She’s Compounded

How many breaks

Of bones and hearts

Fractured into multitudes

She’s many

Exponential

It’s worse than you thought

Or can imagine

How the pain is held behind a smile

At bay

For a minute

For an hour

For a lifetime

He had a temper

They used to say

But it meant more than that

It was a code

And I know there are men in the mix

Suffering at the hands of mad women

You know it two to too

Pink Floyd knew new nu

It’s women hurting women

Men hurting men

Even so these intimate disasters

Create the ruins from which we grow

Everyone is hurting but it’s worse

Than you know

Or can imagine

It all breaks apart

Shattering

and we all want to be home

safe

nurtured

loved

Lacking the skills to get there

Without a map or a guide or a road

We stab at healing in the dark

And cut ourselves on the tip of our tongues

What was said under covers

What was cried in the early morning hours

What was hidden behind sunglasses

What was hissed in the angel’s ears

Of pain and threats

No one saw

No one told

No one wants to remember

Until someone told

And people saw

Remembering it all

They blame the teller

Not the hitter

They punish the outspoken

As their fears push them further to the edge

Fear has a temper

Rising

And she’s compounded

Fractured

And the earth herself

Is cracking open

Grab your pen when the tremors start

Write out your dreams

She speaks

This reckoning in ashes

This reckoning is the sea boundless

This reckoning falling from the sky

She is compounded

Healing

The doves fly at dawn

The nightingale sings

The mockingbird mocks

The pig roots for you

Under the underbrush

Where the truffles grow

She is compounded

A rising vibration

Lift off or or be left

In the throws of the unsung

Stuck in the birth canal

Choked off from the infinite song

Hope rising

Peace settling

stomp once if

Stomp twice if you hear me

flowers grass meadow time
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Things You Never Told Her

In dusty musty boxes

In the basement corner near the back

Papers yellowing with age

Edges curling crinkled

Ink is smudged and

Pencil smearing

Cardboard soft and slightly limping

Are the words that choke you

In the middle of the night

How the sunlight dancing through her hair

Is magic when she lifts her face to laugh

Because she had a thought which pleased her

So she glanced over her shoulder

When her eyes met yours you felt it

Underneath your bones

Electric

How her presence in the darkest nights

Her even softest breathing of her sleeping

On more than one occasion anchored you to life

When her hand brushed up against yours

Fingers intertwining

Held you steady as your fears came creeping

That her touch banished them from sight

How the glimpse of her turning dancing movements

As she measured out a song while she was cooking in the kitchen

And her voice would sing along

That the joy arising from her gave you one more thing to love

About a life that had been dark and wary

Stressed and sacrificial

Maybe she never knew how she was balm to healing pressures

Maybe she never saw her worth beyond a budgeted refusal

Frugal and self reliant

She fixed and healed and tidied

Maybe she wept at times for lack

Maybe she questioned every penny of her worth

Maybe she longed for one more word of kindness

Maybe she wished for a hand which reached her heart

Maybe she knew

How every day you counted her first among your blessings

Some pages in the boxes stuck together

Moldering in cardboard splitting at the seams

Bending breaking open

Spilling letters onto concrete in the basement of your heart

The words running together

In wild fantastic herds

They have galloped across the plains into the forests

Grazing underbrush of lines growing thick

Around the trembling trunks of trees

All the poetry you feel is falling floating down

Drifting in paragraphs

In autumn colors just like leaves

As you trace the patterns on her hands

Watching wrinkles crinkle careless at the corners of her eyes

As she gazes at the antics of the chipmunks just outside

Maybe her smile is warmer, brighter when her glance meets yours

Maybe she reads each unsaid word there within the light

Glowing from within the silence of the corner boxes

In the basement near the back

Spontaneously combusted in the twilight of your life

As the flames dance and spark there

Behind your eyes

All the things you never told her

Flickering tendrils in the darkness

Became her hearth and home

person standing on brown wooden floor
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Beyond Sorry

“I’m sorry…” she begins

Trailing off down the path of

Self recrimination

“There’s no sorry.” I tell her

It’s about the dishes maybe

It’s about expectations I don’t have

That she fears I might

It’s how the past gnaws her legs

Inhibiting movement

We are way beyond sorry

I wash the dishes

It’s a gift not a chore

So small I barely notice

I vacuum and mop the floor

Wipe down the baseboards

Clean the doors

She’s sorry and she’s not sorry

She thinks I think she ought to do

Different

It takes time to rewrite the story

We are way beyond sorry

There’s no judgment when I’m cleaning

There’s celebration

What to give the person who has everything

But time

Who gives to others without holding back

Who creates space, and opportunity

Supports, and lends a hand

It’s only temporary

This life

This moment

This situation in situ

The history is long and tangled

The friendship well established

She says “Thank you,”

Without an apology this time

Reacquainted

We are beyond sorry

No regrets

I survey the next room

And pick up the cloth

It’s not enough, but it’s something

She found a way to leave me afternoon Chai

I detail cleaned the coffee grinder

She gave me a beautiful bowl and a wooden elephant

I vacuumed the cobwebs from the corners of each room

I am sorry and not sorry

We are beyond it

Way beyond sorry

Full of gratitude for chosen family

I say “Thank you”

Without apology this time

Buried Alive

There’s a moment of desperation

When it all goes awry

A breakneck pace of events

Wondering

Will you live or

Will you die

Inevitable

Of course

A chance encounter

Might brush one off the path

Without warning

And yet

That stark clarity

Ultraviolet black light

Superimposition

Wreath while waiting in between diagnostic tests

Adrenaline rush

Of an intruder within

One’s own body

Sacred

Terms of terror

Biopsy

Will you live or die

Heads or tails

And how does one prepare

To say those

Words to family and friends:

“I’ve been caught out with a fatal condition

(LIFE)

with no cure and no hope but for a painless end.”

~ diagnosed to die
Waiting with a wall quilt

And to feel like I’ve

Let them down

And failed somehow

To survive another chapter and that

The writer of my life

Has no mercy

Is killing the character

I had loved to hate and

Hated to love

The character I learned to

Cherish and value

And yet here we were

We were buying burial plots

And stitching a shroud

Of memories for the end

Images were taken of

My insides inside out

Technicians tears and mine

Were mingled in the doubt

This year spent shielded

From the virus

Only to be vaccinated

And find death sneaking

In a back door left

Unguarded

In the waiting room. It would be good news, but we didn’t know that yet

How death cheated I supposed

How apropos I figured

Because again I felt

That precious wonder in

Each breath

I want to live

I want to live

And all those images

Would say that

There’s a small suspicious spot

It’s early

No matter if the worst

Case comes to pass

You’ve got this and it

Feels just like

A second chance

Life is short, and we never know, really, how short it will be

My good friend went with me to the urgent care, and to the stat diagnostic appointment the next morning. The period between the initial visit and the test results were fraught with tension, grief, preparation, and panic. The nurse, doctors, technicians were all compassionate, caring, and made this process less isolating than it could have been. A later appointment with the surgeon confirmed a probable positive prognosis. There still may be a significant journey ahead, but my chances are good, and I am grateful for that.

In addition to that, I am making some big life changes – in the middle of moving back to a place a used to live. I’m shedding all of my possessions but what fits into two car loads. The rest I have been, and am still, giving away. What I bring back into my life will be carefully evaluated for usefulness and beauty and character.

Kicked to the Curb (with Audio)

On a dingy curb they sat

She in a dress once white

Grubby ruffles sliding down

From scabbed knees

Bare feet in the gutter

A thin arm wrapped around

His shoulders boney under

A faded blue shirt

His grim shorts matched

The grey cement

She called his name as she

Held him

Grabbed his elbows then

Wove her arms into his

The traffic in front of them

Pulsed in fumes and beats

Music poured out from cracked

Windows

Behind them legs took people

Quickly to their next appointment

She called his name

She called his name

I need you, she said

She called his name

I’m sorry, so sorry, so sorry

She called his name

Please survive

I will find you

In this bubble outside of time

Pact struck

Within the swirling city

That never was

Children who never were young

Spit on palms and clasped hands

Making promises

For the future

Writing hope into the lamplight

Singing dirges to the past

Drawing stick figures in grime

A couple kissing

Two in love

Encircled by an asymmetric heart

And when they woke

To another day in hell

Apart and never parted

Hanging on by a thin thread

Woven from a fragment of a

Dream half remembered

Until the day it was needed

“I’m glad you made it,” she said

“I feel selfish for needing you to survive that.”

“I hope you found some joy in the sunlight,

And laughter in the wind,

And peace in the water,

And love growing up from the soil.”

Possibilities swirled around them

Standing there between the light

And the Abyss

A single path began to coalesce

As he slid his hand into hers

“I said I would find you,” he told her

Every star in the sky became a blossom

Every flower in the meadow burst into flames

Birds became dragons

Whales flew through purple skies

Smoke curled up from stone chimney

A cat slept next to a dog in front of the hearth

They curled together under a blanket on the couch

She began to read to him from an unfinished book

When he closed his eyes for a moment

Under the words she spoke, he heard her call his name

And his name meant home to her

And so he stayed

monochrome photo of person sitting on curb
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