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.

She Carries

A lazy weekend morning dawns,
As I drink my morning coffee
Wishing for a morning cigarette,
Or more precisely, that I still smoked,
I think of the women I have known.
The beauty, passion, love, heartache of each;
Some leaving a bitter aftertaste,
Some a sweetness lingering in memory,
Some could ignite burning still,
Some inspire an icy chill
In a frostbitten heart.
Though none is as they were
So long ago,
If in a room
All could be collected,
An eclectic collection it would be
Of age and size and color,
Of eye and hair and skin,
Of butch and femme
And somewhere in between.
Each beautiful in her way
And in my eyes.
Each carries a collection of
All my would haves,
And should haves,
And could haves.
Perhaps three or four
Carry all my what if’s
And if only’s.
Two maybe three
Carry all my regrets.
One maybe two
Carry the burden of my sins.
One, just one,
Carried my faith.

But only one–
Yes, only one—
Too amazing for belief,
Carried, for a time, too brief,
My heart and my soul.

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.