Going Over Things

Like under-inflated tires meant for better roads,

the sheen wears off until tracks become ruts

and steering makes no sense.

Now they wonder out loud if pitch and yaw can match

the swoop and dive of former days.

And they ask themselves the only questions

worthy of easier breathing and potato salad,

fresher still than the arrival of these moments –

unbearably skint of certainty,

but crouching in the dew of possibility.

This is no John Steinbeck novel they chuckle uneasily.

But it sure bears a resemblance to those sullen characters

pulled from page to thought, from thought to talk

and back again. 

And even Oklahoma dust tastes good in a mouth

full of hope, conversations pointed in.

So, like throats yearning for rain,

they steer the bow of an old truck into new wind.

An uneasy road curls herself, snakelike,

hiding just underneath – not so much friend

as necessity.

Unlikely companions, no longer in remission,

make plans on the yawning road before them.Morning run copy.jpg

 

 

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Regret

Somewhere down among the sheets,

between the spaces in loose gravel from nighttime sweats

lies the answer to an unasked question.

Somewhere underneath the skin of things

is poised another wrinkle, adding suggestions 

to the game of chances only played by winners in drag

or posers lost in long hallways.

Somewhere up among the heights of nether

is held packages of days, a fistful of years

soon to be released upon the cold, dark land.

Somewhere you awaken from the same nightmare

everyone has, standing before a crowd

leaning forward to listen, and you with pants at your ankles,

a mouth full of sand.

But the nightmare is real, you are not.

And it’s the speech you can’t remember,

adding salt to the wound,

grease to the pole,

 

 

fire to a barrel bottom.

 

What of it? he said.

What of it? he says.

What if there were the solemn chance of a reprise

to a time, long forgotten but fresh-remembered?

A chorus to a bad song?

A bad song on repeat?

Old onions on ice cream?

Frozen water in the pipes

when all you need is a drink?

Surely there can be one straw long enough

to snatch from the fist?

Or are they there just to tease you for

the risk of un-lived truth?

Relief that the ground will still catch you?

Under-thought high dives into a dry pool?

Over-thought reasons for the same?

Somewhere, around the perimeter, is a chorus-line

taunting from a finish-line you did not paint

in a race you never trained for.

 

Somewhere, you’ve stopped running to find it.

Somewhere has found you.

 

The living days

You turn and look at me

maybe for the first time

or the tenth, or the thousandth time

only to see what you knew you’d find –

a man looking back, whisker’d, aging,

eyes a little dimmer but still aimed at you.

 

I smell your morning breath

and think to myself how perfect,

how expected, how perfectly normal

and good and welcome.

The first kiss is always best

in its unnoticed awkwardness –

maybe because of it.

 

The shear warmth of your body

reminds me of our shared need

for presence and company and comfort

unattainable in the strivings of our days

but remembered in uncounted moments

spread over time and times and time again.

Our sagging bodies remind us of life

lived under common skies, the unexpected usual –

and it settles into me

in a kind of daylight reverie to what is.

 

We make love or something like it,

and vaguely remember the youthful bump

and grind of the easier, less calendared moments,

and scoff at our glorious, happy failure.

The pieces were better, stronger, truer

but more anxious and photoshop expectant.

But this is better in all its effort

and planning, and untelevised humanity.

 

These moments are charged

more insistently by words boring

and daily and dull, but real

and good and dressed in old pajamas.

It is the harmony of music left to

routine and chance and time, the choir of songs

sung to the easy marching hours

and resting nights full of the brighter

skies of want made less

in the beautiful tedium of the living days.

 

 

Just about the time

Just about the time your legs give way

from under you, having danced all night

at a long-awaited wedding

 

Just about the time the advance

comes on your salary, welcome chicken

scratchings held up against a pale and hungry account

 

Just about the time when the last,

tired rays of sun enfold themselves

in blankets of shadow

 

Just about the time your increase

first parallels the centrifuge

of your necessary debts

 

Just about the time you roll off

your partner and unmeasured

breath matches the sound of contentment

 

Just about the time the needle drops

and a tiny arm caresses out music

from the dark groove of delight

 

Just about the time the robin sings

long enough on your lawn

to notice you noticing her

 

Just about the time when it’s no longer

just about the time

 

Then, it is enough

Perhaps I sat

Wastin' Time.jpg

Perhaps I sat too long, feet dangling

from the troubled wharf as the gulls

committed their noisy intrusions?

Perhaps I drank too deeply

of the preening dew, her skin

stretched wide upon the grass, wanting?

Perhaps I met my match

in the atrocity of a Herculean day

held up beside my pallid, frayed self?

Perhaps I gawked too lightly

into a pinafore sky, turned inside

out against the paling hours?

Perhaps I missed the voice

of shadows winding, deftly

pointing out the obvious?

Perhaps I was surprised

at how easy it has been

to see nothing in everything?

 

Perhaps these questions merely distract

from the gift of just sitting here?

_____________________

Photo by D. Legin

 

China-cup chats

I’d thought about this once,

maybe through lakeside footsteps in dreams.

Maybe when stride met stride with yours

and we studied the smile of blue hours.

We grew fat with the memory of tabletop

teas over doilies and the speech of saints.

Would it have meant as much

to begin each sentence with as little

common understanding as possible?

Or are we just better at

straining China-cup wishes

through soundbyte chat,

writ large on Tupperware souls?

Whenever we were brave to upset our apple carts

at street-parties, temple gates, church halls, downstairs rooms,

full of happy smoke and sure-talk,

we made for ourselves cider from apples –

handshakes from hellos, initiatives from invitations.

In the dimness of the post-potluck hallway

we had the best things to say.

Things left until after we’d crystallized our consciences,

codified our spaces, tallied our victories,

counted the offering;

edited our truths –

things best left in the hands of friends.

Those without agendas, solutions, or any big ideas –

 

only names.