CURTAINS

the hover and swoop
of dragonflies
sweet effusion of Lavender

I hear and smell
lying on my mother’s bed
it is summer and a breeze

comes through the window
that opens to the Colorado plain
sheer white curtains

flow over me
barely touching me
as if a hint or whisper

requiring stillness
awaiting the next breath
nothing could be as peaceful

as curtains lifting and waving
in and out of half sleep
empty mind I rest

this is what I remember
of my childhood
it will be my last memory

a gift that holds me
even now
sometimes it is the only thing

that reminds me
of who I really am
an innocent girl

housed momentarily
in this wayward stolid form
sometimes it is

the only thing left
after a lifetime of seeking
what is good

 

IRIDESCENCE
for Rebecca

Dead dragonflies
line the sidewalk.
Dozens of them,
a curious sight.
Not artificially placed
just naturally so
and still intact.
They look crisp from
the potent rays of
late afternoon sun,
some re-moistened
by cool evening rain.
For humans, autumn is
a sweet dormancy.
For these harmless creatures,
it is a noble harbinger.

Most lie belly up, prone and dead-looking
although a few have been righted
by the wind.
These latter ones appear alive
and ready for flight.
How tempting it is
to set a finger lightly
upon their wings,
nudge them all awake
and watch the rare one
twitch from its cultish
slumber to fly away.
Surely it would not go far;
it would merely hover
over the sidewalk
in search of solitude—
perhaps tuck itself under
a low-hanging bough,
settling in for last rites.

As for its lifeless
brothers and sisters,
a finger, no matter how gently laid,
upon their iridescent wings
would not awaken them,
but would flake away
the latticework of vein
upon rice paper,
leaving small piles
of crumbs at our feet.

The wings of dragonflies,
once touched,
take on the
consistency of stardust
and form the
circumference of halos.

Some people believe
new life
comes through death.

 

DAY AFTER MANIA

open eyes, open
to the blue world
stay awake to look
around and see

what you did yesterday
in feverish amusement
drove 50 in a 25
laughed the whole way
spun out of control

10% cautious observer
90% wild, hungry
for sensation
color saturation
speed rain body touch
couldn’t get enough of
brash raw elements

10% sighed relief
upon arriving home
90% climbed the roof and
danced atop the skylight
stomping until it cracked
drip, drip, drip

open eyes, open
you are in deep

the ramifications
start now

 

CARRYING THE SCENT OF MONTANA

chiffon floats
diffuse as pollen
over delicate shoulders
billowing golden hue
Van Gogh’s brightest
wheat

self-adoring in speckled
sun

flowing lengths of material
with flowers dyed
clasping a cascade of quiet
air—
one slight exhalation
breathed
on lovers skin a few towns
over
in slow motion
candlelight

 

ROAD TRIP FOR SOULS FORLORN

Obsidian silhouette
harvesting truth by moonlight
a delicate enterprise
of poetic intrusion
rifling turbid waters
a riotous clamor
mourning the beginning
of things never to be

 

STORY OF HOW THE WORLD CLOSES

How to make Communion wafers:
1. Mix a paste of flour and water
2. Press with a hot iron to emboss the Cross

first the wrists get thin
wafer thin
translucent so
light shines through
potato chips
waxed paper
linen handkerchief
grape leaves in the sun
one wrist laid atop the other
a humble prayer
secret religiosity
practiced anywhere
waiting on a bench
at the typewriter
on the edge of the bed after making love
eyes open or closed
doesn’t matter where, how

that is first

then after the wrists get thin and the waxed paper and making love
the lone door closes slowly
so slowly every millisecond of the creak
is heard with peculiar singularity
and the entire aural event
radical as hell
is transposed
into a riot-causing symphony
four long movements that
sound like a door creaking
avant-garde, all the rage
Stravinsky on opening night

that is second

then after the lone door closes slowly and the creak and Stravinsky
the circumference of the last window
(as on a fishing boat or cruise ship)
begins to shrink
from a telescopic view of the ocean
to a peephole on an apartment door
pencil eraser
bobby pin
bullet
until there is only a pinpoint
of anything other than darkness
yet it is not light that is left inside
it is the paste of Communion wafers

that is third

then after the circumference of the last window shrinks and the pinpoint and wafer paste
the world closes
because man cannot live on paste alone
light is needed
an intermittent sunbeam or prism
a window the diameter of a straw
one eye an apparition of heaven
even if recalled only in sleep or drunkenness
even if only quasi-believable
there must remain access to somewhere other than here
there must remain access to somewhere other than here
a window, pinpoint, humble prayer
waiting on a bench
before the wrists get thin
waxed paper, bullet
all the rage
riot, riot, riot

that is fourth

 

THIS POEM IS NOT ABOUT DRUGS

piano faintly heard
a neighbor’s window cracked
the singer pulls in lonesome souls
baritone a campfire
a croon
a wail
winged serenade slips
through sateen curtains lifting
a lamp signals life
otherwise darkness
his voice a stutter
in breath
shake of tears
discernible discord

this singer
the Psalmist he must be
poised on the rim of the pit
hands curved around mouth
bellowing lamentation
letting down knotted sheets
the first and last responder
for the hot clay mud
crusts about the ankles
no song can save

lampshade, windowsill, piano filters in
dread enters silent as a needle
graceless fodder for the
hot coal walk

 

THE DRAFTED STREAM

Returning to the fields
to lay down
one last time
in the soft beauty
that once held me.
My fall this time
will be felt inside
the land unendingly.
Here where it meets
the sky on the horizon
capturing me between.
I am born here
so naturally
here released.

The feathering wheat
lifts its face to the
strange and
final quiet
taking me along
in its silent
wind-drawn wake.

Before the jarring snap
my broken listless sigh
I hear kind words
spoken over
a lifetime.
A compendium of
language and love
I leave behind
except slivers of
the most sweet
I take to the open
unknown peace.

I sleep in the glinted barrel
give in to the drafted stream.

With a graceful spin
diaphanous white
my dancer body drops
conforming to the
cradle of the land.

A blanket over
my eyes
the wheat’s caress
will be
a stunning release
into finality.

pink

 

INVISIBLE NIGHTINGALE

Keats has nothing on this garden
darkling.
My once bright eyes now blind—
in flame from a tinder
spill of kindling.
Unseeing of his savior the Nightingale
object of his forlorn and pleading mind
my heart remains deflated and frail
empty of the song
through leaves, I cannot find.

He managed envy of the dryad’s happy lot.
At least he could envision happiness
whereas I cannot.
Resigned to tumble and fail
in my deafened songlessness
searching for his
immortal
Nightingale.

In this drowsy orchard dark
I await the sun in vain
to reveal its noonday arc
and shake from
my heart
this fruitless stain
that has left its
binding mark.

 

BRIGHTNESS AND DUST

Aloft
in the mystic garden
wet from the river soak
I witness your persona
fading backward
to soft
shedding its
white sleeves
in favor of what
our reverie believes
when you walked
into a coffee shop.

Every memory
piercing the
brightness
we hold inside.
Olden brightness
a sacred tide
untouchable
except by us
washed of sin
the only two who know
the bareness that
cold pulls in.

In your delirium
you speak truths
you may not otherwise.
Your tongue eased by a
wearied
unfettered mind
for which you apologize.

Only I won’t take what you say
with a grain of salt
for I love this prose
when from your lips
opening like a rose
it drips.
Through years you sift
to find your essence
in remembrance
your imaginal world
a gift.

This whimsy of word
is my fate
the language I speak
the only verse
I’ve heard.
It is how I navigate
through the heartache
I curse
and into the beauty
I seek.

A Siren I swim
in the swell
of your waters.
Your words go through me
splendid secrets
you tell.
In the shimmer of moonlight
we are not ready to see
the beauteous reflection
of what could be.

Your words go by:
a river
I can’t touch twice
though I try.
Swish my hands in the rushes
to catch them
so quickly they flee.

Ill-fated endeavor of trust!
As if searching
for a single thread
of saffron
after a thousand have
been tilled
into dust.

 

HOW TO MAKE SENSE OF CONTRAST

Poetry is an outlandish rebel
antithetical to life’s banality
too flashy to seem real
when situated among
generic acquiescence
and yada yada yada

Poetry defies complacency
delighting with tangy
surprise
Sometimes sizzling
in-your-face
a marquee on opening night
flapper dress twirling
knock-down drag-out

Other times tranquil
nuanced
a child blissfully asleep
hot cocoa steaming
fireflies buzzing in a jar

The Poet strips away
pretense, illusion
distilling life to
rudimentary truth
in tight and pithy form
piquing beauty
beyond propriety
to pure indulgent sense
protesting the ruse
of the American Dream
in favor of a rebel’s dream
the holler of King or Che
through sticky mesh
that binds us

Poetry is a strange peg
quizzically out of place
like true love hidden
in rubbish
or lost in war with
limbs askew

How to see the beauty of life
whilst saving it
how to sense a voice, a touch
amongst the ravaged
how to find a gasp of heaven
in all this mess

Hard to synthesize
this magnitude of contrast
this battery of opposites
contentious
across boundaries
a heartbreaking exercise
with impossible stakes
though the Poet dies
trying
hitting the mark
every now and then
when it comes to the
distillation of
love
in particular

 

HAIKU AT THE SKATE PARK

flying through the air
my favorite joy to watch
beautiful life soars
skate jump

 

FEEDING ON LUSCIOUS

the soul drifts in and out
of ravishment
fantasies of namelessness
when reception of the world
full of mellowed greens
and wild blues
is brightened
sensation heightened
cool water
sweetly scented wheat
when eyes feed on
luscious color
majesty of nature
palms and fingers seek
touch
soft allure
when the whole self
expectant
joy infused
contains
every
untamed
wish

 

BIKING IN SPRING

delicate light dances
between cheery leaves
fluttering
the breeze greets us
along the gravel trail
city streets full of
happy people
thawing
our sweaty foreheads
glistening
blossoms rain upon us
dandelion wishes
braid our streaming hair
this day of cosmic greens
and blues finally here
the sun’s promise revealed
in our oft-forgotten midst
thighs burn from
pedaling
our breath mellow as
a fawn
the soul
twinkles
outwardly

 

SEATTLE SPRING, LONG AGO

Someone of tender spirit once fashioned for me
a crown made of copper and Camellia—
a surprise held in place by the wiper blade
on my little blue Dodge.
With some strawberries and a love note, too,
it made me a carefree danceful girl again.
My favorite present of all time.
He never knew
but I wore that crown until
the cheerful petals loosened,
floated down past my shoulders
to the ground.
Sticky particles were caught
in my chestnut hair for days.
I left them there as a remembrance.
A crown opposite, say, of Jesus’ briar
that bled him and rose him up.
Mine pulled me to the Earth
into the fashioner’s arms—
a gentle, willing heaven.
STILL POSSIBLE

Resonance of freedom, soulful starlight wonder
gunned down on the balcony of
the Lorraine Motel
April 4: the horror day
the mournful, God-absent day.
King of The Dream mowed down;
his body ripped from the world.
Echoes of the bullet vibrating still
in Memphis and all around.

 

His spirit endures, remember.
His divine call everpresent
as long as…
As long as we recall him.
We must recall him,
Vincent Harding demands.
As long as we walk with him,
seeking justice together,
his wisdom will guide us
for King is still poignant.
He is still relevant.
He is still possible.

 

This sweet, emboldened man
of magnificent stature
our brethren
our kin(g)
belongs to us, all of us, if…
If Love is what we bring across
our thresholds to the world.

 

HOLY FOUND

The Poet strives above all else
to give shape and memory
to Beauty.
To capture and illuminate
the quiet truths kept hidden
against their will
in our eyes, souls, mouths.
We mistake our bodies
as hesitant, lazy
not realizing that
our physical selves
are eager for a reason
to stretch and yawn
to awaken in celebration
of all that is real and true.
Poetry is a healing endeavor
its honesty jarring
though achingly graceful
crafted by imperfect beings
fumbling in forests of
ashen clear-cut and verdant splendor
frightful risk, sweet empathy.
All we must do
is unknot our scarves
to reveal our hearts
and release the feisty
moistening our lips
so we may speak to the world.
In its ideal form
poetry sets both
Poet and reader free—
Free to behold Beauty everywhere.
To be washed clean and holy found
to receive Beauty’s pure form
collecting in cupped palms
the real and true of it.

 

MONTANA

This land has a sensual quality.
Inescapable allure.
Its softness
vastness waits
to be engulfed, pursued
wandered in/among
to be marveled at.
Ah, the luxury of sense!

The act of beholding this land
gives not just a momentary thrill:
it sustains beyond sight.

Driving 10 minutes out of Great Falls
what you see, stand in and dance through
(the swaying wheat so soft you could roll in it
and caress yourself against it)
will stay with you for days, years in retrospect
depending on the degree of your openness
the manner in which you absorb its beauty
how deeply you accept its grace.

There among the wheat, next to a lone tree
reverence sweeps across your face unashamedly.
The big sky takes hold of you and weeps.
The climax is sacramental:
A perfect release into God.
The scent of frolic potent
as the body shutters
then calms quickly into bliss.

 

DAUGHTER

You watch her lithe movements
thin wrists, transparent skin
a modern dancer spinning
away from you
at a quickening pace.
Her laughing so guileless, high;
if you didn’t love her so much,
you would be jealous of her joy.

Her awareness of your presence
fades in and out.
You watch and wait for
her recognition: a look
a peculiar head tilt
anything personal.
She just likes to run in fields,
you explain to yourself.

This woman who you love…
she darts quick with purpose
like a bullet on course
to somewhere predetermined.
(But where?)
So fast, she leaves you steeped
in a breeze of lime verbena
papaya silk and coconut zest.
You remember it from her nightstand
and how the summer wind
would spill in the window
and the curtains would float
over her bed and cover you.

She skips and twirls.
She doesn’t look old.
She bends to collect bouquets
of lavender and lupine
tucking them into her pockets
front and back.
She giggles in the ripe field
of green grasses, tall purple
tickling ankles, fingertips.
She runs away spirited
into the girlness that is her
most formidable heaven.

You almost give up and
let her go into the beyond.
Just as you turn to leave,
she winks at you.
You exhale.
She knows you.
You are still
her daughter.

 

QUESTION UNASKED

three minutes 32 seconds

the time it takes to

dance

into the mystic

Van Morrison echoing in

the station usually dark

now alight

when the woman asks

the first question she

doesn’t want to

and hears the second

best answer

from the gentleman’s lips

she misses already

never having known

them, but still

PARADISE ACRES

The milieu of my afterlife will be summer dusk in Loveland, Colorado. Never ending will be the tender lift of wind moving across the silent, waiting plains, the dry air hugging me close in like a cocoon. Grasses burnt and thirsty crunch underfoot, earth still warm from the day’s heat collected; I can see the wavy lines of parchedness radiating up from the ground. Little prickles and scrapes on my ankles and the bottoms of my feet cause me to run from the scratchy field to the fresh-mown lawn of my best friend’s house where my toes find relief in the sprinkled coolness. The horizon’s light fades purple to periwinkle as its dramatic curtain falls over the foothills. The Flatirons directly west seem close enough for me to reach out and feel their roughness.

I hear my mother’s voice calling me home, a faint echo through Paradise Acres. The repetitive sound “Marie, Marie” is gentle and soothing, yet it does not lure me home in the afterlife. In the afterlife, I continue doing cartwheels on Pam Miller’s lawn, giggling as the portend of darkness teases us and the wind washes us. This is our bath time. Our waif-thin bodies reveling in freedom and joy, we feverishly collect laughter in little pockets of our souls knowing, somehow, to hoard this laughter, to open our arms and gather it up, running in circles until breathless as if catching elusive butterflies.

We mean this chase. More than anything, ever, we mean it. Our one small eternity hinges on it.

For somehow we know it is this moment that will carry us through the rough and sullen days that await us in adulthood. This moment will keep us afloat through the things about life we cannot even imagine. The things that break, that are stolen, and what we will do on purpose, fully cognizant of the pain we cause others. This is the worst brokenness: shame, fallenness, the fault at our own feet.

But here in this summer dusk, the idyllic memory gets carved into our bones; it becomes part of the circulation of cells, a given, a picture, a fixed element that can never be taken— our secret reverie. The dry Colorado air will forever bless our lungs: the most perfect, majestic air to breathe before being uprooted and thrown into the jarring din and danger of life.

Stay in this moment, Marie. Keep it, hide it, cherish—for it epitomizes good, this never-ending summer dusk in Loveland, Colorado. Possess it with a white-knuckled vise grip until you come back to tumble in its refreshment, until the afterlife dawns when all is complete and you are finally invited to be one-hundred-percent good. What joy awaits you! Remember this giggling fit, your demure refusal to march home, your arms waving, smiles, this happy love…and never again be afraid to die. For you will win out.

You will win out.

 

THE HABITUAL POET

Awe cannot be falsely generated
Thus poetry defies discipline
It may grow into habit
however
when it becomes
an inspired conduit of self
undisputed state of being
undeniable expression
of personality enfleshed
in the context of life
undulating
When it becomes a
stampede of flair
impetuous motion
dictatorial choreography
stasis in art
It cycles through
the interference of
pesky emotions that
cajole a rational person
into disruption, disarray
It becomes you—
this arc of revelation
It needs your spry attitude
your emboldened whimsy
to pinpoint the
firebrand of beauty
not everyone sees

 

WHIMSY BY THE SEA

There is a spot in Boulevard Park famous
in the annals of American Modern Dance.
An overlook where Isadora Duncan would
mimic the movement of ripple and wave—
her sleek arms outstretched as sculpture
face lifted to a sky of purple gently
dropping its curtain each vanishing day.
Every eventide like clockwork
passersby would see Isadora there—
her strong, lissome body silhouetted
against the amber flare glistening
on the swell and curl of the tide.
“What choreography of spirit!”
the people would remark, as the dancer
shaped her body into a hallowed pose.
Ordinary in other surroundings,
they became in these moments
beholders of liberation, honored guests.
Mesmerized by such grace, such gravitas,
they watched in awe the unfurling of her final dance
when the sheerbright scarf loosened from her neck
and swirled up into the wind
untangling amidst stars.
A lyric in motion, singing.