Ground Cherry

pick pick
echoes
tick tick
daylight burns
ashes ashes
falling
down

the sky is
so blue
against you
yellow-
brown
nearly
sepia

from what vintage
from what
cold clear bottle
did you pop
from cherry cola
from spicy mustard
or from

the mother
not too soon
to forget
belladonna
beneath
the stars
dark green

shoots
arrow
to rib
poison
to vein
atroph
y

by the
nightshade
you are
so good
goodness knows
with love
comes

sacrifice
contentment
with twilight
lying
in wait
for slipping

off
shoulder
your dress
to the ground

Basalt Forest

Assault, for us? Just a phase.
All kinds, occasionally, exhibit
attitudes and behavior
that drive their partner
to erupt.

Park ranger says:
“There once was a volcano here.
Lava flowed, in rivers,
across the wet substrate,
stamping a new path for life,
in the face of trauma.

It began from a single point
on a rock that jut out —
beyond the rain shadow,
and toward the humid
eastern United States.”

I hear:
It began from an impasse,
from our argument on the topic
of moss, how it either grows
on only the Northside,
or does not.

It began mostly dry,
but with enough steam,
to create the necessary reaction,
tension, and period of calm;
for the clay-rich soil
to build up, in layers.

First, came box spring,
then, mattress…
mattress pad…
fitted sheet…
me…
you…
the ground.

“As you can see, the trees
grew perpendicular to the ground,
but, eventually, took a sharp,
9o-degree turn.

Scientists can’t agree on why,
many believe it was natural
manipulation, by close-
fisted people,

others, by severe snowfall,
when they were still young;
the type that only hits
every once in a while.”

As you can see, she
grew up without a mother,
and with a cold stepmother,
but could play in the snow
for hours.

Therapists can’t agree on why,
many believe she’ll bounce back,
mistaking her persistence,
or resolute doggedness,
for grit.

Eventually, she came in,
where she thought was her part.
It is never your part to fix others.
Keep yourself warm first.

“Unfortunately, this is defined as
‘an endangered ecological community.’
By our estimates, it’s unreasonable
to think this is ‘just a phase.’

Between 30-50%
of the original occurrence
remains.
We should have started
to see change
in a matter
of days.”

Afterglow

 

The sun had come down, but not out.
It was the bulb of a projector, casting
cool, blue light from its core; except for
lacking an electrical cord.

Where did the heat come from
that changed the surface of the moon
from swiss cheese to a flat screen,
capable of displaying our vitals?

A reddish tinge across your cheeks
told me the answer — 100 degrees,
and counting down. From the minute
you walked up, imagining the peak.

We were sitting close to each other,
under the pretenses of just wanting
to share a large popcorn and soda.
You hadn’t had sugar in six weeks.

An hour after it happened, I joked:
“The vision of you undoing my laces
may be my undoing. Oh, so delicately,
your fingers untwined the knots.”

Now, several days after it happened,
I have exhausted the limit of images
on the “beauty of tight binding,”
pretending an interest in macramé.

I have laid the first and only move
in single player Cat’s Cradle,
betting on you to pinch my Xs
into the Jacob’s Ladder.

So, what do you say? Let us play —
until the sun comes down,
and afterglow fades; or, at least
until we have run out of shapes.

With luck, perhaps, thereafter.

Matilda

 

Standing
on the surface
of a pancake
then, swimming
in a pool
of syrup
deep as pores
on sugar
ask:
“How much do I care about blemishes?”

More than the soul,
the body recalls
the rich sensuality
of cracking eggs,
and stirring batter;
as well as
the “not-so-feel-good-feeling”
of singed fingers
on a hot stove.
Why listen to your parents?

That’s why, or why not.
Child, experience life
with all of your senses.
Taste the lessons
that you teach yourself
first.
In all its bittersweetness,
learn
to swallow Love
like breakfast:

After the morning rush,
to locate what’s been lost.
Slowly, overprepared,
waiting for a soft boil,
into which you drop
your hard-shelled heart.

Sweet Love,
I would have you nest
in my slotted spoon,
and listen to your stories
of feeling alone,
and pancakes.

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.

 

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.

Red

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

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

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.

Yellow

written by Michael’s 4th & 5th grade classroom at Trillium Charter School
edited and illustrated by Kayla Kennett

Yellow is the color of the sun’s rays,
reflecting off the ocean,
after its nighttime slumber;

a solo goldfish,
in the midst,
of other kinds of fish,
in a faroff pond,
away from all human settlements;

Homer’s head —
shiny,
glistening,
bald;

the warmth of your heart,
when you eat
buttery,
crunchy
popcorn.

Yellow is the color of
a pufferfish,
expressing its emotion,
in the fresh,
salty
sea;

A bumblebee,
flying,
in a field
of bright,
blue
flowers;

cheddar cheese,
falling
from your sandwich,
its potential,
suddenly,
wasted;

Draco Malfoy’s hair,
turned bright,
by a horrible childhood.

Yellow is the color of
the first leaf
fallen,
the first sign
Autumn has arrived.