The Secret Song of the Dead

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Looking back, I see you

looking back, smiling,

I say your name,

as if to summon

the dead to life,

and it works,

for a moment.

It’s winter,

and the earth feels

like your absence,

the once living things,

here, but not here.

How many times

did you sit

next to me looking

out at the aspen?

And now, here it is

bare again, waving

its naked branches again.

Today, it looks like

it’s doing The Twist,

and, I think, it hears

a song I don’t, no,

a song I can’t, hear.

Looking back, I see you

looking back, smiling,

your secrets, a dance,

a song that plays

while the world listens,

and twists to a secret melody,

it cannot hear.

Are You On Twitter?

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Are you on Twitter, if so, comment with your Twitter handle, and thoughts, below.

I’ve found Twitter to be a great resource for writers. Hashtags like #AmWriting #WritersCommunity #PoetryCommunity, and many others, help you find people like yourself.

You can also link your WordPress account to Twitter in your settings, and it will automatically publish your posts.

You can find me at @LindaDavisPoet on Twitter.

Word to the wise–don’t get sucked into the negative stuff. There’s plenty of that. But there’s also great writing, supportive people, and various journals.

The Plan of the Unplanned

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“It isn’t the experience of today that drives men mad. It is the remorse for something that happened yesterday.” Bob Burdette

The tape that plays

is not always a good tape,

or an accurate replay

of what happened.

What you said,

what I said,

over thirteen years,

a million things.

No, an infinity

of words and actions

that speak louder

than words, truer

than our memories

of one another.

I told you,

when I finally leave,

it will be forever,

and I think you believed me.

If I could do over

I would do the same,

and wish you would.

No part changed.

No person gone.

No person, gone,

brought back.

Remorse? I want to say,

No. I want to say

this unplanned chaos

is part of a plan.

I want to look back,

someday, and say,

This is what I wanted,

where I wanted to be.

Carpe Diem to Infinity, Asshole

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Half a day is lost every year,

and today I miss them.

Twenty six days, gone

where dim memory resides.

Was that me on my father’s lap,

or, as my sister said, my brother?

I only know what they tell me,

and how seeing it makes me feel.

As I age, I grow desperate

for the days, and the memories

of the days, do you?

Carpe diem raised to infinity,

as in,

Give me my damn days back,

asshole.

And now I feel I should apologize,

for using asshole in a poem,

and admit, too, I’m not sure

who the asshole is that stole them:

me, you, God, or anyone

who says the baby in a pink sleeper,

whose father’s arms are wrapped ‘round

her twice, as if to confirm,

she was, after all, wanted,

is not me, but my brother,

who longs to feel wanted, too.

Self, Be Kind, Self, Be Strong

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He said, Tell yourself who you are,

or others will make you a minor character

in a play where they are the stars.

So, I gave myself permission to be

a poet, a musician,

a good all-of-the-above:

wife, mother, sister, friend—

the many roles I inhabited,

but always felt deficient.

I have rarely known love

in the way I need love,

yet, I am surrounded with love.

Tell me, self, where have you been?

Why haven’t you defended me

against the dark thoughts?

Why haven’t you picked me up

and protected me,

held me in your arms,

and told me I am worthy

of these simple things?

The Day I Knew the Way

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it was a dream, and hard to tell

where borders and countries began,

but there was a dirt path,

and only I knew the way.

The dirt was soft, and the day

beautiful, I was barefoot

and running freer than ever I have

in wakened-life. It felt good

running in a warm sunshine,

ducking under the Velvet Mesquite,

with their canopies, their shade,

their branches, like open doors

to some better, magical place.

I liked the dream very much,

and could have kept running,

but I came to a lone house,

stark in the barren desert.

A blonde girl stood outside a fence,

scared and holding a gun,

and just like that,

I was shot in the arm.

I said it was a dream, didn’t I?

So, you won’t be surprised

I was impressed with her aim,

rather than the pain of being shot,

and I had to go pee.

I looked for a bathroom,

but had to wake to find one.

What is memory, I asked

later over coffee,

a little box in our brain,

a string of pictures?

How do we get there?

Memory is what we tell ourselves,

he said, about what we see

and what we feel.

You see, when Maggie died,

she passed into a prairie falcon,

she banged against windows,

day after day after day,

then left a last gift of quail,

and traveled the road of her happiness

to some place better than here.

Months later, the sun smiled,

and I ran on dirt, soft as baby powder,

passed through door after door,

on long, liquid legs, more of wing

than bone, and only I knew—

only I knew the way.

Even the Seahorse

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An amicable divorce is the scariest kind,

because we prefer our American ones

be macabre—on the edge of killing

without actually killing—

like, she tried to run him over,

but she also tried to miss

and it all worked out, because

he married his lover,

she married hers,

and each say they’re happy.

Brian told me—

Sometimes, divorce is a mercy

and just like that

the church granted his annulment.

Gibbons, wolves, french angelfish,

shingleback skinks:

monogamous for life.

Even the seahorse,

whose males carry the young,

and sandhill cranes

with their unison calls,

commit to each other

and never look back.

Yet, tell me what the seahorse

was asked to forgive:

a lie, an indiscretion,

a we don’t love each other anymore?

I literally woke and found you gone;

twenty years later,

I still don’t miss you.

The American Flag: What We Ache For

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2009: A flag at half-mast, waving

proudly over a little hill

to the east of our house.

My husband and I pass it

on our daily walk,

and wonder who has died.

Imagine: a dirt road, fences

that demarcate ten acre plots,

meat cows, meaning dairy cows,

unfortunate to be born boys,

and given the names T-bone,

Ribeye, and Sirloin Steak.

All three, sold for forty-five dollars

to the man who waves the flag,

everyday, at half-mast.

He’s a good man,

which some would say

is a man in his seventies, a navy vet, a Christian.

All three boxes, checked off.

He also cares for his wife,

who suffered a stroke

brought on by a brain tumor.

She’s in a wheel chair,

she has difficulty remembering words,

she’s a bit judgmental–

musters enough words to let me know

she doesn’t care for my cooking.

I try to be empathetic—

Neighbors, what a strange thing,

thrown together by proximity, land,

houses, maybe a view.

What brought you there,

the only thing you have in common.

But there you are with all your need.

That year, we had the snowiest season ever,

ninety three point six inches,

but no tractor. That meant two feet of snow

in our driveway and kids needing

to get to school, us to work.

Would you believe me if I told you

that same man, that man

flying his flag, everyday at half-mast,

was out in our driveway at six am,

clearing a path to the barn,

clearing a path to the road?

We didn’t even ask it of him,

wouldn’t have thought to ask it.

I imagine you’re wondering,

why I keep saying– he flew the flag at half mast,

but maybe you already guessed

it was because he disapproved the president,

felt the choice would ruin the country.

Thus, a nation in mourning–

when really, it was only him mourning.

It was him saying, I hurt

because of your choice. I ache,

because you voted for a man I opposed.

(Maybe he was saying he was pissed off, too.)

It’s just a flag,

but at half-mast, in my mind,

it became a division:

the day I walked our pony down the road,

and she escaped me and ran

to the base of his flagpole,

the nights the great horned owl

perched on his flagpole

hunting our cats,

the snow days from school,

ten of them that year,

where our kids, and his grandkids,

rode sleds and snowboards down the hill,

while one would stand and look for cars

under his hurting flag.

The flag wouldn’t come back up,

not until his wife died and the house sold,

and his meat cows were replaced

with more meat cows and a horse operation–

and, because it was 2016, a new president

the half-mast man would approve,

but would make others hurt, ache,

kneel, and fly their own flags,

on their own flagpoles, at half-mast.

A Goodbye to the Crippling Desk

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The crippling desk, for six years,

granite topped, and bright

with the computer’s glare,

the tapping of keys,

the winding path of a mouse,

the click, click, clicking,

a sickening tick-tock of life.

Today, I say goodbye,

trade you in for a beautiful chaos,

throw myself to the world,

the raven, the falcon who tried to enter

through the upstairs window,

the horses and wolfhounds,

with their joyful lope and pounding

of the ground, the music, the words,

the gray, but wide-open sky.

The Love I’m Talking About

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We all deserve to be loved—

and when I say loved,

I mean desperately—

the kind of love that clings to you,

that winds you together with the sheets,

that says, when we die

we want to be placed together

intertwined, like this

that knocks on the locked door

because your lover

can’t sleep without you—

twenty years is a long time

and look what you survived

to be here—

his arms wrapped round your chest,

hands, cupping your breasts

The Herd, My Family

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The familiar sounds of mi familia,

a hu-hu-hu-hu-hu of many hellos,

and a foal’s heart-shaped muzzle

pressed through the bars,

waiting for a welcoming kiss.

There’s only one way for the heart to go,

and that is up, up,up, where the soul,

the spirit, the thing we know

that is delighted there,

has finally founds its home.

The Breathing

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There is a fine line,

so skinny, so fragile;

what is,

on the other side,

breathing hard.

A horse can hear,

a deer can hear it,

but we do not,

and we live, mostly,

without fear.

Recently, the paths diverged:

what should have been,

but wasn’t,

what was,

but shouldn’t have been,

and I wonder

if those two ways,

continue in different spheres.

I  hear their breathing,

each year, stronger,

and something, like love,

pulling me there.

What is time,

but a rotation under the sun,

a perception of what has been,

a perception of moving

toward what is to come.

 

 

 

Prayers At Whitestone Rock 1

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Even the birds are drawn

to the face of Whitestone Rock:

Golden Eagle, Bald Eagle, Osprey,

and the Blue Heron,

with its long, liquid wings.

We are gathered in prayer,

trespasses forgiven, under the shade

of an eight hundred foot cliff.

Its granite face, bathed in wisdom,

looks down upon us;

give us this day, and forgive us.

Absolution comes swiftly,

because it was always there,

where the trout jump in celebration,

and feast on dragonflies, butterflies,

mosquitoes, and scraps of our bread.

The Columbia, whose waters never end,

like the reflection of our souls

naked and frail,

baptized in cold water,

as we float on our backs,

and look up at the altar.