Water: Men with Needles

Sunset capes day’s shoulders.
Bedtime soon.
Water pools on my seat.
A breaking.
Hospital bound instead.

Intermittent light pressure.
Bradley trained
I’m thinking natural birth.

Dimmed lights,
Music plays brought from a
Bag packed, weeks ago.

Hours, little progress.
Next door, someone shrieks.
Active labor for her
Nothing for me.
Another day.

Sleep entrances
Whispering close by, waving distantly
From the cusps between vice grips

“I can’t anymore. Find help.”

Smaller bald man
Opens a hard case
Revealing shiny tools, a mega long needle

“Hold Still.”

Unfamiliar male hand grazes my hip
Measuring for the injection’s place.
I crumple.



Wind: Horses Saved My Life

“Look ahead, not down!”

Piano lesson and school grade free right now, atop a roly poly part Arabian bay, I’m in heaven.

Riding teacher speaks in a raised voice so that we hear her from afar through the wind. I lift my eyes. So hard to look forward. The majestic curve of neck, even a modest lesson horse’s, captivates. Coarse mane, available to grab during seconds preventing falls, bounces and whips in the breeze we create cantering.

I lose myself in the rhythm of stride underneath me. Power, agility, movement.

My soft hands excel holding a willing equine mouth. A contact, so balanced in the singular beauty of its unfolding, creates the lightest unspoken conversation.

I want to bottle the unparalleled passion of this moment in a jar to sniff later when I need to escape my teen life.


Punishment: Wine drinking “101”

Gluten for punishment, nerves, uncertainty
I consider wine today, everyday.

Sensory soaked sips
Overtake tedium with
Joyous reinvention
Complex possibility
Blood red promise
Deep in coming.

Unfolding mahogany secretaries
Oaked cherry tones with
Exotic spices pole vault up and over
Fruit forward sinus salutations.

Bills, bills, bills
Sheets to change, weeds to pull
Meals to spoon together
Folding, sweeping
Year after year.

Caked careers, marriage
Distilled pickled jars, oblong, lidded.
Life’s dull persistence aches.
I’m still here.

Sunsets greet evening candlelight.
Finally time to bring down shiny bulbous glasses
Rounded and jubilant
From clear shelving to
Celebrate life’s infinite elixir.


Unstoppable: The Aging Process

Life’s arc
curving up and outward
Rippling out days, years
Aging as we go
“Lifting as we climb”, hopefully.
But, even during uninspired
“Measured out in coffee spoon” moments
Unstoppable tick-tocks.

Looking sideways in mirrors
Corners of vision
Spot grey sprouts
Unwelcome weeds
Fills in follicles
Plucked, replucked.

Middle age brings benefits for the unlucky.

Angry acne juices starting to dry within
At last.
Sunken pits dot my face’s landscape
Marking war decades desperately fighting
Hydra enemy eradications
So militant, so strong, so endless.
So much puss squeezed
Leaving permanent reminders of
imperfect self extractions.

Less now.


Crisis: Losing The Best “Stuff”

Losing things

Fingers to earlobe
Finding uninterrupted silence
Instead of warm happy chit-chat
Thick, lustrous gold slipped away.

A crisis.

Hands full, hurry.
Juggling wallet, phone, keys, sunhat.
Black sequined jacket over left shoulder.
Pay, run to catch train.
Bejeweled garment, so glittery, so loved
Left, lost, gone.

The wind knocked out
A block pulled from foundation
Causing tumbling down.

“It’s just stuff.”

Looking outside.
A world filled with human suffering
Brutality, famine, sickness.
I’m lucky and have much.

But the agony of losing haunts.
Where does all that “stuff” go?
Why does the best stuff always leave?


Elusive: A Loved, True Self

Elusivity, my favorite mask
With other human beings.
Feathered, sequined conversation
Questions for others to answer
Decorate, distract, entertain and
Obscure windows into my own

With family
Disengagement also works.
A cape of flowing reticence
Noncommittal abstractions
Encourage redirection towards
Someone else, anyone else.

Elaborate costumery
Lavish plumage, my protection
So useful
So costly too.

Needles and pins holding things up
Pierce deeply, coagulating my
bloodstream’s desire
Blocking true Self
Leaving arid bones
Brittle to probing

“What do I want?”

Crumble to dust upon touch.

Deafening internal chaos
Zig zagged, multi-pronged
Cloud hugging wishes
Hope, self love,


Sanctuary: So Beautiful on the Outside, So Ugly Inside

A talented artist and always beautifully dressed, my former duplex neighbor had an ugly heart.

She knew how to make her own clay tiles. She decorated her side with whimsical southwest-style tiles she had hand painted in brilliant, cheerful colors, though her own spirit seemed so pinched.

A skilled gardener, she planted sweet, delicate flowers while often frowning. Her indoor plants brought a lush warmness to her house that she herself lacked. Her indoor waterfall bubbled peacefully amid artwork and cleverly arranged wicker furniture.

“My home is my sanctuary, so when a baby cries the noise is annoying.”

She pounded the shared wall with angry fists whenever the kids cried, as if that would solve anything. She had sold us our half and had known we had a baby.

“It’s like when G cries. It’s an expression of distress.”

With a straight face, she compared her adult self fist pounding with actions made by a two-year old and a newborn.

“People with children should not live in duplexes.”

She thought she might control her surroundings entirely through nasty letters decrying the living choices of other people.

She sold her side two years later to a reasonable person with whom we have had no major difficulties.

She lived next to us to avoid paying taxes on real estate profits exceeding $250K that she had made when she sold us our half.

That time of “suffering” was her choice.

There are some people you encounter that you are glad when they leave your life forever.


Carefree: Teenagers and Their Choices

“Do what you love and the money will follow”.

Children start to morph into adulthood. Though still carefree with the wind in their hair, they start to wonder how to best proceed in shaping their own happy futures.

Travel abroad, independent filmmaking, business, all three, none of the above, what?

There are those who, from the day they could run, have known their heart’s desire–what career they would love and would fit into all while making a decent living. Looking at long career arcs, growth, publications, recognition, I observe these lucky people enviously from afar. In my weaker moments, I twist my hands in despair for my own lack.

A square peg, my life’s work has never screamed out at me with clarity or success. As a result, I have had some success but also many miserable difficulties and failures along the way. Now, I work in a superficial industry that does not at all require the MA that I have, entertains me and provides uncertain income. I am thankful that I finally found something that works well enough in my life, but know that I want things to be different, better for my children.

Not surprisingly, I gravitated towards and married another square peg, who, brilliant in analysis and absorption of academic material, had no idea what career made the most sense for the person he was and is. Instead of ruminating among library stacks to ponder abstract ideas, where he belongs, he now bends his back under the weight of grinding deadlines, the drudgery of billable hours and demanding bosses and clients.

Still, there is happiness to extract from each day. Every day there are children to admire and delight in, wine to sip and both new and familiar people and experiences to enjoy.

But, In light of our own squiggly career paths, how do we best guide our children and their futures?

Is “guidance” something we really should or can do?

What college choices make the most sense for them and our budget? Which institutions and then careers will give them room to explore their interests? What paths will feed their souls as contributing adults?

I am utterly at a loss for words here.


Feast: Words

Keys grinding a stiff lock
Late night jangling
Keep me in a sort of
“Bookish dark” as I feast my soul
On Words.

Imagery, allusion, illusion
Bleeding from my mouth’s corners
Keep me Hydrated.
Emotional condensation
Links me to cerebral cortex

Who knows what dawn will bring?
Cream puff plate’s light promises
Caught by grit
A coffee pot nearly empty
Sandy grinds of
Rational conversation, evaluation, resolution.

But tonight, starving,
Language’s Absurdity
Fluidity, Treachery
Fill me fatly.

Inner thigh cellulose
Beads of Idle energy laying loose
Mottled excess
Make me Whole
Rip me apart.


Nightmare: Alone and Healthy

Worse things exist than being single.

Cancerous sores
Chemo port coming displaced
Weekend spent calling triage
Turning into intestinal blockage
Nightmare explosion
Real time shards
Spinning a death spiral.

Marriage worn thin
Brittle tears
Frayed threads
Suffocating vacuum.
Crumpled wrappers, piled.
Candy bars eaten one after another
In a way that only solitary despair knows.

After 19 years bricklaying
Spreading mortar’s family glue
I got out of that thing with me and you.

Alone, snowshoes on Antarctic ice
Raw and punchy
Out-of-bounds now.

Other men,
Misplaced familiarity.
Hand holding
Napkin dabs on my mouth
Meant for someone else, surely.