murder

I fall asleep
dreaming of poetry
words lined like lemmings one by one marching off the cliff
tumbling
to
terrible
deaths
but my words march off lines
black words
on
white page
tumbling
into
life

because that's what we poets do
poets do
but for a long time
my words
lined like lemmings
died too
I'd thought
I was only a possible poet
I wrote it
those words
on lines
keeping time
maybe rhyme
but into the bin they went
sent to certain death next to an oily tuna can
I killed those words
I chose that
I murdered
words they're
dead

I fall asleep
dreaming of dead poetry
and wonder about words
whether I can
bring dead words
to life
I find
peace, though
in letting them go so

I write new words
black words
on
white page
tumbling
into
life.

Mama

I wore pearl earrings today
you would have
approved of the pearls
you always
loved your pearls perhaps
they were symbolic
for you
growing up
one of thirteen
I've been thinking
about that
how it must have 
been hard
to
stand out
to
stand tall
so as soon as
you could
(you could)
you got out
and bought
heels and
pearl earrings 
and you
stood tall

I wore pearl earrings today
and anyway I
really just wanted to say
that I love you
I miss you
I hope you
are wearing pearl earrings
in heaven.

Listen: The Grief Episode

skinned knee

A self-proclaimed 
"not-huggy" person
I realized this morning
as I sipped
hot coffee
that I'd really like
a hug
from my dad then
I cried
he died
so I can't
have that I sat
with
hot coffee
and thought
(we only children
are good at that)

I remember as a child
when I'd skin my knee
I'd only need a hug
a big bear hug
not a hollow
not-really-touching
but tapping
my shoulder blades
with your hands
hug

those are for purity-ring-wearing
Christian college kids and
I've done
my time
with them
I'm done
with hollow hugs
I follow my thoughts
back to when
I Decided I That I Don't Hug
and it wasn't hugs
I didn't like

it was the hollowness
empty space
between us
saccharine kindness
sucralose of love
fake
but tasted sweet
I don't want that
and I'm afraid
afraid I've skinned my knee again
and I need
a hug.

watching the news again

they're watching the news again
right now
right turn
steering wheel cranked so
hard to the right
that
they're driving around
in circle
after circle
after circle
dizzy with
the information!
the facts!
the truth!

and they're watching the news again
brains swarming with
the audacity!
how dare they!
do they really think!
we know better!
white knuckled on the steering wheel
driving in circles so tight
that
they're pressed against the inside of the
driver's door
but it's locked
thank goodness

they've turned on the news again
volume up so high
that
they can't hear real voices of
their son
their grandsons
only distant strangers' voices made
intimate by
technology
and
enemies

they're watching the news again
and taking it in
ready for any
enemy
to question
or challenge
them
because that's what the
enemy
will do the news
told them
that
they're ready
for the son they raised
to question
to challenge
to question
and challenge
them
they're ready because

they've been watching the news again
and now they know
the truth!
don't need
to question
to challenge
why
why when they have
the truth!
so when a grandson
calls them wants them
wants them
to visit
to play
to read books
to battle in battleship
to shuffle the cards
to walk to the park
they
can't
hear
him
volume's up
heads dizzy
because
they're watching the news again.

distractions

just as I sit
pen poised
to write a poem
un colibrí
flits to feeder feathers vibrating
alert
and 
watchful
but drinking in sweet water
I am distracted by birds
I have words
trying to flow from
pen to page
but I am distracted by birds
philosophical ponderings
life and love and learning
yearning to write
but right now
I am distracted by birds
you say
go to another room
to another table
but I'm unable
because
I want to be distracted by birds.

un colibrí — a hummingbird

Caesura

I'm forgetting things
like
the term for when
there's a period
or a dash
or a semicolon
in the middle
of a line -- of poetry

I try and the word has
slipped
down
in
between 
the
folds
of
my
memories
and I try
I
say sure I
can do this
I've taught if for
years
15 years
and I try
I 
say sure a 
little jolt and I'll know it
only one little word
but that one little word
has gone

I'm forgetting things
like
what it's like to
have coffee with you to
send a quick text to you to
tell you some stupid
trivial thing thoughts
like these I have
but I don't remember
what it's like

Caesura is the term
I've remembered 
but remembering
has not brought peace because
the term for
the break
in the line --  of poetry
reminds me of
the break
in the line --  of your life
and for the life
of me
I can't forget the feeling
of thick grief
gray-white fog
it has settled in
down 
in
between
the
folds
of 
my
memories

I'm forgetting things
and when I forget things
about you
I can't google
"the poetic term for a break in the middle of a line of poetry"
there's nothing to search
there's nothing to find
but I'm trying don't want to give up
I'm desperate and lonely and
I want to remember
remember what it's like
to have coffee
to text
to dial your number
and say -- what's the word?
Mom

Listen: The Grief Episode