Saturday Night Lie

You can get glammed up and go to the bar, or you can read poetry in the bathtub.

I trust you’ll make the right call.


sheath

tonight
i wore
hot
pink
lipstick
and slid
into a
dress
that fits
like perfection

i step into
heels
then
slip it
all off again

shed free
of lies
like snakeskin
lain still in the
late-day sun

reckoning
my neon
mouth
and pale
skin

i
find
these
simple
words

i have
nothing
but my
body
to offer
the crowd

i have
nothing
but my
word
to tether
me to man

they
can’t
have it
both
ways

and
none
of them
can
touch me

A Haunted House

Sometimes, reminders of the past owners of a house will randomly resurface.

On humid days, the hallway smells like cigar smoke. Nicotine weeps from the drywall. Old film negatives from 1977 that have been lodged behind a radiator slide free. A trinket shaped like a glass strawberry rolls out of nowhere.  Sunlight catches a scrawled scripture verse on a door jamb.  CAUTION has been painted on the basement wall, then halfassedly painted over.  Initials are carved in an attic beam in elegant script.

I slide the negatives back into their hiding spot.

What proof of existence will I leave behind?


isolation

houses cannot be haunted
at least not by the dead

our energy does not remain
once our bodies expire

not where we seek solace
or where the bitter despair
of nightmares prey

we believe
spirits exist
because we cannot admit
humanity leaves
nothing
but
cold walls
and hollow words
to be passed among
strangers

all is forgiven
nothing is owed
nothing is truly owned

a ghost is
feeling a connection
when there isn’t any

a ghost is
isolation
in a crowd

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The Lobster Trap

Do you ever yearn for an experience so deeply that you become careless?

It happens to me often. Usually with food. I panic, eat too quickly, and blister the roof of my mouth.

There’s a complex emotional equivalent that I’m trying to capture. The attempt of a sensitive starveling to be satiated by affection, to finally belong.

You can want it too much.

You can burn the roof of your soul.

A poem about a day that I burned both ways, with tears in my eyes behind a lobster pound.


belfast blues

strangers in a coast town
slipping away, swaying
salty as the sea breeze
behind a faded shack

crying gulls
stall thoughts
of trawler engines
churning beneath the bay

rime on my lips
blood on my teeth
losing my voice
in shallow gulps

the fighters
and the fearful
all get boiled alive

blistering tongues of fire
against misplaced intentions
of a maple-lined harbor

(01-OCT-2018 – Belfast, Maine)

Time-Travel Blues

It’s cold and rainy today, but the first hot day of Spring is coming.

Prime napping weather. Sweaty naps so good that you feel like you woke up in a different dimension. You’ll have no idea who, where, or when the hell you are.

An ode to those naps. An attempt to describe the adventure of adjusting to the first few moments of waking reality.


the first hot day of spring

wrapped in thin lace
of just-wakeful grace
before time sorts memories
by relevance

touching the ruched fabric
of a fitted sheet
tracing raised patterns
of satin chromosomes

i wonder if you taste outside on your lips
if the scent of wind clings to your hair

my childhood home
and the scent of hot gravel
combine, pungent
like a punch to the nose

my spirit is running
barefoot, pure
where lilacs bloom in the alley
strangers to betrayal

firsthotdayofspring

Pain or a Muse

Spring showcases the regenerative power of life.  A time when the desert blooms and romance intensifies.

A time when heartfelt words to old loves, sweet muses, and dear friends seem the most appropriate.  Please enjoy this collection of weird affection.

  • Glow – Musings of a wallflower. Feeling like an outsider and overlooked. Watching somebody confident that you wish to be.
  • The Hitcher – The first throes of deepening attraction.
  • The Direwolf – An ode to the bluest eyes.
  • Yesterday –  One time my friend Jane asked me:  “Can you write without pain or a muse?”  I thought about it a lot.  I can write without pain or a muse, but never my favorite lines.


glow

i never burn
very brightly
maybe
i’ll never burn
at all.

i glow
softly
phosphorescent
like
foxfire

i live
to watch
the arc
of your
shooting
star

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the hitcher

we are not
born
for the piss-elegant
facades
of a
gilded drawing-room.

your
simple energy
pulls
me to
truth

i am
all i
have
to give
and i
am enough

i will travel this path as long as it will take me
i will travel in peace as long as you are mine

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(Mt. Katahdin Trail – Maine – October 2018)


the direwolf

someday
when the earth
is no more
than sea and desert
when the icecaps
are melted
when cool springs
and crystal lakes
bake dry
in the punishing sun

humanity
will only have
your resplendent eyes
to remember
the icy thrill
of glaciers
glittering softly
in the morning sun

a canid
phantom,
those eyes,
tenaciously
cutting
across
the ages

The Direwolf
(Berg Lake – Canada – October 2017)



yesterday

i have borrowed
the wings of your
unburdened spirit

now let me rest
the windings
of my febrile mind
and aching body
against you

hold me in the
quarters of your heart
where you keep
youth’s bright convictions
and luxurious absolutes

keep me here unless i drain you
hold me near until i am free

if i can repay
a fraction of the hope
you have restored to me
i would be absolved of my sins
and for handling
the sacred
spark
too
freely

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(Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Chardon, OH – July 2018)

Devil Dog Blues

I am in love with a Marine! I’ve never met him.  I don’t even know his name. He comes to me in recurring dreams with the same scared and searching smile. Early twenties, blonde, stubble-chinned, sturdy.  His ears stick out a bit too much.

In this life, I live in a single room in some war-torn tropical hellhole.  Just a bed, a stove, a small table, and a few chairs.  There’s one dingy window, but it’s always night.  It’s my home-office, so to speak, but my Marine just comes to talk.  We hold each other.  Tell our sins. Sometimes we kiss or cry.  I place my palm against his beating heart to calm him, and he returns the favor.  We fall asleep together.

Our souls must have sublimated somewhere, entwined like that.  In a past life or some alternate reality.  Maybe it’s a false memory of true love that can only exist between archetypes.  The Shellshocked Boot and The Saintly Hooker.  We must have been one hell of a match!

Sometimes, in crowds, I get the notion he’s around.  I haven’t found him, yet.

But I still write him love poems.  

 


 

obligations

every
night
i plan
my escape
from
the
weight
of
imperious
owing.

in lies
of dreams,
i belong
to no one,
and seek
the shelter
of your
patience.

in these
moments
you hold me
and i am safe.

morning
lies
in wait,
springs the
cruel trap
of
awakening,
where i
submit to
truth
by degrees.

morning
has not yet
found me.
i still feel
your
touch
and
ache
with
something
like
nostalgia.

Devil Dog Blues

Minute Poem

Life can be inspirational and frustrating. Mindfulness is often difficult. This morning, due to my hurry and lack of awareness, I dropped a glass bottle that shattered under the wheels of my car.

I thought about Anna Marie Bowers’ Blog, Minute Mentastics.  Her blog provides one-minute examples of mindful movements that help to improve the mind-body connection.  Being present reduces stress and anxiety.

The shattered glass took about a minute to scoop up. I thought of how Anna Marie would write about mindfully and carefully cleaning.

I used this time to be aware of how I was holding my stress, how my cold fingertips differentiated between glass and ice, how the asphalt and water felt against my knees.  I usually get upset with myself in moments of clumsiness, but focusing on what my body was accomplishing helped me to center.

After the glass was cleared from the driveway, I checked my hands. No new injuries, just old scars and familiar lines.

When I finally made my way to work, an albino squirrel crossed my path.

If I left on time that would never have happened.  Sometimes things break and that’s ok!


broken morning blues

a cold spring dawn sticks
thick against my tonsils
i’m late for work!

i drop a bottle in the rush
the sharp slivers scatter
under the wheels of my car

i fall to my knees on the asphalt
grasping shards with unfeeling fingertips
my jeans soak up ice water

i fall into the rhythm of usefulness
cleaning up a broken morning
to find peace in a required task

there’s an albino squirrel watching me
i don’t know the meaning
but i’m glad to be here!

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Stray Kat Blues

This is a poem I wrote on my birthday. I was in a small town 150 miles from home working from the library.

A book peeked out at me: “Somewhere a Cat is Waiting” by Derek Tangye. I flipped through it. A sweet and inspiring story of the author’s life with his wife and cats.

I wrote about the cat archetype, their quality of aloof self-possession. They just live their lives. Anything can happen and they are OK.

Image Note: This cat was hunting down by the docks on a summer day. She gave zero shits that I was there. I like the way the trim of the warehouse building in the background looks like a white cross.



somewhere a cat

somewhere a cat is waiting
just like me
but really
living

sleek,
silent,
answers
to no one

stalking
alleys
with no
fear

she
knows
without
asking

somewhere a cat is waiting
free from
selfish
love

Untitled (2)(07-JUL-2017 –  Grand River, Ohio)

California Dreamin

hwy 1 blues
driving barefoot
from Posts to Midpines
from coast to mountains
past the blue bay of Monterey

i drive all day
and at night, when i sleep
my mind snakes up
the coastal highway

past the wildflowers quaking
in aquamarine surf
eastbound, green
over the San Joaquin

safe asleep in a deep
purple valley
i dream all night
of driving barefoot

two lanes
transcending
isolation

sharkskin blues
a handsome man
waits for his lunch
at the fish shack

he wears a sleek grey suit
and talks sharp slang
with two companions

he doesn’t notice me
reading the lines on his face
to tell if he ever smiles

his eyes are blue
just a shade lighter than the ocean
i want his voice to come in softer waves

el capitan
the first time you see El Capitan
it’s like falling from a tree
he knocks the wind right outta you
your stomach clenches
your ribcage aches
your heart is broken

this archetype of a mountain
has always existed
deep in your DNA
“El Capitan!” you shout
and rush foreward
to greet an old friend

climb up the side and recline
feel the shining granite
alternate hot and cool
beneath your hands
survey the valley floor
safe in the arms of a mountain

The Reddest Flag

A scary story that is kind of true.

I wouldn’t lie to you, not even on April Fools’ Day!


I walk in the desert on a clear March Morning. I go slow, and don’t stray far from the dirt road. I don’t want to trample any of the fragile plants I am photographing.

A man in a silver truck pulls up next to me. He rolls down his window and smiles “Good morning! Are you hiking?”

Polite. Sunbaked. My dad’s age. I assume all California ranchers look like this.

I stop walking to scan his face. I can’t get a read on his eyes to tell if he is kind. Two black blanks squint back, unwavering.

Red flag.

He asks where I’m from so I answer. He seems genuinely perplexed, or maybe he’s just messing with me. “Ohio? How did you get all the way out here?” He might be wasted at 8AM.

Redder flag.

He introduces himself – Jim. An honest single-syllable name like a rancher should have. I extend my hand out to him as a greeting.

His massive hand envelopes mine, sandpaper rough. His dark eyes never drop their gaze.

The handshake stalls.

We are two strangers holding hands in the desert.

I notice the skin on his hands is deeply scarred by labor, etched by time and sunlight. Purple channels that cut deep like washed-out sandstone valleys. A couple fingers have been broken a few times.

I am aware of how small I am. How thin and unaccustomed to the punishing sun or manual work. The scars on my own hands shine white and superficial.

He smiles again, but doesn’t let go. I can’t get a read on him. I’ve lost all concept of time, all instincts of self-preservation. My mind wanders.

When was the last time someone new held your hand? When was the last comforting touch against your skin as you told about your scars?

I remember all of that. Ohio feels like a lifetime ago. Just a story about a stranger that I’m hearing secondhand.

I try to recall what I am doing here, since Jim is waiting for me to speak.

“I’m from Cleveland, I just wanted to see the desert, because I never have.” I leave out details. Where I’ve been or where I’m going. He doesn’t want to know, anyway.

“I should go”, I offer. It seems that we’ve said all we needed.

Jim holds on to me for a bit too long. It makes me uncomfortable, but not yet in a way that I fear him. He replies, “You are so cold! If you want to come back to my place, I have hogs!”

The reddest flag.

“No, Thanks!”

I’ve read this horror story before. I slide myself free and say goodbye. I back away and watch him drive off. We go in opposite directions, forever.

Farewell, my desert valley.

Goodbye, Jim!