Monday, September 20, 2021

Tend


Did you lose someone?

was it a friend 

your mother

your German shepherd who never did one wrong thing

no harsh words to justify or 

soothe the separation 


there was only its unconditional loyalty 


We live with this knowing: 

it is enough 

to mind the heart;

make an intention to consider its

open softness and vulnerability 

avoid careless consumption 


Whoever claims they could not help, and discarded this coda - 

simply could not.


Thus, loss is understandable

unavoidable 

an end characteristically,

necessarily buried

like the death it is


Birds become strangers 

they’re leaving now

this morning when I woke

Canada geese in V formation

seemingly detached 

as if not a care


But they do care …

for themselves 

according to rules of the natural world 


Watch in stillness 

they rest gently in the field

feed 

before lifting off once more


Fly into serenity

safe warmth 

a wild tending 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Voice of the Falls


I swing my feet from the wooden bridge

And want to fling a clog off into the rushing below

But what would I do with only one shoe?

So I rethink my desire

 

Raising up toward a blue glimpse

The evergreen whispers, “Come closer.”

That message, pure, clear and deep

Resonates my necessary sorrow

Which pulls the weight of an entire universe

Hyacinth


She would set the house ready 

Whisking away winter‘s grime,
she wiped the windows of our souls clean,
then poured the used-up water on the roots of a backyard forsythia

Lenten offerings made in silence

I recall the bulb, its fragrance like a prayer, leaves firm  pointed toward heaven

A scent not unlike her own
all my springs ever since

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Holy Years


You at age 30, I rely on my imagination

because I did not know you then

but there’s an old family photo

where you’re on a boat

at sea in summer

handsome enough, carefree

 

I hold the photo

imagine standing before you

smile to myself because I am certain 

you would have been knocked out 

by my girl-next-door looks 

and an audacity 

to which you were unaccustomed

 

These days I wait 

for your next physical complaint

or medical test result

or worse, an emergency trip to the hospital – 

this is not a complaint

 

Another photo to which I return 

is one where I’ve cut away the other faces

I want to see your face only 

your mother’s eyes, crooked and mysterious

a smile that came from somewhere, maybe me 

I feel the loving burden rise up 

heart pain, throat lump 

 

Too many days of senseless unkindnesses

fade as I look at this photo

my tears absolve us both

though the idiosyncrasies, yours and mine

have surely kept us on tracall these years 

when there seemed no other path

by which to stake our claim 

in the couplehood hall of fame

a marriage so free-falling and blessedly free form 

that it never quite hits the ground

 

The next snapshot

You Me

a dinner party

a bonfire

everyone thinks “what a great couple”

meant to be 

true love

we humans idolize the concept of true love

it impresses

is coveted 

looks like movie stars on parade

all the right moves and words and angles

but everyone has got it 

so wrong

 

Love is about the life of years which reside

in the hallowed in-between, 

born out of a charmed moment early on

then, a choice made

not too much more

Monday, August 16, 2021

Caramelization


My mother’s vintage iron pan, 

heavy, hot, ready

she fried up love

caramelization of the soul 

from pot roast Sunday to pizza Friday

 

Daddy grinned like a kid

savoring simple bounty

pure intention

filled-up empty spaces

 

Soft white bread, gold potatoes, 

brown saucy gravy

onions permeate the senses

slippery and fragrant

a lone, strong flavor that bonds a family

*****

Now I have my own black iron pan

half my weight required just to heave it onto the stove 

black soil beneath my fingernails

sauté broccoli, 

parboil summer’s hybrids and heirlooms

eat now, store more for winter 

there’s plenty, don’t worry


Order gourmet crab 

douse with herb-infused oil

tend with fervor

stare into space

until dinner sizzles done

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Recycled Earth

Musical garbage

the rustle of illegal plastic bags,

some large enough to suffocate a baby seal


A needle lands in the local dump

eventually floats off into an ocean 

sometimes dolphins wonder 

what the needles taste like. 


Beer bottles drained

during an evening with friends 

lined up on a marble countertop,

they should be recycled

instead, the town collects and then buries them out in the desert.


Lush green lawns 

add a dash of fertilizer

it’s the perfect toxic cocktail 

May I have a water chaser with that? 


So much water 

water in my bath like an ocean

I don’t actually bathe, I swim 


I swim to the moon


Before I take off, 

I gather the bags

broken appliances

medical waste

fake palm fronds


I am the pilot 

who promised she would help

I collect all this plastic in an

ironic plastic container,

so big 

I hope there’s room on the moon

in the middle of a crater

on the far side 






Friday, July 23, 2021

In Our Midst

I’ve been thinking about the news article noted below and its impact for days now. Scott R, longtime Middlebury College staff member and IT wiz, has been charged with owning and viewing child pornography. My initial response was deep grief for the abused children, who were forced to pose for and participate in sexually explicit photos. My thoughts also run to the other end of the spectrum - that “innocent until proven guilty” must prevail because that’s the law. 


First - a little about Scott - the short version: a reliable source discovers Scott possesses a shit-ton of child pornography on his personal laptop. This source reports to the Fed’s because he says the material discovered was blatantly disturbing. The local animal welfare organization, in late May, depicted Scott readying to hike the Long Trail in support of homeless animals. It’s true, we humans are a complicated lot. 


At the core of this matter lies a most egregious, horrific behavior supported by an industry that, albeit,  legally distributes adult films; but it extends to the kidnapping and abuse of children who are then forced out of their innocence by bad adults in order to serve said adults by being made to participate in sex acts that belittle and destroy. I doubt anyone will argue when I say most of these children never recover emotionally, their hearts and souls ruined by greed and perversion and fed by individuals who have gone to great and skillful lengths to hide their criminal predilections via a computer. Scott hid behind a screen from the rest of the world, with hopes of never being found out. He was good at his game until someone with the right tools and an even better game, came along. And that person in good conscience, and at risk of personal legal ramifications due to his own investigatory computer ops, (I urge you to read the linked article below if you havent already.) reported Scott to the FBI. 


https://www.google.com/amp/s/vtdigger.org/2021/07/09/middlebury-college-employee-released-on-child-pornography-charges/amp/  


I can only imagine what events transpired in his early life that propelled Scott toward this need to participate in such a criminal act. 

                      *****

I remember him once upon a time…he must have been 25 years old, in line at the village bakery early morning, a quiet meanderer who seemed nice enough. Scott worked in the computer business. Though I did not know him personally, I sensed he was lonesome, somewhat shy for a nice-looking man. Or was it this deep secret that caused him to struggle when attempting eye contact with others? I’m not the only person who noticed it. What led him to this addiction? I vacillate between my outrage over endangered children to “did this happen to him as a child?” Monstrous behavior by a sex offender is not created in a vacuum. Who hurt him?


He safeguarded his behavior, though. He went covert so as not to be stopped from viewing. He worked hard to avoid discovery, covered his tracks, secured his laptop, prided himself on his computer expertise - his tech-geekiness paying off with the ability to live underground. The diligence and time directed toward watching abused children for his own twisted intentions would have continued throughout his entire life had he not been caught. 

                    ****** 

But enough about this sick boy.  What of the children whose lives have been forever changed, their bodies attacked and their souls and hearts broken? One day they played in a schoolyard; the next, coerced away from their home somehow. They were first graders, then gone. This is what matters. Not the “ew, Scott’s a perv” or “the courts should hang him.”  The gossip means nothing. However the courts penalize him, should he be found guilty, it will never compare to the damage experienced by the innocents. 


I invite you to take a moment and go there - immerse your thoughts in what actually occurs. The predator stalks, abducts, coaches, and forces. The kids miss their families. They probably cry themselves to sleep at night. Some of them have been drugged. Sometimes they are punished and cruelly treated. Some of them may get a pat on the head and $5, and are sent home, instructed not to give away the “secret” to their mothers. These kids live misery, confusion, and pain while the viewer remains in their safe home, comfortably seated in front of a screen.  


When I think of them, one of my anthems comes to mind: DONT GET ME STARTED.  


Priests have abused children with the church’s awareness for years. Altar boys were easy access, harmed forever by criminal priests. I recall a story featured in local news about a parish priest who was arrested the day after my daughter’s first communion, the Eucharist administered by the man who had been assaulting altar boys at the rectory. My mom, a sincere Catholic, was so convinced of the church’s good-entity status (instead of a church that moved priests from diocese to diocese like chess pieces so no one would learn of the attacks,) that all she could say with a wistful sigh was, “that’s why we need to pray for priests.”  Pray for the priests? Did my mom see my jaw drop? And what about the kids, mom??? I opted to pray for the kids. I was 13. 


John Grisham, lawyer turned author, has spoken up on behalf of these offenders who “look and don’t touch.”  “These men get drunk, they get lost in the web of child porn and - boom, FBI arrest with a three-year jail sentence,”claims Grisham. “They never touched a child, they just watched. “Operative word “JUST” as in “only.”  How does he think these children wound up in the photos and films? A watcher is a willing and aware participant who fully supports the intentions of those who abduct and kidnap. It’s a sex ring of fire that must be put out. Scott needs help. He also needed to be stopped, I’m grateful that he has been. 


I took a stand when I was 13, a stand that will continue until I die. Or better yet, sooner - on a day when these child victims are no longer created. 

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, 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 math

mix 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. 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

*~**~*


A 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