Sky Diving

The sky and sea run parallel, or so it seems.                    Sky

Contiguous, at least, as free attachment,

committed only to movement and time.

 
While the sea chuckles in currents

as the day and nighttime shifts

clasp her–as does the sky–

she buoys who lap her up

or swallows them down, 

floating or drowning,

life-giving or taking; 

Yet he hovers his 

companion there–

free-fall suspended–

in shallow-air support.

She who risks his domain

will surely succumb, sink below

surface silhouettes traveling rippled

rivulet toe tips, riding her once-in-a-lifetime.                      Sea

  

On either side of the black hole: Ten for Today

September 23, 2016

She smiled. Big, rangy, opened mouth, showing teeth in disarray, pebbly whites leaning this way and that. She might have passed on the 6 years of braces and a jaw breaking operation to fix her over bite had she known.

It’s been weeks, maybe months since I’ve seen one. Stoic, plaster of Paris’d grimace with etched, rheumy eyes of wandering distant dimensions cast her face in alabaster stillness most days. But this one came with direct eye contact–so rare these days–followed by an electrocution of recognition, and light, light, oh heavenly light in her eyes. 

She was happy to see me. I said, “I love you,” and with doughy mouth, corners tucked upright into flaccid folds as if hung on clothesline wooden clips to her cheekbones, she garbled a few syllables in reply. And then she made a silly face, rolled her eyes, wobbled her head side to side, like a drunken clown, and muttered a mocking kind of bubbubbub with her deliberately deep voice. Sarcastic self-deprecation, her specialty. As if to say, what the fuck can I utter with this face, with this chaotic, misfiring, brittle brain disconnected from its humanity? 

“I miss you, Mom.” I didn’t want her to see the ache. So I smiled even larger. If I could make her know. If I could just…

6 seconds and it was over. We lost ourselves once more to our distant galaxies, each on either side of the black hole.

 
Black hole: pixabay.com

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.

 

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.

Thanatos’ grip

image
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.

Heritage Now

image

With fever and chills, my father lies in a hospital bed and

fights invaders ransacking his cells while we, her dad and I,

Share ancestral history over wine and braised Brussels sprouts.
 
Her father pulls out an album of black and whites painting shades,

Faces that look like his and hers, she who hungrily leafs through

Her fore-figures shepherding precious genetic messages, DNA,

Carried on lines like cargo bins rolling down mining tracks,

Straight to the mountain’s core, our heart’s beating back minutes

Through rock and river, rice paddies and leper camps, continents

And decades all swum, waded through generations of race, religion,

Geography and cultural diaspora, lost at sea; my people roamed.

I tell her we were gypsies and exiles, imperialists and colonizers,

Journalists and piano-tuners, soldiers and artists, musicians

And doctors, lawyers, painters and prisoners; we sailed on ships.

She eats the images page after page flying and flashing ghosts

In pressing drive, primal ranging expansive lust for connection,

An answer to why she is, these cellular haunts flooding her veins.

She wants to know the stories that she belongs to, her threaded

Braide-links to French, Spanish, Vietnamese, Rumanian, Russian, Latvian
 
and German world walkers. She doesn’t know yet, which link connects them all,
 
all the grandfather’s fathers and their fathers’ fathers before.
 
She doesn’t know the whole story and she can never know.

Cradle to Grave


One more I honor and pray will not be the last,

This poem, your day, awakenings to more days

Filled with complaints, facts, lies, jokes and sighs

Those last with mortal grimace and existential pain–

And celebrations.

No one fills your place, not before or after,

None who sits just where you do in my house,

Or my car, no one quite like you who inherited and grew

status, class, gender, race, trait, stance and ethnicity.

You made me.

One day you will unmake me just like the sun and earth,

My fiery Death whose smoke will awaken the ravens

Loosen charred Regret and Steam, neither life companions

On my walk, my rise and fall, blossom and decay, my stain

After you.
 

Daddy Deep

wp-1460528910841.jpg
What sound makes hollow deep?

Not quite sound at all,

It is a missing knock, 

Soft and insistent,

Knuckles weak.

A buzz of silence

Just about where the t.v. 

Lies blank and mute.

A sneer faded to black

And a joke told 10,000 times

With a missing punch line

Or vaguely remembered,

Souring the laughter.

Questions unrelenting and inane

Will one day go unanswered

Not for lack of interest, 

Raised eye brow, 

Rolled eyes, but

For want of asking.

Some day the house

Will die without you,

Emptied of its anchor

And upturned root.

That day will gut us,

No doubt, but not today.

Not this day.

Umberto Eco

  
“I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” 

― Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

I first learned of Eco after reading The Name of the Rose in graduate school, though I cannot remember whether it was the first round in 89 or the second in 2003. I saw the movie of the same name and cannot remember whether I saw it before reading the book or vice versa. I do know I enjoyed both immensely, so much so that I read a second book, the one from which the above quote comes, which I also enjoyed, though I believed that the text was far more about the title namesake than it was before reading it. I had read Michel Foucault, who I found as intriguing as mystifying, so naturally was drawn to the title. 

The text, like all Eco works, is complex and dense with plot and erudite history, lore and textual references–not your read on the beach in paradise. Eco demands you grapple. And while many details of both books I read are long forgotten, the words and specific scenes remain etched in the beautiful keepsakes section of my brain.

Like many faithful readers, I seek treasure–that unique turn of phrase or universal truth that hangs with me, bubbled to the surface when I need a lift, a reason or insight. Countless times the belief in mystery became and becomes my mantra. Some people often sigh, “It’s God’s will” when at a loss to explain the inexplicable and I just as often say, “Bow to the mystery.” Though both signal surrender, one does far less resignedly. 

That the “world is an enigma” satisfies, becalms and relieves humans of the burden of making sense of chaos and that which we cannot understand due to the size of our brains, undiscovered truths or components necessary to solving riddles, or both–or neither. That we madly “attempt to interpret” the world smacks of vanity or fruitlessness but not necessarily. Human’s drive to know, to understand and control is itself an enigma, one with benign origins though sometimes malignant intent or results. 

This quote counters another oft-pronounced snippet pulled out of pocket at the cause-effect chain’s logical end with no solution: “Everything happens for a reason.” Eco obviously disagreed and wrote legions against that idea, wracking ordered plots with disordered interferences from magic, evil intent, human contaminants and other messy interlocutors, all in historically altered (small and large) and imagined context. 

One thinker, writer and human I mourn, Umberto Eco died yesterday, a significant loss or gain for the mystery.

Mornings

Morning quiet, 

the children and their father 

 are visiting far family 

–the other coast kin.

Silence woke me at 5,

in nature’s alarm,

floored by fleeting time’s passing.

So I padded through a dark kitchen

out the French doors opening

to trees, wall-ivy and cement.

Fog painted my yard early or 

late last night.

  
My morning treasure hunt,

gathering fruit like ancients before me,

I pluck a near ripe tangerine.

  
Dew muffles the circle’s slow awakening.

Only the witness and I ruffle the thick, cool air, 

she inside, me out–both dark of day denizens.

 

Inside, the brewed elixir–arisen–awaits 

the heat of my lips, warm breath

chicory and oily coffee bean permeates.

  

Drawn along softly in my wake, 

unprepossessing, anticipating

every  step and saunter, click

and rushing air precipitated by

daylight’s motion in muted tones,

she watches–just in case.

I feel her eyes and cast mine downward.

   
  

Patience–she sits center in wait,

eyes beaming a steady pinpoint plea:

Notice me. Give me hand.

And I do, bent over her supplication

until the toaster pops and

the noise straightens my knees 

and takes my face away.

  

 

A bite of breakfast timed to her arrival,

stirrings from rooms behind, 

the caretaker wheels her in,

the ritual rousing now complete.

   
  
My first meal companion–

brain-shut in stifled words

uttered inside an airy maze,

once an ordered, meter-mind    

sounding poetry and song, love

and laughter, the mothering kind.

“Good morning, Mom.

Another unpromised day greets us,

so let’s play the lottery with our luck.”

Her inward stare toward the window

flickers only hair trigger slightly.

And the powerful sun, 

still swallowed in mist 

nods assent.