Bonfire for E.

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welcome enter
how did we find each other
doesn’t matter
our candles burn the same

i am crone in the cave naming
sea life remains
one long tide at a time.

the mother of me sees the mother of you
i have balm for that.
you are still spring and fight
where I am retreat and ruminate

the world is blind at night,
but for a little moon
we are unsafe on the waters
and deepest african shores
still we prowl, seeking danger

we are eating and drinking and laughing
when we should be
writing
writing
writing

when next you see me, darling
bring your book and your pen
refuse all distraction
enter the cave hungry and wet
and longing

bring basil and pepper and vinegar
ghost pepper
empty cask
bring your longing and prepare to
dash it on the rocks
fearless woman, rise up
stain your fingers with woe
and love and find liberty.

March 14, 2020

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Before I opened my eyes I could feel the light on my lids.
For 10 seconds I thought I was in my bed at my parent’s house.
When I opened my eyes I expected to see the 6 panels of cold glass,
peeling paint
in a bed a little too cold but pillow deep
For 10 seconds my body felt no pain, and my mind did not reach
for the usual noise.

When I did unpeel my eyes I was a little surprised to be in this bed,
warm, safe, no peeling paint, and no fear.
Strange my self reflected on that time and place I have no love for.

I do not believe dreams are random. They come for us.
I was sent 10 seconds for a reason. A reminder. A connection.

This morning I take note of the message: 10 seconds without pain
or fear: safe, secure, and OK.

Holy Morning

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Abruptly awakened
(charley horse and other reasons I rose before I was ready,
remembering a dream of sorting legos with my son and baby brother)
I dress in the dark and remember that I have headphones
and it’s the first time in weeks I can motor

down to the beach in cold flip flops armored in Carhart, otherwise
I crest the dune and come down into the beach and see a gull, torn.
Omen she is, she tells me ‘Ware, what you seek you will find here”
I take up the dare and keep walking, wiggling cold grains from my soles
giving up once I arrive at The Place.

I turn east and study the horizon with “The Crystal Ship”
absorbing me–that piano–one hand, now two
never heard anything so beautiful
god why can’t I do that
he croons effortlessly and the water has not come to hear him
It’s only for me and a wish of you, I suppose…
The orb rises behind thick clouds
I’ve seen the water mirror but not this morn
Small waves rise up and comb the shore though I cannot hear them
drowned out by Jim and Dionysus
(another flashing chance at bliss another kiss, a nother kiss)
Should I read what I wrote so long ago?

The trance is broken by dog-walkers, neighbors, sweet and kind.
Sweaty headphones off now for momma raised me right,
thou shalt not be rude to thy neighbors

I don’t need a reason why.
I am awake and alive
purple ink on my wrist
candle burning
it is morning
I am writing.
(rejoice. delicate.)

AWOL

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I stalk
like an old lady
black t-shirt sweatpants thing
but you don’t notice me
sitting in the marble lobby waiting
echoing
I bring you my offering
Pieces parts
Hope in a bag
Crumpled
The kind that chokes turtles and whales
that somehow carries a can you help me
I am strong
with purpose
Solve my problem
Like an astronaut drifting without hope
rescue me, we planned for this
didn’t we?
His last words to me
I locked them in
I love you more
eidetic sunset, sunrise
Your need. mine.
I’m here always, but you are gone
I don’t want to lose the last of you
the best of you
this is my Graumans’ you
I carry on in a crinkly brown bag
like elder ladies do
hand to pigeon
I love you
I miss you
And that’s okay.

— Kenny’s kid

Isn’t All Poetry Confessional?

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They had to call it something.  Everything has a label, has to have a label otherwise it cannot be understood?
Things cannot be as they are, they must be classified and microfisched for further review by busybodies who write the law.

I wanted an MFA tag, but that’s fruit from the Tree of Knowledge (of)  
I refused to pay the price.
‘stead I carry pomegranates in my apron
I never share them because that would be truth-telling, that would be
the real deal.
Who wants to hear more sylvia plath confessionals
yet another unhappy woeman
writing names in the sand
counting down?

I would rather have been Mary Oliver in the end
some kind of smooth stone you keep in a mason jar
or a sassy fawn named for a childhood friend
the one who still carries the North star

or better,
a body carved with hieroglyphs of the sea
wrapped in a Robert E. Howard shroud, epically 

or simply

e e cummings
      free

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She Lay Curled In An Animal’s Trench

She lay curled in an animal’s trench
Soft shed hair helped keep her warm.
She patted the ground hoping for lion
but most likely flighty hyena lay here.
She pulled in handfuls of dust and chaff,
plucked shallow weeds.
They smelled of old blood and broken loyalty.

Obsidian sky dripped malachite meteors,
low slow and long.
Chandeliers of stars once reflected in the pond
that lay east of her chin
But the water was gone
consumed by tongue and air.

Rested, she rose and twisted tufts of weed and hyena
into her hair.
She spat into the sandy earth and ground it in her palms,
painting the four points on her face.
She continued her long walk west back to the sorting place
determined to be a mirthless, disobedient beast
until the sun came back to retrieve her.

(Persephone’s Staircase)

The Don’t List

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It’s going to be too far
That’s going to be too hot
That is way too deep
It’s too cold for that

It might hurt
It might burn down
It might be too loud
It won’t last that long

It’s too dark for that
It might have bacteria
That’s too scary
It’s probably poisonous

That’s going to upset your stomach
That’s going to spoil your dinner
That’s going to swell your eyes shut
and give you bad dreams

It’s never a good idea
It’s a crazy idea
It’s a bad idea

Yeah, but Mama what if it’s not?

Forced To Breathe

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Something about the placement of the sun and moon and perhaps Mercury in retrograde had something to do with why I ran out of the house and down to the shore. I couldn’t put two thoughts together. I couldn’t decide whether to sit or stand or eat or drink or write or wash a dish or leave or stay. Just before the tipping point I put on sunglasses, left my phone on the table, and got the hell out of there. I really don’t know what it was that moved me to go in that second, was it the universe pushing me, it must have been because the dolphins were present in the bay.

I stumbled out through the dune path and bee-lined for “my” spot but a summer sunbather was there. I veered east (still not far enough away from her music playing) and dropped into the warm sand like Simba on the grassy hillside the night he needed to sort things out.

The dolphin pod was not passing through our little spit of the Chesapeake this time. They were hunting playing for croaker and mullet. Normally when I see dolphin their backs and dorsals seem black, probably because of distance, a trick of the light, presbyopia, or all of the above. Today, though, they were clearly sparkling gray and white. No sweet faces seen, just bodies and flukes. Some were in groups of three, one larger-bodied and two smaller-bodied beings huddled close and loping gently along. As for the hunting playing party, it was a foamy free-for-all.

In the space of a few moments four colorful jet-skis passed right through the dolphin patch, a small Coast Guard boat came flying out of the channel, and in the not too far distance a submarine was under way, all while the sunbather had her back turned from the water and her buddies were splashing around. I felt as though I was looking at a painting where someone said, “paint everything you will ever see ocean side.” It felt crammed and unpleasant, no rhythm or ease. I forced myself to wait out the desire to leave, so I watched the boats and dolphins and jet-skis disappear. I listened to the waves curl and release and it became easier to breathe. Whatever I wished for, hoped, or wanted became irrelevant as I let the simple hissing water mesmerise.

Hands in hot water washing a dish, I mused that dolphins don’t have to decide to write or sleep or interact. I cannot live unhemispherically because I would miss my dreams where mermaids tell me you exist. I like purple ink on my fingers after I write, and reading dog-eared pages filled with moody, conquering kings.