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.

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.

Darkness and Flame

one of my own images

Let me walk into the darkest sunrise,
Then let me crawl into the brightest sunset.
Fading into each as all my weaknesses,
All my wrongs, all my sins, all my flaws
Boil to the surface, burn,
Turning black and crusting over me.

Let me emerge,
Then from the cracking, heaping ash,
Surely not as perfect,
But as something better,
Like iron tempered into steel.

Yet if emerging
As a thing tempered
I cannot be,
Let me be content to simply fade
Into darkness and flame,
Consumed by each in turn
Until nothing remained
And I become
The darkness and the flame.

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.