On New Year’s Day

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Photographer: Zdeno Ceman

Look high up into the silent ubiquity of stars

and think. A razor’s-edge sky no more,

now, just lucid memory – the skinn’d-knee’d part

of the year, draughting, droughting, doffing

her news like the chevrier’s cap

to tip toward fresher dawns.

They spread themselves

out like white currents in black jam – a deft, 

thick parade of something always bigger than

it’s last time. Daylight, tapped out, 

waits for instructions.

 

Who’s news wrote herself of such worthy

stock as to preen in lace-ribbon’d journals,

the fare of hired kings, hourly queens?

Let the moated whims of the fanciful

remind you of marshmallow mouths,

full-brandied, shuffling through 

the shared coastlines of care.

Look far to the dual horizons of east from west,

wrong from pragmatic, and shudder full-wing’d

in the concentrated machinery of memory. 

Is this a constancy of preparedness? 

A repetition of verses, repeated, repeated again –

enough to repeal your doubts and reassign

them elsewhere?

 

Lean forward looking back, standing full upright.

Tell us what you would feign otherwise to see.

 

 

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The Price of Home

Published at innerwoven, given the literary nature of this one…

innerwoven

I’ve been stung. Poisoned. Nothing flora or fauna. By a book. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s got me thinking again about our notions of ‘home.’

Poisonwood Bible.jpgTuesday, December 26th. Boxing Day. It’s strange, just saying those words can produce such intense homesickness. A progressive, Canadian family living in a regressive, Trumpian America. Similarly, Nathan and Orleanda Price and their children, Rachael, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May – in equal measure, a family displaced; a little collective of courage and fear, lived in a world of nothing but frontier. Their only certainties were the uncertainties of daily survival in a world that cared little either way.

Their meager, not even daily, meals of eggs or mash, perhaps some chicken if someone took pity on them, removed any vestiges of the stolen or manufactured expectations as whites in a black world. They were equals among those who typically served their every…

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Not a journal

journal.jpgThis is not a journal.

Not in the strictest sense.

Nor is it a story with characters

that breathe and laugh

and smite down giants.

Nor is it a retrospective

with light shining backward

into alleys of remembrance.

Nor is it a memoir

bringing back to life

that which never died.

Nor is it a textbook

filed to a fine point –

more sharp than shine.

Nor is it a nursery rhyme

where hard stuff softens into

good lessons that go down easier.

 

This is not a journal.

It is a depository –

for words and their spirits.

For their capacity to hunker down

under the harsh heat of life’s longest hours

and make love until poetry appears.

This might be a poem.

Or, it might be a place where broodings

outwit the failed necessity of effectiveness.

Yes. Let’s call it poetry.

Let’s call it something looser, more lascivious

and lighthearted than expected;

more slow barefoot than mere distance.

For poetry is why we came into the world.

Shy lovers trip on words that ache, and

with limited alphabets, build a song.

 

After London

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She grabbed my hand –

caught, like a tufted

grove of hazy branches –

there were promises unspoken.

 

The full English –

an edible morning rainbow.

Then, it’s heads down, cell phone

ground-under-ground feud

to downtown.

 

It’s the skin-tight suits

the ‘please watch me not watching you’

as we shoot through this

time tested colon –

speeding train of Tartarus,

emerging once again,

limitless –

 

Chuffed, checkered, intermittent

chock-a-block

with gardens,

breathing –

assigns us together in the march,

a soldiery of urban totems.

 

1980s yoga pants

like validation tattoos – a rite of passage

for all who feed the push, heed

the pull, hunt the posh, herald their

potential.

 

Miles of scarves, stairs, scars, and stares (downward) –

brogues, bulimic beauties, and burkas –

pumps, peacoats, pints, and paces –

faces down, chins up,

clacking heals, turning heads

chasing oil on water –

pooling from the duck’s back.

 

How much faster can we go

to get to where we always go

but have never seen,

here in jolly ole…?

 

Is there anything after London?

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The world and me

I love the world as she has loved me –

she to me, a globule; I, to her, infinity.

She unpacks her bags each morning, 

with equal fanfare, but no pretense.

_

She always was a generous friend –

a giver of pleasure,

waitress to my doubt,

bearer of my pain.

And, in her bosom? That longed for, long

home-s  t  r  e  t  c  h of the driver’s road.

_

Her knowing neck waits for my tears.

She sends reminders for me to

clap the dirt clods from my dusty hands

before I scratch out memories in clouds

or bend my knees to the great silence.

Toast her first, take her elder hand, look deep

inside her intuition – then ravage seems less likely.

_

“You pinch and toss, diminish and deride,

hoarding stolen jewels for your banality.

But I’ve borne you on my back, 

wrapped you in my folded skin,

planted you in places

you’ve known, some not.

You’ve nursed these ancient breasts

into the submission of harmony,

the blessing of acceptance.”

_

So I come to rest in her scholarly pain.

There is a certain ennui in my small experience

that shows up when I meet her gaze.

And any of my rumpled thoughts or faces 

meant as caves and shields

cannot cast shadows longer than the sum of her days.

_

I smile and we shimmy down the park bench

of years and stories told and lies perfected.

And she smiles because she knows everything

I’ve forgotten or discarded

or chosen to remember poorly.

_

I’ve bruised her.

She blesses me.

I love the world as she has loved me –

she to me, a mother; I to her, a child.