“This is what I looked like then I bought my first house,” I’ll say

I must admit I felt so terribly silly

Standing and squinting into the sunset

At my fiance, smile mirrored genuinely on his face-

He was the one gazing at the new home we owned,

Papers just signed this morning.

The rough red brick beneath my fingertips,

Warm with summer’s sun and

Promise of permanence for years to come.

 

At ten o’clock we sat at conference room table,

Papers slid against smooth glass top-

we signed away on higher numbers

Than we could really grasp at,

We giggled at the date- 2047.

I knew in that law office I cracked the cover

Of whatever novel my life may write,

And by the time I am back out on the blacktop

I’ve slipped into this beginning already,

My eyes grew to an old women’s

Reading that first line of the story again.

 

Though I felt silly I knew I would be glad

One day years from now to pull out an album,

look back to when my wrinkled hands were smooth,

spotless, and time so trivial I could giggle at three decades.

I will point to this picture of me, 24 and unaware,

Back when I hadn’t seen my children’s faces yet,

And be glad I stood, squinted into the sun

Standing on my first home’s stoop.

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Porch Museum

Here, in the happy place

I can finally put up my sore feet

And enjoy the sweet summer air-

Sipping the syrup straight from the source.

A gallery ever changing graces these walls,

Full framed canvas, floor to ceiling, showcase masterpiece.

Painted in vibrant blues, strokes so steady and even,

Punctuated with white of brushes whim.

A mosaic of greens laid in the most delicate hues,

Gradually, gracefully ranged from lime to forest.

Summer’s morn’ is no less beautiful than

The dramatic monochrome of winter’s night

The deep dark of the horizon, accompanied by the

Unknown it contains, adverse new snowfall’s glow,

The pure white ground and blanket of silence it brings,

most unimaginable in the chatter of July while in my ear

Birds sing, but some are talking;

Toads croak, while others ribbit;

And an occasional car passes through

constant chirp of the cricket.

 

 

So glad I am to have finally found this happy place,

To sit in the air and live

alongside the painter and her palette;

Bear witness to the great artist ghost of the land.

Kept Up

Three Thirty creeps on alarm clock,

other side framed by fiancée’s gentle snores

four hours deep in dreams.

Anxiety as I first felt it returns,

that monster that has lived under every bed,

Mind kept meddling,

The rhythm of pedals too loud

And feeling legs’ locomotive lunge

Keeps me from sleep.

 

My explorations’ memories left me obsessed

By the lonely buildings I sailed by

Which shrunken psych center no longer fills.

Dorm like cabins with chilly uniformity,

Appearance diverging only in

broken windows, vanished doors, unexpected overgrowth.

The spooked whispers of summer grasses

Mask a suffocating silence.

The inconsistent presence

Of a red car on my left shoulder

Gives me the notion

That I’m not welcomed here.

Yellow paint, warning weathered by decades’ decay,

Insists: CAUTION.

 

I still feel the sting of strength,

Willed to speed from the place which was prison to many

The way escape set fire to thighs and burned up to lungs,

And how saplings I saw in sepia pictures

were so much taller now; casting shadows, insisting leaves.

My ascend is followed by remains of border’s picket,

Uneven and white,

Haunting the grounds like ribs of a man;

weak, left in the sun to die.

I bought gas at the Jamesville depot today

Just as no sidewalk crack has a twin,

Families don’t fracture the same.

Is it sadder to shatter? Or does it

hurt more when divisions grow slowly,

revealed deeper each winter’s thaw

then all at once, passive distance hits

 

suddenly

 

When the oval canvases of

Garin and I, nautical siblings donning

chubby cheeks of three

(photos posed six years apart) that had lived

Happily for 20 years on dining room’s wall

 

Are taped in different boxes, sent to separate cars

hung over tables ten hours apart.

 

When tiny trinkets that

fell deep behind my six drawer dresser-

From bright plastic of careless childhood

To senseless wadded notes of adolescence-

 

Are swept out, widely discarded with

their dusty relatives from the past.

 

When my Saab is piled high, ‘college student’ style,

Not with Soft new sheets and shiny fresh binders,

but four years later, when shards of my childhood,

Baptismal dress, graduation gowns;

Second-grade paintings, senior awards

 

Are the weight felt in the right pedal

That twilight’s long drive home.

A Poem Inspired by Tracy Lewis

Words flow through my muddy veins

waiting to be let out.

Drifting among the blood cells, red and white.

With the antibodies, fighting unseen enemies endlessly,

with the bits of myself, constructed from carbon,

that are known to be real.

 

Stanzas and verses bumble around, inside me

following the intricate road systems mapped out

by miles of arteries between muscles, bone, skin.

They feel the beat of my always running feet,

the hesitancy in my hands, careful and awkward,

the fragility of ten fingers, constantly dancing through days.

The words want to tell the stories of me.

 

These words, now a deep and violent

red, dyed permanently by my experience. A stain

no household bleach can fade.

They find their way to the meat of my brain,

zapping among synapses, filtered into thoughts,

into these abstract symbols we use.

 

These concepts, they beat my brain

holding hostage my fleshy

eight pound ball of mystery I carry in my skull.

When I’m feeling generous I let a few words

trickle out, into strokes of a pen, symbols on a screen,

refugees on the page. I silently ask them,

are you happy now?

Eggs

In communion with you,

I scramble two eggs every Sunday

morning lasting far into the afternoon.

I think of coffee, the paper, bacon, toast.

Remembering our four small portions of orange juice,

slow teardrops forming on the flat sides of the glass.

Slowly soaking into the dreamy blue placemat,

leaving deep navy rings of condensation with every sip.

 

I stare at my coffee, too shockingly bitter to drink.

The sweet, glossy cartoon faces on the mug

contradict the hot concoction it holds.

You drink yours black, swallowing mindlessly while you read

the paper, delivered at exactly six oh eight AM

You hand me the funnies, the only section painted with color,

once you finish laughing.

I wait wide-eyed for the only section I read,

I want to laugh with you.

 

The dishes pile in the sink,

My mother finishes her meal, she gets up,

starts clearing the table, cleaning our rest-day breakfast.

My father stops her, he cleans it himself, leaves us to enjoy

the smell of fresh newsprint and crisp, cooling bacon

as we sip our coffee with inky grey fingers.

Everything black and white.

 

In communion with you, I scramble two eggs.

Sunday morning, lasting far into the afternoon.

I put my lone plate on the table,

wobbling on it’s shaky white legs.

Twiddling my thumbs while I wait,

water for coffee still boiling on the stove

in a hundred and thirty year old house

you’ll never see.

 

White and pale yellow mounds stare up at me,

steaming and soft, salty next to a pool of catsup, sticky and red.

The water boils frantically as I read last week’s news

on a computer screen. The dishes piled high in the sink, waiting.

Sunday morning magic taken into my own hands,

a ritual I continue without witness.

An October’s Muddy Beginnings

You told her to leave,

so she left.

You followed her down

the uniform steps, even

though she told you not to follow.

You’re just a kid, how could you

understand?

 

The October drizzle left her

umbrellaless and cold, no option but to

seek refuge in the library,

her thin shirt a second skin as

the steady drops mix

with her involuntary tears,

erasing the trauma of the break.

 

She beelined for the bathroom,

avoiding eyes that cast

a plethora of unwanted judgment

on her soaking state. Her strength

silently cursed her college-

a place that boasted sustainability

but whose bathrooms had no hand-dryers,

only paper towels.