smokey

curled around you, oddly intimate

maybe you love me? I want to keep you

in the hollow of my hip, leaning

so tightly-soft together; I pull my fingers

down your slate-grey spine and you arch

Halloween-style

little paw-toes uncurl

lamp-slit eyes in the dark

(hum-purr)

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coterie

(The Mindy Project says

that psycho people can make friends. That I

can make friends that stick. I will run up stairs

to find them. Gamble for it. Dance in the dark.)

The girl who did my nails had bright blonde bangs

and we talked about “down the shore”. Maybe

I am actually from somewhere. Maybe I have a tribe.

My Delaware valley accent is back. Outside smells

like the Easter baskets Nana Wagar gave us that one year.

I’m under the gun again, but with so much home stored up here

I can get back on that motorcycle and cruise over these buttery roads.

Someday he will sing “Sha-la-la-la-in love with a Jersey girl!” and I

will be that girl. We will stack rocks at the Cape May sunset.

The band will play again. I will get splinters on the boardwalk,

hell, maybe even a spray tan. No one would judge me for it.

My wanderlust has been beaten, frozen out of my heart.

I just want to sleep till noon and wake up somewhere

safe. I want to give my kids

this sandy soil, as it pours through my manicured fingernails

and (no one called me “weird”.) they will pluck tulips

and yell,”tractor!” The old folks church will smile

and take them out to breakfast. (as they loved me.)

dear anna XI

I hope that you wake up every day

happy, ready to get up

just because of where you are.

I pray for you to have hope

in things which are not perfect,

that your future failure will be worth the growth.

My desire for you is to be whole joy all through

free to just be.

dear anna X

what are you like?

I am too close to see,

your fluid mosaic washes over my memory

 I cannot distinguish between failing and strength

you are so beautiful. All of you is beautiful.

Still delightfully marvelous as in childhood, red-blue

rich in yellow

only growing more lovely with time

I remember you in crayon, water, and glass

my rage always the Frog

to your wise, calm Toad.

gator ride through the orchard (easter)

the tractor growled, and we flew down the hill,

twisting, turning through the trees

steering handle spinning as we snuck past the fence

“This is illegal, by the way”

the grandkids are screaming, half fear, half delight

that grandpa would do something so reckless.

mentally, I am careening back across that Arcade highway

the snowplow shatters us again! I snap back to reality

jolting, the grass is high and the road is rubble

the steep hill we are climbing, fast

like the road to Kidepo, soaring over the stony hills

swerving, sliding around in the loose shale

even the dirt matches, it is orange dust

and I am 12 years old again, home and free

after burning season, the grass comes back this green

and the ash leaves charcoal traces all over your white skin.

fair son (fort portal, summer 2013)

upon leaving, the last a terrible tirade

I wandered home, a great explorer from Europe

skin glowing without light, hair dark from too many shadows.

We slept on tinder, a great tree-built tradition

high in the elephant-grass hills.

the walk down to the lake beneath us was long,

and I burned my soles, arriving dusty to the enveloping tree shade

where I fell, over the rocks and into the murky greeny-brown

ka-splash silence

everything suspended for a moment

and break the surface to air again

still aching from a year of misunderstanding, my form

my frame, my body

just really wanted to win something, do it right for once

so I began kicking, arms pulling,

working every muscle till it burned

I slowly swam, the far shore my focus

rocky, looming, dramatic grey cliffs

it seemed hours, but I used the last bit of my strength

to heave myself out of the unknowable darkness

tearing skin from my arms and legs, I collapsed

heaving air into my diaphragm as I lay beneath swaying palm trees

bleeding onto the rocks, water and sweat diluting each drop

running from me in rivulets, soaking the fallen reeds

(I conquered fear of the unknown)

and I couldn’t see the far shore.

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this thanks I give

over heavy-laden heads and hands

clenched

fingers red-white as they shake together.

watching the aged crown of white stammer,

tell me of your lifestory and cry proudly

over your grandchild’s hand,

his blue eyes are yours.

baby

so tiny, so little and perfect.

they freeze the world around them, all is

wrapped up in hands that are half the size of my palm

their hair light, tossing as they run, scamper.

I saw them in Prague and watched rainbows

dancing on their heels

as they ran through the fountain, droplets

arcing in sunlight from their tender toes.

I, a broken-wrecked immature adult

found hope in them, though they did not know it

my arms ache to hold them and love them.