Friday, January 30, 2009

READING LIFE

Guess who rocks my world tonight? Natalie Goldberg. She's so into the freedom of writing it makes me nuts. She wants a person to write anything, everything, as long as they are actively creating. She also wants people to read anything, everything, so they can go on perpetuating the arts. So I took her advice and thought about what it means to read--also, what it means NOT to read, what we stand to lose. Then I let my brain wander outside for a bit. It came back with a memory! I twisted it, pulled it in half, dissolved it in a glass of wine, and here it is. (By the way, Natalie's book Old Friend From Far Away is pretty good.) (And no, I wasn't drunk when I wrote this. Just feeling free!)


READING LIFE

it was december
we were strolling through paris
our tummies filled
with toast and nutella
our pockets jingling
with coins
it was a good full feeling
it was a jingly jingle
cars zoomed down the streets
we turned down the alley
you said you’d never been lucky
you said you’d never been perfect
I lit another cigarette
and stepped in someone else’s spit
somewhere up high
two hands shut a window
you said it might have been the blind man
you said god was closing up shop
there were voices going
the other direction
one said go ahead and get married
one said the silver key, the green door
you walked patient as a donkey
you said it was a starry night
I shoved my hands inside my pockets
and said a little nothing
not one book
in sight

Monday, January 26, 2009

HEARING VOICES

This poem was actually a lot cooler while I was working on it. I was reading it aloud with breaks and pauses and putting emphasis on different words and clips of letters, hence the ugly aesthetics. The enjambment never shows up on this blog format for some reason, so I don't think anyone will be able to play with it like I did. For what it's worth, it was fun.


HEARING VOICES

don’t answer the
phone
it’s
your mother

calling to say

she was in
the grocery
store

this morning when she

thought

she heard
your voice coming

from the produce
section

and you were giving advice
on

how to tell
when a lemon

is fresh

which might prompt
you

to interject
mom

that couldn’t
have been me

I’m on the
other
side
of the country

which will force
her
to admit

she knows
you never could
tell
fresh fruit

from

the rotten
no matter what

season it was

Sunday, January 25, 2009

TWO TRAILS

TWO TRAILS

there are two
color-coded
trails at sweetwater
creek state park
one with fewer
hills than the other
each one
wide enough for
two horses
to walk side
by side and both
go down
to the riverbed
the forest ranger
who lives alone
in a cabin
at the foot of the trail
where the white path
meets the pink
he carries a handgun
in his back pocket
and never wears
a uniform
he told me last week
the city might
finally get
its act together
soon and put in
lampposts
he says he’s sick
of families
knocking for directions
after losing track
of the ribbons around
the tree trunks
I know he must
have liked plants
at some point
in his life
because he’s got
an army of tomatoes
growing outside
his front door
slick and fat
against my better
judgment
I think I’m going
to ask him for some
maybe bring him
a jar of my homemade
spaghetti sauce
next week
I am stepping
down the trail
like a tightrope
walker along
the curving lines
a bicycle has
made in the mud
we’ve needed
the rain I suppose
I can see
the forest ranger
squatting on a rock
above the river
shirt untucked
that odd-shaped pocket
he’s shaking a bucket
of weeds into the white
foamy current

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

DINNER AT COURT

DINNER AT COURT

there is something not so
chocolate
about the food tonight

lettuce fronds steamed beans
mashed potatoes roast

you are business man
talking man
man of the black moustache

and you are not so

handsome as my husband—
who sits at home alone

tapping with one finger
his chapped lips— you are

turning red with arrogance

applauding with hands slick as a sea lion’s

forehead glittering like a jewel
king of the wee heart

my glass is empty

pour me the rest of the wine!
only then
do you address me directly:

a true lady asks first
if anyone else at the table

would like some

bottle clenched in your fist like a scepter
I am about to swallow

my torch

Saturday, January 3, 2009

ME AND COYOTE

ME AND COYOTE

Coyote and I are going down to the Burrito Shack
to sit on the curb for a while. I like to sit on the curb
in front of my house but Coyote has been restless
the past couple days and says he needs a change of
scenery. He’s thumbing through the letters and bills
he took from the mailbox in front of that little blue house
on the corner. He’ll give it back, he says, he just wants
to see what’s going on in the neighborhood these days.
I’d tell him it’s illegal but Coyote’s got a temper
and I can tell he’s agitated. The first bill is from
the electric company. Coyote bellows, one hundred
and one dollars? God damn! Turn off the lights!
He says where he comes from they use mosquito candles
to see at night, or at least spend more time sleeping.
I’m trying to picture where Coyote came from
since I’m too afraid to ask and I assume it’s somewhere
out in the bush. He once told me he ate a rabbit.
The next envelope is a letter from someone named Elizabeth.
Coyote reads the first paragraph, tears the paper
down the middle and stuffs it back into the envelope.
What’d you do that for? I ask without thinking.
Nobody named Elizabeth has anything good to say, he says.
The Burrito Shack is just one block away
and we’re walking under the empty peach trees on 10th.
We’re going so slow I can count the number of peach pits
on every square of sidewalk. I stop at twenty
and start over because I don’t like to count higher than that.
Coyote opens the last envelope. It’s an invitation to stay
at the Hilton for one night fifty percent off.
This he hands over to me and smiles so I can see all his teeth
for about a half a half a second. I’ll let this be
our little secret, he says. Go on, put it in your pocket.
I put it under my hat and start to wonder if I want to be
friends with a guy who walks beside me every day
and doesn’t even notice I’m afraid of pockets.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

WHEN I WILL EAT

here I am. it is today.
I’ve spent the night in a van
parked in a forest in Virginia.
I’ve stolen what might have been
someone else’s firewood.
I’m slowly chewing
the peel of an orange
for breakfast.
I am virtually defenseless out here.
not only that, I am needy.
the trees make me wish
I could fly or climb or at least
jump extremely high.
I want a pocketknife.
I want to hear a river in the distance.
it’s hard not to wonder
when I will eat next,
having lost my way back to the city
so long ago. each day,
I start having regrets around noon.
today I wish I had asked my mother
how she kept her fingernails so white.
I remember watching her
trim the tulips on Easter morning
and thinking, someday,
someday I will know I am grown.
I will only have to
look at my hands.