Monday, February 28, 2005

two fathers

1. The sweet man lying in bed
stands 6 feet tall during his day.
He cannot hear the guitar
singing in the next room (There are places in my life).
He cannot feel his Labrador
pressed against his side
(or his beard scratching his face).
His feel are killing him slowly with the pain,
but now,
he rests soundly.
I cannot hear his heart beating, but it is
in rhythm with the twinkling stars
above us tonight...

I love this man
and maybe one day
I will be able to tell him
(perhaps in the damp, cold duck blind).


2. Tonight, my poor father weeps for his wife.
His tears soak the pillows and sheets
and are fresh with sadness.
No time has passed for him in these three years.
He still sees her powdering her nose; slipping into
her satin nightgown.

Tonight, a family is eating dinner and the two
siblings are arguing over the last piece of bread.
Somewhere, a drunkard stumbles out of a
bar and vomits into a stained, metal trash can.
As he lifts his head, he sees a morsel of
bread and eats--finally regaining hunger
that was lost years ago.

The melancholy moon is bright tonight.
The leaves and grass are frosted; the chickadee
is in her nest warming her chicks.
If you listen, you can hear his wail;
crying for years past,
and frustrations ahead.
He will weep always.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I did not appreciate her
until I left.
I did not know her
until I understood her
and I did not understand her
until she showed me the depths of myself.
I did not love her
until I recognized it
in the gentle touch of an elder couple
strolling down the street.
I define myself through her
and with her, I experience the world.
I did not finally touch her soul
until she touched mine.

The Candle's Flame

The candle's flame
flickering in its bowl,
flashes a butterfly's shadow
upon the wall.
Its patterned wings flutter.
The rim of the bowl
curves the butterfly's wings
making an arched span.
Simple in beauty, hovering on the wall,
complex in specifics,
I admire its beauty
until a gust of wind
extinguishes the butterfly's flight
(it's soul rises up, pours into the sky, and
disappears).

A shower in the summertime

The hot, dry wind
blows against my clean, wet hair.
My shorts stick to the
backs of my wet legs.
A shower in the summertime
makes the dry heat
feel refreshing.
The pillar supports
its building,
withstanding the tempest
outside.
It decorates and
structures, but
burdens itself.
It shows you how
elaborate strength
can be.
But, in the end,
it stands alone.

The Tempest

slow motion
heart pounding
sweaty, shaky fingers dialing my father

A mistake realized is a heavy rock
that hurts when it hits the bottom.
(Fight of flight is not a decision)
Wanting to run, but "Wait! He's my brother!"
casts concentric circles
in the pond of my mind,
as the mistake sinks
deeper...
deeper.
Stopping,
I face Tyson.
I want to laugh because he looks so funny
when he's angry.
(Tyson disappears)
His shell punches me in the head.
(The shell of a man is no less strong than anger)
My throbbing head feels no pain.
I dive into Tyson's waist
for protection.
I'm angry. I'm scared.

A storm is invented,
producing bowling-ball sized hail
crashing down on my back.
"If I play dead, the storm will stop."
"Where's Tyson? Why won't he shelter me from this storm?"
(Wrath)
Instead,
the storm rises from the ground
kicking me in the stomach.
(Shoes hurt)
I want to throw-up blood,
so it will stop. "Will I die?"

Silence
(The storm has stopped)
I want Tyson to pick me up.
I don't think he's coming back.
(It's dark)
I can't tell if my eyes are open or not.
I want to drive home
to Ellen.
I can't see.
I can't remember the drive.
(Ellen is crying)
I can't hear myself.
Ellen doctors my wounds,
while I wonder
what happened to my brother.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

fighting

The silence
(between two lovers)
of stubbornness
aches my head,
aches my heart,
is deafening my ears.

The silence,
(between two lovers)
of disappointment
nauseates me,
makes me bleed from the pain.

The silence,
(between two lovers)
makes my words shrink.
I freeze...my body is tense.
I feel myself drowning
and it seems to get quieter.
I wait for it to pass
so I can breathe again.
The mute sits under a tree
drinking her tea as
the explosion burn my face.
I fall to the earth
waiting for the sun to rise,
in the darkness,
screaming and crying.
She cries, but does not move.
I scramble to escape.
She feels her tears,
the intense light and heat
moistening her pant leg.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

born to catch butterflies on her tongue

She was born to catch butterflies on her tongue.
With shooting stars in her eyes,
she would wait for the rain
to wash the day
out of her hair.
Sitting on a small, dry patch of grass,
she closes her eyes
and waits
anticipating the flutter on her tongue.

As a child
she advised balloons
how to bounce and stretch.
She interrogated hens
until they told her
the truth.

When she tires, she closes her eyes
and shrinks to the size of a pea,
and hides under a maple leaf
in the backyard.
She feels safe there
resting and dreaming
of a world filled
with butterfly wings.
Running toward the blackened horizon,
the sky is nice and big tonight.
I see shadowed mountains
wrapped in the space of the night.
I feel warm here
waiting to envelop the night and hug the sky.
There are plenty of stars
shining on me,
so I extend my arms and reach outward
until the smell of the evening lingers on my
fingertips.
Her white skin,
pure,
soft,
lightens the night.
Brilliant white
intensifies her angelic, satin gown
hugging her
sexy
white
thighs.

Tonight...

The crescent moon
glued to the black canvas
smiles down on me
asking for help.
I am mortal
who cannot help such a fantastic moon.
You can. You are special says the fantastic moon.
Please smile. Do it for me.
I smile, and the moon
throws a single star
across that black canvas.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Mother's Ashes

The house where she lived (or continues?)
grew cold after she passed.
I can only imagine the intense heat,
blinding, sweaty stinging in my eyes, of the crematory.
Now, I sit by the gas fireplace and
get a chill down my fragile spine
as the skin on my back heats slowly (I feel no pain).
I sit and bake and think of my mom.

The primer is still on the walls of the entryway;
her Martha Stewart attempt at interior design.
I stare blankly at the line where she stopped,
the blinding white juxtaposes the melon green,
staring back at me as if to say "This is when that
tumor debilitated my arm."

I can feel the cancer when I enter the door.
I can see it on the walls, and feel it in the air.
It stinks of emptiness, loneliness, death,
making it easier to weep.
The cold, white kitchen-tile stabs sharply
at the balls of my bare feet.
I feel dead all around me in this morgue
(and half expect to see frozen bodies:
eyes shut, skin cold and damp--like raw chicken)
in the drawers
where my father now keeps his knives.

The bedroom is the worst by far.
Walking in, I imagine the mortuary in MT
where I had to view my grandfather.
The carpet was a deep burgundy and
matched the backing of each pew.
Row after row, the pews (with all their hymnals and bibles)
gently led me toward the front.
I marched manditorily and tried to avert my eyes,
but his cold, dirty, blue skin froze me still.
His hands were swollen
from the embolism.
My father grabbed his hand quickly as if to
catch him from falling deeper into death.
He thurst this hand in my face, but I only
winced and stared at his suit: neatly pressed
and freshly smelling of mothballs and chloroform.

Nearing the waterbed where my parents slept,
and made love that one night I walked in,
I want to see my mother,
cold and pale.
Her urn distracts me.
The shrine my father has made scares me.
Her ashes are so close to that bed and
I feel nausea seeping through me and
it feels like the disease.

Our house feels haunted, but its not.
She cannot be a poltergeist, and phantom,
the urn is sealed tightly
and filled with ash.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

a letter

Dear Mr. Hughes,

I am not black,
but I know that you love me.
I have never met you,
but I know we are friends.
I do not need to meet you,
or touch your ebony skin.
I read your words, and
I feel you.
I listen to your stories, and
they speak to me.
We have never met, but
I can hear your voice.
Soft and sweet,
you speak to me
telling me everything's going to be all right.
Your words are encouraging
telling me to write
from my heart.
I feel you next to me, and
I know that you are smiling.
I am not black,
but I know that you love me.

Mr. Hughes, you are unconditional.
Tonight, my mind meanders
through the pages of my soul.
I read my thoughts in the ink of my pen,
surprised at their
outcome.
If I am quiet,
I can hear the smooth
ramblings of my head.
If I concentrate,
I can understand.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Lying face down in the grass,
my face is moist.
Dew collects on my hair,
but I am sweating also.
I breathe now, not having
done so for some moments.
The grass smells of summer.
The blades scratch my face.
I open my eyes, but
cannot see.
I am disoriented, but
breathing.
How long has it been?
I roll over, but cannot
move.
My mind is processing my movements.
My body is dumb.
The fresh air fills my stagnant lungs.
The sun warms my back.
At least I can feel it now.
I melt in the sun and slowly move.
Pain seizes my joints,
but I face upright.
I see my reflection in the
sky
next to Lucy and her diamonds.
With ebony hair,
black skin offsets tight, dark curls.
His silhouette stands.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Laurel, MT

(1) North side (NW end):
Driving into town,
past the tracks,
the smell of sulfur
hangs in the air.
Tall cigars,
stacked next to tall factories
smoke themselves
into the sky.

(2) South side (SW end):
The train has left
its fingerprints
riding along the ground.
The train has circled
the lake
waiting for salmon to return.
Blue collars stay blue collars
in the Laurel working end.
Grandfathers take their grandsons
fishing in an empty lake.
If we could find one,
Grandma will fry it up
when we get home.

(3) East end:
Homes line the streets
separated by rocky alleys.
Alleys that connect the town
flowing through the houses.
These are the veins
of Laurel.

(4) West end:
Tractor tires lay in
overgrown weeds.
Indentations mark a
faded diamond
where children still play
(as in 1953).
Saturday nights
we gather together
cheering Laurel's children.
No winners,
no losers,
just baseball.

(5) Laurel sits in the middle,
beating life to its state.
Roads come and go,
but Laurel continues beating.
Early in the morning,
among the quiet trees,
you can hear it
if you close your eyes
and open your heart.

watching my mother in the morning

My mother paints her face in the morning.
Her vanity is ugly:
the bleached curls
sit delicately on her shoulders,
bouncing as she shifts her weight
(every curl has its perfection).
Her face is beautiful.

Lines on her face
pave her experiences;
they show her age.
Cover those wide, gaping
lines,
graffiti over the years,
until you look
23
again.
It is perfectly done.
She is still ugly.

poetry

poetry:
listening
until my head aches.
Close my eyes.

poetry:
listening
until it soothes my aches,
my sorrows,
my being.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

For Claire

It's usually late Fall when we embrace
the cold of the dark morning,
gather the assortment of dried rose petals
we have been collecting since this time last year,
and visit your mountainside.

I knew you before I was introduced to
the ritual of your visit.
When your sister asked me to join
your family, I wanted to
cry inside.

For the past two years,
you have been this untouchable,
beautiful force.
undaunted and innocent,
you are in every conversation,
every dinner, every picture,
every day, and
I want to cry
because now,
you are in me.

I never thought I deserve you
(still, I do not),
but you embrace me
and surround my life.

So, in late Fall,
when the sun and moon are
arguing in the sky,
we visit.
I have never felt
such bitter cold and warmth
at the same time.
It smells clean
on your mountainside and
I can't help but smile
because this is no memorial for loves lost;
it is a memorial for life.

Rose petals
piled in my mitten hand
begin to take flight and dance in your whispers.
Can you feel the metallic underwater
of the dried petals?
They shine like a new watch
before they swirl downstream,
pinballing against your rocks.

Your sisters are beautiful and playful
as we all skip across your mossy meadow.
Mike compares us to animals:
children frolic first
for exploration, and
the watchful mother surveys
and protects.
Mike asked me to join him in the rear
as part of the male watch.
I was honored, but still wanted to play.

We are a family, and the cold
soon disappears, but the wind picks up
the more excited you get.
We laugh, play, and sometimes cry,
but we always take a picture
so we can tell others (less fortunate)
about your mountainside.

twelve

1.
Her naked back,
silhoutted in the darkness,
is relaxed.


2.
An odd shape,
pools of white
reflect my image, my stare.


3.
Surrounded by the ashen forest,
a clear meadow
shines in the moonlight.


4.
The bright light
blinds me momentarily,
for I need to stare,
but remain in the shadow.


5.
Shielding the delicate,
it is powerful
and makes her strong.


6.
Sloping toward the shades of gray,
I cannot tell which side is up,
or where to begin searching.


7.
I am intimidated by the sheer
face of hte cold slope.
I begin my climb,
but cannot finish.


8.
Sliding down her spine,
I cannot control
my movements.


9.
Heat radiates
and she begins
to glow.


10.
The ridges
of her vertebrae
are stacked like building blocks.
I want to play.


11.
Still and cold
her stone
collects snow in patterns.


12.
Water running
over her shoulders
collects at the nape.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The sun will rise over an array of houses,
spreading itself thinly over the tile roofs.
A couple will embrace each other,
welcoming the naked morning,
after spooning the entire night.
Bread will be watched
by a baker, as it browns slightly.
He will admire its color
like a father admires his son's hair
in the sunlight.
Many things will happen,
as this naked morning dresses for its new day.

But today, the sun will be warmer.
Its color will fall on my face, and
I will smile into it.
We will embrace each other,
and unfold our tangled bodies
from a night of stillness.
I will admire the color of your hair.
I feel warmth as sunlight falls on my face.
My eyes are open, and your smell
is on my skin.
It is a sweet smell, and I must kiss you now,
before this urge takes over my heart,
my soul.
I am gentle because you still sleep.
Today is a wonderful day,
filled with unique richness.
When you open your eyes,
I will tell you that I love you, and
wish you a happy birthday,
because today
is your day.

Monday, February 07, 2005

words

You can
dance with words,
sing with words,
walk with words,
play with words.

You can
laugh,
cry,
yell,
be shy.

You can pretend to be a dragon,
fly with angels,
skip with sunsets
along sandy beaches.

You can do anything
and everything
with words.
If I look
closely,
with my head
pressed to the wooden table,
and if the light
from a warm, April afternoon,
hits us
(me and the wood)
together...

If I look
closely,
I can see myself,
trapped,
in the table,
in the wooden
lines.

My nose
(its faint outline-long and German)

I am there,
if only for an
afternoon moment.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The softness of every summer night,
for the rest of my life,
is expressed
in the way you touch me.
Ever so gently,
ever so quietly,
I feel your breath upon my skin.
I feel a warm summer breeze
as I lie in your bed.
It warms my skin as
you warm my heart.

I will never sleep alone
as long as I love you.
Our love
is bound together
delicately
by interlocked fingers.

We walk together one evening,
and you whisper,
I love you.

I feel the warm breeze again.

My heart beats faster
for you
as the years pass.
We are together on this summer night,
the stars above.
Love
is asleep in our arms,
as we lull and soothe her.
You glance at me, and
I feel the warm breeze again.

Our love cannot be separated
by time, nor distance.
Together we cannot be broken.
We are beautiful, and our love
is strong.

The breeze will always blow
through our hearts,
and whisper our sweet names.

late one night

The real dream begins
when I exit the highway.
I pass reality by
and enter the mind
my heart created.
The music begins,
the blackness begins,
the road begins.

It is three a.m. and dark.
My eyes are heavy, but
I drive home.
I tuck half of my heart
into bed, and
begin to drive.

The radio is what keeps
me sane.
Life seems true, but
the road, the tires, the sleep,
all make me feel crazy;
This being the sanest I have
ever felt.
The music.
It is what keeps my reality
real.

The painted lines
appear and disappear.
Forty miles per hour seems slow.
I seem to be floating through
a dream...my dream?
Am I awake?
Am I still driving?
I know I am driving because
it continues.
Every night it continues.

My car allows me to be
surreal.
My music is the link to
the reality in which I will awake.
Tomorrow will be another day.
Tomorrow will only come
if I make it home.
If I tuck the other half of my heart
into bed, and
begin to sleep,
dream.
Is this a dream?

I swerve and my body clenches.
My eyelids are heavy,
but my eyes are wide.
They stay open as I drive.
The night is black.
The lines are white.
Do I dream in color?
Do I see white lines and
a black night?

I see my marker.
My house will be approaching
soon on the right.
I turn off my engine.
I know I am awake now.
I thank her for gliding
home safely.
I sleep, and I dream.
Rain
begins to fall.
I hold her in my arms.
The cool drops
tickle and dance over warm skin.
Inside,
desire dances.
My body is hot.
Outside,
water beads off our bodies,
and collects on the ground.

I taste her lips,
and feel her warmth
pouring in me.
The tight, wet cotton
sticks to her skin.
I can see the pink
of her nipples.
Our bodies are hard.

We embrace
that evening
as if to never see each other again.
I cannot feel the rain.
I forget how my body feels.
No longer me and her,
but us.

C'est la vie

The sun rises, and there I am,
another moving spec.
The sun is bright,
but it is more light than warm.
The sun is shining and the
birds are singing-
their plot,
laughing their goal.
I go about my day as I would any other;
nothing special about today.
To them, I am
without meaning
without purpose.
Just marching around in rows.

If only they had someone
to look down upon them.

As I get into my truck,
it happens.
A drop falls from the sky
landing on my head.
I feel the warmth and wetness of
the drop.

As I run my fingers through the
jungle of my own hair,
I peer into the sky above me.
I wonder.
Could it have been?
Is it possible?
What are the odds?

As the unfortunate conclusion pours
into my head,
the angry realization flows over my face.

A bird pooped on my head!

"Ces't la vie" the French say.
Well, a bird has obviously never pooped
on the head of a Frenchman.

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