DEDICATIONS, PLEDGES, COMMITMENTS. For the past. For my own path. For surprises. For mistakes that worked so well. For tomorrow if I'm there. For the next real thing. Then for carrying it all through whatever is necessary. For following the little god who speaks only to me. --William Stafford

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Ballad for Emily *

When Death comes by my door
And smiles at me within
I'll gather up my Dancing Shoes
And Waltz away with Him --

My feet, tho' never touching Earth
Will Waltz up wind and down,
And I will wear my Wrapping Shroud
As a Wedding Gown.

When Death comes by my door
And brings me to His bed
I'll ask of God no other
Dark Lover in His stead --

But hold Him close, and seal his lips
With bold kisses Forever --
Nor moon nor stars shall skake us
While we abide Together.

When Death comes by my door
And smiles at me within
I'll gather up my Dancing Shoes
And Waltz away with Him.

( ala Emily Dickinson )

painting: Death and the Maiden, by Louis Kahan

Old Man, Get Your Hand Off My Knee

Old Man,
your time is up.
Get your greedy hand off my knee.

I'm not yours

Woo me
with heroic tales of
your victories,
show me your etchings,
tell me how delicate
are my ankles--
how delicious
my lips and fingertips.

Tell me again
what a friend you are
and how desperately
you want me.

I believe you. I do.

you will make our bed
and I
will lie in it.

when other embraces
have all grown cold,
perhaps I will even welcome
your impassioned touch.

Someday, Old Man.

Not yet.

(This, of course, is not about a dirty old man in any literal sense. This Old Man, metaphorically speaking, is death. The poem was written in celebration of passing
intact the five-year point in a battle with cancer.)


In "The Mother," Gwendolyn Brooks writes honestly about the pain and anguish of abortion: "Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you all." Lucille Clifton wrote her own "Lost Baby Poem: ...the time I dropped your almost body down to meet the waters under the city and run with the sewage to the sea ... you would have been born into winter in the year of the disconnected gas and no car...." My own "lost baby" poem was written years after the event, but the emotion that inspired it was as fresh as it had been eleven years before I found the words.

Forgive me.
I never knew you,
(male or female?),
never heard your choked cries
there in your laboring bed.

I never dreamed the color
of your eyes,
never felt the wet push
of your head.

I never knew your body
curled in mine,
(female or male?), then
forgive me,
you were dead,
the sudden spreading blood
washed red from the sterile table.

I wonder again and again
what roaring incinerator
tended to ashes the tiny hands
I could not warm?
Did you know pain?

In my heart
I wrap you up against the rain
and ever we rock & lullaby
while Venus rises steady overhead.
I think my love
created you in vain. In my mind
your sleepy eyes
are blue.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ulla-Lulla *

He is gone, forever,
and ever the dim day breaks
and ever the day miscarries.

Bang your head upon the wall,
kick and shout and rage,
scream, weep tears, and pray,

fly out in fury, revolt,
surrender, withdraw,
lie down like a stone.

It will not go away.
Nothing changes.
Nothing changes,

though the stripped rim of the heart break
and the see-saw prattle and clack
of the barefoot dead

scold, cast blame, accuse --
Oh, my God, it's time for bed again,
my God, it's time for bed.

* lullaby

(From: In Willy's House -- For: the children of the bombing at Qana,2006)

About Me

My photo
1. In dreams I am often young and thin with long blond hair. 2. In real life I am no longer young, or thin, or blonde. 3. My back hurts. 4. I hate to sleep alone. (Fortunately I don't have to!) 5. My great grandfather had 2 wives at once. 6. I wish I had more self-discipline. (I was once fired from a teaching position in a private school because they said I was "too unstructured and undisciplined." --Who, me??? Naaaahhh....) 7. I do not blame my parents for this. Once, at a parent-teacher conference, the teacher told me my little boy was "spacey." We ALL are, I told her. The whole fan damily is spacey. She thought I was kidding. I wasn't. 8. I used to travel with a theater reperatory company. My parents weren't happy about this. 9. My mother was afraid that I would run off and paint flowers on my cheeks and live in a commune, and grow vegetables. I once smoked pot. ONE TIME. 10. I don't drink or smoke. (Or swear, much. Well, I drink milk, and water, and orange juice, and stuff. Cocoa. I love Pepsi.) 11. Most of my friends are invisible. 12. I am a poet and a writer. All of my writing on these pages is copyrighted. Borrowing (without acknowledgment) is a sin.