Wednesday, November 30, 2016

a request

be my star, be it all
the whole and the fragment, the gas and the brake
the soaring acrobat, the waiting net
be the blackest coffee, the sweetest cream
be the scowl on the man with the hastily tied scarf
be the woman clackety-clacking the paving stones
be the bag of volcanic salt in my suitcase,
stored in the basement of a Reykjavik hotel
be the hurt in my hands from writing
be my aging body that finds stealth in the marrow
the vocabulary not rich enough to say how or why

be the man who comes to say goodbye one week
and returns to say hello the next
be lovely loving love-ish for me, 
  all hands and lips and heart
be the air we breathe in and out, urban 
  yet holy and sacred
be laughter and daffodyls
be all the ampersands ever, in every size and font
be every letter ‘I’ in every book everywhere
be the accent on the letter e lifting an eyebrow 
  this way or that

above all, be the woman in the black sweater 
  and red lips
running into the wind, all joy
be the handwriting that tells this tale 
  and the coffee shop in which it is told
be open-arms and the pull of embrace
be everything you are called to be and nothing less
be the one who accepts this invitation 
  and every invitation
who knows no other word than yes
be an expanding galaxy of want
a meteor shower of kisses
be legs entwined and languid 
  with contentment
be the shoes that walk you to your beloved’s door
and be for him the pack of matches that 
  steadies a wobbling table
then lights the spark that shows you both the way

be the one thing you will always remember 
  and the million you will forget
be the one green leaf on a dying tree that shyly waves 
  at the erratic sparrows
be the sweetness in the sugar bowl 
  and the curving tongue of spoon
be the home you long for
be that beautiful ginger dog who will teach you 
  more about closeness
than all the heartbreaks combined

be every single picnic table we will never 
  grace with food
be the weight we will lose for forgetting to eat
be the man you are, the woman I am
the push to my shove
the hand in my glove
the treasured ache known as love

we might fail

there have been two nights
one here, one there
to which we have brought
our observant and curious selves

nights a week apart, now weeks past
that said yes as much as no
less as much as more
and left questions slithering
through the unquick grasp of answers

we each revealed what scraps remain
from the wounded and aging parts of us
that still pulse with shy hope,
scattering them as offerings
on the altar of our incredulity
that years of small talk
seeded such fierce embraces

these fragments may not be enough
to forge a key that unbolts the hatch
we must pass through
to find a language given only to us
and the courage to speak it

even if luck and daring allow us that far
still we might fail to secure
any number of bowlines tossed
across the chasm
between your hopes and mine

yet I, nonetheless, will place
into the palm of your reticence
an invitation to join your fears with mine
and shape these unknowns
into oars we might row
through deep, mysterious waters
in a boat we have yet to name

Saturday, May 24, 2014

this way please

this poem's an invitation
a welcome mat
the porch light's on
here's a hook for your hat

the door is open
the kettle plugged in
the strudel is cooling
anytime, we'll begin

chairs i have many
a few cushions too
everything's laundered
and waiting for you

be you fear, be you sorrow
be you many or few
the bramble's been trimmed
just make your way through

where i will be waiting
as still as the lake
i welcome you all
here, have some cake

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

new york

i love your garbage cans 
Bryant Park, your empty emerald bistro 
chairs, those flat heeled eight a.m. women
sucked into the spinning mouths of shiny buildings. 

i love your playlist of birdcall and jackhammering,
the same menu at Reggio's year after year,
and the Whitman quotes underfoot.
everyone calling me ma'am

your salty-fat two dollar pretzels impaled on coathangers
make me laugh. where did you get those
polite apologies at crowded crosswalks? LUV them!

oh, baby you were fabulous last night:
your Chrysler tip a zippo flame
over Grand Central's implacable facade.
thanks for your perspective, Pershing Square

i never knew how much i loved you, New York
until i watched Denzel Washington 
play Walter Younger on 47th where
Sidney Poitier played him on the same stage in '59

or until i sat here thinking about a pack 
of Nate Sherman cigarets bought around the corner 
in the life i had before this one

it took walking by the Grace building
to know it.

Monday, April 28, 2014


amid the faintly glowing
frescoes and heavy notes
lingering in the organ pipes
we sat, unsure where
to look or place our hands
welcoming, an hour of
platitudes later, the stuffy interior
of the ancient family Valiant   

it's a gift to chose what's hard
i say, as we pull from the lot
arm outstretched through the
passenger window, waving at someone
who might be someone
i know or knew or looks it. i'd been
telling the twins nothing is worth more
than what's made with what's left,
and anything can be true
if you tell it enough.

until i spoke, we held the silence
like a sheet pulled from the line
waiting to see who led the folding
of sun-warmed cotton.
now in the shade of the carport
we decant from the two-tone car,
bare thighs carefully peeled from
the sticky upholstery.
in the unseen world, invisible hands
tie a black ribbon to a kite tail
of colourful bows marking every
other day lived up to today.

including one last week
we can't turn back to and unhear
how a knife tip found its way
to the bottom of Uncle Jack's heart
where everything that mattered was kept.
who's to know what was taken apart
from his life; what remained
in the looted wallet were a few coins,
a receipt from the hardware store
and a list that included
reasons for buying a new straw hat.

there's no better reason for grief
when that list includes
last hat until i die.