Jack & Jill

“Ring-a-ring o’ Love,
Why do you push and shove?
Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!
Hands are for holding.”

Little Girl Gray,
Come, slow your breath;
The end’s far off from near,
And better than death.
But where is the boy,
Who looks after the end?

Jack’s gone to bed,
Pretending a bruise.
His tale is his to tell,
However he choose,
But history shows
His taste for vinegar.

Mother Goose

There was an old woman,
Lived beyond the field,
And if she’s not gone,
The pears still yield.

Aplenty for cobbler,
For custard and pie,
Plus some for the earth;
Live and let die.

She, too, will return,
From whence we all came,
Lay down as dropped fruit,
One and the same.

This Land is Our Land

fullsizeoutput_209How many watches had it been,
when I first caught sight of Paradise?

Seven – or is that the first digit
to come to mind?

Regardless, I would have kept kissing the dry land,
until it soaked in my sins,
had you not been
standing at my bower,
with tape
and parrot flowers.

The ship was splintered,
worse that any storm
or winter could do;
my lips, too.

Yet, I was fixed

on the mountains in the distance,
skirted in Doug Fir forest,
and decked with heavy fruits
(pear, apple, persimmon,
perpetually in season),
suspended in mist.

Never had I encountered a landscape,
as hard as it was soft,
particularly at the edges,
where rocky bluffs
terminate to sand,
and primrose grows
in mats that prick,
rather than provide respite
for the sick.

Yet, I was fixed

of the pain I had long-held,
from believing myself unhomeable
outside of childhood.

Or, perhaps, restored

to original condition:
an only daughter of an only parent,
(for which the treatment is
undivided affection
and absolute understanding).

How many men had it been,
when I first washed up on Paradise?

Seven – or is that the first digit
to come to mind?

Regardless, I would have kept gripping the shore,
until I was born into safety,
and then trained out of it again,
had you not offered more:

Your hand, a surrogate for my father.
Your land, for my Fatherland.

 

Walking in the Rain

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On a persistent basis,
it will penetrate
your psychology,
making water come
up from the ground,
down from the sky,
and side to side,
at the same time.

As if shaken,
by an unseen hand,
your eyes will twinkle,
and then fade to coal,
your arms will swing out,
into larger and larger circles,
and then snap, as if twigs.

Hello, snowwoman.
You are hotter
than you are meant to be.

Are you sweating
out a fever
or succumbing
to Spring?

Either way,
take care
to know
you are no more
contained to land.

When a mind becomes
flooded with thoughts
outside the body,
the ground beneath
your feet, themselves,
their wet shoes and socks,
their toes united
in commiseration;
they all fall down.

Once all ice is melted,
and run off to the seas,
take pride
to know
you helped reshape
the continents.

Shorelines
as round as your face,
as square as your elbow,
as it hailed a bus
some million years ago.

Answer “Yes,”
to one or more of the following questions,
and you may be a martyr:

Do you feel overburdened, overwhelmed, and physically exhausted, most of the time?
Do you feel underappreciated for all that you do?
Is your baggage heavier than everyone else?

You may be a martyr
or, otherwise, one
who has had enough
of walking for today,
and needs to collect
her thoughts,
lest she forget
that no one has yet
drowned by sweat
or a walk in the rain.

 

 

Signs

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When the pencil skirt fits,
but doesn’t sit
at the hips,
as does the cyclist,
who would rather
be caught dead
than with a bulge,
even if it’s just
an extra bunch
of fabric;
and so she walks,
in measured steps,
passing where
the sidewalk ends,
and then, drops off
into dirt,
until the final block,
where precision goes
to posture,
and so go the toes
– over the lip –
and then,
the heals,
and then,
one palm,
one knee,
and the
stack of crepes
planned to be
for everyone.

When the rice is simmering,
and asks for stirring,
just occasionally,
and so she drops
the wooden spoon,
takes up the sword,
and decides,
right then,
and there,
to prepare
kimchi
for winter,
which is yet
months away,
unlike the hand
on the timer,
which begets
a ten-second
countdown,
“Oh shit,”
and the other
on the blade,
“Oh shit,”
there is
salt
in a wound,
and it is time to move
back to the pot,
with rice searing
to its bottom.

When the appetite,
stirs the night,
she slips
to the cupboard,
looks in,
up, top,
middle,
bottom,
but sees nothing
with nearsighted eyes,
which is why,
her past self
put out
the one-half
cocoa-carob
energy bar,
on the counter,
where apparently
it is heir apparent
for ants play,
because something
tastes like
plus two grams
of protein,
and feels like
soda,
“Fizz,
boom,
pop!”
on her tongue.

When she arrives, at last,
not merely late
but also hungry,
and asking
for further
accommodation,
like a band aid,
a courtesy call,
a chance to sit,
it might be
a sign of immaturity,
or being irresponsible,
or at the end
of a misguided hike,
but more likely,
of the universal struggle,
of learning to live
outside the bubble,
where there
are new types
of pressure,
on the air,
to focus
on marks
in the floor,
to tune out
the sink of dirty dishes,
empty the mind,
and then,
get back to work.

Natural Interruptions

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When the Old Man fell,
it interrupted all scheduled programs,

including Britney’s 10th birthday party,
where I was one minute feeling,

to pin the tail on a donkey,

and then waiting,

to hear the sound

of a pin
falling.

Falling,
like ashes,
ashes
from the sky
in Oregon.

Fifteen years later,

children circle around me,
as if I were campfire,

to tell stories of their favorite hikes,
as if they happened yesterday.

 

I circle around what happened yesterday.

 

“Climate-Change-Fueled Wildfires

Pollute the Air, Make People Sick.

74 Acres, and Counting, Burning.”


The air thickens.

 

Upwards, the sky is gone.

We, too, are clouded

by emotion – Pride

in place, Resolve.

 

Quietly, I close my eyes.

I try to access

My Place,

My Trail,

My Childhood

interrupted, as they may be

by nature,

(the freeze and thaw)

and by choices
(to leave,

to have adventure,
to participate in activities
that exacerbate
the change).

These may have occurred
several times per year,
until the breaking point,
or in one dramatic season;
but, what difference does it make?

 

I have stopped trying,
to look through smoke,
to find the answer to:

“What is really happening?”

or even forecast

through the weekend.

Instead, I navigate

with the nose,

toward a little bit of sense,  

smelling
for what the present
has to offer,
by way of remembrance.

When the Old Man fell,
it fell on our plates,

of pizza and cake.

It stopped Britney’s mom

from slicing.
Leaving just enough

for one slice per child

– no seconds for anyone –

except I,

who grabbed two slices of pizza,

and two slices of cake,
because I was afraid.

Sequoia

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The sequoia stands so stately
that all humans ooh and ahh.

They have not seen the sun lately.
Above, birds hoot and caw,

knowing not where to find water.
Creatures cradled in her crown

can attest the climate hotter.
In ashes, most fall down.

Except she, who is too thick
to catch colds – let alone fire.

Her hardy bark, red as brick,
seems to announce something dire,

like: “If you don’t see me soon,
better send a search party,

or a rocket to the moon.”
Now, Sequoia, don’t have me croon.

When Men See a Face

When men see a face tear up,
their hands curl in,
the way one might ball
a tissue, glut with gum,
or something else soft.
They have nothing
to cry on
or hide.

When men see a face get small,
their hands get big,
as if to swat a fly,
if not block the sun
that attracts it.
They are repellant
and attractive.

When men see a face flood,
their hands open,
like floodgates, so calm,
in the palms, yet furious,
in the fingers,
where it counts,
five times
as much.

When men see a face speaking,
they go silent,
as if to say:
“Talk to the hand,
or just shut up,
if you know better.”

When men see a face sighing,
their hands do nothing,
so she sings to herself:
When the moon hits your eye,
like a big pizza pie,
that’s amore.

When men see a face
turn blue,
on the other hand,
their hands turn yellow,
imbued with the energy
of the sun; at last,
enlightened.

 

Red

written by Eva, Romeo and Ollie in Michael’s 4th & 5th grade classroom
edited and illustrated by Kayla Kennett

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Red is the color of
a ripe cherry,
falling
from a tree;

cinnamon candy,
sizzling
on your tongue;

a lobster,
drifting
in the ocean.

Red is the color of
a red panda,
climbing
a bamboo tree;

an apple
on a branch;

pepperoni pizza,
melting
in your mouth.

Red is the color of
lava,
engulfing homes
and,
unfortunately,
people.

Orange

written by Eleanor, Santi and Beka in Michael’s 4th & 5th grade classroom
edited and illustrated by Kayla Kennett

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Orange is the color of
coral,
in the deep,
indigo
sea;

hot coals,
in a campfire;

a pumpkin,
fresh
from the garden;

A sweet,
juicy
mango;

a beautiful bird,
swooping low,
over the trees.

Orange is the color of
sunrise —
bright,
blazing;

a clownfish,
swimming
through seaweed;

Garfield,
from the comics;

the tangerine,
in your lunchbox.

Orange is the color of
a tiger,
prowling
deep in the jungle.