crawling

0189673d7d04de5b4ee98c70c754510afor many days, weeks I
have been still. I
have not done
useful things,
accomplished tasks,
checked things
off a list. on the
outside I
have not moved. I
am crawling around
inside myself, with
my eyes
closed, my hands over
my ears and my lips
sealed. This
is how I explore
the dark. I
have found nothing, I
sought nothing
and so I continue
blindly, looking
for something I
cannot see, or
taste, or
hear, or
touch. And when I
find it, I
will not speak.

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story by gaslight

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self portrait

you know how
you tell stories

like they’re just
stories
and not really you

like the one where you
were gutted.

that’s just a story
you tell
about a man

you opened to
over and over
until he gutted you, saying
he was just like that, toxic.

just like that, but
still
he couldn’t
lose you.

so you tell a new story
you come back,
again and again
until you tell
your story
by gaslight.

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faith and a full moon

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Daffodils 

Poems are much smaller than blogs and much more difficult to write.

I used to write quite a lot of them. I’m lazy now, too much instant gratification on Facebook, or perhaps I have simply lost the part of me that could write with precision and grace.

Tonight is March’s full moon. Tonight I am almost through a dark month, a month where I have questioned everything, where my thoughts went to other places even as the earth was waking from a long dark winter. “…sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness ..” Sometimes we forget this completely.

“…The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;”
– GALWAY KINNELL

 

I used to write about the moon, and my friend Marco wrote this for me (and you wonder why I keep coming back to Latino men, and Irishmen – see below). I read it when I want to remember things about myself I easily forget.

0189673d7d04de5b4ee98c70c754510a

Laguna de Luna Llena

Suspiros soplan sobre la Luna
luminada laguna

-Luna llena-

-Luna lejos-

-Luna blanca-

-Luna sola-

Hablemos esta noche
De los secretos
Escritos en tu cara;
Las manchas del ayer
Que hoy
Unduladamente son reflectadas
En estas aguas

Cuántos golpes sufriste mi amor
Que todavia sigues luminando
Sobre tierra y nubes

Cuántos amores olbidos
Te han penetrado
Que todavia esperas otro.

Eres terreno sagrado
Donde se sacrifica lagrimas
Y sangre por probar
La vida concentrada;
La angustia deliciosa.

Tu me inspiras…
Tu me inspiras
A cruzar las aguas de la vida;
De la luna llena laguna,
Con suspiros
Y esperanzas
Por amor sincero.

Faith is complicated for me. Part of my proud, stubborn arrogant heritage perhaps, but I reflexively reject things I’m told I must believe. I reject black and white, good and evil as the only options. My world is many shades of grey. Still, I do have faith, somewhere, and it is as complicated and nuanced as the rest of me.

Faith

I want to write about faith,
 about the way the moon rises
  over cold snow, night after night,

faithful even as it fades from fullness,
 slowly becoming that last curving and impossible
  sliver of light before the final darkness.

But I have no faith myself
 I refuse it even the smallest entry.

Let this then, my small poem,
 like a new moon, slender and barely open,
  be the first prayer that opens me to faith.

— David Whyte

 

I wrote this ten years ago, much has changed, but during dark times I get smaller, I sleep more or want to sleep more, and as always I cry in verse.

alive for one week

I am small

I wonder
hear my pulse
see broken glass
want only sleep

I am alive

pretend happiness
feel pain
touch deformity
worry in dreams

I cry in verse

curling within
understanding little
say less
I dream in reds

I try
I hope

I am alive.

odd bits with an occasional rhyme

me with quote

Excerpt from Sonnet XXVII by William Shakespeare

I used to think I’d organize my writing into a little book or some such thing, but that seems way too left-brained for today, so here are some scatterings in no particular order, some recent, some older (the sonnet, that one’s old, and I’m still not up to writing another).

August

As a lover, August is patient with her passions
she has none of April’s insecurity or
February’s forged sentimentality
nor will she endure
June’s vanity and boasting.

August bestows her heady scent
in velvet touches –
trailing from her finger tips, you can sense
the summit of summer’s heat
the promise of glorious autumn breezes
all at once upon on your flesh.

Her rudbeckia hued hair feels like a mane of
soft thick silk as lays across
your chest and navel.

You may think she is tamable, she is not.
she is proud and loyal
and most of all – passionate
she might be tamed, but
only by one who suits her.

Within her radiates a heart with the sun’s intensity
once embraced within its fire
you can always know its touch
even during December’s cold indecency.

She would never leave you, but
every year she is abandoned
for brightly coloured leaves
so she has learned to live alone
and hold her passions
deep inside her earth,
till it is her time to briefly love

wpid-20150910_203228.jpgbones

far away
I am this night
as blackness swallows day

sweet, my grief
rests in the folding
black from bloodless red
lay my bones
my lonely love
lay my bones
and heart of clay

coals

softly walking,
the white coals
my falling cloak
aflame

myself, behind me now
in shadow’s
yesterday

swirled by wind,
my ashes
sail away.

FB_IMG_1446961570015wordless

no words drift
between us,
our air
speechless,
embraced in single
blended breath.

breath not for
spoken thoughts; a
tongue moves within
my mouth –
all my poetry is inhaled
then released –
floating down, tangling
my hair,
spilling into your eyes,
where I watch myself,
exposed.

words without voice
caress us
in this space.

New Brunswickalive for one week

I am small

I wonder
hear my pulse
see broken glass
want only sleep

I am alive

pretend happiness
feel pain
touch deformity
worry in dreams

I cry in verse

curling within
understanding little
say less
I dream in reds

I try
I hope

I am alive

and just in case, you thought maybe I only wrote free verse or horribly depressing poetry I present one of my very few, mostly acceptable sonnets

IMG_0010and now for sonnet completely different

Oh damn! I scram, eat ham, spread jam, but Am
Incredibly not in love with Spam.
Nor can I abide a sorry sonnet;
Rather would I suck a festered garget
Then expel an iambic shoe deform’d,
My tongue fen-suck’d to a verse airiform’d.
Cinquain, senyru, haiku – will do, strained brain
Arcane, insane – I shall feign migraine,
Eat a tub a wrathful rotted puttucks,
Or have a flounder damp flog my buttocks;
Instead, may I up fill my toque with puke,
Then spew last two caked lines gobbledygook?
I could pretend, I meant not these words to offend,
And love the form, but tis too late – The End.

want

Burning-Man-2015I want you
to miss me
I want you
to think of me
before you sleep
and when you wake up,
when you’re driving
and when you’re doing
nothing at all,
miss me
when you’re flying,
and when your garden blooms
this spring.

I want you
to pick up your phone
10 times, 20 times a day
to send me a funny story
and then stop.

I want you
to be moody and sad
when that movie
we were going to see comes out
and for you to go alone
and miss holding my hand.

I want you
to read every poem that
I gave you for your birthday.

I want you
to miss my wild hair
my ass
my smile
my skin on your skin.

I want you
to get
the job
the life
the love you want

I want you
to miss me
for a while, and then
I want you
to be happy.

las brisas

11215053_10207206328013482_6570683600541414150_non the last day
I spent in tu cielo,
the last day
in your sky,
I want to tell you how
the gauzy clouds failed to
shade its heavy blueness.
how on that day
el sol drew the beads of sweat
down my skin, and
how las brisas
held me aloof. I want to tell you
of their distain, spent
within cigar puffs.

I would tell you how
each sun pulled bead
rolled between my breasts,
paused inside my navel, and
lazily saturated the fabric of my shirt;
how beads trailed between my shoulders
to the curve of my back
and then continued slowly down.
how on that day my skin
would taste of salt,
had las brisas touched it
with mouths
or words.
instead they pulled deeply in
the taste of cigar,
formed their lips around its shape
their tongue and teeth
caressing its textured surface.

on that last day
I spent in tu cielo,
I want to tell you
I already knew.
I knew I had
no place, that the
air had always,
and would ever be
yours,
to bend around the spoon.

leaving

“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.” – John Green

The leaving, the letting go, that part is easy.

Approaching letting go, entertaining thoughts of leaving, that part is excruciating. When faced with loss, the loss of a person, of a lifestyle, a job, a preconceived idea of ourselves, when faced with letting go, we cling. Forget the platitude – I cling. Somewhere deep inside I know, I know that nothing is permanent. I know that I will age, that I will suffer illness, that people I love deeply will leave, may die before me, that material wealth can be lost, that my love may not be reciprocated. I know all of this,  and I cling even more.

“If she is to love life and freedom and be brave then she must learn to let go. To see beauty without clinging to it, to feel pain without holding it hostage, and to feel love without worry of losing it.”
― G.G. Renee Hill, The Beautiful Disruption

tumblr_n5i9nvFFkC1qbhueno2_r1_250-2Right. That part. It does make a lovely quote, but to quote Ron Weasley, Bloody hell!

The times in my life that have been the most painful, the times I thought I could not possibly survive, these were the times right before I left, before I finally let go. These were the rock bottom times, the times where I dug my fingernails in and clung desperately to the idea, the person, the thing that I thought was essential for me to survive. None of them have turned out to be essential for my survival, so far.

The Journey  by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

I love this poem. It also make me a little angry. I want to say journeys like these don’t happen all at once. That you make this journey, that you make your own way in degrees. That, unlike the movies where the leap of faith gets made – generally to a profoundly moving musical score – and then life gets tied up in a neat bow, becomes perfect, and the credits roll as a glint of a tear forms in your eye and you wonder why can’t you just figure your shit out. Unlike that, in life you have to keep making the terrifying next step, you have to continue to make your journey. It gets easier, but it never gets easy. I have started on this journey many times, and to varying degrees, got pulled part way back by the cries of “mend my life!”, or turned back myself when the storm seem too much to endure.

23SUMMERFILM1-facebookJumbo

Trainwreck – Loved this movie – and look, everything is wonderful at the end, with great music and even cheerleaders. Bloody hell…

20151218_184853-01.jpegIt seems odd to be writing about this as I sit in front of our Christmas tree, surrounded in over 20 years worth of decorations, of traditions, of stories, of memories. The ornaments my friend Cathy and I made the last Christmas before she died more than 15years ago, the baby’s first Christmas ornaments for each of my children, beautiful things my mother made, the gifts from my favourite Aunt, the handmade gifts and ornaments from my children. All of these carry their own special weight, and this is the last year they will all be together in one place. This is the letting go, the leaving. This is the final Christmas in this house, in this town even. All our beautiful things will be divided, things I will keep, things that will go to each of my children, things that belong with their father, and things I can give away to add meaning to other family’s lives.

Twenty years ago, when my first daughter was 2 1/2 years old, my son, a 6 month old baby, and my youngest not yet born, we received a beautiful hand carved horse named Hilde. Tonight, after years of sitting quietly, Hilde went to live with another family with three young children who will love and play with her. Letting go of that stage of my life. I’ll keep the pictures, many of the books, but it is time to move on.

Burning-Man-2015

Alexander Milov’s sculpture “Love” from this year’s Burning Man

Milov’s  sculpture silhouettes rigid, back to back  wire adult figures, within their frames stand children reaching towards each other.  At night the contrast between illumination within the wire frames “…demonstrates a conflict between a man and a woman as well as the outer and inner expression of human nature … Their inner selves … in the form of transparent children,  holding out their hands through the grating … This shining is a symbol of purity and sincerity that brings people together and gives a chance of making up.” – Alexander Milov.

I don’t feel the optimism the artist does when I look at this piece. What I see is a stunning representation of how we separate ourselves, in spite of what our hearts, our most inner self loves. There is no turning of the wire frames, they will forever remain separate, despite the inner reaching.

“And the moon rose over an open field

Cathy, I’m lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping
And I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America”

Simon and Garfunkel

Pete Fornatale said this lyric was a “metaphor to remind us all of the lost souls wandering . . .struggling to navigate the rapids of despair and hope, optimism and disillusionment.” Stephen Holden wrote it “simultaneously illuminates a drama of shared loneliness”. David Nichols called it “a splendid vignette of a road trip by young lovers; both intimate and epic in scale, it traces an inner journey from naive optimism to more mature understanding.”  I can’t explain as eloquently why the lines resonate deeply with me – “Cathy, I’m lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping, And I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why” – but they do.

‘Man and Woman’ by Georgian sculptor Tamara Kvesitadze

The towering statues are two humans made out of metallic discs, who move toward each other, seem to kiss, to embrace, to combine together, and then to pass through each other, parting and end facing in opposite directions, much like Milov’s work. They represent a Muslim boy, Ali, and a Christian princess, Nino and their tragic love story, but again, to me it represents how we separate ourselves from love.

This last year has been a series of journey’s, many, but not all of them, painful.  This fall had some profoundly painful leavings. Letting go of my brother will not, and should not, come easily, if at all.  Letting him leave in small increments, or starting to let go of the idea of his place in my life is like pushing through metal. Finding out who I am separate from the things that I had been clinging to for various lengths of time, separate from being somebody’s mother, somebody’s daughter, sister, somebody’s love, finding who I am separately will be my journey.

 

this is what the living do

DSCF0082
Johnny,

I have become a person who people send sympathy cards to, someone people want to nurture with food, chocolate, flowers and kind messages. People hug me when they see me, and ask how I am. Most of the time I have no idea.

I’m wearing your pj bottoms as I write, and drinking tea from one of your cups. The pile of your newly washed, and neatly folded clothes sits on my bed and asks me what are you going to do with us now? I don’t know, that’s why I tried on the pj bottoms. I had to roll the waist because you were taller than I am. Were, I have to get used to speaking of you in the past tense.

We’ve been speaking of you in the past tense for two weeks, two weeks tomorrow, Saturday at 4pm. I’m still getting used to that.

I also wear your wedding ring, the one that dad left you after he died. It’s on my thumb. I play with it constantly, twisting it, rubbing it. I think about you and dad, and how I ended up older than either of you, and wonder if wearing this ring is a good idea or not.

I think you would like your service, it’s in two weeks, and I have spent a lot of time working on it. It has readings, poems, and we’re playing Leonard Cohen and The Beatles, actually the choir, the one you used to sing with, will be performing Hallelujah and All You Need is Love. They said they would be honoured to sing for you. Honoured, I wonder what you would think about that. We’re doing two of my favourite prayers. To be honest I don’t know what you would think of the whole thing. I finished the first draft of your eulogy, I’ve never written one of those, but I’d never written an obituary either, and I think your’s turned out alright.

When I went through your clothes that first week, the week we went through and cleaned and organized your apartment, I mainly thought of ones for Graham, so he could have something of yours. I thought about taking a box of your books for him too, but then didn’t. You two had so much in common, but he walked out of his treatment centre 3 days ago and we don’t know where he is now, so I’m back to looking at the pile of clothes, and I’m still don’t know what I will do with them.

I sit here, healthy, safe and warm, and you’re gone, you’re not even a body anymore, you’re ashes siting in a container somewhere, I don’t even know where. They gave mom your glasses and your watch. That’s what she has, your glasses and your watch. I can’t begin to know how that feels. Did they put them in a special box with gold lettering? A velvet bag? Or did they just shove them in a brown envelope? Does that help? I don’t think it would. I think it would equally excruciating to receive the items from your child’s body no matter how they were presented to you.

You broke my heart, Johnny, you broke all of our hearts, and I let you die. I let you die alone. I let my son become homeless, and I sit in my house and feel sorry. I feel sorry, and sad, and tired, really, really tired. Somehow that seems wholly inadequate. It seems there should be larger consequence for not saving you, or Graham, or even dad.

There is more, obviously. You can’t tell by looking at me, or by talking to me, most of the time anyhow. On the outside I look and sound pretty much the same. I’m not. I’m unmoored, I am no longer somebody’s sister, I no longer have a brother, and you were it, my only sibling. It’s just me now, and that feels unnatural. All our private jokes, our code words, things that only we talked about and knew, all those things are gone, and what’s left is just space.

This was not how all of this was suppose to turn out. We were going to be great. We had grand plans. Happy lives mapped out. Lives with spouses, and happy children, successful careers, and somehow bits of that got lost.

I have to stop now. I have to find a place to put your clothes, and I have to go back to the actions that make up my life now.

I found this poem for you. I think maybe you would have made fun of it, but you don’t get to speak for yourself anymore, so here it is.

What the Living Do
Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.

And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

Goodnight Johnny. I love you.

“I just sit by and let you fight your secret war”

flawed, but indisputable

wpid-20150829_110911-01.jpega man

He tries to feel
for promises
he wants to,
but knows he’ll never keep

He goes alone
in clever words
and tells himself this
is enough,
even as his own words’ hollow ringings
must be drowned inside
his own false laughter.

His beating heart for frozen smiles,
long since traded in;
and if he’s fast enough,
he will not notice
the odd old beat
from within
his hidden chest.

His mirthful eyes, intelligent
and sadly beautiful to watch
see all that need compassion,
but who in turn
will show him none,
and will forsake those who would show him any.

and sometimes
very briefly,
in those eyes
there is the boy
who never did grow up
who, when he looks at you
the frozen mirth is gone,
and standing there
is just the man,
flawed,
but indisputable.

For less lofty poems click here or here or here. I also have a woman poem, but that’s for another day.

small stories

“Go to your bosom; Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know” Measure for Measure Act 2, Scene 2, lines 36-37 artwork by Jhenai Mootz

I came alone.

the first time, since.
I came alone. today,
the first time
since we were
we, and from my corner
I watched,
us, side by side,
legs touching, and ankles entwined
telling each the small stories,
telling the small stories that
made up our days.
opening,
and then offering
little bits of ourselves,
to each other.
opening,
sometimes slowly,
the little
bits of ourselves,
carefully
removing a brick,
maybe two, from the walls.
a brick, maybe two
from the walls we had built,
and for a time, putting them down,
entwining our stories,
the small stories that made up our days.

Sun fills the doorway, fills
the doorway,
and I see you,
I see you walk in, the sun
glinting
off of those sunglasses
you wore.
I look from your eyes
to your smile
and I tell you my small stories,
the small stories that make up
my day,
the ones left unfinished
and now,
you tell me your stories, your
small stories, once again
entwining our stories,
entwining,
our stories
once again.

Sun fills the doorway
the doorway that’s empty, and
a brick, maybe two, still
wait on the floor, the space
they once held in my life,
the space,
they once held,
still lies open.

Sun fills the doorway
the doorway that’s empty, and
a brick, maybe two, remain
on the floor
I hold my small stories
in one hand, lie the stories
one hand that lies open, a hand
that lies open as I
walk out the door.