After the Rain

It rained in the desert
the night before you left this world.
I should have known.
We all should have known.
When the heavens open up like that,
they’re taking something back in return for the blessing.
Something or someone larger than this life
with a spirit that could not be contained.

Little did we know,
your handstands
were really just you, holding up the world
for the rest of us to taste.
You did not belong to us.
You gave us back ourselves–our yearning,
our determination, and grit—you lifted us up
to meet our own challenges face-to-face.

When the rain stopped in the desert,
you were gone. In the time it took
a shooting star to fall to earth.
Gone, but not without leaving
your imprint across the world.
It is within us.

When we sing, when we dance in the moonlight or
run on the beach, when we smell fresh linen,
or wear it soft on a hot day,
when we write a poem for the person
who inspired us more than most.
Thank you friend, for opening up a window
to the words and a world in need of poetry.

Can you see from that view,
your growing legacy in the flame
of every candle lit in your name?
For you, who brings us to life over and over again
even when this part of yours has come to an end
too soon. I give you a poem. You gave me
the rain.

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.

Swing

All the treasures in childhood
like sparklers on Fourth of July

sparking memories of campfires and
bullet pops to pass the summers by

Tucked in by Hans Christian Andersen
sweet dreams in a yellow canopy bed

Flying with Peter Pan and pixie dust;
cartwheels, back flips, standing on our heads

Boat races in the pebbled park stream
baseball games and matchbox cars

filled our days with other lands of pretend
until the sky was filled with stars

Snapshots of our nostalgic youth
flown quickly by on a butterfly wing

None of them quite as special as you and me
smiling and swaying on the old oak’s tire swing

Splendid

Alone on a morning walk
splashed in a rose watercolor dawn

Together in the forest
under a clear sky raining glitter

Watching these babies
freshly bathed and sleeping

Oh—what a splendid life

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

Heirs to the Earth

I want to do the work of bees,
or grass growing in the field
even winter’s hungry wolverine

Labors of passion, because they are:
Bees
Grass
Wolverines

No choice but to be
givers, not takers
Heirs to the earth

When the sun crosses my face
each day, I shall not think
I don’t want to make honey, grow, be.

There is only this as far as I know.
It must be more than dreaming, and
soon, nature’s fuel will find me
right where it left off forty years ago.

Sex Education

What truths did I have to tell at thirteen,
coming out from a day in the Barbie Dream House
for a walk in the desert with boys?

Working class truth exposed
my economic poverty and desperate
hunger to be liked, even loved.

We sat in the secret shallow hideaway.
Me the oldest, tallest, and only girl
feeling good about paltry male attention.

Nobody cared about the truth, not then, not now.
Dare the only choice, for a girl with no options
I laid my neck bare.

Mother smoothed the tremors and sobs
over news of forced conception, until
she saw the mark he left as his own true confession

Hiding under my hair with all the other secrets.
She could not help but laugh when she saw the bright red cherry,
which she managed to composedly explain, is not how people make babies.

Love Letter

Remember when they called you head-turner
and the comment turned your head around
to hear what they were saying.
You dipped yourself in that moment, and
soaked it into your skin,
when life was a ruffled white bikini.

Now gentle brush of the cheek,
a full frontal inspection
demands a closer look
revealing– who?

Tiny lines doing simple multiplication,
a smile making them exponential.
On the verge of condemnation
I felt something, recognized a familiar face
Suddenly and for a moment
doubt and mockery of everything self-love
cast aside,

I wrote what I could not say out loud:
Dearest,
Let all the drug dealers pushing Prozac
and cognitive-behavioral worksheets
with their calm Nurse Ratchet voices,
for once–  crack open a new universe
and say…

It’s okay to prefer darkness to light.
Go ahead with disdain for the day.
Celebrate the night!
It is only in total darkness
where we see the brightness of stars.

Like Einstein’s fish,
no happy pill can make a star feel worthy
by extinguishing its flight, roaming the earth
in full daylight.  Only swimming in the dark skies
of poetry, art, and philosophy can reveal the truth
worth living passionately for–

Sense the rage of injustice as it builds its mighty wall
feel the starvation for love,
in every orphaned child and
empty bottomless tearing off of limbs
for the world’s orphaned parents.
Cry.

Fill every watershed and well.
Let no wetlands remain dry,
and when all pain is sufficiently spilled–
released into the earth for regrowth,
sit silently smiling on the edge of the world.

See the green and the gold of your eyes,
embraced by the life lines you’ve earned.
Sit smiling for youth gone by and love
every small joy, every breath of early morning mist
every yellow butterfly against a blue sky

Let secrets flutter to the past
Throw your words of rage into wishing wells
Feel the tightness of the urgent present melt away
until now fills the room with a calm blue.
Let gratitude drape the shoulders of the mother, daughter, and friend.
Let it live in life’s poetry–

a familiar scent like autumn apples,
a welcome home to the voice
I have always known.
Welcome, my first love.
Come into the rain.
This is where the real you grows.