Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Something is broken

Something is broken.
Something is torn,
twisted or scarred,
wounded, not working right.
It cuts like a knife
and all of my energy
is going to that place,
leaving the rest
unfocused and edgy,
my attention keeps drifting
back to the problem,
worrying and wondering
-- and if --
the discomfort will end.
And part of me wonders:
does this explain everything?
doesn't the whole world
work the same way?

* * *

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Step into your heart

Close your eyes and step inside
the cavern of the heart;
Find the treasure
waiting there for you.

Birdsong -- the key;
a sound in silence
not your own --
unlocks the gift,
and light spills out like jewels of love
awash in colors of the sea.

But wait -- what lies beyond?
Do not allow these surface jewels
to keep you from the deeper journey
to that which lies beneath...

* * *

Monday, March 29, 2010

What I did for love

We are each
the love of someone's life;
it is the form
that love can take
which sometimes proves

God only knows,
why, having loved me as i am
you'd even think
of dressing me
to look like someone else,
or think of altering my style
to reflect the person
you've been longing to become.

And yet, you are
the love of MY one life,
and so I bear the mockery
for the sake of your sweet smile.

I wrote this poem for Carry on Tuesday #46. Carry on Tuesday provides a writing prompt each week to be used, wholly or partly, in original prose or poetry. The prompt for March 30 — We are each the love of someone's life. — is from the opening of The Confessions of Max Tivoli (2004) by Andrew Sean Greer.

You'll find links to other contributors' prose or poetry here.

* * *

On some blue planet

On some other planet
live women in blue
who dress for the beach
as if for a ball
(with bright buttons to show
where their nipples would be).
Unashamed of their bodies,
they run for the water
as if it were sky
lifting their skirts --
which are lighter than air --
to dive in with a cry
of joy, and exultation
in the dance of the waves,
in the sparkle of fish
and the warmth of the sun
and the feel of the sand
their long

* * *

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The power of color

It started with a photograph:
"What lovely flowers," I said,
and then I got it home and saw,
they really were just fabric,
and not that nice after all.
It's curious, that with a bit of blur,
intensifying the color,
and shifting the undertones,
I can create new flowers of my own,
more pleasing, and even more lifelike -- though there is no illusion here
that these are real --
and I wonder what that tells me
about the power of creativity,
and the power color has
to mask, and to confuse...

* * *

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Stepford Wife

She stares unseeing at the sun,
an empty wineglass
forgotten in her hand,
paste diamonds glistening in the light.
Her hair, her chair, her gown
all relics of a bygone age
which doesn't seem that long ago to me.

And are there women still,
whose lives appear so empty,
who live to tan and drink and dress,
spend hours on their hair and face
and when the light begins to fade
never wonder where the day has gone
but rise instead and fold the chair,
hanging it carefully in its accustomed place,
rinse the glass
and place it in the dishwasher,
then freshening their lipstick,
step into red corvettes and drive
to meet their husbands at the train?

* * *

Friday, March 26, 2010

In gratitude, to those who've gone before

There's a thin gray line
between now and then,
but never fear:
if you need to climb
there is a rope;
a way to get from here to there
without climbing the walls.
And when I see that metal loop --
that yellow rope suspended there --
I think of all the climbers past
who've been this route before
and left their pitons hanging there,
embedded in the cliff
to help the climbers yet to come
and marvel at their generosity:
could I have been that brave?

* * *

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An imperfect beauty

And if you were to see
her body,
filtered through a glass window,
draped and lit
like an artist's model
would you miss the scars,
of loss,
of age,
of childbirth?
Can you not see
the beauty that still lies beneath?

If so,
then why can't she,
and why does she obsess on imperfections
that have so little impact
when confronted with the whole picture
that is beauty,
that is woman,
that is life?

* * *

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Keep Upright

Keep upright,
this old sign says,
and I have to ask:
what did that buy you?
If you never bow your head
in prayer,
or shame,
or grief,
will that somehow make
the rust and age less noticeable,
the losses less painful,
the hunger less intense,
this moment,
this ending,
this shabby presence
in the graveyard of dreams
less embarrassing?
Though you can no longer be
what you thought you were,
your essence still remains;
a reminder of past promises and blessings.

* * *

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Twinkling stars

Mama, could you Twinkle now?
She'd ask me every night
when just a little thing, a joy,
who filled my heart with song.
Mom, I need a Twinkle,
then she'd ask as she grew older.
And then, requests grew rarer still,
as off away to camp and school
she went, carrying her bear
(I could hear her sing that song to him
when she thought he might be scared.)
And now she sleeps under the stars,
exploring near and far,
while her bear lies on my windowsill,
his pockmarked button eyes
glued to the galaxies
that drift above them both,
and when I worry, I hear him whisper,
"Twinkle, twinkle, little star..."
A song is but a little thing,
And yet what joy it is to sing!

* * *

I wrote this poem in response to Carry on Tuesday's prompt for March 23, which was to use the opening lines of "The Poet and His Song", by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Links to contributions from other Carry on Tuesday poets are here.

* * *

When darkness drops

The day is cool,
and I sit resolutely in my car,
still simmering a bit from a recent argument,
and, waiting for calm to descend,
I watch as the ferry turns
and the light,
streaming through
a thin spot in the cloud layer,
slowly bathes the arch above
in a still pure gift of joy,
pouring over the worn metal
like water over a baby's head,
as if mama squeezed the washcloth
one more time
we giggle together,
ferry and I and baby
reveling in the soft warm tickle
of the drips of light
flowing over us,
then slide into quiet dreaming
as darkness drops and the rain begins.

* * *

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The melodic drift

The scent of the moon
echoes across my skin,
leaving a trail
of color
to mark her path;
tracing delicate
patterns of oneness
in my veins.

Oh, to be light again,
she whispers,
to hold a sunbeam in my cup
and spill it out into the world...
This rhythmic waxing and waning --
the melodic drift
from full to empty
and back again --
is wearing thin,
and breaking down
the walls I built
protecting me from you.

* * *

Friday, March 19, 2010

Changes in the wind

How is it,
though we've given birth before,
that we forget
how long it takes,
the aching,
and the swelling,
the arbitrary changes
that are really only temporary;
the waiting and the fear,
the hope, the preparations,
the ever-present awareness
of a major shift to come
yet balanced by the challenges
of living in the moment.
Like a camera,
capturing the movement of the stars
in the night sky
we watch as from afar
while this process takes us over
promising one thing only:
that change is in the wind.

* * *

Thursday, March 18, 2010

60 Corona Road

My dislike of picnic tables
started at 60 Corona Road,
my uncle's house in New Jersey,
which butts up against the turnpike
where he spent his working life.
We were there in the heat of summer
--I must have just turned eight --
passing through on our way
to our annual family vacation:
a week in sunny Florida
(a special treat, for us midwesterners,
to frolic at the beach).

And while the cars and trucks roared by
beyond my uncle's fence,
I remember playing Crazy Eights
with my cousins at their picnic table,
feeling dizzier,
and dizzier;
so jarred by heat and unaccustomed noise
that up felt just like down to me.
And hot? So hot!
Hotter even than the sun
that had my mother sweating
in that dotted shirtwaist dress she wore to hide her bulging thighs.
In the end I slipped off the table, felled by a raging fever
and they rushed me to the doctor, to discover I had measles.

I spent that week in Florida
playing cribbage with my dad,
seated at a picnic table
indoors, in a darkened room
of a moldy turquoise bungalow
while mom simmered on a beach towel,
down by the ocean,
steaming in her navy swimsuit
with its little nylon skirt.
Picnic tables still make me feel a little queasy:
I see one, and up suddenly seems
a lot like down,
and I remember how the fever
of my mother's fury felt.

This is my contribution to L.L. Barkat's Random Acts of Poetry prompt: to write a poem about a certain street or street address. Links to poems by other RAP participants can be found in the comment box here.

* * *

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A bipedal loopiness

I decided to play
in the water today:
sometimes I just love
to examine reflections,
to seek out the colors,
the shapes, and the traces
of thoughts that show up
in the curves and the faces.
Like water, I, too,
especially when still,
take on, in reflecting
the things and the people
that move 'round my edges,
odd expressions and characters;
a certain bipedal loopiness
(though I make it my own)
that echoes the wonderings,
the thoughts and the ponderings
of the people whose lives touch mine.

* * *

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

She could not see her own

It's all very nice
to say "Everyone's born
with some special talent" --
but what if the talent
you happen to have been born with
really belongs
to some other century?
And what if you just forgot
to oil the joints a time or two
and now you're frozen into stillness?
"Hmmm," she said, fingers stroking her chin
as if there were a goatee there,
and she some Freudian analyst,
cradling a smoking pipe in her other hand,
"what if you turned
and looked at this another way?
Might not that frozen propeller
become a pure white flower
when tilted on its side?"
Her talent was seeing potential,
though she could not see her own...

I penned this poem for Carry On Tuesday's prompt for March 16: to use the phrase "Everyone is born with some special talent." Links to contributions from other participants in Carry on Tuesday #44 are here.

* * *

Monday, March 15, 2010

A taste of fear

A crow pecked on my window last night.
Though it was just a dream,
when I saw him again today,
just briefly,
hovering in all his blacks
just beyond reach,
I got all panicky.
how quickly
our hard-won serenity
can disappear
when the thrust of reality
finds echoes in a dream
that haunts you still.

And now,
now the shadows are mostly dissipated,
I give thanks
for the bright colors that remain
and shudder, quietly, inwardly
at the dark brush of his wings.

* * *

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Some part of me's mechanical,
and physical;
wired to question and explain,
to step and move,
to analyze and prioritize.

Some other part's rhetorical,
more interested in questions
than in answers;
more interested in the flow of words
than in what they convey;
more driven by the need to reach, and grasp
than by the desire to have.

Which part is this, that's surfacing today?
And if I show you that which lies beneath,
does it become reality?
Tell me truly: would you love this girl as much
if you couldn't see her lips, her nose,
the expression in her eyes?
It's the unified effect that makes her moving.

"Robo-Girl" by David Holmes, from the Museum of Wisconsin Art

* * *

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What the light reveals

Lurking in the shadow here --
united with the shadow cast
by that which moves me
forward into destiny --
I see that there is unexpected life;
a hint of growth
I'd not have noticed
against the vibrant colors
of the known;
its subtle hues would tend to blend
into the background...
Perhaps I'll stop and turn my eyes
from future into now;
examine that which, growing here,
might threaten to entangle me
and halt my journey:
perhaps it will suggest another path,
or some new source of energy...

* * *

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fighting our projections

"You're not the boss of me,"
we say, or
"Who died and made YOU king?"
-- but really those we rail against
got all their power from us.
In fighting our own dark sides --
a fight the church approved --
we toss them up against the wall
and when they stick
we challenge them to a duel.

Step up, my friend,
and claim your truth;
this battle is your own,
this enemy your own, as well,
and in befriending him
you come to love yourself anew
and taking back that venom
you convert it into peace:
peace within, and peace without --
with your assistance, peace is everywhere.

* * *

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Between the milestones

Like bowling pins,
we line up the events in our lives
and take aim,
carefully knocking down each one:
Birth? Check.
Walking and talking? Check.
Right school? Check.
Right college? Double check.
Marriage/job/house/family --
milestone after milestone,
always moving forward
to The Next Big Thing...
And when, she asked,
after years of hovering on the edges,
When do we get to celebrate

* * *

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let go

When you're going down
into the depths,
there's only so long
you can hold on;
at some point
you'll find yourself giving up
and jumping into it.

And here's the good news:
Once you stop holding on
you'll find that all those tears
buoy you up --
rather like the Dead Sea:
the salt content
makes it impossible
to sink.
So release:
One hand,
one foot,
now swing out into trust -- and just...
let go!

* * *

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What words?

What words could be
as powerful
as a loving gaze;
what adventures and excitement
could offer a reward so sweet
as being held in loving arms?

Know this, my child:
I will be always with you --
you have only to step
into the depths of the heart
to find that I am there,
and loving

* * *

Monday, March 8, 2010

A promise in the shadows

From this flat shadow, we deduce
the existence of the tree;
the presence of a life beyond
the rusting grate,
the repetitious patterns underfoot.
One shadow,
and we know nearby
there will be dirt, and depth, and roots;
branches and leaves; sweet fruit and seeds;
a rich dimensionality.
Why would you not then look upon
the shadows in your soul,
and sense the wholeness written there
by light?

* * *

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Prop? or podium?

You see that plywood as a prop;
it keeps the boat steady:
above ground, under repair.
But what if it's a podium,
and standing here,
ready to dive back in,
the boat is sharing the colors of her dreams,
offering her wisdom,
her understanding of light and dark,
of sun and rain, of storms and still waters?
Listen, my friend;
listen to the voice within
that's longing for a sail,
a fresh chance to feel the breeze of hope.

* * *

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Something in her hands

when I'm driving,
I can see my mother's hands
upon the wheel,
though her fingers were much stubbier than mine.

It's not just the wrinkles,
or the veins and spots --
those signs of age that we've begun to share --
but the way she'd crook her thumb;
something in the tensing of the knuckles
that always gave away
her restless impatience --
to be there,
to be gone,
to be living
some other life,
fulfilling some other purpose --
to be anywhere but here,
driving me.

* * *

Friday, March 5, 2010

Love is always flowing

I am a reed
at the water's edge,
flowing into You.
And if the water were to dry,
I know that You would pluck me out,
carve out some holes
and let the breath of Spirit
breathe music through me.

And if your breezes were to die,
and I to fall, unwanted, to the earth,
I know that You
would melt me into soil,
that all I have lived and loved
might feed into that which is not yet born.
Love is always, always, flowing through.

* * *

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What bright future?

Attention flutters, focus drifts;
I am both here and now,
Sensing the presence of the cross within,
and yet, some part of me is also outside,
dancing in the light,
darting in and out of the shadows.
Within there's the illusion of control, direction;
perceived boundaries,
mirrors to compensate
for my reluctance to turn and look back --
but -- inevitably -- blind spots live
where I'm still trying to hold things together,
preserve the illusion of separate, alone.
What bright future I've not yet met
lurks beyond those darkened edges?

* * *

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Looking for a sign

We are the watchers,
the wanderers, the seekers;
the ones who stare
at everything that passes
looking for some sign,
some forgotten hieroglyphic;
a message of love, perhaps,
or of direction --
this happened,
and therefore this must be true;
this appeared,
and therefore that must be the path
-- never realizing
it's not what's written on the life,
or even about the life, that matters;
what matters is the living of it.

* * *

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Enumerating the numinous

Are we counting up?
Or counting down?
Are we going deeper?
Or climbing higher,
closer to the Son?
Who needs to know?
What voice is this
that measures,
the distance from me to you;
that longs so intensely
to draw closer to the center?
Release this old and rusty thinking:
stop attempting
to enumerate the numinous,
and slide
into the deep blue surface
of Now.

* * *

Monday, March 1, 2010


What journeys have you struggled through,
my friend;
what icy seas and hurling waves
have tossed this rust onto your deck
and scored your hull
with streaks of pale
until, like northern lights,
they send their colored rays before
in unexpected bursts of joy?

I ache, to see you standing here,
magnificent and strong
despite your age, your gaping holes;
awaiting the refiner's fire
so you may trace again
the cold and farthest shores.

* * *