in my mirror

I didn’t plan
to dwell on death
navigating days
weeks months
trying to appear poised
but you are there
in my mirror
and it
feels unfair
to mark me

my forehead
my one difference
a birthmark
that some find ugly
but I like it best
a mark of myself
atop your Sicilian eyes
your mouth

they played games
in school
tempting death
in mirrors
late night slumber parties
chanting and reciting
always
I
in a corner
reading a book

respecting death
as something far away
that could not
touch me yet
each day
searching my mirror
for answers-
for your smile
among the living

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We two

How come every time I kiss your neck
you smell like the wind?
how come every time I kiss your neck
you smell like the wind–
the outdoors as if you were born there and come home
each time you open the doors, kissed by sun and shower
every time you walk barefoot up the walk

Your hair hanging over my face
makes me think of corn silk
and I want to kiss your ear, every time
smelling the earth in your hair, and
the world I have not traveled much of yet
has left a map across your cheeks
and over your nose, which I know
will wrinkle as you read these words

Don’t be unkind–like lightning–when
I don’t translate it well; don’t ask too many questions, please
I already don’t feel your heart–
it stopped when you read the fourth line, when
you felt my lips on your neck and an earthquake rumbled under us
when I bit your flesh there, when I bit you
as sure as you are sulking

How come we speak two languages when we connect in space? Why
do I break orbit when I try to plug you into my psyche, tell me
why is it impossible to fully be one on this sphere–
us here, we there–the wind and rain in your skin and your hair, tell me
why can we not be one like weather and ocean
and the stars and the air

How come–

is everyone having a good time

the punch line
is the group of words
that punches you in the face
and hits you in the nuts

a final shot at your back muscles
while walking out the door

the punch line
makes at least one person laugh
but it usually is not you

you and your handful
compressed in your palm until
the walnuts crack
picking out the meat meticulously

munching on them
without much thought of passersby
each of which has an iron fist
that may or may not be aimed at you

watching them brick up the unused door
morter scraped and slid into a pail

the punch line
after the life-long set-up
the kicking and shoving
about each and every word

until the dcor cannot be opened again
we are passed all that
laughing at nothing
and everything
wishing we had packed away
a knowlege of what could have been
avoided

a joke to the last
hoping for kindness thrown in
pity for good measure
the mercy that comes with time
and memory

Working conditions

He said he would install a/c
in the room in which
I work in, but
I said no–I think I need
to be truly miserable to write
or the words come out anemic

He has not spoken to me
all day
since then
disgusted–or at least thrown
by my logic
which he says
has no basis outside of emotion

I wonder why he does not
go with the flow
and the reality
of living with me under a storm cloud
for 29 years
after all
I have a good umbrella.

It is cool under there
and safe from blinding suns.
He must admit
that the rain
has done an amazing job
with the impatiens


Look at me

because you don’t see me
anymore

now with my bonnet off
I’ll dance in the rain
or play on the train tracks

foolhardy soul
what losses now

because you don’t see me

the fear is waning
and all bets are off
when it comes down

to
assumptions
conclusions
predictions

and my brave face

because you no longer
see me

each rose
smells that much sweeter
being discovered
and
I take the steps
two at a time
a miracle on this day

as I am still here

when you look through me

I don’t get sad when the fog rolls in
the blanket enveloping me
reminding me of what is real

not your fantasy
with pinpricks and Tabasco sauce
and each day
less and less
I remember what we said

You stopped taking me into account

and I took another look
at my books, but
doing your own accounting
is foolhardy

and takes a cast iron heart

Now that you can’t see me

what was bright like neon
is dull under your spell

your moods like
the ocean

my invisible coat
you bid me wear

big moon
jagged stars
playing riffs in the blackest night

serenading–do you know
what felt like a golden moment
someone wants from me

for a lifetime

your heart

moving
pulsing
still tomorrow
your words something I have grown
too clingy to
hush
don’t criticize

I will be finished soon

Invisible now
the day scares me–
I want to run from it

hush

the night is nearly come
and today relegated to
the history of days

Lying in a field of violets somewhere in Wisconsin contemplating my purpose

I wrote for my mother
I wrote for my child
back then, I wrote for my lover
and a friend
and I wrote for God.
Once under a lunar eclipse
I wrote for myself.
Are these the right answers?

I understand
that you have all the answers
you have said
they are already in my head
I write from my heart
for no one but myself
Is that the right answer?

I write for myself
I write to share
I write to contribute
to the common good
to the community of this village
to add my voice
Is that the right answer?

You told me to seek myself inside
I want to be cock-sure
to question why I can go silent
when he does not see you
see me
when he does not see us
I still put words in a daisy chain.
There is your answer–

Clown

Excess made me stumble
your voice made me weak
sugar made me smile
your smile left me unable to speak

The kind of lonely I’ll take to my grave
the sort that separates
there is always someone willing
nearby
if you do not abdicate

Life is here–and a gift
for how long is up to the Creator
some days I give you a lift
other times I fear–I am a joke–

a clown in a spinning theater

North and south

From the other side of the world
I called out in pain
but you could not hear me

I traveled far
catcing a glimpse of you
over the tropic of capricorn

What more could I do
with my palsied hands
and you unwilling to cross
the prime meridian
even for
your
continental girl

We remained at opposite poles
politically
emotionally
infuriatingly terrifyingly
illogically
tragically

lost

Ballad of me and Rachel

 




She held the handle of the hairbrush
provocatively, and
I wondered what was about to happen
what was going to happen
when she took the steps across the room
to reach me
or my feet, frozen to the floor
would make their way to her–

I didn’t know her very well
but she knew me
She knew every spot on my body
that made me stay
every spot on my body
she knew where to touch
to get her way, every time

She said, ‘I like this neighborhood
I want to stay
to find a little place where I can paint
a little place to paint and say
I’ve been somewhere
and I belong somewhere
where someone loves me.’

Love, did she say love?
my mind and body confused
she wanted to stay and I wanted that too
but the word got in the way
four letters got in the way
but not that day, that day
we went everywhere she wished
without leaving my place

Years later I think of her fondly
I remember her soft hair
I remember how her hair lay over my chest
but I couldn’t say
we went every where she wished,that day
but four letters got in the way
and I couldn’t say why
but I wasn’t ready to say, ‘stay’.

making your brain my home

we are committed now to this journey through each others’ minds–
we took the steps and there is no backwards, no backward steps
until we reach the end, we’ll see it through to the end
of knowing you and stealing your thoughts, until I understand your miseries–
feeling you snake through my head at times tickles, sometimes squeezes hard
in those spots where it is narrow, where I booby-trapped the entrance
every tragedy covered in shame and pushing out the light–
could you just feel your way around, feel your way about the place
so that I might have comfort and warmth where you find
Antarctica, so I could have piles of skins and a blanket of care
your wild passions and tanks against the battlements of a weary mind–
and I walk-a-bout your head because you let me, and make it my home
for a little while, make it feel like home until I know you so well
I will conveniently forget where the doors are, forgetting
the front door and also the back