Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Raphael Darling
Blue wading pool
Bronzed skinned
In bright sunlight

Little boy sings
Wonders about
A twinkling star
One thousand years dead

No matter
Only this day exists
In sparkling water
Contained in round plastic

He stands in the middle
Reaching limbs to the light
No movement
A naked fountain

Sweet cherub
With Fishes
Spitting water
To heaven

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I do not know many poets.
I do not know any poets, really.
Which sounds bleak, I know.

I think sometimes that
I might join a
Poetry reading group.
Or allow a (real) poet to
Read and critique me.

I think again.

I really do not know
How to write a poem.
Or how to read one.

And frankly, I do not care.

Why do I write?
Why do I breathe?
I do not know.

I do know that I breathe to live.
I do not write to live.
But it is surely the same
Drive that leads me to breathe
Or eat
Or have sex
That I feel in my center solar
When it is time to write again.

I do not ever know what I will write about.
All I know is that it is time.
And I do not work on it for weeks.
I work on it for minutes.

Until it is done.

It has got to be like
How a colonic would feel.
Except, of course,
I am not getting rid of
A lot of shit.

Or am I?

At least, I do not think so.
I write only in a way
That looks good to me.
Or sounds right to my ear
When I read it aloud
To myself.

I sometimes think I would like
To write about lofty things.
Things from other places.
Places that one might deem
More important
Than the ordinary life that is my own.

But then I realize
That I do not know of any place
Like that.
And I cannot write of things and places
That I do not know.

How could I?

My friend Jim told me the other morning
that he was telling a friend's son
that he was trying to decide
whether to paint a landscape
of the gardens where we live
or of the animals.
The young man told him, "You shouldn't
paint about any of these things. I took some
photos while in Europe. You should paint those!"
And Jim said to me, "I don't want to paint about there!
I want to paint about here."

I understood that.

What this gives rise to
Is the value of speaking
For your environment
Not just of it.

Telling of things you know
For the things you know.

In other words
To point to the ordinary life
And offer a language
For the voiceless
To be seen in its
New expression.

And in this way
One might never see a familiar
Or an animal
In the same way

Monday, June 14, 2010

Most mornings now I eat my cereal on the front porch
Sitting on the stoop, barefoot
surrounded by green clover, weeds, spindly overgrown pansies
two cats (one not mine, but who claims me anyway)
and a dog.

Often called "quiet solitude" it is anything but that
Though I still recognize the hint and feel a nudge from my
surroundings that I am sitting in a new reality
And the world I inhabit is tilting in another direction
It is one without children

There were paintings in our house when I was young
Wildlife ones painted by an artist friend
who is still a friend
Two of them were placed on the wall above the sofa
side by side
one of a red fox,
the other, two squirrels
One afternoon my nephew, very young at the time,
pronounced them as,
"Two Skunks and a Dog!"

I often think of that when flanked by these
two cats and the beagle all vying and vying and vying
for the leftover milk
in my cereal bowl
Realizing that those paintings now
reside in another house on another wall
My memory of them an echo
And only projected upon these
unsuspecting creatures whose energy too
is fleeting through time

I was thinking yesterday and this is without
pride or gratitude, mind you, I wasn't even feeling
guilt about it when I recognized
that I was holding it, holding time
sitting in a perfect 'something'
On the front porch
I experienced something quite undone, unfettered
undressed, even unrequited
I just happened to be there with the animals
and they didn't know it, of course, because
they are always there
But I watched in quiet servitude to whatever
it is I serve
Acknowledging, simply, yes it is--
(Held and gone that quickly),
It is perfect.

Whatever perfect even means, I don't know
But it is the best description I have
Because earlier, or later, depending on perspective
I'd awoken at around 2.30, deeply troubled when
I heard the word "mom" spoken so clearly
by my oldest child who is no longer living with me

He wasn't there when
I opened my eyes
I got up to check on the smaller children
and wondered if I would find his shoes by the door
Where he used to leave them after coming in at night
In the past it was a certain sign of his safety
that he'd arrived home
But the space by the front door was
and is empty of his shoes

He is gone
And so I released my panic for his sake
I went back to bed with a soft heart
A mind eased
That his shoes are now sitting (or not sitting)
beside another door
at this late, or early, hour
for me to not worry over anymore

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Behind me the sound
Of leftover rumbling
Now a hollow bellow
Is just an echo
Of the night's stormy violence

Satiated and passing
The morning air yawns serene
And smells earthy
Of worms and ozone
So the gentle Sunday emerges
Steamy-like from the moist ground

I am awash in a pale golden light
From the rising sun
And the sudden idea that
I am witness to time's newest day

A glistening shimmer
Across the hazy fog
At the schoolyard
A path leads my eyes to the first light
And all the potential of another beginning

This compulsion of a stubborn earth
To revolve
Keeps a poet busy
Considering "new day" metaphors
And unique ways to express them

And also the agreement
(to which I never actually agreed)
That calls one to service
To recount daybreak
As it has from the genesis
Of a brute's first
Rapt attention to the buttery warmth
And ensuing pictographs
Of sunshine
After a storm

As it's always been
I am also compelled
To describe what I see
As if it's not been written
(Like the repetition of dawn)
A billion times before

Sunday, April 25, 2010

In a Stairwell

It crystalized a moment in time
And silenced the yearning
At least briefly
A relief at last
Where fingers followed the outline
Of a forearm
Touching the telltale
Coursing vessels
Beating at the wrist
A rhythm of want
Slipped sweetly into the hand
of another
And joined finger over finger
Weaving not just a holding
But effecting an ascension
To the next place
Of being together

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sometimes you write about nothing
because nothing is all you have
This is easy to explain
In that the other day
I was trying to imagine my own mind
And what came to me was the image of my brain
Several sections of it’s matter
Appeared as blank splotches
Like empty, dark water

I was saddened because I thought to myself
That these are perhaps the areas
of the things
I can no longer remember
And will never recollect again
I countered more hopeful, “Maybe one day I might make a good Buddhist.”
Mindlessness being a virtue

The past, the present,
names, faces,
times, places,
words, memory
drop from the synapses pattern
and plop into the blank spots
drowned in emptiness of the forgotten

Maybe this is what death is like.

Perhaps this is a harbinger to death
A symbol of our certain demise
An untested aspect of biology
An intelligent trigger latent
And ancient
That makes the coming sleep easier to accept.

Dendrites shrivel like tulip stamen
after the season has passed
Brain cells are bubbles
blown to heaven rising
that pop
Dissipating all their energy
released by a common pressure
and gone

Drawing a blank
“I don’t remember”
Or “I can’t recall”
Is a more like a quieting

And less nostalgia
Create a simpler exit

It is not just an ending of memory
These images of silent black puddles
But perhaps it’s a source of ease:
Worry unwrought
Beauty unheld
Expectation undone
Life unfilled

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

There was a time that I thought
She had died on purpose
After the many times she tried before
I thought at last she'd succeeded

Looking back now I am remembering
It all differently though
Because you can remember things differently
Even if the events remain

It could be a matter of perspective
Maybe of maturity
A re-imagining once
Coping has been learned

Because now I see clearly
The freshly baked cookies
On the counter
The flat of pansies and potting soil
On the garage floor
The clothes recently purchased
Their receipt
And the gifts and gift wrap
On the table

All of these thing imply
A return
Not a suicide

And what I see in particular
And most often
Is the carelessly discarded purple t-shirt
Rumpled on the vanity

The one she'd put on
Earlier that morning
Maybe after her shower
Or her last cup of coffee

And she had it on while buying
Flowers and gifts and
Clothes that didn't fit
Probably even while baking cookies

And it was the one she wore while
Visiting an old neighbor
Who impulsively snapped
A polaroid that day

My mother's last live photo
The one taken
In the purple t-shirt,
Her final witness

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

As the water receded
what was left on the sand was a froth
green, brown, alive
with bubbles
silent crackling
millions of tiny universes
popping one by one
absorbing into the ancient remains
of animals once breathing
their food and shelter, too
now ground into firmament
beautiful wet warmth, firm
beneath my feet
walking on the ages..
Is this what we are to you,
Leftovers of a wave?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I dropped Lea off to ballet last Monday and when she exited the truck I stayed a minute and watched her walk in the front door. Her coltish legs reaching up to the sky in her pink tights. I felt like I wanted to watch her forever, getting out and walking in, over and over, so I didn't miss any nuance of the motion. Or of the moment. Which is the only moment that was real to me then; that I actually knew was happening.

Because it could have been the end of everything right there. Which it was, I suppose, since each moment's ending is really a little death. And, I recognize that and so, I didn't want to not know it while it was happening.

I couldn't stay though. Not just stay there and sit there in my truck watching the moment because, you know, the moment ended. It ended quick as moments do, and besides, the school considers it remiss if a parent pulls up and parks in the no-parking lane. And of course, like a blink she was already gone, long gone, having simply vanished before my eyes because her energy catapults her so swiftly to the next part of her life. There is no slowing down when you are 13, there just isn't. And there is nothing more you want to do when your 44.

As I was pulling away and thinking about it, I said aloud to the emptiness of the dead, "You're missing everything, Mother." I waited for the response I never get, and so I followed up with quiet resignation, under my breath I whispered, "You've missed everything."

Last night I had another dream like ones I have sometimes where I call my mother's phone and she doesn't answer. I'll call again and again and often even go to her house to look for her, and she will be gone. The lights out. Like she has been gone away for a long time. And then finally as I get so desperate to find her during one final call, she will answer. There is great relief for me, but in the dream she is often preoccupied with something and often packing again for another trip. It feels like she has left the family and that she is no longer part of my life. I can't convince her to stay. In the dream she has moved on with a companion, usually a man, and they are traveling.

Once a long time ago, right after she died, in a dream she told me that she had a lot to do where she is now so we could no longer meet and talk like we used to. I believed that to be the time where I let her go to her new life. Or her death. Her death-life, I guess. And so, now I realize when I awaken from the current dreams, the ones where she is engrossed in her own preparations, I have to recognize that there is no return from where she is.

My mind might conjure up her image as reassurance, though. In these cases I like to think the Dream-Maker as a kind of benevolent Abstract, so that in this way It soothes me when I get too frantic in my search for her.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Steven Waits

Steven doesn't want to be home today. Although he is so sweet that he wouldn't show his displeasure with me, if he has any. He tells me the things that make him unhappy, but he is mostly so optimistic and patient that he sees or finds the bright side, in his own way.

He did say that he is really bored and wants to go outside and do something, but I'm having an "outside" issue today: It's really cold out there.

He said also that he wants to spend time with me (very nice, thank you, Steven :).), so he brought his laptop up here to be with me. Leaning back on his dad's pillow he is playing Roblox Builder's Club while I read. I have a Roblox account, too, but I'm not all that interested in playing it today. He's o.k. with that, too.

We also forgot to go to gym class today. So he missed that.

While it's not the ideal homeschooling situation (one complete with schoolbooks and paper), I do think it's a life lesson to learn to be accommodating to people and finding creative ways to still be together without being demanding of one another's time. It's a real give and take in relationship. I let him know that I'm a little burnt out and somehow he can relate to that. He finds empathy and allows me to be myself, yet realizes that I still need him close. It's a side-by-side experience of the most authentic kind.

I'm not capable of making demands of my children to be any more or less than their truest selves. I'm just not. I don't have a lot of set rules. I don't tell them what to do all the time. I give them lots of room for learning (sometimes hard) lessons and I definitely encourage them to stop and breathe and listen to their inner needs when they believe it's time. We all need time to think or even to... not think

I'm glad that they often allow me this same wide berth to be in whatever emotional space I seem to require. I also believe that as they develop and begin to understand the lapse of time better, they can understand that emotions aren't the things by which we use to navigate through life, emotions rise and they go as swiftly as the tide, but they are often flags to pay heed to, and help us to know when to slow down or speed up or, in my case, to anchor. I think I've got some mixed metaphor going on there, but, you get what I'm saying :).

So, a question might be posed to Steven,"What did you do today?" and his answer might be, "Nothing." And for us, that's o.k. And for him, he seems o.k. with that, too. But he did make a kind and loving choice to be a marvelous companion for his world weary mom who could curl up with him beside her and read books and listen to his little anecdotes* until the first sign of a warm day.

*("Hey mom. Did you know that Nick's dad had a sign posted over his garage that said, "Trepassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again?""
No, I didn't. That's a good one, Steven :))

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Steven Goes

And Momma waits.

But, wait. It's not as gloomy as it sounds because over the years mothers figure out ways to keep themselves busy while their homeschoolers are attending classes. We often carry multiple bags of crap wherever we go. These are mine:

There is always a snack of some kind and a water or juice box in one of them for the kid (it's a healthy snack, of course, because we have to keep up the appearance that our kids are eating healthily even though they are home all day and not receiving the typical "Type A" lunch -ugh- served at school. Which is mostly true for many of us, but for some of us oldsters, it's often not. After a few years, we just start to grab what's on the counter).

But, we also carry "things to do" so we're not idly sitting by, and often so we don't have to talk to anyone if we don't feel like it (It's true, don't say it isn't!). And since most of us are too smart for our own good, often these bags contain various creative or intellectual distractions. And these include things we can do while we are chatting with other mothers, or even things we can do if there is no one we know or someone we don't want to talk to.

Besides my purse, which inside is alllll the mystery of a typical handbag (I call my it my "Black Bag"), is my "Green Bag" and it contains my knitting or sewing, a notebook to keep track of stitches, and also, my sketch book. There are also colored pencils, regular number 2 pencils, and various pens I've stolen unconsciously. Right now in the Green Bag is the purple scarf I've been working on for a year, and the lavender baby blanket I started last Spring for my nephew's new baby who was born in August and who will be a year old (at least) before I get it to her. I can also find the drawing book that I received as a door prize for arriving early to a craft show (Yay!)...

....and what I've been using as a "Doodler." Yes, I started doodling and it's become an art form:

Done doodle:

Doodle in progress:

In my "Colorful Bag," the one with the little bird on it (this is a tote I made for my books and surprisingly that is what I use it for!), I can find the books that I'm currently reading or the books that are overdue at the library. Right now I'm timely, so these are just the books I'm reading:

And yes, there is always a magazine to save me from ADD moments when I couldn't concentrate on a paragraph in a book if I tried. "Real Simple" has a dual meaning in this case.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I signed on to fix some spelling and punctuation, but now I don't feel like hunting the culprits down.

It's a home day for Steven and me. I need to go to work everyday now, but he is reluctant to go with me at this point and I don't want to leave him to his own devices for hours at a time. I really encourage solitude for all my kids because I think extraversion is overrated, but I don't want him to feel out of the loop. I want him to know that I want him at work with us, and that there is a place for him there. He does like it sometimes when it's busy and his buddies are there (My brothers-in-law), but he gets bored because he's not quite old enough or mature enough to work on anything, and frankly, it can be dangerous. I do bring books, the laptop and various things for him to do, but he's a homebody and prefers his familiar.

Some people think we do him a disservice by keeping him somewhat insulated, but you know, I defend that by offering that he really has some good insight into things that comes from independent thought. He doesn't speak in catch phrases or cliche. His voice is his own ~ It's interesting. He can trust himself because he doesn't have adults in his life who don't trust him.

I read back over this and it sounds like I'm a bit defensive... which may be true. I might sometimes worry whether we are doing the right thing by him.

His brother Nicholas has said to me with some grief in his voice that he "knows too much." That we've taught him to "think too much" and it's troubling because he says there is no one his age who can understand him. I've heard this from other adult homeschoolers as well, that they are always on the periphery of their peers and feel like outsiders most of the time. Even though, I point this out to my young friends, they are often admired for the reason they feel different; people find them enigmatic and are drawn to them. I understand though, but, I also believe it is a fallout from being a young adult and that most young people feel this way either way, schooled or unschooled.

Ok, so I'm better now. The kid will be fine. And also, I am listening to Steven giggling his head off in his room where he quietly closed the door so is most certainly watching something on YouTube that I would disapprove of, but will keep my trap shut because his laugh is so reassuring.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Steven Holidays

So many pics, so little time. There are various photos here of Steven's December. We went away to a cabin in the hills like we often do and Steven hiked and played in the hot tub. He played Killer Bunnies and put together some snap circuits and his new Playmobils. Steven ate very well there and had lots of fun. Earlier in the month we went to a friend's house and made gingerbread houses. There's also a pic there of Steven with his friend, Orb and the cubes they made with their sewing teacher, Creatrix Jane. Oh! And for Christmas Steven got the suit he asked for. He likes to dress up. Recently he added a new shirt and tie to his assemble (not pictured).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Steven Continues, part 2

Steven also did a splendid job last month as The Lord-in-Waiting in the play "The Emperor's Nightingale." His drama teacher told him after the play when she was giving out accolades to the kids, she asked him what he thought The Lord-in-Waiting meant for The Emperor and Steven answered, "He needed him." And she said, "That's how this play was for us. We couldn't have done it without you."

Nice. And she can be a serious bitch, too, but, for some unknown reason my kids are drawn to her.

When I dropped Lea off to her first class with this teacher a few summers ago, we arrived just as the lady was screaming at all the kids to SHUT UP and hollering about how they better pay attention and to start UNLOADING THE PROPS because... WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GET TO WORK!. Lea desperately wanted to stay. I turned to her, patted her shoulder and said, "Ok. So. Good luck then."

Steven Continues

This week Steven starts homeschool gym, his drama workshop, classes with Candace and Taekwondo. And, as far as organized learning we'll just continue with what we've been using so far: The "You wanna try this?" method. Somehow the kid keeps learning stuff, how can I argue with what seems to be working?

Last month Steven tested and received his Senior Orange Belt:

I can't seem to add anymore pics, but will try in a little while in another post.