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
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
throwing out everything you knew was true
from the beginning
or well before then
receiving just one certainty each day
some days, mine is a friend or a warm breeze or a cat
other days, mine is a poem or an essay or a book
let this one be enough for today
greed for more certainty isn’t necessary
here’s what is
slowing to notice what’s real
responding to that most deeply felt
hearing procrastination, singing
tasting fear and sorrow, retreating
smelling joy, escaping
discerning, until we notice what is
writing about farts
photographing old orange peels
composing wild flowers
painting scuffed kitchen-trim masterpieces
gushing about love
losing yourself in puzzles.
Artists prioritize noticing.
can I offer up everything I am right now?
holding nothing back for later
for better times, places and people
that don’t exist?
can I make a choice on the sliding scale between noticing and judgement:
and in the moments I choose noticing,
and in the moments I choose judgement,
wait? can I instead, then
go walk, dance, cook for fun
talk to friends, neighbors
sit with the pain
or lay down in sun beams?
until I re-member this vital part of creation:
prioritizing this one whole self?
can I learn that judgement is not my job?
can I release my corporate self?
can we live with “not good enough” every single day
recognizing that it floats with
“thank you deepest flaws, perfect as is”?
Can we recognize this as bliss, most days?
Can we bow more deeply?
time doesn’t exist
to be an artist
will take me at least one whole amazing lifetime.
Dear Rushy McRush Pants, can you slow the fuck down?
Allow seasons, tides, stars, and wild animal trails
to be our clocks and compass points now?
To be an artist
is a daily choice. Like being a friend
parent, and partner.
It’s not fancy. Beauty rarely is.
And at it’s core, it’s not hard.
The voice that says it is
is selling something
that you can no longer afford to buy, my friend.
Not when you’re an artist.
The primary energy suck today
fighting your own choice to be who you know yourself to be.
Becoming an artist isn’t about what we do
it’s about what we stop doing.
An artist is you:
you stop fighting yourself.
That is what one artist thought anyway,
sincerely and yesterday.
internet, off now
dancing with rain down eve spouts
family, hugged, fed, dispersed to their corners
paw, across cat’s face
wood floor, brightened with daylight through clouds,
edges of self, stretching
until earth and moon become neighbors
until every last star is a friend
all recording devices
begin humming, with anticipation
dripping with life
delighted, to meet you
she floats down and around
exploring her new dimension
kisses your cheek as she passes, visiting
the kitchen first, like we all do
as she tastes homemade lemon marmalade
warm bread and butter,
her eyes widen
and she giggles
for the very first time
re-melting once fluid hearts,
once open minds
with nothing but presence
without even trying
reminding us of home, returning us to us
as she rounds the corner,
we’re left wondering
who is she?
where did she come from?
how did she get here?
what is it exactly
about butter and jam
that has me crying?
Need a poem
or another gift
and you receive one
Love a poet
and you fall in love with every face
Walk, or drink, with a poet
feeling the whole truth of a place
complete with hatred, laughter, fear
betrayal, goofiness, and tears:
theirs yours ours
Each new day is a slowing down
alone and in community
to find your
Writing imperfectly formed lines
again and again
to stumble upon
your three wise women.
Today mine are:
catches up with you
Contentment and angst
ally themselves on your behalf
Security nests within your ever-shifting heart
Galaxies and egos deepen
lightening up as you walk by
turning toward each other
like fellow sunflowers opening to their most beloved star
You have no control over any of it: nor do you need to
Seriously is not a thing to take one’s self
there are far more worthy gifts to give: and
Everything becomes a simple wonder again
just like you remembered
A poet is paid in wonder.
Every thing and one and where and why else
is a gift.
Happy national poetry month!
a flash poem inspired by my new We Shall Dance with Mountains friends…
Letting It Be
soft paused cat
velvet bumblebee nose
children down on the beach
yelling to one another
in self-created language:
“Unda buda!” shout lungs
“Oggie buggie buda!” echo other lungs
my brain begins to translate
just let it bee
eyes shift to a new spot
in the far tree
where eagle sits
watching her perfect huge and bumbling brown twins
for their approaching family vacation
eyes spot my favorite human neighbor
being walked by his timid dog
being led out, up
away from humanity
by a dog who
human hands approach her
oh, how I love the invisibility
of sitting on the deck, high up
yet on the deck boards themselves,
on this ground, the gray wood splintering
few human eyes think to look here
won’t see outside their own expected
for other humans
so I’m invisible
except to cat
and bird and
except for eagle mama
whose eyes are
feeling no need to translate
and except for you
on the sacred
on our asses
on the ground
just let it be