Things Someone’s Grandmother Once Said
Don’t be in such a hurry,
It’s easy to grow old,
Even easier to find yourself
At that place alone,
A shadow on a veranda
Waving goodbye to someone.
You need to know you’re beautiful,
In the soft cave of your belly fat
And your well-formed upper thighs.
And listen, it’s okay to wear fishnet,
Decorate yourself in sequins,
Glamorize your life, flash the lights
On and off like the paparazzi,
Like whole days and nights
Spinning by in mere seconds;
Don’t worry about blown light-bulbs
Or rather or not your lipstick
Is too red for the shirt you wear
Because one day the total sum
Of your youth might be mingled
To a single black and white Polaroid.
You don’t always have to stand
As straight as your father said,
And you can say anything you like.
Life’s too short for proper grammaticism,
For driving between two perfect lines.
No, life is a rollercoaster,
So let your hair be tussled,
Spin until you fall into the arms of
Whoever might be standing closest.
Lose a shoe or two.
And don’t be afraid to walk
Your own self home from the party.
And sometimes it’s okay to let yourself go.
You know, at my age, everyday
Someone dies, people I know,
Whose voice I’ve heard, skin I’ve touched,
Maybe even accidentally while
Drinking from their coffee cup
having tea together, sharing books and secrets.
We all die by chance but it’s still our destiny
So don’t forget the amazing feel
Of your own beating heart
Between ice cream with your kids
And grad school dissertations,
Jury duty and the shitty jobs.
Don’t go gentle into no good night,
Knock the street-lamps out with rocks,
Burn his dinner when he’s
No longer what he’s been,
Teach your kids how to fold their own clothes,
Wear your body till it’s as silky
As a second-hand shirt,
And write whatever you like,
Write everything, actually.
Leave no shame unnamed, no wine undrank.
Prowl the earth like a lioness with a lasso.
Know that anything you catch
Is really caught by chance.
Know also that for anything you don’t like,
You can sever the line like a vegetable limb
and swing that baby again.
Late October lays a frosty dawn
Across the windowpane.
I awaken to the drum-beat
Of a space heater,
Of an antique kettle.
And, gathering my feet
In fluffy fleece
Like two young bunnies,
I step my 8 am swanker
Across creaking floorboards
To the buffet in the kitchen.
I kiss the cold nose of my lover,
Yawning and sleep-bland
As the maple oatmeal,
Roiling a boil that spits
Its damp steam to dance,
Atop the stove bulbs.
We heat our freezing hands
With too-hot cups
Of vanilla bean cappuccino,
Moon-moth of my morning,
She rolls across my tongue
Like a brown mamba.
Together we eat,
Silent and straight as yogi’s
While the sun rises,
Quick light of her breath
Casting a fall glow
Into stiff-back night shadows,
Thick and creamy
As Nutella across warm toast.
Autumn is a pressed leaf
On a page I’ve already read,
Stained yellow by the
Finger-print of my younger self.
Autumn is an old man in a red shirt
Reading a forgotten newspaper that blows
The aging faces of its stories across
Lawns full of ever-green and forgotten pine.
We embroider our early nights of spray-paint orange
And coal-stove cinder, carnivals and hayrides
We drink apple cider in the backs of cars,
Happy and pressed knee-to-knee like thirsty clowns.
September is a fresh sundress
You can no longer wear without a sweater,
It’s a boot-full of pine cone and red pepper,
Fresh potato soup simmering,
And the sweet molasses of cornbread baking
against the cozy, crackling logs of a bonfire.
This is a season-full of rusty cars,
Bodies swaying against a solstice-colored sky
To a small-town band in a country field,
their drums beating the sweaty blues
of summer into some other hemisphere.
An October Moon Walks Me Home
Each night, like clockwork
At a little past eight
I leave the café.
I walk alone, where shadows
Throw the side-street
Into a mud-streaked illumination
Of rearranged mortar.
As I pass windows
Of ice cream joints and
So-called five-star diners
Where strangers keep post
At their vegan plates
And medium-rare steaks
As if the hungry old beggars
At the corner
Might steal a taste,
I feel a strange
Disconnection from humanity.
My feet slide on past
The slippery bricks
Of the public library,
Isolated at this late hour,
It’s glass doors flashing
Orange from the lone, sad
Jack-o-lantern, all electric.
I think to myself sadly
That at least he’ll never die.
The sidewalk spins
My stride between bare trees
And the moon beams
Her invisible dove feathers
Through my hair, glowing white,
My fingers that become
One swimming the atmosphere,
At my side,
The other clutching
A years-full of my thoughts,
A gentle breeze tickles my chin
And chills my arms
A series of skin-pricks
As a chilly October night
Walks me home, my belly full
Of warm tea and poets-talk.
“The pressure cooker,”
My grandmother would call
Her conversation from the kitchen,
So we’d gather around the table
To finish breaking and stringing.
My father would turn the 5 o’clock newscast
Down to a mumbling monologue
But still the tragic stories and relays
Of hometown miracles
Would linger about the table,
Spiraling their white noise
Between the pop of a knuckle,
the spine-crack of a bean seed.
Drifting amongst the salty sweet aroma
Of simmering ham-hocks,
A sharp clang of soap dishes
To shatter the funeral parlor quiet,
Reminding us we were still awake.
Twenty-some odd years later,
Sometime after adolescent fears of death,
While drinking wine and looking out
The window of a busy restaurant
I realize how much
the comforting words of my uncle
Once meant as he hoed the garden
In the brittle heat-wave of some long-gone summer,
How familiar the sound of my father
Slicing cucumber, the sizzle of his frying zucinni,
My mother measuring milk and pouring drinks,
And the prattling rattle of my sister setting the table;
history lost to an old clock,
The years of time melting it’s metal innards.
But the moment still lives,
Voices long-dead still immortalized
In the smell of fresh string-beans,
A kitchen bustling with the drone
Of table-conversation and the
winking tinkle of my empty wine glass.
I gently twirl the stem
And think of the good old days,
Back when time didn’t scare me,
When people whom I loved had not yet
Been stolen from the dinner table of my memory.
I tip the waitress and walk
Into the bright of daylight,
At once in love with the crazy riff-raff of traffic,
The chipping brick of a historical town
I sometimes loathe like a misery tick.
The air of my world renewed,
Life clarified more clearly,
The bones of my flesh rejuvenated
In a way no wine ever could.
I catch a glimpse of my reflection
In a consignment shop window,
At once in love with my body,
The warm glow of it’s mortal flesh,
Right down to the crumbs
At the corners of my mouth,
The coffee-stain on my shirt collar.
I rejoice in the bleeding skin
Of a broken nail from the morning dishes
And the breaking, beating heart of me
that still lives to commit
to an old memory.
How Love Is
This is how love is…
One is misunderstood,
Another walks into the vast sparkle
Of a Van Gogh night.
The street lights illuminate
The city bridge and high-rise buildings,
A concrete map constructed
Of midnight black and chip-block.
Somewhere in a field beyond
The lonesome road, another stray soul
Roams the green fields,
A pale piece of ivory moving with the wind.
And beyond the pavement and
A crowd of trees, their leaves
Whispering softly in a warm breeze,
Roars a bitter sea,
It slides amongst the coast
And the darkened underwater coves
Like a blue silhouette of the finest ink.
And somewhere someone
I don’t know is speaking
Into the hollow neck of a tall glass,
Gazing out their window
Into the landscape of an alleyway,
But this does not matter.
What matters is
It is midnight,
Ad it has been a long time
Since I gathered the ocean in my hands,
Felt the wingbeats
Of pelicans and seagulls
Flash their quick breeze past me.
And somewhere far away
Center-piece in a square
Of yellow window-light
Someone is dancing alone.
The Spinning End of a Solstice
Early winter was a warm couch
In a cold room, vintage shrill
Of a tea kettle breaking
The still air of my kitchen,
When I began to piece
The parts of myself together.
The ink across the inside
Of her left wrist, now meaningless.
November begrudgingly became
A fall shadow, butterflies
Disappearing from the wildflower
In my backyard into the secretive,
Electric buzz of hives not yet
Touched by the sin of human hands.
I met her by the smoky wood
Of a winter solstice, my lips
Brushing hers beneath a twilight
Of candied street lanterns,
How they shined the glow of
Their sugared globes across our faces,
Bathing my front steps
an ethereal illumination.
Time would soon close the
Last door of December as
A secret no one could know yet.
She became a shiny shadow in the
Soap bubble of my evening dishwater,
The rising sun of a summer equinox,
As brazen to my skin as the
road rash of each midnight,
the red of her car chasing the moon
down a strip of back-road
Like a lone alpha fox.
The soft of her skin was fine dining
Compared to the sticky stubble
Of men I could never love.
And on a bitter new years’ eve
As the wind spun the stars
In circles across the moon
Like a string of fairy lights,
Drug-store wine burning my pallet
While I drank alone
I imagined her at the night café,
Its rustic signs and the smell of alcohol
Reminding her of a pub somewhere
Off an interstate in Georgia,
When I realized it was the touch
Of her hands I’d been missing
For most of my life.