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.
We arrive sleepy and bent -
a crumpled wad of desire
for something new.
These wet hot streets -
a vistors reckoning -
But that is what you carried here
my dear -
packed neatly in your bags -
folded, creased, alert.
I tried to find the thing
that made London her own.
But, belonging to everyone
and spread so densely
through street upon alley upon court
she's a union of nations at once -
scurrying about in search.
The homeless prefer, it seems,
to sleep in broad daylight
beside a riot of words.
There are no shoes,
a tired beard,
an altar of water bottles
left at his feet.
I thought about quitting marriage
when I couldn't summon joy -
as if London should ring that old bell
back into awakening.
But it was dinner time again -
and every other door
an open mouth for feeding.
So we dine
so we sleep
so we rise once more
and when you say good-bye
i love you at last.
at union square
i always carry tiny wads of cash
to give to men in doorways
for whom no doors are open.
they are always much too gracious
considering the cold
and the ridiculous wonder
that while i was enjoying the theatre
they were begging for heat.
i am embarrassed sometimes
for how much i have.
2 healthy boys a husband
my friends a job
there are not enough ones or fives or even twenties
to make the kind of difference
where you are no longer alone
or hungry or cold.
and i am no longer looking for someone to feed.
the rain is back -
this time like a drunk American
packing through France
with some embarrassed Canadians.
puddles are deep,
people can't drive.
only because of garage sales -
and some vintage couture i couldn't resist -
i donned my first umbrella today,
like a boss.
what a ridiculous improvement -
this whole keeping dry out in the rain -
it just never occurred...
i saw a pile of a person
under the freeway today -
covered in sleeping bags but still sitting up -
that and a small mound of cigarette butts.
no arms or legs or head.
just blankets and wet and butts.
with my stupid umbrella.
i used to think
there was so much beauty in the tragic -
or such tragedy to be found in beauty -
and now i realize
is just a stepping stone
or away from
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.
i took a break today
from caring too much.
ate grilled cheese and onion rings at the same meal -
mixed the colors and whites in the washing machine -
turned off the ringer on a work day.
i asked once, when the sun hit my cheek -
as if it were July and not November -
how to be useful,
even in the midst of trying not to care.
there was never a time when i did not feel lucky.
i like to watch people come and go
in a certain hurry -
as if they too could forget
the things that really matter.
it's impossible though,
to take your heart outside of something.
it just stands there beating
"i see you"
"i see you"
"i see you."
today is the end of something.
we all know that, holding our breaths,
hoping we win.
and i am thinking about the other people,
who aren't thinking
about elections and polls and emails and pussy.
the ones who are looking for an empty doorway
or a couple hits left on a butt in a gutter
or something warm.
i am not thinking about them because i am good
but because i am sorry.
i am so very sorry.