Friday, June 24, 2016

Exhalation

 
Under the long pier
of bones
lungs flutter. Red
 
anemones
in the oceanic
light[  and something
swims out
 
slow and slim
only to catch
itself
 
 
on the spear-tipped
stillness
of a fern.
 

The Boy


 

Several days a week, he sits on the curb bordering

the golf course. The concrete chipped  and moss-stained

 like the bottom stair of an Inca temple. A beginning step

toward the sky and sun. For him, a step

toward supplementing the family income. Too young

for construction but old enough to out grow

his adolescent jeans, he focuses on what profit

he can make peddling fruits and vegetables.



Peppers, avocados, tomatoes, melons and mangos

are sold in crates. Nearby, he keeps a plastic bag with some cash

and coins for change. A crow in the mauve ash of a smoke tree

nags for nothing; and the wind scatters gum wrappers

near his feet. Neither distracts him. The boy stays engaged

with the task, tuning  his voice to catch more customers

as both cars and golfers go by. Fruta, vegetales --

 

his accent either Honduran or Guatemalan . Like himself,

it's undefined. But that doesn't matter. He's blessed. My child

is on the lawn learning how to swing. If lucky, his mind

won't stray beyond the flag, absorbed in the blank space

around twin butterflies and some tangled weeds.

 

 


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Captain Kirk


The new owners changed his office to a bedroom

but kept the hardwood floors and added

an oriental carpet. Never convenient for wheel chairs,

we often joked -- reserve the rug  for fliers:

 

genies, princes or  thieves navigating

the ancient nights in Scheherazade's narrative.

Yet, my father (sitting before his computer)

virtually became a pilot, maneuvering his mind

through the dimensions of cad-am. A galaxy

of angles, coordinates, lines and alien concepts

that grew familiar with practice.

 

His chair was designed for command. A joy stick

allowed movement forward or back, right or left,

swiveling from the star trek screen to the bay window

where branches pergola'd the lawn in fragrant shade;

and deer wandered down from the woods

 

hungering  for ripe apples. A herd of limbs

sturdy but supple. At a glance, so many you might think --.

they had a few to spare.

 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Caprice


 
A strange bird rests on the corner
of my roof.  His shadow angled
at the five minute interval  
between something after and something before.
 
This is my time out
from worrying about the house
and other issues.  The small force of energy         
               I've forgotten to free, animate.
 
The wind knows the bird ( a winged harlequin)
and what I'm talking about -
as it shakes a few twigs in its palm
               tossing them like jacks across the sidewalk.
 
They spill randomly and wait
to be picked up with other whims
before the sun bounces
this day downward; and the sky carries dusk
                heavy  on its shoulders.
 
 
 
 

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Building On The Waterfront


 

It's now a condo. Swank and sweetened

with upgrades: chrome, granite and laminated wood.

Outside, it's vintage brick with black-painted shutters,

scuff marks left by the heels of age and climate.

They  walk  along these walls still waiting

for others to come back who will never return.

The upper half was a loft where a woman

illustrated stories for children.  Bench and drawing board

became the polished harbor where her ideas

docked in the evening hours. A  tide of lemon oil

 and  lamplight flooding the room. The bottom half

her book shop where antique volumes

lodged haphazardly on oaken shelves.  A china bull dog 

lingered near the window, ready to bark

if any of  the characters should whisper or shout

from their spine-sewn books. And once-in-awhile

a stray bird would fly through the doorway

looking to land someplace quaint. Like that corner

where  cobwebs and ivy tangled in a space

left  for harbingers of classic things --or trends to soon occur.

 It might have been the yellow finch

Hester  saw flitting among her garden plants, the mocking bird

Scout heard in a magnolia tree - or what I remember.

The swallow pecking at the casement's chipped paint

as if morse-coding a message of how the house

 of narrative would fall.
_______________________________________________________
 
Notes -- Hester alludes to Hester Pyrnne, the adulteress, in Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel about sin and redemption in Puritan New England, The Scarlet Letter.. Scout refers to Harper Lee's tomboy in To Kill A Mockingbird.

Standards


You learn about this strange place

from  birth  -- journeying there

through the  middle earth  of yourself.

 

Not the topography

of muscle and sinew, tissue and tributaries

of veins or nerves. That reef of growing bones.

 
No,  this about the green hill

with sea winds surrounding its henge.

A girdle of standing stones

                     ( too large to wear

except for the mother goddess)

 

and how it holds in

what is sacred, durable

               despite tremors or storms.

 
How light enters on a slant

blessing each slab with a perspective;

and how the girl wears its shadow

 
having been inside, having felt

the weight of  her wilder will

           lighten, lift as mist


toward the ocean. The tide rampant

with  scavenger birds  pecking

at  what floats in the shallows,

 
what slimes in the pearlessence

of a shell.

 

                 

          

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem For The Women Of The AWWP


                   I

The  Invocation

 
I have become this poem

and before this poem,

I became Arifa, Zarmina, Amail

Sweta. Safar  and Lima --

 
their tongue, their pen, their leaf,

their scrap of paper

veined in writing,

mottled with tears.

 
Something:

 for the pocket to hide,

the firewood to shun

the wind to carry west.

 
       II

The Stone


The river is dry.

I steal a stone

from its bed of clay

and will cast it back

when the rains come

 
or at  him

when he turns mad

moving  to flog my body

as if its slight bones

were a stack of grain

 

My burqa is torn.

I pull a thread

wanting to unravel

this blue shroud and lift  my hair

in wind, in light

the plumage of a  bird.

 
A long-tailed bird

hanging loose in the air,

absorbing the ripe scent

of  almonds --

 

the black gravel beneath

(grave of my sisters)

marked with its shadow.

 
The house is bare.

I blow out its breath

and unlatch the door.

The lamp sends its snuffed flame

to the sky, a ghost of smoke


but then my hope

with only this stone, this staple,

wanders into exile with it.
____________________________________________________

 
I love the concept and the need of writers to give voice to the voiceless. As Alison Hawthorne Deming states --
"The grief we feel at abuses of human power is the first positive step at transforming that power for the good." And art allows us to accomplish that goal in certain ways; especially through the expression and recognition of our humanity; its suffering, its injustice as well as its compassion, strength and dignity. This brought to mind Marsha Hamilton who started the "Afghan Women's Writing Project".