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

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Unfinished Business

The universe lies snugly tucked
inside my head.
Only my private time scale
has been altered, somewhat--
I await the final leap of the tiger.
Under the old paint of all biological
possibilities, morning and noontime

have come and gone into the dark void
around the roots that hold shape and size
and color in focus.
The House that Jack Built
becomes a hall of mirrors, a maze
of horrors. Nightmare Alley,
the beginning of learning

is not spectacular
the way sex is spectacular, for instance,
the way the Fourth-of-July is spectacular.
Still, I dance to this dispassionate drummer.
Restless sticks rap out messages
that define the fall of sparrows,
the toil of lilies,
and all degrees of human contact
from sleep to deepest coma,
to death itself.
And still I have not finished
with the Judas drums,
the death-rattle of breath,
with the random motion of stars
or gulls wings beating on waves.

photo: ozproductions

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Pentecostals, 1948

Week after week
they climbed their six splintered
pentecostal stairs to dance
like wonderful trained
bears, climbing, falling,
singing, their hands that ordinarily
held books or washed babies
or sometimes counted out money
to pay the milkman,

clapping joy
as if they held tambourines,
laughing, their eyes lit
with some inner glory like a fire:

Oh holy, holy, they sang
and tossed their heads to a strong
upbeat rhythm. Oh brother, oh sister,
Oh holy, their housekeys jangling
in their pockets, their coins jingling
as the plate was passed.

What would I have dropped
that summer night--absolved--into their plate
as they danced, howling their songs
holy, and more holy, like a circus troupe,
but my ignorance, an offering of
my two dazed eyes,
my pious, stunned tongue,
my baseball,
my cap pistol and a red roll of caps,
a white Life Saver, and
four glass black marbles still warm
from my hand?

under the glass-black sky and looking in
at their window, it was awesome,
and I wished I knew the words.

This is a Poem that Breathes

Of being alive, of luminous eyes
Of girls and boys, quick threads of blood,
Bodies of lovers moving
With a surfeit of fevers
Or holding their desperate aloneness
Like violets in a bowl.

This is a poem then
For wild beasts lying together,
For trees, for the laughter
Of my sons, for their gradually
Lengthening shadows flying
In new suits, new shoes,
For their quicksilver bodies and
Their breath like snow.

This is a poem of living
By leaps or dying by degrees.
Of rotting under the sun or lifting
Instead into a pulsation of light
Without quarrels borders checkpoints
Generals gunpowder causes flags
Or blood in the streets, a poem
Of morning devouring hunger and the end
Of the slaughter of innocents.

Only children dancing,
Lovers inexhaustibly fused,
Multitudes hallowed as doves.


Your see-through faces have
run together like watercolor
on oatmeal pages
all my lovers buried alive

I never said goodbye
never knew how
I stored you up instead
in this cluttered attic

inside my head, in a
brown box rough with dust
and tied with barbed wire
for ribbons

one bound creature
of several shadowed hearts
and many limbs
all your vanished words

your brown eyes or blue eyes
all of you locked
like a bunch

of mad or hunchbacked uncles
hidden away
who grind their teeth
in my sleep

I have been to the Mountain. And while all knowledge gained might not be of equal value, the things I learned this week are golden. Plus, it was fun! We are exhausted, from attending classes from 8:30 am until 9:30 pm for the last five days (which meant getting up at 6 and not getting home until 11, but it was worth it! Twenty-two thousand people attended 1,100 different classes offered at BYU's Education Week. The campus was beautiful, all the flowers were in bloom, the mountains were gorgeous, and the weather was nice. The teachers were fantastic and inspired, letting us hunt and peck around their brains and talents and souls in stuff like Music and the Arts, Films, Writing, Communication Skills, Dance (I don't dance. This is the main reason my husband married me. At least this is what he says), History, Government, Law, and Human Relations. (I took several excellent classes on Middle Eastern Perspectives, Islam, etc.--loved them all!) They had classes on Finance (Boring!) and Literature, and Psychology, and Religion (of course, this being BYU!). I had eight classes a day for five wonderful days! Can't wait for next year....

Anyway. Since I was away I thought I would share another poem for Poetry Thursday, one of mine (not that Walt Whitman's did not fill the bill--hmmmm. What, exactly does that mean:fill the bill?) So here's my POETRY THURSDAY, --Time--pt. 2


Mid-life I discover
the girl is gone-- the house
she lived in
inhabited by strangers.
Is this the crisis
I was led to expect
would unbury itself
from my mother's flesh
and spread like an infection
in an untended orchard?

My father took fruit
from wild trees, cut out the worms,
sugared the remains in honey.
The knobby red pieces drowned
in his sticky bowl like candy.

I used to think those wild pears
and apples bitter, the shriveled
orchard overgrown. This was a place
where men were kept
like yellow dogs in pens.
Like all things
it was transient. The black-haired
bastard boys who stood
at the wire fences,
the slant-eyed women who cried,
unable to embrace this insanity
are faceless and formless now
as the shadows of those skinny trees
they left behind.

The truth is
old orchards must be burnt
with all their worms, and
new trees planted. The strangers
who plant, mid-life,
luckily may find a girl in the ashes,
raise her. At least
she may have her share.
The sleeves of fire
may make her beautiful again.

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.