Lies We Tell Ourselves

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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.

Believing
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.

At Christmas Eve Service

My daughter, at twenty-one, stands to my right.
The gentleman to my left turns to light my candle.
I do not know him, in that moment he is a friend.
I turn to my daughter, and with the small flame of my candle,
Light the candle she holds.

I lift my eyes to look upon her face and I know.
I feel it within me. A tiny spark jumps back
As I think of my own mother and wonder.
Did she ever look at me and feel that light, that flame inside?
Feel that spark of her soul live inside me?

It matters not what I have left undone:
No trip to Paris, No months spent living in Europe,
No books published, Nothing I wish for is important.
Nothing I long for matters to be lived, matters to be accomplished.
I have accomplished all that truly matters
And I can be at peace with any death
because
My daughter lives.

A Word

Remember whispered intimations

In the time before sleep.

Having faced down the hours

Of another day of what must be done,

How long will it take before

Forgetfulness wipes the whispers away

Of well-intentioned comfort

Along with any memory

Of facades presented but to a few

Who knew the truth?

Until then, stumble onward

Facing the intimidation

Of a blank page,

Smash a soul against it.

Read the splatters left

And know time is the matter.

Time, neither too fast, nor too slow

Can it pass before realizing

Nothing really mattered,

But the kindness

In forgetfulness.

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.

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.

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.