Poetry

What more is there

She told me
she would stay with me.
I guess now
we don’t have anything else
to ever say
except the little things
that make each day one more
stretching out
to the end
where she still sits
beside me, taking my hand,
beyond speech.

Water Birds

I have had to pull back
from worrying about the world.
The things I can manage
are more intimate and modest:
who am I really, what do I do next.
I am not pretending
the world is not broken.
Water birds sit on the dam
that creates a flood-control lake;
drawing in my remembrances
opens calm where none was.
It’s been 4 years since
she last hurt me.
As I walk by, the birds, startled,
take to the air;
my memories swirl in like patterns ,
too complex to discern,
hinting at wholeness.

Imagination

My mind is your screened porch.
You sit in my imagination
on the daybed, reading.
The outside door inaudibly taps it’s frame.
Wind moves slowly in the trees,
almost overborne by freeway sounds.

My mind is your dining table.
You glance up at me,
unable to hold gaze for long.
The candles flicker, we taste our wine.
I feel heat pouring from you,
your desire, your reticence.

My mind is your bed.
I trace the hollow of your back
fingers brushing your skin.
Time slows, then resumes.
Outside this space, birds
sing, flutter, fly.

My mind is our space together.
Between us lies transient lily pads.
We walk across them, feet submerged,
almost falling into the pond.
Flowers open, close, we continue.
Everything stretches out ahead.

My mind can only barely contain
the thoughts of you, the touches of you,
the ways you open me, willing or not;
the impossible peace
being with you has created,
unexpected, cherished, my being remade.

Memory

My skin remembers yours
the way a puddle remembers the storm,
the way a shaving remembers the chisel,
rememberings that are not thoughts,
your back to my hand, your head to my shoulder.

My hand remembers yours
the way a pecan remembers the husk,
the way a chameleon remembers its color.

My lips remembers yours
the way an apple remembers the branch,
the way a cloud remembers the ocean,
the taste of you, sharp and sweet,
heels pressing my back.

My eyes remember yours
looking up through your hair, silver and purple,
the way an owl remembers the vole,
the way a sumac berry remembers its own tartness.

My heart remembers yours
the way a pinion remembers the wing,
the way this poem remembers, dimly,
your inconceivable wholeness.

Firsts

Firsts stick in memory. 
My first kiss, Cynthia Sims,
sitting on the piano bench
in the house of my upbringing
with all the adults in another room; 
the first mountain I climbed,
Granite mountain, with my lover and
about-to-be second wife, at the outset
of 28 years filled first with love and companionship, 
only much later with terror, anguish, scars, recriminations;
my first ever fish, caught at age 9, my first sex with Sharon at 18;
and, on September 1st, 2020, in the middle night,
within the bud of a soul-shattering year,
while the long-late Townes sings in my ear 'If you needed me'
at age almost 61, the first ever time someone, 
no, not just someone, my someone, 
lying in her bed a few miles away, me lying here in mine, 
said to me, in text on a dim phone screen,
I adore you.

Only

You have a difficult time looking at me;
your past made certain of that,
eye to eye too close to danger.
I have to find signs in other places:
your hand on mine in the night;
the way you tremble when your desire rises;
a text after hours inquiring about my day.
Only at pillow distance do I get your eyes.
Only when our skin connects do I get your heart.
Only is enough.

Song

I heard a song that wasn’t yet written,
tinkering in my head with harmonies
adjusting the rhythm of one spot
the thread of it wound through midair
smoke on a bright sunny day;
it would have gone on forever
but I couldn’t contain more
I saw it slide into your hearing
your face turning into a smile

I read a book that hadn’t yet been written
full of surprises and joy and sorrow;
somehow the author had, without my knowing,
taken the last few years of my life
and written them out in excruciating detail;
I had to close it, stop reading,
then I realized you had been reading it to me
your gentle voice turning each page, each day

I wrote a poem that hadn’t yet been written,
this poem, echoing me in ways I can’t follow;
even here, you are, as you are everywhere I look
or listen or read, as you are most completely
hidden away, a summer wildflower, in the inner pocket
of my heart that is always yours

Borders

1.
Decades spent longing for another life
anything but the one I inhabited
wondering where the border could lie
how I could possibly cross
if and when I discovered it

one day I suddenly stood there, at the line
the signposts were her eyes and hands
at the last, all it took was to walk across

each new crossing comes
just as unexpectedly as the first
a tiny spiderweb between two blades
of grass as we sit talking
the twitching of the bluejay’s tail
perched in a branch overhead
the look in your eyes
when I tell you I love you

I remember how it felt to stand
on the other side, certain
change was impossible
now I make forays back
retrieving parts of me I left

2.
Almost no one, even those I thought close
has followed my out of my old life.

For a while, that made me sad
so I stopped thinking about it

Then the people I missed became dead seedpods
floating away on the wind
when I brushed against the dandelion

I turn and a whole field of flowers
is stretched out
gold and blue

And you come behind me
your arms circling
your head against my shoulderblades

in the old country I had no love
now I have the love of three women
and friends more than that

I am bigger than I can understand;
each time, each time you touch me,
I finally recognize myself

3.
You stand at the sink.

I’ve dropped off fresh bread;
I come up behind, close,
my arms around you,
one hand cupping your pussy
through your shorts;
you take my hands
move them to your nipples
your shirt is thin and soft

we have an afternoon date,
soon

not soon enough

(untitled)

Your head is on my shoulder
you are deep in sleep breath rhythm
hair against my face.
Wind is whipping the branches
of the pecan tree outside my room,
dead pecans showering the patio slab.
My arm might be asleep,
or I might be walking, awake,
into an unknown room,
fear dropping away, your hand resting
on my chest; in my awake dream
the room is paneled in oiled pecan wood,
you sit at a table in the center
eyes shining, the dinner I cooked last night
still in front of you; everything an amalgamation
of what has been, what will be;
I stroke your hair and you murmur
sleep-words of care and freedom.

How I got here from where I was
how I was able to walk free of abuse
how I found you and her and her and him
is a mystery, a blessing, a grace.

I no longer find the Divine in everyday
except in the touch of your hands
the embrace of his arms
the feel of her lips on mine.

Forgetting

My skin has no more space for words;
they come out my eyes instead,
pointy and impolite.
They told me, you’re not done
until we say you are.
My heart has no more tolerance
for carving the pain of children
into the spines of books,
my hands bloody when I put them
back on the shelves.
Their moans pursue me
down library aisles.
Like everyone,  I’ve already forgotten
more than I ever knew.
It’s better to forget some things.

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