Heart to Heart

Here’s another writing journal prompt:  Choose an organ from your body. Do not name the organ. Instead, allow the organ to describe how it feels living inside your body. -EJ Koh

Oh, well. I don’t always listen to instructions. And you’d figure out what body part to which I was alluding anyway. And then the damned thing decided to talk for itself. It’s a little headstrong. Ha!

 

Heart to Heart


It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold. – Zelda Fitzgerald

Only do what your heart tells you. – Princess Diana

 

What does it take, I ask you.
I’ve tried everything. And yeah, I know how I sound.
Cranky and more than a little fed-up.

Soooo,
I figured I’d just throw a little something out there.
Make her slow down. That little brown out, I thought
would do the trick. I know she was pretty young
at the time. But come on, a BROWN OUT. You know,
can’t really see, everything sepia toned. You drop,
just a little. You SIT STILL. And no, it didn’t really work.
But I tried it a few times, just in case.

So, fast forward a few years. I throw a couple seizures
her way. I’m thinking that’ll do it. Eyes roll back, a little
flipflop. Maybe some spittle, a little pee. Just for some
equalizing. Damn young people. Took the damn things
in stride. In stride, I tell you. Oh, don’t get me wrong.
They scared her and everybody else but you can’t
keep young folks down. You really can’t. More’s the pity.

I backed off awhile. Gave her her head, you could say.
School, school, school. That’s all she focused on.
Too much. No sense of balance, that one. She’d run
long past all her tires ran flat, you know? Hit her
with a little lethargy. For years, people. YEARS.
What’d she do? Take up some stupid quasi
parkour crap. Running all over the place. Yoga,
Pilates. Aerobics. Couch to 5K. Everything, all the time.

Finally, I took the gloves off. No more brown outs. I went
for the black. Black outs, that is. The ultimate going dark.
But only for a second or two, here and there. I mean
I don’t want to kill her really. I just want her to notice me.
What happened, you ask. Did she notice? Oh boy, did she.
Got a little pissy is what. Started pushing again
and ignoring me after the initial shock. I hate it.

Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. Ignoring me. ME! I got it now.
I’m going for the jugular. Breathing. A poet’s
got to listen if you go for the breath. We’ll see
what’s she made of. She’s got to concede. Doesn’t she?

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Autonomy

I started this thing, this poetry blog, and you have come. Giving over your time and attention to read my words. I thank you. And a special thanks to Kate Brunk for inspiration. In answer to her comment to my poem, Sway, I wrote the following on Facebook, which in turn led to tonight’s poem:
“Whenever I drive through neighborhoods like that, I wonder how it got to that state. I muse on the people, the events, how the houses must’ve looked when they were fresh and just built. What were the dreams people had. Graduations, births, deaths. I think about the first — moving day and all of the expectations of this new life — and the last — who walked out that door, leaving it ajar, abandoning the house to the elements and where they were going. I even wonder whether the houses, the cement, the lawns, the surrounding spaces, miss the humans or are they glad to be left to their own devices. To molder, to grow, to fall into pieces, to breathe in their own patterns in their own time.”

Autonomy

The last of them left, taking the stench of fear and sorrow with them.
The man left the door open. Wooden slats in the walls creaked
at the house’s first full beath. It was its own self for the first time,
its rooms unpopulated. It felt so free without master or mistress. Windows,
sashless, had heard the final bouts of weeping at odd darkened hours.
The halls had not felt heat of a fire in winter for years. Little by little,
the rooms had emptied of furniture and the weight of feet. Curls of wallpaper
lolled away from walls, happy to be free of its updo. No more worry
about stairs bowing or yellowing lintels. The time of man had passed.

Koan for Poets

This world is a confusing place. We encounter much that makes us doubt what we see with our own eyes. I’m reading Radiance of Tomorrow by Ismael Beah. There is much in it that is beautiful but it seems that much much more is not beautiful. And as such it makes you doubt, makes you despair of finding out if anything is ever good. Ah, but maybe I’m too pessimistic. After all, I haven’t finished the book…or this life. It seems the best time for a koan.

 

Koan for Poets

 

All chairs are poems
so it must be that poets
are pieces of spaghetti
slants of owls in blank faces

All poems are oranges
angrily waiting for a response
chairs dancing wildly naked
there are dogs barking

Survival

“Each one of us who survives, she says, at least once in our lifetime, at some crucial and inescapable moment, has had to absolutely believe in the impossible.” from A Burst of Light and Other Essays by Audre Lorde.

Survival

I made eggs over easy
arranged grilled Campari tomatoes
just so down the yolk center
plated so gloriously red gold white

I revised my latest oeuvre
handling words with surgical focus
I Tweeted and Facebooked
as if someone’s life was at stake

I did not sit in a darkened room
lips clamped so no sound
escaped and almost no breath
I did not wail my grief to the heavens

Tower of Babel

According to an article by Heather Altfeld, “[I]t will take between ten and fourteen days from now for another of the world’s 6,900 languages to die out. So let’s say that today the last speaker of something somewhere is dying.”  

As a child, I felt torn when I heard the Bible story about the Tower of Babel. I was devastated that people wouldn’t be able to communicate with each other but I was filled with quiet glee over the beauty I heard in languages other than my own.

Mother Tongues

When she thinks of language, dreams stand shoulder-close
like clothes laid across her back to judge the fit.

Alone she speaks words collected from other tongues,
last speaker of an ancient language greeting Charon.

Tonation, she believes, is key to the first voicing
ere wo/man forgot to listen to self-blood in another.

She, paragon of close study, casts herself conduit
ferrets out the filament of all communings.
Our fate, she knows, depends on her.

Tropism

All day my mind hums with ideas for my daily poeting. Colors, a particular turn of phrase, snippets of conversation. Flowers on full display: pistil, stamen, petals flung wide for the looking. All vying for a starring part in my next oeuvre.

 

Tropism

avocado seed
                                       planet in motion
its body split in single-minded reach
roots filamenting through earth
into air             its center outwards becomes
stalk                  explorer and sentinel
carrier of its own green canopy
light                   a slow motion enticer
lends its curve         sway and lean
forming shoot into bine        bine into cane
into straightened trunk
leaf and fruit its culmination

Miracle

I am a miracle. I have it on good authority.

Light

I told my deaths story today
it came up in conversation       naturally
as death does after you’ve lived a time

with an odd gentleness she prodded
you’ve never told me
whether you saw something there

I speak my story of coldness, pain
of unbearable brightness on return
in the retelling I am unexpectedly shy

the light there has no source
it is neither too bright nor too dim
I say my truth in starts and stops

I search for what I feel
as I describe waiting ticket in hand
for what I was not sure

for my name to be written skyward?
for a Voice from without?

my survival obvious       at story close
I fight back
a most peculiar embarrassment

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (Part 2)

Forty-nine years. All my remembered selves laid one atop the other and no longer fit.


YESTERDAY, TODAY, TOMORROW


ii. today

a roller coaster rises shakily in the emptied midway
its operator sports an uneven shave
something dried smears red across his jaw

wide-eyed riders herd onto train cars rusted to a stop
safety restraints tangle at foot, hang threadily outside
he throws the switch with a high laugh     the ride begins

click-click-clicking toward the first of many drops  
splintered track appears out of darkness
panic leaps each glimpse ahead      

                                                         a car goes over the edge



[iii. tomorrow will be posted tomorrow.]

Elegy

I hadn’t a clue what to say, what to write about. I tried looking at writing prompts at the NaPoWriMo website and at Writer’s Digest. Both prompts — an elegy and a roundelay, respectively — seemed unnecessarily difficult considering there are only six more days before April and NaPoWriMo end.

But as poetry is wont to do, it came.  And in an elegy, no less.


Elegy


6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.  – Isaiah 6:6-8 (KJV)

 

my mother visited my office today            I almost didn’t
recognize her but she’d have forgiven me, I know

unexpected       she came dressed as a family friend
their faces so entwined I almost didn’t see her there

the eyes were not the same ones I see in dreams
different: voice, brown skin, flesh pressed tight in embrace

we sat down and I laid my cut bare in the telling
how it came to be, nestled just under my collarbone,
left of my sternum, a blight blessing visible to all

how my heart stopped and started, stopped, stopped
and started, started again according to its own algorithm

words burning my mouth for freedom with no room
no air left for the other story sitting opposite

I’m sorry, sorry                I wanted to say         manners demand
a place and audience for the guest sharing the stage

all of it: one ending and the beginnings’ of other ends 
wrapped in shaded laughter was heard, understood

a deeper moment of gravity tied up the conversation
and I saw her, my mother       she spoke to me
in the voice not her own

                                             You made the right decision.

Relativity

The concept of time fascinates me. Einstein talked of other dimensions, planes, and how time moves/influences a thing depending on where one is. (Don’t stone me, if I’ve gotten Einstein’s concept wrong. This is poetry I can take some liberties.) Madeline L’Engle wrote of time and dimensions fluidly, as a mixture of science, faith and magic.

I  ponder life and those that have come before us. I think of those that will inherit the space we own now.  I envision people walking on the land I walk on. I overlay their movements on my own.  I walk and almost see the haze of their strides sharing the same space as mine. I think the same about my future and past selves impinging on the me of today.

Relativistic Time


I’ll be one of those lovely old brown ladies who always wears darkly fuschia lipstick and laughs loudly.
The old lady who talks to tall chain wearing men and smiling cafe con leche babies.

Like I am that middle-aged woman whose presence invites harried young mothers to rest.
The one who knows that bad thing you cannot forgive yourself for but hugs you anyway.

Like I was the girl who loved to run and climb trees but read so deeply she forgot to play.
The one who collected words, stories of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, and dreamed.

Like the baby I was born months early, so small I fit within my father’s left hand.
The woman, birthed from that newling, who did not die — then or now — no matter the times Death asked.