[or, Bard in the Yard]
If Billy Collins came to my house,
The first thing he would not see
would be the neglected landscaping.
The gall of blackberries gone wild,
Now binding patio furniture to the deck,
[Really] a keen advantage in the high March winds.
The aged cracks in the walk, pure guile.
The torn awning, picturesque, flapping above small skates,
Bent Hula hoops and rusted rakes;
Still life in motion.
At the door the cocky duck sculpture
Would make him smile, assured.
He would feel at home before I even
Answered his knock.
If Billy Collins came to talk to me,
We both would prefer coffee over tea,
With fresh blackberry ice cream, and later –
We would say who we liked and who we didn’t;
Just like that,
And not always agree.
“This is such a surprise,” I would say,
Feeling suddenly shy.
“Why have you come?”
“I saw your calico cat caught
between heaven and hell,
Armies of armored tendrils holding her back
from mounting her attack on a fly.
Did you know your massive blackberry
Patch can be seen from the sky?”
Inspired by: I.K., B. H. and of course, B.C.
Written as an apology for my husband, Phil
February 22, 2008
Michael, the dancer
It is a full moon on your death,
And all I can think about is your life;
How you turned my kitchen upside down
For the sake of the gravy last Thanksgiving;
How you made my children laugh with your
Funny faces and fart noises at the table;
How your body flexes and bends to your
Demands, leaps and curls, writhes to the poetry
And song of the dance, to the snap of it all.
I watch you now, your life dance an India rubber ball;
Bouncing out of bounds, retrieved with a big slobbery pant,
Now large, now small, crouched in a quiet corner of the universe.
The spotlight that follows you casts a long shadow,
Missing its mark.
We try to fill it with meaning and are not
Successful because no one ever is doing that.
It is empty, this shadow dance.
We try to fill it with love
And the dance begins.
The dance will be because of you;
Because of you we will move in ways
We would not otherwise know.
Full Moon Shell Game
You can't write full moon poetry
When there is no full moon
You can't save those peppy whiticisms
Prognosticate what you might say
Foresee what you will feel
and then say you wrote them on the full moon
That's just not honest
That's not the full moon
You can't protect yourself from
When the full moon does not inspire
When it is shrouded in clouds
When the eclipse cannot be seen
Even though you know it is there
Somebody told you so
You see so many people writing full moon poetry
Make something up
Just to fit in
That's not full moon poetry
The day of that moon
Listen to what she is singing
Even if it is wet and dripping
and you cannot see that moon
she is saying
do your taxes
Now that is full moon poetry
WHEN I WAS IN LOVE
Lust and the room grew
small as zero.
So, I escaped everyday
to my silly restaurant job
in the kitchen peeling shrimp,
extracting blue veins from flesh,
with the kind of grace
There’s no salvation
of “what ifs” driving me
back to the ocean
to search the seaweed
Clawless crab, gull bones, syringe.
Man of War, deflated and blue
like balloons the morning after a party.
I carry them home
set them on the bathroom sink next to the soap dish.
You don’t want to touch them.
When I Stopped Dreaming This Morning
When I stopped dreaming this morning
black trees upon a white mist
quietly sought my eyes
their untakeable offer.
As the white sun ascending
cleared the clouds,
I became convinced
I had a home
in a shred of mist
clinging to a redwood branch.
Later, when the day
broke off a fragment of blue
to share with the children playing
in the black and orange garden,
I wondered how
I had ever failed to love
the leaf-strewn bench
too cold to sit on.
When the moon rose,
we agreed to resolve our differences.
Then, I began to dream.