Calistoga

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biking through half-lit evenings
of childhood summers
cricket songs
in dark freedom
of pedaled breezes
hair flowing back
song of youth
I am older now
but perhaps more free
in mind, in body
but the remembrance feels freer than all

let me go
cricket songs echo
cloaked in cool darkness of summer nights

my face younger
my worries less solid
it all lies before me
the fears, the dreams
losses to come
wisdom to gain
suffering with a longer term purpose

I am older now
with children of my own
who don’t bike at night
that freedom generationally lost
like my own childhood
years ago

sky where roof used to be

Sky where roof used to be
where everything you’ve lost is found
air full of past
burn destructed and then reborn

belonging in harm’s way
courting gratitude
for memories held that don’t
wisp away like smoke
embers fall from grace

ledges of life
roughly reassembled
out of synchronicity
papery images of past

going home
I drive by
burned roof open to moving sky

This poem was inspired by actual events (I guess all poems are, in one way or another).

One morning, driving to school, we noticed that a house on a street near the school had partially burned. My youngest daughter remained fascinated by the sight of it for weeks, as did I. We wondered what the story was: who lived there, were they OK, and what caused the fire?

Then the story appeared in our local paper. A woman had lived in the house with her cat, she had Alzheimer’s. Her son lived next door. Early one morning she was sitting out on her front porch when a neighbor (not her son) noticed the fire and helped get her off the porch and save her cat. She may have left the burner on, heating water for tea, she can’t remember. No one was hurt in the fire and everyone is grateful. It was her dream house, it will be rebuilt.

A few days later, driving by the remains of the house I was struck by the phrase, “sky where roof used to be” as through the jagged hole in the damaged roof you could see the juxtaposed blue sky and the clouds moving through it. I was inspired to construct a poem based on that phrase and the story of the woman, and wanted to have a photo of the damaged roof with the sky. I kept meaning to stop and take the photo. One evening, driving home from back to school night, I remembered again that I needed to take that photo. I kept driving as I felt the pull to get home as I’d been gone for several hours. Then something inside compelled me to turn back and actually get the photo taken.

The next morning I drove by the house again and the roof remains had been demolished to make way for the rebuild.

I finished this poem a few days later.

Appropriate language

The longer I stay away, the more daunting it seems to come back…  This is my blogging experience.  I have been writing…some.  Following is a work I produced at a summer writing program (SWP) way back in June. It was such a blessing to have been able to take a week out of a busy summer home with my kids and devote it to writing.   The poem includes borrowed words and phrases from poems of Alice Notley and Doug Oliver, old American folk music, and some Bob Dylan songs, which means it is an appropriated language poem of sorts, which is double layered in here since Alice Notley’s “In the Pines” poem (which is one of the sources) also contains appropriated language.

I
And you go walking
flurries on the other side
featureless trees alive with night
clear to the bottom
uneasy in their resting place
will to go, jettisoned, distracted

II
The usual crowd was there
wrong about everything
think how they sound
lonesome eerie veiled sound
of the periphery
holes filled with background
burden
glory well of sorrows
flashes false
a price is no price
subtled in habit
arrow on the dark night of grief
taking down the stars above
plantations burning

III
a bird, end down, slept in the pines
a movement takes under
seems to be all there is
if the cold wind sun never shines
where will you go?
tears are calling
to cross over everything unresolved
crickets, not a word of good-bye
going home travel loves motion
white linen
my magic, god like mysterious fortune
a face you almost remember
there’s plenty of rest here
heavily guarded, my own soul.

Poems wisdom transfer

In an age if sound bit spoonfeeding
is it fair to require so much work?

interpretation through experience
(and dictionary consultations)
to unlock
the hidden meaning in your prose
or pride?

without accessibility, what is it but idle
fodder for the trained elite
to be discovered and dismissed?

yet answers gotten freely
through no effort of your own
blow off quickly in idle winds as well
so what is the poet and the philosopher to do
but embrace the unraveled paradox
as truth

with me, the bride of cleverness,
(overlooking it’s divisive powers)
seeking unity.

Saving

I tried to save you from yourself, to no avail
as the possibility of me saving you was naught.
I saved the brochures of my travels through Europe
when without you I did not rot.

I saved bits and pieces of the sea from our trips to Hawaii
which you condemned and said to look for bugs.
I saved namaste bookmarks and anusara invocations
you frowned seeing them upon the rug.

I saved a piece of my soul for you
you turned and looked away,
I saved a piece of my soul for you
and that’s why I still have it today.

There’s a reason it’s called a living room

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These objects
are not yet ours
in our home
new and lovely, smelling of pleasant stores
visually appeasing
my sense of ownership
and borrowed space.

Too beautiful to be not functional
but the tempered balanced arrangement
scares my use until later
maybe I will light that candle.

For now I wrap myself in a throw
and then will attempt to arrange it
back like it was
rumpled yet beautiful,
actionless, yet foretelling diagonal movement.

Patterns and blues intermix
to break my matching rules,
yet it works better than matching
it complements
for matching creates precise limits
and I want to embrace it all instead
yet have a unifying sense
of belonging
together.

Just enough, not too many
singular pieces to be traded in and out in the future
perhaps repurposed in another room
or life
new with old, never completely starting over
bringing in pieces from the past.

In a room of living that I once said was dead, redundant space.