if you lose yourself,
look up towards the sky, between the trees
you will find yourself again
the breeze against your skin will awaken you.
in preparation for the new year, the old will gently
drift down onto the newly fallen snow
to be taken up by the earth.
if you lose yourself, look in a new place
with less prejudice and with an open
heart, look within nature on a cold day
at the very end of the year
holding hands with someone
one letter after another
a word, a phrase, a sentence
they come slowly and leave slowly
or come quickly and leave even more quickly.
practice practice practice, repeat repeat repeat
listen, repeat, listen, repeat, practice,
so many errors, so many
they fade away to
a perfect melody
it's all about abstol, she said
noting that 1e-6 was not small enough
for molecules bouncing round and
round off telescope walls.
how obvious I noted as
she lowered this mysterious
parameter to 1e-16, how quickly
then did the problem disappear
as negative values rose
in positive glee to join their
brethren on the log-log plot.
the electric candles glow in the windows
casting eerie shadows across the wooden floor
long legged monsters waver towards me
settled here under a heavy quilt as if winter
resided here, inside instead of out where
the snow has turned to ice on frozen roadways
and sidewalks left unshoveled pitch pedestrians
face forward into crumpled piles.
it's warm under here and quiet, the dishwasher
has finished humming, the dog is snoring
downstairs and I can imagine hearing the
last droplets of water evaporating off the
clean dishes in the kitchen.
the swish-swish of water
against dirty dishes,
squash, cereal, coffee, milk,
peanut butter, beans
all washed away, a cloud
of steam greeting me
when I open the door,
feeling the clean warmth
of the plates against
my fingertips as they
get stacked anew, ready
for another day.
We called it Slumerville back then
but now it's a cool place to be like all
the neighborhoods around there you would
never walk around alone, at night, in the dark.
no one bought Christmas trees and riding a
bike was to take your life in your hands
and hold it out to a passing bus or car.
Somerville was not gay or festive
happily times changes and people
there buy Christmas trees and ride
bikes; a mini-van even roars past,
not even brushing against his pedal
as they rush across the intersection.
The car seats are only warmed by our bottoms,
intial temperature being minus fourteen Fahrenheit
by the can-hardly-believe-it green LED display in the car
that I'd rather not believe
as that means
it will be minus 25 in the morning and
I complain of being duped into this romantic weekend
of outdoor fun and skiing, hot toddies and sunshine.
I admit that
it was sunny outside, the skiing was fun,
the food was yummy and we sit in front of
the fire to warm our buns before settling them
unhappily on car seats cooled to minus 14
Fahrenheit for the endless drive
up the hill to a warm bed
show me how telescopes capture the stars
how do we fathom the edges of the universe
the movement of atoms on brittle surfaces
as we study the ingredient list for German
chocolate cake or mix up eggs and milk
for Christmas morning waffles with
blueberries, bananas and whipped cream.
take me to lunch, invite me to ski,
embrace me for all who I am as I
embrace you, love me as
I love you.
after eight minutes on a treadmill
my brain slightly addled
a mindless TV series waiting downstairs
I admit a lack of inspiration
our new bed, on the hard side, calling me
knowing he is already snuggled under
the covers waiting for me to slide
under the sheets, flannel jammies,
eyeglasses and hearing aid, things
may have changed but they sure
can't be any better.
"Elle s’est éteinte paisiblement dans sa 96ème année"
the flame lingering on the diminishing wick, finally
extinguished in a pool of molten wax, a thin tendril of
smoke rising, then dissipating with a passing breeze.
" très diminuée mais avec la chance
de ne jamais avoir souffert physiquement"
a wisp of a woman in the end who did not suffer
in the last years, thankfully, after many years of
so much suffering at the hands of those
who do not live anymore, who finally left her
to live in peace and now, in the darkness of this
night, for her to glide silently whereever she may
choose, on a breeze, along the riverway,
gazing across the sea
with eyes that see
Lower yourself below my eyes to
Limit my view to the truth but do not
Lie bald-faced to me, preparing your Lare to tempt me to believe
Lazarus who betrayed One who
my ears don't work
nor do my eyes, my feet
don't run, my brain doesn't
think, my arms don't windmill,
my am I tired on this
Friday after a week
of molecules rushing
from here to there
is rushing for the holidays
I am ready to rush to
put my feet up, turn
off the brain that cannot
think, the fingers attached
to these arms that can no
it has to be from McGuckin Hardware
where Steve will find us the perfect
commercial tree, the ones with one side
that's a bit cock-eyed, a bit less expensive.
he smiles at us and asks our names, having
helped countless middle aged women
with gardening questions over the summer,
I was yet another, unnamed until tonight
when he asked and who was the lovely
young woman with me,
he sorted through rows of trees
to find the perfect one for her,
I'd be foolish to think it was for
me, but he will remember me
in the summer when I ask him
countless questions about
tomato varieties and fertilizers
and he will smile remembering
her that night when we picked
out the Christmas tree.
one single note
like the most beautiful song
from a simple bird
in a lush forest,
a single accomplishment
after one week of
of the one single note
over and over
until it sings
time the flute
went to her
18 degrees and snow on the ground
beautiful cloud of breath in front of me
my lungs chilled
I wrap a scarf around my face
and run, making footprints
in fresh white powder
the stream and I run
along this path
each attending to
her own work.
it's cold out
and dark and I feel lazy
facing a bed to be made,
a desk to be cleared,
almond milk to be purchased,
flute practice, a floor calling to be
swept, for goodness sake.
so I don't walk up the hill
in the dark to write with
my friend and wouldn't you
know that this laziness facing
all my chores, I left the most important
left undone, writing with Ana
on a Monday night,
it's just not the same
without seeing her.
she briefly opens her eyes against the bright sun
to stare at the two of us wrapped in down jackets, scarves,
hats, gloves, thick socks and boots
out in the cold bitter wind
fumbling for the phone
to capture her lazy gaze
from inside the window
where it is warm
he knows he does
everytime a letter comes in from his mother
and he kisses the envelope, so happy to hear from her;
he puts a check in the mail with a note signed
"your loving son" knowing it will get to her
and make her smile.
Bob Dylan on the road
drafting off the UPS truck in front,
just a simple way to save gas
by drafting the U.S. goverment.
next time your Ferrari breaks down,
think of the Post Office and how the
person in the blue uniform will get
out of their car and give you
a helping hand.
bow against strings
there is no bow here in this house
that will make music, we will have no
opportunity to clap our hands when the fiddle plays
wonder where Peter and the Wolf will go next
in the dark heavily forested woods.
this situation cannot stand as the music
is there on this stand in this room
waiting for a young musician
to come home.
she's actually not very nice, helpful, generous or calm,
preferring to sequester herself up a steep set of stairs away
from the family, man and dog on the couch relaxing as
they are prone to do, too far away behind two closed doors
to even hear them and she even sleeps with ear plugs so the
snoring and heavy breathing do not interfere with understanding
the velocity distributions of micrometeoroids in space and how that
might affect the high accuracy star tracker on mission X.
actually, she tends to be bossy, express overconfident characteristics,
and have limited patience for most everything including,
but not limited to, people who do not interest her, dogs who
stop to sniff every 5 feet, calculations that have been done before,
doing laundry or any other household related task.
she loves to ride her bike over piles of dry leaves
and hear them crackle under her tires.
I. The Front Page
The Syrians are being slaughtered as we watch and wait
The rich stay rich.
The Dreamers dream on and file paperwork.
JAXA was hacked by the Chinese.
Lawyers occasionally do good so
no one has to move out.
Red is still in.
It's tacky to dis-invite someone if they
want to bring someone you don't like.
3. Week in Review
Alfred Hitchcock was scary.
We need more babies to support the older generation.
Syrians can walk through some tall reeds and
across the river into Turkey.
Love has a short shelf life,
learn to love those around
you and hope they do the
same for you.
she worries about the cat.
hovering outside the gate, she stammers
and stutters, shifting her weight
back and forth
from left faded sneaker to right and back again.
on a crisp morning she stands at the corner
staring intently at the settting Moon.
her usual outfit, denim skirt, black jacket,
white hat, blue scarf, thick socks,
her signature accessory:
a pink backpack.
I stop behind her to snap a photo;
we have greeted each other so many times
I always wanted to capture her essence of
innocence, her rounded face and body,
her simplicity, her earnest expressions
of concern mixed with a certain reproach
about the cat who bounds over the fence
effortlessly and disappears into
a neighbor's bushes.
I walked past her without looking back
until a car pulled up to catch her
and I turned to wave good-bye,
her face hidden behind tinted windows.
many sheets, much length, so many inches,
even feet of toilet paper
do not make a nice comfy wad for the required job at hand.
the sheets are microns thick instead of millimeters, or mils if you like
this roll, this magic roll of toilet paper, so attractive, inexpensive, single sheeted
roll of sh...t never ends, each day, it continues on and on, light shining
through its translucent sheets, no worries about destroying virgin forests
or recycled ones for that matter, one could not unroll enough to
make a nice comfy wad for the job at hand, it does not have the
Charmin' squish, or quilted softness, it is steely and thin
and never runs out.
Don't let me stop you from running by this morning
I'm just passing through on my way to the greener pastures on the other side
and then on to the creek for a long drink, it's been a long night.
It's early yet and I didn't know you would be out so early with the pink
still in the clouds and a chill in the air, did you know that your hat is
quite unattractive in brown knit with Deer Trail Road Race written on it?
you so totally lacking in femininity while I delicately cross the bike path,
my slender legs and neat brown hooves look so much more
refined than your purple sneakers and dreadful striped running pants.
Next time I see you on the path, please look a bit better and for goodness sake,
run lightly and more quickly, I'll nod in your direction and wink.
everything is there in the boxes,
twelve of them stacked against the wall,
a few more tucked underneath the table,
ok, a couple more in my car, and well,
ok, a red plastic basket next to my coat
on my desk with the dirty coffee cup and
well, ok, my razor scooter is on top of
the file cabinet and a honeycomb panel
from an old experiment is on the floor
I hope I don't trip on it.
ten folded boxes and two rolls of tape leaning against the door
piles of papers, office detritus and more, to pack and seal,
load onto my narrow shoulders and carry across the parking lot
to my new office
all the books I hoped to have read
bottles of ionic liquids waiting to be tested
a motley assortment of jackets and shoes.
the first boxes neatly arranged and labeled
containing a single set of identifiable objects.
I seal the last box late at night
the most random objects piled unevenly inside
marveling at what we gather in our
tonight, I have
wanted to reach across
the table, across the room
to the screaming child and sssshhh'ing
mother, how clueless is she to think
anyone could find her offspring anything but intensely
annoying, as well as spewing germs across the cafe
towards all of us innocents sandwiched between each other, suffering.
it's all text these last few days
like my life, no color, no faces,
no arms, no legs, no trees, no rainbows.
I'm just coughing like the last two months,
the cough that never goes away and never
gives up, the cough that never stops giving.
just white on black, striped socks
inside white to keep my feet warm
in the cold, dank day here in Colorado.
how dare you, weatherman, give me
rain all week and rain today in Colorado
with frost on my jacket when I arrive
at work to match the frozen ice
on my handlebars.
the house is still there
yellow as usual waiting to be
swathed in Christmas lights.
the dog, wagging her tail,
she knew we were coming home today
and wonders if she will get extra treats.
Bed, oh wonderful bed, that does not
resonate with every motion of the Other.
freshly laundered pajamas that dried
in the dry Colorado air to replace
pajamas moist from Oregon
Ah blessed home,
how I love thee.
first thing at home
I'd be up filling the kettle and cutting fruit
checking the news and hoping for the best.
breakfast at a local diner today
a heavy cheerful waitress with crooked teeth asks us
if we plan to buy a car when we meant the movie
the clouds hang heavy over this sky
we are happy there is no rain, at home
the sun is shining and the question would be
what time to go hike or bike, here we
wonder if we need to bring an umbrella
or just the raincoat and what we can
find for lunch, or sooner yet, a good coffee.
no extended family at home, just a black dog
who wants to eat all the time,
she has such simple needs,
so clearly expressed,
so easily satisfied.
if only family were so
thanks to freedom from fog and clouds
from men who jump off tall buildings,
thank you for the freedom to choose
and for the first thirtyfive years of freedom
from bondage and slavery, let me remember this.
thanks for the beauty in the sky and the glint
in her eye, the smile that crosses her face,
for the gap between his teeth and his towering
hug, slightly sweaty after dynamic stretching.
thanks for this life and all it offers, let me
remember the best of this and move
as quickly and quietly away from the
the plane glides through clouds
of rain, torrents of rain filling fields
and roads, rushing rivers around trees
that used to stand on solid ground.
rain, Oregon rain, rain that makes everything
bright green, except now covered in brown
and endless water across the fields and roads,
Oregon rain, the damp and cold darkness
of Oregon rain.
I never look at the stars outside my front door,
the streetlamp glares in my eyes and I turn away.
The Moon hovers among them unnoticed
until tonight in the cold air, my eyes adapt as
I run away from the street lamp into darkness,
the leaves on the trees glisten under starlight,
I see them for the first time in this neighborhood,
my beautiful new running shoes
just a dream, a wager, a wish launched in Washington,
a companion, a friend, a daughter,
a new pair of shoes called to me today,
I followed the siren call of the lightest
footfall on a wooded path, imagining
the wind against my cheeks, strong legs,
my worries streaming behind me,
i can notice the birds in the trees and
see squirrels preparing for winter,
i'll run by them all, and they will barely
lift their heads to notice i have
passed by with barely a sound.
I loved you.
your white creme middle.
soft vanilla cake.
even your wrapper crinkled in a delicious way.
you were a special treat in those days.
I never looked back, though,
after I discovered Little Debbies,
the chocolate crunchy wafers with
peanut butter inside.
their wrappers also yielded a
delicious crinkle and I could lick
the peanut butter off the wrapper
when I finished.
Ho-Ho's were lovely, too.
As were Ding-Dongs,
but Twinkies were a very special treat,
and now, you are gone,
rest in peace.
my flute sits dormant
waiting waiting while I wait
to feel better, enough to play
now and wonder if I have waited
too long, forgetting my lessons
even, never done learning
and it stops while my flute
sits waiting for me to get up
the big bang left us static on our TVs
the sun hid behind the moon
viruses take over our cells, our guns
cannot kill them
so we go to far off places instead.
scientists discovered a new material that
stops micrometeoroids in their tracks
but we don't understand why
like so many things like how the
universe expands in all directions
from all locations
electrons are no longer an elementary
particle; they are made of quarks.
I learned alot of wrong stuff in school.
We move sluggishly all because of
the Higgs boson, I'd rather move
more quickly today.
the drugs better kick in soon
after nine days of pretending
I wasn't sick, ignore a sore throat
and maybe it will go away
sulking from lack of attention.
no such luck, my voice cracked,
my body ached, miserable crud,
how I wish you would vacate
my premises, please drugs,
kick in soon.
that night we walked gently, quietly
approaching the Memorials to those who have died.
from the winter grass of the Mall, we gazed skyward
at the one for he who led them into battle against the British.
ahead another leader who fought for the rights of all
in a united federation with a heavy, but righteous, heart.
to the left and the right lay the memorials to those who have
died in more recent momentous struggles
World War II and the Vietnam War.
A column and stone wreath for each state encircle
a fountain, so many droplets flung wide, their
moment to glisten in the spotlight before falling to
join the others in the endless stream of life and death.
thousands of names carved in black glistening granite
Richard, Peter, Timothy, Lee, Randy and Carol.
the trench of war is long, lined with so many names
the spotlight is on them this night
here amongst us few wandering
amongst the newly placed wreaths
kneeling for a moment next to them
to read the few lines left behind.
oh they're good alright
slathered with additional butter and jam
cappucino in a tall glass, a crown of white foam.
the sun warms our faces out on the patio
on the day in November where
one expects the chill of a winter
instead we bask in his warmth of his victory,
even the sun is shining.
in the Library of Congress, we find
Jefferson's library behind curved glass walls
next to the door leading to
our library, our books to pick up, to rub the
pages between our fingers, to wonder at the
knowledge that is held there in black type
pressed into white
how can we keep our eyes on these pages
as focused rays of sun sweep from table
to table as the moon traverses the sky
all this driven by our movement in this
we can read all about it in
the Library of Congress.
the coffee shop is called Pound
the baristo calls me "young lady"
and thanks me for being so patient
as if it's a rarity
i drink red wine at a picnic table
with young people who don't know me
no baggage, only disinterest after
a reluctant smile in return.
no schedule, no relationship,
no work demands, nothing but
falling leaves onto Pennsylvania Ave,
my president still in office
safely tucked away with his family
only a mile away.
i feel happy.
nothing to do but peer over the
top of my reading glasses at the
couple kissing good-bye
outside the cafe window.
I look over a sea of white male heads, many balding,
a few women tucked in the back, I'm used to it.
if they find you beautiful, they don't make eye contact.
I didn't care, I was so happy about the next four years;
most of them, being white males probably voted for Romney,
that was his demographic, I could have a moment of
lording it over them and they could appreciate someone
wearing a red floral skirt from Iceland, an informative
presentation that carried them along like the molecules
in my talk, arriving and departing with characteristic
dependent on temperature and time,
they got up obediently to go have a coffee,
bounced against each other before readsorbing
onto their chairs for the next talk.
Chuck is snoring in his lazy boy, Irene sleeping under her
hand-crocheted pastel cover, I watch the red flood stop,
even Obama looks to win Paul Ryan's state, sweet victory.
Stephen would be admiring these big leather Lazy-Boys
that recline fully to horizontal, and they rock, too.
I sit on a chair, its seat cushion still wrapped in plastic
looking over the sleeping beauties in front of me,
my heart leaping in my throat that our president looks
to win, maybe we can hope for a better future after all.
you've got to be kidding me
these people really exist? like
the federal contractor guy sitting next to me
working for some non-descript defense agency
flipping through his magazine
page after page after
fricking page of ads for assault rifles,
articles on when you'll need your weapon
to work NOW, knives, generators,
more guns, a caricature of those
we laugh about from
the city down south of us,
it's real, don't laugh,
I doubt men obsess over what to wear
when they are surrounded by men all wearing the same thing
a sport jacket, a button down shirt, maybe a sweater, some
slacks, no cleavage, mostly beige, homogeneous.
women obsess mightily, slacks or a skirt, a dress?
not too manly, not too feminine, that one is a shapeless sack,
but that one's a little too low cut, the slightest hint of
a cleavage, no, that won't do, oh that skirt again, but
it's always so fricking cold in conference rooms,
so we obsess the night before about what to wear
at these conferences where everyone seems to be a man.
we knock on doors in the night
clipboard in hand, fingers clutched around a blue highlighter.
who will answer the door, what mood, a smile or a frown,
a slam, a NO, an appreciation, we don't know until
the door opens and someone appears
we check the appropriate boxes and hope our
guy will win in four days, for four more years.
We stand as one nation, not two,
not rich vs poor, not white vs black,
no, we stand as one, whether we like it or not,
we are one nation, one set of neighbors,
we squabble, we fight, we disagree, but
at the end of the day, we must stand together.
I stood there, not 50 feet away from Barack
and I have to admit, was reminded, reprimanded
in fact, for my all too often classist, snobbist way,
we do all rise and fall together in the end.
I was inspired, reminded and honored
to be here to hear our great President.
If you haven't voted, vote, if you haven't
helped our president get re-elected, get out
there for a couple of hours to knock on doors.
We'll see you out there.
the crazy things we come up with that
no one understands, we all live in our own
skin pulled taut over beating hearts and
electrified brain cells
how many zeros in the number of synapses
and the connections between them?
it's amazing we can even have a conversation
about those dishes stacked on the kitchen counter.
they are mine, I know since you've been home
I don't carry my weight at all, dropping
my lunch box next to the dirty dishes
only to go upstairs to write or look out the
window at the moon rising in the east
as the sun drops abruptly into the west
what an endless merry-go-round
so I talk to myself, my brain cells in perfect
synchronicity, my heart catching every beat,
my words understood before they are
you're on my left shoulder
and we talk amiably, I know
everything you'll say after so
many years that I can't bear to
hear the questions again, they are
always there and yes, I answer
them, sometimes resentfully,
impatiently, with wise cracks,
snide sometimes, but I answer
because I know they are the
right questions, even if I refuse
to admit that in person.
he would't even buy her a cup of coffee
the morning after
she lost her job and he stood her up on their
he apologized, the steam from his peppermint tea
rising up to meet his refined nose,
fogging his glasses.
they were horn-rimmed, of course, in the
newest style, narrow, dark, solid arms
adorned with gold fleur de lys.
she didn't have her purse with her, a typical
female thing to never carry money,
we always figure he has a wallet and
knows how to use it.
how awkward to not know each other
one cup of tea between them, a single job,
a wet raincoat and umbrella hanging
from the arm of his chair.
the hurricane was coming on strong now,
waves crashing against the pier outside.
this was not warm and cozy.
she picked up her book and walked out
into the storm
at least a book can act as an umbrella
for the first few steps towards freedom.
he changes his tie after the first Sonata
and then again after each piece, from yellow
to green, blue to brown, no wonder he rushes
from the stage as if to escape our awe
perhaps embarrassing him after so many
hours of practice, only he notices the missed
notes while we, the luckiest ones, settle
comfortably in our seats recognizing this
moment is nirvana, hoping for eternity.
with the door closed
their wings flutter against my window
the silence is broken
with the door closed
I look up gratefully at his red breast
then hers, they perch together on
a single supple branch
a simple arc under their weight.
with the door closed
I don't hear phones ring,
deep voices on both sides of me,
I only see their songs on the
other side of this glass
singing to me.
snow muffles the sound of tires crunching over leaves
now softly resting across the wooden planks of the bridge
they have no crunch left, sodden in snowflakes, resting
for the long season ahead of crisp nights, sleet, sun
and snow skiiers as vast in number as the leaves
spread out across this bridge, settling into winter just
as skiis are being being waxed and hot boxed, fitted and sold,
flying out of stores, credit cards maxed out
snow is here, the muffled sound of skis carving
tracks through newly fallen whiteness.
I looked out into the living room to see
whether he was dead or alive, on his side, snoring,
is he alive another day to bark at the sky or break windows,
attract another girl from the other side of the block,
quantum entanglement when they cannot yet see each
other yet know they are meant to be together
like us across from each other, you doing a chest press,
me attempting situps.
who knows what goes on behind closed doors,
we thought they were happy and until they emerged
holding divorce papers, or, their new baby girl,
the joy of their life, while the cat stands tall
in his box, stretches and yawns before wandering
off to look for his breakfast, knocking over
the flask of poison on the way out.
the moon is overhead, blurry as if I forgot my glasses
clouds scattering moonlight, there is no clarity
on my desk either with a stack of Swiss francs,
Renew your AARP membership today!
my phone is low on batteries.
Pencils with broken lead,
Vaseline intensive care,
I loved the smell of the Jergens my mother wore.
A metal cylinder that belongs to something,
a missing credit card I still can't find.
The moon keeps moving across the sky
as the bills go into the recycle bin, flowers
long past their prime head downstairs
to the compost, a stack of magazines accumulates
on the floor.
Chase.com is down so that bill can't be paid,
the rest are, I see the surface now of the
scarred wooden table, I place a lone penny in
the middle of my desk,
Mitt, the peace maker.
it must itch,
that unfamiliar fabric against his skin,
so newly donned, his political pollsters
stretching it over his bayonnets and
horses, while he prepares his numbers of
required new battleships for waging
peace, for God's sake, let's make
peace in time for election day.
who doesn't love peace?
he shakes the jar hopefully, the last couple oatmeal flakes bounce
against the glass, he peers inside and whispers an incantation
that sounds a bit like a slight whimper, a tone of desperation,
begging is another way of description, placing the jar in full
view of the granola fairy who usually arrives in a day or two,
he wonders if it's the same fairy that makes the toothsome bread
the neighbors rave about, everyone seems to want some of it, the
slices seem to fly out the door wrapped in moderately clean kitchen
towels, he scowls slightly when the door opens again and a cold
breeze comes in, unless it's accompanied by a piece of pie.
and the salad dressing! he slices tomatoes and avocado, smacking
his lips only to find the salad dressing is gone, and he is alone,
there is no fairy here, she is at work.
each note knows its destiny, the
amplitude and speed of vibrato, the length,
how he enters into it, gently, slurred,
a harsh articulation, the notes know their
destiny; it is her task to meet it there
in the perfect place at the perfect time,
the perfect intonation, to sing the note
from the belly up through the heart to the
lips so that note can fulfill its destiny
reaching our ears so we will experience
its magical perfection.
they take, slouching in, head down,
apologetic, creeping as if they really weren't
taking, just asking for a bit, a minute, a thought,
a suggestion, nothing in return, just inhaling
it all in to aid their digestion, snacking on
your lunch, a glass of water, a piece of chocolate,
a part of your brain, for them, it's just a quiet
job to make their life a little better, a little easier
so what if it makes yours that much
the people who lived here before us
home-schooled their snotty-nosed children
who were not vaccinated.
they carried the whooping cough to
all their friends, who resisted
while happily eating chocolate truffles
and potato chips, while the children who
lived here before ate carob coated ginger
for their sore throats.
their names were Hawk and Canary,
their father nailed boards over the upstairs windows
so they could never fly away while he
was writing surrealistic novels that
would never sell.
what have we come to when we have to read the fine print after all the talk,
who is telling the truth?
the twelve million jobs, the five point plan, the mother in Alabama,
the one who did not have insurance, the college student afraid for his future,
they both have white teeth and make-up.
the wealthy, the middle-class, the immigrants, women
who still make less than 75 cents for every dollar a man makes,
which man stands behind her?
I can answer that question and it's not the white man, you know
the one in the dark suit and the American flag on his breast,
the one who donates so much money to charity, not
mentioning which one.
Yes, we have to fact check, but I still know what box
I will fill in on my ballot.
let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
bed sheets flapping in the wind,
my eyes squinting at the sun,
the dampness against my jeans,
freshly cut grass cool on bare feet.
gone are the worries of work, children's cries
recede into the background, the pot boils over
on the stove and water spatters on the hot coils.
let the fresh smell of laundry fill my nostrils
displacing the rancid smell of stale garbage,
or dank basements filled with clutter.
the sun will fall in the sky,
the evening will turn cool, I will
gather chilly sheets in my arms,
freshening each pore with the smell
of clean laundry.
sun, paper, scissors,
red pen, keyboard, computer screen
in front of a window, gazing out at
a glorious day, behind me panes of sunlight
bisect eighteen sheets of paper
laid out on the floor to study,
disect, cut up, rewrite, the sun
passes from left to write towards
the mountains and fades away
into night, the moon rising to take
her place, papers stacked and stored
until tomorrow's red pen, keyboard
and computer screen.
black heat tiles once glowed orange
as they looked outside the window
at Earth hurtling towards them.
they cinched down their safety belts
stomachs jittery, excited, this baby
was their personal dream machine
now towed along city streets
blocked by "shuttle crossing" signs
and people taking pictures.
how we wish they were flying again.
no lifting of fingers
no cheating, no blowing extra hard.
no articulation, just a little tightening of
the belly, it's a bit flabby
isn't it, a stronger air stream
a little higher, a tighter
placed just right,
all while relaxing,
just like life's challenges
stand calmly, chest up, face
the music with dignity and confidence,
move gently and with precision to
solve all life's problems
gripping the edge of my chair
waiting to hear more, the lawyer
in her high heels wheeling back and
forth in front of me, warning us all
to be careful, the government is watching
us on the beach, on the phone,
in our rooms, in meetings, conferences
of our lives, I wonder at how she stands
in those high heels, noting the curvature
in her back, how else to hold her head high
when her body is pitched so far forward,
her grey hair swings back and forth
smoothly across her shoulders, so
well behaved, and then she reminds
me to grip my chair and listen
lest I get in trouble,
We fall like the leaves, once green and energetic
sunlight into energy, our faces towards the sun
all summer long, the youth of our lives.
beauty now, energy fallen to earth, a pathway of
furled leaves, green hidden under rusty oranges
and soft browns, we soften like them, having
drifted down under the soft patter of rain, the
heaviness of an early wet snow, we are beautiful
in our ages, I stand on them today, another day
I will join them in their softness on the ground.
the men at the gym pump it,
swinging the big weights, grunting,
sweating, rocking to their headphones,
an occasional nod between sets.
they are the big boys, Olympic weights
crashing onto specially prepared
flooring, thuds echoing through the gym,
he prances a bit after each lift,
we watch in between sets of 5x2,
5 pound hand weights, a delicate
sweat across our brows, we're
pumping it, believe me.
black notes fill the page
matching my mood, the metronome
methodically driving me to madness
in counting each note, jumping
octaves for an A, a D, an F, that
final grade tonight on this piece,
I stop playing and only count
to catch you on the right beat
a few bars later.
better take the chance
to make a life in thirty years
it will be gone so quickly,
what if it is ten, or five, or two
or a few days, what would you
do differently but hug her a bit longer
before falling to sleep, telling her
you love her, looking a few seconds
longer at the fall leaves before
riding your bike down the path
of life, treasuring
what will never be again.
reflections captured across wine glasses
two each, Montepulciano red half way up
clear glass across which we gaze at each other
through the words, mixing tears for all that is lost,
smiling at all that can be gained in moving on
at last leaving him behind without looking
back at who might be in the rear view mirror
we no longer care.
Two men standing at podiums, behind their lecturns
facing an elderly gentlemen who hopes to keep them under control
facing tough questions requiring honest answers,
where are the ads they can just play to each other
and to us, the unbelieving audience that wonders what
we have gotten ourselves into with all this
where dollars win votes, the color of a tie,
the number of interruptions, the loudest voices,
the body language, what issues, we ask
and what answers.
We are left wondering.
the final bridge before crossing to the other side,
from golden leaves to paved parking lots,
from the breeze across my cheek to fluorescent lights,
from breathing deep to holding my breath.
water flows under this bridge, high in Spring,
a more relaxed flow in Fall to capture the leaves
and carry them, every so slowly, dancing on each
ripple across farms and fields, slowly, slowly
to the open sea.
if you write on water
no one can read the letters, the words, the thoughts
and you are no longer responsible as the ripples
wash onto a distant shore
they are left staring at the reflection of the moon
glittering its own content and
you walk away in your new outfit
having performed your assigned task
of creating nothingness
yet claiming credit
depressed and despondent
I hold her in my arms and comfort her.
seeking love in all the wrong places
I will introduce him to someone he can't help but love.
so cheerful in spite of challenges
Can she teach me such strength in the face of adversity
who has stopped coughing
armed with pills and liquids, he will sleep tonight
me as friend
who hopes to hold them in my arms
and to be held in theirs.
it's time to do the laundry, sorting the black from white,
setting aside the delicates from the sturdy.
it's time to lift the flute to my lips, now parched
from airplane rides and excessive coughing.
it's time to go back to work, resolve the unsolved,
find out what's done, what's not, who showed up,
who didn't, who let the work slide.
I know already.
it's time to get on the scale and weigh the consequences,
to answer calls, to stop and notice that
someone I love is still coughing, wrapped so pitifully in
his small red blanket.
I stop what I am doing and go to
hold his hand.
no place like home
the cupboards hold your favorite tea
full fat yogurt is in the frig
and there are still raspberries out
on the west side of the house.
here, the bed is soft and the
sheets smell just right, my bike
sits waiting patiently for me
outside for the next adventure,
or for going back to work
after all, I do have a job to return to,
no place like home, where everything
is just where you want it, you can
wear more than one thing and
your underwear have not been
washed in a far away sink and dried
over a railing, home is where
the heart is, there is no place
suitcase wheels hit the cobbles at 5:45 a.m. in Holland,
onto a train platform and off, up stairs and down
we wait eating chocolate croissants.
middle school giggles punctuated by stern rebukes
sleeping through two hours Liege (Belgium) to Paris Nord.
RER B ticket machines don't take American credit
ok I'll take cashews with those to eat on the platform
for my 30 minutes to Charles de Gaulle, wait let me
catch one more train before my feet leave the ground
for Reyjkavik, oh don't tell me the International Terminal
is so far away, we lift our bags onto a bus,
a mini-bus, a walk, a dinner, now 10:30 p.m.,
make that midnight, a good day's work in this
Our boat on the Seine
slipping lovely and languorous,
dragons in the dusk gazing out
cameras clicking capturing
I cough on the Seine.
Parisians passing en parlant,
smoke endlessly spiraling upwards,
clouds of it coalesce in my coughing
endless coughing along boulevards,
at cafes, au restaurant, in the shop
after syrups, sachets, and sprays
ca ne change rien,
I cough along the Seine.
the red headed guy with the gap between his front teeth
standing there smiling at me, inviting me to look at the schedule
to see where the lines of our lives might cross and run together
where we would watch boats float up and down at each lock along the canal,
he would race back to find my panier which bounced off on a rough spot back there.
he would get me extra boxes of kleenex in Paris while I coughed in bed
and I'd promise to look for some one to speak English to his eager ears.
we are listening to bad music here, as well as the good, and he watches
a man outside the burnt out church shepard in potential donors to make
the world a better place.
this guy with the gap between his teeth standing next to the sign makes
the world a better place.
Ils etaient douze, touts dans leur monde a eux
tout dans leurs chaises en cercle, ils ne se regardent pas
sauf quand le docteur vient pour chercher quelqu'un.
Ils elevent leurs tetes pour voir si c'est eux qu'il cherche.
Moi, je viens a la salle d'attente, aucune idea comment ca
marche ici, en France,avec les docteurs.
Je leur dit, "Comment ca marche ici?"
Tout le monde se reveille pour me dire,
"oh, nous avons attendu depuis 8 h"
"il y a seulement un docteur"
"il vient tout les quanze minutes"
"on ne peut pas partir"
"il n'y a pas un liste"
J'ai compte douze, quinze minutes pour chacun,
ca fait trois heures.
Je partais en disant a tout le monde
Moi, je peux au moins marcher!
Nous, les Americains, nous continuons
quand meme, si on peut marcher!
Bonne journee a tout, bonne sante!!
Ils on repondu,
Bonne chance, jolie Americaine,
Nous sommes avec vous!
Nous avons mange le fromage
bien sur le fromage, le fondue
bien sur du pain, on a bu du vin,
bien sur le fromage, du pain et du vin
nous, nous les sept cousins,
Christine, Fonet, Jacques,
Sebastian, Jean-Phillipe, Olivier
et aussi, l'Americain que sourit
la langue de tous les gens, n'importe
quoi langue ils parlent,
la langue qui demande un sourit
wasn't it just yesterday when your hair
was blonde and my son a gangly teenager,
you picked up the phone so happy to hear from me
as if I was there yesterday, a blonde American from Montana
with three little kids who didn't speak French so well as this one
it was seven years ago and when you hung up you knew this
call was not that Jenny,but this Jenny from Colorado
who you hadn't heard from in seven years
speaking French, still brunette
and smiling to see you.
tiny legs like the chickens scratching in the dirt, so dumb as the cow bells ringing in the forest we tell the mountains we are here with snow fences and chalets, our wires stretching far into the horizonferrying our lives up and down all day,or small legs, knees bent double on steep inclines we are here framed against glaciers vertical walls, clouds that roll across the valley, hiding us from ourselves.
et la voila
with two missing teeth
a big grin to fill in the empty space and
the longest eyelashes I have ever seen
that laugh, it makes me laugh and
smile at her cutest face of all the little
girls in the entire voisinage a
dans son jardin!!
et moi, je suis contente
de partager son sourire avec elle.
is iceland icy
or is there land to step upon from the
icy shore, towards glittering highrises
and verdant hillsides, glasses clinking,
money falling from trees in the late fall.
we are off to this land, en route to another
and yet another, a yawning bag still
calls to me to pack the last
few things before I yawn
myself to sleep.
we were four,
four among fifteen or so
whose black text splashed across the screen
strongly, they had something to say, they wanted
to be heard, but
eleven didn't show up
after all that, too
busy, preoccupied with
other things, I understand
I'd rather be packing
my bags for France
instead of being one
of the four.
an eye mask to shade the light,
earplugs to block out crying babies,
a credit card to buy wine,
earbuds to watch movies,
a warm scarf to keep me cozy,
some slippers to caress my feet,
the little things for a long flight,
I gather them like pearls to
drape around my neck.
Nine peaches from Mary Beth's kitchen
two cups of flour from a wheat field in Illinois
a dash of salt from the sea.
Nine tablespoons of butter from an Organic Valley
somewhere, are the cows really happy
or do they just say that to make us buy this.
a splash of rum mixed with cornstarch,
a tablespoon of vanilla, the dough
laid so gently over, oh so tenderly,
now baking, the aroma of
sweet peaches filling