She sang Pistol Packing Mama
over our cribs,
and Home on the Range.
A mother’s voice
wandering in the drybeds
of dust, rock, burr.
We lived in the next breath of desert,
the refrain of yucca and sage,
waiting for a lullaby of rain.
For dVerse Quadrille
My first winter in Boston, I spent evenings trudging door-to-door, canvassing money and signatures for good causes. All these years later I’m still amazed anyone would open their door in the freezing wind and dark, my height and size bulked up further by my parka. Boston is known for its cold, both in temperature and in people, yet many folks seemed happy to talk to me. Often they would let me in to warm a bit while we chatted about toxic waste and such.
I hated the job and was lousy at the fundraising, but it was endlessly fascinating to go to each house or apartment, wait for the door to open, and peer inside people’s little world bubbles. Every street or building was full of dozens of small, weird, parallel universes where I could see, and sometimes even smell, the hopes and aspirations. Tchotchkes, photo collections, pots on the stove, tables set for dinner or homework, kids yelling, grandparents kvetching, friends in t-shirts smoking cigarettes, flocked velvet paintings of Elvis, brocade couches and seashell lamps, TV shows or radios or records playing, crosses and menorahs, rich and poor. It was the joy of people watching with a deeper view into the question “I wonder what that person’s life is like?”
What was most amazing – and I value still – is I began to realize my own life was also only a weird little bubble. I lived in merely another, very small, and arbitrary parallel universe. Just another snow globe. What I imagined as the Truth of my life was cut a bit down to size. Certainly, we are all permitted our truth, but none of us has The Truth. We are odd and hopeful creatures, you and I, burrowed into our nests for the winter along with the shiny pennies and pins and strings we collect like crows, praying we make it through to Spring.
I am a leaf
before the fall
For dVerse Haibun Monday
Unquiet harbor –
bay at the moon
as if that last piece
of scrofulous cheese
out of reach in the trash.
on the river –
your shadow splinters
in the streetlight,
which you slip
between my ribs
like a shiv of love.
For dVerse Quadrille
Noon on the Hudson, helicopters chopping
at the sky like a deli salad –
a bowl of blue tossed with
joggers and stumblers and strollers,
a tattoo of Sinatra in wisps of clouds
whispering New York New York while
dogs from every nation make their embassy,
the river embossed with the whack whack
wake of ferries propelled from shore to skyline
and back again, spinning through
the turnstile and the man punching your ticket
like a prizefighter, the main event, ringside
at the Garden.
For The Twiglets
If a friend insists TGIF, but the
near-beer, half-hearted/half-empty glass of your week
breaks in your hand so that you cut your finger with worry,
you mix a Bloody-Alice, because when life hands you blood oranges
you make Band-Aid, which
instead of raising a toast to wrap
the incredible bullshit you go on about,
Alice said “DRINK ME”, like in the story, and she
drank with you in the bar then drank with you back at your place
drank herself until squinting you looked like her wonderland, her velveteen rabbit, you want to ask her “are you my mother?” because its Go Dog Go, all now another story entirely
where you wake tomorrow with capillaries
that are toffee-sticky, a
headache gooey as cherry pie,
you didn’t listen to your friends
who warned you about the poison.
For Miz Quickly
If the quick of bone
then why are my ribs so slow
to now take up your part?
Don’t they remember you –
my Eve –
how you filled their hollowness
with the haste to twin,
that keening heave
of heavenward breath?
For dVerse Quadrille
Life ain’t no picnic
’cause when I open the basket
I get a head cheese sandwich
which is body parts, right?
In aspic, like the gelatin
of love, holding it all together.
Ain’t a bowl of cherries either,
aren’t the pits toxic? Dog got sick
last time she got into a bunch.
More like life is a bowl of crabapples
and those make her sick too.
If life is a journey, I’m amazed.
If it’s a game, my bones feel like
at-bats, and my ribs are scored.
If life is change,
someone stole my lunch money!
If life is a gift,
are we all supposed to
live in the present?
Tossing a salad for Miz Quickly’s Labor Day Picnic