The Old Stomping Ground

For M.C.

I met my old lover on the street last night.~Paul Simon

At four in the morning, I detour from prone
shadows rasping through the sudden chill

winter’s first hard shove and though I
bunched my summer blankets in a scrum–

nervous dreams–still sharp cold nipped
every inch of skin I offered. When a lover

dies, we all clamor for recognition, jostle
into chronology as if grief gives rights

at last. All the newly revealed lessons,
once mouldering in the dank basement and that

final call we never made–did I think that
he would rise from his deathbed, demand

my distant voice? He plucked my heart
in his passing, so I reenter that sticky

web I fled so many years ago, the one
I carry with me still, in the dark enjoining

strangers and new friends, regale my
side, painting romance over the edge

of terror and pain revisited. Oh, I saw
this day coming, long ago, and yet right now

there is not even a glimmer of dawn, not since
nightfall descended. The moon is bursting

wide-eyed full over my shoulder as I peer
into indigo east searching for signs.

Inspired by: Detour, Nervous, Shadows, Nightfall and Linda Hill’s Stream of Consciousness prompt: ground (which means no editing, just put pen to paper and press publish.  No matter how much I wish I could change.) The soundtrack for this one is Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years and Stars by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

Creatures of a Brief Season

“I heard a fly buzz — when I died” ~ Emily Dickinson

We are holding hands as we open

a memory of a golden day

when he ran to rescue a manatee.

Tall and vibrant, like a boy eager

to bring his strength.  A lovely

day interrupted now

by this susurrous procession 

of shuffling mourners.

They lean in and share a shaft

of grief, and your hold tightens.

Steady now.  I am grounded 

to the earth.  Sitting beside this casket,

I’m spacious and here for you,

channeling all these piercing

emotions, so bright like tears

and sharp as knives

through your tired heart.

They keep coming with these strange

gifts, faces bending near

well-meaning, and you squeeze

when a sudden burst explodes

after a quiet word.  And still

you continue to welcome their love.

I keep sending it all to the earth.

Later, standing in the back alone

while the preachers intone words and more

words, no songs today,

I watch people squirming.

Insects have gathered to pay

their respects, biting and teasing

unmercifully.  Nipping flies and when

a huge june bug lumbers

up the suit jacket in front of me, 

aimed for a glistening neck,

I touch the stranger beside me,

pointing.  These aged condolers

stoic as they resist

the sun, the insistent bugs,

the stifling heat.  Honking horns

and motorcycles leaking disco

call us to attention.  In this vibrant

uncomfortable moment, we feel

our own life force burning

in love and sorrow, scratching

our wounded flesh, wiping away the sweat.

 

Inspired by these prompts: June bug, Disco, Boy, Vibrant, Welcome, Susurrous, Steady

Feed The Truth

At this moment, you’re host to about 50 trillion cells, and each of them is really a sentient being in its own right. They all act together as a community, implementing the monumental collaboration you call your body. — Rob Brezsny

It’s hard to grasp that I am a colony

of sentient beings.  Not until a few days after

drinking a delicious pineapple jugo at two a.m.

on the outskirts of Riobamba

did I have my first brutal lesson.

Don’t drink the water means

stay away from ice, as well,

but when you are half asleep

and thirsty on a slow bus,

sweet cold juice tastes like ambrosia.

It takes at least two days

for the fierce war to break out:

foreign amoebic armies

bombing indiscriminately

to stake their claim on intestines.

I’m sure the warmongers would call

my diarrhea collateral damage.

I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink,

they damn near killed me.

So who is me?  It’s not the face

of the woman in the mirror,

who sometimes seems a stranger.

Perhaps it is a shifting constellation of power

that urges me to

feed my gut flora precisely

because when the “good” ones lose their grip,

the “bad” ones summon unspeakable grief

or lethargy, and a craving

for sugar, more salty snacks

to cement their dominion.

That is how “I” know the bad guys

are hoisting their flag, confident

in their eventual overthrow.

Who is it who knows to drink kombucha,

eat kimchi and pickles?

Fermented food feeds joy,

makes me laugh

and loving.  And which wise colony

deliberately seeks asparagus

and broccoli, leeks and

cauliflower, the prebiotics

creating harmony and balance?

Close your eyes when you approach

me, and perhaps your colonies

and mine can meet without distraction.

Perhaps we can finally know

who we really are.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: grasp

Evocative

I was lucky that you died

when I was thirteen,

able to strum a few chords on my guitar,

to compose lyrics

straight from my gut.

The song I wrote evokes

every angle of the grief

from the emptiness

the moment I woke

wanting to keep my eyes closed,

my heart already sure

that you were gone, but resisting

my mother’s urgent message.

Going through that miserable day,

visiting your dog and sitting with him,

my arms around him,

whispering into his ear

what he already knew, too,

that you were never coming back

as the boy we knew so well.

And my chorus of hope,

that someone would find a cure

for leukemia, that you would be reborn

into a beautiful world,

that you would find the paradise

denied to you here.

And the tears running down my cheeks,

my thoughts that kept returning to you.

Thank you, young poet,

little songwriter,

for this perfect crystal

of grief, of yearning, of hope

that you kept for me

in this song that still can make me cry.

Dink’s Song (1971)

Verse 1

I have this empty feeling inside me

sort of an ache that won’t leave.

Crying don’t help, no, God,

it seems it’s here to stay.

Came here this morning when they told me you’d gone.

Chorus

I hope your next world will be paradise for you.

This world wasn’t very kind, it’s true.

Still you had love and many friends.

I just hope that you’ll find that love again.

Verse 2

I cried this morning when they told me.

I went to see your family that you left.

I saw your dog, he looked so lonely.

I told him, but I think he knew.

Chorus

Verse 3

I’m trying to keep my mind blank now.

My thoughts keep coming back to you.

Keep thinking ‘bout the pain that you went through.

I hope they find a cure, I wish it was for you.

I hope your next world will be paradise for you.

This world wasn’t very kind, it’s true.

Still, you had love and many friends.
I just hope that you find that love again.

God, I hope you’ll be happy again.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: evoke