Your death is an angry wasp –
a hungry bear –
desire turned on it’s side,
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
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.
<>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.
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.
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
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"
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
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.
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.
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 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
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
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.
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
finding my way
to your warm.
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 -
i see that words are just a tool for him
like a baseball mitt
or a pencil
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.
the best part of friendship
is the friend part -
how every single other thing in life
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.
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.
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."
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 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