Last Date

Ours was a
vinegar-scented love.
His raw sashimi heart – fatty and expensive
demanded
a chewing slowly with
appreciation
(“or desperation” I told him in the end)

Mine: an envious wasabi
pungent in the nose
taken with
improper proportion.
(“A cheap happy hour” he threw at me)

And piece by piece,
we held each other by two
slim sticks
Until conversation lagged
and we were grateful for our full mouths
and numbing saké .

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He is.

My annual Easter poem, with gratitude… 

He is concerned with

a knowing for
the woman at the well
the surprise of a girl who hides for too long
from the whip every time she draws
the water she needs the whispers that sting her skin, piercing the heart
she’s claimed not to have … in the past

But he knows her.
He knows her.
And that’s all that he said.

He is concerned with
reassuring
the one who’s faith trusted his robes
deep in the crowd that pressed,
resting in a waking of power
that heals
the priest in the night
baffled and blundering
the blind men
begging to see
“Where have they taken him, please?”

He is concerned with peace
with giving back
the ear that went missing
with changing
the Sabbath
the temple
the curtain revealing
the code that he’s breaking
that shook all of us–white-washed tombs–
empty

He is concerned with
forgiveness
understanding
for we who have no clue what we are
doing or demanding
(asking “what is truth?”)
in life
in death
in love
in
intolerance for the man called a king
loved a man called a thief
and met him in heaven that hour.

He is concerned with looking
Through our wine and vinegar offerings
deep in the heart in the tears
to the water, the blood
Asking us from his position of death

to ‘take care of each other’

Then crying out that He – forsaken –
finished all the taking

that we all deserved
to take.

Whimsy

Just kind of had some fun with this commentary. Still needs work and I got lazy and didn’t do a fourth verse, but here it is from March/Nov 2014

What if mermaids poured down
from the sky into Baltimore Street?
Fins flapping
Flopping as they land.
And they crawl away in search of water
anything wet…mist, puddles, the ocean…
How long would they survive?
From the middle of the city to wherever
they could drag themselves
breathing heavily, short breaths
the gills in their neck, panicking the scales
leaving shimmering slime behind
as they crawl down Charles St
towards the harbor
ignoring the shouts all around,
“Don’t go there! The water will kill you!”
It’s a risk to try.
Or not to.
What would you do, if you were a mermaid
landing desperate in Baltimore?

A pulp of orange
pumpkins turned jagged-teeth men
or witches, cats, aliens,
an unusual likeness of Elvis
sit wondering on St Paul, waiting for what they’ve heard
will be the night of nights
what they’ve been grown for
will glow for.
What would you do as you sat with a candle in your head
knowing – because you’ve heard –
that tomorrow you’ll still sit here. Your hat burned.
Your hate brimming? because you’ve heard
that soon your mouth withers, wrinkles, wraps around
your teeth and eyes, sinking in to cement steps.
And you’ll still sit here.
And sit here.
And sit here. Still on St Paul.
But on that night, would you refuse to glow as high candied legs
yell “Trick or Treat!”?
Would you straighten up proud of the carves and scars
that will rot tomorrow anyway?
Would you think why not shine?
Do you feel a choice inside?
Until a good child gone costumed stomps down. Hard.

Standing strong against the sun
snowmen, bravely hold out their skinny stick arms,
giving the world a high-five. Or the finger.
Some just want to be left alone –
to freeze (for what they may imagine) forever
What would you do if you knew?
Maybe you would want freedom – to melt
in your own way. Maybe head first
or you’d let the left belly-roll slide off.
It all flows back in to the ground. Or the gutter.
How would you withstand the heat,
knowing – against hope – that spring was inevitable?
Would you slip into oblivion? Silent?
Or protest on the corner of North Avenue, as you stood there
until your mouth melted.

Then there’s Spring.

water-drops

Residue

I heard the beginning line* below at a conference, and it caught my attention – it’s from Archibald MacLeish’s modern rendition of Job called J.B. And it started this line of thought…

“Blow on the coals of my heart”*
O God.
Let not my love grow thin
when weariness wastes the withered will.
Give me the foolish courage to answer (and even ask?) the question:

“Am I still breathing?”
Fogging a mirror that reflects
Mildewed eyes. Let not ‘faith’ become a tired word
A common degradation (that offends
or obscures or absorbs).
Let me grow angrypassionatejoyfuldevastatedoverwhelmed
Hammer the fear that lulls me to sleep
Wake me with a whisper
And let me gulp the wind.

The Middle

I can’t imagine what it’s like to flee my home as a refugee. Just a few sketched words:

Sand sifts,
brushes against the canvas tent
A small quavering
refuge
that barely replaces the once
solid house
now crushed in bones under rubble
Joy. It breaks and cracks,
Five hundred miles in the past.
The wandering is one thing
But the wondering is hell.
There’s a Nowhere in the heart.
And the soul is a worn stone, ground
as sand shifts
brushing the quavering
canvas of
refugees that barely can place
their home
now crushed
buried under waiting.
Peace. It looks away.
And hope grows in withered form here…

Easter 2014

My annual Easter poem. I had a different one, but a couple nights ago, I just started writing this. 

It’s a messy, messy world
out there, all around me

Can I help the defensive blaming feeling
as the questions rise up in me
resonating AT me
culminate to one – age-old question from Gethsamene –
“Who is it you are looking for?”

Still, I’ll ignore that ugly sunken feeling
As I kiss him, betray him
Yell “Hosanna!” and “Crucify Him!”

But it’s a confounding, weeping feeling
that suddenly I see
– as the thief and the denier
or maybe worse, the bystander –
That, still (in spite of),
I’m promised a forgiven destiny
here and later.

And in the dawn,
it’s a clear and chilly feeling
to touch the stone
and WONDER WHERE?

Silence.

I can only realize regret that the truth is…

I’m a messy messy world in me
full of fear and gravity.
Through the noise of emptiness,
“Who is it I’m looking for?”

Then Mercy at its deepest
Truest
Softest
Says my name.

And I recognize the voice
and look up.

Turn-Over

First iteration from one of the products of our very first monthly writing group with Halley Greene.

‘False’
reverberates through the
room bouncing through
heads and paintings of barking
animals fighting over bones…

if truth enters, it seeps in under
the door.
Starting at our feet.
and if it isn’t trampled
it may rise to the waist and if
our arms embrace it,
rising higher – squeezed up
up. up. into our eyes and wine glasses
smoking higher
diluting
penetrating
grazing soft kisses on eyebrows
relief through fires’ fear.
extinguishing like a slow suffocating
unaware but so. so. clear
up. up. in the air.
until our ears quit ringing
with the reverberating.