Sunday, November 18, 2012

All at Once

The night air is close
               like jasmine tea,
petals pressed in leaves of musty books,
              wistful spun silk.

rise like a luminous,
              distant planet

And I blanket myself
over some falling
as you paint the night sky
on my face,
tracing ancient lace trails
with each soft breath;
A sonic gesture
            telling tales
                  of fealty and desire.

Circles into circles,
        a thin weave of skin
Small leaves
        Some drift of acanthus.

Slow rain drops
Green grey
               The wind.
Your hands press
               Against me,
Dropping my
              Stacked shoulders,
My solitude,
              all at once.

The Hiss of Fossils

Africa is so arid.
We glide over Kenya, where I’ve never been.
The shrubby carpetweed and purslane clump;
outposts of savanna trees seen from our plane.

And the sudden grace of being airborne,
while just walking on clay-pack landfill,
a sunwashed track on a hillock of trash,
the exhilarant height from my head
to the ground,
returns me to that buried child,
diving most earnestly into play.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I drew a line

I remember a stopping point
leading up to full bloom,
shaking and wondering:
Why haven’t I done this before?
I came hard and cried:
Green irises exploding in jaguar spots.
I cry sometimes.
Sometimes I cry.

I didn’t feel bad
about the train sex.
I was afraid of the next stop,
but I didn’t feel bad.
I didn’t speak.
I couldn’t.

I drew a line.

Today is better
than yesterday.
I just let it be,
just curled like so;
Like a pillow in a case,
a hand around a book,
Just so.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

you just have to fold

She prefers Rachmaninov to Wagner and I think, “Good Girl!”
The girl who is a little mad for the Beatles and looks lovely and shy,
hair parted with barrettes, falling in love . . . perhaps . . .
But she states her preferences, she does have that.
I’ve gotten sucked into something that’s not me, not my life.
I’m ungrounded and wandering full of longing, unspeakable,
because obsessions are ungodly that way
and make people hate you after awhile; even your best friends can’t stand to listen to you.
I pin Marlboro ads of glossy horses
all around my high, four-poster bed fitted with the white chenille
and tear through Barbara Cartland Romances
It’s not right.  It’s not right.
But I don’t know what else to do.
There is the lonely high desert beauty of the wild horses
and the sweet young innocents and their bodices,
to be sacrificed to love, the beauty of it,
the stiff mount of the paramour,
if it could just be so on this hill,
this golden mesa.

A plate of haddock and chips 
and a pint and a half of Guinness later,
we finally got around to men.
What did we want.
I feel high and flirty suddenly.
I dismiss the men at the end of the bar as too old, but then, the one with glasses . . .
And salt and pepper hair, perhaps . . . a somber aspect, vinegary.
Just like us, two friends out for a drink on a holiday night.
On a holiday, you just have to fold your hand, my friend said.
It takes so long to tighten it up, to straighten things, you just have to fold.
Too old.  I think again.  Then not knowing what age means.
How old am I?
I just want someone who likes me, my friend says.
Huh, I snort.  But she’s right.
If only someone would be pleasant, nice.
“I’m the nice guy who every girl says she wants, but really doesn’t.”
Gah, who wants to deal with that massive annoyance.
I shut the dating site down with the snap of the laptop.  No one.  No one there for me.

She tells me that I don’t want a mirror of myself
after I tell her that I do.
The glasses behind the bar shine and I smile.
My mother picked the difficult one.  She wanted a challenge!
I pick younger.  My friend wants older.
Alright, then, we aren’t conjoined twins,
although sympathic and invested in this friendship.
I feel bad for having scoffed at her interest in knitting.
Just because I’m that sort.  To judge it as what Old Women Do:
Baby their pets and knit and cry at movies or in public on buses.
And I’m NOT OLD!
Why shouldn’t she churn out loads of knotted patterns?
What am I doing with myself?  Drawing.  
I start to sketch the bottle of grenadine and an imagined crème
with stars and stylized sunflowers like a schoolgirl.
How could I be in love with someone who didn’t like
Crème Anglaise?
It’s her turn to snort.
I had practiced that one.  I knew she would get it.
Crème Anglaise.
I draw my spoon in paisleys through it,
press the embossed sterling beads to my lips,
inhaling the mix of vanilla and metal,
like buttons,
And the tweed, the cedary tweed.

I think of the boy who smelled of a Linden Tree.
And so thin, a lovely trunk and limbs.
I wrapped around him like a vine,
green and urgent.
And the way his hair curled to a small fascinating delta
on the nape of his neck.
I sigh.

The Mississippi of him
The long dark warmth
The river at night
So dangerous and vibrant with a play of moonlight

That was my year of twenty-one year olds
He was the brightest, really.
Though he inevitably slipped me a stone.
He smiled at me with his hand holding Rilke
And said I had to come home with him.
And I did. 

A smile.  If only.
He’s a lawyer now.  I found him online.
I can only shake my head.  He wanted to help people, he said.
I wish I could see him again.  But he has probably gone all soft and the flame gone out.
Men don’t seem to age well.
Have I?
I can’t tell.  Sometimes it seems that I barely know anything about myself.
I have to have dreams to talk sense into me.  I can’t seem to trust my desires in daylight.
That’s it.  Trust.
It has been broken.  Over and over. 

Like a good girl myself, I listen to Beethoven
In the morning.  A distant thunder.
Sucking in papery woodbine
And downing coffee.
Stamping through the garden
in a black ink peignoir and coral Happi coat,
flushing out Japanese Beetles from wrinkled pink bonicas and the
golden raspberries, drowning them in soap.
The dew washing my feet.
The waffle iron is smoking, too.
Brahms is what I want, I think.
Something soothing.
What do I want?

When my professor asked me in Pyatigorsk,
I lied.  I wanted him.  I wanted him to hold me.
To love me.  I wanted him not to have feet of clay.
I wanted him to be my perfect mentor, my father, my teacher.
But I asked for my friends.  I was very drunk on Georgian Champagne and very homesick. 
I wanted love, but I couldn’t trust those words.
He sat and let me cry.  That was a great gift.  I didn’t know it then, but it was a gift.
Not to try and fix me, but to let me be.  To let the backwater of my heart unstop and flow
in quiet tears.  As he stood guard, smoking like a dragon, folded at the end of my bed, still as Buddha.

Weep, then, little one, weep.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Louise said Heaven

I don’t think I’ll see any lovers this morning
rising from dewy meadows,
twined like bind weeds
and blooming pink hued and golden
with such clinging desire.
This morning only grey plumed pigeons
paired on the power plant lines
below sleeping peregrines.

You went through London’s swamp
clutching that last thing,
the mantlepiece clock
and its key for winding. 
What happened to perpetual motion?  
Timepieces, simple mechanics,
just hands sweeping around a dial,
the earth around the sun,
the shifting moon factored in. 
No confusion,
clouds come up,
but the mountain stands still,
the erosion, the plates underneath,
too slow to register any significant error. 
Yet always the friction.

Louise said heaven.
Some pale plateau glowing
in her fervent imagination,
but also tangible
like a thatch of a chestnut’s mane
that you can’t help but thread your fingers through
and hold close, inhaling the musk and fire. 
Who named you and made you other. 
And what energy fuels this need to grasp
and stake some claim, graze into the next pasture.

The senses sway and pull us under the blue green caress in waves.
We glean and gather and pack our hearts with rough bales,
Only to pull out later
Sad amber catches of eyelashes and kisses,
faint pockets of breathless gasps
on the edges of desks, perhaps,
where beauty falls
in each swerving atom

and should they collide . . . .

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Or the sea . . .

"She trusts me," I overhear you say
on one of the many calls you walk outside to take,
and some smooth stone slips over my heart.

Your eyes, which held such sweetness, now look caged.
I miss the graceful swing of the string between us:
the simple kiss, quiet first, then asking for more.

"I only want you to be happy," felt sincere,
so easy, but now, I don't know.
Your tongue on mine is thick
and drunk from crying
as I reach my hand to yours.

We tryst, we sweat and moan, the sea itself;
drowning all thoughts in this pitching cauldron.

In the morning, through the blinds,
a shy lavender light,
laced with butterscotch
and dusty mullien
a sweet Sargasso
of weedy down
on your face,
swirling in a gyre
around your grave
and silent lips

once again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Synchronicity, Spiritus Mundi, "The Shirt! The Shirt!", or, crap, I've really lost it and gone off the deep end.

Benedict Cumberbatch--production photo from "Third Star"
The cast from "Third Star" takes a break and has tea

I had a dream after watching the film "Third Star," an independent British film in which the main character, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is dying of cancer and wants to take one last trip to the coast of Wales with his mates. The main impact of the film on me was the portrayal of this group of young men as caring and being able to be emotionally open and vulnerable; qualities I want to believe men have, or are capable of, but which I haven't experienced firsthand from guys in any satisfactory way.
In my dream I was suddenly with someone and I felt this great relief--that I could stop fighting and struggling so hard and just relax and know that this person, this guy, cared about me, almost implicitly, instinctively, as though we had always known each other and there was no fear or anxiety.  I don't know who he was, I couldn't see him clearly, but I did notice his shirt.  He was wearing this white/off-white thin cotton shirt with a delicate, almost floral reddish/pink pattern on it.  In the dream, in my letting go, I just wanted to put my head on his shoulder.  I wanted him to support me, hold me.  I had all this sorrow and struggle in me and I wanted to let it go.  As I moved in closer to lean on him, I felt this terrific heat rising up from his torso from beneath his shirt.  I suddenly felt that I had misjudged him, that I had made him into this strong impermeable rock that would hold me; maybe not misjudged, but not known completely because I hadn't previously been aware of his sorrows, his struggles, his vulnerability, his human frailty.  How much was he like me?  I could feel his heart beating, but it was jagged, as if he was only kept alive by some fragile and powerful grace, both mystic and wild.

This dream felt very real and dear to me.  I took it as a message that I can and will find the connection I crave, that I will find someone safe, a soul mate.

I wanted very much to write about this in a poem, but I kept getting hung up on the shirt.  I did some Google searches but I couldn't find what I wanted.  I wanted a poetic fabric, but batiste, though favored by Tolstoy, seemed too obscure, too distracting.  I just couldn't come up with a terse, poetic description.  This was what I wrote:

Last night I was thinking:
You, oh, you.
Like a comfort, as though your shoulder
was a pillow for my sorrows.
But when I rested my head there,
the warmth of your torso blazed up like a furnace
and I felt the sudden fragility of your pulse
through the thin print of your shirt,
the unease of the machinery,
and shuddering.

Ah, well, anyway, "the thin print of your shirt" was the best I could do.  So, blah.  But I was pretty pleased with the rest of the poem (Iridium Nib), and so it goes.

Anyway, a couple of days ago I was trolling around the internet.  After "Third Star" I watched another small, independent film that Benedict did--"Wreckers"--which kind of screwed with my head because it's one of those films where nothing is quite as it seems.  I found a short, but insightful forum on the plot of the film on the wonderfully named "The Baker Street Supper Club" website.  I also found a "Wreckers" page on Facebook.  So, yeah, these small budget films want to promo themselves, so they have FB pages with lots of fun pictures and behind the scenes stuff.  I had a great time looking at all the passionate, creative types who are never seen on camera, but do lots of work planning out shots, and painting scenes and dressing sets and the actors.  The art people seemed like people one would like to hang out with.  They had lovely lunches with piles of fruits and veggies and baguettes on the set. 

The Art Crew on "Wreckers" have Lunch.  Love that wallpaper!

The Dog, Lucy, and the Production Designer, Beck Rainford, on "Wreckers."  I just couldn't skip this photo--too cute!
Crew Member of "Wreckers" resting on location in The Fens
I felt some connection with these people.   In my job as a Pastry Chef at a convention center, I am behind the scenes, too, doing my creative work and remaining anonymous and invisible.  My team and I work like hell on a big project and then it's over.  OK, so on to the next show.  That's how it goes.  Not many laurels to rest upon.

So, back to scrolling around the web.  I wanted to find similar "behind the scenes" stuff for "Sherlock."  Oh, my.  This show has an incredible following and a host of websites devoted to almost any aspect you can imagine.  Like that wallpaper in 221B?  Well, you can buy it, or the teapot, or the perfume Irene Adler wore.  Gah.  Too much stuff.  I can see, though, that I am hardly alone in my obsession.  That makes me feel somewhat better, or at least not as crazy.  Anyway, just rummaging through Sherlock pictures and sites and I found this--the shirt!  the shirt!--from some panel discussion somewhere.  God, I almost fell off my deluxe executive task chair.  This is the shirt from my dream.  Why is Benedict wearing it?  Why did I dream about it in detail?  What does this mean?  I have lost it.  I am supposed to be having fun with this obsession, right?  

The Shirt!  The Shirt!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dorianne found a bolt of silk and I have a jasmine tea

The scent of her you remember the longest, I suppose.
Not consciously, but buried like a recital piece you once
worked over so stiffly, like a sore tooth, but now can’t even hum,
until you pass by an open window where notes start and then suddenly stop sharp,
or you hear someone say “air” with a small rise at the end,
as though they had meant to swallow it, but a gust had lofted it
like silken milkweed at dusk.

And her skin, yes, the warmth of it, the buttermilk sheen
that deepened to sweet citrine as the summer bloomed.
You walked up hills together.  In the bright sun,
in the open places, the snakes uncoiled on stones,
the wasps wavered over pink balm that stood
both so earnestly straight-stemmed and faintly wilted at the leaves.

And then her hand closed tightly around yours,
as she spied, with a small gasp of wonder,
an elk cow, softly feeding on the grass by the pines.
Her hand just as quickly released,
as the cow bolted towards the trees,
and in the stars that could not yet be seen,
a lovely queen let her head tilt back,
with her distant hair
so flowing, so free.

Ode to a Nightingale

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Iridium Nib

I’m watching the Mulberry, waiting for the Oriole’s quick, graceful flash: 
Each season, the last to arrive, the first to leave.
The Grackles mob in, the Robins squawk at each other, their fledglings,
A pale Viceroy flutters by the daylilies, then a Monarch. 

I had a small, neat stack of your letters; standard white business envelopes,
tri-folded eight by elevens inside, filled with your harried scratch.
I can almost see your fingers lankly flicking that fast tattoo
of black twisted lace across each silken page.
A short stack like pancakes, creamy blintzes. 
I wonder what you had meant to say to me,
in those notes from the coast.
I wanted to ask if you had ever smelled oranges,
or almonds in bloom, or heard the ocean’s shush.
But those letters I had kept tight in a crush of blue rubber bands;
they frayed, they flew away.

Last night I was thinking:
You, oh, you.
Like a comfort, as though your shoulder was a pillow for my sorrows.
But when I rested my head there,
the warmth of your torso blazed up like a furnace
and I felt the sudden fragility of your pulse
through the thin print of your shirt,
the unease of the machinery,
and shuddering.

There, there he is . . .
but no sweet slurring whistle here.
He quickly picks the darkest berries
then flies away to the high trees by the creek,
the Cottonwoods, the White Elms
where the woven nests sway,
only there does he un-ply his shiny bill
and sing.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Obsession: What if you just own it?

Sherlock in Añjali Mudrā

OK, I’m obsessed with Sherlock and I’m feeling some symptoms of withdrawal--moody, edgy, sad.
There are only 6 episodes (so far) and I’ve seen all of them twice and the pilot.
It all started when I was just wandering through TV channels, which I hardly ever do, but this show caught my eye.  I jumped in and out of the last half of the last episode of the first season in a re-run on PBS.
That night I dreamt about his hair, the luscious dark curls in my fingers, against my lips . . .
I awoke with a start and realized that I was remembering someone from 30 years prior who bore a striking resemblance to the actor playing Sherlock and someone with whom I had been in an off-and-on correspondence of late.  Oh!  Are kisses what I’m wanting, what I’m hoping for with 30-years-ago guy? 

Gah, so, yes.  And I get to watch myself doing it.  I had already told myself the reasons for contacting T. (30-years-ago-guy) was that he reminded me of my college years, those dreamy and unreal four years when I got to be immersed in the heady pursuit of literature and my confused approach to boys.  And a few years back, when I was feeling dissatisfied with my life, I Googled him and found that he was teaching English at an Ivy League college.  I read an excerpt of a book he’d written and heard his voice through it again, funny and erudite. 
I cried. 
He also had reviewed some poets I didn’t know and as I began to read them, that old feeling that I had set aside for so long came back, that excitement of deciphering the meaning of language, the flowing power of a wash of images in verse, the tones, the colors . . . .
At that time I was on the edge of joining MySpace and a circle of supportive writers.  Finding T. again helped me realize the direction that I wanted for my life, what I had been missing.
I contacted him.  We hadn’t been lovers, but I had fond memories of him.  We were friends.  He liked my poetry.  I loved hanging out with him and listening to him talk.  That may sound odd, but he was extremely smart and I liked to have him explain philosophy and literature in ways that were quite foreign to my brain.  I thanked him for indirectly encouraging me to write again after a decade or so hiatus.  He had fond memories of me as well, but that was the end of it.  I could see that at that time, I wanted him to help me, to be my editor, perhaps, or somehow help me get published.  I didn’t ask him directly, but I sent him some of my poems and then heard nothing back.  I let it go.

Then my boyfriend of 7 years broke up with me, my mother died, my dogs died.  I tried to make a relationship happen with an alcoholic with whom I initially thought I could just be a friend.  I think I may finally be over that notion, but I’ve started up this little thing with someone from 30 years ago.  In December, I found some art he had done and sent me on a postcard from 1983.  I scanned it and sent it to him.  I had to wonder about my intentions and I decided that he would either decide that I was a creepy stalker, or be thrilled.  He was thrilled. At that time I was just starting to teach myself to draw and very enthusiastic about it.  He wrote back and told me that he realized that abandoning his Art was a mistake and he wanted to get back to it.  I said yesyesyesyes!  And then nothing for another 4 months. 

In April, T. sent me a short email that he was in his garden and thinking about me.  What?  I let three weeks pass before I responded.  I wasn’t doing so hot at the time.  My back was out and I was having an unhappy spring.  I sent him a longer message and some drawings.  And that flirtatious energy came up. Even though I knew I had a good chance of being very foolish, it still felt good.  T. had been kind to me in the distant past.  There was no enmity between us; he had rescued me from a verbally abusive relationship when I asked him.  Did I wish to be rescued again?  

And then Sherlock showed up: tall, thin, pale, dark curls, incredibly smart.  I got psychologically confused.  I knew that I was making up a fake romance with T., almost as I had with the online alcoholic, with even less;  I was just working off a couple of emails this time.  What are you doing!?  But Sherlock as a doppelganger to T. was a lovely distraction.  I could come home from a crap day at work and know that he’d be there in a blue dressing gown, or Saville Row suit, petulant and dark and dashing, challenging me to think, observe, figure it out. I shifted my possible obsession with T. to a TV show.  But now it’s over, well at least until new episodes come out next year. And, by owning it, my obsessive nature, that need to make up romance, I just get to say:  Yes!

A rather blue still from "Third Star"

Friday, June 8, 2012

Swan in the Rushes

what vein would I bleed free
to see your brown eyes close,
lidded like a starless night,
a new moon silence.

2 to 3 cc is all I need,
I am still the same girl
I used to be.

Somehow we made it
to Bloomington
and back;

Now, I would go to Tallahassee,
shoot up anything,
a mirror,
if only we could talk about
Mr. Calvin

My knowledge of Bossa Nova,
the deep yellow coreopsis,
or the sheer silk polka
dots: oh, don’t bother, they
won’t change your mind.

A gift beyond price.
Can’t you feel it?
The milk still gets
Echoing through
stainless walls,
plastic lines.

I’m lost.
am complete.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Goodnight, Vienna

A dragon drapes
between  us,
powder blue.

The bottom leaves,
you said,
I hadn’t
given them much
thought, until
you said you
liked them

Yes, the leaves on
the bottom right.
You apologize
for your cigarette,
trying to hold it
but I like the smoke,
the must of old twigs
and leather
burning beyond stone fences
we rode for ponies
those years ago.

Sometimes when I draw,
I feel the anxiety,
the hurry to get to the end,
and I notice my hand moving
faster, automatically.
Those leaves
fanning from the stem
were an afterthought,
quickly spilled out.

And holding me, now,
you bring your hand
to the soft petal peony
of my breast,
and drip some sweet poison in my ear.
And I won’t even wait
for your glasses
to come off
to kiss you

Monday, May 28, 2012

Splendid Whatever

The moths wing against the blinds, punctuating the silence.
I’m doing it again, what I’ve always done;
trying to gauge what you want so you will find me lovable.

I picture you as you were at that wedding
and dream of your hair all night,
bury my fingers into the dark loam of curls
and bring them to my lips,
sweet lime and linden and sweat.

In the morning I smooth the sheets
and wonder about your skin,
Could I still glide my hand so freely down your back?

You have a picture of me, too, somewhere,
red-cloaked in distress:
The big bad wolf will eat me alive, can I come
to your room and hide?

Wurbly Wurbly Wurbly cried the Robin Sentinels.
Lilac trees plumed thin and yellow-white by your door.
You let me in.

You entertained me with masks and stardusts
and velvety cream pastels.
You slept on the floor and I on the bed.
Toms troubled the alley and thunder rumbled far away,
but sleep blanketed us in softly tufted counterpanes.

Tell me, now, has the grass grown tall? 
Do you brush against the stalks,
caressing the flush of the seed heads
as they seethe so warm and summer green?