I love it when
the wind strolls in
and my meadow friends
dance and bow.
Love it when
waves rush to crash across
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
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
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
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
Every single time
I doubt my intuition
compromise what I need
shove aside my body’s warnings
bow before convention
elevate kindness too far above truth
allow another’s needs, or society’s, to entirely drown my own
the world goes sideways, fast
I become angry
I become the destroyer.
Behold the power of the goddess.
When will I fully trust myself?
Trust others enough to handle me as me?
Listen to my body?
Listen to her wisdom?
To myself? Here at this window.
Surely now at middle age
I should have learned by now
by now at least
that I am trustworthy and strong
that my intuition speaks only truth
that it’s my fear that sometimes lies
and lands me here again. Again.
Surely I should know
you, too, can handle my truth
my messy self, my needs, especially those that appear crazy at first
those that appear to contradict yours. How silly we seem now
the people who let fear lead us.
Crazy contradictions are precursors to all life-bringing creation.
Mud to a lotus.
I rest today, at peace, here within storm’s gentle eye
covered in the mud I made myself, grinning ear to ear.
No tom boy.
I apparently needed just one more example.
Laying sick again, in bed, on this beautiful and perfect August weekend day
while others brunch, slightly worried about she who takes cover at home.
Don’t worry about me. I can brunch another day.
I am content here, now, learning the lessons I insist on teaching myself until I get it.
I am stubborn. Thank god.
We become idiots when we don’t trust ourselves. Destroyers of selves and of worlds.
I was an idiot. Again.
humility and gratitude
my oldest, dearest friends.
And well played, self.
Too much humility is annoying as shit.
Poetry isn’t what I was taught in middle school:
rules and stilted contained lines written by long-dead rich old white dudes?
(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
stealing berries off your fruit-laden trees
like birds and naughty fairies.
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
remembering my precious self before and after Shoulds
to find my right+full place at last, here among the words
is a voice that says
“You don’t belong here.”
“Your voice is not welcome here.”
“This is my home. Not yours. Get out.”
is another voice
“Bullshit” on the first voice
that urges “Fight”
demanding to be heard
“Speak truth to power.”
is yet another voice
“Fuck all this human crap.”
“I really just want a hug and
to lay down in the soft grass.”
“I need a nap.”
allow sweet release
lay down in the grass
take that nap
whenever she offers herself to you?
within which all the voices breathe
and move and heal
and move and heal and breathe
even more deeply
That I am,
all the voices
That I am
presence, on the other hand—
one infinite now,
within which everything
breathes and moves and heals—
is, when I notice it,
both strange and certain.
When I am uncertain,
is the best response.
That, or answering
my own “Why nots?”
with fun or awkwardness
or blessed weirdness.
When I am certain,
all response, period,
is a kindness.
I’m fighting for this one, small, immediate and precious life.
Then, by all means
shut the door
kick the asshole out.
breathe more deeply
maybe listen again to Audre Lorde
hear her say again,
“Poetry is not a luxury.”
so maybe next time
you’ll feel strong enough
to invite him in
be so present
that he, too, can breathe, heal.
He is my neighbor, after all.
The devil is just a myth.
I am not
but I forget that.
So here I am again
following my footsteps
raising my hands up, and
turning the wheel.
I found a perfect dead bird
on the deck, outside the window
victim of violence
a deceptive white light through too-big windows
his perfectly groomed feathers
grew darker as they moved
from his pale yellow-gray head to his almost black tail
I spent yesterday willing him, rise
please open your beak again, open your eyes
shake precious soft belly, hop to perfect black feet
dance again, go!
but he was gone
This morning I carried him deep into beauty
laid him to rest
in the tall grass of a clearing
beside the cabin
in woods and in sunshine
his family around me
we told him he’d be missed
that he was, is, loved, by everything around him
In saying goodbye
I fell to my knees
wept like a baby
for beautiful Orlando
I vowed to slow down and notice
to listen more closely
to love louder and better and more.
Then we all did.
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
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.
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
to his tonic and gin and be
observed by Billy Joel
a barista walks by
waving at people
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.
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
about the ring of fire
I wonder in earnest if they mind being followed
by some not-great country western.
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
in his tweedly tweedly tweet
an artist heart is present
it breaks and soars and beats
at the diner with
the red pleather seats