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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
for my birthday i got
a belt of cellulite
a bag of popcorn
and tickets to hear the stone foxes.
nobody told me my ass would drop
or the fine lines on leaves
would fail me
or that it would be my choice.
if it werent for the way you danced
i might have blamed it all on age.
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.
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.
sometimes grief comes out of left field dressed like an angry bird. steals your sack lunch - makes a mess of things. i try to hold your despair like walls down an unlit hallway, feeling my way through the dark to your heart.