Laughter and Dust

Laughter departed,
Or died a slow death.
We weren’t sure which.

You asked why we didn’t dance
When we dusted anymore,
As we did when I taught you to do
The washing machine.

But we were told it was “nasty”
And I “ought not” teach you that.
Plus, we played “that
Jungle and Mexican music too loud.”
So, our hips and feet stilled.

Then you dusted no more,
And I couldn’t blame you.
Fun stopped breathing.
No paramedics needed.
We survived.
Forgetting the joy
of everyday.

She Carries

A lazy weekend morning dawns,
As I drink my morning coffee
Wishing for a morning cigarette,
Or more precisely, that I still smoked,
I think of the women I have known.
The beauty, passion, love, heartache of each;
Some leaving a bitter aftertaste,
Some a sweetness lingering in memory,
Some could ignite burning still,
Some inspire an icy chill
In a frostbitten heart.
Though none is as they were
So long ago,
If in a room
All could be collected,
An eclectic collection it would be
Of age and size and color,
Of eye and hair and skin,
Of butch and femme
And somewhere in between.
Each beautiful in her way
And in my eyes.
Each carries a collection of
All my would haves,
And should haves,
And could haves.
Perhaps three or four
Carry all my what if’s
And if only’s.
Two maybe three
Carry all my regrets.
One maybe two
Carry the burden of my sins.
One, just one,
Carried my faith.

But only one–
Yes, only one—
Too amazing for belief,
Carried, for a time, too brief,
My heart and my soul.

The Beauty of Hands

Aesthetics of skin, nails, knuckles, bone
Does not exist in
The beauty of hands
Lending help when needed is seen.
Pulling a bloody tourniquet tight
in the midst of battle,
Swinging a hammer
to build a house,
Raking earth
to plant a garden,
Painting
a work of art,
Cradling
a child to sleep,
Caressing
a lover’s skin.
A lifetime of doing is the beauty of hands.

No Art

     This was written after I completed a five mile hike and then picked up 
     a volume of Elizabeth Bishop's poetry to enjoy once again on a sunny
     afternoon.  My answer to Bishop's poem, One Art.

 In this thing called losing,
 Bishop said we become masters
 And that losing isn’t a disaster.
  
 No, Not a disaster.
 Losing socks and such stuff.
 I’ve lost earrings, bracelets,
 Expensive ones too, didn’t care
 Beyond maybe a minute or two.
  
 And no pain beyond a stab of nostalgia
 Did I have upon saying goodbye 
 To three houses and two cities.
  
 And yes, it was no disaster
 To bury my mother, 
 A father who really wasn’t,
 The man who really was,
 First one brother, then the other,
 Then lastly, a wife.
 With each, my body and soul
 Savaged by a hurricane, catastrophic, yes.
 But no, no disaster.
  
 Except perhaps, yes, I’ll admit, 
 A tiny bit of soul eroded 
 From the waves of each hurricane
 Breaking over me as I buried each.
 And nothing, nothing did I master.
  
 Except, maybe this—
 I did not look for them
 Since they were gone,
 Emptied of this earth.
  
 Now, there is you and
 I look for you
 In everything I do--
 Every sunset
 Every sunrise
 Every in between time.
  
 I look for you in strangers,
 In cars I pass along the street.
 I look for you at festivals,
 In films I see.
 I look for you in places,
 In the sky of Ruidoso,
 In bars,
 In restaurants,
 In the eyes of strangers, 
 I look for you.
  
 I look for you in all this.
 And in this thing
 Called losing, 
 In which I am well-schooled,
 As are we all, 
 I have tried to make an art,
 To make an art of all this loss.
  
 Yes, this may be no real disaster,
 But Bishop lied.
 There is no art in losing,
 No art at all,
 That I can find to master.
   

The Passing of Summer

 The wind and rain stopped by last night,
 Had a few minor temper tantrums outside
 As I stood watching from the door.
 They slapped the trees limbs around a bit
 And kicked at bits of loose trash in the street.
 Nothing more violent than that.
  
 No pushing down trees.
 No pummeling hail.
 Rather calm for a storm.
 Yet it killed the heat of summer,
 Murdering it without a hint of passion
 And ushering in a cold windy day 
 To begin the fall to winter.
  
 At dawn,
 I stand here,
 Warming myself 
 With this cup of coffee,
 Mourning a summer
 That passed without passion.
   

Heart and Soul

 Tell me a truth 
 of burning flames.
  
 Better yet,
 Chant me all the truth
 Of a holy rosary.
  
 Or would you whisper a truth
 Of a head on a silver platter.
  
 Perhaps, you’d like to
 Express the truth
 Of a dance through the city.
  
 Or act out the truth
 In the washing of your hands.
  
 Could you do all that,
 Plus destroy a temple or two,
 And it be the truth 
 Of your heart?
  
 I know you say it would
 But no bushes burn,
 No seas part,
 No lepers heal, 
 No dead rise
 When you know nothing
 Of your own heart and soul. 

Modern Prometheus becomes The Little Stranger

Originally posted on Braveandrecklessblog.com

 So now we know,
 You told me I wasn’t,
 But I was—
 Your creation.
  
 Said you loved me
 Just the way I was—
 But was it true?
  
 Yes, I was perfect
 Just the way I was—
 You said,
 But you didn’t care for:
 My curly hair,
 My dresses,
 My high heels,
 My red lipstick.
  
 So, I became a cut out,
 Of the rest of my parts
 With the parts you inserted,
 A sewn together woman.
 Then electrified and brought back
 To life by a love you claimed
 Was for the true me.
  
 Now the parts you inserted
 Die away, shriveling at the lack
 Of your electricity.
 I stumble,
 A stiff-legged walk to your door,
 Shuck this graying shit and warm myself
 By the fire I create to burn
 These rigor mortised parts.
 Thus, I become something more akin
 To myself once again—
 That little stranger
 With curly hair,
 Wearing dresses,
 High heels,
 And signature whore red—
 I become
 My little one.