot.
a joy for escaping the narrows.

i see how we wear our hearts on our faces.
"mine is broken" or "love me"
or "yes."
and then how we do all these other things
to pretend they are saying something else.

#21

the best part of friendship
is the friend part - 
how every single other thing in life
can blow
for a minute or a day or even a week -
but then one real talk 
with one good friend
makes the blue meanies go away.
when there is just enough good again
to make the creepy stuff a blur,
i feel like dancing.