Gemini’s Birthday Song

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A Gemini morning, humid, Eastern heat-spilled impatience and placenta to the floor,

Happy birthday to you

A baby double minded, twice as sure of his kingship poured from his womb-like throne

Happy birthday to you

Onto polished bamboo floor, flat-rolled expanse from bedroom to corridor then veranda.

Happy birthday dear Gemini

Whose royalty slips past a princely generation, crown-less, buried beneath rice paddies?

Happy birthday to you

A squandering son, spendthrift and sensual, carried epicure’s pleasure palace to the abyss,

How old are you now?

Never the same, depleted, arrested at shore along middle class havens harboring mediocre

How old are you now?

Table wear and linen unrefined, delicacies grown bloated, mutational and cloying starchy

How old are you now, dear Gemini.

Sweet-salty in heavy-handed cookery, fraudulent design and mockery, a chef’s despair.

How old are you now?

Proud May’s retreat, your promises half-fulfilled pool like soaking wet wool slogging

For he’s a jolly good fellow

Footfall’s dawn soft pacing to a slipper shuffle, grey questioning the doubtful days.

For he’s a jolly good fellow

A heyday haunting lingers along fleshy palms, midriffs and necks, a puffy sight.

For he’s a jolly good fellow

Back-look now, mid-life, sandwiched between regret and hope–a dual mind–

That nobody can deny

Celebration calls a prince-of-the-day to candle-caked song once more.

 

 
Credit: Gemini on Pinterest

Tomorrow it will rain

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Tomorrow it will rain and clean us.

Tomorrow the winds will blow, the

Seagulls cry and the oceans below

Swallow us deliciously deep inside.

Tomorrow it will rain sorrow’s smile

Amniotic wide soothing wild comfort,

As prickly mist-spray freckles faces

That gather and drip in blind rivulets.

The forest hounds heard it first again.

Tomorrow’s earth welled in tears will

Return us breathing wet gilled gasps

Coughing air empty as the promise 

Of flight in flapping wingless arms to

A raging sun’s scourge to proud men.  

But tomorrow’s rain will drown sins of

Stories told and re-told, lies in truth,

Til we too believe the cause-effect, a

Cumuli soothsayer’s scientific stream,

Meteorologist, fortune-teller and god,

Tomorrow it will rain and clean us all.

Taraxacum

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A metamorphosed dandelion lay intact  in a vast grassy field

Where children played in muddy boots and soccer cleats,

Where footballs landed in small arms no bigger than a pigskin

Punted by big-shoed daddies tossing at small footed brothers.

The sun beat the grass and sent the hornets flying as players

Passed the ball with scuffed leather knotted Adidas and Nikes.

Even after the beach folding chairs and rainbow shade umbrellas

Came Dragging across fields drying from the morning showers,

She stood straight peeking above the tallest blade, puff and stem,

One lone lion’s tooth floret-filled seed head unfazed, full bloom

Miraculously untrammeled, an uncrushed testament to fortune

And delicate obedience to the will of a higher chaos than ours.

Jousting the gods


The old man complains once again that he’s dying.

My immediate response kicks in: “You’re not dying.”

The main thing is to speak in monotone reassurance.

“You’re not dying,” I repeat. “I’m not ready for you to go.”

And we have nothing more to say the rest of the way.

Our third or fourth trip to disease harbor, we pray.

The edge we negotiate each day exhausts us both,

He teetering to the right and me pulling him back left.

We battle each under the armor of our own skin, an

Aged man and his aging daughter jousting the gods.

Red is the Color of Pride


He gave me that look, the one 

Half pity half smirk,

Like sympathy, cringing and

Glee all at once.

I recognized that look, maybe

Gave it to someone sometime 

Myself, but tonight I was the

Target of derision; “Just kidding,”

He said of course, after insinuating

I was not acting my age or regressing

To some teenage former life. He 

Mostly likes me, I think, not one to

Put me down, but there it was.

And I was struck with a hint of

shame, or something close to it, in

My smudged jeans and t-shirt, the

Swept back unkempt hair, and

Stained sneakers, and this place, I

Know I need to let go of, just take

That leap, brave the chance of more.

Uncertainty:  this sudden pride, I lost 

Not long ago and never missed til now, 

not even noticing its disappearance, 

Undeserving and unwarranted, so now 

 After tonight’s blush–pride–have

I fallen backward or forward?

A Child Grows Weary

 
A child grows weary and crooked in her 

furrowed family’s embrace.

Unhappiness long etched lines in their faces,

Trace gashes from daggers honed by meaningless jobs, 

Repetitive steps, thoughts and temple-rubbing or hair

Pulling to fill gas tanks and pantries,

Emptiness in the earning, gathering, and slipping

Through grated fingers, past throbbing hearts’ content, 

Devalued and alone, lost in dreams of stopping, 

Just ceasing: road-miles, emails, phone calls, pulling here

Pushing now over there, back there again, counting up, down,

Eager for a weekend collapsed– to create a moment, 

Build a tower, topple a sand castle, and rub sea granules

through the sensitive skin dipped between outspread toes.

A child might misunderstand her father’s misery, her

Mother’s edges on especially rough days. 

A child might suffer, sliced and bled,

Her joy punctured by worry, burden and weighty 

Unbelievably unknowable interminably slow sinking

Beyond her breath-leaking life raft.

 
Photo: Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother

Road Trip


Travel jumpstarts wonder. 

Leaving the usual haunts along the same paths to and from work, market or eateries, draws out the dormant words, smoldered sparks awaiting flint. 

Nothing but changing scenery piques alertness, imagery and observation so profoundly. 

I eat nature.  

Travel bits piece large land masses speeding roadside to tiny impressions, ideas and memory fragments, creating a large mosaic of tile-words. 

As I write, I fly over the Pacific on my way to Seattle to meet a connecting flight to Spokane, where she awaits.

More likely she waits for my call: “I’m here.” 

She and I will drive the distance Google reports as 19 and a 1/2 hours, but I know better. 

Last June, we drove her to Spokane for school. 

She left school–and Spokane–in December to come home and heal.

Last week, she finally returned to the life she began to make there before the unfortunate detour, the accident.

Her head.

She, who took me to a radical feminist art show last April, who sometimes wears a “cunt” pin, who sports Klimt’s The Kiss line drawing of two women tattooed above her ankle, and who smirkingly cranks up Taylor Swift’s “We are never getting back together” on the car radio, will be my car companion across three states homeward.

Road trip.

Just like last year, the rain astonishes us, its violent insistence.

And again, the greenness of green, the way rain pelts the tinny Honda framed windows reminds me of crackling gum chewers, and the nod to engineers knowing that windshield wipers need three or four speeds, these three I recall in a whirlwind road-swallowing marathon beside a semi-conscious travel mate.

She peered into satan’s screen for 23 of the 24 hours. 

But she never could figure out how to find the nearest vegan restaurant to the five freeway in downtown, perhaps too daft from sleeplessness or not acquainted with practical phone features as much as the camera, social media apps and texting.

I grow older in bounding leaps, too old for freezing, middle-of-the-night rest stops along two-lane, farm-house roadways without gas stations for 94 miles and cramped, compact car cabins designed for legless sleepers.

It could have been the blue moon.

I drove and drove, sidling mountain edges; through snowy pines and meadows, rain-soaked forests and cloud-burst flashes drenching miles of almond trees squared off in rows blurring into golden heather fields dotted with black Jerseys ruminating time and space in their masticant jowly bovine stares prescient with the soon-approaching L.A. traffic psychosis.

And home.

Only my biceps carry the road residuals: the mindless painful wheel gripping in the desperate fight against gravity’s theory. 
 

Thanatos’ grip

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While I watch the apple un-peel, fix
Itself, I linger in null space,

Avoided aftermath, just between
Speculation and the deed is done.

I’m re-tired, now dogs barking in
The night’s just one more sign, like

Leaky bladders and bland food, apples
The exception. Pings, dings and

Pop-ups neither move nor inspire me to
Seek, dread or despair any longer.

Words dare me to, but fail to enamor, not
Like sleep, food or crapping does in

Human reduction to thin necessity, like
Light, an illusory mass beating us down

Pressing us in struggle, your God against
Mine, Eros ahead falling to Thanatos’ grip.

Coffee Trees


“I wanted to grow into a tree when I was five because the trees around my house looked like they all had arms that reached to the sky or really high places like rooftops, and my arms were so short I could not even reach the counter to steal back contraband my mom confiscated: cookies, silly putty my brother and I fought over, and fake clip-on earrings snuck from my mother’s jewelry box.”

I stare at her perfectly halved hard boiled egg chin as she speaks, mesmerized by its perfect oval shape.

“The Wizard of Oz kinds of trees all bramble and sparsely leafed. Not because they moved or were threatening but because they looked like outstretched arms. I wanted arms to heaven.”

I laugh. “Sounds like you’re going to break into song or start a book Elizabeth Gilbert might write. You know transformation…arms to the heavens…that sort of thing.”

“No, I’m serious,” she counters. “I wanted to grow up to be a tree, a coffee tree. That’s what they were in my mind, for some strange reason. I have no idea what a coffee tree is, but that’s what they were. And for the longest time I could not shake that dream, had literal dreams of being a tree like some Greek goddess. Who was it, Diana? No, Daphne, escaping Apollo, only I wasn’t running from anyone into tree hood. It felt natural, like I would evolve organically into a tree, starting with my fingertips elongating into thin spikes with wispy leaves drooping from the tiniest reaches of the branches that my arms would become. I could almost feel it then…even now, a little. I can summon up that feeling.”

“How curious, specific and lovely,” I silently acknowledged. “I wish I had imagined that as a five year old. But I was too busy wondering if God could wipe out nightmares for me or if I could somehow fly without wings or nun’s habits like the flying nun did.”

 
Credit: fineartandyou.com

I want to be Esther Perel

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She is just so cool and says everything I need and want to say.

Commenting in Salon last month on Beyoncé’s Lemonade video that grapples, in part, with her cheating partner (“I know you’re cheating on me.”), Esther Perel in the article titled “Grief sedated by orgasm, orgasm heightened by grief”: Beyoncé, “Lemonade” and the new reality of infidelity“, applauds the singer’s frankness and platform used to plunge the public into the taboo infidelity, a conversation which Perel believes should be opened repeatedly. In fact, she believes that’s her job as a therapist and author–to help couples find themselves and their options past the ravine that betrayal opens between partners.

After noting the European and American moralistic difference in how couples suffer infidelity, she suggests Americans need to lose the strictures on discussion and judgment of both perpetrator and victim (think Hillary Clinton for staying when she could have left), which shames and thereby stifles examination of and learning from infidelity to repair,  renew or reject relationships shattered by infidelity.

After profiling American attitudes about the subject, she exhorts:

Given this reality, it’s time for American culture to change the conversation we’re having about infidelity—why it happens, what it means and what should or should not happen after it is revealed. The subject of affairs has a lot to teach us about relationships—what we expect, what we think we want, and what we feel entitled to. It forces us to grapple with some of the most unsettling questions: How do we negotiate the elusive balance between our emotional and our erotic needs? Is possessiveness intrinsic to love or an arcane vestige of patriarchy? Are the adulterous motives of men and women really as different as we’ve been led to believe? How do we learn to trust again? Can love ever be plural? 

These are important questions to begin the healing and ensuing path in any relationship that is pierced with this not always fatal rending. As Perel states, infidelity has existed longer than marriage, though she does not justify it as right for having lasted. She merely points to the reality of its persistence.

And just as Beyoncé is fire and ache, Perel is compassionate logic and measured reason, which is her (both) allure.

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