I’m not depressed
but I stopped caring
about the moon
how silver and perfect
it seems from far away.
I’m old enough to know that I’m middle aged.
People hear me say that and want to convince me I’m wrong
because they think it’s polite or reassuring
but I know what age almost every female in my family
I’ve watched two of them die slowly
Some folks still claim that
that doesn’t mean for sure
that I’m at or over the half way point
to MY death
I usually dont want to go back and forth about it,
their pretense and niceties
seem rigorous and exhausting
so I just acquiesce with a small smile, lowering my head
which is also something I’ve aged into
(acquiescence, not my head)
but I know my truth and am ok with it
even if that is hard for others to accept.
What I’m not ok with
is how soft I’ve become
in body and mannerism
How much less likely I am to jump
to take a risk or
just try something new out
Even if I know I’m going to fade into myself
I want to have more memories to lose
than body functions.
It seems so right to sit
awake listening to the
frogs call out across
the pitch black. Their
music makes the moist
air feel alive dancing
with promises echoed
back again and again.
I can still feel the sun’s
warmth fading from the
concrete porch across
my legs and I close my
eyes, lost in that magic
of a summer evening,
but the loud hum of the
AC breaks the mood,
slicing the night
air open in a big
Condolences felt undue
for the woman who said she loved you
and placed the word
‘spic-a-rican’ on your tongue
like a bite of angel food cake. It should
have tasted like her beans, fresh from the vine
but cooked so long canned were better. It should
have tasted like the grilled chicken, still raw at the bone one Summer-Sunday.
have stung, been the soured powdered milk from a reclaimed mayo jar
it took the cracked-voice pain
of your Brazilian teacher’s “What?”
to learn; hot shame flooding your face as you stammered
“My grandma always says it
with a laugh…”
And she did, she did just that.
because to her mind, that was laughing ‘with’ her blood, not ‘at’ –
despite the red-painted & pained mystery of her absent father’s
opaque history; genes you’ll never not be
You loved her, in the end, some. You did. But always knowing
her own for you was muted
by her chosen deity’s perceived demands.
She remains the first
to inadvertently teach you
tongues can slice. You thank your gods
(the ones she’d cluck her own at & clutch her cross)
you’ve learned well to wield that blade.
How I love your lovely blond scent,
wheat-ish, oat-ish, dry-ish.
Nothing in the world is there
the likes of you. You cushion
my strawberries from the soil.
You cushion my beans from the mud.
You cushion my knees when I kneel
to sort through the kales and beets
I will eat. O my love, you are so sweet.
Wet or dry, you do your lovely work
and I love you for your work.
I am that child in the swing
suspended at the apex
seeing over above all around
(Oh let go of the chains)
that child with her face to the sky
who when stern gravity interrupts
continues to pump her legs
back and forth
bends her ankles at awkward angles
to keep her feet from dragging a path in the dirt
I chose this morning to write a poem about death
In a meeting while I was listening.
I tucked my thought into my pocket.
I drove my car in rising summer heat.
The library. The Goodwill store.
My old dry elbow cocked outside
The window in the wind,
Searching for porcelain trinkets to bestow
On women mostly young,
Some closer to my age.
It was a new habit,
Practicing kindness without lust.
I spent an old man’s bored, retired day.
I bought a near new book I didn’t need.
I didn’t buy a baseball cap.
I didn’t think of death as I tried it on.
The book was a biography.
The subject was quite dead, but happily so.
His life was filled with stress.
There had been missteps and regrets.
Returning to the place where I nightly sleep,
I idly scrolled across my Facebook page,
At “Persons I Might Know,”
And there among the unknown friends
A woman I had loved, I guess,
One summer not quite forty years ago.
My thought to crush the skull of death with words
And make the feeling visceral was gone.
It was as though my voice and strength
And limbs of youth had fled.
Her laughter at my shrunken pride
And how I had hurt her so in memory
Yet she was better off than me, no doubt,
And had survived. To stare at me.
A photo on my phone on Facebook,
Where children play and old bones go to die.
There then. It is about death.
His friends said he was his own worst enemy,
Sabotaging himself at every turn,
Getting fired from jobs where he excelled but couldn’t get along with management,
Pulling the rug out from under his own marriage,
Finding ways to ruin relationships that followed.
Was he a failure?
He actually succeeded,
Then pulled the plug on his own successes.
It was as if he threw a wrench in the works so he wouldn’t end up failing.
You’ve heard this story before.
Sometimes a guy continues on this self-defeating path for the rest of his life.
Another guy finally hits on something that works and runs with it,
As if to demonstrate that there was only that one path to success,
And he turns into a real jerk perpetuating his winning formula.
These are really two versions of the same guy.
You probably know him.
You might have even tried help him,
Offering to steer him on a positive path.
But he didn’t listen, did he?