Sunday, April 28, 2013

back when laughter was cheap and easy

It came as a great discovery
Jeffrey Kingery brought his dog to school
It was for show and tell
His dog had a black spot over one eye
I sat in my straight back chair
uncertain why this dog mattered so much
why he deserved to be at the front of the class
Secretly it shocked me that Mrs Hoeness
put up with the dog at all
seeing as how she threw fits if someone threw away half an apple
Jeffrey introduced the dog as if it was a person
“This is Fitzmasterson” he said
Fitzmasterson? Someone laughed
Then another kid laughed
Mrs Hoeness told the class to stop laughing
Laughter is something you cannot shove down
Soon laughter had erupted over the room
Like shaving cream coming out of a broken can
Jeffrey stood at the front of the class with his dog
mouth agape as if in surprise
he felt the front of his pants
I knew he thought he was unzipped
Mrs Kingery scowled at the class
She came up and took the dog away
“Good Fitzmasterson good dog good boy”
she kept saying as her gait made that swish sound
where her nylon stockings rubbed between her thighs
Jeffrey Kingery went back to his seat
The laughter burst out a couple more times
Mrs Hoeness told the class we were forbidden to say
the word Fitzmasterson in the room
There were popping and sputtering sounds
Lisa Kelsey’s face turned red then her laughter exploded
it was like rainbow confetti you put on white frosting
Altogether this is my favorite memory from first grade
I went home and said “Fitzmasterson” to my little sisters
they were too young for school
They laughed until they peed their panties
What I would have given for a dog
whose name could be as explosive as a soda bottle too

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Over top of The City

The first time I walked amidst sky scrapers
I noticed these things
Wind that had gotten lost from itself
swirling about trying to reconnect to its tail
My feet told me of the chill of pavement where sun can’t get in
Come up with me my friend said
Let’s see the City from the top
The ride clunked and thumped made sudden jerks
At the top the box seemed to pass its station then bounce down
It felt already as if I might not like it but I did
The carpet had the patina of thousands of feet
still a resilience of color and loft that said someone
thought it mattered this was to be walked upon
The host invited us to a window table even though we said
We were there to drink some sparkling water and entertain our eyes
Beneath us spread the old City like a tapestry in three dimensions
I began picking out garden spots with satisfying borders
Took note of a plethora of luxurious rooftops
My heart melted that certain streets lay like serpents
That stairs climbed hilly paths shining in mosaic jewel lights
Although we left straightaway for eucalyptus lined paths
And lunch at the lake with swans and reflections
I knew I would go back again to that lofty sky room
As if I had wings
Next time I would have a City drink like a Manhattan
Or perhaps I would ask for a San Francisco and see what came to me

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

what sounds may look like

It sounds like a zoo in my yard
Not that I mind as you could mistake it
for the quiet of the jungle
It began with the plants
And the water
Before, the ground was all red dirt and rocks
Once the trees were kiawe
harsh thorns that pierce your shoes and feet
twisted limbs and bent stick branches
Down they came replaced by something more civil
thornless and with flowers
insects came followed by the birds
ferns went in trees with fruit
flowering plumeria pikake and crown flower
Palms sprang up  water gushed
Entire species of feathered things moved in
some down the block
others took up residence in the monkeypods
Next came fountains and feeding stations
pools on pedestals and experiments with grains
Oh they came all right wearing fluffy collars as if it was the opera
There is a vine with pendulous aqua blue flowers
they hang in tapering clusters six and seven feet long
while above the trees glow brilliant red
It is there they bring their twigs and hairs
build small palaces in the dense tangle of vine
their clamor hidden from view
If I could see the sounds they would be colored ribbons
mesmerized by tropical breezes ka makani they are called
twirling like Salome a thousand slender veils in the sunlight

Monday, April 15, 2013

not very dorothy parker

It had been no small task to get there
Reclined in the passenger seat with a silk sack of lavender flowers
set just so over closed eyelids
Even then light seeped in around the edges
“I must look!” the doctor said sharply
“Will someone hold her arms please?”
For I had inadvertantly batted her hand away
It was holding a light as sharp as any samurai sword
“We must decide if you have a case of parapolyphos”
she informed me loftily as the Red Queen
and bored into me with her doctor light
I was able to choke back all but a pathetic groan
“Parapolyphos! I never heard of it” I scoffed
“Ridiculous!” she scoffed back in a far superior tone
“Anyone with parapolyphos knows exactly what they have.”
It sounded like misdiagnosis to me but we pressed on.
“What is it?” I did deserve to know
they were not only my eyes but there would be money involved
“Too much light gets in but you would know
Your instincts become too loud nothing seems to escape you”
I whimpered then I felt a little that way
but had gone to some lengths to keep out the light
My house has no curtains so was draped now in purple and brown sheets
Air had to come through so they billowed and sometimes came down
“Let’s fit you with a mask” she suggested
“That does not sound very doctorly” I felt combative
“Let’s just try” she soothed, as she peeled over my eyelid
Then pulled something over my head
It was as if my eyes had just been taken to an ideal climate
Soft and clean air, light like the inside of a domed building
It even smelled better in the room
“How is that? Would you like a mirror?”
Now I am not one for miracles but let me tell you
the face in the mirror was mine but relaxed and untroubled
I could see my eyes shining with a smile in them
Everything seemed softer but not out of focus
“The mask has a filter” she explained
“It works like a water filter on the light and removes the sharpness”
“Will I be able to go outside?”
She urged me to try and held onto me as I felt my way to the door
“Where is the parking lot? Have you taken me to a back door?”
“You can think of it like that.” All in front of me was a meadow
tall trees, birds. Beyond, the ocean, serene and blue.
My eyes felt like lychee in syrup, if that makes any sense.
It turns out my health insurance covers it
Now I see only what I need to see
my friends are inviting me over again
my wayward daughter heard about the change and sent cookies
She says she will come visit next new moon
I draped the windows with gossamer they look like a movie set
we eat by candlelight every night
I guess I ought to be missing my edge but I confess I do not

Sunday, April 14, 2013


It has been decades since he traveled the world
yet foreign coins turn up when he empties his pockets
with the regularity of heartbeats
Phrases containing words from entirely different places
enter into the everyday talk in his house
I used to ask for the translation
You would think by now all the foreign syllables
would be utterly clear as mountain pools
mouth ready as it were
like a quiche from the oven
Ethiopian beans on a wood platter
rendang daging and panang curry
my hands obey the messages
not because I understand words
but I have learned to close the curtains once it becomes dark out
fasten them with snappy paper clips
as if I understood each word
Yesterday I placed one of the obscure coins in his hand
folded his fingers over it and checked the color of the nails
he laughed as if I had given him flowers
or more likely a tool of some sort

Thursday, April 11, 2013

out and back

thrusting painted face
white stripes and bones crowning ears
necklace of teeth bound with braided hairs

waving arms he parted the air
as if light was curtains
sky poured like water

he pushed me through the opening
I yelped like a puppy
he pressed fern leaves to my mouth

sealed my voice inside me
put his hand on my chest over my heart
coiling my fear along his arm

we held hands as he leapt up
expecting to grow feathers
from hair follicles

for less than a second we left behind asphalt
and for less than a second I understood
the full price of getting from here to there

Saturday, April 6, 2013

When I am very old

If I should live so long
that I rattle when I move about
If my years add up to thinking
all food should taste like honey
then pour the sticky sweet goodness
into me however you can
roll me down to the ocean
Set my feet in the water
The waves will lift me up
The moon might be full
There will be familiar stars
Ka makau nui o Maui
will capture my spirit
so it can soar like ‘iwa kali’i
do not leave me sitting in any chair
contemplating a lack of teeth in my mouth
let me keep my gratitude for life
let’s celebrate it all the way
to the edge of my time
that is enough

Friday, April 5, 2013

will to good

She called in tears
She had ripped her public wrapping
trying to get it back on
having discarded it to go skinny dipping
it was full moon
there was a canal where the water was silver
fish stretched themselves in the colorless light
someone mouthed the words do wah do wah, do wah do wah
It was hard to tell through her sobs
how sticky the situation had become
Thinking little I hopped on a Greyhound bus
the better to quickly hit the backroad
In my pack, the ephemeris and knitting needles
It would take the magic of grandmothers
To reweave her persona and slip it over her shy shoulders
before morning light caught her by the skin
and heaved her panting over the edge of the rising sun
back into the darkness
Whatever success came of that roadtrip
was not my doing
other than this thing
will to good

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Morning walk, evening stroll

The earth stepped up to greet me
Brown as an old penny
Meeting the water bluer than sapphires and silk gowns
Sunlight lay across my skin warm as passion on a Friday night
When the bands would play
We danced close then
Humid breath faintly marked with cigarets and sloe gin
We were young
wore freckles carelessly
Talked long hours on the telephone
ignored the changing hues of the sky
Today is fading now
Blowing away in the breezes
our sky will change color like the end of the fireworks show
And the stars will rain down like applause
birds will quiet and fly off to their night perches
even the peacocks’ shriek stilled
We will close the day with cheese pizza and red wine
there will be daydreams to review
the rattle of the wind in the palm fronds
out there in the ocean
giant beasts rise up and slap the water
above us all
you may see paths of light across the sky
as fragments of the day
wander through the heavens