Old Year

Images of the year
Drift in my mind
Like so many
Snowflakes melting
In a cold rain.
My blood turns icy
With so much frozen regret.

My dog stops.
We’ve reached a crosswalk.
Unlike me, she’s learned
Her lessons well.
But she reminds me
The years of regret are done,
So we walk on since no traffic comes.

The sun peeks out,
Deciding it’s safe,
She comes out all the way
To warm and cheer us.
My dog looks up at me
And seems to smile.

This year will be done.
Yes, soon, this year will be done.

At Christmas Eve Service

My daughter, at twenty-one, stands to my right.
The gentleman to my left turns to light my candle.
I do not know him, in that moment he is a friend.
I turn to my daughter, and with the small flame of my candle,
Light the candle she holds.

I lift my eyes to look upon her face and I know.
I feel it within me. A tiny spark jumps back
As I think of my own mother and wonder.
Did she ever look at me and feel that light, that flame inside?
Feel that spark of her soul live inside me?

It matters not what I have left undone:
No trip to Paris, No months spent living in Europe,
No books published, Nothing I wish for is important.
Nothing I long for matters to be lived, matters to be accomplished.
I have accomplished all that truly matters
And I can be at peace with any death
because
My daughter lives.

Lilith's Mantle

from Pinterest

We reject the second mother
you would give us,
reject subjugation
of ripped rib bone,
accept not the pain
from seeking knowledge.

We have borne brutality for the ages,
Silent always,
In churches,
In governments,
In streets,
And in our homes.
Our mouths learned silence,
keeping us, at least, alive.

Oh, we were worthy of protection
As long as we were your possessions:
Your mothers, your daughters,
Your sisters, your wives.
As long as you owned us
And we did as we were told,
We lived, perhaps, unbruised.

But the brave have shown us
Through the ages and now again
They show us another way.
We find our voice,
Too strident for your ears,
But even our whispers
Are too strident for you.

You will mock us,
Vilify us, this we know.
Proudly we wear the mantle
Of the first mother,
Lilith, the one you deemed
An enemy long ago and banished.
Her spirit moves us to speak
Against the men who take
Even our bodies from us.
You may beat us, kill us,
Force us into marriage and childbearing,
Rape us, place weapons into the hands
Of the children we bear,
Weld the chains of slavery upon us,
And laughingly say we asked for it
Should we complain.

Yet after all that and more,
Our submission you will not have.
We will rise like an ocean wave
Wakened by a great quake
Beneath the sea and drown you
With the devastation of your hate.

Soon some of Lilith’s daughters
Will march. Some will wait across
The Earth.

But Lilith’s mantle
Covers us all.
The quake is coming.
The wave will free us all.

Air

Never could breathe
When in your air.

You, your perfume,
Or something in the scent of you
Clogged my nose,
My sinuses,
My bronchial tubes
With fluid like cement,
Leaving me no air
To live on.

Really, suffocation
Never felt so sweet.

You were warmth personified
Like fire you fed on the oxygen
Whenever you wanted,
Wherever you were.
But God, it felt like heaven
To warm myself near your flames.
Until it felt like hell
And I burned in the flames,
Sucking in nothing but smoke.

Now, from the ashes,
I rise and breathe.


Once again,
I know the air.

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.