Homage to You

Lost mother who lived well
in the return of experienced
pain and passionate exchange
you always took the extra

steps off tall promontories
preparing a quick descent
to the low shelf, trajectories
that left no way out

but to return silent as you
were. So I want to cry out:
Homage to us, the remnants
of a tender yet stilted touch

of midnight lapsing into lunacy
a crippled mind that wandered
far flung from the usual whispers
yet crept back alleys bearing gifts

we still carry. Still we fly
with you, transport defiance,
well cast in the harden clay
of life in barren places.

Total Loss

When I was twelve,
I had a beagle spotted
black, brown, white.
She relished in, fell
under the spell
of every city smell

so much she didn’t
complain when a sly
stranger picked her up
stuffed her calmly
under his arm
like groceries.

Silenced, startled
not a yelp
was heard down
the block where
my mother waited
patient for her return.

I’ve always wondered
was she then sold
into a better family
where the cherished
weren’t always lost
or gone missing.

Looking Back to Then

The kettle whistles and a dog barks
and I climb from sleep, up in the yellow
pink attic room where still my grand
mother’s Victorian bureau holds court.

Not ready to descend the spiral stairs
follow sound into the baking morning.
I turn over, bury my bird-nested hair, face
wrinkling under the soft of white cotton.

From that garret room, narrow and short,
I often gazed out three stubby windows,
longing to ride the old pickup truck nestled
next door silent in the sagging barnyard.

I always wondered what they were doing
over there, when the whir of  loud motors,
the clanging metallic noises bled into me.
And so, I painted the scene from my perch

to discover, to render without muddiness
the red truck, the blue sky, the grey house
set back, hidden behind a wall of green.
Even then, I recognized that we were

stranger neighbors, mother and daughters:
Hebrew queen Sarah;  Mildred, the mild
and the strong; impudent woman Jezebel;
and Fedora, the diviner of fashionable hats.

Massive Disappointment

April was the cruelest month:
It arrived with snow
in its throat

still gregarious with winter’s boast
as if uncertain winds could
whip us clean

in the delegations of rain
still wrecking havoc at back
breaking speed.

Yellow is spurting through bare
ground freshly unfrozen
from its iced nap.

Yet we perch the back fence
gazing out at the distant
storms still rattling

waiting as warm sunsets toggle
with cool breezes brushing
back a new spring.

May May blossom and flower
soon carrying hope in its hat
turning a new corner

releasing the cold of isolation,
the massive disappointment
that was cruel April.

In the Wind

There’s a smell of change
in the recent tidal waves

that percolate all to salt
nostrils with chalking wet.

Yet, the world still sleeps
head in hand

perched always on an elbow
or face down on a table.

Snores are the only chatter,
hearts pumping a slow pace

Jitters gone quiet, morning
blahs remain all day.

As past and present drift
my cracking lips refuse speech

keep quiet in the din of day
Light spells as evening sidles

by my table, watches strangers
talk in echoes no one hears.

Art, work, no change: Whimpers
of senses painted foggy

line by line: I feel done
until I consume the drip

wait for the electric pot
to boil with patience.

Without coffee, even the injurious
chatter in grunts and snores.

Quite a Pear

No matter how daunting
a task a mouse could eat
an eggplant parsing it

into minute morsels
the way one could
consume an unripe pear

tearing through the tough
tightness of weathered
skin to sweat each

mouthful as rough as earth
chomping through its
unwashed hardness

front teeth crunching
to release a slight
swagger of sweet.

Social Clues

S slithers on my tongue like a snake
O encircles the air, your surprise
C a crash of glass on pavement
I remains all about me and not you
A frames my teeth in lies and deceit
L is the left you took out the back door

Wisdom of an Idiom

The hen sees the snake’s feet
and the snake sees the hen’s boobs.

A Thai idiom translated means this:
Two people know the secrets

of the other, or is it quirks
the snake and hen share?

We were first in love in Thailand
Jet lagged from the flight, we found

no time for sleep after trudging
temple to temple in Bangkok heat

All night beer drinking under clay
statues revealed its own symmetry:

I redeemed the secrets of the snake.
You relished in the quirks of the hen.

Anti-Virus Love Song

I feel nothing for you
for those left behind
love riddles my chest
I cannot breathe

Never knew someone
like you
could make me wait
locked in and gazing

in long lines
for staples
for extra room
to pass by what’s left

on the street
there is no love lost
for you
I cannot love

Still, you take
more than you give

doctors, nurses
on call with little
choice to muddle
through doses of lack

I pledge my heart
to the essential
workers with little

choice but to huddle
too close in the back
sparing the driver
from catching the bug

For those on the front
lines, my love grows
forever grateful.

Isolated Flood

Far beyond the pound
of rain: floods are
not expected even
as wild whistles
of wind breach
this waiting shore.

Once, you knitted
me a safely net
of stripes:
a blue-gray scarf
that binds me
to your island.

A fine protection
yet down stream
all is blocked
I am stranded
left alone straddling
in high water.

This is what looms:
An insular tear of knots
signaling the way out
You looking lost
wishing for home
in the background.