Love of this World

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Everyday, I would write a poem,
as if it’s my last poem,
a last letter to a world I love,
love, and hope it means something
to say so, even as I know
it means different to different–
what does it mean,
I hear the world asking,
imploring me to offer proof.
But you’ll have to take me at my word.
A poem a day, a song,
fingers along a rosary,
giving thanks at each bead,
and never running out
of things to be thankful for.
Bead, to bead, to bead:
the sun, the stars, the grass,
rain,
blessings and blessings,
love,
yes, love–
I don’t have to tell you,
or prove it;
you know what it is.
I hope
you know what it is.

A 52nd First Day of Summer

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I’m writing today in response to a prompt about clouds that I found on the Manic Sylph’s blog.

My fifty-second first day of summer,

is cool and cloudy, the way I like my days,

a high of seventy, and I’ll stroll Manito Park,

while the flowers reprieve from scorchers,

and chaos; mild days are undervalued

in this world, everyone wants to run hot;

can I just sit here and dead-head my petunias

until I die of natural causes, hopefully,

in my sleep, when I’m past my eightieth

first day of summer, or ninetieth—

however old it is when I’m ready to go.

Are we ever ready to leave days like this?

There is always someone left to love,

to smile at, to hold in our just right embrace

while the sun comes up in their souls,

and they, too, long to celebrate

their first cloudy days of summer.

A Final Severance

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Sentient soul, to sentient soul,
he realized her panic
when he came barreling
around the corner; sundown,
and their eyes met
for just that second,
she decided to run.
He’d forgot to honk his horn,
thought she’d made it,
then the thud,
like the snap of twig,
a broken limb,
the doe, three-legged,
ran down the ravine.
He was amazed at her speed,
dismayed by his deed,
that couldn’t be undone,
or lightened,
or made right.
In fact, he knew
there was nothing left
except she would die.
He wondered at that,
and how death arrives
when we least expect,
and then, the frantic,
lonesome search for a quiet place
to lay your broken body down,
and the terrible waiting:
last fear, last tight breath,
a final severance from this world
on what had been a beautiful night.

When She Was Young: Song of the Lotus

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“The lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them.”
The Odyssey Book IX

Promises, she heard them all,
the call of her mother’s voice,
she wanted to believe:
This won’t happen again, baby.
Maybe, it was okay to trust
for a while, and rise, like a lotus blossom,
above the mud of her addiction,
floating with petals stretched up to the sun.
Somewhere, she thought,
there is a story of a girl whose love could cure,
and pour itself out as an ethereal blanket,
so magical, together at last,
even their bones would long
to float away in the lotus’ song.

The Sweet Smell of Starting Over

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Even the stars are made of this:

sunshine & sweet petrichor.

What comes from above,

and we are made right,

our thirst, our life—

forgiveness,

after years of anger;

we finally feel love again.

The earth wreaks well of redemption,

grace permeates the dry ground.

And, the only sound we hear now,

birds,

who sing of starting over,

or, at least that’s what we hear,

like the smell of fresh water,

among grass, and clover:

sunshine & sweet petrichor.

A Refuge of Birds

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Flood warnings, became flooded streets,
a gathering of mud, and other debris,
while in our yard, a branch broke,
from the old birch tree,
and in it, the grass nest,
a family of birds, now refugees.

And, I imagine them searching,
for a place to start again,
free of broken, flotsam dreams,
their past life, falling from this tree,
as the birch continued to bud,
and the grass continued to green.



For Cowboy, Heart of my Heart

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The horse that restored my strength, Cowboy. 2003-end of our reign.

If waif means thrown away,
we were waifs—
he, an orphan,
me, afraid of the world;
yet together, we were a magical beast,
fleet of feet, pounding ground
with a rumbling beat,
breath joined,
as in lore,
we were centaur,
& maker of the stars,
& shiny things,
creator of our kingdom,
our safe place to run,
abreast of sand, loose rock,
and sun smiling down on it all–
a coronation of soul,
of spirit,
and what will remain,
from that first day,
to the end of our reign.

Hog Lake Falls

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The ground sounds hollow,

an echoing cadence of hoofbeats

follows among ponderosa, & a caw-caw

of wood raven, forest spies tattling

on our prattling happy chatter,

while hawks circle the pool

at the base of hog lake falls,

& balsamroot whispers

about the perfection of it all.

I Am, Reflecting on Easter

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I am the peace of the creator
of love, breath, forgiveness, savior
rising like crocus, and hyacinth,
daffodils, and the fattening bloom
of lilac; imagine my perfume
in the waking hours of spring.
You will place me in mason jars,
and dream of fireflies, far-off
memories of those you loved
in the vast and moldering green.








New Soul

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Some, come into the world as old souls,
like they’ve been here a hundred times,
a bit weary, wise, or jaded, made cautious
by pain & an understanding of human hearts.
But not my son, whose eyes saw the earth
as if he, and it, were just created.

Yes, from first breath he was a wanderer,
like his father in his lust for the world,
possibilities stretched out before him,
no person stranger, no place strange,
a modern day viking making his way
across an infinite, angry sea, with no map.

Unless, music is a map. Song after song,
his heart in waves of hard-plucked strings.
He sang loud, and I wondered how
he could pour himself out in front of crowds.
I see him, even now, upon the ocean,
his wooden ship, the waves, the sails.

Veterans of Dead Bones

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We are veterans of dead bones,
products of love, and its loss,
memorizers of last breaths,
and what letting go feels like.
The front line of memory gives way,
what we held in our hands,
dissolves, like water on clay–
muddy water, returning
to muddy ground, then dust;
it is a fate that awaits all of us:
empty arms, encircled of sacred air,
grasping at remnants
of what we valued there.

Things Poems Can’t Explain

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I searched metaphors to describe you,
the aspen’s branches beating against themselves,
waving for help, like desperate arms,

but that was the work of the wind.

The coyote, who devoured all except the head,
and what appeared to be a shoulder
of our girl cat, and left her among the weeds,

but that was the work of hunger.

Then I thought, maybe the foal,
when they drove off with his mother,
her whinnying, more distant and more distant,
as he crushed his tender body against the rails,

but that was the work of love being torn away.

No, in the end, I came up empty explaining
your helplessness against self-loathing,
our loss of hope, and leaving,

but that, it seems now, was the work of surviving–
surviving the things even poems can’t explain.

The Verdict of Trees

I surrender myself

to the verdict of trees,

better judges;

the quaking aspen,

shaking its many leaves

at me, or standing quiet,

as I plead my case—

waiting, the hardest part.

Trees, tell me

the verdict

of my life,

the verdict

of my heart

poured out in living,

where wind rattles

the bending branches,

sways the very tops

of our souls,

sometimes, snapping them off

during the darkest storms.

You, Me, and the Spokane River

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We rode dirt and mud,

through standing water,

like ponds, to verify

the sun, and life

of returning things:

Canada Geese, wood ravens,

mule deer, grazing at dusk,

and the river, surging

with the spring run off

of our souls, singing.