london

 We arrive sleepy and bent -  
a crumpled wad of desire
for something new.
These wet hot streets -
a vistors reckoning -
grief.
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
with flesh,
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.

					

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.

 

#54

i jumped off the bridge last night
in my heart
and now some twelve hours later
i still haven't hit the bottom - 
the immeasurable depth of being,
too terrific 
to slam up against
with something so simple 
as flesh.
so i wait.
think about the crawling out -
the accent -
the way back up 
to where things are indeed
okay 
even inside the darkness.
even with it. 
the frailty of being human -
a hoax.
i know the clouds are grey for a reason -
that there will be more rain
and disaster.
but also i know, from it
will come new growth
and this is where i rest
against the walls of a weary heart -
pull myself back out  
and up -
where i can dare again
for joy.

#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.

#41

the fairies are coming
in their holiday sparkles
with their christmas jingles
and their hanukah lights -
and you can almost feel the cheer
thickening the air.
it's nice to be alive
when there is extra hope afloat.
and to watch people cozying up
and sitting closer -
to beat the cold.
mostly, though, i like the sound of you snoring - 
like a sedated lion
harmless and safe beside me.

#39

i watched a child reach for a star
and i could understand how she thought 
she might make it hers.
i watched an elderly man 
                    shuffle
a little to the left
        to clear a path for youth
and i could understand
how that might sting.
i watched the crease under your eye 
          disappear
when you stopped smiling -
and i realized i might lose you.
there is nothing like time
to heal a wound
and to inflict one. 
i know you are mine
and that you'll be mine forever -
but there is a certain finality
to the crease under your eye
when you are not smiling -
and it makes me realize -
forever is not long enough. 

#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."

#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.

#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.

#23

tonight everything is sleepy -
even the dark itself -
but i am trying to scratch one more mark 
into the empty sky
like so many takes on film.

the crowded day has left - 
staggered off like an edgy lover 
i didn't think to follow home.
and i am thankful there is an end 
to every end.

for now, i will pull back the covers
and welcome sleep in.
she will shack up between us, 
hip to thigh, my palm on your ear.
always a tumble of elbow and chin,
eye socket and tooth. me and my bumbling
grace
finding my way 
to your warm.

#18

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."

#17

there was a time 
when all i could think of
was how to be more in love with you.
then all that loving 
made others things to love -
so many in fact,
that all i could think of 
was how to be more of myself somehow.
now i am just thinking about
how to be enough -
and kind.
and also how it is possible
to want something so bad,
with everything that you are, 
and not get it.
and still know that somehow
it is enough
to just be enough
and kind.

#12

If i had another life
i would choose this one - 
all messy and ridiculous
with the clutter of bones and bills and love.
i would walk head-on 
into the magical mayhem
of my teenagers' angst 
and the moods of marriage -
all the time watching my life unravel
in both anguish and awe.
No one would save me
and i would not dawn a cape
or make a brilliant name for myself
but i would have you
quietly snoring next to me,
and everything that our laying together made
would be brimming over
always seeming to bang at the door
at every door
almost unbearable
the fullness
the constancy
the living
of this mad and wonderful life.

#7

it's hard to feel lucky
when yesterday's shadow
cast its hook into morning
and not even sleep could break the silence.

i died a thousand deaths
even before 
the graham cracker and chocolate coma
took me.
there is never enough sweet 
to fill the hole 
of your leaving.

i believe in rainbows and unicorns
and the impossible likelihood
that there will be a day
very soon
upon which we will again
fall in love.

#6

sometimes words are bricks
i throw at your window
when the message of the pebble would have been enough.
today the glass frame itself busted out
and we were left speaking
with nothing between us 
but spit and dust.
it's hard not to laugh
when your angriest moment
is confronted 
by hush puppy eyes
and every single thing you love.
but hold on we must -
to our little swords - 
our bayonets, our rightness.
god forbid in the moment
we remember what matters.