gratefulness

Icarus, Blind

PBrueghelElderIcarus

I made wings from a frame of
broken promises, covered in
sticky, black glue of disappointment, and, finally,
feathers of long-extinct lovebirds.

The day approached to fly, fly
and each morning I looked into to the sun,
imagining how it would feel to be
underneath
in air not suffused with guilt
and expectation.

But I looked into the sun
one too many times.

The day arrived to fly, fly
and I —
blind —
could find my way through the sky
only by the warmth on my back.

And it felt so good
after all that cold
hard
stone
to be so warmed
that I scarcely noticed
the small splash I made.

And I sank,
blind,
knowing the touch of wind
and freedom
was enough, enough.

Fernweh

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I am pinned to the places I have been, mapped
and logged and archived;
even some dreamplaces I revisit, where I am known and
even somewhat famous.

But there is a bench, a beach,
and a line of peaks
engraved in my book,
though my lungs have not drawn
that rarified salt air.

These islands
and their thousand shades of grey and blue
are a chain that pulls me in,
partly DNA
mostly fernweh;
a place so strange and so familiar
that I can feel the lichen soft on my feet
hear the corncrake’s green rattle
smell the whisky-smoke.

I believe I shall find my initials
engraved on a bench
on the Isle of Harris,
and I’ll sit homebound there
til the wind blows me yon.

 

Photo: Willem Eelsing

brother

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I can’t imagine how puzzled
my mom must feel
to have outlived her son.

Her precious dark-haired boy,
the big one
at age 2,
meant to look after his blond
blue-eyed brother,
then curly haired
little sister,

then me, the squealing surprise package
when he
was 11.

Maybe he should have been
the baby
for a little longer,
caretaker that he was.

Never could stand
to see anyone cry, always
the one to say “It’s okay.”

I wish we’d had more time
in these years, my brother,
but I’m glad
I got to
take care of you.

for-tune

yinyang
Because the hour’s late
and the smell of the air gobsmacked me
into the past
this is all I can leave here.

I am fortune’s child, and how that happened
is the mystery of my earthly millisecond.
I take her gifts
and give back a few of my own,
but really,
I don’t think it’s expected.

My bikes rarely get flats,
the shower’s done before the hot water runs out,
the alternator expired at a side-road
off the busy highway,
my mother and father were never mean,

And best of all,
I can carry a tune, for
what that’s worth.

Spring Storm

The air is gravid with possibility today.
Clouds chase the humidity to ground, their grey
sending the neighborhood cats
home early.

Dogwoods light the woods from within,
paperwhite,
though not rare, somehow
barely there.

Cardinals arrow through the gathering branches,
against a brief punch-out of blue.

Tiny goblets of rain toast this day,
the sound and fury it will make,
indicating
everything.

image

One Single Sense

I would miss taste, it’s true,
but by then I will have had my fill
of delicacies, and will eat plain stew.

The touch of a lover, the thrill,
that would be hard to kiss goodbye.
But at least I will not feel winter’s chill.

Scents, however, are the means whereby
memory’s pathways collide and collude.
NB: write poems of remembrance, should that sense die.

Now sight: think of all the beauty you’ve viewed
and assemble a mental scrapbook of sorts.
Not ideal, but a comfort in your solitude.

Ah! but hearing. Mostly, music exhorts
me to insist: I cannot live without that gift,
which all other senses merely support.

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Not Alone

I am you,
and you, me.

Help me, I have no hands
to feed the hungry,
nor lips
to sing songs of praise for the morning,
nor eyes
to see and rejoice in the babe, the crone,
the strapping youth,
the old man creeping his path toward home.

I will help you
carefully prepare and serve
sing with beauty
see clearly and
rejoice loudly.

I am you,
and you, me.

The pain of the lash, halved.
God’s gift to the world, doubled.

 Blaine-street-cross

**For the women of Blaine Street Jail. Thank you for making art with me, and making me a better person.

blue

seep
I made a brief list of sounds along this path,
the least of which is the crickle the dirt makes
as the sun lands on it.

There are tiny birds who flickle
from branch to branch saying “Psst! Psst!”
and teasingly disappear from sight.

You’ll miss the slow beewing hum
if you walk too fast or heavily.

The list of sounds I love has grown shorter
as my list of years accomplished grows.

Silence tops the list,
followed in no particular order by
susurrations of wind
and the chimes and trees it disturbs,
water in tricklets or waves,
voices twined in sacred and vulgar song.

I sometimes wish for synesthesia
so I could understand if my new fondness for the color blue
is because it sounds like all those things.

The Church of Tree

A ladybug hitched a ride and
napped for a time in the crook of my fingers,
waiting for its stop at the green place.

Funnel spiders build their homes
on the ground,
tubes of silk
woven with bits of duff on the outside.
They can tell a prying blade of grass
is not prey.

The belly of a cicada
has pointy bits for the sucking of sap,
and its wings are the most delicate lingerie.

California violets are yellow.

I felt hallelujah at the Church of Tree.