Friday, December 2, 2011

Season of Departure

Autumn is a season of departure
Leaves are drying, turning color,
Never to be green and supple again;
Unleaving trees until they are bare.
Harvest empties fields and orchards.
Still one peach has yet to fall.

Robins abandon us 

In search of warmer climes and more insects.
Bears shuffle off to slumber chambers.
Squirrels, gathering nuts and seeds,
Feed with crows on withered corn 

And that one last peach that has yet to fall.

Children are bundled off to school.
Hay is ricked and off to market;
Cotton is baled and sent to the gin.
Migrant workers have pulled up stakes,

And move on to harvests further South,
Leaving that one peach that has yet to fall.

written October, 2009

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Waltz Wave: Mountain Tops

time I
tops cloudless,
the sun
snow blinds
me, yet I
miss mystery
of the mist-
clothed peak,
me of the
that I

written 10/23/2009

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chameleon, a Pleiades

Chartreuse lizard slowly
Climbs on porch seeking a
Catnap, but startled he turns
Coffee to match the planks'
Color, puffs up his sub-
Chin dewlap to warn us:
Caution! I might inflate!”

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Sun Kisses

The sun kisses what it loves
And leaves the rest to shadow:
The open rose sharing its fragrance and pollen
More than the tightly curled bud,
The leaves of trees more than their rough trunks,
The roofs of houses more than their portals,
Bell towers more than the stone plaza below,
Laundry hung out to dry
Shaking a clean scent into gusts of wind
More than the neatly folded clothes in drawers.
Your upturned face more than the pockets of your trousers.

written November 2009

Monday, October 31, 2011


The slate sky lies in cold repose.
Since Halloween the Tilt-A-Whirl
Has been covered with a stiff gray tarp
Faded by rain's pelting
and the sun's melting of frost,
All is silent except for the cawing
of circling crows
and the flapping of canvas
Against poles of gaudy candy colors.
Dismembered with their chairs
Removed and strewn about on the ground,
The skeletons of Ferris wheels
And bones of roller-coasters
Hang against the diffuse light of winter
Like the damned
Left too long upon the gallows.

December 1979 (87 words, 18 lines)

A Waltz Wave: Winter Locusts

all gone
to winter
to the trees
are pale husks of
their summer
selves, soon
be filled
with ice and
breeze of

written October 2009

A Waltz Wave: Tulips Die

by petal
while on
lips last words
lie fevered. His
boy friend moves
near to
“This world
is pain, but
wait till
see what's

written November 2009

A Waltz Wave: Midas Touch of Dawn

of dawn
spangles the
underfoot - we
have found the
Gold! El
was here
the time,

 written November 2009

A Waltz Wave: Inland We Wait

land we
for rain
here on the
Caprock, while the
search the
sky, and
watch for the
sun they

An Abused Child's Prayer

Thank you, Lord for another day.
Please hide the bruise, I'm so ashamed.
The beating wasn't bad today.
And forgive me for all I'm blamed.

Please hide the bruise, I'm so ashamed.
Don't let her kill me while I sleep.
And forgive me for all I'm blamed.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

Don't let her kill me while I sleep.
Her fist was open, my eyes were shut.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Her words were worse. O, how they cut!

Her fist was open, my eyes were shut.
The beating wasn't bad today.
Her words were worse. O, how they cut!
Thank you, Lord for another day.

written February 2011, finished May 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How I Break Free of Depression and Find Poetry Again

To begin again
I awaken and pray.
I stretch and breathe.
I walk in sunlight,
And dance in rain;
Watch the stars for signs;
Read the trees wisely.

I will let hunger guide my eating;
I will bathe in living waters.
Now I let go of all old injuries,
Forgive old wrongs,
Forgive myself.

written May 2009

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Puente 1: snow erases

all scents
from icy air
but for pine and smoke

~snow erases~

all hues
from a landscape
but one cardinal...

Puente of the city

the glass towers tell
the city back to itself
in cold images
of concrete,

~steel and emptiness~

echo noise,
reflecting blank expressions
yet with the rising
sun they burn golden

written February 2010

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dance of the Spirit

When I am alone moving from room to room,
There is a muttering in the walls but no distinct words;
A restlessness in the corners of my vision,
But no flutter or jerk when I look squarely there.
I turn my head toward it.
My skin cringes and hair bristles as it does
With chalk shrieking on slate or a cold draft passing by.
I try to find the source of the muffled sound:
Did static crackle as I brushed against the drapes or bed?
I retrace my steps: was it door hinges or floorboards creaking?
Perhaps it is the Shechinah, the indwelling 
Of the Sacred in this world,
Like a dancer rustling her skirts for my attention.
They say she is the “still small voice within”
But they don't mention that sometimes
She is around not inside us; and sometimes she is mute,
Only communicating in faint groans and gestures.
Perhaps it stifles her voice when so many words are used
To make excuses for what I know is wrong.
Now how to learn this kinesic code?
Luckily it is a language the heart understands.
Still when I try to put that fragile whisper in my poetry
It has escaped every time.
No combination of sounds and breath 
Can capture that surd undertone,
Like trawling the riverbed with nets designed to catch sole
But trying instead to ensnare those quicksilver slivers of minnows,
The Divine slips through an “o” and an “a” every time.

written Dec 1979, edited March 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Senior Moments

Just like that old saying,
"I don't care what you call me,
Just don't call me late for supper."
Sometimes you don't call me by my name.
When you scold me,
You use your children's names.
When we argue harshly,
You call me by the name
Of that woman you last had an affair with.
But I take no offense
Because when you make love to me
You always get it right.

written January 2010 (13 lines, 67 words)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Whoops of the Whippoorwill

The whippoorwill whoops
In the deep woods of Appalachian  hollers
From dusk to dawn
Drowned out near daylight
By the bellows and moans
Of our lovemaking
As we reach a crescendo
And by my baby's whimpers
In the next room
That escalate to hollers and howls
If ignored. I steal into her room
And still her with my breast.
She suckles in muted slurps
And falls back to sleep,
Swooning under the spell
Of milk and the whippoorwill's trills.

started March 1988, finished August 2010

Friday, October 14, 2011


Summer heat creates puddles that aren't there.
Now you see them, now you don't.
In my childhood I would run
Barefoot through the shimmers
Looking wet and cool at a distance
But blistering feet as I slapped down
Bare plantar pads on the bone-dry griddle of sidewalk –
It's some kind of magic, that I was sure of.
I thought of it as a mirage – an illusion of need –
Very close to wishful thinking

When I wanted to find true moisture
In that dry Texas Panhandle
(Semi-arid I heard 'em call it,
But I didn't find anything semi about it.)
I watched for where the gnats were swarming.
And close there abouts I'd find some mud,
Dig into it with my toes,
Thrill in the thick ooze,
Chill in the cool primordial goo,
Only the swatting away of midges
Detracted from the pleasure.

written March 2011, published in "Houston Poetry Fest 2011 Anthology"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Soaring High

Falling is a way to die
from the high bridges and planes
some tempted fate, others tried
suicide, escaped their pains.

Dying is a way to fall;
To God's call our soul replies
and heads home, while flesh and bone
in graves thrown can never rise.

Falling is a way to fly:
soaring high kites look like gulls
but grounded by a strong string.
Though winds bring it high, earth pulls.

written May, 2011

death caps and milk caps

woods toadstools
over unmarked graves
push through decay: white shiny

humus from last year's garden
the mushrooms emerge:
baby's head

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cloud Enshrouded

High on mountain tops
Amid the clouds I wished to wander.
What do those billows feel like on the skin?
Is it smooth as polished cotton?
As silky as satin sheets?
Or is it textured like polka dots or bubble wrap?

At last I reach the cloud-enshrouded summit
And wade into the moist gathering
As if I were passing among spirits:
Reverently my hand moves through the strands of haze
With less pressure, less presence than water
But more dense and damp than fog,
My face and fingers feel lightly lapped
By many invisible tongues.

started February 2010, finished July 2010

Leaving Rose Hips

The last of summer gardening ends.
Hoe and trowel, knee pad and sunbonnet
Hang in the shed with the shears.
The final petals of the rose have fallen,
Leaving rose hips,
Like tiny crab-apples
With a crown of rumpled hair
And calyx now dry and stiff
As a starched collar
Trying to hide the crimson berry
That stands erect upon the high
Seat of the peduncle.

I gather these petals for a sachet pillow,
And press them in books
To mark the poems I love
With summer's fingerprints.
Then make my tea with those rose hip
Berries and honey,
The last taste of the season.

Written October 2009

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Breathing as One

[dedicated to John, August-September, 2010
"That which dreams in you /Dreams in me." Anonymous. An unknown friend left that with a few other lines in a college notebook many years ago. Someone told me it was a loose translation of a line from Pablo Neruda's Sonnet LXXXI :"Already you are mine. Rest with your dream inside my dream." Ya eras mia. Reposa con tu sueno en mi sueno."]

That which breathes in you,
Breathes in me.
For every exhale as you doze
I inhale the images from your fantasy,
And I hear the music from your trance
Echo in my dark sleep
Where we dance to that melody and share
Our song of love.
You see we are joined at the heart,
As mystics have long believed:
A soul has two halves --
Male and female in equal parts --
As they imagined God to be.
Then at birth the soul splits
Only to be reunited if once grown
That pair finds each other
In the world and weds.
So we share a common space;
We commune in one spirit.
For every kiss there are two halves
Just as there are two sets of lips
And on each side the nerves
Of touch excite both skins;
The nerves of hunger
Delve into this feast,
As we feed each other
Mouthfuls of sweet liquid and tongues.
The nerves of sound
Resound with our moans,
Our cries of joy.

And later after the heavenly soaring
We nestle into each other,
Purring with deep snores
That seep into this bicameral soul.
"And that which dreams in you
Dreams in me."

written August-September, 2010

Monday, October 3, 2011

Children of Grief

  A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.”
Carl Sandburg
In the days after 9/11
All over New York City,
Babies were born, some came weeks early.
Even across the country the birth rate hiccuped a little.
People began calling them
“Children of grief” and “children of fear”
From all the stress and anxiety
Those mothers went through,
no matter if they lost someone close to them or not.
But surely God wished to comfort us
For all those gathered to paradise in their prime.
The streets of heaven were crowded
That day with heroes and accountants,
Firemen and secretaries, soldiers and lawyers.
Perhaps some souls had to leave God's side
To make room for all the new occupants.

And is it not said,
“Every child brings into the world
Their own blessing, ”
Yes, we need that grace in the worst way.
So it rained babies.
And from New York it went out
Across the land.
As the light from the top of the towers
Went out forever,
A beacon of hope in our hearts
Took its place and each
Infant carried a spark. 

Written January, 2010

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Potters' Hands

Potters' hands are dry
From handling wet clay.
As oils in the skin are stripped away.

Potters' hands are calloused;
Not as rough as hard labor leaves them,
Those scabrous scales that form on flesh --
No match for wood, brick, stone, or steel
That rubs skin to blister, then thicken and scar.
But these are from labors of love
Caused by movements as repetitious as rituals,
And like the smooth callouses of playing guitar
That make performance more of a dance,
These hard nodes produced
By throwing pots perfect the task.

Potters' hands know the patience of mother's work:
Swaddling an infant,
Kneading dough into plump loaves,
Wringing out the wash,
Soothing a feverish brow,
Smoothing wrinkles with the heat and pressure of ironing,
Plaiting hair, knitting a sweater or mending a garment.

Potters' hands are strong,
Shaping clay is not for the weak:
Earth resists being molded.
God could tell us a thing or two about that.

written July 2009

Thursday, September 22, 2011

June Bugs

For a long time they frightened my brothers, sisters and I.

If those bumbling fat beetles had a bite it would be vicious.

We measured the potency of bites by the size of the insect.

Ants and mosquitoes mostly made us itch,

While the sting of bees and wasps could make us cry.

And by that standard, these chafers had all the signs of a killer.

How were we to know all that bumbling about,

Bumping into us was not testing their targets,

But simply poor navigation.

Finally when we saw no one was hurt,

We gave them the same deference we gave

To butterflies and lady bugs,

Dragonflies and doodle bugs.

One brother once observed they looked drunk

With their unsteady gait and faltering flight patterns.

We thought that was so funny

We started calling them boozy beetles.

But we did not know what made them tipsy

Until I observed them one night

Through the door left ajar

To allow a fresh evening breeze

Clear the air of supper smells

As we cleared the table

And argued over who would wash dishes.

Kneeling on the screen in summer's heat

In adoration of the yellow bulb burning on the porch,

Those drunken June bugs gathered

Drinking in the glow from the kitchen.

written February 2011, publshed in Rejected Anthology of AIPF 2012

Monday, September 19, 2011

Austin Streets

O sing to the shrine of the street called Pine
That lost its name and found a number (fifth)

O say Amen, Amen! to the hymn of its pith;

Shout Alleluia with the chorus of remorse

For all the streets of Austin that were renamed,

And all the buildings that have been razed and erased.

And raise your voices in praise of the powers that be

That left the names of Texas waterways where they were.

You can still drive down the streets San Antonio and Neches,

Or navigate those called San Jacinto and Nueces.

Now don't get me wrong:

I would not try to brake the wheels of progress

Any more than I would try to push these rivers.

And digits are fine for the hands and feet,

But streets in a city that's been around this long

Need their stories told about the days of old

In the labels we give to the boulevards and byways.

They whisper their history if we learn to listen.

Cruise down these hilly avenues

And from the pavement over cobbles

Where horses once were hobbled

We hear the music of horns as the traffic swishes

Carrying poems of our dreams and wishes

In their wakes as roads roll like rivers of rhyme.

Stroll down the sidewalks that course under the tangle

Of branches of Live Oak and Linden, of Peach and Mesquite,

Of Mulberry and Cherry, of Cypress and Cedar.

(Their streets became feeders on to I-35)

This city that re-invents itself every decade or so

Sloughs buildings and businesses

Like snakes lose skin or people change clothes.

The next and newest is always the best.

No one wants to hear about the Russian Tea Room

With its quiet mystique, or the peace

Of a petite rose garden tucked away

Behind a biology hall on the main campus,

Now paved over for more parking spaces.

We must dig with trowel under these streets

To find the skeletal remains of the city of old,

We can make mosaics of the shards of broken glass

And chipped plates from that lost culture,

Or sprinkle the pieces in our poems.

And like words of spells and curses,

They have the power of old Magic

To heal and charm.

written May 2011, published in Preoccupied with Austin 2012

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Between Us

The distance between you and me
As we swim in the lake
Is only our breath.
The distance between you  and the sun
Is the whole sky.
The distance between me and the setting sun
Is only my outstretched arms.
See! I touch fingers of gold,
And you braid it into my blazing hair
As you comb your fingers through it.
The distance between the setting sun and us
Is only our skin.

October 2009

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Signing the Adoption Papers

From the warm, liquid darkness of my womb
To the glare, blare and cold of an all white room,
He arrives: my helpless, raging child.
For nine months I nurtured him
On my heart's richness
And visions of how he would grow fat
On my milk and wonder.

Now I must surrender these hopes
That we dreamt together;
While another mother dreams.

June 1971

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Senryu Series III: Sundown at Altas Lakes

Trek in summer's heat:
we're lost, dizzy in thin air -
suddenly, a path.

Deer droppings lead us 

to pool's edge: shh, not alone!
the pair bends to drink.

Ears twitching, alert
for danger. Sniffing us out,
they leap... blur of brown

Snow melt cascades here:
wet prisms break sunset hues,
many rainbows.

Damp clothes hang on shrubs.
We bathe naked in cold lake.
Dust, sweat wash away.

Under waterfalls
I drink from your golden skin -
My thirst, unquenched.

Path leads back to camp.
We eat cold snacks. Who needs fire?
Aflame with passion.

Friday, March 18, 2011

First Car Totaled

 Pink stickers appeared on our block
One Sunday morning.
My old wreck along with the others
Looked as if it had been kissed by some painted hussy,

A cheap trick -
Twenty-four hours to move or be towed
Away with all the other jacked-up,
Tireless, mangled heaps parked on the street.
I guess it was just our turn.
I had procrastinated three months,
Knowing a deadline would finally break
The bond of guilt and ownership.
But I would not sever it myself.
If I had sold it at my leisure
With an ad in the Sunday Trading Post,
I could have gotten a hundred and fifty, ... perhaps.
But no, greed could not be our parting word.
So it went to a man for seventy-five bucks.
Walking to my local bar,
I bought drinks and had a proper wake.

May 1980

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Lost Language

When I gave myself to him,
It was the perfect rhyme of couplets.
He: the smack of consonants against teeth and lips;
And I was all the vowels in long sighs and high-pitched pleasure.
The words we formed now buzz in the silence,
Almost audible in this empty apartment, humming me to sleep.
A lost tongue never to be spoken again -
No matter how many tongues of how many lovers
Touch so lightly this skin again
And drive from this vacant throat a groan.
It isn't the same. Lost is that sudden breathlessness
Of not knowing what to expect.
And a different sound is added:
A rising inflection like a question,
'Is this the one? Is this the magic again? '
And another sound muffled,
A holding back, waiting for disappointment,
Fighting against letting myself be taken,
Remembering the pain of losing that private language.

Written May 1978

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Pierce the Mist

On my way to meet you
I remember our first
Encounter months ago.
Again I drive through the night
For the second time,
Making my way from the coast
To the Hill Country
With fog enveloping my car.
As a canoe would pierce
The delicate skin of water,
So too I pierce the mist and the fine
Membrane of time that is tomorrow
And part its sensual lips --
So moist and so mysterious,
I am tingling with anticipation
As I enter into unknown territory
Like a diver into the darker depths
Or like your kiss that sucked me into
Your world where I move eagerly
But quietly into your body --
Full of awe and reverent
In the presence of this soul
So much like me and so different.

February 2004

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sermon, Accompanied by Woodwinds

I know why all the bones are hollow.
Pick up any vertebrae or rib,
Any os or fossil. Don't matter whose -
Bird, ox, lizard or saint -
You can peek through them all,
Use one as a spyglass on the world,
Or make a whistle or a flute.
Maybe that's why the Good Book says,
'And God breathed into man a soul...'
Breathed into him!
Blew his moist breath right down those tubes,
Played a tune upon those pipes,
Then left it there.
Where else would it fit?
Not in that cramped skull
With all that gray mass,
That's for sure.

Of course, we talk as if
We got a monopoly on soul.
But just think about those bones -
Bird, ox, lizard or saint -
Any of them can carry a tune.

written April 1977, published on Poem hunter April 2009

Through the Windows

Through the windows
Of my body you enter--
And suddenly I see my world anew:
My drab house is full of light.
Through the half-opened skylight
Your energy streams.
Through these apertures
Your aura slips.
Through fenestra
Your music flows
Like cool fresh air.
Through my secret portholes
your plasma swims.
Some of these hatches
Have been locked so long
I've lost the keys,
And the tumblers have rusted.
But you have come
Armed with your own master key.
With aromatic oils,
You anoint the inner workings
Until the right movements crack the vault.
You have pierced my inner sanctum,
And my heart's doors are standing agape,
Unfurling as the wings of the dove.
You can feel the flutter
As they beat the air before flight.
And we will rise together in the updraft
As the heat of our passion
creates thermals for our souls to soar
Through the windows.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beauty Of Imperfection

Hard shelled,
Smoothed by many currents, many tides,
Buffing it with all that sand
As the waves cycle through,
A cool fleshy lump of life
Lifts a finger
To get the weather report
On the motion of the seas;
Lifts a hand to grab morsels
From the smorgasbord passing by.
And deep within the briny, sweet pulp
A tiny blemish enters,
Creating a dimple
In its silken, delicate skin.
And the seed of sand --
Like the pea under the princess's mattress --
Worries the oyster,
As it turns and turns the fragment,
Bathing it in tears,
Coating it with slime,
Layer upon layer of pain and angst,
Rubbing it like worry beads
Until it is polished to a fine luster,
And now this irritant emerges: a pearl.

In a lifetime of imperfections
Can we make even a single pearl?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sound of the Downpour

So much rain has come down
Seems that everything has melted
And become a liquid.
The sound of the downpour
Has been embedded in my ear,
Like the muted downbeat of breakers
In the curling innards of the conch shell,
From so many years sitting empty
On the ocean floor, being nudged along by currents,
Then bobbing ashore with dead fish
And purple blobs of Man-o'-wars,
Caught in tangled nets,
And finally thrown deep into dunes
By a rogue wave or tsunami,
Where it waits for tides to return
And take it home to the sea.
And all the while it hears that drumming surf
Echoing down its spiral staircase,
And it whispers back the sacred chant of waves.

So this rain remains in me
As the underlying wisdom I have learned
And becomes -- like breath, like heartbeat --
The rhythm of my poems.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Witness to Ike on Galveston Island

The rain in a hurricane
Is not rain, but an ancient glacier
From a bygone ice age crumbling,
Shattered into a billion pieces,
Melted by this raw energy
That is locked in every drop
And hurled with the roar of thunder.

Rain in a hurricane does not fall
Nor does it slant;
It cuts like shards of glass,
Tastes of salt,
So gritty with debris
It leaves me bleeding.

The storm surge of a hurricane
Is not a wave,
But a wall of water
That trumpeting winds call down.
It is a flood
Shaped like a circling maelstrom sea
Boiling over the brim.

The wind in a hurricane
Is not a wind
But the rage of Titans,
The scream that drives sailors insane.

The eye of a hurricane
Is not the Eye of God,
For it would be weeping,
No, this eye is blinded
By the fury of void and chaos -
Tohu v'vohu * - the forces of creation
God wrestled into shape.

But remember when the tempest passes
And you return to your shredded home alive,
God rested on the 7th day and made it holy.

Tohu v'vohu is Hebrew for " unformed and void" in Gen.I:2,

Written May 2009, published online at PoemHunter May 2009, on poetfreak, published in Bayou Review Spring 2010

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sleep Kisses

Sleep kisses are petals
of a dream lover's bouquet: 
touch softly or they fall into the deep
well of night and nothingness.

October 2009

A Waltz Wave: Running Away From Love

silk scarf

in her
wake - the train
of her
fields of wheat, 
her feet are scorched
by flames of
Fly away
if love
a gold

October 2009

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Moon's Departure

Science tells us the moon is leaving -- 
A slow uncoiling of its constant orbit --
Widening and widening
Until it is unraveled from the earth --
Set free from our gravitational tether
To fly away towards worlds unknown --
Taking its somber face and moody dark side,
Astronaut footprints and flags,
Lunokhod (the Russian Moon Robot)
And our mirror-studded laser reflectors
That let us know within a millimeter
Just how far the moon has strayed each day.
What others in the universe will make
Of these mementos is hard to guess.

But more important to us
What will regulate
The flux and flow of madness?
To say nothing of how this will lay waste
To reams of astrologers charts, calendars
And farmers' almanac tables.
And will menstrual flow cease,
Making eggs be planted
In old uterine membranes,
Not freshly minted each month?
And come to think of it,
Will women still be labeled unclean,
Without that flood of blood?
What need will there be
For niddah regulations?
I suppose we will have to invent some engine
To motor the tides on schedule
And the synodic rhythm
That ebbs and flows
Inside every cell of life.

I think we will have to lasso
That lunar orb to earth with cables,
Or duct tape and kite string
If all else fails, and not let it go.
Or fetch another moon from Saturn
(It won't miss just one
With so many gems in its crown.)

Otherwise what will stand for its image
Of muted light and mood change in our poetry?
And what will happen to the role
The moon has played in our dreams?
What beacon will replace
The aura it throws on amore?
How much courage must we lovers have
On a midnight walk on the beach
Without moonlight
To pull our heartstrings together?
Will my heart have to leap
Into the gap between us,
Like a blind aerialist
Not knowing if my beloved
Has reached out, heart open,
To catch me?

August 2010

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Working the Night Shift

After I work a night shift
In the morning I head home
After hours in dank air
Moist and warm from all these
Sleeping bodies breathing
Their dreams to me
In long slow heaves.

After I work a night shift
I am staring red-eyed into sunrise
Using my last energy to get me home
While the world around me
Awakens refreshed with dew,
And I want only for the dark to return,
To cocoon myself in my dreams.
I drop the drapes, shut the shutters,
And let the air-conditioner's droning
Drown the day-light noises.

written August 1992, edited January 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sedoka 1-- tattoo of rain

Cold tattoo of rain
hits the north-facing window:
the rat-ta-tat of drum sticks.
the sounds of snowflakes
softly on the panes of glass
Swish like brushes on the snares.

Written and published January 2011

The Rosh Hashanah Toothache

Oral surgery the day before Rosh Hashanah
Meant I could not eat apples
Nor many of the festival foods
I usually cooked.
I mostly lay in bed in pain,
Sleeping when the pain meds worked;
Moaning when they didn't.

You made me applesauce
From the apples I had bought,
Spicing it with honey and cinnamon.
I lit the candles and mumbled the blessings
Without moving my jaw,
And thanked God for you.
That simple act of love moved me
More than a whole garden of flowers.
That night I kissed your fingers
that still held the delicate fragrance
Of apples, honey, cinnamon.

started September 2011, completed January 2011 
(*On Rosh Hashanah ,  we say a blessing and eat apples dipped in honey) 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Wake to Love

I wake to love,
And surely I must be dreaming:
This world that had been draped
In drab colors, muted tones
Of a half-lit world like winter
With the half-hung sun
Making a half-hearted limp across the sky.
Now colors come alive,
Swim in swirling exultation!
I have to walk around and smell and see
This world morphed into beauty.
I feel like the caterpillar
That had folded into its chrysalis
Only to emerge with variegated wings.
I pinch myself again and again
To waken me from this dream;
But eventually I come to realize
It was I who had been dreaming before,
And now I have wakened to love and life.

written and published on poetfreak July 2010

My Daughter, My Spirit-Self

Before your birth, I thought of you
As my spirit-self.
First on MRI images
I saw you acrobatic
Below the soul-searching amniotic seas,
Dancing in the dark with stubby limbs like fins
Side-stroking and butterflying,
Yet I could not feel even a flutter.

Then when your first kicks
Surprised me with life-lightening leaps,
They reminded me of those jumps
I made as a child
In descending elevators as they landed,
Giving me the thrill and feel of flying.
For days after I waited
And prayed to know again
That quiver of awe and ardor
Believers tremble with
As they stand before God
Shaken with joy.
But by the time it was all done,
Your movements were like hiccups
(Can it just be over already?)  

So at home inside me,
Your due date passed.
And still you clung to the comfort of darkness,
To the umbilical that fed without effort.
You swam in a narrowing pond
Until an abrupt lurch broke my water.
You were being sucked out the drain
From the placental pacific world.
Birth became a life-and-death struggle:
My body, throwing the baby out with the bath water,
As you clung to your lifebuoy all night.
Twenty hours of labor and still you wanted none of it.
Afraid of this new element,
It took pitocin drip and brute strength,
Suction and forceps to loosen that grip.
You emerged holding your breath till blue
Then angry as an almost drowned cat
Shivering and screeching with fists pounding
The cold uninviting air,
Your mouth gulped like a fish leaping
Into the blue sky and landing by mistake
In the bottom of the boat.
Wrapped in vernix, blood and birthday suit,
You were sporting the trophies of the fight:
Hematoma on the crown of your head
And forceps brand across the brow.
My bruises were mostly internal, psyche-deep.
Exhaustion and relief
At your strength and health
Covered all other reactions in those first days.

Later my Lamaze coach and best friend
Revealed her terror in that room,
As she had seen how touch-and-go it truly had been.
But I was too happy to indulge in her fear.
I was floating on a euphoric cloud for days,
With visual hallucinations and heightened senses
That I first took to be the dawning of motherhood.
But later I slowly came to realize
These were left from the near-death experience.

As I gazed into your dark eyes,
I knew you were not my soul at all,
But your own person, separate,
Yet always connected through
The hardship of birth and the river of blood,
The unremembered depth of shared rhythms
That only in dreams awaken.

October 2009

Monday, January 24, 2011

Playland in Winter

Steel gates creak
As cold winds speak
And sweep through the turnstiles
Past the sign, “For Sale”
Next to the carousel
Where the worn horses lie in piles
But paints crust
And gears rust,
Bringing the price down.
The blue Northern swipes
Through the calliope pipes,
Making a humming sound.
But it is out of breath
And out of tune;
Still the merry-go-round
Begins to turn,
While its steeds still yearn
With hooves pawing the ground
To gallop away
To fields, Hooray!
Neighing the only sound.
They do not feel cold
nor their getting old
As their wooden hearts pound
Only for children to ride
With legs astride
So merry, go round,
The wind's winding down
Go round, merry, go round!

1980, revised completely July,2009; , published on PoemHunter August 2009 and poetfreak

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Puente 1: snow erases

all scents
from icy air
but for pine and smoke

~snow erases~

all hues
from a landscape
but one cardinal...

written and published on poetfreak September 2009

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Leaving Rose Hips

The last of gardening for summer ends.
Hoe and trowel, knee pad and sunbonnet
Hang in the shed with the shears.
The final petals of the rose have fallen,
Leaving rose hips,
Like tiny crabapples
With a crown of rumpled hair
And calyx now dry and stiff
As a starched collar
Trying to hide the crimson berry
That stands erect upon the high
Seat of the peduncle.

I gather the petals for a sachet pillow,
And press them in books
To mark the poems I love
With summer's fingerprints.
Then make my tea with those rose hip
Berries and honey,
The last taste of the season.

October 2009

Cathedral at Dawn

Dark angels hover at windows
Until the sun showers the stone cold floor
with rainbows.

written February 2011

I Long for You

I long for you when I sleep alone.
Your scent envelops my dreams,
So that I awaken aroused;
Ready for you, my love;
Ready for you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rain Forest Exiles

Hidden in a thicket
Of bamboo's dense leaves:
Was it to muffle the raucous
Squawks and screeches?
Or give green comfort
To these rain forest exiles
That yearn for the moist domain
Of the high canopy?
Inside cages were stacked
From floor to ceiling
With beaks and talons grabbing
The bars, clipped wings
Fanning the fetid air.

I thought I was seeing
The world with Gaugin eyes:
Scarlet and indigo,
Gold and emerald
Littered the walkways and under the coops --
Like bright tears from the eyes
of their Mayan gods,
Who abandoned them here
To become pets.

 started May 2010, finished September 2010, revised January 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Waltz Wave: Blood That Turns to Wine (revised)

like sweat,
bleed from stems
of the
bud tree --
drops that turn
to claret or port.
Not one leaf
from the
green spikes so
at twigs'

 A fragment written March 2010, finished January 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tanka 16: hair washing

having my hair washed
I relax in the massage
of my lover's hands
imagine I'm being rowed
gliding to a place unknown...

published on PoemHunter August 2009

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

When the Nose No Longer Knows

"I can't imagine living here
With this scent of bread all the time.
Doesn't it make you hungry?”
My friend asks as we amble 

Through the golf course
To my house where I live 
Across the river from Mrs.Baird's 
That covers a city block
And has wafted yeasty fragrance
For so long it no longer
Registers in my nose.
It's like the smell of air,
The taste of water,
The feel of my own skin.
I have forgotten it is here,
And ask, “What bakery smell?”

published first January 2010 on poetfreak