the cowardly lion with a white mane, exposed and clutching the doorpost.
you still believing/deceiving after thirty years that you will fall in love and share your life with this woman you can’t define and wouldn’t recognize if you met.
the story you will tell your new women. I can’t get it in focus because I’m not sure there is a story.
the new toy, custom programmed and accessorized according to fantasy, abandoned for its limitations.
me breaking down because I can’t change the light bulb on the front porch, me breaking down because I go home to no one and then I turn around and go home to no one, me breaking down because the sky was blue and pink this morning.
the one of me returning to Clark for strength and not letting him rest in peace.
Eight in the Morning
one in a salt and pepper beard,
both in tan caps, hooded sweatshirts
and faded jeans, standing and talking and
drinking coffee at the park.
One smokes a cigarette.
I can’t get a good look at them since
my eyes are so bad even with my binoculars, but
they could be Louie.
They look out at the river,
at the houseboat,
at the island and the causeway and
the barge that just passed by
They meander about but
don’t cover too much ground —
down to the water’s edge and
back to the fence.
Did they plan to meet or
just bump into each other
on the way to work?
They spend some time
looking up at the sky.
I want to make up a story —
One just walked back from the water’s edge.
I started typing so I missed seeing
what he did down there by the rocks.
Perhaps he peed.
I’d love to catch one of them peeing.
But now they’ve taken out fishing gear.
They must be the two that were there
late afternoon yesterday.
Is it striper season already?
They don’t look up at the house.
Do they feel as the twenty-something year old me
did when I went with my neighbor
to visit friends in Brooklyn Heights?
We walked along the Promenade and
saw people on their decks
having drinks and barbecuing and
children doing children things.
I wondered how it must have felt
to live there,
in such a singular place,
and yet have a parade walking by every day
looking up at you living your life.
I guess I know now.
Sometimes you watch them and
sometimes you don’t
and you wonder about them
as they do you —
or not at all.
4/16/2015 — originally published as prose
Tuck loved to be free –
Watching him bound across
the field by the creek made
my toes curl.
Even when he bolted
it was impossible to scold him.
He always came back – full of burrs
and sticks and leaves,
satisfied and glad to be a dog.
We’d leave the gate open if he were
still out when
we went to bed.
Sometimes I secretly really wanted him
to break away,
squeeze through the fence,
escape the leash,
chase a bunny,
wouldn’t admit it.
What if he
frightened a child?
dug up a garden?
snatched a chicken?
What if he were
hit by the train?
attacked by a coyote?
snagged on a wire?
shot by a neighbor?
He had no use for treats or bribes,
could take or leave his meals,
didn’t sleep on a pillow,
fetch sticks, bother with toys.
He had been wild once,
I was told, in his life before
I knew him
but it must not have been all good
because always he came back to us,
because he always tried his best
to be a loyal, beloved pet,
extending his paw to all, and
keeping an eye on Jackson,
because he walked proudly at my side,
tail tall and curled,
fluffed like a drum major’s feathers,
on lookout for suspicious dogs on leashes,
and people who might hurt me.
At least that’s what people told me —
that he would protect me.
He was a proud descendant of wolves:
his body peppered with buckshot,
he preferred to sleep outside.
He had a fierce bark, which he didn’t use often,
and it surprised me each time I heard it.
His ballsiness was well noted:
his kennel name was Manly.
His last few days were Hell.
We said goodbye.
He closed his eyes
and went to sleep.
For just a few moments
time stood still,
time moved on
and I stayed still.
It was memorable,
at first beautiful
and peaceful, as if I had
attained a perfect state of
consciousness, a union of
mind and body, and a union
of self with the universe –
Was I in that place
mystics seek to be –
Eventually my mindfulness returned
and the feeling changed to thinking,
and I wondered how this happened,
could I do it again, and
how long would it last.
That last question gave me a jolt.
How long would I want it to last?
My body felt as if it had
a mind of its own, or was
taking over my mind.
Was this euphoria,
“kissing god,” the escape of
the lost and lonely?
In a second from everythingness
oblivious to the all else,
on my own.
Not yet, not yet,
something inside was saying.
I am grounded to this earth.
I am curious about tomorrow.
I’m not ready to give in to the
blankness of alone.
I see why people fight it.
But oh, when it is time,
if only it is so easy.
Oh Clark –
why did you shudder
and then collapse as I grabbed hold
for just those few last moments?
She told me you would die
at 11:30 and I thought she was crazy –
she made me crazy –
and I had to defy her.
You’d fallen into their spell of morphine
and I had already lost you.
You’ve forgiven me for walking the halls
and leaving you to those I trusted not —
Dad on Mother’s Day
We did good –
he whispers to me,
out of sight and hearing from the others
at our Mothers Day dinner –
but who is that sitting next to you?
Oh honey, I’m so glad you’re here –
I smile back.
They are young men with lives –
he continues –
and they love you.
Stay, will you, so we can talk later?
And can you talk to them too?
I don’t know how –
he answers after a while –
Did I ever know how?
And I try to remember
what we spoke of back then.
The four of us at the table.
The two of us in bed.
down on me
on spoon cottage
out from spoon cottage
spoonbeams are in my hair
and i feel them on Lee’s head
they are the headlights of freight trains
moving through the house
and the white caps on the river
i see spoonbeams in Tuck’s canine smile
and smell them in the hyacinths
on the kitchen table
and taste them in Morgan’s biscuits
and love them when
my mother opens her eyes and sees me
spoonbeams are similar to moonbeams
they can be
the chimes on the grandfather clock
Alex making music
when i warm up and glow
then i am a spoonbeam
the one of you and me as kids and the dog zonked out on the bed at the beach house. We had a great day building sand castles, digging up sand crabs, splashing in the waves, dripping ice cream cones, and you put sand down my bathing suit and I cried. We played geography. The curtains are blowing at the windows and our mothers are sitting on the porch drinking ice tea.
the one of you and me and the dog splayed across that beautiful big bed, our arms and legs tangled in the sheets. You touch me just so, and I bring you cookies and care if you catch cold. We are too busy for geography. The curtains float on our energy.
the one of you and me standing on the porch watching the dog splash in the waves. We remember sand castles, ice cream cones, and geography, but have forgotten how to play. I couldn’t see if we were holding hands when we walked out to catch the breeze.