tell me again

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tell me again

what’s wrong with me.

I’ll pull up a chair,

like a child listening

to a bedtime story,

while you list all the ways

I will never be enough,

remind me why I am alone,

sing me my failures,

question my abilities,

paint my inferiority,

hum my inadequacy,

strum the notes of my wrongs,

then ask me

why

I don’t

believe

in

myself

anymore

honesty

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secrets like a tree torn of leaves,

each one a truth untold, even

the desperate grip of branches

could not stop the fall. sun stares,

demands honesty, reveals deceit

in her glare. his wooden arms

are no match for her golden gaze,

so all of it falls, half-truths and lies,

and he becomes bare, only bony

fingers of regret, reaching out,

as if she would forgive. she covers

her eyes in clouds and turns away.

after all

(today I decided to walk out deep into the woods until I came up with answers to the questions I have been pondering. after walking more than 7 miles in the heat, I found myself lying face down in a grove of trees, with no recollection of what had happened. i took this photo then. i was injured, dizzy, and in no shape to walk the remaining 5 miles back to my car, but i realized that, not only did i have no phone reception, but i had no one to call to come help me. somehow i made it out.  i was in the woods for almost 5 hours.  after i got home, i found this poem on my phone. i wrote it today, but i have no recollection at all of writing it. i think that says a lot.)

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eight miles out i fall

black out, wake up

stones edge tree lean

ask. no reception here

no one to call. leaks

from knees, red, and eyes,

clear drops of alone

air crush with know. no

breath. out of focus all.

lost. alone. maybe here

home after all. 

Navy family

DSC_0207 - Copy

He is a hero
so many stripes on his shoulders
and medals on his chest
salute
Commander, aviator, protector of the free,
danger, deployments, tours of duty,
then accolades, parades, promotions.
Back at home, we
crumbled
in silence, while he was gone.
No one noticed,
not even him.
memorial
days

When Mother Gets Angry

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When Mother gets angry, the children are not safe,

clinging to walls that collapse around them, crushing

childhood beneath her wrath.  She roars at us, and throws

our things about, for they mean nothing to Mother

when she is mad.  She’ll unleash torrents, and we will try

to hide, but Mother knows all the hiding places.

She will knock them down or flood them with her rage, until

we are gasping for air, begging Mother to forgive us.

And when she calms again, Mother is nearly silent.

She never apologizes, only watches us through cloudy eyes

as we try to pick up broken pieces of Mother’s fury.

We hold the children and shake, and try to explain, but

we can’t.  Haunted by the cruelty Mother has unleashed

on some, we whisper and hope, and glance up warily.

Do not make Mother angry.

 

 

Two Times across the Tappan Zee Bridge

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The first time was at dusk.  The Hudson River stretched

like an invitation in the gentlest glow, both banks’

forest green arms holding me, as I rose with the bridge.

And at the top, nightfall’s vision sang, and I held,

floated there, watching the city catch the river.

Her skyscrapers gathered and huddled and whispered

of the night to come, and began to switch on spots

of bright into the fading light.  And beside, tiny, immense

Liberty stood, knowing the city and flowing the river,

and lifted us all across the bridge.

 

When I returned, it was morning.  The light was harsher,

less forgiving.  The climb to the top of the bridge seemed

steeper, somehow, for us all.  And I saw signs, along

the railings, read them.  “Don’t give up. There is hope.

Call the hotline.”  Street signs. Bridge signs. Signs.

At the top: “Do not jump.”  On this, the North side, only

the river, the fall.  And the ghosts that had put all the signs

on the bridge.  I could still see them jumping.  And my car

would not float but wanted to stop and fling its doors

open for me.  But the sign said, “Do not jump.”

 

 

 

Lessons

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On the Sun’s day, she called for a walk,

so I obliged, and listened to the birds of Spring.

They sang to each other, but left me out of their songs.

My steps were slow, while walking, to know.

And back in the woods, so far that I was alone,

they began to come, each at a different place

on my path:  those that I fear most –

the snakes.  They wound right to me, looked through

my eyes, never stopping – though I could not

move.  They each wore different clothes, but none

feared me;  they approached.  Stopped.

Spoke their silence.  Froze me in the leafy moment.

Seven times, seven snakes, seven silences,

each of them with something to say.

 

 

The Girl in the Purple Dress (for June)

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Her name was June, but she left in May,

before the sunflowers could bloom and ask

for more days.  In the stone church, whispers

spoke of the claim: cancer, a brain tumor.

Stolen summer laid her cold, draped in flowers

taken in their bloom. They would die soon. 

I kept my head bowed, listened for June,

waited for the preaching, sobbing, and hymns to end.

In the front of the church, in a purple dress

with a black bow in her hair, June’s daughter sat;

I knew her well. She looked straight ahead and made

no sound, and that is why I kept my head down.

And when the cars were gone, and I was alone

I wept, and I wept to the church and through June.

The last months of her life, when the brain tumor

grasped and haunted her head, June had changed.

And her daughter, so many days, so many different

colored bows, would tell stories of the crazy things

her mom would do and stay. And it wasn’t June.

It wasn’t your Mom. I cry because we have lost

part of summer, but I weep for her girl in the purple dress,

and the June she remembered as she sat on those steps.

Silent with Wonder

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In the tenderness of morning, the fog

wraps the horses in promise and paints

the yellow blanket soft.  The horses

speak their quiet, feel their Spring,

dance their velvet noses in flowered field.

Silent are the pines, watching

through dew drop eyes, hanging

their needled peace in the foggy morning.

Early morning hoof prints mark time,

yellow daybreak, flowery fog of pineful watch,

and I am silent with wonder.

ones that walk away

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ones that walk away without saying good-bye (good-bye)

leave me shiver the rain (looking for shadows)

reasons like questions wrap me still (you left)

empty trains ride the know (without me)

the bench of the station, cold iron feel (alone)

blankness of silence, fog of your go (I wait)

no words you left, no solace or explain (mined hollow)

just gone, only gone, words secured with you (I fall)

disappeared and all, away, and spared nothing (not me)

Conversations (with Sylvia)

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(wake up) not asleep, but reading,

(write) she sits the edge of my bed,

tilts her head, waits. silence. (think it

to know). Sylvia, i am tired.

(the write will you), but how,

(ask the sky). and she stays,

to feel, asking cry (I know). pulls

what i push down (inside rain),

closing windows on day (tumble words),

and in sleep of dark, my name, cloud

whisper, pen gripped unwritten (Sylvia),

fly, write us both home (again). 

 

 

Two New Poems Published

Hi Friends. I’d like to share two recent publications, so you might go check out the poems as well as the wonderful journals in which they are included. I don’t write much haiku, but two of them were selected for publication recently, one in the latest issue of Paper Wasp and one in the next issue of Heron’s Nest. Please check out these fine publications if you get the chance!

gone

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has words for all, gather and follow,

crowd me to the corner, unseen.

what do they mean? what do they

mean? words you’ve already given,

taken, turned, used, played, bestowed,

i don’t want them. i take silence,

shelter here, covered in real. alone,

away from crowds of more to claim

you, to pull, hold, own the words.

spread your imprint, your follow,

pieces for each, exchanged for devotion,

fill you up, adore. I, alone, more, silent,

 

gone.

 

The Sea Still Cries

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Listen, hear, I am but a gull whose feathers

raise against offshore winds, but the sea,

the sea sent me with words for you.

I waited by the shore break, passed

many days, tides, and angry rain, for the sea

spoke, called forth the sun. As I rode

his rolling surf, he sung of his love for you,

the furious storms that frightened you away.

He knew you trembled in your sleep, dreamt

of being swept away under his dark waves.

He quieted, and waited for your sun to return.

“Gull,” he cried, “She will come back. Tell her

not to go. Look upon my gentle calm.”

And I was part of the sea, and believed.

You sat with the sea all that day, felt, heard,

listened his song of calm, until the clouds

pulled across the sun, though he fought them,

they were angry, and dark.  The sea tried,

and tried to hold his calm but the dark

clouds and wind were joined, and the waves

swelled, and louder, crashed, higher and soon,

you were trembling again, and left. I was sorry.

And the sea still cries for you.

 

 

the path

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the path leads
whispers unknowing,
draws you, pines,
tomorrows to follow.
walk it with tender feet,
mild heart, searching
blind corners.
the path speaks
silent tones of hanging moss,
fallen logs, pine cones,
hear with your eyes,
color the symphony,
of so many days
walking ups and downs.
the path follows,
shadows of feel,
learned and passed,
crunch of golden pine
needles, fallen back down,
looked sweetly upon
by the sun, and the long
path, and always, you.

 

wildflower days

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and then there was you,

and shadows bowed and carried daisies,

for the sun returned and sung the sky

to my blue.  maples and oaks whispered,

wove their leaves in the breeze, throwing

dancing dapples of sunlight around me.

and i laid my wildflower days in your music,

wrapped like summer and water’s float,

ten thousand balloons, each one called hope,

stayed floating in my new sky,

because there was you.

 

Liability

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Doctor:  I saw how you tossed my file

across the desk, and all of the papers

spilled out onto the floor. Symbolic.

But you, you were annoyed, that you

had to pick up my pieces and jam them

back in the file, weren’t you? I know.

I heard your annoyed sigh as I walked

away, and you reminded me, again,

that I could find another doctor.

 

And all I was trying to do was make it

out the door without letting slip

the torrent of tears that began to build

back in your office, when you said,

“You make my job difficult.”  I lost

my words then, so you continued:

“And how I am supposed to work

around this eating disorder thing,

or whatever it is?”  My eyes were

on the floor, but I still saw your look

of disgust at my 100 pound body.

 

And did I even care how hard it was

on you that I didn’t want to take more pills,

but for God’s sake did I realize I have

a brain tumor, a divorce, no family here,

I am not sleeping or eating….and, you, doctor,

said five prescriptions are what I need.

When I said I just needed time and support,

you said I was difficult and uncooperative.

 

And I stopped speaking because,

what could I say?  And you called me

noncompliant, that I was tying your hands

behind your back in attempt to gain power,

and my mind whispered……no, i am trying

to survive.  But you didn’t hear, because

you were drawing up a document for me

to sign that said if I kill myself, you are not

legally liable.  I signed it.

 

so I could leave.  you never looked

at my face. or you might

have known

 

the damage

 

you

 

did

 

to

 

me

 

 

under the oak tree

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little boy and little girl

met under the oak tree.

he gave her the sky

and an empty box.

she put them inside.

closing her eyes, she

smelled blue and heard

light linger by the boy.

and she gave him wind

and float of tomorrows.

gravity listened and smiled,

dreams of then and now

remembered, and within

embrace stayed.  and the

core of all was poetry.

For Sylvia, on the Day You Left

For Sylvia, on the Day You Left

This day the glass cracked blue,
the mirror was a window, no longer
empty space looking back into churning seas.
I hear you shriek, and shriek again,
this time it’s real: the uncut grass,
the bees and balloons, the shadows
and the moon. And you, you are the embryo,
the gift, the color of the sky that blooms.
There is a space for love.

But you haven’t gone, Sylvia.
You still whisper to me in colors, and when
I say “not good enough,” you turn my mirror
into a window. The words you send I write. You know.
I feel. You sent me lost, so I could be found. Sending
me your darkness, so I have hollow bones and cry
shadow tears, and you say ~ write. I try, Sylvia.
Don’t swirl me lost.

begin

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and then Sylvia said you must.

squeezed my hand until it wrote.

and you. and all. now was before

to still. swirling know into colors.

and colors were feel. colors

of the core but not time. moon

felt. she said stay but there was

no leave. inside the sky. within you.

you know. nothingness is really all.

here is wonder. open. through.

and now hold. rise from ash to moon.

watch. outside in. begin.

house of cards

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standing on the beach

as the tsunami of your resentments

overtakes me, leaves me gasping for breath,

but all I breathe in are words that seethe.

i remember, once, you called me a house of cards,

the cruelest thing you ever said

before

but now i am that, as you slam each card

with bitter brown water, swirling it,

pulling it down with years of angry.

there’s no house any more,

just a bunch of lost cards

you are trying to drown.