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Archive for May, 2016

Unkindness

 

The scenery changes
but not the observer:
I stand in front
of a spindly fig
and fill my eyes
with green:
grayish
to
bright,
tracing
patterns
into a web
that covers
my winter worn skin.
I feel dew
wet
my dry throat
spring
dusk,
in fading light
limbs
heavy with fruit,
still hard
but with the promise
of sweet
seedy
brown flesh
tongue
slick
with the muck.
Under a walnut tree,
I listen
to incantations
which promise
protection
from a far off summer sun.
None too soon
as the threat of rain
fills the eve,
and all creatures
roam to stillness:
squirrels
done with chase,
goldfinches
silenced.

But the dog
is not done:
one last stroll
before the dark
we are to take.

From the highest perch
of the walnut tree,
I hear the loud
chatter:
ravens13335786_10157167229000413_2359454396368586780_n
overhead:
3
demanding
intent
shrill
guttural.
No unusual event.

I step in stride
with the dog,
as he leaves
messages
on every endless
tree
bush,
over head
3
complain,
winging
croaking
landing
on wire
or tree,
no matter:
determined.

What then have
I neglected,
what wrong
innocently committed? –
they remember
these cloaked messengers,
recognize faces
converse
in complicated dialogue,
and mass
in unkindness –
and thus these 3
show no mercy
ranting
raving
maddening.

Curious
I stare up
to see each
messenger
side step
head bob
and
finally
land on a roof.
Diatribe
ended.

Conspiracy
unkindness
constable –
yes,
all of these
I see,
masked in blue black
sheen
survivors
of plague:
thieves
in the dark.

Tricksters
have you come
to gloat
at the gray
in my once
raven
black
curls,
or to bring
me songs
of doom,
messages
from the underworld
warnings
forebodings –
The unforgettable
“Never more…”
Who sends you?
What scorned lover,
angry ancestor
neglected friend
Suddenly they are
eerie in their silence
leaving me
to ponder,
and in the last
light of day
I see
past
tree tops
a new moon
a sliver
of clear ice
to cool
the darkest
of dark.

(note: groups of ravens are known as unkindness)

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Central Park

 

Nature can happen anywhere:
I should know
I grew up in a city
where the only respite
from the constant grind
and shrill drone
of too much humanity
was a park
that split the city in two.
Created as a country
heaven for the rich,
built by migrants,
displacing squatters
the swamp
and rocky terrain
was re-invented:
green acres
in a jungle of concrete.
Ever grateful
am I for this
light
in so much darkness:
long winter nights
filled with tears
of all the dreams that
went undone,
there by the lake
I found the sun
breaking through
the line of oaks
that stood for
100’s of years
on this tired isle
of immigrants
looking for the
dream paved in gold.
Like so many before me
I stared up from
the cool shade
to a patch of blue sky
and felt the moist
land beneath me,
it reminded me
that it could so soon
swallow me whole
before I’d sung
that one song
only I had
in my citified harsh heart:
it was a tune
that longed for rushing waters
and cool mountain vistas
open and wide
like the space I felt
somewhere in my heart.

It was here in these 2 miles
of green
that I saw my first
wren
and thrush
scratching at the dry
brambles
north of Belvedere castle.
In the lake,
geese from Canada
honked
and pulled at soft weeds,
while lovers curved
their own necks
in warm embrace.
l followed the shrill
call of a red tailed hawk
past the open fields
to the grey edge
of the bandshell:
there perched
like royalty
she would drop
over the fields
only she knew
where filled with night mice –
soon after dusk
and all the sunbathers
dragged their slow bodies
toward their tight
city hovels – more trapped
than any mouse…..

It was here in the boulders
by the pond
that I drank my first wine
far from school –
and on a dare jumped
in –
mid winter
such a drunk fool.
It was on the long winding
path to the Sheep Meadow
that I felt my first kiss,
in a sudden
summer rain.
And once,
only once
I ran in the dark
fast
far
from the east to west end
of the park
fear hanging over my shoulder,
just to prove I could:
and looked up to see
a clear full moon
past the city lights.
I knew then
I had to keep running
way past the glimmer
of bright lights
past the sound
of traffic
and human plight
to find silence
in my heart:
I never looked back.

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The chimes are a wild
cacophony of sound
on this late
spring afternoon.
The north winds
drive them
to a frenzy
almost atonal
just short
of dissonant:
but to me
they are the language
of love,
messages from
you.
This time of year
the warmest part of the day
is late:
the sun
warming the porch
before
its final parting.

250px-Aphelocoma_californica_in_Seattle_croppedI listen
watching
a western jay
pound its long beak
forceful
determined
into the suet
hanging
from the walnut tree.
His rhythm
timed to the chimes,
his grey blue
feathers
dancing in the breeze.

Another day has come
and now
almost gone,
I think of you
and your faint
voice
those last few years.
Somewhere in the
higher notes
I catch the slow
words
we faintly said
often
each time
knowing
it could be the last,
but it’s not till
now
today
that I wish I had
shouted them
past
the deadening silence
that gripped
your world.

I walked my usual
route,
dog in tow
and whispered
them
mouthed them
sung them
to all:
homeless man
woman with a frown
hurried runner
slouching cat
blooming dogwood
luscious roses
fragrant lavender
one
and all
I see you
I love you
I am you.

Later
in the light of dusk
and once
it’s silent –
strangely silent
I may find
the words
you coaxed
demanded
requested
begged
father
to daughter.
I’ll pound them out
like the jay
and
pray
they might reach
past this void
to show you
I have not forgotten
my promise –

You wrote me a poem
when I was too young
to know the kind
of pain
distance can create –
“Carta a Una Hija Lejana”
It’s framed and hanging
in my bedroom wall,
cut from a newspaper,
its edges yellowing
your name under the title
picture of the poet
to the left:
dapper in your beret.
This morning
I took it down
and pressed
the cool glass
to my heart.

I am now
indeed
your distant daughter
ever so,
but blessed
to know
how to bridge
the gap:
you taught me well.

 

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The morning sun reflects against
my bedroom wall
in its beam
a branch,
drips
large leaves
black rimmed
gold filled
this flickering
flowing art:
Japanese
I think –
delicate
precise
etched
clean
to the wall.

I close my eyes
as if to reset
the day:
if I focus
quiet
and
still
my heart
may hear
your laughter
clear as I did
in that dark
cluttered
pine forest
somewhere
in Germany
on this same day
25 years ago.

It chimed:
a healing chant
surrounding
my
heart
past the dark
images
of your broken
body
stiff to the touch
swollen
lips tethered
to the cold plastic
of a breathing tube
keeping your heart
pumping
forcing life
into
a vessel
that had emptied
its soul
many days ago….

I envied that tube
that got your final kiss,
and in defiance
of all reason ,
I whispered
into your ear
past the drone
of cold machines
and disinfected walls
the sweet words
of our first love.
I spoke them
slowly
warmth from my mouth
to sooth the chill.
Your eyes closed,
I could not fall
into the vastness
of their blue:
but I believe
you heard me
and for a brief
instant
our hearts danced
in a thunderous
rhythm
so loud
time stood still
voices
footsteps
walls
all faded.

That night
they let you go:
“he has a strong heart,”
the doctor said.
I knew that
larger
than life –
yours….
and now
it beats still
a gift
to someone else.

I sometimes wonder
if she can feel
our dance
and starts to
laugh
suddenly
in the night –
not knowing
its our
secret
thunder,
our final
dance
glowing
in her heart.

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