I fled from days
of standing under your patchwork roof
offering no protection from the rain,
least of all my own rain pouring out of me,
threatening always to drown in its leave taking.
So I learned to float, flowing along the curves
others presented in my efforts to find
time, love, home,
the back roads where berry bushes
grow in abundance.
Yet I never tasted,
never picked any berries,
fresh off the branches.
Instead, I always found
the snakes hidden, lying in wait
beneath the berry bushes,
for the seeking,
and I, always bitten,
never learned my lessons
of serpents who lay in wait,
or the lessons of Eve,
I still sought,
in spite of the venom,
in spite of the bites—
I found the rains pouring out of me
to travel on
It is the official release day!
It is the official release day! I’m honored and grateful that my friend, Candice Louisa Daquin, “gently” nudged me to do this. Additionally, I am indebted to Candice for believing in me and for her diligent work in editing. Thank you, Candice. You are one of the most giving people I know. I want to thank Tara Caribou of Raw Earth Ink who has been patient with this novice at every step in the publishing process.
I also owe a debt of gratitude to Susi Bocks,
Ivor Steven, and M. Brazfield who were willing to provide advance reviews on short notice. Thank you so much.
My militant mind reels,
victorious over sleep,
now warring with the words—
I grapple, attempting to find
the right ones,
the ones I left behind in dreams
or at war with other chores,
so in these early hours,
during a brief cease fire,
watch the sky
begin to pink
in the east.
I do not want to wish
yet it is easy,
I have Samson’s strength
to break this encasement
of fear of longing,
this fear of loss.
nothing gained —
I used to think that way
before the drought
came and withered
hope away before
could be made
and that thing
inside became like
the stalks of an orchid
shedding the petals of spent,
thin and dry as parchment paper,
falling, drifiting to the floor,
leaving the stalk empty.
I may wish to reach my hand,
twitching with something
to the eastern horizon,
where I imagine you
warm and dreaming still
but fear cements me still,
fear of longing
fear of loss
for that place inside
cradles no hope
for green stalks
Since I drove right by it
on my GPS selected route
on my way to dinner
I had to stop:
Here now— pulled over, paying reverence,
to time, youth, innocence, tragedy
When we loved each other
in this home we made together.
Here— this moment of reverence paid
unlocks the door of a room
where you are kept
preserved in perfection,
untainted by guilt
by the judgement
I rendered upon you
in my innocent ignorant self-righteousness
and so unleashed our tragedy upon us.
Now— could I travel that twisted high wire of time
back through the forty years
yet keep the wisdom of lessons
learned of forgiveness and judgment—
we would be young lovers
starting out again
and I would gift
you treasures of ancient gods and goddesses—
olive oil, an olive tree to plant,
casks of rose water,
roughly hewn amber, the mythic tears,
in which we could be captured.
I raise my head, turn my eyes to the road ahead,
locking the door to that place
where you are kept
preserved in perfection:
Sitting in the window seat,
your head tilted to the light,
sunlight glistening off your copper color hair,
smile wide as you lift your drawing pad
and begin to sketch,
your thin lovely hand floating
in movement above the page.
There,I leave you once again,
As I drive away.
Should Not Have
Write a poem or piece of prose in exactly 23 words–Kaleidoscope
A woman once held a kaleidoscope to my eyes.
I, like a child entranced, fooled by a prism of colors,
Gave my soul away.
America, we never were a great nation.
Not with the genocide of native peoples, slave auctions
And slavery, Jim Crow, The Trail of Tears,
Japanese Internments, and the KKK.
No, we were never great.
We are always a nation of becoming.
A nation of ideals.
A nation great in flickering moments
Like old news reel footage:
When Harriet led her railroad,
When the suffragettes marched for the vote,
When Rosa would not be moved,
When Martin believed in the one day
Every child would have,
When Edie and Thea showed
Marriage should be defined by love,
Not biological gender.
We are a people of hope, of dreams,
Of knowing life would be better
When we made each other great.
Now, hate ripples from one sea
To another, and neither shines any longer
With Liberty because her torch
Grows dim with this reign of hate.
And there are many who want to forge once again
The chains to her ankles, shackling her in place,
Because they want to keep her,
But just for looks sake. Her mate, Justice, remains
On life support, having been beaten to a bloody pulp
By those who see color, who see gender,
Who see all the women who need
To be put in their place,
Who see a society where Justice serves only
The white Christian right, or rather, where Justice is made
Their slave. No, this is not a great nation.
This is not a great nation
When a leader can bully and spew hate
While the First Lady urges kids
“Be Best” in a limp campaign to not do the same
And few mention the irony.
This is not a great nation.
This is not a great nation
When a leader can urge violence
Against the media, immigrants, those who disagree
And so few carry an outcry.
This not a great nation
Where 18 trans women, 17 of them of color,
Can be murdered within less than a year
Yet our highest court must hear how
Laws do not apply to LGBTQ.
No, this is not a great nation
When so many must blame, exclude, and hate,
When so many must abase another to uplift themselves,
All the while professing Christianity.
Our founders gave us rules of law to make us better than this.
We are not a great nation
Until we realize the American Dream
Doesn’t see color or gender,
Doesn’t see race or religion,
Doesn’t see sexual identity,
Until none of us need to stand on the backs
Of others to feel better about ourselves—
Until we realize the American Dream is freedom and equality
And there is enough for all to go around,
We can not be a great nation.
But the greatness in our nation is this:
That we can be
If we recognize our humanity.