POEMS

3/12/20

On the morning
You wake before you are ready
Because your lover
Must be at work at 6am
Slams the shower door at 5:05am
And the boys run on the stairs having been awake
Since 2:37am
And the dogs bark
Because they too
Haven’t slept and need to pee
Even more than you
When your day
Keeps descending into illogic and weepiness
The news batters any illusion
People are capable of kindness
When the time stream flows backward to remind you
Of all the soul twisting mutilations
Humans have done before
To look good in the mirrored sides
Of boxes they created to tame God
Remember your grandfather’s arms
Holding a newborn,
So her mother can take a nap
His hands
Feeding men
Quietly ushering them in the backdoor
Of his restaurant
For food unpretentious and good
They have no money
To sit out front
He will not make them pay
With dignity
He will in fact
Hand it back to them
Without fanfare
If they drop it
His back bending in the garden
To feed his family
And his neighbors
His laughter
Signaling unrestrained joy
With a great-grandchild
Or funny story
This man who was told he could be
A journeyman electrician
By the Navy recruiter, but was made a servant instead
who stayed,
because they gave him a bed and fed him
who as an orphaned 12 year old
earned the 45 cents a day
His aunt raised his cousins on
He used the other 5 to raise himself
His middle name was Emmanuel
Was utterly uninterested in churchiness
But THOSE HANDS…
Didn’t they make God with us everywhere they went?

Did they scuff their feet?
Let their robes drag
Across the written witness
Of their transgressions
Scratched in the dust?
They laid down their stones
Maybe never picked them up again
But did they punish her in other ways?
Spitting on her cheek as she passed
Wives ears full of gossip
Refusing her a place at the well
Never having enough room
in the communal oven
For her loaf
Eyeing her belly with suspicion
Perhaps never letting the gossip
Travel across their tongues
But feeling assured she is damned
None the less
They couldn’t stone her
Did they have enough courage to let her live?

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On the morning you get up
To your alarm clock’s muted static
A mix of Christmas pop and underlying buzz
You’re grateful to feel rested
But also, wary
How long before your
Pale red blood cells
Can’t take the load of your day?
Before you’re asking for help carrying
Laundry upstairs,
Chopping wood to fit
The woodstove,
Making dinner?
Will your doctor call, have an answer?
Worry gnaws at the edges of your day
And you don’t have energy to spare
On worrying
It’s just
You sleep like the dead
Feel like you’re dragging
Through Jupiter’s gravity
Wonder if you’re holding up your
End of your relationships
Feel disconnected
Even from yourself
II
Your iron panel is normal
But you still need to take a nap
In the middle of the day
Your heart races at odd times
At 53 you must take a break
Between chopping wood
And bringing an overflowing laundry
Basket up two flights of stairs
You can no longer do them
In quick succession
You don’t know if you should feel
Betrayed by your body
Or foolish for believing
Magazine hype about 60 being the new 30
Regardless you use the last bits
Of energy to change into PJ’s
Melt in between the cold sheets
Breathe deeply
The dogs barking rouses you
Momentarily
But the blankets are just the right weight
To keep you submerged in sleepiness
You sink back
Into dreaming about a house
You always know is yours
On good nights it can hold endless
Numbers of family and friends
There is always one more place at the table
Endless food, enough blankets
On bad nights
There are no locks on the doors
Windows won’t shut
Demons are out, hunting
For anyone with a heart beat
Grandmothers are busy jitterbugging
With college students and toddlers
Your aunt and husband grab a piece of cake
While you patrol the perimeter
Afraid
You will let some harm slip through
You never know
How the dream will unspool
You just know you’re home
When you walk in the door
Stand barefoot on the faded Turkish carpet
In the front hall of a house whose floor plan
Only makes sense in a dream