Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Prayer for the Dog Days of Summer

mercy for the barefooted woman
with the green purse walking
toward Sunset. blessings on their heads,
two young boys running,
skateboards in hand, fleeing
7-11 and a curfew. kisses
blown in the direction of
the mountains, my brother
inside a new home, hoping
this time to make it better.
peace be with the girl
I love, and her worry,
and the downward tilt
of blue eyes and dark lashes.
hallelujah for the mother who dances,
the father who distances,
the aunt who writes. the grandfather
and the grandmother, surrounded
by garden, sewing, failing eye sight;
baseball on the TV and casserole
in the oven, baking in
the Midwest heat. I baptize
myself, wet sweat dripping
down, tired and impatient, stomach
full on every kind of love, room
enough in my chest to draw breaths
steady and grateful, forever
and ever amen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


It was too hot a night for it, but I did it anyway: turning the knob on the oven, lighting the stove, oil slicked on the bottom of a pan. Set the table for two. Sweated. Sat down: double ice waters, a quick kiss, then dinner.

I am so tired, and I don't want to move. A dog named Charlie barks from behind a closed bedroom door. I lick peanut butter off a knife. I read articles about sad women who write, who want to understand writing, who want to be heard, who want to die.

Things that are close in my mind: my great-aunt Dorothy, my great-aunt Norm, here is a photograph:

"I don't know much, but I know I love you" is apparently a line from a song, but I didn't know that when I said it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Spring Mornings in California: An Exhibition

I receive phone calls from people in other countries, or across town. You wouldn't believe everything I receive, and daily.

When I write, things either work or they don't. Except that's too neat and probably a lie. Things become less clear and more, harder to take and more beautiful. Some say it's soft, like vanilla and cinnamon, but to me it's more like hands sometimes steady and sometimes trembling.

The impact upon realizing something I wanted was not mine to have in the moment is a feeling you would be forgiven for thinking I'd be used to by now. But it came like a shock all over again. And I had to excuse myself. I forget all I do have in the face of one thing I don't, and frequently. It's not something I'm proud of.

I keep writing fragments of poems, thinking my feelings on the matter at hand (whatever that happens to be) can be corralled. It's precision, a math equation, where to put the colons and dashes and line breaks. I take a significant amount of pleasure in the minute tweaking of words and punctuation.

I want to tell you how giddy I get from being alive. I never could have predicted how happy I could be, and consistently. All the things I love best are in my life, and then some. I walk to cafes and play records and visit museums and audition at movie studios and in tiny theaters and get recognized for being on television and write poetry and children’s stories and collaborate with friends on projects that are meaningful to me and go for walks and meet new people and explore new places and have good conversations and laugh lots and lots. I'm leaving out so much; I couldn't possibly include everything. I dance and eat cake, I get hugs from strangers, I love everything that is mine and some things that aren’t and I can’t remember the last time I truly hated anything. I don’t mean I get everything I want, only that, at the same time, I have everything I could ever want.

I don't know what's going to happen next, but something is, and I get to be around for it. And that's stunning.

Friday, April 04, 2014

hypothetically speaking

1 Say you’re making a playlist, and the first song you choose is The Beatles, “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” What do you choose to follow that? Can anything follow that?

 2 Say that you know what will make you smarter, and wittier, and you actively reject that in favor of getting your hands dirty, as they say. What will happen?

 3 Say you want something and you don’t do anything about it. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed by the feeling of not knowing how to do it, or, you really don’t know how to do it. What then?

 4 Say you actually go up to a person you barely know, look them in the eye, and say, “I want to get to know you.” Without any of the usual fumbling you-seem-like-a-cool-persons or hey-that-thing-we-talked-about-once-let’s-talk-about-it-more. If you just say something that plainly, that honestly. What follows, what will happen, what then?