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,
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
Sometimes it seems like a challenge—
Other days a threat, or a warning.
Maybe simple honesty stings unknowingly
like a threatened scorpion
Subtext: you’re no Sanchez, Lorde, Clifton, Cisneros.
You barely belong in this class.
No. “You’ll never get in. You’re a middle aged white woman,”
my mentor said.
Was that a dare you laid at my feet and told me not to cross?
Were you even aware of the shrine I built for your work upon
my own heart? I gathered these droppings I laid
packaged them neatly to see if their spindly legs would hold
on plain white paper. With my life story and letters
from people who have no clue, I risked it all
and didn’t get in—to the one who lets everyone in
even old white women.
Still, there is always a bud of hope
blooming under those pages in the trash.
A hope that one day you will read a piece and
it will mean something–
enough to get taped on the wall.
Crawled out of my corner
No longer a prisoner in my own house
Un-blending from the shadows
Claw mark patterns, and red brick textures
Peeled from the coffee house wall
No need to bellow the truth
Tattooed on my breast since birth
Like an intricate badge, a hieroglyph message
Carved in the rings of ancient trees
Even when deciphered
Needed literal and serendipitous translation
Here I am
Here I write
A story no one has ever told
When the sun is rising and all of man
Silent as the morning after the big bang
I discover life teeming; not all around, but within
Suddenly aware of mathematical rhythms
Playing themselves into song
Singing and dancing out loud
What I was afraid to say all along
Am a poet
It is who I am
Who I have always been
Who I will always be
Whether or not the world knows
It is so
In the never-ending summer of mid-September,
an early morning cacophony of psychological torture.
An angry metal band of crickets with the volume cranked
bashing out the same repeated death notes.
Man and nature–inescapable in summer with pre-sunrise barking dogs
ceiling fans and condensers, lawn mowers, weed whackers, and motorcycles.
Even in the joy of late night lasting pool parties with screaming girls and top 40 jams,
I am forced to beg. Straight down on my knees, closed eyes, prayerful tears in the corners, for the cold dark silences of winter.
Winter cannot be called unassuming.
Let the mighty storm blow!
Once and for all, it shuts man up, leaving his lip all quivering.
It can muzzle his riotous machines with one snap of a storm–all is silenced,
but for the crunch of feet in snow or the fizz and pop of a sparkling amber fire.
Winter has no need to wake us early with daylight to seize.
Winter rolls its frosty blanket over us and we recover in sleep from harsh
sun burns with cashmere sweaters on the skin
from booming summer thunder with silent snowflakes
alighting on a strand of hair across the forehead
like little words falling from thick folds of gray clouds in a winter sky
where all the best poems are hidden
suspended in an arc of silence,
until they become full, and sprinkle
down to earth into a poem
waiting for sound to fade
She sees the poets in the streets
Hegemonic voices penetrating old walls
Oh, she may be a poetaster
Skipping ’round the outskirts of the throng
Planning to filibuster her initiation into the bloodless dusty stacks
They find her red flag brazen and her
White flag brash. When she squeezes her way to the podium
Creative writing workshop 101
Her child artist loses function of its neocortex
Yet consciousness prevails, her Phoenix spirit rising
Before them a grotesque vaudevillian puppet
They cock their paper mache heads as if to say
“Is she speaking in tongues?” And when they carve up her sectile limbs
She does not bleed, she bows to the interconnectedness of their feet
”I am but an extension of you”
Like dawn chasing the moon.
Have these lines settled into
homes around my eyes, mouth, forehead,
so I can no longer ask the question
receive a serious answer,
or even be considered
for a moment
I am willing to toil in this garden
day and night
leaving my children pulling at my elbows
for dinner and bedtime stories
if only someone can tell me a good reason
why the rule for a line break cannot be broken
Tell me o wise distinguished pedigreed academicians
with your words from the catacombs,
how punctuation can be used in poetry,
but must be grammatically correct. Tell me
how to breathe in and out.
Tell my heart what rhythm earns your grace.
Or am I to add to these lines
these splitting hairs
in more and more notebooks that
when piled high, will not even reach the dirty basement
I am but one body that will perish and all of my lines
rooted or homeless, quiet and un-cherished
will likely fall away