Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Day Sense



Every day belongs to you

so remember

feed the brain, hug the heart,

go easy on the liver


embrace the commute, 

the flow and calming rhythm of

office, work, life, food, sleep, family

don’t forget nature and music 


loyalties and sensibilities matter

whether in a city high rise 

a town hall

a country store 

or even a dentist’s office


calculate the math

mix the chemicals

write the essay 

apply the salve 

make history


exercise

save money 

listen well

help others 

(I mean, really - 

isn’t it the right thing to do?)

help others help you

show up early 

(someone will notice)

take a sick day

breathe 


I urge you to

consider problems in the morning

sit at your desk 

feign deep thought

press cup of coffee

to forehead

as if you’re a magician

preparing to guess which playing card will appear next


when someone passes

and gives you the eye

maybe smile politely 

keep a sign nearby that says

“Work in Progress”

leave space for resolution 

I promise 

you will be saved later, that very same day



Saturday, May 22, 2021

Getting Back to the Garden


Afterthoughts 

I am such a social being, I have never not liked people. This past year drove home the aching absence of friends, my constants. The crust of icy heartbreak that covered my front yard this past January forced me out into the cold.  No one met me there.


Family members who tend to worry less, leave space for me to worry more, a full time job I’ve taken on in this life. 


The small stuff. Food. Wine. Netflix. Being cooped up with a spouse who can get on my nerves on a good day in a good year. Bet he feels the same about me. Is it over yet? Please say yes.


Little kids come to see me. We never stopped hugging. We merely did it less often than we used to. As if this made any difference to a virus. One stray germ, and one of us could still wind up in sick bay. I keep our hugging- secret because many of my peers don’t touch their grandchildren these days. 


I am weirdly opinionated about my politics because my heart lives with the group that prefers to help others. So I take my chances with love and hugs. Go ahead and judge. 


A liberal in the true definition of the word means I stop and listen to another’s point of view. I put virus conversation aside. As angry and concerned as the day makes me feel, we don’t discuss January 6. I don’t bring in conspiracy (sigh…) We don’t talk about Nancy or Mitch. Instead, we talk about our cats. We share music. We bake bread. We hug. We get back to love, where it all began. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Old Ways


Dash through co-op aisles

speed-foraging for

chia cookies, strawberry jam,

a greeting card


Familiar silhouette catches my eye

mind settles back down

no way

it can’t be Jane

this woman seems too thin

still, eyes smile through 

a double mask


Groceries had been the priority 

a friend’s apparition takes the moment 

as if a spell has been cast

creating awkward silence 


Mutually, we shun the idea of moving closer 

(what would be the point?)

followed by a hesitant wave, 

remembering how we used to 

greet

talk and hug 

uncensored 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Doll

 Published in Zig Zag Lit Mag, issue 10

I, the oldest sister that December

Barbie arrives in our home, a new baby

me, awestruck, craven

wanting to feel her small body in

my arms

trace her delicate features with my fingertips

tiny feet

a marvel whom I adore

her scent, benign and sweet 

silent—such a good girl

dressed in black and white at the start so as not to garner too much attention

Years after, she trades up for the pink crinoline prom dress and backless plastic heels

*~**~*


The never-ending smile morphs into perpetual smirk

her eyes, dead pool

first, I am seven;

I become thirteen

my adoration melts like plastic shoes held over a flame

“You cannot compare your

dishpan hair to my blonde ponytail.

I am your statuesque mini

you will understand the unachievable— this tiny waist


though you will try like hell to mold, flatten, chisel

hate yourself

eat an apple one day

starve on bowls of cereal the next 

feed on nothingness, drink the air

still, you will never be me

I am the love of antiquarians

vintage, chic, collectible

ruination of your child/woman body.”


I remember daddy saying,

“If only we had kept her in her case,

she would have been worth so much more.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Family of Guns


Swore to god

I’d never own a gun

I’m afraid of them. 


Pacifist

peace signs adorn my home

to own a gun means more violence

promotes more gunnage. 


My friend’s daughter

lives in D.C.

the daughter, super liberal

champion of the weary

out on the streets, 

she knows 

cops can help,

and sometimes they hurt


“It’s coming,” she says

the day when everyone

will need a gun

want a gun 

own a gun


Not me…

until he stood in our kitchen

“Remember that conversation about guns?”


He lifted it from the locked-down case

ultra sleek

almost pretty, dark charcoal-tint  

cold blue steel 

and me, such a sucker for color 


Here, hold it. 

you’ll learn


Fits comfortably 

wrapped in soft, gentle fingers

grip firm

don’t point

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Lady Elaine Farewell

“I’m half sick of shadows,” she said.  (Arthurian legend so lush)


Cloaked in desire

atop a tower of stone 

she wants what

she cannot know 

Invisible carriage attends

her fate as droplets of golden 

tears flow

Longing the one who does 

not exist

exquisite pain shall prevail

hiding her grief beneath

Lancelot’s cape 

breath sighs into mist

as she sails 



Monday, March 15, 2021

Spring Thaw


Let it all melt

may it not snow again for 1000 days


I take it all back

what I said last November about cleansings and blessings 

I lied


Believe me I’m as surprised as you

I should be banished from these  mountains for uttering such blasphemy 


Though this current winter has had its moments, I’ll admit.


Small children ski their first slope

smooth sweet agile 


Buses filled with hopeful skiers 

you will remember the 

‘I’m-so-lucky three-day weekend,’

depart with breathy memory of sweet air and evergreens

why, I bet you thought even the booze tasted better.


Re-entry to your suburbs and cities will be a total drag 

though you’re welcome to return.


But me? 

I’m done

these past virusy months I watched snows fall from a never-ending gray canopy


Those things I thought I loved?

Jotul warmth

Reading 

Petting cats

Holing up. 

Cooking stew. 

Baking cookies

I never want to taste a winter stew again, I see no reason for parsnips 

I will leave the baking to other  women 

and practice being a woman in my own way. 


Honesty

a sigh of relief

sun shadows trail across my hands

eyes adapt to February brightness


Vermont - I will abide 

but I haven’t changed my mind

may it all melt


Sunday, March 7, 2021

Everyday Hurts: A 2020 Litany

Isolation I

My heart hurts

I cannot see my precious innocents

who are only four and seven

some days I think they will forget me 

as if I never existed


My grown children are bitter and cynical

this, too, hurts my heart

because I brought them into this hard world

I can never make it up to them


I have been hard myself

though inside I feel as soft as an eight-year-old

 

I lost my darling cat the other day

I held my face against his

beautiful coat while the vet

administered the sleep drug as I hugged my sweet friend until his life was done


Now I await a new and special drug

my partner needs it even more;

the partner with whom I bicker so restlessly and constantly

you might think we participate in an Olympic competition


I resent him for not one sound reason

yet my heart hurts for hundreds of reasons

sometimes all it takes is a song

and I cry


Maybe my heart is too small and that’s why life seems so painful

I need a bigger heart


Because people have been so mean to each other,

someone has to hold the grief close and not let loose the

guns and tears,

It might as well be me

~~~~~~


Isolation II


emails sign off with

“I’m working remotely

here’s my personal number in case you need me” (please don’t need me) 

wish the reader a standard  “have a good day!”, 

knowing the possibility of “have a happy” went out the window months ago. 


With laptop Windows open 

Spotify new age music on rotation 

I gaze out my own front window toward morning’s eastern glare;

pigeons flock to a neighbor’s roof peak 

as she shovels yet another scrim of an impossible heartbreak winter from her driveway, 

groomed so that I simultaneously admire and detest her perfection, mostly because I struggle to complete a mere single task, not to mention being paid for a full day’s work (extra credit for assimilated guilt, please)


I remember former mental vigor, the uncanny and noteworthy speed I displayed in fulfillment of a simple request, and the selfless dedication on which I (used to) pride myself 


“If I Zoom one more time I’m gonna puke” (said as a joke)


...one more time and I’ll have that secret emotional breakdown about which I’ve fantasized as I watch my own tiny face and hag-like neck tucked

within a grid of other tiny faces as we discuss even tinier problems in the face of economic collapse, lives-lost, and heart-aching statistics, all which could have been rendered so avoidable. 

~~~~~


Isolation III


My deepest heartache, though,

resides with the lonely un-rescue-ables 

like my mother.


She lives in what they call a studio apartment

that’s how they get you

*The fancy lobby chandelier

*Nurses on each floor

*24-hour Bingo

way to stave off the doom


There’s a pond outside her window

but the window is high above her wheelchair so she cannot see the sky,

or the trees or pond with ducks that swim there.


More like a prison, her studio is a place

where she cannot even get to the bathroom without a stranger’s help 


Surrounded by the same four walls for 300 days running,

except for the days she was “at hospital” to heal from the virus

she loved the change of scenery, 

then came to hate the loud TV and missed the ducks that she cannot see from her window 

 

Like a good, conditioned prisoner, she returned,

captive

while my own heart beats 

waiting for another song

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Snows


Snows come

the first of them joyous, 

though also a trick, well-played.  


Green now gone, wild life strays 

gray stays 


Bleak settles the bones deep 

on doleful winter faces

cheer sought, 

seemingly unattainable 


Nothing for you here, 

except all that comes with

sentience

eye on first growth

patient yearning for more and better spring 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Saving

 SAVING

 

I used to collect sticks at random,

one from Princeton campus when I was 18

I kept it for 40 years until I lost it.

another I found in the woods next to a house I loved

 

It took me five years to not miss the house

I practically had a breakdown when we left

houses are not collectible, nor savable

 

I saved a tuft of my dead cat’s fur

it is tucked into a small cardboard jewelry box in my dresser drawer

I thought I could summon his DNA from that tuft

and that he would return 

during the night like an alien visitor

 

I had another cat.

he had a heart attack one day and died in my arms

it happened so fast

there was no saving him.

 

I stole river stones from Bittersweet Falls 

to mark my dead cat’s grave 


When we moved from the house I loved

I took the stones from his grave

and piled them on a windowsill 

in my new house

the stones felt smooth and cool in my hand as if they’d always belonged to me and I hadn’t stolen them at all

 

I save photos on my phone.

I have so many that the Verizon guy rolled his eyes

then he explained how the Cloud could help me with my problem.

I still don’t believe him.


I’m afraid to lose the photos. 

what if I lose the people?

the photos will be all that remain 
so I hoard the photos and 

hope for the best.

 

My mother and I correspond via U.S. mail

Mommy sends me cards that she orders from the Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters

I send her artist cards that I buy at the co-op

her cards cost $.49 each

mine cost $3.00

both she and I like cards with birds on them

the cost of the birds is irrelevant

 

I save these cards from my mother;

she is 92 years old

each time one arrives in the mailbox whether it is my birthday or Christmas

I think “I am 68 years old

and receive cards from my mother.”

I say it out loud for emphasis

 

Her handwriting is still Catholic- schoolgirl-holy

my dresser drawer is crammed with these beauties

her beautiful DNA is on them

 

When she is gone, the cards will make it seem as if she is still with me

like a cat reincarnate

or river stones piled high on a windowsill

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Opening

 

The Opening

January 21, 2021


Come into my house

sweet people

little ones with stories

I have missed you


Strangers no more

time and space reclaimed

we shall grow to know each other better  


Between politics and pandemic there has been much 

Anger

Separation

Grief

Fear

Hunger 


Come to me,

new friend

let us cultivate the thrill of our novelty with

bold humor

new music

forget work and responsibility for a while 

make curry

drink deep dark wine

skip school and go hiking in the wild


Come back into my life,

old friend 

my Constant


Stream of thought and being

always known,

too long forgotten  

all because of mutual misunderstandings

Skewed ideals 

Quick tempers

Intolerance 

Devious plots

Angry fires


I promise now,

hand on my heart 

if it convinces you further


Come into my house

I will remember kindness

share softness 

dispel your fear 

feed the hunger

listen to your stories