Cardinal

ones

who stick

that stick

directions

virtues

numbers

sins

rules

& the hypocrites

whose pretentious cloaks

inspired the red birds’ name

cardinals are the ones

who won’t waiver

the birds who

stay

and stay

and stay

and show you

red in the green trees

red in the white snow

red in the gray rain

red in the yellow light

when

the rest

in the Great Lakes,

the Middle West

have moved on

after using/plundering

land, hearts, bodies, souls

for their

migration

they stay on

humbly

undemanding

count the red birds

count on them

they stay


She was not a Grandmother

She was nearing 70 years, she said

She grew up poor, elsewhere, she said

And moved to a city

near the Great Lakes

She had small talk

to match her limited, incurious mind

She had a wide, open mouth with sharp teeth

her ears closed

except to gossip

her eyes closed

except to covet

her venomous and biting speech

poisons hearts

by choice, deaf to injustice

[except what injures her]

and, also to justice

by choice, blind to truth,

and also to untruths

by choice, she had no grace

no humility

no gratitude

she spoke of how to terminate life

before sharing how life comes to be

hardened to the point of petrification

in less than seven decades, a fossil,

she was not a saintly relic-in-situ

she was not a Grandmother

although her daughters may’ve had daughters

and her unborn sons may’ve fathered sons sons

she spoiled the sand on a silver beach with her rusted barbs

she defiled the clear lake with her incontinence

the discontent of the chronically thirsty emanated from her rank breath

she despoiled humanity merely by her continued existence

she was not a Grandmother, nor a Crone

but,

She will die

she will, she will, she will

and she will become a gull

devouring and scavenging on barren beach

in the next life

 

 

 


A mere wrinkling in time

I went looking for a vintage paperback copy of a book I’d never read, but always meant to – Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time”

 

I never even read its jacket
– not wanting to spoil it until I was ready to imbibe in one sitting
I may have never read it
or, I may have sat down, a glorious crone in black leggings and a long-sleeved, black top, sitting in white club chair, with a magnifying glass – and a gin&tonic with extra lime,

dog at my feet
– one day, I’d’ve actually gotten to it

I’d say I had the book for decades –
where I got it – in an alley, from thrift store or yard sale or flea market, I’m not certain anymore

and that’s saying something for someone who was once known for her photographic memory – every passing day more like a cracked Polaroid picture

A need to read the book before the new film trailers imprint and my imagination loses its chance to create and visualize the characters’ faces and the places, if not their essences. Oprah. Reese. Mindy.

I came upon vintage paperback editions of C.S. Lewis’s “The Magician’s Nephew” and L’Engle’s “A Swiftly Tilting Planet” in my library, but I could not find “A Wrinkle in Time”

Looking through still unpacked boxes
of books
and things,
I quickly ran out of options, so few boxes, drawers and shelves

And then, it struck me:

how little I had actually kept in the move from Portage Park, Chicago, Illinois

to rural Michigan

yes, I had wanted to
downsize, declutter, minimalist[m]ystify my life

for years

and yes, there are still several cubic yards of tools, equipment, linens, books, appliances, decor, clothes, furniture, implements, electronics, dishware, cookware, bicycles, art, garden supplies, documents, photos and momentos here

But, I purged so much of my own personal possessions
that there are very few boxes and places for me to look to find that book, and I’m running out of options for finding what I seek

which leads me to this

No,

I did not flee my home
in a fire

or in the dark of night

or as a battered woman

an indigent elder

a fixed income senior or widow

as a victim of natural disaster
or famine, conflict or war
or of settler colonialism
or imperialism, eminent domain

as a refugee or
or evicted by a county sheriff
or by city order tossed from a viaduct|

but in my mind and heart
I still very much fled
I evicted myself [and them, along with me]

I might’ve stayed in the city for at least a few more years, another decade even
but where my feet were once slowly shuffling and comfortably walking in apathy
and though I stepped on tacks I’d dropped and in the syrup I’d spilled
and on glass I didn’t break and in bleach I didn’t spill
I pressed my feet in for a while
a little blood, stinging and sticky annoyance, discomfort and pain felt like
a necessary acupuncture of life – for a while

social media moleskin and strategically placed rugs conceal
the pain and imperfections

lies, sighs and smiles

but
slowly simmering coals and became red hot and smoldering white ash underfoot

when it was more than I could tolerate
I ran through it as fast as I could
blistering rage and pain and shame
and emotional evacuation and escape

oh,
I left so much behind
but, at least I had a place to run to

my Michigan salvation!

the house was sold and emptied
– in sorrow and anger –
there was no last, sweet summer in the garden
or last holiday memories to hold
no last supper
no collective reminiscing
no long goodbyes
my son grew
my dad got sick
my mom got sick
my dad died
my mom got sick again
he lied, creeped, lied, snuck
my son graduated and graduated and graduated

there was no sacrament of goodbye

no ceremony, at all

hell, there wasn’t even a sign that said, “for sale” [by owner]

I didn’t say goodbye or ‘til we meet again to many whom I respected or loved
escapes, facades and shame don’t permit proper goodbyes and “I love you’s”

or, do they?

I ran into some by chance

I cannot tell a lie

most know this, so they query carefully

but I confess, too.

I was so disrupted and disoriented
that I then also disrupted
and disoriented them

I was guilty of disruption myself over the years, no doubt, but
in a different way, though

there is always a reckoning

of betrayal, revenge and abuses of advantage
– always

imperatively, facing my own demons
to rewrite a truer history
of myself
and of my experience of my life

I had disrupted
and so had he
and so had I
so had he
so had he
so had he
and so had I
and so had he
and so had he, first

and so had she
so had he
so had he
so had he
so had she
so had he
so had she
and so had he
so had they
and so had they
and
they
they
they
and
they

And here I am at the end of a long lineage of disruption, eviction and destruction

betrayal, dysfunction, mistrust, revenge, distrust, abuse of advantage or outright abuse

I’m ready to calm and nest
for the first time in my life

I think the book may be in the last place I look
and
my realest love may be there too
in the last place I look, by definition

or maybe I thought I had that book in my library, but I never really did
and maybe I thought we really loved, but we never really did
maybe love and truth and the lost book – may have never even existed

except in my mind

we read fiction
and write it
it’s blurry now
it’s clear now

it’s muddled now

it’s fading now

“In the end, you will find yourself at the beginning”

wrinkling time


With a tail as big as a kite. With a tail as big as a kite.

She strained her eyes
what is that dark lump
in the road
traveling into my throat




Out she went
sighting the black beauty
from fifty paces
nearer, the bright blood
pooling beneath ki’s face

Did he even try to brake
or swerve?
“no”, the tracks and trees say

Maybe the driver didn’t see
the pitch black, moving body
against the snowy white, but otherwise red dirt road?

Maybe ki darted out,
in front of the royal blue truck
a truck fit for a rural king
[doubt of the beneficent on Christmas]

machines
everywhere
machines

carssawsgunsplowsshipsplanesmillstractorsthrowersdozerstruckscombines
boatsturbinesrigsdredgerstrainsbargesroadsrailharborspipeshousesbridges
wellshighwayssewersstructuresquarriesreactorspowerlinesstreetslotsculde
sacsfencessatelliteslockscelltowerssignsculvertswallsdockslandfillsdams

she gently pincers the end of ki’s gorgeous black tail
gingerly pulling him off the road
redundantly committing his spirit
to the universe, aloud
with apologies for humankind, silently

purposefully committing his body
to a safer spot
for mourning
and carrion feast

Ki’s body was unexpectedly heavy
full of walnuts and seeds
fat and strong for a long winter ahead
so alive just minutes ago, I saw out the window

I’m sorry
I’m sorry
for me
for my kind
for our machines
for our structures
for our carelessness
for our selfishness
for all this,
engineered, manufactured, destroyed

the falling snow christens quick

she wanted to go inside
and sob
selfishly,
because the possibility
of an aberrantly painless holyday
passed with the dead black squirrel

she wanted to go inside
to tell someone
but the only one
was a woman – one profoundly unwise
and living individually in the moment
dis-understanding
in the least way
every single day

she wanted to go inside
and forget
but death was also present there
old, not fresh, also unnatural
the not Grandmother at the stove

the stench of a potful of bones, flesh and fat
boiling on the stove
a pig or two’s rib cage
in her favorite cauldron
the one she’d dedicated for vegetables only

she stays silent
swallows her heart and disappears

caw, caw,
caw-caw

the crows have shown up
for a still-warm, Christmas Eve dinner

20171224_132455


Crown

my hair holds memory,
I know this because

i cut my own hair today




20151002_1838021772227513.jpg

her, at ten.




as i held the ends

in my hands

i said

 

did you touch the Merced with me and my boy?

i said,

do you remember my father?

and my other precious loss?

i said,

do you remember the first dog?

i said,

were you here when

i still loved

and was loved?

i said,

you were there when my mother was so near death’s door

i said,

and when i found and lost,

and lost and found, my Self again?

smiles
sighs
cries
laughs
rage
wail
and
song

i still have possessions from all those times

and places

but no skin,

my skin long shed, my bone resorbed

and renewed over and over

but my long hair is still me from many years ago

that is why hair is so precious,

i thought,

this is the genesis

of what i have always

mistook as phobia

but no,

i know today

that

physical memory is held particularly, and only, in my hair

more than Samsonian

or vanity

or femininity

my long hair

is

my body
my health
my energy
my sensation
my emotion
my years
my identity
my essence

thank you

for growing

for remembering

for showing

for staying

for flowing

for tangling

for blowing

for graying

for glowing

for floating

for knowing

with me

all these years

 

no more cuts
without ceremony

and
i promise
i will never agree to lose you