Polaris


Heather backed bramble

Craving Polaris

She bends to painful changes 

Bait

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Baiting, he says, “You’re a procrastinator.”

I ignore it a full three seconds and then bite:

“Some people have more to worry about than themselves.”

To which he replies, “You’re full of shit.”

I abstain.

“Why do you have to push everything to the last minute?  You know we had to get gas before we leave for the doctors…”

Just keep driving, eyes on the road, I insist to myself. I know he’s baiting.

I know how he deflects the dissatisfaction of an 82 year old man who needs to be driven to doctors now, and I pray for patience and composure to rise above my own self pity.

“I mean, it may be okay for you who always runs out of gas…” 

“Dad, I haven’t run out of gas…oh maybe once, but…”

“Yeah, don’t give me bullshit; you run out of gas the way you put everything off.”

Fucking traffic at 7:00 in the morning…it’s my one day off before I work tonight…

“You like living like that but I don’t like ruining cars like you do…”

“The car did not need gas; it was not even below a quarter of a tank, and your fucking neurotic obsession about insignificant bullshit doesn’t change that fact!!!”

“Yeah, sure, you know best. I’m not as smart as you. We all can’t be as smart as you.”

Shaking my head in silence, the anger spat out of me like a solar flare, scarring its landing like the faint white stitched line just below my abdomen ever reminding me that we evolve, leaving behind ancestral appendages no longer useful to us as outgrown beginnings. 

Baited, I bit. Again. Just waiting for the flip side…and three…two…one…

“But I appreciate everything you do for me. Really I do. I can’t thank you enough.”

And so it goes, we two relics, this dance we substitute for conversation underneath which lies halved relationships lost to time, decay, disorder and disease. 

Surfing Past 50

At 50, I learned to surf in the warm waters off Puerto Viejo,

A gift I’d promised myself if ever I flew the six hours across the ocean.

My birthday plus one day found me old enough to balance

Feet, thighs, hands and shoulders with a bouyant survivor’s jubilation.

On the day, the actually turning day, I wept for journeying so far,

Directionless so it was after all, despite the doing drive of delivery,

Tenacity and 1000 steps winding a mountainous book-lined stairway, 

To the peak that, having surfaced from the well, revealed a bottomless sea,

The very one upon which I defied gravity and gods sailing to the sands

Upon a finned polyurethane prosthetic to landlocked quinquagenarians.  

  

Atonality


We perform in atonal times, no guiding key.

Some allude to a world dystopian, technocratic oligarchs

And corporate heroes, when truth, politics and religion

Are pronounced (often spat) in acerbic yet nostalgic terms.

Truth? Irrelevant. 

Never a believer in absolutes, the relativity of all things

Now lapsed into the arbitrariness of myth or reality,

Falsehoods or evidence, justice or gamesmanship, 

I crave a concrete proven fact’s acknowledgement, 

A shared given or universal ‘yes ‘ we all nod to.

Power is what it has always been about, long plodding 

Or devastatingly explosively quick and slaughtering.

The one constant.

I’ve read that if we stop talking about race, patriarchy 

And binaries, they will disappear. 

No arbitrary superiority shall be pre-ordained.

Our children’s children will not know these prejudices.

But silence can also deafen the voice we hear

Inside ourselves, to assure us–even in the face of fools and fakery–

That we know the difference.

 
Credit: gillespiemusic.com

Maze

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I lost perspective inside a glass where light specked the rim and stem.
In the grasp of an elixir’s fume, heady visions blurred a memory stream rolling the former incarnations of ourselves above the candle beneath the rose: younger hands,  one soft elastic skinned balmy palm cupping a glass while the other two-finger rubbed a furrowed brow far less ravaged with ravines and splotches. 
We were four then, you, me and the girls, sitting tensely at the table, your anxiety spewing noxious gases until we began to dance a lovely quadrille atop the table.
No, but that couldn’t be true.
These ghosts danced smeared putty-stretched hug-tight to the glass’ girth.
Passing cars flashed illuminated dusty rays sprayed across the windows outside, inflicting tenderness and wince.
Accidental brush of your thin, gruff finger tips across mine startled us both awake, forcibly focusing my lenses to the doubly reflected salt and pepper shakers, standing table top like four drunken rooks bent and leaning on a checker-less board,
While we two dined alone, each lost in enclosed grapey reverie, the candle light flickered the final scene ere the first course’s arrival:
Two of us, illusions backlit against scattered chronometric flares melting us buttered like toast and figs, foie gras oily on a tongue awash in Muscat, scalloped leeks across cellular cerebral connections as numerous as galaxy stars.
“Let me see that label,” I commanded.
“It’s a 2006 Pomerol,” he offered, “a very good year and it has a pleasant nose” and then we once again alit on common ground.

In the winter of our spring: Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

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I miss you each morning and night, each time I wish you “good morning” and “good night” 

To your near feature-less face, you who once held my gaze as the world’s. 

While you pulse, the one I see slowly vibrate the skin stretched thinly across your brow, 

Your words and eyes silently speak another story. 

I miss you, mom, more each day as you, cruel tease, walk us slowly–inching us through the doorway. 

The first poem I ever published was yours–befitting the logophile you were.
A Misty Mother’s Winter Birth Song

On a Winter Solstice morning I carry wood to the fire

and stoke the arcing flame’s urge to obliterate night.

Borean breath burns those bones of trees slant ways

fueling gulps of scorching air borne to the sun’s rays.
………………………………………………
Mother-child squats and stares her eyes pierced red

wondering where the winds have taken off the dead.

Her child-mother speaks no more of willow branches.

A baby gone old too, a sooty, sallow skinned witness.
………………………………………………
Sheltering arms of her wisdom’s rock a bye morrows

I miss, her torch words of smoked images we chose.

Mother mine of childlike mind your birth was foretold.

Alit on Winter’s day, a searing blame to mothers cold.
………………………………………………
With spoken mind’s hibernation, a wintry song is nigh.

Buried deep in fiery sleep is sensor twitching sunrise.

Yet a love surrounds her misty eyed daylight slumber

as Elven sprites spark shards shot of ember’d lumber.
……………………………………………..
She is my meadow lullaby cracking the icy pines now,

a cataract covered window pane framing a faint brow.

The pitter patterned words of incantations made flesh

are a witch’s brood of progeny, a sweep of stony ash.
……………………………………………..
The shortest light of the longest night brightens a sky

she never sees anymore in wheel chaired walk a bye.

Maternal flickers of the northern lights in babies’ arms

is left the love encircling a stormy eye’s chaos calmed.

Pre-Mother’s Day

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My children are leaving,
Attending a birthday party
For the evening while their
Father and I dine on wine
By heating lamp on a blue-
Awning’d patio across town.

I wish them a fine evening
And they do likewise for me,
An amicable arrangement, but
I mourn the loveliness of us,
We four of the indominatable
Good middle class’ right luck.

When we were knitted kin, we
All in a bunch, toe to toes
Seated on couches watching
Princesses and Bambi, Barney
And doggies on two leashes
Herding babies on front lawns.

I picture them gone and grown,
Harvesting their own with seeds
Sown before knowing themselves,
Remnants of history forwarded
To Mother’s Days gushing love
Walking out the door waving bye.

Cruel witness to our days’ ends
My own mother sits motionless
Waiting for doors opening wide
Ready for her entry’s surrender
While nibbling-choking pear bits
Sucking air in to wind it down.

Stretches not cycles mark time
Willing us expand and contract
As the earth spins us like dice
Numbers arising lucky and lost
Tossed like mystery dryer socks
Ever seeking our missing halves.

Health? No Care

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Stitching quilted time surgical square by square, a hodgepodge of olive drabs and polluted sky blues in pattern--patient in, patient out--
a nurse-maid wends her way through plastic bags plump and warm with piss
and blood-stained pillow cases where patients puke spittle in their sleep.

A helper of the sick, a cold hand but a hand nevertheless, she pricks fingers and asses, plugs up spills poured in gut-twisting fiery pain with a pat and a clean sheet, plight of the sick, wedged between death and dying her daily duties.

Goddess in green, she performs impeccably clean, masked, gowned and gloved, hairless and germ-free--safety's illusory garments for germ workers, spreading disease and then getting paid for treating the infected in the circle of death cheats.

A man who survived contracting a deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria from what they inserted inside his body, contaminated just by existing behind the sterilized hospital walls, lost his will to live, a potential suicide by health care.

Like homework sent home from school, he was delivered home to nurse himself, take back his own health with needles to prep and pop, blood to digitally track and communicate, which was too much to do for his weakened old self, so he opted out.

A list of twenty ten-step perilous operations to complete for his own mending, too soon after his near-death visit to the sleepless halls of buzz button calls and electronic beeps of monitors ironically measuring life's slippage.

Too weak to stand, he gathered his will, lost his way, awash in the maze of pop-in nurse-teachers, marching in step to medical time, protocols and measures, without care, dispassionately immune to measure more than mortal drops of human blood.