It’s All Relative

To my Grandaunt Perdita, photo taken on her 98th birthday.

No one points out the bruises
puce under translucent skin
still we all picture the leap
during sleep.  A gap between
dreams, her body calls.  Pulled
across the floor, barely
in when she falls, slams into
tables and walls. In our impulse
to accommodate her reckless
drive, we push aside the traps,
all clear for her next dive.
It’s just the cost, she sighs,
of being old–well into her
tenth decade–colors bold
and fading. A map of every
mishap, the body’s upbraiding
layered pain. Even now,
she gasps, oh, I’ll remember
this! holding an aching thigh.
No longer limber, more and more
half-dozing in a chair, all the live
parts dancing disconnected
in the air. Rejected pain
both old and new. The only
thing loved ones can do
is offer space to come back
down, recall the sacred place
where we at birth are found.
Death is just a step away.
The clear choice to sing today,
with harmony just out of reach
the song itself is under siege.

Inspired by: Accommodate, Puce, Leap and Impulse and the indomitable will and cheer of an amazing Capricorn woman.

Listen on soundcloud here.

I See, Have Seen, Will See

To all the disappearing and the disappeared.

In these days right before he
becomes unhinged, medicated

beyond distractions, now the side
effects come crashing in

the decrepit hovel he drags along
sheer weight of dread and

fear and curdled anger
leaking in places long

forgotten, out of sight,
all of the life juice

that longs to sparkle
held, concealed

the doctors up the dosage
talk amputation

Would an electrician say
the only way to brighten

this dim room is rip it
from its foundations?

The ancestors call, childhood
trauma drumbeats. Agony.

All of this not hearing
deliberate and focused:

don’t look here
don’t feel

In Star Wars films he watches
the Deathstar destroy a planet

and only those who know The Force
pause and grieve

just a momentary stumble, gasp,
hold the heart before the fight

resumes. Resistance the imperative.
While rooted in our only earth,

drinking the poisoned air,
breathing the toxic water

right before he becomes unhinged,
madness descends and we swear

we are here, watching the unnourished
limbs–ours–disappear.

Inspired by: Hovel, Brighten, Unhinged, Sparkle and the need to bear witness.

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Hiding In Plain Sight

I long to be present for the live
show behind these vacant eyes.
She’s slipped away before we could say
our heartfelt goodbyes.
She was never fully seated,
so it seemed, always floating
above herself engaged in chatter
on little things that didn’t really matter
mosquito buzzing in your ear
and by the time you swat,
it’s disappeared.

Maybe there was something I should have done
tossed a buoy in the ocean of her discontent.
I stood up when he called her loony
helped her trace her steps
when she appeared, having left behind
some little thing, not her mind.
And his gaslighting covering his fear
the two of them lockstep
calling out and insincere.

All the anger disconnected like a cloud
steaming up the mirror.
What they couldn’t say aloud
like poisoned gas, a cloud
I inhaled, but never mind,
that ship has sailed. I find
they’ve locked her here
for safety’s sake. And so we sit
like at a zoo, who’s in the
cage, who’s missing a screw?

Inspired by: Live, Vacant and Ocean.

Listen on soundcloud here.

Boiling Frogs

I declare a media shutdown, mute
the system volume that blares

and jeopardizes my relationship
to love. Subtle insidious streams

debut as innocence until I scald
accustomed to the boiling. My error

becomes clear when I refuse to hear
the beating drums. To jump, I focus

on world-people (those without bombs
or obscene hoards of cash) kind and

open-hearted. I walk my talk and
greet peace-lovers and child-raisers,

dog-walkers and home-fixers. We
make our way through days informed

by songs of care-takers and meal-makers.
All concerned with the tones that

matter emerging from our heart-
set intentions to evolve.

Inspired by: Debut, Error, Jeopardize and Accustomed.

The Masquerade

Today is my grandpa’s birth-

day, born 121 years ago,

and isn’t it astounding

that I keep him alive

in my heart?  I know

and love someone born

in 1898.  Love travels

through time with laughter

and wit, weaving lives

together in tapestries

that cannot be destroyed.

We vibrate in these intense

emotions that construct

our very world, carved

into the epigenetic stories

that move us, unseen

and celebrated as we breathe.

Inspired by the unconditional love he gave me, and this photo from Halloween in 1926.

Blame Game

I’m carmelizing veggies while
I sip this hot concoction: old-

style tisane of elder, pepper-
mint and yarrow, ginger, clove and

licorice, rose hip and hyssop,
cinnamon and honey. Bleary-

eyed in this damp morning, rain
and still more rain to come.

My grandson’s teenaged sibling’s chain
a gift, he brought this link to me.

This tardy attempt to nourish
since my efforts to admonish

cover your mouth, wash your hands
betrayed by a sneeze–bless you

–right in my face. He’s three, he’s
innocent, if we must label

our intentions. I’m emptying
a kleenex box, clearing my throat

and coughing, heavy sighs as I
negotiate my breath. And this

just in: my father is choking
from the garlic I am roasting,

past and future generations’
circling irritations, try to

name the source of pain: here, we claim,
it started here, it’s all your fault.

Inspired by: Admonish, Nourish, Label, Betray and Sibling.

Blameworthy

Each morning I’m prompted

to warp time and space

and breathe in peculiar

rhyme with no warning of

what I represent, rep-

rehensible base

a disgrace I expose.

Digging up bones from those

unmarked graves hidden

in this bucolic space.  I can’t

leave, faced with ferocious

resistance — how dare I

disturb what is seething

— malcontent label, dis-

trusted clear seeing.  Now

this thread of secret sorrow

linking yesterdays’

tomorrows brings me here,

my heart bared to receive

your arrows.  Aim and fly.

I yield.  My song unsealed

what we grieve.  A few more

tears and sighs before I

reach rage’s primal dance,

claim my inheritance,

singing, this tune is mine.

Inspired by Bucolic, Warp, Represent and Peculiar.