Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Tonight I pine for my former happiness


Tonight I pine for my former happiness.

I admit there was pain in all of it too 

but I scorn all those tears--they taught me 

what gladness is. 

There was that afternoon we drove along the coast, 

Bill Evans CD the perfect soundtrack, 

we are barely talking, so at ease

with the presence of the other. 

I don't know what thoughts waft 

through his mind but I see his calm, his 

contentment marks a faint smile on his face. 

All the signs of a man in love with life.  

We stop to stroll a path along the bluffs 

high above the sand and blue below.

his hands slack in both pockets

and eyes glisten with a deep joy. 

We return to the car and I want to make love 

right then and there 

but he would not risk such exposure, 

being a man who holds dignity dear

and so I merely place a finger on his cheek, 

on that amazing malar bone handed down

to him by Aztecs--his beauty cut

a wound in me that will not heal.  

If only



Suddenly we drive past fields and fields

of yellow giants--my eyes spinning

pinwheels and voice repeating,

look!  look! look!

But my boys do not look up 

from their bleeping phones because

it's just a bunch of flowers

spreading through the meadow 

by the thousands, faces to the sun

like flowers everywhere.  

No matter the giants stand in perfect rows

like China's Terracotta Army. 

They are too quiet to impress.

If only they were crowing

and butting, if only they were 

rushing toward us and exploding, 

the boys might want a better look

and lift their beeping phones to

maybe take a picture

or two. 


Sunday, June 21, 2020

A Quiet Town A Father's Day Poem

Once I wrote a book of poems
about my father

but they do not reveal the man
with a raccoon's blue eyes

who brewed beer in the basement,
who drove off every Friday

and returned Sunday nights with
a buck tied to the roof of our Rambler.

The poems just sit up all night 
thinking how my family feels like
a quiet town with an old mystery
that no one talks about
but me.

Tides A Father's Day Poem

One long ago summer after an all-day drive from Indiana in our station wagon, we arrive at grandma's beach house on the Atlantic.

A dozen laughing men and women put down their highballs and cigarettes to hug us.

They are my father's mother, sisters and their husbands and they engulf my parents as shore birds merge into formations.

We four kids sit on the porch sipping cherry cokes, not speaking, our bodies busy sponging it all up:

this vast watery world,
the merry traffic jam of strangers
who seem to care for my father,
and the sudden levity in his body.

It feels strange in a good way
to see enjoyment on him.
He wears it well.

I like the tiny stars that appear in his eyes.
How his hard mouth breaks into jocularity
at things they say to him.

The ocean thrashes before us on the porch,
a sound like Indiana rain storms.

Suddenly in the moonlight the tide spits out waves
of giant horseshoe crabs that grope forward on the sand.

Black helmuts with 7 tiny hands and feet
barely moving but drawing closer.

The sight so beautiful and foreign
like my father's happiness emerging
from his own deep hidden tides.

Monday, June 8, 2020

For the drunks I used to love

I address you as if a chorus,
each voice silky and prized
but all
singing the same song.

Our fascinations still
move a bow across
my spine
though nothing went as planned
      and the buzz-killing
moments can't be swept
under the rug.

When you fell asleep
with my nipple caught
        in your mouth,
the gorgeous cello
of your back
      no longer mattered.

And when
you did not fix the sink
you broke with those same
       helpless hands that
flew along the metal strings
sweet as feathers
on Leonard Cohen tunes
while I paid a plumber,
the way your neck widened
at the shoulder and
       then narrowed
and widened again
      stirred me less.

I will forgive the yawning
when I read you my poems
if you
       forgive me for casting
myself head first
into life
without you.

And if my refusals still sting,
it was not they that made
our fortunes
but what we did

Let’s forgive.
The best and worst
of times now seem more
myth than matter.

At every crossroad, we followed
our own disappointing dreams.
And there was mercy
between us:
afternoons on your boat
       under setting suns,
our bellies up.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Where the arrow points

The doctor's wrinkles hide his thoughts
I cannot see what he feels as he
speaks to my love about kidneys.

The trained hands hold an image
to the light to show two dark fists
spread like wings
across my darling's spine.

A million tiny filters are failing
in their God-given duty to cleanse
my husband's blood

so a new diet is ordered,
without a hint of taste,
that must begin tonight
if we are to rescue those
bean shapes off the cliff
from which they dangle.

Only a month before, he says
Let's go to Spain.
He longs for a shaded cafe,
a sip of Tinto Fino.

In his dream, he wears a long white shirt
and a black fedora
and he admires attractive passers by
and they in turn admire
his avalanche of white hair and even whiter
teeth and that leading man jaw.

He leaves the office nervous
but optimistic.

My man does not understand
the next 2 years may be a slow,
moonless descent.

But I do.

I see the levels on the doctor's chart.
I see the arrow on the word: dialysis.
I see no arrow points to Spain.

Rising from the lawn (Mother's Day)

Because she's gone I can talk
about my mother.

I can say she was not the best
nor the worst on the spectrum.

I can say she was not really
like a mother. She was ardent

like a lover, at times
like my worst enemy.

If she were here, she would be
a 101 year old chainsmoker

with hair arrayed like a wedding
cake that would sag under her laugh.

I can say she would scold me
for being too serious and when I

complain, she’d recite an uplifting
line from a famous German sage

fortelling how people cry out
for their mothers

once they are gone
and then cast her eyes to heaven
like a wounded bird.

She would remind me how much
angst she endured for her children

and tell me again to spade her
beside my dad and to visit her there

often because it's the only way
she can rise from that silent lawn.