Numbers

Numbers make such interesting phrases.  Lucky seven. Eleventh-hour decision. Phony as a three-dollar bill. Three sheets to the wind.

A Charm

Three times she said yes,
felt it in her body like champagne.
Sure this was it. Now, her time.

Three times saying no,
a small pebble on his tongue,
polished his resolve into steel.

Temptation more than once,
floundering then steady.
A sweet blessing on the tongue.

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Polyglot

In Sorrento (Italy), I once had a conversation with a shopkeeper in English, Italian, French, and Spanish. Of course, I spoke primarily English, she Italian. When we ran out of common words in those two languages, I asked if she knew any Spanish; she asked if I knew any French. Our mutual answer was “a little”. We switched between languages plugging in shared words to cover lapses.

 

Human

 

From my mouth shukran flows
natural in the wake of generosity
although the word is from a place
I’ve never been

Beginning a journey or task
I speak ojalá as blessing
insha’allah, a second bow
to the Divine

I yearn to be better
better than self, yet I cannot
deny this schadenfreude
comeuppance’s dark joy

 

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Will Out

We all like what we like. Even when we’re not aware of our predisposition.

From Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, 1596 (Act 2, Scene 2, Page 3):

LAUNCELOT:

Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of
the knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his
own child. Well, old man, I will tell you news of
your son: give me your blessing: truth will come
to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man’s son
may, but at the length truth will out.

Unveiling


is this the night
after all those words

cyphers into flesh
blood does confess

the I written
becomes
the I seen



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Chromotherapy

I bought an arty kimono shirt today. The graphics are awash in mustard and russet, indigo and green. It reminds me of a Klimt painting. I love color: deep pigments from the earth, the saturated palette of jewels. I wear color as life-saving/life-giving medicine.

Chromatics

today was fuschia, she felt
lips and shirt in liaison
lately she has felt violet  
a vixen of purple persuasion
deep sapphire of a cocked brow
underneath, heart understandably crimson
sometimes glowing cherry in excitement
settling then to a satisfied garnet
thought herself, finally, a contented plum
her night ends in iteration
linens paletted in sepia, bronze, copper
mirror of all flesh
back again to beginning

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Collective

Summer is in the air. We Floridians all are victim to its golden kiss. Golden not just from the sun but also from all the excess pollen. Everything is dancing too — either it’s the scorching concrete against tender feet or the libidinous dusting of thousands, if not millions, of plants. 

 

Menagerie

 

Sometime after a flood of rain,
a brown cascade of small live things
moves through the damp grass, across
the steaming sidewalk in front of shadows.

Crickets? Tiny brown grasshoppers?
Just an endless cloud of frogs, small
as dimes, numerous as pennies
pitched away on a gamble.
Later an ibis wedge sprawls two-
lanes wide. A lone bird, self-
appointed pathfinder, stands point
while cars and fowl puddle midlane.

Overhead, a dazzle of zebra
butterflies swarm rain-drunk blooms:
buttercups, a prism of coneflowers.
A lone moth, brazen dare in daylight,
selects a regal floral perch.

 

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Road Trip

When I was a kid, I loved old movies. Abbott and Costello. Martin and Lewis. Hope and Crosby. Mishaps and wrong turns. Laughter and travel. Or maybe it was the whole buddy thing. Bonding over a shared experience. Whatever it was, I always felt like I had escaped something from own life and had a glimpse of something to which I wanted to return.

 

Road Trip

 

It wasn’t exactly Martin and Lewis but it felt close.
First leg of our cross country jaunt and almost over.
He secured the final hitch, warning over his shoulder
Remember, you can’t back this baby up. Always
pull through. He patted the Uhaul’s side, handed
the keys to you. We huddled over the map, paper
those days and turn-by-turn, and plotted our start.
Tired from steering the freighter-weight truck, you
aimed for the closet space, forgetting the car
hitched behind until almost too late.

That night we both shivered at the near miss.
I became captain of our ship because my yelp
Don’t! made the near miss a reality. From there
we drove almost without mishap, telling each other
stories of other almost-was and never-had beens,
thank God. We saw this country from marsh to flat,
open lands to crops to open again. At times only we
held the road, sign after sign touting giant rodents
and other unnatural wonders. I hadn’t signed on
for such things but was glad I’d shared them with you.

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?

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.

Discovery

Remember how you’d pick out the names of your future children or your future spouse when you were a kid? You’d construct an entire life around these names and the loved ones created from them.
 
I’ve picked out titles for the books I imagine writing. I’ve chosen titles for my poetry books, for my nonfiction and even ones for my sci-fi novels and my romances. In casting about for a topic for tonight’s poem, I stumbled across Poets & Writers’ most recent poetry prompt. It includes one of my earmarked poetry book titles.

 

Interstitium

 

wonders never cease
there’s a new story around every corner
and this is not a cliche lying
out in the open, stinking to high heaven
another layer of us has been found
just under this skin we adorn
with ink, metal or strips of cloth
a contiguous, fluid-filled space
betwixt skin and organs
our bodies now truly a castle
carrying our moat with us

 

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