Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Prompt: Life is

Life is breathing on your back
with arms spread to the grass
and eyes closed with the light
of the sunset on their lids
and lips curved to the knowledge
of the well-being that leaves
you gasping for air as if
the completeness of the moment
means you must reach for
something to reach for.
And you learn to relax
into the feeling of peace
as one hardened to cold
learns to lie down
in a bath of warm water.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rubber band

aware of a pull
sitting three chairs away
waiting to return
to a resting position
no movement necessary
on a bench
by the campfire

Prompt: "Dear __, what I want to tell you is"

Dear Faya,
  What I want to tell you is
    I'm sorry. I tried to call you,
but only months after I got your
number, and I fear it has changed,
even though the voice on the other
end only says     temporarily unavailable.
   You were my companion in a cafe
 in Saint Petersburg
   wearing a uniform and speaking
   quietly, haltingly
   in your second or third language
  as I sat and missed home
   and ate Greek salad
  and helped you fold napkins
  into triangles that could fan out
  in groups of thirteen
   at the centers of tables.
  I am sorry that I only took
  you to a museum once
   that I was only a brief window
  into a life outside of your poverty.
    I hope
    that you continue to enjoy
                Bollywood movies.
   I hope
    that your hair still falls
     down your back
    straight to the waist of your jeans
    if you so choose.
  I hope
    that someone brings you flowers.
    teach me your language
   I would like to stumble over
     the strange words
    and put a smile on your face.
  Others are listening
    but I hope that you hear
                   that somehow
     my words can cradle you
    even if my affection
   is beyond your frame of reference.
  Soon it will be time for you to sleep
  and one benefit to being
       on the other side of the world
   is that I can
                in full consciousness
          whisper to you
                   Sweet dreams
       And again, fully awake,
             welcome you to
                 the next morning.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"What makes my life my life?"

At the Seeds of Peace International Camp the past few days, I have been helping to lead a Slam Poetry special activity for six campers. We freewrite and share and even perform each other's work. Sometimes we work off of prompts; other writings are unguided. This is the rough product from one such prompt: "What makes your life your life?" Revising, perhaps, to come.

My father is colorblind.
Reds and greens blend with browns and grays
and his teacher noticed in lower school
when he drew a landscape that was particularly...artistic.

I can live with seeing differently from most people.
This means I have thoughts to contribute.
And I can live with my life being mine
because it gives the world soul another place
to store a fragment
a shard whose glimmer meets with experiences
and times of beauty and sadness.

But I fear to be alone in me
and in my life
to know the uniqueness
that keeps me apart
no matter how long I stay in the arms of someone
to whom I am dear.

I remember a time
when I danced in the street
full of other people's observations
about myself.
I danced as a joyous, glorious woman
whose main gift to the world
was happiness.

And I thought, if I am so happy,
I must not live a long life.
And that night I took some comfort
with another human being
whose presence surrounded
but did not unify with mine
and I made it be enough.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Prompt: (one of) the five senses

When I come to new people, one of my first questions is, How long until I cuddle again?
How long before I can put my arm across your shoulders,
lean my head against your chest?
How long before I can take care of any of you,
soothe you with the beating of my heart
the sure stillness of my hand
the rise and fall of my breath?
How long until we can rest like sleeping puppies
nestling against bodies that are just like ours
with warmth and fur and tiny twitches
but are always not ours, definitively the essence
of those who can give us company
in our solitude
of skin permeable to some things
and not to others.
Sometimes I think of my atoms
rubbing off on the air and grass around me.
Every time there is touch
there is transfer.
If you let me in,
my love will move mountains.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Great Anon (another freewrite, same day)

My life is goodbyes
as I let my hand fall by my side
watching them fade into the Great Anon
from which they might come back,
I would hope to say,
but I know it is I
who must go after them.
But I only have two feet
and even with two feet
I can only walk in one direction
so I stay on the balance beam
ignoring the strings that would lead me forward
because even a turn
becomes a turn to a forward
and I would love to tumble on those paths
break them out of freeze frame
with no need to put a name to this
this feeling that we can be in perpetual motion
and go about our lives
with the knowledge that a person
has knowledge
of the knowledge.
I imagine thin arcs of knowledge
crossing the Great Anon
but there is no echolocation
to verify
that what I believe
is more
than what I want.


A place of rest
Leaning against the tennis fence
that keeps balls from flying where
they're not supposed to go
Once I sent a ball flying high
over the tall metal piping
and I sent myself to find it.
The grass waves here.
I know to fear ticks
but this sun is so hot
that I know I have a few hours
before they crawl on me
and before then
I'm going to rest here
with my butt on the dirt
and my shoulders unclenched
and see the trees move in the stillness of the heat.
There's a breeze up there
and every once in a while
it is also on my forehead
and I hope that it smoothes the wrinkles
and leaves the laugh lines.
Although those, too, can be lost in the stillness
when I step out of myself and can't sense the tremendousness
of this existence.
But for now
the red ant crawls on the ground
and I, too, am here
this is
it really is.

(with a nod to Mary Oliver)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


A youngry girl wallows in her freckles with sunlight dappled on the leaves of her fingers and the blue blue white blue lilac shirt drapes cotton on her shoulders

The images pour through arms and the veins connect to stream in one direction only one direction ever only one