Imperfect Produce

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, it is the moldy strawberry
At the bottom of the basket. Full of beans,
I pick a peck more, and jump. Inside,
There is a moth developing, a roly poly
Now, and brown, but aspiring to gray,
If only for a few days, at summer’s
End, when the first cool, but frostless
Night ushers in the red and purple
And blackened fruit, which one (?)
Should not eat. I am not one.

They tell me to be she, who sheds
Her coat, and waits for the foliage
to turn yellow; I wait outside —
A balding hill of potatoes, turned
Green, through osmosis (?)
Of the clippings on this murder
Of crows. Interrogate them
Regarding the spots and rot, beg:
“What is going on with my garden?”
Roots and shoots and leaves, but
No children, excepting/accepting
Those born still or imperfect.
“Am I too old?”

At twenty-five, one should be quiet
About her fears of impotence and death.
I feel that I am not one, but two times,
And change. I change the way my hands
Look: she has become unstuck in time is
Of the essence: a term used in Business,
Real Estate, and Agriculture, namely
In the period between IUD removal
And the encroachment of invasives.
Is seven years enough to determine
how many rows : how many roses
will produce the best returns?

Return me to childhood, in early September
When the next season was growing season,
And, so too, the next and next;
When my one-track mind could focus
On the present, and the presents
That I might open on my birthday;
🎶 Happy Last Day of Summer 🎶
When I could tune out their cracking
Corn, and care for nothing, but
Shortcake, with strawberries and
Cream. It would seem so strange,
Life, but a dream.

Independence Day

There is no better occasion to begin Facing Codependence:
What It Is, Where It Comes From, How It Sabotages Our Lives

Than the celebration of our country’s Independence Day,

For which we are supposed to be endlessly grateful;
Because the outside world is an innately hostile place,
In which there are always forces at work
Seeking to exploit and control.

If I were not so codependent, I might be able to see
That I am so afraid, because of what my culture did to me;
But, instead, I search inside, for the trigger happy child,
Who would rather poke her own eyes out,

Than have him follow while she leads.
There, I find a will to change, and eyes enough to read;
The path will show up by itself.

I highlight the passages that occur in between
What I have been needing to hear |
What I have been wanting to say,
In pink,
Because, unlike red, it poses no risk of flame,
Of igniting passion, rage, madness, or whatever
They are calling women’s feelings these days.

Resentment is holding on to anger at someone,
Clinging to a need to have the person hurt
To make up for the suffering [I think]
He has caused me. The person I resent
Becomes my Higher Power
As I think obsessively
About what he did to me.”

How do I disentangle myself from this mess
[Without waking him up] ?

“Caring does not mean assuming ownership
Of the other’s behavior or following the path
That they have chosen for themselves.
You need to belong to yourself,
and let others belong to themselves, too.”

Step 1: Let him sleep, while I get things done.
Step 2: Find the polish that will match my shoes.
Step 3: Scuff until my heart’s content. Follow the beat
Of my own two feet. Be frantic. Be fun. Be free.  

This Land is Our Land

How 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

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

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

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.

Things My Mother Gave Me (That I Did Not Ask For)

shoulder pads
a cigarette burn on my left shoulder
her middle name

a battle with me at the middle
second helpings of mashed potatoes
too little pride to succeed, too much to ask for help
how to win Monopoly
how to cheat
how to cheat the system
Nintendo 64
an excuse for asking

“Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Really, are you so sure?”

love
a crush on David Bowie
crushed ice from the refrigerator
Days With Frog and Toad
days spent on the road

One, two, three, four, five / Everybody in the car, so come on let’s ride

one, two, three, four, five…years of silence
someone to mythologize

Mother Medea in a cropped top
grooves humbly as any green girl through
her ruined lot, taking stock
off shelves at the Stop n’ Shop
just for shits and giggles.

lessons in astrology
enough clairvoyance to see beyond the tip of my nose
lessons in cosmetology

“A girl can always use more _______ .”

scrunchies
and bowls of Cap’n Crunch cereal
[Argh!! she’s a pirate, Halloween 1996]
how to change the mask without changing the costume
how to dance the Macarena
Kraft macaroni and cheese
Fifty bucks in government-subsidized dairy
and bottles of Similac
little-to-no tits, but nice nipples
sensitivity to mosquito bites
the last bite of her dessert
Strawberry Shortcake and Cabbage Patch Kids

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man / Bake me a cake, as fast as you can
a good man to call Uncle

Pat it, prick it, and mark it with B / Put it in the oven for baby and me

a better man to call Daddy
a promise

“I promise to be better.”
or two
“I promise the zoo.”
or three
“I promise birthday cards.”

a birthday.

I’ll Be Home for Xmas

 

I swept the stuff and the shit and the sayings [that were given but not asked for] under the mat.

I got stuck at the mirror all morning, from the first second after my second helping of breakfast was consumed, through noon, when it stopped being cute [to have an imaginary friend] and became something not unlike schizophrenia.

She wants you to put on a nice outfit, do your hair up right, take out the trash.

There’s a good side of me that recognizes the significance in having a room and a body to live in, fortunately. And so, I keep my corners clear. Before settling here, at the only cafe counter in town where there are coasters not carousels of condiments and paper nappies, I swept the stuff and the shit and the sayings [that were given but not asked for] under the mat. And I dressed up. If, any minute now, a stranger should sidle up beside me, the barista might rightly testify that I was asking for it. Imagine a girl [young adult woman] alone but for her leather notebook and inky pen, on Xmas Eve, and try not to assume that she’d be receptive to spitting on anything [from semantics to semiotics].

She wants you to make a public display of affection, a show of your agency, and strip off all the layers that you did not lay yourself.

Once, a dog ate my history, and so I had to rewrite it…

My self and I are neither “hanging out” nor halfway to the altar. This is a [the first official] date, the one that we will use to measure the depth and scale of our love. She has been asking me [to come] out for two decades, but there have been good excuses and better reasons to skirt her invitations. Once, a dog ate my history, and so I had to rewrite it, on the opening night of some subversive flick that could have [coincidentally] changed our course [mine and his] sooner. As for the other times, I was busy. She would call [again and again] just to say “It’s me!” and it was all I could do to tu-tu-tu-tu, seeming less harsh a tone than the truth.

She wants you to stop playing, cut the chords, and listen for the old bray of your heart.

I am home.

What is home if not where one goes looking for love?

Six months ago, the greatest love of my life moved to Reno, Nevada, but I [being reluctant to follow a woman] did not go. Instead, I put her down as my plus-one to holiday parties in Salt Lake City, Utah; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Edmonton, Kentucky; and Charlestown, New Hampshire, knowing that she could not afford to travel. She said, “I do not have a plane, or a train, or an automobile, but there’s a bicycle on Craigslist for $40.” And so, I have met her here — for a cup of coffee, and a two-wheeled tour of the Biggest Little City in the world. What is home if not where one goes looking for love?

Would you like to throw a stone at me?

There’s a rat-a-tat-tat on the window
that my imagination takes for bird’s
play — swallow — and then I see her
dancing, with her twin in the glass,
damn narcissist, she’s asking for it,
go splat
at my feet. No feathers?
There’s a feet, or two, or
a pair of Converse shoes
faded that familiar blue-
like lavender but not so sweet-
smelling as bodies do when hot
so hot so fucking hot are you
here on some errand? Here, winner
take all that’s left of my peach.
Pat of butter? Cup of sugar?
I have none nor the patience
for solicitation
for polite salutations
or whatever it is that you’re trying
to sell me today.
I want to give more
than what fits through a window,
so, if you will,
please come to the door.