Monday, June 22, 2020

Daughter in Labor 5/19/2020

I am putting away the dishes as I sneak glances over at her working on the floor of the living room. 
The dishes I handle include pieces of her pottery, 
a cream colored spoon rest, 
small shallow bowls. 
Saucers for collecting the chopped aromatics before they go in the pan. 
Her ceramics are smooth with shiny fired glaze on top,
rough and unglazed underneath. 
Warm earth-tone colors, 
precious utility. 

Mia's working in black and white right now, 
clipping out images from my old postcards of older photographs: 
a Bruce Weber couple on a motorboat, 
Billie Holiday caught by a flashbulb while looking in a mirror, 
Edith Piaf mid-laugh. 
She is crafting a collage that will eventually make its way to the mailbox 
and then to her art teacher. 
A quick fun assignment, 
due in twenty-five minutes.

When she was working her way out of my body, 
I shook her father awake, 
then handed him a paper that read 
"Don't ask questions." 

It was a page of advice to birth helpers so as not to distract the laboring woman. 
No surprise, 
he let loose an urgent string of queries. 

Now I am doing my best to keep silent, 
let her work, 
don't distract, 
although I want to get inside her brain right now, 
find the secret to her process, 

"How does your doubt go away? 
 How can you work so fast, 
so free?"

Friday, May 15, 2020

I Will Never Think About Them The Same Way Again

A crisp new twenty.
Elevator buttons.
That pen on the chain attached to the clipboard at your doctor's office.
Your doctor's office.

Buffet line tongs.
Mother's Day Brunch in the hotel ballroom.
Sharing a taste.
Waterfalling from a friend's water bottle.

Sneeze guards. 
Hot bars. 
Restaurant plates. 
Restaurant silverware. 
Restaurant chairs.
Restaurant tables.
Restaurant menus. 
No, I will think the same way I've always thought about restaurant menus.

Library books. 
NO. NOT library books. I refuse to rethink library books.

Golf cart steering wheels.
Piano keys. 
Light switches. 
A dealt deck of cards.

Rental cars. 
Bus straps. 
The cord you pull to tell the bus driver your stop is coming up.
Subway poles. 

The work refrigerator where you store your lunch. 
Copy machines. 
Drawer handles. 
The pencil sharpeners hung on the wall of every classroom.
First day of school handouts. 

The edge of the Pepsi can. 
Birthday candles, or rather, what we do to lit ones.
Birthday cake. 
Bowls of candy. 


The five-second rule. 
There is no more five second rule.

Warm hugs.
Hugs hello.
Hugs goodbye.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Quarantine Notes

March 27, 2020
Siri, Google "Etiquette tips for the children of murderers."

April 1, 2020
Nobody wants to hear the details of your dream. 
Unless you have a two point set up and punchline, 
I don't want to listen to your boring narrative that thrills only you. 
So I will soft-focus my ears and 
watch you instead, 
watch you instead of listen to you, 
watch how excited and amazed you are about 
this movie you invented while you weren't even trying, 
this movie you are intrigued and puzzled and fascinated by, 
and maybe even a little in love with. 
You made something, 
or rather, your unconscious did 
and it is still a thrill.

April 4, 2020
I cry later. 
Families who eat casseroles of cortisol know what I mean. 
Shock and awe are our way, 
so do the next thing, 
move to help or 
inform or 
research or 
call or 
transfer funds or 
Google interventions or 
reach out or 
call Western Union or 
notify the funeral home. 

No time for feeling. Not now. Not yet.


Thank you, black squirrel,
for the glimpse of your quicksilver curves,
your shiny coat and deft digging
in my planter box.

You're eating the old bulbs I planted yesterday
but please
feel my welcome to them.

I'd forgotten to plant the crocus and
spring anemones
some long ago autumn
I'd hoped to revive them but

my jolt of delight from your
feline back-foot scratching
is all the liveliness of spring
I need.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Pagan Easter Zoom at the Church of the Holy Palmer

We were all sitting there looking at each other and I said, "let's play a game! Grab the book nearest to you and..."

And somebody else said, "Read the last three lines!"

And Natalie had a book about being a Red Sox fan and Micki read in German from a book about art and Brent read from James Agee's A Death in the Family and I read from Jonathan Schell's The Fate of the Earth (Seriously, it was the book right next to the wall although I haven't cracked it in years, no, DECADES):
On the other hand, if we reject our doom, and bend our efforts toward survival--if we arouse ourselves to the peril and act to forestall it, making ourselves the allies of life--then the anesthetic fog will lift: our vision, no longer straining not to see the obvious, will sharpen: our will, finding secure ground to build on, will be restored; and we will take full and clear possession of life again. One day--and it is hard to believe that it will not be soon--we will make our choice. Either we will sink into the final coma and end it all or, as I trust and believe, we will awaken to the truth of our peril, a truth as great as life itself, and like a person who has swallowed a lethal poison but shakes off his stupor at the last moment and vomits the poison up, we will break through the layers of our denials, put aside our fainthearted excuses, and rise up to cleanse the earth of nuclear weapons.

And then Laura read the W.S. Merwin's poem, "The Drunk in the Furnace."

And Brent read the poem "The Rain" by Robert Creeley. And I started giving him shit because the last line is:

Be wet
with a decent happiness.
And that sounds WAY too close to "Be wet with a decent penis" so I started yelling "That's a horndog poem!" and Serena said the same and then it kind of fell apart and we started talking gardening.
The Rains 
by Robert Creeley
All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.
What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it
that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me
something other than this,
something not so insistent—
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.
Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out
of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Clay Pigeons by Blaze Foley

I'm going down to the greyhound station
Gonna get a ticket to ride
Gonna find that lady with 2 or 3 kids
And sit down by her side
And ride until the sun comes up and down around me about 2 or 3 times

Smoking cigarettes in the last seat
Trying to hide my sorrow from the people I meet
And get along with it all

God down where people say y'all
Sing a song with a friend
Change the shape that I'm in
And get back in the game
And start playing again

I'd like to stay but I might have to go to start over again
I might go back down to Texax

I might go somewhere that I never been
And get up in the morning and go out at night
And I won't have to go home
Get used to being alone

Change the words to this song
And start singing again

I'm tired of running round

Looking for answers to questions that I already know
I could build me a castle of memories
Just to have somewhere to go
Count the days and the nights that it takes
To get back in the saddle again
Feed the pigeons some clay
Turn the night into day
Start talking again when I know what to say