I go running, get my blood pounding
look at the horizon see it retreat, watch it
pull away from me like words like love
like everything language makes.
I am the bedrock of the living room,
constantly pushed and stretched.
I am the moon’s best friend
up all night on her shoulder
with infants on my neck. I admire her
strength; I’ve seen her walk on water,
even after braving so many catastrophic hits.
Yesterday, I wept an ocean
in the kitchen pumping milk while
my babies slept late in their cribs
and the cabinets dripped semantics.
I knew it suddenly with conviction:
this planet can’t hear a word we say.
How could it over the din of roiling lava,
shearing winds, scouring tsunami waves
and the constant grinding crunch of shifting plates?
Is it petty, my anger that everything
pulses with meaning
but still disappears into space?
So, I talk to the gasping dishwasher,
dribble phrases across the driveway
until they swish the net. These are my credible
witnesses. I celebrate them. I sing
in French to my toddlers about a frère
who oversleeps or maybe dies by the time
morning bells clang the rest of the town awake.
I want them to know we aren’t the sort to give up,
we are the sort to try to make values, make sense.
My babies sing along with me, as if to test
the words strength. I watch them stretch
each syllable in babbles and innocence. They borrow
more real words every day, yell them from their high-chairs
and car seats. And the words comply, even though
they are probably snickering and sighing, impatient
with all our attempts; nobody knows more than words
just how quickly meanings can change.
Maybe only the moon can appreciate
the mother urge to see the results of efforts put in.
If she could, she would probably nose in and investigate
the blue dome of our Earth, odd child she’s forever fostered,
protected, and bathed. How she’d listen to our words and phrases
to understand our meaning, discern our intent. From her vantage,
what verdict I can only guess: love, disappointment,
and all their synonyms. How stung we might feel to know
the dark side of her sentiment. We’d probably yell up at her
to stop being so tough, to go away, even though we need her
right where she is, revolving around us, constant lantern face,
never giving up on us entirely, never once turning away.
I’ve got blues
that surpass navy,
and cobalt, baby.
I know loneliness,
the length of days
and nights as they move
molecule by molecule
cataloguing the sun’s face
while it flirts
with the moon
in broad day
and I examine you
with tips of space,
unable to feel anything
blowing on you
like dandelion fodder
for your sake.
So, don’t look
to me for answers
about the track
your love life
And when you climb
to get above me,
expect me to slap
I am best,
above your head
out the window,
split by clouds
shuttles and airplanes.
So, keep me there
at that distance
that inspires science
and faith but away
from birthday wishes
demands and property deeds.
You can’t see, can’t reach,
can’t know me,
of the smooth
your weather or fate
as you stroll along
day upon day
beneath the eyes
of giant hurricanes.
30 Days in a Row
All my significant ex-boyfriends show up.
They want to Tango, they want to Two-step,
they want to play tourist; watch me implode
and I’m so busy driving at horizons
to the airport, weddings, the doctor’s and work
that I am just a shifting gear, a 3rd party observer
in the clockwork of this month.
Today driving north on I-15
a Native American man in a cowboy hat
stared at me at a stop light
while I sang with the radio
“Tonight, tonight, tonight…”
When I caught him, he smiled.
I tell one, I do not feel…
In Love, he cuts me off, sometimes
you have to give something up.
So I bring him to the zoo at his request
which seems tight, claustrophobic,
an exhibit of sorts. He snaps
only the ones nearest extinction
and one shot of me when I am not looking.
Yesterday driving down 163
I saw a dwarf or a midget
vomiting in the breakdown lane
ridding himself of curds of brown stuff.
He wore a softball uniform unbuttoned to the beltline.
I kept wondering if his team won.
Of course, the gorillas make the cut
into the lens for nostalgia or for having been caught.
They draw a constant crowd of admirers,
animated murmurers who point and say,
So much like us! as they slide along
the cultured path, the plexiglass wall.
In the last 30 days
I’ve seen two cop cars and one ambulance
tethered together twice:
Once heading south on Route 5
Once northwest on the 101.
First aid kits for road rage, narcolepsy, leadfoot or wanderlust?
But the sea lions are more demonstrative
of something I trust:
2 swim-dancing like lovers completely immersed,
1 in the shallows by himself, sleeping it off.
And I know where I am standing only once
when a young boy turns to me
to share a thought then sees who I am
and says, You’re not my… and darts off.
Both times I kept driving
but never reached the site
where pieces lay visible
picking up luminescent rays of light
from the moon, the stars, the passing cars
or their drivers.
I am near the Bengal tiger
and his eyes are closed to the diurnal sun.
In the corner of his cage nearest us
there is a spider and a web
indistinguishable from each other
until the wind picks up speed,
tears through one.
I looked hard
for the wreckage not to see blood
but to see bent steel sculpted
into something resembling art,
shards of glass morphed, frozen into diamonds in the rough.
to see a version of love that is just a life on course;
a temporary animal, a temporary cage,
lunging forward despite the bars
Penelope on Loyalty
I escaped once
when no one was looking,
while the suitors slept
in the mess hall
like glazed ceramic ornaments.
I journeyed like you
over vast seas, past destruction
and the place where the world drops off
into nothing. I was, for a moment
just like you, free of castles, expectations,
chessboards and monotonies.
I posed as a Siren
on the 3rd abandoned island
so you could hear me sing.
Now more than a decade wiser,
I wove a shroud of sharps & flats
from desires, leftovers, needs;
an embroidered symphony
thrown out like a sail
over tearing winds,
a net to reel you back in.
But then I glimpsed your ship
barreling forward on knots of speed
and I evaluated your plight simply
for what it was then:
your struggle to land, to be drawn in
thwarted by your bootstraps
the way they clung to the masthead.
The way you’d anchored them.
So I went home alone
unbeknownst to you,
on a crosswind of defeat.
I set about unraveling
the fabric of us, each gesture,
each murmur, each connective thread
and when the suitors crawled
like hermit crabs away from
the table towards our bed,
I thought I got away with it,
I was sure there was nothing left.
Sometimes you see one in traffic,
a Samaritan in a Mazda parting
the sea of angry commuters
so you can finally get in.
Sometimes it’s a guy in the street
who gets a hundred bucks
and immediately spends it on a feast
for other homeless people around him.
Sometimes it’s a dog who sobs
and leaps with joy
when his owner returns
from hospital or war.
Sometimes they pop up, bobbers
on the murky stream of your day:
a smile in a hallway, a genuine question,
“How are you doing?” And then they listen.
Some disciples hide in words,
in gratitude, in every thank you said
but also in the middle finger
of the pissed off driver behind you now,
the one behind the guy that waved you in.
We can hear them in all the voices
that criticize and approve
every failure and win. The rub: we
are their witnesses. Our job: to recognize them.
How we react is just a stone cast into a pond,
one addend in an ongoing equation of signs.
Maybe our responses are disciples too;
watch them ripple and roll over time, trying
to gain momentum, trying to sculpt our shoreline.