A Group Of People I Saw On Sunday Last

Sitting in my local bar

in the seaside tourist town

at two on a Sunday

a group of eight appears

and saddles themselves up,

orders drinks,

chats familiarly,

all smiling and exuberant

as the bartender brings

the bloody marys and chardonnay

for the oldest lady,

who sits in the middle.

And my mind starts arranging them

into groups

and stories,

to try and decipher

who are the siblings,

the parents, the lovers.

How were the connections made?

Will they order?

Are they all vegetarians?

Alcoholics?

Who among them has cancer eating away their body right now,

and doesn’t even know it?

Or does know it.

And chooses these seven people

of the seven billion available

to share this one pint of beer

on a blissful Sunday.

Who woke up in who’s arms today?

And did they jump at the opportunity

to tell their partner

how meaningful they are in the

imperfect life he or she can offer in return?

Or did they wish that they could wake up alone,

and not have to pretend through social outings

like this one?

As the hours linger on

and the group shifts conversations

and partners

and energy,

again making fodder

to advance all the stories

about these people’s lives

and if they’ve lived well

loved well

been loved well

and where their lives will

continue

to flourish,

to end,

after they leave the bar.

And I’ve finished

this whiskey.

 

And So We Ended Sweetly

And so we ended sweetly

with a tender, warm embrace

not a single tear was shed

in this moment of pure grace.

 

Oh thank goodness we are older know

and wiser, that’s for sure

there was a time love came feveredly

but just not anymore.

 

The roads are much more open now

the ones we need to take

and while this union is now past tense

it was never a mistake.

 

I can carry you still in my heart

with all those I still love there.

For after all, we spent these years

in each other’s care.

 

And as we climb our separate peaks,

and journey far away,

I’ll recall the  sweetness that we spent

when we perfectly parted this day

two different roads

 

He’s Not The Guy

He is not the guy

He is not the guy because

he never tells you

anything except for

“fine” and “nothing”

when you ask what his heart

yearns for.

He is not the guy

when he doesn’t ask you

in any way, shape, or form

what tender wishes

live within you.

your dreams, desires

hope for yourself,

hope for all people.

 

He’s not the guy

when a big day comes

and there’s no acknowledgement

or asking how to make you feel

special,

doesn’t even know your favorite color

or if you like cake or ice cream.

 

He’s not the guy

when you’re sitting next to one another

and he doesn’t

try to touch you,

not even with his fingers

reaching out for the side

of your warm thigh

just to make sure you’re there

and you’re real

because that’s crazy

that you’re so wonderful

and you’d actually be there

with him, a mere mortal.

He’s not the guy

if he doesn’t realize that.

right away

and forever.

 

He’s not the guy

if he doesn’t want to protect you

at all costs

and do more

be more

for you

(and for himself)

because he knows that

he can’t give you the world

until he can grab it all

and master it

because that’s the least he can do

for you

 

He’s not the guy

unless

in the darkest times,

the ones that seem so bleak

and hopeless,

melancholy indigo,

he’s the one that

rolls up his sleeves

and brings the light

and seeks you where

you hide

in those cavernous places.

 

Find that guy instead.

 

Quarterback Princess

We all come with colorful baggage.

the kind of luggage that is so specialized

it can hold a whole lifetime

in each of the dark, buried pockets

and zipped away

the memories of your father

who drank too much

or your mother who never seemed proud of you

because she couldn’t say those words

and didn’t know how much they meant to you.

that they meant everything to you.

and now she’s dead.

and can nevermore

embrace you, with steaming tears and perfume,

in the way only a mother can

and hold you tight

to tell you the truth:

you were the reason she lived for so long.

because of your choices, your accomplishments,

the mistakes you made.

your flair for living that she always envied.

but it seemed, rather, your sister was her favorite

and that will be packed away

in the baggage you wear.

and so will be the lover

who told you that you meant nothing

because of your imperfect figure,

the ugly toes, and gap in your teeth.

or maybe the glasses and the cowlick,

which you now spend a zillion dollars

to make it seem like you never had to begin with.

Tuck that away in the suitcase of experience.

and drag it through the mud

to arrive at new lovers,

unpack the second guessing.

and peering down to make sure

no one is noticing your toes.

Maybe the carryon includes a bit of the badness

that follows you from school,

when smoking pot and goofing off

seemed a better choice than studying

and now you can’t find new friends

who don’t view you that way.

or exactly the opposite

and your bookwormishness

fed the machine into being socially awkward

so that the hamster wheel continues

even to this day, but tiny and spinning

and packed in your baggage.

Or maybe you’ve just left the husband who cared more about his team than you

screaming at the tv about football

hanging up on friends

getting pissed when the team fumbles

making your daughter wear only the team colors

because what’s more American than worshiping the tv

at the church of sports

and critiquing the commercials

obsessing over stats

and injuries

and salaries

and trades

while forgetting to ask the family how their day was.

or ignoring.

same thing.

but that goes into the luggage,

the baggage of memories,

shaping experiences,

that are cemented onto you,

have become part of you.

In a quiet moment, though,

I hope you have a time

to sit with your luggage.

unpack it alone.

and sort out the memories,

tenderly refold them.

though pained they may be.

I hope there are some glimmers there,

some shiny pieces

of the spelling bee

and making your first muffins,

the smell of your grandfather

as he smoked his pipe and told you stories

of life on the farm,

when kids could just play

and meeting your grandmother

picking apples during the depression.

and their big dream to travel west to Seattle.

one day.

until she got blessedly pregnant, with your beautiful mother.

I hope you take all these memories and wash them,

sort through them,

keep them all with you

for the rest of your life,

but tightly bound in your suitcase,

which you can now throw under your arm

like a football

and charge straight ahead,

to those who defend against full lives

and break through the line

away from the pile

of obstacles in life

who look like linesmen,

or running backs,

or challenges meant to block your freedom

your purpose.

take that damn baggage

and run straight ahead,

never looking back.

only forward.

and defend that life.

until you use it

to win.

and be a champion.

the champion you are.

complete with vulnerabilities,

imperfections,

dark history,

and beautiful, rich, baggage.

No More Causes

There are no more causes.

You can scream at the top of your lungs

about injustice and inequity

but no cares to hear you.

they’re deaf with the ring of the register,

blind with the dollar signs

anesthetized by the shiny red bulls-eye

which lords over the consciousness

of the consumer masses

who care nothing about their neighbors,

except being just like them.

or even being better.

and then bragging about it

over the airwaves

that go straight to my phone.

 

There are no more causes,

no one to fight for

when corporations are people,

and women lose their rights

to choose to stop making new people

because of a guy in heaven,

who never even said so.

Maybe it’s the corporations who are the causes,

they need new consumers

at all costs. amen.

While Chinese girls work 20 hours a day

to put rhinestones on my jeans

which I pay for with credit

and black men are victimized

ostracized, compartmentalized

antagonized, anathematized

STILL

because the hope

for equality  that died generations ago

has withered as the saints have perished

one by one

leaving nothing but their names in books

which go in schools

that have again become the

useless bastions of  segregation

they were when my mom was little.

 

There are no more saints.

because it doesn’t matter now if you spend the night in jail

unless you have a drug habit

and a movie deal

even the brave men and women

who are freely elected

have their own reality shows

and radio dramas.

foxes and peacocks fighting

about just the facts man

but no one speaks for the people.

no one.

Not like the saints before.

When people listened to reason and truth

and doctrines of kindness

and equality

because we cared about each other

not each other’s endorsement deal

on the home shopping network

which is all of them.

while we spend quality time

being programmed and

allowing our children to be programmed along side us.

And maybe that’s what different.

For the saints of the causes.

They thought for themselves.

Dared to stand up.

And walk across continents

for peace, for each other,

for the right to free-thinking.

The first things which have been given up

by those who put their signs down,

believing there are no more causes.

 

Little Poisoned Arrows

You never hit me,

so there is that to protect

the last whisper of your manhood.

But did you know that words

and neglect

apathy

and rejection

can wound

to kill?

they, unlike fists,

don’t need to

beat against the tender skin

and bones

covering the heart.

They pierce.

straightaway.

and with a razor sharpness

that slices

instead of bruises.

the scars

that may never heal

if there is any heart left now

to keep for my own

The Milk Isn’t The Only Thing That’s Homogenized or I Didn’t Know There Was A Leak

With perfect, white teeth

I smile at the hours

rolling slowly away

and the monotonous hiss

of the leaking of my soul.

seeping through my eyes,

my ears, my nostrils.

deflating all that is unique and glorious.

basking in the success

that I, too, own a hybrid SUV

and upload fastidiously

pictures of

all the fabulous food

I eat.

 

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Someone Should Have Told Maslow That The Cocoon Is A Son Of A Bitch To Break Out Of

One day you’re going to wake up and finally come to understand

that you weren’t meant for the life that was prescribed for you algorithmically

by the generations of forefathers who wanted nothing but the best for you

but were really concerned with your security and safety

and belonging and ability to raise healthy, thriving children

who would carry on that tradition of being secure,

maybe prosperous and healthy

into the future because that’s what life is

at the core level.

but the thing about going to school and doing all the other tasks

that they told you to do is that you also understand

that beyond the basic needs of safety health and belonging,

there are some ultimate goals belonging to creativity and  purpose

that engenders all of the eons of this foundation of safety

laid by the cavemen and the farmers and lunch ladies who came before you.

And even though you’re not dead,

there is a light that speaks to you at the end of this tunnel.

it doesn’t say anything silly like that,

but rather propels you forward into a truth

where your authenticity is illuminated

and crusading for justice or painting naked ladies or landscapes

or finding the cure for ebola is an all-consuming,

dare I call it a passion.

yes, you’re going to find that one day

when you’re in the garden and you don’t want to go inside,

or a mountain, or the studio

that you’ve discovered a purpose and passion

that transcends all the safety and health things all the old people want for you.

In fact, you’ll lose your appetite, won’t worry so much about the bills,

and will care more about other people finding this life of passion too.

And that is the glorious moment

you realize that you’re actually looking down

from the top of the crow’s nest from the pirate ship you’re on

and it’s destination is death,

like everyone else’s,

but you’re happier up in the clouds for the journey anyway,

besides, if that’s the goal,

why not learn to fly also?

The fact is, you’ve turned into a butterfly already.

One that’s so brilliant that the spots and colors and magical wings

are absolutely impatient about flying around

in the clouds of the studio, the laboratory,

the protest against the loss of women’s rights.

Others will see these wings as beautiful.

But you know their secret: they enable you to fly.

And that’s the best, most powerful thing

of all that you can do with this creativity and purpose– to fly.

And all the old people who tried so hard

with their backs broken to pave a path

of comfortability, stability, and ease

couldn’t prepare you for this next part.

To get your wings moving,

truly soar above the world

with the passion,joy, and life that was meant for you,

you have to break out of the cocoon

which was so carefully spun with love

to keep you on the straight and narrow.

And that, dear, no one tells you,

is going to be the hardest of all.

Those cocoons are cemented with generations of well wishing.

They’re a son of a bitch to break out of.

But don’t think you can do it slowly and piece by piece.

Breaking out of those cliches,

busting through those walls

takes fortitude, strength, and resolution.

The kind you didn’t ever know you had.

But you need to break free.

You need to pound and pound with all your might,

giving every shred of energy you have to bust it open.

You must break free.

Your wings and your life depend on it.

Blackened Portrait

When I looked online and saw you had taken a portrait

and published it,

like everyone does,

but yours was pure black,

the kind of nothingness that people

refer to as the abyss,

to speak poetically

or metaphorically,

in ethereal terms.

And in your own mind,

the one that you don’t even know,

this is not beautiful poetry

or philosophical metaphor,

but the actual version

that you see in the mirror

as you stare vacant

and hollow

too proud for the drugs

your doctor begs you to take

to just feel a bit better,

find the joy in small things,

in old memories

in something, anything

where none exists now.

Instead you’ll abstain from those prescription killers

and swirl a little vodka instead

to anesthetize the pain

and the voices

and the darkness

that clings to your soul

and no matter what you do to prevent it

comes knocking each day

like the mailman, or old faithful

in quiet moments

when you’re concentrating hardest to keep the abyss away.

And because of the duties

to family, god, and pta

the other portraits are all smiles–

only a few of us have seen you cry

at the devastation you wear in your head

like an implant

or a suit made of lead

which the vodka lightens

or the doughnuts

until the mirror comes again

and the wild woman stares back

into your empty eyes

like a portrait of nothing

or no one

who never lived

and didn’t matter

sucked in the black hole of time.

while your detached body smiles.

And makes cupcakes to fundraise  for the sixth grade dance.