Poems

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Thief taking time,
making me let go, again. Let go, again.
Treasures I cannot hold, pried away,
knuckles white
(Even the easy ones-
leaves and puppy fur falling,
hit me hard, practice is not perfect, I think)

He does not fit under my chin anymore,
his forehead is at my lips, but briefly.
Tomorrow, I will be on tiptoe.
This letting go aches, in the deepness of
my cells. If only I could find the place- if only
ice or heat, or bandages could help.
Maybe ibuprofen for the inflammation
when water wells up
in the corners of my eyes?

Hand brushes away wetness
when the traffic light
turns green.
This is no time for nostalgia
Says the dawn.
Move forward, turn, continue,
Press on.
The cars behind me are saved
by my right foot’s instinct.
My heart, of course, stays
Behind.


                                                

On Raising boys/girls
(Humans)

It starts so very young,
on the field, the turf, the dirt. Shake it off, Toughen up.

I remember clearly the Free to be You and Me album.
A gift from my mom,
A sense back then that it was more about
empowering girls—feminism’s outgrowth-
girls can be anything.
The principal did, however, tell Dudley Pippin that it
“was alright to cry.”
But by my observations that did not catch on, the principal’s
words

(Sensitivity in all
did not necessarily trend ‘equally’ forward)

Forty years later.
Girls grow up to be anything, sort of.
Girl pride
“run like a girl”
an attempted coup, a take back
of all the phrases.

Do boys?
Get to take back too/the emphasis on their strength?
Can they grab gentleness as masculine/ and empathy, too?
Without legitimate fear, risk in those locker rooms
that we do not see, that
Teach:
dominance as tough
Dominance as virility
Superiority.
does it feel uncomfortable? Does it feel brave?
Or bad or
Weak.
Blustering/ Separated from the heart.

boys at risk.
Fear of Powerlessness,
a cultural disease
caught in toddlerhood, with the first scraped knee
brush off pain
Or the boy who came to knitting class before his dad found out, angry
And already Ruined
by his own fear, sneezing on his
Son.

I say.
Raise a human
to be human.


Dear Attendance Office,

Please excuse my son’s absence.
He says he’s feeling fine.
In fact, he did not want to miss
Those three tests he had today or
The “PBT”:
Performance Based Task

He says he’s feeling fine.
But his backpack makes so much
Noise
when he drops it to the floor-
The physics of heavy things, of course,
might crush wonder.
Which vitamin would he take for that?

I confess, it was me, that was not feeling fine
as he studied in his room late last night.
The watching of a world
shrinking fast by live grades and piles of books,
pressing on the seams.
Like the big gigantic sky that was suddenly made
small by
multiple choice stars.
So no school, today, I said,
The tests will have to wait and anyway, I think
the florescent lights have dulled your eyes.

With great complaint he left his backpack in the car—
couldn’t he bring his book?
But the rising fog from a cold and windy storm
cleared some space
in the sky.
As did the paintings, and rooms and rooms
Of art,
inside and out of lines.
Crystals suspended from the ceiling,
someone’s imagination soaring
Into the realm of lightness. And possibility.
Where there was no risk of human assessment.

I watched your eyes look up.

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My first dorm room (actually occupied by Sylvia Plath, 1950-1952)

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I stop by to visit, and try unsuccessfully to remember the forgotten frustrations
I was too young back then to fully appreciate the significance of
a room in the world;
one that both protects and confines.

I overhear the new graduates wishing for their moment of “living free” as they throw their caps to the wind.
I, on the other hand, am filled with great tenderness
for this little room that harbored me; where just twisting the lock seemingly stopped the future

I set down my overnight bag on the shifting squeaking bed
and glance over to the dresser, the desk, the hard floors worn by those before me.
I can almost feel, suspended, wishes in the air
-and just for a moment it is good to be back among the willing walls that listen deeply before sending us onward


Inheritance

In certain light his
upturned smile reminds me of the
Twinkle in my dad’s eye when
he took me to the tilt-a-whirl and
bought me French fries
and I fell asleep on the long ride home

Or when that unmistakable chuckle
rings out from another son
and I swear that my brother
is sitting right next to me
explaining the physics
of something I barely understand
though can feel his protective blanket/
emerging from yet another source
I recognize the warmth

Little reminders slight and perceptible
only to me
though I try to explain- it falls on
unknowing ears
but I, in fleeting seconds,
am in the little square room
with checkerboard wallpaper
where age doesn’t exist


This turtle.

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crossing at the busiest part of the road
at rush hour today, of course
I stopped, moved her to the grass
as she withdrew into her shell
my interruption,-questionable-
to her
steady pace.

What I thought, looking at
this turtle
-and this very busy road-
was how impossibly lucky
she was. no one was thinking,
in their cars
there might be a turtle around the next
bend.
but, somehow, inexplicably, the turtle
made it across.
indifferent to danger
to risk
to doubt
she just kept walking
And made it.


8:08 pm
And the sky
held the heat, the night. the sun
In one last view-
A cloud giving its summary
of a hot August day

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it’s noah’s ark for the field mice this week,
i know because the cat disregarded my sleep, to announce,
with plaintive meows, to
“get down here now”
and in my slippers and grogginess, with the pacing proud cat, as if to say,
the mouse, it breached the wall,
it’s in our living room
But the mouse– it was still squeaking-and I stared at the cat.
That wasn’t a solution at all, actually, do something. But the cat went back to the couch. And In my hazy state
I look for clarity
and think of nothing but the dustpan in the laundry room and the student protests of the 1990’s -in college-
and as the mouse falls prematurely onto the
doormat, outside, i wonder if my sleepy apathy and background guilt is
convictable in some sort of way.
Political editorials at 4:19am keep me awake until I fall back asleep
listening to the rain on the doorstep.
7:30 am and my friend is on speaker phone as I feed the chickens
and suddenly see something so strange
i drop the call
A creature, running, with four more attached,
-nursing mouse babies- scattering away from the
chicken feed into their hole.
My hens clearly are socialists, i think.
And then later, I head back out, camera in tow, to look at the
babies again
but the dog, like the Press, had dug things up,
leaving the baby mice unanchored to their mom.
Do I cover them up? These refugee mice?
The dog, losing interest, went back to bed with the cat
and I was left
thinking about it
all day.

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