I wanna be Joan Didion cool
Aloof & unafraid
Chili pepper lips
& oversized sunnies
Strolling the streets of San Francisco
Spring of ‘67
i’ve begun to view the world–
every experience of our existance–
from dust to dust,
from dirt to dirt,
and from the mouth and spring
of the river leading to the ocean.
bless this water
from which we all came.
the sun is blocked
by the canopy of trees
folding themselves, leaf by leaf,
over the chorus of the water
that is a culmination
of all the tears, hurt,
suffering, despair, and devistation
of our lives–a sacrificial ecosphere.
small flowers with blue blooms
grow up from the graveyard soil
where a deer carcass rests–
a carapace of a soul.
we are the two reddish orange buds
lying alone in the dead, grey leaves
with no potential home nearby–
they must have blown in
with the wind.
my life seems to be an ode
to love and words–a dedication
to these things–my breath
seems to give life. what is love?
how can you describe
the rich complexities
of this deep, mysterious rivine
our relationship is like those
reddish orange buds–blown in
haphazardly while the sun shines down
on our friendship as we discuss
our futures and the small
epiphanies of ourselves.
i screamed in your car, today.
(one of the many pinnacles
of our connection) my yell
was bred from the pain
of my issues; we realized
i need a lover who can
care for me like a child,
a small, helpless infant.
later, you had ice cream
on the tip of your nose.
there is something precious
and silent and perfect
everything exists as a bookend.
i know where the bookend
that holds our memories together
started (you say that that memory
lives poignantly in your mind)
but i pray that the end to this
is far in the future. it is. it is.
today, between teases,
in a focused daze,
you told me that
you wanted to watch my childhood
videos to see my mom
(who reminds me of you)
and hear her voice.
Rah-rah-rah, I run my thumb over the mottled plastic of the bleachers
As the yellow wood gym floor squeak-squeak-squeaks under sneakers.
A girl next to me who I don’t- never talk to hah-hah-hah snickers
And like a staticky channel flip my vision blink-blink-blink flickers.
When-where-what-who-why am I again?
Like stepping through sepia
photographs, déjà vu
pooling in frayed sneakers
as I pace through streets
heavy with revolving-door
families bathed in streetlight halos,
late-night arguments heard
through cheap drywall,
plywood crossbeams gutted-
these houses are hollow gods,
we scaled their ribs as children,
promethean in search of self
always reaching for the pantheon
of adulthood, we combed
our lives for something worth striving
for, I surrounded myself with artists
furthering their craft, molded myself
in their image, a faltering echo
of a poet finding his voice in the cacophony
only to lose it for years,
meandering through the wreckage
of a life without direction, ragdoll
body washing up on the shore of June,
adrift in a new sea of voices
singing songs of sorrow and certainty
that when day breaks we’ll find
salvation in the wake of abaddon
and it’s like coming home again.
to wash away the brutal
germanic rooted word thrusts i call
poetry, let us rest
a bit in the cool shade of the buttress knobbed poplar
leaves lilting in the sentient stalking breeze, i will even
strike up a little latin, loosen up some cadence i will let the syllables
slack and canter and for christsake perhaps even gallivant; we will eat pink
blueberries drunk on june sky and lemonade sun and the neighbors lawn mower going on and on into the cricket dusk window fan; buzz and semi-circle whirl, we might
as well oscillate among the kicked off covers and the reruns and the leftovers in the fridge from the meal we ate in silence like monks but for the wind
chimes make me miss the cigarette
smoke of my elders, wrap us in
cutlery sounds clinking on
plates we wash together,
by god, by honeysuckle,
by now and evering ever
i am a song.
I bust out a bottle of summer rose’
fill up a bright blue plastic beer cup
half full with wine,
check to see if it’s all in my belly pack—
flashlight, cell phone, bio-degradable poo-poo bags.
The dog has the leash in his mouth,
teeth clenched on it,
shaking it like it’s a mole he just nabbed.
We go for our evening walk,
the sky bends from blue to indigo,
a red streak fading.
A helicopter has been circling
slowly for almost every night now,
the dog is spooked by the sound,
he cowers—we are out after curfew.
Less than 3 miles away
are the protests: Justice for Breonna
Less than 5 miles away, on Chestnut,
the windows of my son’s bar, shattered,
bricks and bats, but really
anger, rage, desperation, disgust:
Justice for Breonna.
40 or so years ago I would join them—
chanting, raging, walking night after night
in sticky relentless heat: Justice Justice
Justice for Breonna,
down Broadway to Baxter to
Bardstown Road and back:
Justice for Breonna.
I can’t go—my husband’s big heart tied
into knots depending on a battery to keep pace,
at-risk during this pandemic,
we are locked-down,
the pandemic has opened the Pandora’s box:
inequities of all kinds revealed—many vulnerable–
many lives at stake.
So many lives at stake–
I drop off a pallet of water bottles at a curb,
hope the protesters find it,
send money to Dare to Care, the Humane Society,
the local bail fund, the KY Covid 19 fund:
Justice for Breonna
So many lives at stake.
He was a scrawny, electrified-looking
creature, a raggedy baby with blue eyes
and a tiger’s shadow in his fur.
I named him Snuggles, after the laundry
detergent teddy bear, because they were
the same color. Nothing about him
in this memory speaks to cuteness, no
brain sketch draws him as adorable
or cuddly or wanting. And yet,
he was mine as soon as I saw him, meaning
and tumbling in the bathtub of some
woman’s house with the others. My mom
let me choose, and I picked him. I think
on the ride home he disappeared
in the car, playing with the brother
that my sister got to adopt. Snuggles wasn’t
a lap cat; he wasn’t a lover or a fighter;
he wasn’t the sweetest of the lot;
he didn’t come immediately but neither
did he leave. He let me hold him (a while),
name him, and keep him. I never deserved better.