Today was a good day,
and I loved you in it,
from afar. I did not love
you because it was a
good day; nor was it a
good day because I
loved you. The love was
incidental, a by-product
of things. Yet it made
the day wider and
gladder, extended its
hand to me. Not the
commanding type of
love, more the sit by
my side and make me
watch clouds build
into thunderstorms type.
I ate the second-to-last
plastic wrapped little
square caramel in the
house today, sprinkled
with smoked salt
and served on a sliver
of green mango. The
tastes melted like poetry,
and I wished you were
there, I wanted to feed
you some, with my fingers,
directly to your mouth to
linger and caress, your
tongue- it was THAT kind
of love, that kind of day.
Instead I sat in new
terraced soils, alone
under tropical sunlight
pondering what crossing
borders on some maps
really would do to the
natural order that
of thought in places
of low latitude.
I rubbed massage oil
between my palms,
and thought, I should
probably buy more
caramels; I may get
brave enough on your
next visit to tell you
the wisdom of which
the clouds informed me
Written for a Living Poet 5: A Field Guide to Dragons
for all that we have been told
of roses and hearts
and glittery rainbows
the act of writing poetry
is still a man's domain
by and large;
women write of "female interests"
and men define
the laws, morals-
ask the toughest questions
are known as the new epithet:
"wow so Smart!!"
[add a couple of hearts and smiley
faces in there for effect]
for being clever.
but there is a defining edge
cleverness and art
sometimes, not always
cross paths and purpose.
There are shores
we all wallk alone,
riptides we do not put our
toes in, knowing
how quickly one will get
simply sucked under.
there are dragons none of us,
men, women or otherwise,
ever slayed. The reason
is deceptively uncomplicated.
We have trained our eyes
not to see them- neither the
scales they leave scattered
on breakfast tables in-between
marital silences; nor the snot
they leave in endlessly filthy
drains in bathtubs and
nor the scorched places
in the conjugal bedclothes.
these are the reptiles of
our dysfunction, the worms
of discontent. Like Blake's
unnamed pestilence, they
gnaw at the heart of all
we once believed, was true
and good. Very few men venture
into their lairs, even by accident.
and here you come, respresenting
"the fairer sex" walking in beauty,
acquainted with the night
armed with a ruler, weighing device,
watercolors inks and pens,
among us, walking shorelines,
mapping the feeding places
dipping whole legs, not just toes,
into undertows, studying the
riptides of the North Atlantic.
the unarmed Poetess, the knight
in humble rags. Examining
the way the sun
glints just so after a household
tempest, reflecting off the spines
of dinosaurs, roses, and books.
Sketching from the places
where "real life" intersects
dissecting the internal anatomy
of the disillusioned heart.
Creating nothing less
than our own
"Illustrated Field Guide
to the Dragons of New England."
(for Linda. because it was far past time
that someone wrote something, for you.
Happy Birthday, 2014.)
That thing that they never
The Light as Seen Through a Screen of Ferns
My friend I beheld the limitlessness
in your hands that day.
It had the trappings of nostalgia.
I saw the peach colored skies
and extended twilights of long drawn-out
of my youth.
I was again counting wingbeats
of tiny kinglets
in the fir trees;
the clean taste of sweet birch bark
and teaberry graced my tongue,
and I tracked foxes through unspoiled miles
to far-off interior destinations.
Crystal castles of hoarfrost
crept inspired into my tales.
Your embrace just makes me remember
something about a time
before life's betrayal-
You are the part of me that recalls
in alpine meadows;
the lost little girl in me
that hid in giant Pennsylvania ferns
when life got too real... and stayed there.
And she shyly comes forward,
taps the woman I have turned into
on the shoulder-
she says that
you are to me the stillness of winter's hushed brooks
flowing under layers of trapped ice;
you are the orgy of spring's passion,
the productivity of summer;
the bounty and wistfulness
of fall harvest and migration.
She wants me to lay you down
and gaze naked, with you
at the world
tinged green by a screen of ancient chlorophyll,
patterned by fronds
dappled in sunlight and dew with cool moss
supporting our supine forms.
I imagine your mouth
tastes like the joy of clear water
sprung from granite ridges
with ravens doing barrel rolls overhead.
nothing in reality of daytime
will ever compare to those secret
night rides, in my mind, of my own dark heart-
on a black horse,
unsaddled, my inner thighs
soaked and clenching
as you and I barreled over moors
those times under the watchful gaze
of the Seven Sisters
each one a sin more deadly than the last
and I awoke thinking the dawn was actually twilit,
for a moment I thought of
nothing more than green dampness in your hair
and my own unclothed wetness.
I thought I might accept that ride for real
if and only if
night were not going to be interrupted
by the searing glare of the next dawn's reality.
Surrender still beckons just beyond
the limits of my own awareness.
I close my hand around a puff of oysterflower
trying to protect it
but it disperses a little at a time
each time the wind shifts
to a new direction.
Red shale has turned to pumice and obsidian;
and your eyes are lined now
but I remember you clearly-
you walked me through a limestone maze
12 years ago
and showed me a cold blue star;
you told me its light was in me,
and that the passing of songbirds, kinglets,
that fly south in darkness
can only be heard by those whose ears
are attuned to the whispers of fern dreams.
Did I follow their halting journey to your trees, then?
If you were to hone to a surgeon's edge
a blade of volcanic glass,
slice your palm and the space above my heart,
and let our red cells mingle-
maybe we would commit
to dreams from childhood.
Do friends still make blood oaths?
I cannot promise you:
the wind, the stars, the rain
nor an unbroken line of snow tracks.
Our spheres simply do not coincide.
And I still wander lost
in yesterday's fieldstone maze.
But maybe, some tomorrow-
I could gift you one single perfect today.
I don't know what on earth
you would do with it-
perhaps work it into a gemstone, for me;
as fine and pure and fragile
as a single dewdrop
capturing morning sunfire.
You could suspend it on spider silk
and we could gaze on it
as a recalled vision of naked childhood
If the horses are not afraid one day
of morning light;
we could heal the scars on our hands and hearts
and relive the beauty of starlight
before waking from a dream
black hair and sapphire
You were cruel, but not in ways
more measurable than our peers
and, well, cruelty was a code of
You were the only one then
I wished had seen past my
uncoolness, my non-cruelty,
an absence where a cigarette
legs too long and clothes nowhere
near anything resembling style,
and a mind too interested
in the content of books
for anyone's friends.
Would it have been different
had it been you, not the football
player my dad wanted me seen with,
that took my virginity?
I wanted you more.
How does an invisible girl speak,
You should have left that place, too.
Anger is too high a risk factor
for those of us drawn with too much
to fill the stingy space allotted
on a page that expectation has already
outlined for us in shades
of dull mining town
we bled outside of the lines.
when do those roles of "too good"
and "not good enough," reverse?
I smiled to learn that you
became a bodybuilder who loved ABBA.
Yes, I thought, that fits the fuck you world
Paulie I knew.
I wished I had told you
the lead in my first novel, the one I
grew too ashamed to finish-
she had your black hair and sapphire
eyes. It was the only voice I ever knew
how to speak to you with.
for Paul, 1975-2013
The problem is my heart,
It just plain refuses
to hard boil, no matter what
I do to it.
I have tried full immersion
in roiling hot seas
pickling spices, microwaved
depravity, open flame,
abdication of duty.
And I tell you...
after these decades, still
if you pried off its shell,
pricked it with your fork,
sliced its midline with
a sharpened knife-
you would find the center
running into the shadows of your life's
serving plate; and utterly
A Galaxy Was Seen Dying Today
The world's most beautiful butterflies die every day
by the millions, unnoticed.
In today's news- astronomists capture images
of an entire galaxy undergoing Little Death.
throwing off fireballs like missiles as it loses its energy
unable to create anew, they say- stars, planets
asteroid belts. It just kind of gives up. Living.
it dies... and takes out everything in its path
with it: a suicide mission of old age crisis.
there are billions of us, billions of them, but most of us
simply don't always think to look around and notice them
Law of averages says there is life, maybe, in its path-
would they have known to look for its coming?
Say last prayers? Get the hell out of there?
was Van Gogh's Starry Night perhaps painted on other
by other hands, protected as a pinnacle of achievement
by someone else's sensibilities? How long did they
manage to protect it, from themselves, from negligence,
before dying too alongside their greatest works,
was it something they thought to take with them
where and when they went? Could they?
Their fleeting perfection goes unmourned, unnoticed,
a flower set to wind dance stilted swirling
in the skies of our limited days.
why bother, then, any single act of great beauty,
created in a dispassionate universe where fireballs
of mindless passage can obliterate them?
Which loss would be keener- mourning the treasured
robbed, or not comprehending the gifts while they sat in
our hands, fleetingly? can an act of beauty grace
a soul forever, if it comes back as someone else's
os does it become annihilated, forever?
Do we celebrate knowledge, or its opposing force?
Today, I stopped to rescue a single dying fritillary, placed
out of harm's way, where she could drink in safety;
she was gone when I returned. Maybe she only
for me to write this poem
But I tell you, this tree planting
is awful patient work
and it all seems provisionary,
considerations for terrain
nourishment without and within
the stubbornness of some roots
and fragility of others.
there is a community
waiting to define all limits.
and I, I circle warily, measuring:
projected branch spread, depths,
tapping straight lines into crooked fields
addressing property rights
the wants of children,
A job, hard under best circumstances;
infinitely more frustrating
if one does not even know
what kind of tree one is
invited to plant
in the first place.
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