Some random thoughts ....
Dunnellon is a place where I couldn't have imagined myself dwelling when I lived in L.A.
Five stoplights. One Walmart. No bookstore. No Starbucks.
I moved here, sight unseen, for various reasons we don't have to go into.
This is not supposed to be a nature poem, but Dunnellon is a nature city,
More so than Thunder Bay, home of mountainous snowbanks blown off Lake Superior,
Or Monessen, atop the green rolling hills of Pennsylvania.
Deer, ibis, armadillos, and wild boars strut near my door.
Dunnellon strides the Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers.
The Rainbow is a well of spring water, whose bottom undulates through looking-glass ripples.
The Withlacoochee is a different matter. Alligators sun on its banks and the weeds grow deep.
Snowbirds make their homes here much of the year.
But in the deepest part of the summer,
When the sun bears down and the humidity clings,
Dunnellon is my place, humming and thrumming,
Growing and raining,
A Garden of Eden in my backyard.
Joy Cometh Unannounced
Joy comes in moments. It doesn't seem to last.
A smile, a glance, a touch, a word,
They're here and gone, and then, what's left?
If you're a Zen master or Buddhist, it's the moment right now,
That's all we have, whether happy or sad.
It's up to us to accept this reality
And not have palpitations if we're really excited
Or rip out our hearts if we're not.
It will pass. All will pass.
Counting the Ways
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
One. You love to eat Chinese food.
Two. You make me laugh when you talk baby talk.
Three. You make me zing like a nerve conduction study.
Four. You are a walking wonderland of facts.
Five. You are an excellent driver. At least that's what you've told me.
Six. You're spontaneous as a wildfire blazing in the pines.
Seven. You're a bibliophile's bibliophile. And that's really something.
Eight. You're a marmalade chef without comparison.
Neither you nor I are commandants of numbers.
But counting your ways thrills me like no math problem ever has.
You've told me you would drive at least 20 miles or 30 minutes to see me,
Even if it were deep of night or early dawn.
I'd wait up for you, I'd turn the light on.
Nine, I'd tell you you're a smarty pants and cute, to boot.
And Ten. I'd say I'd drive as least as far for you.
Apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Keke and Frick
Keke and Frick were my imaginary friends,
They lived in my bedroom closet.
When my mother took me downtown,
They insisted on coming along.
I don’t know why my mom couldn’t see them.
At the department store, there was an elevator,
Run by a lady wearing gloves.
The inside was a metal cage with a door that she locked like a jailer.
Imagine my fright when Keke and Frick got squished by that guillotine door.
I screamed for the lady to release them right now!
And she opened the door just like that.
But where were my friends, did they get sliced like tomatoes
By that wicked saber door on first floor?
Then they ran inside, we were safe for now,
Except my mom, who had suffered humiliation.
She grabbed me by the arm and hauled me to the car,
With Keke and Frick panting hard behind us.
“Don’t you ever embarrass me like that,
What did that woman think? How could you do that?
I did not raise you to act so foolish!”
So Keke and Frick hung their heads and packed their bags.
They didn’t even get into the car.
I cried all the way home. My mother told me to shut up.
If you see my friends, tell them I miss them.
Why would one deign to write a nonet,
Except for some silly contest?
If it’s form, not the function
That you’re really seeking,
I’d suggest sonnets,
The form is true,
Jorene took us kayaking on the Chain of Lakes.
Each in our own boat, none of us paddling upstream.
Lake after lake we skimmed through,
Water massaging thighs through metal frame.
Sun embraced and ripples glinted,
Gleeful diamonds just inches from our grasp,
First one stroke, switch, then we stroke again,
Pull into the current of life.
I have some photos of me, hands over head,
Paddle in hand, proud to be making my way.
No photos caught that you capsized.
They don't have to, The memory won't die.
You did. A couple years later. Of an unrelated cause.
Or was it? How you splashed and struggled.
Earth, water, sun never your friends.
Early some mornings, I stroke out to reach you
In the midst of the sun-bleached house seeking rain.
But you're far away. Let me tell you anyway,
"Happy Anniversary, have a nice day, wish you had stayed."
A Grateful Pollyanna
I'm not one to ascribe to the theory
That when God closes the door, he opens a window.
Or that inside every cloud is a silver lining.
Sure, blacks are free now.
But how can you justify slavery?
Or what about the holocaust?
The stable European order since World War II
Does not vindicate the millions of Jews who were slaughtered.
And that order seems temporary now, anyway.
Pema Chodron says when life falls apart and all is chaos and nothing dependable,
That's when growth happens.
I don't want to hear it. I have lived it.
Two loved ones dead. Walk like a zombie.
One step at a time while skin scales off.
And still, when I stopped all my shuffling and opened my oozing eyes,
There you were. Proof of the adages,
The exoneration of folk wisdom.
So, maybe you really did open the window,
Reach for my hand, and pull me through.
Time for a New Tune
There you go again, skipping with my heart in hand,
Plucking it from near my breast,
Treating me like all the rest,
Or maybe not.
I know not what
You want to do,
I still love you.
This sounds so trite,
Let's keep it bright.
Just two cellos, me and you,
in harmony, that's not quite who
We really are.
I've gone as far
As I can go, my rhyming bow is stuck on strings,
That keep you out. I don't like how
We fret and pluck
At each other
It's time to stop.
Or find a tune that's both our choice.
Full of love and in our voice.
I wish I’d said yes to being a juvenile delinquent
With tight skirts and cigarettes falling off my lips.
I wish I’d said yes to that guy on the Harley
Who said we should ride down that dirt trail after school.
I wish I’d said yes to cutting class, racing cars, stealing hubcaps,
I wish I’d said yes to some laughs,
Instead of watching o’er my shoulder
For the person who wanted me to say, “No.”
But then, again, if I had said yes then,
I probably wouldn’t be saying yes now to you.
There’s no one watching behind us
We’re free as we choose to be
And I choose to be free saying yes to you.