Under A North Texas Sky

my own image

No roots here,
Not under this.
Not under this,
North Texas sky.
Nothing grew,
Nothing rooted,
Although I tried.

I planted native plants,
Fertilized and tended,
Weeded and watered,
Talked lovingly even,
Became the crazy lady
With the plants.

For a bit, just a bit,
Each plant bloomed
In wonderful cinematic, 
Glorious technicolor.
I would think– 
I’ve got it right!
But no. Each would start
To wilt and fade.
I googled and researched,
Soil tested even.
Yes, it’s true– to know
What to do.
But I was doing everything right.

No expert could tell me true,
Just why I could not
Get anything to flourish,
to grow, to root
In this, this North Texas soil
Under this, this North Texas sky.

A Tree in Winter

Getty Images vandervelden

My hope is
Different now,
Changed, evolved.
Once a verdant green
Of fresh, newborn spring.
Now evolved into this chilly thing–
Brown, dried husks,
A few barely clinging
To a tree in late autumn.
Seems something, someone
Sucked the hope out,
Fed on it as if it were life’s blood,
And I am left drained, a leftover hull
Of what once was. But I go on
As if all is the same and nothing
Is gone. A tree in winter,
Hoping enough green
Is left to grow, to live in spring.

The Moon and Narcissus

narcity.com

Through wisps of thin streaming clouds,
The last full moon of the decade
Looked down on me and seemed to nod.
Why? I’m not sure.
I thought and tried to puzzle it out.
The decade? Perhaps.
Did this last full moon wish me
To think about this decade?

What ten years can bring:
A wife battling ovarian cancer
For her life and loosing;
Loosing myself along the way
And finding me and loosing me
All over again; A profession left in disgust
For the pleasure of retirement;
A daughter nearly lost and then regained.
Talk about water swirling slowly down the drain.
But it swirls no longer. The ground leveled.
The tub fills. I have finally grown into my skin.

I look to the moon again and she seems to nod
Once more. From somewhere, I smell a faint
Scent of narcissus. Yes, it would be easy.
Play the fool once more and return to that place,
find beauty and comfort In blue skies
And soft grasses by mountain lake,
Breathing in the sweet narcissus scent,
Pretending for a little while
That everything offered was true.
But brimstone to my soul would it be.
Leave the blue skies, the soft grasses, the mountain lake,
The scent of narcissus behind.
This I must do or my soul I would lose.

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.

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.

Washed

ptownchamber.com

At sunrise over water,
Remembering a dream
Of finding ecstasy
Within tears,
Things neither given
Nor felt in years,
Linked by all the fears
To form decades of a life
Lived like a stranger
In my own skin.

I have stood
Since the dawn
At this ocean’s edge
Waiting, waiting.
And now at noon
The rain begins.
Fierce pelting blows
Washing me clean
Of all I know
Or dare to dream.

For living continues
Within my own skin

No Art

This was written after I completed 
a five mile hike and then picked up 
a volume of Elizabeth Bishop's poetry 
to enjoy once again on a sunny afternoon.  
My answer to Bishop's poem, One Art.
 In this thing called losing,
 Bishop said we become masters
 And that losing isn’t a disaster.
  
 No, Not a disaster.
 Losing socks and such stuff.
 I’ve lost earrings, bracelets,
 Expensive ones too, didn’t care
 Beyond maybe a minute or two.
  
 And no pain beyond a stab of nostalgia
 Did I have upon saying goodbye 
 To three houses and two cities.
  
 And yes, it was no disaster
 To bury my mother, 
 A father who really wasn’t,
 The man who really was,
 First one brother, then the other,
 Then lastly, a wife.
 With each, my body and soul
 Savaged by a hurricane, catastrophic, yes.
 But no, no disaster.
  
 Except perhaps, yes, I’ll admit, 
 A tiny bit of soul eroded 
 From the waves of each hurricane
 Breaking over me as I buried each.
 And nothing, nothing did I master.
  
 Except, maybe this—
 I did not look for them
 Since they were gone,
 Emptied of this earth.
  
 Now, there is you and
 I look for you
 In everything I do--
 Every sunset
 Every sunrise
 Every in between time.
  
 I look for you in strangers,
 In cars I pass along the street.
 I look for you at festivals,
 In films I see.
 I look for you in places,
 In the sky of Ruidoso,
 In bars,
 In restaurants,
 In the eyes of strangers, 
 I look for you.
  
 I look for you in all this.
 And in this thing
 Called losing, 
 In which I am well-schooled,
 As are we all, 
 I have tried to make an art,
 To make an art of all this loss.
  
 Yes, this may be no real disaster,
 But Bishop lied.
 There is no art in losing,
 No art at all,
 That I can find to master.
   

Modern Prometheus becomes The Little Stranger

Originally posted on Braveandrecklessblog.com

 So now we know,
 You told me I wasn’t,
 But I was—
 Your creation.
  
 Said you loved me
 Just the way I was—
 But was it true?
  
 Yes, I was perfect
 Just the way I was—
 You said,
 But you didn’t care for:
 My curly hair,
 My dresses,
 My high heels,
 My red lipstick.
  
 So, I became a cut out,
 Of the rest of my parts
 With the parts you inserted,
 A sewn together woman.
 Then electrified and brought back
 To life by a love you claimed
 Was for the true me.
  
 Now the parts you inserted
 Die away, shriveling at the lack
 Of your electricity.
 I stumble,
 A stiff-legged walk to your door,
 Shuck this graying shit and warm myself
 By the fire I create to burn
 These rigor mortised parts.
 Thus, I become something more akin
 To myself once again—
 That little stranger
 With curly hair,
 Wearing dresses,
 High heels,
 And signature whore red—
 I become
 My little one.
  
    

Red Heart Cedar

This red heart cedar stump,
With its dark crevasses
And holes where bugs had homes,
Was sanded smooth.
A urethane finish added for shine
And protection.
The rings are visible still,
Rings that count the years
Until the tree fell in a storm,
Twisted from the earth
By tornadic winds.

Thus, I found it
In the yard.
Took the chain saw to the tree,
Cut it into chunks,
Along with the others that fell
That day while the dog and I
Sought shelter from the storm.

Now I sand and chisel away.
Routing out some hearts concave,
Bowls to be used for filling
At some future date,
Now standing empty.
Sanding some hearts level,
Tables to be used for holding things,
Yet these are empty too.

All this red heart cedar,
Once stood filled with life,
Now stands empty.