Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Poems

Just a few of what I think are my better poems from 2016.

(January - December)

Your turn, Rose
   tell me how
You don't love me

Some couches
   aren't even
All that comfortable

Write your mountain poems
   sing your valley songs
Gaze across the desert

The sun rose
   and I loved the shadows
As much as the light

The moon rose
   and the echoing darkness

Dogs under blankets
   hiding from
The cool fog

Bodhisattva bodhisattva
   why do you stay
In this broken world?

A Buddha climbed a mountain
   at the top he found
So many roses

Read my book
   - lonesome and tired -
It has good words in it

A whisper
   is a part
Of silence

Tea shop in Fairbanks
   clouds gathering
Midnight sun

Mountain haikus
   the mountains laughed
At my writing

It takes a mountain
   a long time
To laugh

Share my tea
   it tastes like
Bitter flowers

Using the armrests
   as footrests
My mother

The smell of decay
   roses in a vase
Four days later

Escher on the wall
   fish in the pond
Impossible waterfalls

   never seemed
So cheerful

Kyrie eleison
   it takes ten minutes
To say correctly

Her red dress
   the smell of candle
Wax hot on skin

Who needs

There are no secrets
   in a family
Of sisters

White sky
   ice on the pavement
Walk carefully

The fireplace
   its heat inconsequential
Compared to hers

Piano in the morning
   silent love songs
Don't want to wake anyone

Still filling pages
   rather than letting
Their candid truth live

The Rose and the Bee

The rose and the bee that gives it life
The thorn of the rose and the sting of the bee
My own scorpion tail and its impotent sting,
Power only to poison, to harm, to destroy.
In a rose there is some power, some efficacy,
Some beauty like the beauty of a life well-lived.
In a bee there is some industry, some determination,
Some grace like the grace of a dream well-dreamt.
In the thorn there is but a prick, the gentle reminder
That not all pain is unwelcome, a lust well-earned.
In the sting there is some small swelling, the stinger
Stuck under the skin until it is released with care
Or else wantonly scourged so the emptiness of its removal
Stays with you as a memory of the desire
For the sting to be gone.
In a scorpion there is some weakness, a hard exoskeleton
Only a ruse to protect the damaged innards.
There is some strength, some base, unrefined purpose,
Some cruelty like the cruelty of a love well-loved.
The rose and the bee that gives it life and the scorpion besides,
The thorn of the rose and the sting of the bee and the tail of the scorpion.
All these are, invincibly, one.
All these are, inevitably, sundered.
All these degenerate, dying, they decompose.

I Dreamt About You Last Night

I dreamt about you last night.
I actually dream about you most nights.
I wouldn't say they're good dreams,
But what's a good dream?
None of my dreams are good,
Usually they're strange, complicated, uncomfortable,
Surreal allegories for living.
So my dreams about you are also
Surreal allegories for loving.
Last night I dreamt of our love,
How we wanted each other
But as we came together
We were beset on all sides
By people, watching,
And while we were not ashamed
So ardently did we wish for some private place
So impossible seemed our desire
That we were frustrated in our wanting.
When I dreamt of you
I dreamt of a lover far away
Not just in distance, but in mind.

Mother and Son

My son:
   He's not feeling great today, but
   He is still going to school.
   He doesn't have a fever, I feel
   He is not contagious.
   He has allergies, bad
      Santa Ana winds,
      Sore throat, raw.
   He is not comfortable talking.
   He has a mug and tea bags and honey
      (Sooth yourself with my hot tea, my son, my honey).
   He will clear his throat, step outside.
   He will suck on throat soothers.
   He will make it, I hope, today
      Without me.

Write me a Poem

you said write me a poem so I took out my pen and
started to write but you said not like that
as if poetry obeyed some kind of rule
you are not my queen or even my muse
I wrote not because you asked but because I wanted to
or even because I couldn't help it
that feeling when you have to write
that feeling predated your edict by a few seconds
and made it seem like I was obeying you
when really I was just obeying the Universe


You may know your pedagogy and
You may know your content and
You may even know how to put them together.
You can write a paragraph and
Show a child to write one.
You can add four digit numbers in your head and
Teach a student to do the same.
You can place an idea in its historical context and
Model that process for a teenager, so she knows how, too.
But you are spiritually deficient.
You need to bow to a new idol.
You need to teach the One True Way,
Because no matter what you know and
No matter what they learn
It doesn't count unless it fits the brand.


As I've lost my words
I've rediscovered my silence,
The silence of attention,
Breathing in, out, om,
Listening to the void,
Hearing not truth nor wisdom,
Nor lies nor foolishness,
Hearing no thing.
When I was younger I learned
To listen was easy
As long as you shut up and
Open your ears and close
Your eyes.
Then words words all the the time.
I spoke so much even when
I did not need to.
As I've lost those words
I'm rediscovering the silence
That undefined me.

After the Party

Winter morning, the day after the party.
In the kitchen the family patriarch
Rearranges wine glass and beer bottle.
His children sleep silently.
Downstairs from their childhood bedrooms
A circle of chairs, remnants of
Late night games, victory and defeat
Still palpable in the furniture.
I'm sitting in one of those chairs,
The brown leather one, squeaky,
The one she sat in last night.
I wonder when she will descend
Down that stairway, look me
In the eye, confuse my jaded