Poetry and Woodpecker
Monday, April 12, 2021
Poetry is the heart
Written with the mind
We poets try to express what makes
Our pumping vessels swell and contract
So that others may know their living meaning
Because we can’t know our own
Until we write it
Before the rain,
I brought a book outside
and heard the woodpecker
Chomping to find the heart.
I looked up and a breeze blew yellow
swathes from high in the loblolly pines
Before the grey skies shadow
the brightening sun
In a dance of spring.
Yellow yellow yellow jessamine
Overwhelms the chain link fence that
Keeps the dogs and cats in.
The new tabby, a wander in from the cold last fall,
Has figured out the pet doors finally
And chases the poor old quiet love cat
Under the shed.
He thought outside a reprieve from the little bully.
Water weighs the air heavy as love hangs on the heart
Griefs are many and tangled with pride
This season of flowers and burgeoning
Reminds me my kids are mostly grown
And we won’t blow the dandelions
Which populate the haphazard wildflower lawn.
The slate sky belies the wonder and
color of all that is new right now
and and and how nothing lasts, not even the
Knock knock knock of the woodpecker.
3/31/2021 1st draft
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Andrew built a wooden frame for privacy.
I planted morning glory seeds and sunflower seeds
to fill the space between us and neighbors.
It’s past Midsomer. The sunflowers stand happy sentinels,
as delicate vines begin to wind and climb to strangle them, unaware.
I spent a good part of the morning unwinding the precious threads
from the sunflower stalks they chose
to entangle around instead of the posts of the frame.
I wound the long vines around the wood frame.
The morning glories are lovely and few,
and too delicate for human touch
as they furl in their open selves toward noon.
It’s too hot in the midday humid sun
for me to try to untangle, and I have so much more
Useful things to do.
The precious vines I unwind have me
metaphoring to my cancer,
and how the surgeon, oncologist, pathologist
are trying to untangle
any remaining invisible cells
from my lymph nodes.
The two that held cancer
beyond the hard tumor in my breast,
my surgeon calls sentinel nodes,
My eldest son laughs
and compares the nodes
to a videogame sacrifice.
The gatekeepers are sacrificed
so the rest of the troops
can prepare for a defensive attack.
I'm trying to untangle all the medical
and financial information in a system
that commodifies my life as a sacrifice,
if we can’t pay
for the surgeries to cut the tumor and nodes out;
for the chemotherapy to air raid bomb
any infiltrating cancer cells out;
for the radiation after chemo,
just in case they find a single holdout in a hidden bunker
after all that residual damage is done.
I try to untangle how my daughters’
education won’t be sacrificed during this pandemic.
She can’t attend school or ride a bus,
a sacrificial lamb to a slaughter.
Since the governor can’t decide yet,
I decided for my child, for myself,
and family health.
Options are available beyond a classroom
full of covid and a myriad other disease vectors.
I untangled the pandemic from my cancer,
and the chemotherapy
that will wipe out my immune system,
like America bombs the Middle East.
The same philosophy behind both:
If we wipe it all out, maybe we’ll
get the bad guys: ISIS, cancer.
But how do I untangle the idea of destroying
what is supposed to protect me
on the off-chance a few cancer cells
may still float around in
undetermined corners of my body?
But morning glories aren’t cancer.
And sunflowers aren’t protecting us
from anymore than maybe a curious glance
or a stray hello.
The delicate lacy vines are precious
and carry beauty that changes
with the sun to protect itself
as it clings on for dear life.
I protect them both, with care,
the bowing strong, tall sunflowers,
and their delicate and dangerous
neighbor morning glories.
First draft 7/14/20
Missiles at Dawn
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Missiles at Dawn
Living close to a weapons testing area
not far from Camp Lejeune can be
interesting. Sometimes the air pops
and eventually I know it’s not a rowdy
neighbor by how the corn settles
into a practiced rhythm.
Sometimes it’s quite loud. The house
shakes, and I wonder if this might be it.
I think they’re testing land mines.
This morning, I learned the fft-whoosh
of missiles at dawn is nothing like the movies.
Now I will recognize it
before one hits our house.
Is this a poem?
I have broken up the lines.
Or shall I just sit and wonder
how soon this preparation is for?
Breakfast with Mary Oliver
Thursday, January 24, 2019
It's been a while, again.
I've been thinking, and life happens.
Here's a poem.
Breakfast with Mary Oliver
The rain is a deluge for waking,
dark and heavy, a blanket beyond
I move slowly into the kitchen,
dreaming Mary Oliver’s voice,
“Pay attention, that’s what I can do.”
I pour coffee and glance to a covered pan
of last night’s sautéed mushrooms on the stove.
Oh, what a waste.
I won’t waste the cooking of them.
I won’t waste the bit of life left
in them to nourish me.
I crack into them a couple of golden yolk
eggs from my neighbor’s chickens.
So much more present, colorful, flavorful,
than what can be found on a supermarket shelf.
She sells them to me in her driveway.
While we gossip about neighbors,
mostly her in-laws, the chickens swirl,
size me up,
chuckle, gurgle their gossip about us.
As the eggs become more solid
petrichor rises from portabellas
takes me to a forest’s mossy floor.
Somewhere, I am a boar snuffling
at the ground for the deep loamy
flavor under the chaff of
wind and seasons, composting
to grow a delicious morsel.
Some ancient human followed a boar
And found umami mushrooms;
felt the deep roots of the earth's turning
season by season in her mouth, did not die
and became the earth.
I slide the cooked eggs and mushrooms
onto a blue plate.
Sip my coffee once more.
I eat and grow roots.
first draft, 1.24.2019