Ode to the Future During the Pandemic

You’ve never actually been there, Future, your nitrile gloved hands beckoning,
a partner for a waltz we never learned how to lead or follow--
blue crocus underground and snow geese wintering in the south--
no part of you more than wishes or prayers to faithless lovers.
 
A partner for a waltz I never learned to lead or follow
you’re a dancer wearing a gown of milk jug silk and cornstarch shoes.
You’ve never been more than a ten-cent prayer, my faithless lover,
I scribed on paper and burned in winter, a summery green ash rising.
 
A dancer in a gown of milk-jug silk and thin-soled shoes
you won’t be recognized when you arrive.  It will be today,
scribed on burning paper, summery green ash rising
even though I saw you, our longed for Future running away.
 
We won’t recognize you when you arrive. It will be today.
What could you do to remind me I invited you to breakfast
(I saw you, hair streaming, running away)
when you come now in your goggles, mask, your smothered grin?
 
Could you remind me I invited you to breakfast,
blue crocus underground and spring geese restless, muttering in the south?
You approach now in goggles and secret smile.
You’ve never actually been here, your gloved hand beckoning.

Ode to Nostalgia

This rising mist, not dim, but light,

I bathe in Her more often

now that the Future (in her mask)

is running away

wobbling on bad feet.

This rising, mist, not dim, but light—warm,

every time She arrives this way

wrapping shining arms

around my shoulders

a feeling of light with different names

for the Past.  Story of a Day

when oyster middens

piled deep in their own memories,

still prodded our air with their past living

where we crunched along

finding every missing pearl

perfectly radiant as a touch.

How we hoped to hoard this day

the best of them in our pockets.

How many of these days were there?

Uncountable sea coves

where we sifted pebbles, shoosh, shoosh,

for agates, ambergris, smooth spheres

 while whales played out there

in their element, sea,

and where the hard wind sanded

our skin raw and made our sandwiches

crackle on our teeth.

                —-Ah, there I went again into Her shining arms

circling my shoulders

haloing me like Mothers

and again, instead, I go into

Her rising mist, not dim, but light,

a cloud, brighter than Now because the Future,

her hair streaming behind her,

runs away on wobbly feet

around a scorched bend and out of sight.

Oyster Middens on Tydbee Island Georgia

Zooming with the Horse

1. In profile, Horse shifts his dark
windowed eye a little down
and to the left to say scratch that
pull off that burr or tick
and I can’t see what it is, never
will know, anyway no chance
to pull it off, scratch
and after all he’s dead
as my vet said zooming in horse heaven
his sky legs regained.
 
2.  Zooming with the rabbit, She
turns one ear back then her head follows, then
there is only her rear and that tell tale tail.
 
3. I never get Roadrunner on the schedule to zoom.
Too fast for me.
 
4. Zooming with your dogs, they get so close
I can read their brains through their noses,
all their thoughts breathing out
until they speak alternately saying
throw the ball or where’s the ball or
here’s the ball, then zoom away.
 
5. My sister writes about watching lizards
doing push ups on their fairy tale fingers
and if she zooms me
they too will have a chance to zoom
under a stone.
 
6.In Time Lapse Zoom, your dahlias bud, open wider, show their throats.
In Time Lapse Zoom margigold petals drop and drift like snow.  Then snow.
 
7. I never see it coming, the sadness.
Right when I am laughing to think of zooming
the horse, the rabbit, the lizard, tulip, dogs--
might as well be fishes below a skin of lake
too deep to reach and if
I should net one out somehow
to stream my fingertip across her silver slick side,
and took her home with me
she would likely die.
So with you in the time of La ‘Rona,
friend zooming Safer Far Away, seen
not even through a glass but pixelated in some way,
not really seen at all.  Only imagined.

			

A Trio of Pandemic Poems

Like many, after March sank into my understanding like a wildfire smoke plume during an ozone-thick inversion, I veered away from screens except for news and for “seeing” family and friends, and into the garden. As summer ripened into fall as it does, and I gathered outside a few times with poetry-writing friends, I finished these poems. These comprise the epilogue for my almost published third book of poetry Bright Path Dark River. More on that, soon. The pandemic poems are listed as separate posts: Zooming the Horse, Ode to the Future During the Pandemic (a pantoum), Ode to Nostalgia. May the last poem give you permission, if you need it, to spend a little more time basking in the lights of good memories. (I hope hope hope hope hope you have some. If not, maybe you will make some up).

Here are a mini-pumpkin that I did not plant seeds for (I have a basket now of the darlings) and a zucchini that seemed after it was mature to want to sprout a second zucchini out of itself. I shall call it “Still Life with Surprising Life.”

By the way, various events supporting publication of Chained Dog Dreams didn’t happen, for obvious reasons, but the book is still available at The Book Bar in Denver, Narrow Gauge Bookstore in Alamosa Colorado, The Boulder Bookstore, some libraries (you could ask them to order it from Ingram), Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Finishinglinepress.com. Or directly from me! Message me.

Poem for Isolation

to: prisoners, refugees, immigrants, aged infirm, quarantined, us.

What I need to write now

is a different sort

of poem, one that

dings like a text or better

rings like a phone

call and when you

answer it is

your best friend, brother,

child, something, someone like

that, and everything is perfectly

fine, they say, the night’s heavy

snow is melting under spring sun,

something like that happens, and

let it be a poem that

doesn’t surprise you

at the end of it

with some scary real

news or moment of existential

panic like we get

every day. No,

I will write a poem

that could be everybody’s friend, could be

a hug, a kiss, could be

the delivery of oranges,

or the neighbor’s plum trees

flowering with certainty

there will be no late frost

no kiss of death

so when I share

this poem, I will edit out

the kiss of death,

will cut it short, and the flowers

will ease into fruit in this poem

over several warm months,

and when the poem of your phone rings

it will actually be your doorbell

(you have a door and a bell in this poem)

and there will be your neighbor,

your best friend, your children,

something like that, someone,

this poem, a hug during

the time of waiting,

not a poem of longing. Why

must I always follow

the poem to there,

a sorry visit to my heart,

a shocking fact in my mind,

some science that insists

on being spoken,

that it may be a very long

time before you have a door,

or a bell or a door bell rings,

if ever, but still,

when you open the door,

let the poem of us

be surprised and wait,

cherishing the light in our faces,

then let us reach out

and touch each other’s hands

then step as close

and hold each other as close

as a clam to its shell

mud to a shoe

a cat on your lap

fish in water, carpet to floor, bird to sky, egg to nest, worm to dirt, tree to root, type to page, planet to gravity.

Then let the poem be with you

like you and it are two peas

in a pod, that is

as close as the you-to-me

you always are

wherever you are.

Let my poem touch

you till you laugh.

p.s. Peas come 6 or 8 to a pod.

The poem will have a party!

Edward Hopper, Sunday Morning, 1930

A death/geometry poem and a helpful editor at Barnstorm Journal

I neglected to keep a good record of some of my publications and need them now in order to apply for a particular grant. I wrote Barnstorm Journal because I had difficulty using its search function and overnight received a kind note, an apology for the difficulty searching, and the url to my poem from 2013. So here it is! What a professional and generous editor, Charlotte Gross, an MFA student at New Hampshire University

Midwinter Night, Solstice December 21 2019

Fairbanks winter solstice, courtesy University of Alaska

What People Mean

Cousin Anne writes that the light that generally accompanies visitations has been seen at the Nighthawk cabin recently.

Midwinter sunset rolls out the red carpet for our mother

and midsummer dawn casts a gold path for our father

and the world they travel turns parallel to ours.

Transparent but visible, it overlays us,

think of 3-d lines in a comic book. 

Lightly, they embody themselves here, now,

their hands like clear latex gloves sheathing my hands.

Now we are dunking a pinwheel cookie, family recipe,

in a chipped mug with reheated coffee

and when I get up to light the candles

my mother’s hands cover mine and she shows me how

how to hold the match and strike away,

how to smooth with our hand a white cloth

where we’ll lay our ritual winter feast.

Free Cat Dreams

Thought you all might like a break from Chained Dog Dreams. These are our cats Natty Bumpo and Little Bear. They engage in synchronized dreaming. I wonder if they are both dreaming of sunshine. You can order Chained Dog Dreams now from me directly (leave a comment) for cover price of $19.95; I’ll pay shipping and will sign your copy if you’d like. It is also available as a special order from bookstores (through Ingram), at the Denver Book Bar, Narrow Gauge Book Cooperative, libraries, and through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I have a few accidently wine soaked ones for free.