Forty Years Ago

personal image of sunrise in Ruidoso, New Mexico

For forty years,
We walked days through,
Asking strangers known, “How are you?””
Without really wanting to know.
Our answers in kind,
A litany of fines
And greats and couldn’t be betters.
All the while,
Parts are chipped away.
Our edges rough
Like antique china tea cups.
It is thus
Life becomes measured out
In phrases,
And we speak of it
In stages and ages
Of what is next for us.
Told to be grateful for what I have,
I never mourned the losing
Of what was wanted once
Now forgotten,
Or regretted,
Or never attained
In the first place.
Until forty years have flipped
Through the fingers
Like the pages of a dusty book
With yellow crinkled pages
Written in faded ink,
An anthology of years,
For each of us.

On this southwest horizon,
We meet once again, and
We watch sunrise and sunset.
Our heads bent toward each other
As if in prayer.
Our hair a tangle of silver and white
In the winds of New Mexico.
Only time will tell
What comes of this
Tangle of loneliness and longing.

Illusions

A word or two,
You. 
A word or two,
You.

And on it goes,
Until my throat does close,
And the bar with six screws
That holds my neck bones
Together rubs
At the esophageal tissue there.

And I think maybe a screw
Worked out of the bone.
That would be me—
A screw loose.

And I think
I am just too old,
Too old, for this–
Heartbreak shit.
Like Prufrock,
“I grow old, I grow old.”
Oh, how fuckin’ appropriate.

And then I go walk.
But not “upon the beach.”
What I thought you were,
What I wanted to believe you were,
There still when I return.

Wings

A wish to follow the sun
And always know its light
Was a childhood dream.
I never wanted to know night.

Terrors happened without light,
So began my craving
For warmth and light.

The natural world and its order
Cannot satisfy such cravings.
One must learn to live without light.
An adult adjustment, a drooping in the spine
Of spirit, a caving inward happens
When childhood cravings must give way
To the knife sharp edge of the adult
World order, how one learns to avoid
The blade of reality, curl inward.

Others hammered out cages
That seemed to fit for me.
Told me to shut up and be happy.
Each wire in the cage a reason
For my unhappiness
With which the one who wielded
The hammer had nothing to do so it was claimed
Or
Each wire a welded bond of a reason
Why I should be happy
If I shut up and smiled
A pretty smile
and wept tears of happiness
Upon my fiery, welding savior.

For years, I kept silent.
Silence made for a peaceful cage,
So I had learned.

Then it happened.
My silence gathered round me,
Head to toe,
Wrapping me in darkness and warmth.
At first, panic.
Nothing good ever happened in darkness.
But I felt them start to form.
Slowly, painfully.
So painfully.
A pain I had never felt before,
Starting in my mouth,
Traveling down my throat,
Seeping out either side of my spine
Between my shoulder blades.
Giving birth had been less painful
Than this, as if new bone and tissue
Formed and moved and settled in.

After a few years,
the chrysalis of silence split open.
I spoke as my new sprouted wings dried,
“You were the wires of the cage meant
To keep me from the warmth I crave,
Meant to keep me from the stirrings of my blood.
Meant to keep me from the sun.”

I am caged no longer now.
I migrate with the sun
And all things those with cages
Sought to keep me from,
Things that stir the blood,
Things that feed on
The warmth of the sun
Are mine to alight upon.

Every Thing

Changed, evolved.

Everything

Used to be a verdant green

Of fresh, newborn spring.

Evolved into a chilly thing,

Brown, dried husks,

A few barely clinging

To a tree in late autumn,

Early winter.

Seems something, someone

Sucked the hope out,

Fed on it as if it were life’s blood,

And everything is drained, a leftover hull

Of what once was.  But everything goes on.

As if all is the same and nothing

Is gone.

Steak

In youth,

I’d take my steak

Well done only,

Extra dead, I’d say.

Now, older,

having been taught,

Palette educated years ago,

I’ll take my steak

Rare only,

Extra moo, I say

Raw if I could,

I say with a smile,

The tang of iron upon the tongue.

Swallow down fibrous chunks

of bloody muscle

barely chewed.

Wash down all reproach

With the tinny taste

Of blood.

Words Never Said

The things we never said numbered,

Counted out and measured

Against the years.

No voice given

To the bouquet

Of words

In truth I’d have said,

For you chided

Me like a child

When I tried.

A throat choked

By petals, stems, and leaves.

No air to the blood

That feeds the heart.

Need and want and desire

Existing

No longer,                                                          

Till I am not

Myself

Or who I wanted to be.

But the version of me

You wanted,

Standing mute

With tongue ripped out,

Defined

And custom made

By your design

To fill your needs

And by doing so

Drain mine,

Turning me

Into a dried shell,

A casing,

Twisted and turned,

Positioned just so,

Used for the display

Of you.