It takes three seconds
For a match to light
The wick of a candle.
It takes three flames
To rise into the night
To light the face of one's desire.
Three atoms, two hydrogen,
One of O,
May snuff the fire
And send the steamy smoke
Dancing away with your dreams.
I was thinking yesterday
For just a few minutes,
"What I would do
If I didn't have you?"
And I stared off into
A gray sky, swirled with dark gray
And hints of blue underneath.
And there was absolutely nothing there
To hold my interest
Or inspire me,
And I guess that's how
My life would be
If I didn't have you
To think about all day.
Rituals are for the rich,
Or anyone else
Who can afford to waste their time
Doing extravagant, specific things
That no one understands anymore.
Practices are for the practical,
Ways handed down
So one can know
When it is ok to eat poke salad,
And how to clean a cast iron pan.
Sometimes a practice and a ritual meet at a crossroad,
The ritual being carried on a litter,
The practice stands and says, "After you,"
Then shakes its head, wondering
Why the ritual is off down a road
That has never been finished
And never will be,
Because it doesn't lead to anyplace
Where anybody really wants to go.
I need a new name.
This one is ruined.
I'm sitting under the clothesline crying.
The other laundry is clean
And flaps dry in the wind.
The sturdy sheets and towels and undergarments
Shine white in the sun and smell of bleach.
My poor name is threadbare and soiled.
I turn it in my hands,
Looking for a place that might hold a clothespin.
Someone has drug it through the mud
And worn it out,
While my ears burn.
A swirl in the water
Will produce a three dimensional shadow
With a band of refracted light
Orbiting 'round the top.
It will glow on the mossy floor
Of a silver creek bed,
Or even the white bottom of one's own bathtub.
But if the allure for you is to go
And travel through such a worm hole,
You need to know
That the grass is not greener
On the other side of the dimension.
I know all you beautiful people
Gad about with all those other beautiful people,
Jet setting and dining on fine caviar,
Driving your fancy non-descript cars.
But me, I'm a recluse 98.2 percent of the time,
Only venturing out to walmart occasionally,
And trying so hard not become
A worse fat-ass than I already am.
"How did you get to be
So pretty and sweet ?"
I asked my cat,
Who's never had a bath
Or brushed her fur.
She purred at my compliment,
Arched her back a little bit
And twitched her tail.
She'd rather be favored
And preferred than eat
And will only nibble a bit from her dish
If I pet her first.
So maybe lovin' makes her sweet,
And rubbin' makes her pretty.
Well I'm a long tall texan--
Five foot two.
I wear short shorts and cowboy boots,
A big white hat to match my teeth
And two six shooters underneath
My pearl snap shirt
All holstered up.
I shoot my
Pizza before I eat it.
I shoot my sushi too.
And I'll shoot yours for you,
If you'd like?
Cause we texans know what's right,
And sushi ain't right,
Until it's been good and shot
And cooked well done.
So think about that
Before you get you some
Of this texan.
You can get all the way to the end
And find that something's missing.
You can wonder if it's done,
And others wonder with you.
You can lie in bed and dream
And feel the thunder,
See the lightning, be the very powers that be,
And still your thoughts be dumb, unthought,
For lack of the punctuation mark.
Punctuation, come and rest upon me.
Commas dangle on my breast,
Semi-colons from my ears,
Backslashes strung around my wrist,
Asterisks on my fingertips
And periods, like pearls around my neck,
All at my disposal.
But I can't seem to part
With this one very special exclamation point.
It's too cold for my arms out in the real world.
They circle and come back under the blanket
Together, like synchronized swimmers,
Dipping back under the waters.
Their long pale pinkens until they dare
To come up and out again,
Just to my face this time
To rub the sand out of my eyes,
These twin cats of mine that dart this way and that
After the same goose feather.
And slowly I emerge from the down.
I evolve with each step toward indoor plumbing.
My arms dark with blood,
Prepared already to fend off the jealous.
My mind accepts the awareness
And the state of being,
I was taken first over all
In the NFL draft.
I don't want anything from you.
I arrived centuries ago.
I've been a holy Roman Emperor
And a chief of a warring clan.
I thought to return as a woman
And live a life of peace
On a beach in southern France,
But like Tiresias I discovered
That although women do have more pleasure in love,
What life requires out of a woman is tiring and complex,
And much more so if she has been a destroyer of worlds in another life.
But I have learned much,
And all this just since I turned 40.
There is nothing more precious than sleep,
Nothing rarer, or more expensive,
And when you are poor and sleep deprived,
You stumble and grope for the way.
The day is long. The sun too bright.
The mouth is drawn, no appetite
Comes to urge you on to pursue
Most anything, least of all the things
You've really wanted.
Prayers undaunted, fly up as bees
To sting the gods, to hear the pleas
Of the weary.
That one might lie down in the night
And give up all else til the morning light comes
And sleep the deep sleep of a thousand glorious deaths
And lives to come.
Then take it all back in the morning sun
And run, forgetting all the pain
And the desperate bargains you made
With the great bread provider,
And taking back all your sorrows again
And labors, and wake to war with your neighbors all day long
And lie awake all night again
You could be somebody's pet,
If you're willing to be spayed, and/or neutered.
You could sleep all day like a cat
And sprawl around.
You could plop down on a lap
And purr, and be taken care of,
No matter how fat you tend to get.
If you stay sweet,
You could be somebody's pet,
If you're willing to be spayed, and/or neutered.
She hides behind motherhood
Like she hid behind her mother's apron as a child,
When someone tried to look at her
And tell her what pretty hair she had.
No one sees the brilliance
Behind the baby talk she chatters forth to her children,
And she shushes them kindly
If they innocently begin to say something
That might reveal the way she is at home.
Her children may be the only ones
Who have ever seen her intelligence,
Or her beauty, as they catch a glimpse
Of her bare skin
As her bathrobe falls onto the floor
And she steps into her closet
To find herself something to wear.
It will be something drab,
And bulky, with some non-descript patterns
Cheaply spooled, to camouflage her loveliness again.
I bought black pants for the recital.
They didn't fit right. They never do.
Everyone else was wearing dresses.
Oh, and shoes.
Except the boy on the front row left
Who looked down all night at his iPhone.
So I sang to him and meant every word.
Especially when the chorus came along,
Run away with me."
I gave my love a redbud tree
That sprouted native.
I asked him to think of me
When he saw the heart-shaped leaves
So green in spring's new sun.
I asked him to make three wishes
And blow me kisses
When the pretty red buds bloomed.
I asked him to bury me
When the seeds came falling down
All over the ground,
The sidewalk, and the lawn,
And to yawn and sleep
Alongside me through winter's deep snows,
Then rise again to love's warm smiles and winks and glows
In some wistful meadow downstream.
He breaks into song as we walk,
For our life is a musical.
We help each other along up the hill,
But sometimes we pull so hard on one another,
We fall down together
But what the heck,
We break into song about that, too,
For our life is a musical.
As I move,
I see a groove of light
Cut in the air.
It's still there,
Doing what I've just done,
But another light leads,
To show me
What to do.
And when time goes slow,
I see the rainbow
Of action and inaction together,
And in the stillness of the beauty
Of all that living light,
I renounce everything
Except the music it produces
In my loving heart,
And you, my one TrueLove.
In the bell-tower, bells ring,
And even when they don't,
A lovely vibration of metal
Hangs suspended waiting to sing.
Birds perch high
And chirp and tweet.
They look at me.
I lean wistfully,
Prone slightly at the waist,
One elbow bent,
Hand on chin,
My other arm and hand
Hangs out the window of the bell tower,
Feeling the wind blow.
Including the birds,
Waits for the bell to ring again.
My personal Easter Island,
The Sun rises and sets
On your mysteries,
The green grass blows and swirls as if
The island itself is a clipper,
Cutting its way through the oceans of time and space.
Is it heading to that place
Where Time itself is a destination,
A portal of Love
Where even the Great Reef
Is no barrier?
When my son wins an Emmy,
And he probably will.
I know he will not thank me
In his acceptance speech
Because he's already practiced it on me
As we walked around the neighborhood today.
He says he's going to wear his shorts,
No shirt, or shoes, and he won't be combing his hair,
And when he takes the mic,
He's going to say,
"It's about dang time I won an Emmy!"
I returned to my
Homeland to find
I didn't understand the language.
As a child,
I was not permitted
To use contractions
As the vulgate children did.
And so, I pull words up by the roots
And chop them up
And soak them in corn whiskey.
I'm making tinctures out of them.
An amber bottle,
A few drops in the ears
Of some stranger I wish to speak to,
And now, everyone seems to understand me just fine.
You have a mother,
So does she.
Her mother has a mother,
And we come from a long line
Of people who survived
Long enough to breed,
To intermarry and intertwine,
And you were born for such a time as this.
Remember you have ancestors,
The good, the bad,
The ugly, the beautiful,
The mums and the dads.
Dig deep into your unique DNA,
Look straight into the eyes of this very minute,
And see the beautiful place that you hold in it,
And say to yourself,
"I was born for such a time as this."
This cat is verry cattish.
This cat not so much.
There are cats, and there are dogs,
And a sliding scale between.
Some cats are more doglike.
Some dogs can be catlike.
This is a cow.
Cows are very cowish,
And they want to be.
They want to be as cowish as cowishly possible.
Cows don't want to be skinny.
They want to be fat,
Because they want to be eaten,
And they want to be as meaty as cowishly possible, as well.
So I made it as far as Supertarget,
But when I came out,
My car was dead,
To the tune of having to call for a tow.
A big truck came out,
And wenched my Pathfinder way up on top,
And just as I turned, embarrassed as I was,
A car came by with the with the windows down,
And I could hear the guffaws
From a mile away.
And just as they passed,
The kid leaned out and yelled at me,
"This is Edmond! Get a Lexus, Plebe!"
(It was my son and one of his friends.
They offered me a ride,
But I called for an Uber, instead.)
There are flies,
And then, there are beautiful flies
That flutter just out of reach.
They cast their spells
And we follow,
Thinking we can catch them.
Like the mother killdeer,
Who feigns a broken wing
And leads us away from her precious cargo,
Yet unalike, for butterflies
Have been known to lead humans
Toward some jealous spirit
In the merry woods,
To blip us over the head with a Rowan stick,
And turn us into a pool of water.
I can wander off
Like a child
On a sunny day,
Into a green forest,
Following a butterfly,
And never think of my home.
I can stay,
And never be hungry,
And sit down at dusk
In the sand of a dry creek bed,
And wonder where you are.
I don't want you to build me a house,
But come and live in my yurt with me.
Play me a rhythm on a tambourine.
Make up a song, and sing it to me,
So that I can do what I want to, anyway--
Giggle, and make love to you.
A teacher told us how
General George Washington became president.
She didn't believe me when I told her
That my great great great great great great great great grandfather, Amadoya,
Was named emperor of the Cherokee people
Long before George Washington became president,
And how Amadoya's great grandson
Had negotiated a treaty with George Washington
On the trails of the Chickamauga.
She didn't believe me,
Even though it was true.
Maybe that's because earlier in the year,
When she was telling us how
Secretariat had won the big race called the "Triple Crown,"
I told her that he was my uncle.
Whatever this is,
Let there be no word
To describe or declare it.
Let all of its delicious zing
Be mystery and anathema!
Let the recipe burn
In an unwatched pot
That boils over too soon
On the hearthfire.
And let the magic nonsense reign!
And let the scoffers say it can't last!
And let the unspeakable goodness
Confute and attest,
Early and often,
And all day long.
I began the labyrinth mandala
At age five
In a kindergarten
(8x1) large Crayola Crayons
And twenty four other children.
Winding through mazes
And dot to dots,
I solved small mysteries
With Encyclopedia Brown,
And helped a goose
Find her golden egg.
And somewhere along the clips and corners
I graduated to 64 Crayolas
And only twenty in the class.
And now I find myself back up,
Or down, at the top,
With 4,096 colored pencils
At my disposal.
Lying askew and irately akimbo
That I can't use them all at once
On the strange pages of this adult coloring book,
In which I struggle to stay
Very outside the lines.
In that moment when you wish
That you had let your children sleep
In the bed with you
Against the doctors' advisements,
And that you had stayed in bed all day with them
And eaten peanut butter
And played go fish
Until they were forty-two,
Then a part of you realizes
That they would have missed some things
By means of your coddling,
But they will miss more
Swaddled in the grave.
And yet, another part of you may be secretly thankful and jealous
That they will miss certain heartbreaks.
They've overcome their biggest one,
And I have yet to.
They want to build more condos
On the other side of the duckpond,
But they'll stay just as vacant as the ones on cannery row.
Snowbirds come for the winter,
But they find that it's too cold here.
Ducks come for the summer
And can't wait to go
Escape the blistering heat
In Santa Fe or San Diego.
Spring brings allergies, rotten tornados,
Early blooms and frozen trees.
Tourists and company are gone by fall,
And we can have football
(The only thing we're really good at)
All to ourselves.
Okies 37, visitors, zero.
Younger women hate it
When they're in the midst of a head-tossing laugh,
With their white teeth showing big,
And their eyes lit up by the flames of some young man's fires,
And they happen to lock eyes
With an older woman across the room.
A cold knowing smirk
Can snuff the joy out of her sails
For just a second.
But then slowly, the younger woman
Allows herself to forget
Everything the knowing eyes
Of experience just told her.
Slowly her sails fill back up,
And she will laugh again,
But this time not so loudly.
And she will stop laughing entirely
And offer a moment of complete silence
When she sees the older woman
Get up to leave.