#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.


 

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.

					

#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?

#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.

#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.

#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.

#22

my child is poet
though he hates to be called one.
says every mom 
thinks their kid is a genius.
meanwhile, he's writing lines
that strip flesh from bone -
about his 92 year old grandfather -
about honor
about home.
i see that words are just a tool for him
like a baseball mitt
or a pencil
or food.
maybe he is on to something - 
this ambivalence towards words. 
skips magic pebbles across the pond 
while i dig around in the dark
looking for the perfect stone.

#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.

#19

I cannot tell if everything is sailing
or sinking -
whether what feels like rain
is food for the plants
or floods in the making.

there is so much half and half
about this living - 
how i'm certain good will win over
then terribly worried
others won't get the memo.

i try to take a few deep breaths a day,
pausing to remember how we are loved. 
most of the time it is quietly -
in ways we cannot know.

#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.

#16

i wanted so much to be proud
of who we were becoming
but when things didn't go my way
i was furious.

angry at the world
irate at people i love
mad even at the sun
for shining its "haven't-a-care-in-the-world" 
kind of shine - today 
of all days.

then i remembered a promise i made myself
one time long ago -
when words really mattered.

always no matter what
i will look for the light.
always no matter what
i will find a way home.

 

#14

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. 

#13

sometimes i am afraid
that my children will die 
or i will leave them motherless
or the wrong person will become President.
i worry that if any of these things happen 
someone or everyone will be unsafe.
Armageddon will happen
or maybe god will break forever.
when i am struggling
with the entire universe
and trying to control outcomes
way outside my league
the space inside me filled with love
starts to sink
until a bottom falls out
and there is only worry
going down
and down 
and down.
if i am lucky
i will love my children today and 
take good care of my own little self
and i will pray for my country
and even for god.

#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.