I appreciate all of you writers and artists performers and visual artists of every stripe) keeping us engaged, moved, and yes, distracted, 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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
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.