The Invitation

The Invitation

I love it when
the wind strolls in
and my meadow friends
dance and bow.

Love it when
waves rush to crash across
my ocean
where
the wide beach smiles up
where the eagles rest silent on the wind above
etch greetings sky to horizon down to me
all the way home: carried and strong.

I love it when
ears find old playground laughter between
the creaks
of empty swing sways
find playground teasing within
little sister crow’s nagging cries
following big sister eagle
back and forth
back and forth
boat house to nest
nest to boat house
boat house to nest.
Ah, little sisters.

Love it when
eyes cherish the faded flap-flapping flag
forgotten by neighbors rushing back to the city.
Cherish wind: an absent spacious presence
Cherish sand: a shattered toe-hugging
perfect imperfection.
Cherish the polished-cream beauty of driftwood.

Here books, stones, deer, and gentle evening light
invite themselves to play:
sated, triumphant, wildly creative
complete within themselves and completely inappropriate.
All silent and awkward at just the right moments.

Humans arriving here
are few
and far between.
We arrive like children
gleefully joining the chorus
certain our tiny voice is heard
among books, stones, deer, dancing warm light
heard within silence.

Or, we arrive here like grownups: certain of nothing at all.

Either way, those invited here
come to play
pulled by the sea
or some other place
where they grow quiet enough to hear the invitation.

I love that we hear the call
so everywhere, so often now

More than anything else in this world
I love dropping every last big plan I had

just to respond, in kind
to the invitation

The Apple Tree Who Brought Enough

The Apple Tree Who Brought Enough

Dancing in the breeze the tree
is quiet and self-contained.

Well, self-contained
except for the sun
the soil, the birds
butterflies and bees
rain and wind
Daniel and me
pruning away dead and crossing branches
inviting more sun in to her center
lending her our shoulders and driftwood
to prop her up
after November’s storm pulled up some of her roots.

Ok, so not exactly self-contained.
What I mean is self-assured
happy with where and who she is
not fliting about like we humans do.
You know, worried, questioning everything,
wandering some days, angry, distrusting
lost…

Although, some years she is lost too:
like the two years that she was covered with
tent caterpillars
she had to have been a little worried
made almost no apples, and dropped those she did, quickly.
Her world was dark then. She hunkered down, moved within
sent no new branches toward the sun.

Anyway
my point about this apple tree is that
she’s perfect.
Beautiful, strong leaves.
Graceful, arching branches
and more than a few that prove trees get bed head too
with limbs nestled all askew against the sky at night.
Amazing, delicious apples
beyond generous in her season
(to the point that we have run out of ideas again
for things to do with all these apples
and so have our neighbors
even the deer here are drunk).

The apple tree is pure delight.
To play a small part in her full and shining life is enough.

The Sun at Your House

The Sun at Your House

Warm sun pools and shines more brightly in your home
Why is that?

worn beckoning rugs and life-soft chairs
a sentinel portrait
rich green and red dirt-colored artifacts nestled
within white walls of recent pain.

Witness dancing dust across
sunbeams upstairs,
the bird in the kitchen,
your crazy dogs at play in the yard.
Most fairies here are somber yet
there is heart even joy
in those faces and those fucking cool guitars, Jesus,
and the tools, and the found things,
and the workshop, and the garage, and
in the art, art everywhere, far too content to be clutter
far more useful than things designed only for use.

The love here isn’t just palpable.
It knocks you down. It feels
like your missing tooth and bloody face

shining out from pure bliss.
It’s a sweet, well-caught ball at the fence.

Doors and windows shift widely open for these souls.
The one still walking the dogs, still finding community,
creating art here in person
and the one moving only in sunlight

guiding his strong gentle hands
like always
then shifting to starlight to stroke his cheek
in the too-dark night.

That’s the thing about the sun at your house.
She’s still with you in grief and at 4 a.m.

That’s the thing about your art. It’s still with me
here in grief and at 4 a.m. as
I whisper “Thank you” to the darkness—
uncertain, still, about who…

which who is it
that I thank?

 

Artist Statement

Artist Statement

Poetry isn’t what I was taught in middle school:
rules and stilted contained lines written by long-dead rich old white dudes?
Bleh.

(I am not my friend Knox who makes old white guys so sexy.)

Poetry is living your artist statement.

Whether that means
saying yes to the camera
paint brush and chalk
wood and stone and paper
canvas, soil, and fiber
mentoring, teaching, parenting
the movement of your body
the call of the stage

or those Goddamn lovely words
back again
stealing berries off your fruit-laden trees
like birds and naughty fairies.

My sister
paints in children
between softly tender moments
the bright fire of unrelenting toddler chaos
slowing down for illness
and her calling education.

Another emerging master here grows poems in the garden
free verse in rising bread
you feel iambic pentameter
touching the hand-laid brick walkways in her yard: the scales of her skin
strong witness to the painful emergence
of open, wounded, pure bad ass presence. Leaves me speechless.
Nobody told them they are dragons.
Who on earth possibly even could?
Language isn’t wild and wide and beautiful enough yet.

Mom dances in laughing kindness deep at the heart of loss.
Dad co-creates in matching laughter and detailed, precise care.
Eva dabbles in the frisbee. Joe in body puddles.
Each of Daniel’s photographs gives birth to new photographers.

So, yeah, Poetry–poetry–for me is just what life is:
food, fun, and beauty
air and water
presence, fire, and deep fucking sorrow
without purpose

and

remembering my precious self before and after Shoulds
to find my right+full place at last, here among the words

What the Soil Said

What the Soil Said

If I was a person
this world
would destroy me.

Good thing then that I am
at peace under your fingernails.
A
robin on her nest.
Shining feather grass
waving in the ditch.
Moving clouds
at rest
in the sky.

And the wind
rolling foam into waves
for the fun of it.

You may be a woman weeping.
You may struggle, petition,
march, vote, scream, follow, vent, and lead.
What I see is a creator laughing out loud
on the very worst of days.
I see you.

You may be
p
erceived
perpetually
inappropriate
by all the sides
I witness but do not feel. Deep down
where my bones are
there are no sides.

Me. I just love this world of ours.
I am this world of ours.
Events don’t change that.

I am here naked and in gratitude.
Only i
n gratitude do I come to you.
Only in gratitude do I listen to you.
Only in gratitude do I learn from you.
I stand here with you.
I will receive
your violence
receive arrogance and ignorance.
I will receive the blood you spill.
I will hold it all
as my own.

I am
sacred ground.
I am love.
Try to wash me from your hands and
witness straight lines melting into rivers.

I will turn your rigid bones
soon enough
into trees.

Red Pleather Seats

Red Pleather Seats

Happy national poetry month! A flash poem a day, every day in April!

 

Red Pleather Seats

above the lunch rush crowd
a clattering, plates and cups

two women sit alone reading
in heaven

a young boy, also alone
on break from the kitchen
intently checks his phone
smiling his escape

one older couple
sits quiet, side by side
looking out at the scene.
Smile at me.
Are they poets too?
I smile back. We’ll never ask.
It’s enough to be happy.

two women
above frothy coffee
debate loudly, first
about dish soap brands, then
about the primary electoral process:
the soap is more interesting
to take sides without hostility

another couple at the end of the diner
stand, look down, embrace
as they leave
a long goodbye is happening

the old man
sitting next to me
works the crossword puzzle:
I wonder if he’d rather be
making love
to his tonic and gin and be
observed by Billy Joel

a barista walks by
waving at people
flannel shirt
cool orange Mohawk
so much love

the teens beside me
discuss the setup of a play
they’re either writing or staring in
over fish tacos.
their passion for the theater
gives me goosebumps.

the waitress
in an NYC sweatshirt
appears to be a long way from home

a middle age couple
older middle age than me
smile as their too-large burgers arrive
chat with the waitress about home

two women talk of their grown children
one expertly wielding a butter knife to
extricate ketchup from the bottle
the other stands and dances
when her Chai latte is ready

Steve Miller sings
about shaking trees and
loving peaches and
Johnny Cash
about the ring of fire
I wonder in earnest if they mind being followed
by some not-great country western.
know instantly
the answer No
It’s only me who minds.

I smile up at them
I feel alive, connected and present

An Artist Heart Is Present

Do you feel the space herself as poetry?
Want to craft dialog right now?
Do you long to sketch or paint the scene?
Are you turning this into music?
Tempted to table dance between?
Are you wondering about the lighting
placing camera in your mind?
Or flying around the space to find
the best place for the mic?
Are you thinking maybe interviews? About a small town life?
Can you see yourself seated
writing essay, article, or story?
Are you acting this on stage
for some fun and maybe glory?
Or are you crafting sets
pots, scarves, or jewelry
to tell your own deep story?

I sing along.
Because I, too, have friends
in low oh oh places
and its fun to join
rockin robin
in his tweedly tweedly tweet

an artist heart is present
it breaks and soars and beats
everywhere
and here
at the diner with
the red pleather seats