In Montreal, everyone is bilingual,
shifting from French to English and back
without even noticing they have translated for Karen
and satisfied my need for their language.
I am starved from the lack.
except for Carole
a French woman somehow landed
on Montreal streets who struggles through
each English phrase,
Karen encourages her to
just speak French, it's too painful to listen
to her English.
and as she grinds through endless explanations
of how to operate a microwave, or how not
to pull too hard on the washing machine door,
I encourage her to
just speak English
I was hungry when we started
my feet tired and swollen.
we climbed up the hill to a street filled with
restaurants, the crowds pushed us
down the hill towards empty streets, the dark
faces of the buildings gazed at us hungrily
as we walked.
my companion, ever the optimist, believed
we would find food: I had lost hope
only hoping to buy food en route
better yet to buy a bottle of red en route,
to put my feet up and rest.
full circle, we finally eat and drink
je suis satisfaite.
there's something about four in the morning
I heard that on the radio.
not three, not five, that time when the birds
are still in their nests but there is the slightest
intention of lightness in the air.
we know the world will wake up.
I am awake, making sure my bag is packed.
the dog looks at me hopefully and goes
back to bed.
I hear her sigh as she jumps back on
she'll be up at six, nuzzling S just as
I drive away.
six will approach quickly, I must get
we'd like to think we'd do the right thing at the right time.
our memories fade into the distance and we can only hope we did,
knowing inwardly that we probably didn't.
tonight glad to be reminded of chastising a big shot
that his long rambling didn't mean anything,
and that i ran up the back stairs, bursting into
their apartment to dress down a bullying husband.
thank goodness i did the honest thing at least twice,
i can only hope there were a few more times
and that there will be more
perhaps i'll make a note of them
honesty and courage are
something to be celebrated.
I looked the other way and ended up on the ground,
abruptly, on my hands and knees, a dog that was on my right
magically on my left, the leash dangling uselessly from her collar.
and she, this black dog, runs after every one,
barking and jumping at trees as if suddenly she could fly.
me, I'm on the ground with a skinned knee and scraped elbow
I had never seen so many, dead and alive,
darting across sidewalks and streets, or stretched out
in the dry flattened corpse I now see on lawns and
let them all be flattened and stored
how many times do the innocent
have to die at the hands of someone who
hates, who has an assault rifle, who wants to
go down in history.
Sandy Hook, Aurora, Fort Hood, Wisconsin,
Washington Navy Yard, Seattle
they have suffered already so much.
how many times do our leaders turn away
muttering meaningless murmurs of regret,
returning to the dollars and cents that win their
make that millions of dollars
it's about money, not lives lost.
we bend our heads in sorrow for more
innocent lives lost, more to come,
we do nothing to stop it.
He'll start singing soon.
He'll start writing again soon.
soon, he will be singing to the blackbirds
roosting in the trees while copper pipes gleam
No one will dare take them
while he's singing.
who would wander into such a place
where such a smooth voice is filling the space,
he thinks no one is listening, but they
we can hear him singing even in our sleep
we know he is singing to make the stars
light up at night, for the Man in the Moon
to finally close his sleepy eyes.
they are unknowns.
I met her on the other side of the creek,
we crossed paths twice and knew we would be friends.
we still are.
I met him on a beach in Oregon, when the wind
was blowing through my waist length hair, and
we walked together holding hands.
We are still friends although separated by
hundreds of miles.
I met him in the Naropa courtyard
at 6:30 am on my way home from that place
across the creek.
there always seems to be water.
I hope we are still friends.
At first they are unknowns,
with time and luck, they become
the years can't possibly pass quickly.
there are 52,560 ten minute intervals.
two ten minute intervals for flute, another for a poem,
one ten minute torture session for French grammar,
ten minutes tonight for
collecting signatures, anything can be broken into
ten minute intervals, a timer works for the most unpleasant.
ten minutes for doing some dishes, ten minutes for picking up.
ten minutes of weeding.
and some we cut short because they may be too fun
a ten minute phone call, maybe 5 in a rush, a Skype,
naps take many ten minute intervals, preferably twelve
and a good night's sleep 48 of them..maybe more.
So quickly they add up, the sleepy ones,
I must use my remaining ten minute intervals
he calls me that,
Jenny Fly, for the fly that never lands
no one can successfully swat it and bring it
to its knees.
I have small knees but not as small as a fly's.
I fly from flute to poems, from French grammar to work,
home again to a nap, a phone call, finally collapsing
I'm sure flies eventually sleep although I have never
I wonder if they have a little couch with a little pillow.
I wonder if they snore.
I'm not sure the veggies will win,
the crabgrass has immortal roots and spreads
over the soil, strangling everything in its path.
how did this stranger arrive, most likely hidden
in a bale of "weed-free" straw
I should have known better.
The tiny seedlings are rising from the soil and
the contest begins, I will raise my sword
against the weeds in the enthusiasm of early summer.
as the heat drains my energy while cheering on
the weeds, I know I will put down the tools
and retire to my back patio to drink
mojitos, the fresh mint rising into my nostils,
the alcohol relaxing me into blissful
you live on the other side of the hill,
lost in cookie cutter American suburbia
where one ties a yellow ribbon on the mailbox
to locate the house you try to call home.
it doesn't feel like home to you.
the curve of the roads and multiple cul-de-sacs
confuse your mind which is already reeling
with your loss of the house which seemed not
to be enough, but was,
and as you wander down the silent streets
gazing at all the closed garages, their
nice cars put away for a good night's sleep,
curtains drawn, you wonder that there is
no apparent humanity here, only people locked
up inside cookie cutter houses.
I know tears are rolling down your cheeks.
he'll have to do it. Find
the flights, the trains, the hotels,
they mystify me with the schedules, the fares,
even the dates swim across my eyes and the months blur.
I walk away, towards old Quebec City
and the Marche Atwater in Montreal, mere visions
that need concretization in tickets and schedules.
i want the vision to become reality but such
practicalities are not my specialty,
he will make it happen.
I admit that after pizza and margaritas,
a hot ride in the sun on the way home,
five sets of weights and gathering signatures,
my mind is toast.
unbuttered, lacking a sweet spread of jam,
just dried up and slightly blackened,
there are no new thoughts, not an
ounce of creativity.
I hear the kids outside yelling through beer mugs
as they release pheronomes as young people do,
their minds don't work either,
only their bodies know what to do.
as does mine, to seek a soft comfortable
place to sleep.