Lies We Tell Ourselves

image from Pinterest

The lies we tell ourselves
Such sparkling things.

Belief needed in the moment–
See diamonds, rubies, sapphires,
Gold, treasures to cherish.
Let the mirror reflect
The lies to eyes
And souls
In needing desire.
Do not hold them in harsh sun.
Too thin,
Too frail,
Too fragile
To withstand such blazing light.

Gently bury them deep
Beneath the soil
Of a needing heart
And the damp decay
Of foolish wants.
Let the lies take root
Growing into the very soul.

The lies
We tell ourselves,
We smile
To keep
The truth at bay,
As the lies grow
The rot of hopelessness
Into our very souls.

Texas Two Step

I knew how to dance once.
Didn’t have to think
about the placement of feet,
a way back when the movement
of elegance and grace,
of heat and passion,
of fun and joy
was all rhythms
I could hear and follow,
Reveling in the feel
Before a shoulder snapped out of joint,
Hanging limp at my side,
And I unlearned the lessons of dance,
Unlearned all the intricacies
Of the Argentine,
Unlearned the grace
Of the Viennese,
Unlearned the joy
Of doing double time.

Unlearned everything of dance
Until I barely remembered
I once knew how to dance.

Then I tried to learn The Texas Two Step
And failed and failed and failed
Couldn’t feel the steps and glides
That looked so easy, so fun
And I wondered if I ever had known
How to really dance.
Maybe once, a long time ago,
I could have mastered this,
This Texas Two Step dance.


I had not realized
That still I wore the black,
The widow’s weeds of anger,
These five years hence
Your death.
Until today,
When at your grave,
I stood and, in finality,
Cast them away.

Now, emerging from the black chrysalis
Of my anger,
Perching upon the vine,
I can spread the wings,
Waving them, allowing them to dry.

And you, my wife, are not here.
Not under this six feet of earth.
You have long flown away,
Beyond the things we were and were not,
Beyond the languages we spoke and wrote
To one another yet could not understand,
Beyond the desire of ego and want and need,
Beyond the hurts and the pains of life and selfishness
To where only truth, love, and real atonement
Color a spirit and soul in a prism of flames.

And in my freedom from anger and pain,
I wear your vine with my own rose, and
I am the Monarch with wings ready to fly.

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.


A word or two,
A word or two,

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.

Silver and White Under a Ruidoso Sky

 Here, under a Ruidoso sky,
 You remind me:
 An extraordinarily warm spring day
 Spent in a field somewhere
 In Lancaster County, PA.
 Where exactly? Well, now,
 I could not really say.
 I’d never find it again,
 Even after taking the memory
 Down off the shelf
 And dusting the cobwebs away.
 I remember the day in snapshots
 Before we trampled, stomped, burned
 our youth:
 The drive from Baltimore
 In your little black sports car.
 The top down.  The wind
 Running its fingers through
 Your copper hair.
 The glitter of your crystalline eyes
 In the morning sunshine.
 The softness of 501 jeans washed
 A thousand times.
 Your artist’s soul looking for the
 Perfect spot, rejecting several
 Before perfection found,
 A sun-drenched meadow amid
 Pine trees.  No Amish around, you said.
 The care you took with blankets
 And picnic basket and, of course,
 Your ever-present sketchbook.
 Cheeses, bread, fruits, and wine
 You packed.
 I read.
 You sketched.
 We ate and drank.
 Then, I posed for you,
 The first time.
 No one was around.
 No one could see,
 You said and so
 You shucked me
 Of clothing and
 Arranged me
 And my long black curls.
 You sketched me
 And said you wished you
 Had your paints.
 Copper and black hair
 Tangled together.
 And the sun low
 In the sky.  We
 Packed the basket
 And folded the blanket.
 Some 40, 41 years ago.
 Snapshots of that day.
 Why remind me now?
 We trampled, stomped, burned our
 Youth down.  Oh, yes. we could tease
 "Here come and sit, where never 
 serpent hisses, And being set, 
 I'll smother thee with kisses."
 We’d do nothing better in the
 Here and the now were we to tangle
 Silver and white together.
 Lies were told, I know.
 For once, I wanted to believe.
 Your truth telling services,
 I do not need…
 And the tangling of silver and white now, just--
 The braiding of loneliness and longing
 Leaves us soulless.