Inversion

Head grinding into 
the mat, knees perched 
on triceps, gaze fixed 
past toes, my contact 
with the earth is more 
tenuous. I form a right 
triangle of heart 
and eyes, my ratio of 
love-to-peace-to-hope 
becoming ingenuous.
We will see with more 
compassion by letting our
hearts lead. We can unwind 
old fears by inverting 
our bodies, our minds.

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The Americans

Other countries seem desperate to tell us
how we look to foreign eyes, as if we were
as blind as the cave fish or the mole.

Cowboys, racists, patriots, slumlords – we
know it’s all true – endless highways, patchwork
farms, strip malls and Disney World.

We killed the Indians and enslaved
the Africans. We birthed jazz and the auto
and skyscrapers and the bomb.

And dreamers still say,
the myth aglow in their eyes:
“I want to go to America.”

Discovery

If I had been born then,
in a past of unplowed prairie,
uncrossed lakes and hills,
I may have been a pioneer,
driving west in covered wagons.

Or maybe I was amaneunsis
to a dandy from the East,
recording his memoir of wild West,
while scribing my own secret thoughts
by firelight or by waning moon.

If I could be born again,
in a future hub of commerce,
port of interplanetary trade,
I would be a wanderer still, I think,
a mapper of the Milky Way.

Perhaps I’d keep electronic “books”
for a slightly roguish trader,
tracking bales of alien grain,
while writing my own “hiker’s guide”
by the light of strange new stars.

But I am fixed
in time and space
and the only journey I can make
is discovery of myself.

Happiness makes for a boring poem

Why is it so easy to describe pain
and so difficult to capture happiness?

Is contentment just that boring and
bland, an emotional vanilla?

Is sorrow simply deeper, more complicated?    
I find it so frustrating; I can reveal

My darkest moments, but I struggle   
with the words for joy and bliss.

And while I’d like to share, mostly
I want to float on top of this feeling,

Drift along as far as it will take me,     
then drown beneath its frothy surface.

And there – suddenly I can picture it,    
a bubbling river of happiness that I have

Accidentally stumbled into, tickling my feet    
and gently lapping to my knees.

I have only to give myself completely,
dive in and see where I surface.

Django at the coffee shop

They’re playing Django at the coffee shop
   this morning
So I smile to no one in particular as I pour
   syrup on my French toast    
Two years ago I had never heard his
   gypsy guitar
Two years ago I was sleeping away
   my Saturdays
Wasting away on our discontinued
   blue and pink sofa
Wondering why life was imitating retail,
   discontinuing my marriage
Two years ago we had just celebrated
   our ninth anniversary
An elaborate dinner, an expensive present,
   an uncomfortable bedroom tangle
Ending in his bitter laugh, my bitter tears,
   our bitter knowledge

Two years
   and I have bought new furniture

And as Django’s minor swing floats
   over my breakfast
Out the door onto my new street,
   new neighborhood, new life
Two years stretch behind me as an
   eternity and an instant
And I never want to waste
   another Saturday

Odd feeling

what is this odd feeling
so vaguely familiar like
a memory from long
ago barely remembered
except at the edge of sleep
I may have to consult
my dictionary but I think
it’s called happiness
because the sun sparkled
extra bright on the lake
this morning and the
clouds popped through
my window in such sharp
focus that I caught myself
singing to the cat about
those seven half-built
manors and I am startled
by the intensity of this
emotion and the thought
of how depressed I must
have been for the contrast
to be so great and yet an
undercurrent of sadness
remains because it took
a pill to remove barriers
to this feeling and why
couldn’t I get it on my
own and what did people
do before all the powders
and the pills except place
stones in their pockets
and step into the river
oh what else might
Virginia have written
if she had the modern
pharmacy at her disposal
or would it all be crap
if we took away her pain
I have no answers and
at this moment I don’t
want any I only want
to live in this moment
this happiness

Little feet

I may have overdone it on the feet
Says the photographer
As he shows me
Pictures of tiny little toes
And the bottoms of perfect little feet
A newborn and her sisters
Pink and beautiful
But I say no
There can never be enough pictures
Of tiny little feet
Wiggling and wriggling
Tangling in a pile
Until it is difficult to tell which foot
Belongs to which girl
The world needs many more pictures
Of innocent little feet
For how could anyone be angry
Or vindictive or hateful
When faced with these pictures
How could anyone not
Be filled with happiness
Because these feet are pure joy
Someday their toenails
May be painted “berry bliss”
And their feet may slip
Into strappy sandals
Or black pumps
With many-inched heels
Those feet may peek out
Beneath little black dresses
Climb stairs to apartments
And reach eagerly for gas pedals
And tread who knows how many paths
On the other side of the globe
Until they sport well-earned calluses
But in these pictures
Little feet are young and smooth
Quivering with possibility
Waving to and fro
Dancing to internal music
Ticklish perhaps
Ready to love and be loved