Monday, August 31, 2009

I shot a man

I shot a man.
It was in Belize,
years ago;
I was riding through town on a bus,
on my way to visit some ruins.
We slowed for a stoplight,
and I saw him sitting there.
The bus window was really dirty,
and we'd been delayed,
so were speeding the whole way,
and even now we barely stopped,
But I saw the man, sitting,
and the orange wall,
and the red awning,
so I took aim
and fired.

It wasn't until 3 weeks later,
when I got the film back from the lab
that I saw the snake.
I guess he had a weapon of his own.

* * *

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tourist in the tank of life

Though the environment in here
is perfectly modulated --
The temperature sublime,
The water clear,
The sky cloudless --
There are still challenges to be faced:

Crowding, for example.
just because this is the best spot,
does everyone else have to gather here?
I would so prefer to have it to myself --
to drift at my own pace
instead of dodging all these fellow travelers;
to dress without worrying
what all the other tourists are wearing...

* * *

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Echoes on the tongue of sky

If the boundaries
between then and now;
between sea and shore
were to become more fluid,
where would the seaweed float?
Would it begin to drift
toward a likely-looking petunia;
Would it,
having seen the chameleon,
learn to shift its colors
so as to blend more smoothly --
and how would the petunia respond?
And what new scent of union fills the air --
pungent petunia?
Or would it be
the aroma of the sea?
Perhaps when they begin to breathe together
the world will smell of fruit --
Of blueberry, perhaps, or pear;
a sweet mystical union of fragrances
to echo on the tongue of sky.

* * *

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mourning for the Shadows

Curled in the ancient womb of dark,
The soul becomes restless
and begins to stretch --
an arm here,
with fingers poking at the edge of light,
a foot there
(toes, wiggling in the fluid space,
testing the waters
before leaping into dawn).
And yet, when morning comes
and sun ignites the sky,
sending smoke signals scurrying upward --
as if to say, "A new day has arrived!" --
She takes that first deep breath;
cries out one last lament
in mourning for the shadows.

* * *

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Drawing the line

I almost bought a copper kimono once,
to hang upon my wall.
Found it in a gallery,
went back to visit several times,
didn't think I could live without it
until I got up close and saw
the tiny streaks of red
splattered down the front, like blood --
nothing serious: more a lost tooth,
or a flesh wound,
than a saber to the heart --
but still, it stopped me.
I put my money back in my pocket.
I never minded art about mortality,
but apparently I draw the line
at suggestions of violence.

* * *

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Remembered images

A friend showed me
another photographer's work;
he'd found a way to shoot in color
over a hundred years ago.
We gazed together at the images
and marveled, surprised
at how real his subjects looked.
Sometimes even my own past
looks black and white to me,
distant, yellowed, faded;
and then I wonder:
are those memories real?
Or are the experiences I remember
-- the three of us in that plastic inflatable pool,
or dancing on the porch --
are they just memories of mother's photos;
not real at all?

* * *

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

At play in the ocean of night

When do the sun and the night sky meet?
Not just at the end of the day,
but also whenever the light is reflected
in an ocean, a lake,
a puddle, a pond --
Whenever the water's a deep sea blue,
like the sky at the end of the day,
and the object reflected is glowing like love --
that's when the sun and the night sky meet.

And the world rejoices as the colors swirl
through the light and the dark parts of day
which glitter and gleam
and then actually seem
like unmeetable edges have finally touched;
a connection is made,
a light wave is shared,
and the sun rejoices in her own reflected children,
the rays of light that run off to the ocean
to dance with the oil slicks and tickle the otters
who frolic and play in the ocean of night.

* * *

Monday, August 24, 2009

Off with their heads!

There must be some significance
to the headlessness of these models.
Could it be a statement --
that beauty is more important than brains;
that only people without brains would wear these dresses
(or look good in them);
that who these faceless women are
is less important than how they dress?

Or is it just that faces,
however mass produced and identical,
would distract the viewer from these all-important clothes;
that faces might somehow carry
a promise of personality
that might get in the way of appreciation?

Or, given that they are white,
could it just be that any color would distract
but a featureless face might suggest
that only a ghost would wear these outfits...
Best to leave off their heads altogether?

Or could it be that some window designer,
having grown up on Alice in Wonderland,
just delighted in the power of shouting,
in the spirit of the Queen of Hearts,
"Off with their heads!"

• • •

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mother love

Excuse me,
I see a tiny speck of dirt there.
It mars your perfect surface;
I'll just pluck it off --
I've been a mother so long,
it's second nature to correct
those minor imperfections in my children,
and now that they are gone
that urge to fix
must find expression elsewhere --

perhaps that's why,
when I first became a mom,
my mother spent her visits to my home
trimming hedges and cleaning the kitchen;
and -- worst of all --
muttering constant course corrections
to this fledgling parent
and her so imperfect children.
Oh, dear -- I'm turning into Mom:
perhaps I'll just return that tiny speck,
and do another rewrite of this poem...

** *

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Momentary attractions

There's an old woman with glazed eyes,
in a diner in a small town,
who is quietly eating french fries,
seated by walls that are quilted wonders;
chrome reflections of the colors
in the glass box, filled with stuffed bears,
frogs and cobras, cats and clowns
that the children spend their dollars on
just to manipulate the robot grabbing arm
til it lands on the desired plaything,
picks it up and then propels it
down the special chute to ownership,
where it's treasured for a moment --
for an evening, or a weekend --
then discarded or recycled
to the loving arms of another child,
or perhaps left in a basket
on an abandoned pink bicycle,
where it sits in a vacant lot,
losing color to the sunshine;
gazing, sightless, at the rain.

* * *

Friday, August 21, 2009

The gift of contemplation

Standing together in majestic isolation,
rooted and stripped,
we face into the desert
and spin the breath of spirit
into hope,
fueling the world.

* * *

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Having eaten the tree of knowledge...

It's true:
You're all wet --
and naked as a baby, as well.
But that's no reason
to feel ashamed:
I mean,
look at you:
bright as the sun,
crisp and perfect;
delicate and fierce...

Why do you hide yourself from me?
Can you not see
the joy with which I created you?
Can you not feel
the love and compassion
with which I hold you?

And when I pluck you from your stalk,
it is only because I long to keep
your beauty with me always.

* * *

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Signpost to Eternity

Having wandered in the desert,
you may return
to find yourself in a parking lot.

But after such dearth and deprivation--
no water,
no green --
a simple reflection
of a tree;
of the white lines
which mark the place your car is meant to stand --
can feel like a breath of fresh air,
a drink of water
for a parched and thirsty throat.

The clear surface of a small black car
can become --
after that stark, staring emptiness,
the endless wandering,
the barren landscapes of depression --
a signpost to eternity.

* * *

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Always changing, always the same

Does the river,
sparkling through the same valley,
day after day, moment after moment,
notice the subtle shifts in the surrounding hills;
the movement of a rock,
the spill of tumbleweed?
Does it see that the leaves have fallen
from the trees who take their nourishment
from the banks that sip quietly as the river passes?
Does it notice the snow,
and anticipate with joy
the rush of melt that is to come?
Or does it think all things are new,
each tumbling moment,
and never realize that, to us,
this vista remains ultimately the same?

* * *

Monday, August 17, 2009

Contemplating an alternative lifestyle

It may not be enough,
to sit in safety
in this lush and green embrace;
to contemplate your desert from a distance.

What would it mean
to live on the other side;
to see the water, deep and green,
and not be able to swim or drink?
What would it mean
to live without your loving arms
enfolding me in divine acceptance?

What alternative resource might be found
in that barren emptiness;
in the stark parched cliffs and crevasses of endless thirst?

* * *

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Icy fingers up and down my spine

My head is full of lyrics;
I keep bursting into song
at the most inappropriate moments...
Do all brains work that way?
This one had me singing
along with Ella, and Marilyn;
Sammy Davis Jr, and Spike Jones;
Glen Miller, and Judy Garland;
Frank Sinatra, and The Marcels --
Can you hear it?

"That old black magic has me in its spell,
That old black magic that you weave so well;
Those icy fingers up and down my spine,
The same old witchcraft when your eyes meet mine..."

Were the men who designed this car
listening to that song
as they sat at their drafting tables?
Who was it that discovered
the sensuous possibilities of a machine?

* * *

Saturday, August 15, 2009

There must be some kinda way outta here

Do you ever get that feeling --
that even though you've landed in Paradise,
the island of your dreams,
you're stuck in a bear suit,
dressed for the forest
and unequipped for sailing,
doomed --
having dressed inappropriately
for this particular life --
to sit on an upturned bucket
(there are no chairs here,
no appropriate resting place
designed for humans of your sort);
to keep re-dialing information,
seeking some way --
any kind of way --
back to the shore;
or, at the very least,
a way to lose the costume
and get real?

* * *

Friday, August 14, 2009

One illuminated flower

I wonder, if God had known,
would she have made
illuminated flowers
to brighten hearts
overwhelmed with dark and loss;
special combinations --
perhaps a dahlia,
and a rose --
that could, at the touch of an empty hand,
irradiate a soul,
turn the dark blood reds
to a deep spruce,
trees of joy to breathe light
into the somber shadows;
sunshine to light a fire
in a cold and lifeless hearth;
color to illuminate the corners
of the newly emptied room
where, having found one missing shoe
a mother clasps it to her chest,

* * *

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Art as an end to alienation

Whoever said that opposites attract
might perhaps have tried to brush
a you beside a me;
to place these contradictory hues together;
building an image --
or is it a life --
of two conflicting forces.

Yes, this magnetism is intense,
but if I allow you to bleed into me
or myself to bleed into you
we both will fade
into brown -- or is it gray?

Whatever -- the end result,
without this careful rope that separates,
that clarifies the boundary,
would be a slow and sad disintegration
into dark and dull and loss of light.
And so I use my paintbrush as an anchor
holding us apart, and yet together.

* * *

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The suggestion of a barn

Like a pre-teen girl,
hiding behind a fall of cornsilk hair,
the suggestion of a barn
emerges from behind a mask of corn --
its cupola a turtle's head
poking tentatively from its homely shell,
tickled or itched,
by that waving fringe,
or alerted by the quiet chatter of crisp leaves
gossiping together in the morning breeze --
or perhaps it is a periscope,
alert for any alien disturbance
among the waves of maize.

* * *

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Forward Movement

How curious it is,
that those objects we design
whose purpose is to move us forward
must ultimately be stilled,
while that which God designs --
the apple tree,
the grass,
the flower and its berry --
continue their own forward movement
(from falling leaves
to winter's losses,
through resurrection into spring,
new growth and longer tentacles
to reach through spokes and tie them down;
new flowers, ripening through summer
into fruit that feeds us all)
and soon overtake
what we create,
which has no future but to fade:
to die, and feed tomorrow's flowers.

* * *

Monday, August 10, 2009

On the nature of creativity

It becomes the task of those who breathe
the mirror God within
to walk among us as God does:
to see as God sees
to know as God knows
to embrace as God embraces;
to celebrate as God celebrates
the divine creativity
that lurks in every moment;
to bear witness to the fact
that a puddle,
or a bug,
may have its own heroic content,
to watch the lily
pause in her disrobing
to kiss her own divine reflection
and become One
even as her petals sink,
grayed and fragile
to lie on my kitchen floor.

* * *

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Better than a stop sign

It was morning,
and I was rushing for a ferry,
thankful there are no cops on this island
to stop me for doing 40 in a 35...

But the view here
works better than a stop sign
to slow me down:
I slid to a stop, even backed up a bit,
let a couple of other cars pass,
so I could gaze upon the stillness,
thankful for the cool shine of the water
and the delicate wisp of fog
that slowed my ferry down
just long enough for me to reach it.

* * *

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I met the Buddha

I saw the Buddha
just the other day,
sitting on the river bank,
tossing breadcrumbs to the fish,
an iridescent robe
draped casually over a shoulder --
as if to say,
of course I have a golden cloak;
what difference does it make? --
not unlike the purple-faced lady
in the magenta shirt
who parked her purple PT Cruiser
with its lavender detailing
in the pharmacy parking lot.
As her license plate cover said,
"Yes, it's purple.
That's all you need to know."

I met the Buddha by the water,
but I didn't really see him until later;
Until now.

* * *

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

After Teddy

It's empty now,
this once cluttered room;
its tenant gone,
its walls a safe and saleable white;
its decor done in muted tones
so as not to offend a potential buyer.

Do the walls grieve their loss?
Do they miss the posters,
the scuff of a tossed shoe,
the pennants and the photos,
the nails, the tape, the push-pins?

Or are their scars, so unlike ours,
healed with a touch of spackle,
a simple coat of paint?

* * *

Monday, August 3, 2009

Unholy Trinity

A trinity of silos,
mountains of corn baking in the western sun
harvested, untouched by human hands,
from endless acres owned by giant corporations,
destined for feed lots,
or factories...

What could you possibly have to say to me today
about hunger or fullness;
about emptiness, or thirst;
about all the ways we assuage our longings
while failing to provide
the most essential nutrient of all?

What could you possibly have to do
with the blind fury of a child hyped up on sugar
with the vengeance of a soldier
who watched his only sister starve
while we,
rushing to the mall to catch the latest bargains,
slide through the drive-thru lane of fast food joints?

* * *

Sunday, August 2, 2009

One for the Road

When traveling through the desert,
over land so bleak and dry,
when your throat is parched
with an unhealable thirst
and the road never touches the sky,
do you count the poles
or the birds on the wires
or the potholes that lurk on the way,
looking forward to your journey's end,
to what waits at the close of the day?

Or do you revel in the heat
and the rush of the wind;
feel the open space resounding in your heart;
bonding with strangers and drinking in landscapes,
trusting each moment to feed you as needed?

Relish your freedom --
the dust and the dirt,
the thunder and lightning
and the rain when it falls --
Rejoice in the mountains and exult in the plains,
content to be traveling wherever you are.

Just revel in the heat
and the rush of the wind;
feel the space resounding in your heart;
bonding with strangers and drinking in landscapes,
trusting each moment,
trusting each moment,
trusting each moment
to nourish your heart.

* * *

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What we never really had

I'm back in that dark hole again,
waiting for you to appear,
nursing a half-empty bottle of wine
that you should have been here to share.

I'm looking back over
all the years we've been apart
and thinking they were so much easier
than when we were together
and you were tearing out my heart.

What ever made me come back to thinking
that we could resurrect
some old love
that we never really had?

* * *