Taco Love: Ten for Today

Another night. Of course, I had to. He tries so hard. And it is taco Tuesday all over the world, right? Okay, all that matters is he wants to feed me to say thanks. He believes I saved his life. But I simply nursed him back to health. He saved his own life. No one can save another’s life, not if he doesn’t want it saved.
 
His meds have changed him. Some would say for the better. He’s loving, kind and sentimental. Before he was mean, sad, angry and mournful, broken up with biting moments of crass humor or cutting sarcasm. We actually were more amused when he was an awful curmudgeon. I mean awful. The kids laughed at his foulness, how he’d get pissed off and tell his grandchildren to fuck off, or I hate that fucking kid referring to one of the small neighborhood children.
 
Not that he meant any of it–or not for long. He had no patience. He still doesn’t; he just doesn’t care. He’s Celexa free-bodied now. Numbed to the pain. Some would wonder why all the pain. But I know. I see him suffer in rage and frustration. That life he thought was promised, the kind with growing old with your wife of 63 years, bickering, holding hands and reminiscing.
 
He was always himself with her, no matter how much that meant the ogre unleashed his ugly all over us, all over the place. But he could apologize and laugh and lie peacefully in spooned sleep, snoring away the reality of another 12 hour day on his feet in the noise, no one treating him right, yet his duty, loyalty and ethics marching on, always.
 
On time. He had to be on time, always. Not miss any days in the factory go round. Proud of his stamina and responsibility. If anything, he’s been responsible and enduring. Sisyphus and the invisible rock.
 
And after all those years, those endless hours watching, walking, minding the machines, his retirement a promise of hundreds if not thousands of dealt hands and studied numbers (he’s a card counter and that’s why he’s so good), he finds her gone, only her bodily remains shadowing him like the cool shady relief of memory. But she’s a wound too.
 
So he feeds me. He thinks it’s love. I take it. My belly begs me not to. Because it’s not enough to love me two tacos large. It’s always four taco love, despite my refusal. Today, I ate. Burp.   

A Man: Poem 2

A man seeks to keep his love
under an arm’s distance
a gun shot’s trajectory
invisible line
across an isolating barren sea–
beauty–
as a man is wont to do
protect his own
by killing the barriers out there–
outside
without opening, closed bloom.
And the man that would capture me so,
would eat me bleeding
as he shot the waves away,
reaching our limits only he sees out there,
across the divide,
but I see between us,
passing over like summer
between us—
not knowing we’re gone
til the sun set.
 

 

Republished today in YogiTimes: Yoga and Compassion in Prison

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​Please enjoy my republished article in Yogi Times todaytoday. 

surviving darkness in light of a yoga life

I was a bookish girl from an early age, always about with one under my nose in my Long Island suburb. That early reading passion eventually turned to a career in teaching high school and college English. So it’s no wonder that the first encounter with yoga was through a pocket sized hand book with pictures of a woman in leotard and tights performing various poses. I imitated those pictures as best I could but remember…read more here.

Ten Minutes More

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June 28, 2016

I breathed into this one a great deal yesterday: Tomorrow will be a day full of challenges small and large, the largest being the lack of time to think. A day full of so much activity (appointments, work, work and work) without any time to ponder the condition of the day–and me–for a small yet centered bit of time used to be every day. And that was just fine. I rather preferred not thinking and just doing. It warded off the demons I was keeping down inside me, in that deep, deep place no one—not even I—can locate. The busier I was, the less time I had to reflect about how my life was going or not going. It suited me just fine and then, of course, delayed the inevitable revolt of the repressed, those wild demonic fears and dissatisfactions named “where am I going and where have I been?”

But today’s busy-ness did not arrive with relish. In fact, the scheduled activities brought nothing more than the challenges of practicing what I know I must do but find difficult to do: appreciate everything more. Yet there’s no question in my mind (first mistaken location to start the day) that I do not appreciate taking my father to his doctor appointment down south 30 minutes in weekday traffic, abiding his ever stream of mad rant. “Why are we going to more doctors? They don’t know anything and just want to take my money and make me miserable. I’d like to give them some of their own medicine. Why do they allow trucks on the freeway? In New York, they only allow trucks on the expressway so the shmucks don’t slow down traffic. Look at that asshole driving so slow, holding up traffic.” This is the running monologue I expect and too often get before he asks me what we’re going to eat when we get out of the good-for-shit doctor’s office.

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.

On the Eve of Yet Another


Sitting across the table from my oldest at our favorite eatery, I could not help seeing what others must have seen in me 36 years ago: a tall, lean vibrant girl with a hyperactive, inquisitive mind and over burdened sense of responsibility for the buoyancy of the conversation. 

I love to watch her gesticulating hands, the petulance in her sea green eyes and the force of her concerns and wishes. She is all youth and wonder, strength and conviction.

My own youth is like an old 35 mm flickering reel, some parts skipping in fractured movement. The plot always seems to nearly unfold just as the threads run wild and loose. Just like me to crave the missing cracks, what lies in those stuttered jumps in the movie, however slight and seemingly insignificant.

If I could make a real movie of my teens to twenties, I would splice together actual footage of all the moments, days and weeks of laughter. So much laughter. My friends and I knew how to chuckle and wheeze ourselves into spasms, once we broke the ironic smirks broadcasting our quick savvy and adoptive world weariness.

The range of emotion exaggerated on a face, the wide-open eyes in surprise or indignity, the outstretched fingers flung from the span of taut exasperation palms, I recall to fleeting memories evoked by my daughter’s questioning advice on relationships, friendships and the state of the world.

She asks me who in their right mind would have a kid with our sadly looming future. And at the peak of her voiced question mark, I hear my own 20 year old voice chiming in, silently mouthing the words with her in grainy film footage. 

If I squint my reality a tad, she is me. 

But on the eve of yet another birthday, one of those off years signaling no milestones, no edges to encroaching decades or mid-split 5’s, I find myself repeating to her: “If I could give you one thing, my most valuable gift, I would export the revelations I gained both wasting time and suffering, just to push your learning curve so far back your starting point advantage would increase the laughing years twenty fold.”

Which always draws a blank green-eyed stare of indulgent tolerance.

By the time she gets it, hopefully I won’t be mere flickering light through film base covered in gelatin emulsion. 

I Missed His Birthday, but Raising a Glass to Bill

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My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)

William Shakespeare, 15641616

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
     And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
     As any she belied with false compare.

Babies in College

 
 
Today a student handed me a note purportedly written by his mother, excusing him for leaving class early a couple of days ago. I teach college English. In the 20 plus years I have taught, this was a first.
 
In the last 2 years teaching at the same college I have taught for 16 years, my plans for at least one class per semester have been interrupted to remind students that they are in college. They don’t have to be in class like they had to in high school by state law, though it is probably a good idea, especially in my class. I do lots each class to justify my existence–that is, graded assignments and answers to eventual final exam questions–and missing a class is not recommended. 
 
However, students who must miss class are assumed to be adults responsible enough to find out what they missed and resourceful enough to recoup their losses. Big assumptions. They still ask me questions like, “Did we do anything while I was gone?”
 
Though less disturbing, I cannot count how many times students ask me permission to leave early, arrive late or miss class altogether. At first I believed they were simply not mentally out of high school, where their attendance was strictly required though their attention to the class while attending was not so strictly required. I can only assume so from the in depth, lengthy text messages I have received from my children while they were in class. Many students have confirmed the same, and judging by the persistent, nearly obsessive habit of texting or gazing into their phones–activity banned in my class–I believe the phone habit is a long-instilled layover from high school, or merely the product of living now.
 
Ironically, high school mandates attendance but not attention while college is just the reverse. Since I teach freshman, their education includes breaking the high school habits and convincing them that they truly are free now, free to succeed or fail–whether I give them permission or not.
 
I’ll admit that my jaw dropped and my face clearly had “wtf?” written all over it when I read the penciled note on a sticky note sized paper that asked to excuse her son for missing class the other day. Have I gotten much, much older recently or have my students gotten much younger? I am now convinced that the number of coddled college kids have increased and they have a tougher time growing up, thus the odd permission requests and absence notes. Or is it simply time for me to retire?
 

Credit: http://www.babiesonline.com