Coltrane and Rainy Days

Cursor blinking on the page

unfinished labor of money, not love

while lost in a moment of Coltrane

always back to those honeymoon days

where it was cool and rainy outside,

cool and warm inside, barefoot in blankets and books

philosophical political purposeful conversations,

nights filled with red wine, the soft twinkle of

patio lights surrounded by passionate minds and

laughter, the burning of more than just candles

between us.   Another time before children,

before the fast-forward of life and cymbals

banging, before beds were strictly for sleeping,

before bright lights.  Maybe it was only a moment

or something we saw in a movie once

where Uma Thurman played me, and Brian

Greenberg, the light skinned Jewish version

of the brown and beautiful you,

but without the conflict.

Lost in the lazy piano and hot-blooded

trumpet, I can see those artist hands

of yours against my white arm

resting on the slow breaths of your chest.

Music drawn to a sad close,

I hear it– flashing cursor, pinging email,

stacks of paper.

But this day; this life,

was meant for so much more.

When Elvis Died

When Elvis died in the seventies, too soon for some, my mother wore a t-shirt, “Elvis Lives” bedazzled in rainbow sparkle across her shapely chest. All I knew was that this angel was sent down for me unaware of her life outside of motherhood. I watched her in the day. screamed for her at night, longed for even the scent of her on my weekends away. It may have been Elvis then that had her heart or someone taller and darker, but I don’t think it was me coming into adolescence, learning how to be. Elvis did live through that faithful decade in the rooms of our house, in the shag carpets, and green velvets. Blue suede shoes danced the darkness from our lives. It was the seventies sound of Elvis dying, leaving us behind but keeping the soul of my family alive.

Lies We Tell Ourselves

she was honest from the start
she could only handle so much

when results were in
her hand writing over and over them

the only solution was to wail and
begin lying—to everyone she knew

if anyone ever imagined the worst
of those paper bags in the clinics

they need not worry, for the bags
are filled with lies

those we tell ourselves and others
especially our children

whose death is a truth and sorrow
leaving us like an abandoned chrysalis

frail, transparent, with a hole we’ll never fill
only the spirit of a blue butterfly

escaping with the lie

Cold Vegetable War Era

anyone could tell by the menu
I was raised by a kid
not even young enough to vote

vegetables in my childhood
were onions on a McDonald’s hamburger
which I scraped off

they were mashed potatoes
whipped with heaps of whole milk and butter
which I glazed in gravy

or sort of green
green beans from a can
which I tricked my brother into not eating

the way I refused to eat tater tots
another bygone vegetable
my mom could send to all the starving children

if I ate the iceberg lettuce salad
with lots of Wishbone dressing
then I could have strawberries with sugar

oh–my kids with their broccoli, peas, and carrots
would rise up in a five-a-day rebellion
if they knew my secret vegetable history

To the Moon (but not back this time)

quiet comfortable floral decor
could have easily been the Hilton
except my father lay dying
between his wife and me

his shallow breath
a silent movie playing in the background
white feet on their way to bones
poking from under the covers

his bald head
nodded in peaceful sleep
when the rise of his chest
stopped too long

as if to play a joke
another deep breath in
not ready to let go
as we crowd him to comfort ourselves

before we say goodbye
like a baby again
an occasional sleeping smile
as his organs shut down

perhaps he was laughing
at his father’s joke, a prankster
gone before, here to give my dad a grin
as he prepares for his departure.

Wasting the Good Surprise

Sitting quietly waiting
at the OB-G Y N
when who should appear
but the EX of my worst mistakes
his sweet new wife, their parents
and their peanut’s ultrasound

Trying to avoid his stare
to identify his former conquest,
I didn’t look up from my tabloid
to see who he used to be.
Flashing a coffee stained smile,
he sat down to tell me his life.

He bathed in himself
through five or six patients
until finally “wifey” ran out of
3D pictures and grins for
courteously questioning in-laws
and her mother’s raised brow

She smiled to my rescue
through awkward introductions
and polite recollections of the years
I wasted in her shoes;
although so happy now
for unanswered prayers

Alone at last, still waiting
I realize, my secret is unknown
to everyone but the beast unburied
from the wasteland of my past.
I can no longer sit smiling with the secret
you and I were saving ‘til the bump of the belly.

May You Always Have Mangoes:

with love for Ms Jones and Mr Brown on their Wedding Day
Two, November, Two Thousand Fourteen

at least one shared sunrise
waking to that slice of light across his or her perfect sleeping face
stimulating dinner conversations, wine flowing
just the two of you, or surrounded by family and friends
laughter. always laughter.
the right amount of longing
until your smiles are joined again
sunsets on the porch, on the beach, at the end of an argument
that never makes it through the night
love that feels as strong as the first time and as deep as the
last for all the rest of your lives
happiness together
like a bouquet of fruit flowers
delivered fresh to your morning table each day
may you never run out of things to say
and your love stay sweet and ripe to make your mouths water
through all the seasons of your lives

these things I wish for you
lovely couple

may your house always be full with the beautiful orange joy of mangoes

Fire Sign

(for Isabel)

A blue entry into the world cannot stop the little fire sign.
From the moment she is wrapped and warm, red becomes her glow

From her newborn breath, a whisper captures her father hypnotic
He is hers. His fire for her is instant as he protects and her little spark ignites.

throughout his life and hers.  Red ringlets bounce and dimples shine to top off
a gifted scientific mind. She creates inspires and is a colorful complex work of art.

Her song is a bee-bop, her step is a bunny skipping to the beat of a humming bird
and when she dances, she is full of grace tiptoe on the moon as all the world looks on

She spins, and we all become dizzy.  She laughs and commands our hearts to grin
There is a fire-haired girl at the center of the galaxy where the sun used to be

Don’t tell her she’s the one lighting our world
Though I suspect from that spot on her Daddy’s shoulder’s, she already sees.

To all the Girls without Fathers on Father’s Day

If he’s gone now
or was gone early on
if he was never there at all
if he was there but didn’t see you

if you have a hole where your father should be

I grew out of the shadows of that empty space too.
I am a whole woman, here to tell you,
no matter where he was, or where he is now
sweep up these words, the pieces of all the world’s empty or
unfinished daughters on Father’s Day
plant them in your empty space, so love can grow,

you know? Because you don’t have any more days
to hunt, for whatever he wasn’t or isn’t anymore
or whatever you want him to be. Let the chase and wild-eyed dogs cease.
You only have now. Even if you never glimpsed him at all.
He already gave you everything

Hands and heart, eyes and soul, of a woman capable

Love and be loved if you choose. Step out. Barefoot and skirt twirling into the street,

arms to the sky and smiling because on Father’s Day,
you became whole and balanced spinning on one toe into a world just waiting
for you to be open, to hear the voice, the one inside of you
that says I miss having a father, but it will not stop me
from dancing into my own comfortable skin.

On Father’s Day, even without him, I will once and for all be me!

The Moon in Mexico

Somewhere deep in childhood
a time in Mexico
warm blue ocean, whir of foreign tongue
a girl’s dream began
building castles in the sand

Something more than shells came back
hidden in her lifeblood, in the cascade of golden hair
always a connection between waves and shore
always a love story born
by tide and moon

So when I saw you for the first time
I recognized the fiesta in your eyes, the waves in your smile
moon glowing from your heart
whispering to my senses in distant languages
all grown up now from the girlhood dream

There you are, sand on your cheek
helping to conjure up new girlhood dreams
with these tiny constellations we created
“I love you Mama Luna!” they say, but
are seeing your reflection in me

It is you who came to us from the Mexican moon
on the glittering ocean flowing into a young girl’s dreams.