Steady as we prayed

Over lunch, a mantis settled for my Stella de Oro day lilies in the
blazing west sun on my roof deck in Baltimore. A capricious whim,
or calculated move – its motivation irrelevant. To the immediate south,
basil sage perfume, and wild-eyed purple petunia. Air conditioners
hummed mildly for the mantis on a deepening yellow bloom and
just as motionless as a cat perched two roofs away. I watched, captivated.
I willed the insect to move. Electricity rushed the wires. A car door closed.
Wind rustled pollen loose as a police helicopter
charged us to the east. Not one spindly leg twitched.  I looked up.

– a liminal space, a sudden tumblingwhirring cacophony of
skin
and privilege
and good blocks
and protection, and
murder and
bad blocks and
fear and
and grief and so much grief –

Then looked down. Mantis had moved while the rotor blades roared.
It perched upside down mindful, head bowed,
tiny insect arms set in prayer. Steady as the sirens followed
like clockwork. Steady as we thought of our neighbors, knowing not a single one.

 

Written 7/11/16

I’m with the majority

Today I think
1 of 2 people love poetry,
one half is convinced 5 of
12 words deliver peace, and
the rest are worthy of
derision, humiliation, and worse.
90% want freedom
from rhyme, 6% love
structure, the others
undecided. I heard 2.75% of grown-
ups are afraid of the dark, which
seems low, and 83%
of kids still believe in
multiplication, which seems high.

I’ve made
my camp with the majority,
who is always right. 1 of 2 of us
is happy about it.

 

Written 7/11/16

35

35 is
of the world
and not,
a stew of overjoyed
and discontent.

Maybe when I’m older
the balance changes?

I know when I was younger,
the scale slid far below
the line of happy; Things were so
dramatic then.

35 forms a crossroad,
a slow settling into your own bones.

Possibilities shine in the distance,
dirt glows under our feet

 

written 6.6.15

Everything is Waiting For You by David Whyte

Last Sunday, I was able to participate in a wonderful event called Dancing on the Fragile Edge of the World: A Scholarship Concert of Music and Poetry with Michael S. Glaser (my former college professor), Brian Ganz, and Deanna Nikaido. I’d like to share one of the featured readings from this event here in an effort to share the love, light, and positive energy that the event gave to me.

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

— David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You
©2003 Many Rivers Press

Fiercely, we hold on

We are never more rooted
in this big universe than
when our eyes sting and
our heads hang heavy for loss.

When we, a procession of sun
glasses, watch, shifting feet,
as life disappears back into
those thick familiar arms.

Our backs, clothed in black,
savor warmth, unaware that
we are at once joyful and empty,
and crying for ourselves

mirrored in the lowering. How
we know deeply: absence
of something weighs more than
substance, and we fiercely hold on.

First time asleep

the first time i slept with him,
that sleep unafraid, mouth open,
not worried about drool or how my
cheeks fold and stack unattractive, i
felt like i had stepped out of
my skin, unzipped, truly naked
for the first time, thinking you’ve
never seen me before until now, you’ve
never realized how i would
lie awake waiting until your breath
cascaded slower, until your own
mouth fell aside, your soft snore my
signal: all clear to close your eyes.

My Blue Shirt by Gary Whited

American Life in Poetry: Column 621

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

“The next time you open your closet, this poem will give you reason to pay a little more attention to what’s hanging inside. Gary Whited is from Massachusetts and his most recent book is Having Listened, (Homebound Publications, 2013).”

My Blue Shirt

hangs in the closet
of this small room, collar open,
sleeves empty, tail wrinkled.
Nothing fills the shirt but air
and my faint scent. It waits,
all seven buttons undone,
button holes slack,
the soft fabric with its square white pattern,
all of it waiting for a body.
It would take any body, though it knows,
in its shirt way of knowing, only mine
has my shape in its wrinkles,
my bend in the elbows.
Outside this room birds hunt for food,
young leaves drink in morning sunlight,
people pass on their way to breakfast.
Yet here, in this closet,
the blue shirt needs nothing,
expects nothing, knows only its shirt knowledge,
that I am now learning—how to be private and patient,
how to be unbuttoned,
how to carry the scent of what has worn me,
and to know myself by the wrinkles.
 

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright© 2013 by Gary Whited, “My Blue Shirt,” from Having Listened, (Homebound Publications, 2013). Poem reprinted by permission of Gary Whited and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2017 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

Everything is Fine, Go Back to Sleep

I worry; you’re so good at hiding things,
like grit between your teeth, or
his baseball stats, her diminishing frame. Your heart is a
container full and piled high, your hands those of a thief,
gloved and stealthy, your chest a locked door.
I know the spot and still cannot find it.
Each sleep brings a chance, I think now I am here,
but the scent dies, trail dissolves,
your smile shakes the dream: “Everything is fine, go back to sleep.”

Is this too a dream?

I dream so well, so deep,
sometimes I can’t tell the dreaming
from the living. The rooms are both blue.

Have you ever thought you awoke, only to
find you were still dreaming? The clocks
on the wall melt like Dali.

When you say I Love You, the words seem
slow. If I reach out to touch you, will you
still be there, will you still be?

6 years ago – and the poetry

Hard to believe this all started 6 years ago. To all my poetry lovers out there – THANK YOU! And I’m sorry for the neglect… but I’m back 🙂 #JustPressSend

I found the words while
cleaning. They were
hiding in a corner I never visit anymore,
in a house I neglect,
their edges yellowing, those once
tall Ts slumped, bowled over by
gravity, and between tiny spaces,
weeds now rooted, all but
wrecking the leading, so many lines askew.

what a mess, a holy mess,
but the point is – I found them.