Letter to Emily Dickinson

Trapped in a white world
by nothing but choice

a space not universal
grown and cultivated

by your breath on the candle flame

music that rose up from the cellos
of the earth and called us

in our night clothes
in the midst of the Sun God’s

eternal night

words born of the silence
in the Sistine Chapel

sparkle of the sun flecked meadow
mist of the velvet forest

I pluck and bestow my heart

a pink petal on a white rose
speaking only to you

like the sound of the rain
typing this epistle to you

Glazed in esteem beside the white parchment

black pen and blank journal
like the red wheelbarrow
on which so much depends

keeper of dreams
delicate wrapper of the future
and the past

a field of flowers clouded
with darkness and shadows
a battlefield of mistakes

defeated by knowledge and
gratitude for lessons learned
seeds of regrowth

black pen and blank journal
let your secrets escape
to shine their light

on a world bereft of poetry
flowing through the veins of society
and fill its soul once more

Things No One Should Ever Say

I confess:
I want to be a poet
a writer
someone who writes poems
for a good part of her day
who attends workshops
who starts a writer’s group
who publishes
who is known in poetry circles
I confess:
I am not just doing this for me
I am doing it for you
for everyone
and not only that, but
I want you to like it
maybe even love it
quote it
memorize it
read it
at your grandmother’s funeral
I want it to soak into your skin
and bones, and melt into your
marrow so it is forever
part of me now part of you

Be a Poet, I Dare You

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.

I am a Poet

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

I
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

All the Best Poems are Hiding

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