In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"


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Palms


My velvet summer leaf, I beg you cup my cheeks with layered sheaths,

And obey you, please me so to please you so.

Your waxy shield melts to my hands.

One caress and the sun is yours for the air making.

Sleep inside my pores, arresting palms shaking trees.

Noose a summer’s dream inside your viny paw.

And whisper green song to the tune of daylight pause.

Make yourself a bed of light and hide us, lovers in noon-tide sheets.


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The Eye: 10 for today

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I’m having a life that’s whipping me all about, inside and out of the eye of the hurricane. The eye’s stillness eludes me. I’ve always aimed for the eye, that stillness inside of the chaotic destruction and creation around me. Some call that spectating.

But I don’t merely spectate. I activate and create too. My many jobs require it. When I write, I create something from nothing or nothing from many somethings. Mostly I spin what I research around inside my head until something—a notion, experience, memory, a line, or story—attaches itself to the research and the point of the thing, the blog, article, essay, poem, or whatever.

The process appears hapless on paper but there’s method and madness, kind of like that eye of the storm. I know what I’m doing; I just don’t know how everything will turn out until I’m there, writing that last pithy line, witty, provocative, or simply tied up finished.

There’s an indestructible, spun strand, taut with vibration so speedy the hum is silent, that runs through it all, that directs the writing and me.

But this life now, with its many moving parts and fits and starts, tunnels and bridges, I just don’t know what to think. I’ve challenged myself to do something—to sell love in a box–foreign to my natural instincts and trajectory thus far. I cast myself long ago as the exiled extrovert in the back of bars and coffee shops. What am I doing in everyone’s face, prying?

It’s as if I’m trapped inside the writing process, floating, attaching to random bits strewn about a feverish brain of what ifs and what nots—and I’m supposed to come up with something not only coherent but valuable to someone else. It’s loud. It’s jarring. Where’s the unspoken, voiceless name only I can hear?

The calm. It’s what I’ve practiced all my life. Find the core, the stillness. Be the eye.


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she’s got me: ten for today

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I don’t like my beer with a melon-flavored after taste. I should have driven past the turn-in to my tract, straight down a half mile to my usual watering hole and gotten a right-hoppy Stone IPA with an order of stinky fries and be done with it. Instead, I made that left turn, thinking I’d just go home and enjoy a cold one at home.

But the fridge had one whole beer left, a craft something or other with a fancy label and cursive writing, all in browns and mint greens. Lovely can, but the melon after -taste…meh.

New adventures. Plenty on the horizon what with a new business and an upcoming steady writing gig that actually sorta kinda pays decent money. Not that my pay is anyone’s fault but my own. I’m learning and growing in the trade while collecting some coin on the way. It’s a journey I’m strolling through.

And the dog? The Husky pup? Well, I thought after the 20th time of her escaping and the 20th hole she dug in my tomatoes (leaving the half-chewed Romas to rot in the dirt as a testimony to her dominance and betrayal) good riddance. I’m not playing go fetch her ass from the neighbor’s yard or the playground around the corner anymore.

But here it is, not even a day that she’s been gone at the vet’s for her, you know, obligatory non-contribution to the population of unwanted animals, and…I miss her. She’s my constant companion at my feet as I write or in and out of my door when I’m trying to clean or biting my hair and mat when I try to do yoga.

She’s a presence, a dufus in the doorway, a gazelle chasing the crows down the field past the monkey bars, and a dragger of filthy, smelly, ripped-up tennis shoes into my bed.  She’s got me.


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Gemini’s Shit Storm


She says my moon’s in Gemini; I’m in for a shit storm as the planets configure. 

My gut gurgles, “true.”  

Storms a’ brewin’, 

a slanted wind tossing Bazooka bubble gum wrappers and wooden popsicle sticks across

the stoop of my youth.

**********************************************

Windward blows the dead awake; shredded zombies moan skyward cries. Stand ready.

Leeward gusts settle upon soot-trodden lace and rusted pipe, 

like predictable night crowning the inexplicable horizon.

There’s no way to tell, so breathe through the crackling wires’ electric veins.

Tear it down, board it up, and blame the weather.

***********************************************

Poised on the cliff, each steps cautiously, blind-seeking gripped edges, rocky shards of granite rubble, 

a death slide or eternal flight.

A cat agilely climbs the dresser stairs with jaws in machine gun chomp, aching past windowed perils.

She studies her predator’s patio glance back.

Coyote snouts flick-sniff, scuttling to flashed fear beneath orange trees and wicker tables.

***********************************************

Storm’s a brewin’. 

Pleistocene gassy beams once pocked the scarred heavens, now snuffed shut, 

too, the wind tilts mountains pebble by pebble. 

Lighthouse rays pierce the retinal fog, a grainy lightning chop of insight.

We’re all just kicking up some dust before we bite. 


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Bullies, Terrorists, and Congressmen: Ten for Today


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My head aches with the world, swollen with the chaos and calamity of it. No salve of good will and transcendent detachment patches the soreness, the inflammation, and the throbbing anger.

When I reactively shout at him, my father’s happy. Negative attention is better than none. I’ve raised my children, done my job outmaneuvering ration-less beasts. Why do they appear in full grown men’s bodies now? I’m mad that I can’t return to my former childless self—be the child and not the parent.

And then that runaround with the country of Kaiser. Institutions are built to crush people who pay for them, give them their existence. Medicine is meant to be waved before the eyes of the sick, taunting, “Catch me if you can.” I hated when boys stole a poor unsuspecting victim’s wool hat and played keep away, tossing it just above the desperately grabbing hands reaching for it.

I’m not alone in this now perceived defect, empathy. Yet, it drains the very peace from me, feeling it all, the hands of every eternally colonized American—women, children, people of color, and the poor—with raised hands clutching at their wool hats—respect, pay, opportunity, voice, healthcare, food, dignity—just out of reach by bullies gleefully foaming at the mouth as they expand their world by shrinking others’.

Always a zero sum game to psychotics, paranoids, terrorists, and congressmen.


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Wheat germ and almonds: Ten for Today


 That girl at the party sitting in a chair, plastered from too many beers slurred, “You smell like wheat germ and almonds.” I wasn’t sure whose scent she was describing, but I was the only one close enough to be inhaled and registered.
 
I remember thinking then, almost thirty years ago, what an amazingly precise olfactory perception for a nearly senseless drunk. I laughed after she said it, but she didn’t seem to mind, not taking it as ridicule anyhow. It wasn’t. The weirdness of her image drew a laugh to fill the gap that most certainly emerges after a statement like that.
 
She brought on the chuckle because she used the word wheat germ. Back then, who at this Bruce Springsteen-blaring keg party would know such a thing? Not me. And then I worried about how I smelled. I didn’t know whether wheat germ smelled foul or fragrant. I wrenched my neck to sniff my pits. I still can’t smell myself.
 
Almonds? What do they smell like raw? Nothing. Roasted and chopped, they smell heavenly, like earth and sun. If a lover ever told me my aroma was nothing lovelier than freshly roasted and chopped almonds, I’d blush with the flattery.
 
But here was this inebriated partygoer unconsciously tossing out poetry as if no one was listening or worrying about body odor. She might have been talking to herself, but my youthful narcissistic self felt besieged with momentary muse-filled doubt.
 
A few days later I asked my mother what wheat germ smelled like. And without a second’s notice of the question’s oddness, she replied, “How the hell should I know?”