<>they gave me a little pill
so they could rip from my mouth
a word hoarder –
a shell of stories –
my having tossed caution to the wind tooth –
that taking made me think of giving
and how much there is to give still –
today, this very minute –
even as each of us hold our wounds,
ice our breaks, disguise our weaknesses.
i like that the lady who drove me home
gave me a one armed hug and said
no you are not fine
because she recognized there were bombs falling
and lights flashing and sirens blaring
behind my swollen crooked smile. Behind my face.
PTSD lingers around like an easy lover you cant quite forget.
You know how to handle her. You’re friends now. You can almost love her for having left. Then BAM! your sweating tears and lips are trembling. the heart – like an upside down fishing lure that has lodged itself in your throat. you’re fucking eyes all crying like a baby you don’t even know. Bitch.
Im trying to pacify her with a heating pad, sad coffee, slippers. no looking at mirrors. no noises. check. no sudden noises.
I tell you what; if I could get high without giving up 22 years of sobriety, I’d be all over it. As if something outside of me could make what’s inside of me right. Nah. But i can still see my brothers and sisters downtown, holding on to their treasure chest of traumas. and its cold out. PTSD is cold. maybe i can find a way to share these blankets under which i am finally starting to sweat.</>
what would you do, heart
without a cell phone ringing
or me texting and snapping and retrieving
one hundred and fifty times a day?
what would you say, heart
without me having to answer
every forty emails, deleting forty more
and bothering so much with Siri?
what would happen to you, heart -
in all your soft glory -
if you could just beat and love
and beat some more?
intuiting the vastness of stars
before night even falls.
catching his breath
before she walks into the room.
embracing my child before he walks
i remember when.
there was a feeling.
so much to feel really.
grief is a quiet color -
gardenia who lost her scent -
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 -
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.
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
i could no longer move you?
and what if not doing means not being?
and what if the climber leaps?
people are dying -
and also there is cancer
like a maniac bully
breaking our hearts.
i wanted to feel something -
one time for itself -
without another something
to hold it up against
but what's so is the tragic beauty
of everything we love -
dissolving in front of us
as we become.
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
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
until the heart has had her chance to rumble.
the fingers their chance to skip
across the black pavers -
at last awake.
finally, i got so tired of words -
and the way they were being used
to destroy what we love
and who we love
and even how -
that i quit them.
just stopped writing.
like the fury of a hundred years
could be contained instead
but when the answers didn't line up
and my own silence
started to feel more like cowardice -
i quit that too.
had a run with rage. and ignorance.
i found it is terrible to hate,
even the haters.
so I'm picking up the words again -
like so many wild flower seeds -
and i am throwing them
into the wind.
into the abominable hatred -
even as it tries to oppress -
i am throwing the words and the seeds and the light
back in the face of the darkness
and i am hoping
that in the midst of all this dirt and manure -
our wild flowers will grow.
And they will take over
all this shameful, barren bullshit
with their outrageous color.
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
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.
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,
to slam up against
with something so simple
so i wait.
think about the crawling out -
the accent -
the way back up
to where things are indeed
even inside the darkness.
even with it.
the frailty of being human -
i know the clouds are grey for a reason -
that there will be more rain
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
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 don't know how i became a stranger here -
walking the worn aisles of the market -
recognizing no one.
i found myself -
where mount tam meets the pacific -
at a point in life up until which
i'd only ever tried to lose.
it was something.
being found -
instead of found out -
at the beach
in a quiet town with a loud heart.
i almost raised my hand as a visitor -
at the same meeting that had saved me -
when i had nothing to inherit
but undeserved grace.
instead i took a token -
a marker of sorts -
to remind me that i belong
here with the wind and the salt and the sea
where being recognized is trumped
by being known.
you can feel home in your bones,
like marrow carrying breath to the heart.
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.
my pen is broken
from too much thinking.
where without the soothing curse of love -
i might be bored.
someday my friends will find me
asleep in an attic at noon.
curled up in a pile of cards
they sent through the years.
there is a chocolate cake pillow
and a little a little cup of tea.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
it seems like every night
i am chasing the minutes left
wondering what happened
and how it is i missed so much.
at one time they were so little
and every single day seemed to last forever -
i was just so tired.
now i am wide awake
and they are big
and 2 became 12
and 4 is 14
and i keeping asking them to stop.
stop breaking my momma heart
at the very same time you fill it up.
i think it is awful that
if love its a verb,
it's easy to be too busy to love.
i'm signing up for do-overs.
the rain is back
this time like a no nonsense bag lady
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
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
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.
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
in side of empty bags.
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
until you move into my house -
we will grow young together now.