The fight

The night is restless
I hear
the backfire of a car
out for a midnight doughnut run
firecrackers in the alley–
and I am awake too–my mind full.
This is not my home

Walls of steel
and your gaze
are not enough
this is not mine
this community
wound tightly
and me still, with
my hands in my lap

What do you suppose it would cost
buying a chance
at happiness
like yours–
do you think
me presumptuous
for trying?

In the arena
The audience goes wild
when the Lions are released–
And I with only my words for defense
might not survive this–
but I just might make it
into the newspapers

Those big cats
reclining and rolling about
yawning and taking their sweet time
–more toying with me than mauling me–
and I make a run for it.

Scuttling past the injured
I smile at each one–treating their wounds
giving them my blessing
their eyes closing as I pass–
they know
I could have done more

Bravery did not stand here
squeaky clean–I got off easy.
Yesterday, I promised you a fair fight
and today I leave without a scratch
my sword still in the sheath
rusty and cold

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Holy Week (split ends)

It came on suddenly–turning toward the mirror–
that which I have avoided like an ex–
the one who holds all my secrets

Turning to profile, I see my split ends
touch the small of my back and I wonder
how it grew so fast– or was I rip-van-winkling
again
had I stopped looking feeling smelling the time
did I have to remind myself occasionally what day it was
so I would be where I was supposed to be
and on time

I know there are friends
who are done with my nonsense–which is not nearly finished–
as I unravel the threads–the tragedy woven into the mundane
and my only regret in all of it–
my only pause I take in the intense scrutiny
of the woman in the glass–

Is the pain I see around the eyes and the lips–in the knowledge
that I hurt you and your brother
hurt you with months (years) of depression and looking the other way
wounded you with ears that did not hear it all
afraid of the truth in a time when truthful words cut me like rapiers

So I move on so I clash and strain and struggle for you to hear me–
ears that have had it–that love me in their own way–but no longer give credence
to middle-aged fears and jolts–

So I struggle with this, I strangle my fears to leave them back there in the mirror
so that when I see you and you hear me again, my only gift I will give to you again
will be hope

The hope of the Father I found in the sky the flowers the rain and my own hands
more lined than they used to be, dried and cracking around bitten nails from crisis and leaning into the bastard rasp repeatedly until they bled

so that my only choice I am left with, is to look up with hope and prayers, this holy week that went by over and over throughout a decade
and rolls here again, the day I lost my mother slipping by during the holiest of seasons, when love and hope and mercy and forgiveness all are measured into the pot, until what we carry to the table nourishes and soothes the souls that gather there for my only one night

Thirteen

Someone challenged me
to write about thirteen
unlucky thirteen
(me with my list of phobias
trailing behind me)

and once more
for the third time today
I approach the page
with some trepidation
how to write about
thirteen
these superfluous sentences
too long for the haiku master
master of twitter-er that told
me my haiku were too long

Am I insecure? or just
human and female
and facing a weekend of PMS
and an unsatisfied husband
but I did try
he said
I did try
I heard him say, yes
dear, you did try. Is there
more beer in the fridge
while I swallow my soda a
straw-full at a time
to stay awake

Thirteen times I submitted
my poems to a publisher
but never submitted to a man
always insisting on the top–
the top is my place–
My place
and he knows that I belong there

but the girl that belongs there
isn’t afraid of
public masturbation
or Friday
the thirteenth–
she is not afraid of anything

 

Palms up

The storm is not coming
it is here
it is not on the horizon
it is in the backyard, and at the front door, and
we all share a piece of this body of work
the proverbial sex buffet called life
a smorgasbord of longings dreams
and anticipations

Sometimes selfish, keeping the good stuff
protected and wearing well over time
close to the vest, while others bear the burden
of daily sacrifice
born out of a giant clock
like a newborn baby dinosaur
all hands and teeth and craving
wind chimes at every window
small insistant cymbals
buffer, muffler, white noise

Let it not be said I cannot forgive
but to give
haven’t I lived on this bed of nails
for years–cycling round
I look to Lenore and Jane to save me once more
precious pages upon pages of the stalwart

At the door, always ready with Halloween treets
sending the costumed ones away
when they have had their fill
then locking up tightly
nailing the shutters
like weekenders
we put life up in the garage, on blocks

Every day is Monday now
and no break in sight
in the eye of the twister
in this alien land

I watch us from atop this wall
it took me years to scale

Did wishing bring my toes
to the edge of the precipice?

Will reverent prayer make it small
beneath my feet?

will you let it go

sometimes I write about myself
in third person
so you will never guess
that it is me
that I went through the fire
and came out charred and worn

it is best that you do not know
how often you come to mind
how well I know you
and talk about you to others
it is best you think
about someone else

don’t take this away from me
this safety of darkness
don’t lose the sense of wonder
they beat out of you, in the days
when you were just at the surface
gasping for air–