In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"


6 Comments

Ten Years Ago I Wanted to Pierce My Nose: Poem 14

Ten years ago I wanted to pierce my nose
 
but I joined a firm instead.
 
My partners thought it wild,
 
clashing with the cobalt blue seriousness
 
of our office walls and wisdom.
 
So I waited til I left the firm to pierce my nose.
 
My daughters had theirs pierced by then.
 
Yet I caved to pressure in the last minute:
 
it will jeopardize your reputation, and
 
the outcome of your case
 
may be prejudiced, prejudged, predetermined
 
by another’s preconceived notions
 
about piercings and morals and drugs,
 
noise like that, which I know is just bull shit.
 
But I chickened out, and now my nose
 
has grown long with age, and the piercing
 
would not look right wedged between wrinkled
 
doubt and oily regrets oozing from gaping pores.
 
I’ve made a mess of this decision.
 
Has it been ten years since I wanted to pierce my nose?


Leave a comment

Moody Tree: Poem 12


Your name means mountain ebony,
a certain Bauhinia,
common to coastal California,
but I call you moody.
You own my front yard,
dominate passages and pathways,
burgeoning weight of verdure or
leafy reaches for spider’s webby catch to
neighboring anchors–rose bush branch or
car parked side mirrors.
How you please my wispy-boned mother braked still,
the dog leashed to the wheel chair,
under a relenting shade,
cooling an afternoon zephyr.
In spring or autumn, sometimes winter too,
you boom-blossom burbling orchids,
delicate pink and purple hazy bells
that sometimes ring in summer too.
That’s when your leaves burst butterfly hearts
of hunter green fringed in lemon-lime edges, a
hovering, healthy, verdant vibrancy.
But on any given week without reason,
your leaves brown at the edges,
then all the way through,
baring skeletal bramble
like bones of the cancerous,
exposed,
radiated,
burnt
for the winter–or summer complaint,
marring the yard, baring the hidden wreckage behind you.
That’s when the pods hang dry in rusts and reds, seeds
to bake or burst, sturdy uterine drip packets,
like dry, pea pod icicle tears crying,
yet unyielding to the grip.
And the next week,
they’re gone,
replaced by the brilliant buds as
poking penile plants peek through tightly tubed petals,
orchid splendor,
the softer side on a misty Monday.
Until Tuesday.
When the mood strikes.
Which outfit to wear for today?


Leave a comment

On the Heath: Poem 13

Alone on the Heath, a purple flower
where there once was dry reedy sand,
you, friend, rode the train to dusty plains
with me–and slept through shifting tides
along California beaches, we two, strangers
to this land, and no less to each other.

I watched your sleeping breast rise and settle,
like the rhythm of our first freedom days, lazed
into adulthood, we seekers of flame, depths
of our soulful hearts, walking poetry, youth
alluring to each other–comrades–and evil too.

I saw you leave that day, through cloudy eyes,
music, sand and weed drifting us alongside
our own nature, me, cautious and calculating,
ready to loosen within my comfortable shoes, and
you, riddle’s answer to: What is freer than free?

Air.

Who has stolen your breath, my flower?

Sleep.

Your forever frozen face stills time in its place.

 


3 Comments

Tightroped: Ten for Today


Stay just where you are. Don’t cross that line. We drew it for a reason. Once you cross, it’s all over for us. You see, we’re only good so long as we each pace our own squares, our own patterns and affairs. The space between us, well, that’s what keeps us together.

When we meet, right there at the line, on the line actually, we can do death defying feats. We tightrope that line of yours and mine. We get tunnel vision. We narrow our gaze to the line, but see, your face takes up the view just as mine does yours. So—on the line—we only see each other’s eyes, not where the rest of the line beyond us leads.

And I rarely peek over the line into yours just as you rarely glimpse over at mine. And we keep it that way. I think we like that. This balancing act on the line.

Your square is larger than mine, yet narrower. In fact, it’s really an elevated rectangle with thick supports. Everyone supports your rectangle like scaffolding that undergirds the mansion perched on the hill. You can see the lumber dug deeply into the ground, keeping the place afloat in space, like struts smoothing out a bumpy ride. All the pot holes repaired, groomed.

My square is square, equal on all sides, though the area is smaller. The numbers–height, length, and perimeter– like an old geometry quiz, reveal significantly smaller space than yours. But there’s enough to go around for us who take up that square to meet the corners of our lives, breathing, laughing, eating and thriving. We take up less than those who seem to need more.

But it’s not just rectangles vs. squares. There’s other stuff too. Enough difference that might make mine think yours misshapen and yours view mine as distorted. You’ve said so. I’ve said it too.

So best you squelch curiosity, dampen desire and drop the dreaming. You know the allure is solely the forbidden stepping over the line—to know, for sure, what’s there. So stay there, where I can find you.


Leave a comment

In Praise of Praise: Poem 9

Not a participation trophy fan, still, I believe in praise–fair props.

Praise the days, praise the nights, praise the accident that is us,

Our planet, our time, our space, our separate solitary worlds,

together and apart, unable to perceive reality let alone truth,

less a word than a gurgling gut full of sense and the sensible.

 

We commend, we lionize, we sing songs to the laudable, those

who earn their accolades in tributes, panegyrics and eulogies.

But who among us have not suffered the humiliating red ribbon 

Or the diagnosis despite healthy choices, good living, and grace?

Bits of luck, shame, misfortune, health and love–praise chaos.

 

Through the singeing piss soaked stain of soiled panties, sobbing,

Sitting beside the third grade boy crush and plum of my notice,

Shame burns indelibly, but the blush of recognition, heart-pump pride

in mastering a job well done, earned in doubt and fear, curtained hope,

A+, raise, high 5, and fist bump, all winking nod to gratitude’s birthright.


Leave a comment

Reaching Out Reaching In: Ten for Today


August 22, 2016
 
How do I make it through this election season without losing friends, lovers and hope? I have never been particularly political in the sense that I cared not overly for the outcomes of elections. In my 40 plus years of voting, I may have voted FOR someone on the ballot twice. And only one presidential tenure had me gritting my teeth and angry too often.
 
But for the most part, my life is lived locally and interiorly. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about the results. I do. But I am fortunate enough to live a charmed life where I can choose to live in a cocoon. Going about my daily chores, cares and doings, I burrow down deeply and ignore the rest of the world, or participate to the degree that I wish.
 
Perhaps that’s called first world or birth privilege. I don’t take for granted my genetic demographic winnings to be born where and to whom I was. I vote. I discuss. I inform hundreds of students a year about the world, locally and globally. I am not nihilistic. I hope. I care. I do my civic and personal duties.
 
But this election is different, to belabor the obvious. And not just because of who is running and how. I think I’m different. My eyes and sensors seek the world more, and so am more susceptible to it. My practice leads me to confront this headache nation, this raucous populace, with equanimity. I’m finding it difficult, prone to suddenly remembering books that need urgent reading.