Monthly Archives: July 2012

beginning

a poem about belonging

 

beginning

there were fifty revelers in the pool
gay and unfiltered bodies bobbing like
corks pressed down until the wine bubbles forth

and i didn’t know how to stop the pain
of their belonging watching how all these
fabulous souls were wrapped up together

waving like a coral reef and i waved
too one hand on my top button wishing
i had never come longing to jump in

 

No turning back

 

It can be a wonderful thing to belong in a group.  I know people who find great fulfilment in knowing every move to make, every word to say or avoid, every rhythm of “how we do things.”   The comfort of knowing there will be people there for you, come what may; and the knowledge that you will do the same for others – whether they ask for it or not.  The can be a comfort in conformity.

But then there are the others, the ones who struggle continually within the constraints of belonging.  The ones who live like icebergs, unwilling or unable to reveal their depths.  Or who give up and melt away.  I’ve seen it so often.  The longer I live, I find I am wistful for the belonging, for its goodness; but at the same time find I am increasingly drawn to the fringes, the rebels, the bright orange in a sea of black and blue.

 

No turning back

Someone in this sea of black and blue,
of downturned eyes, has a tattoo
on her shoulder blade – a butterfly
perhaps; better yet, a devil’s eye
that no one but her lover knows,
a secret that she never shows.

Someone in this modest fashion show
is wearing orange, brazen just below
her neckline, bursting with desire
not so much to shock as just to let the fire
within her have its head at last – finally
to be the blazing torch that she was born to be.

Someone in this close and holy space
is terrified, yet ready to depart this place
once and for all. Tonight,
after the benediction, no fight
no grand pronouncements, no bitter end.
Just a kiss, a plain embrace for every friend
and then no turning back – her fierce reward for
loosening the tight-tied strings her mother wore.

 

wounds

 

…for those struggling with the demons they hold close.

wounds

forgive her if
you feel excluded

her hands cradling
something awful, unnamed

she is terrified
of the innocence

that chose her
imagining the hurt

that would ravage
your beautiful life

if she relaxed
even one finger

 

The truth about Klondikes

 

My latest listener commentary for our local NPR station, WVPE.  True confessions of just where I draw the line on telling the truth to our children…

Click here to listen.

 

Spaghetti

My dad is one of the best writers I know.  He taught me about literary style and choice of words, persuaded me to read Orwell and sat with me as I hashed over early drafts of essays.  It was a labour of love, and no little patience, for him.  He’s my hero!   I hope a little of his example will spill over to the next generation as well.  I’m trying, anyway…

 

Spaghetti

We’re sitting in the kitchen,
pouring over his latest essay.
I jump up from time to time
to stir the spaghetti, then flop
back down again at the small table.
It’s like this, son, I say, sagely.
The English language may be
compared to a well-stocked pantry.

A lot of words hang out on the
lower shelves, or in big barrels.
These are the staples, your common
or garden prepositions, nouns,
proper names, infinitives,
the odd gerund. You gotta use these
just to get through the day, they
won’t do you much harm and
for the most part they are
pretty good for you.

But then look a little further and
the shelves get more interesting.
Some words are sweet, which can be
pleasant in moderation, but I’ll bet
you know people who overdo it and
end up breathlessly waving their
hands up and down and popping
the same bubble-gum over and over.
Maybe one of them is a cheerleader.

Some words are poison. The obvious
ones aren’t so bad, because you know
right away just from the look of them;
but others are slow-acting carcinogens.
Steer clear, OK? I don’t care how much
they tell you words can’t hurt. They can.

Then there are the exaggerations,
the steroids of our mother tongue, which
pump up one’s discourse to impossibly
inflated states, while also exposing
one to secret ridicule, to say nothing
of awkward back hair at some future date
(metaphorically speaking, of course).
Play it cool. Don’t overstate your case, OK?

Finally, there is the F-word. Keep this one
handy at all times, but use it with care.
It is the essence of anise – just one drop
will infuse an entire pot of sauce.
I glance over at the stove. It is the
perfect complement to so many
situations, and there are times
when it is the only word that will do.
Anyone who tells you otherwise
is either a liar, or too scared to live
a little. Trust me. Now get lost,
Hemmingway, I’ve got work to do.

The spaghetti sauce boils over.
He goes back to his desk, sifting through
the elements of style, leaving me
alone with my thoughts, and the anise.

 

%d bloggers like this: