5,000 Views!

IMG_1268Today, Word Incident hit the 5,000 views mark. Hard to believe it! It’s been a great place to offer poetry, information on my novels, music, and interaction with the public. So – to celebrate I thought I’d put up a poem that I wrote for my mom, remembering her at Christmas several years ago now. She passed in 2008. It’s always a sort of bittersweet time as we remember the people who’ve made an indelible mark on our lives. Regret is not something I dwell on, except when it comes to my mom. This was one of the Creekwalker Poems and it’s called:

Expecting Snow at Christmas

Not known for snow, more for its liquid form,

A pearlescent night street and coalescing hues

Extend Rain City farther into the world beyond.

Expecting snow tonight, every sound is stilled,

Lamplit flakes float into white shale stair steps,

Concrete and earth not yet gone, lightening just now.

Morning news is snow, schools shut, people stay put,

Wind turns clouds away from the city. Away

From colored houses – every window is Christmas.

Electric are the lights. Your body under its

White glow, glistening like streets I’ve traveled

Long to get here, your breath is winter.

Final words for the good son, the one who

Wiped you, brushed teeth, combed hair, held you up.

Lying forges moments: “You were a good mother.”

Expecting snow at Christmas saddles the heart, winches

Its bonds, burns your last words, a vinyl stuck needle

Scraping at truth: “No. No, I wasn’t,” you said.

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2 Poems Published in Flights

Two poems selected by Adrienne Cassel, Guest Editor for Flights. My thanks to her and Jamey Dunham for their inclusion of Los Angeles to Las Vegas, 1958 and 90th and Lexington to Newark, NJ, 2011, which are part of a suite of poems called See America.

90th and Lexington to Newark, NJ, 2011

                                         for Nicholas 

In the hour before my vacation ends I meet

a young man who’s heart is as seared

as mine has been these last few years.

We open each other up with everything

we have: our lips, our eyes, our hands.

After, in the cab, he says he’s Googled me.

I’ve been opened up like a book

it seems, like so much Information,

my story spilling forward

from this man who’s researched the

man he’d loved for just an hour. After

our kiss in the cab, the Indian driver,

watching in the rearview at 44th,

discreetly turns. When my hour’s love

has gone, I ask the driver where he’s from.

“Calcutta,” he says. We talk of India’s beauty,

our families, the selfishness of Americans.

I remember the love of Indians in 1981,

in the pre-dawn glow of the Taj Mahal,

the love of the man who’s picture I took

with his wife, hours earlier, Indians both, and

his insistence that I be photographed

with his love before a museum housing

ghosts of the world’s artists – the work

of grace’s fleeting moments.

Is this not the point? To love?

Even for an hour?

For 1/60 of a second?

Or on a cab ride,

our lives speeding forward,

creating love with a kiss, a picture,

a hug with a cabdriver at departure’s curb?

 

Los Angeles to Las Vegas, 1958

 

It’s the bird I’m thinking of,

this thing of flight, as

I’m driving my girl to Vegas.

The one thing she wanted,

its cage propped against the seat,

wind whipping its feathers,

a few days ago in Playa del Rey

where we met blind.

 

We’re minutes away from marriage

and this white bird comes to mind

who lives inside a cage,

while she takes my hand

at the Chapel of the Bells.

With this ring I lift the latch,

and the bird flies free.

 

We will live our consequences:

this thing in her belly,

a seed that bird

might have eaten as a

blessing before taking flight.

We will lick the wounds and

secrets of youth’s folly.

We will drive home

to the Playa and our

feathers will be full.

Slate

In light of today’s hearing on Arizona’s immigration law. The photograph above was taken where my Great Grandfather was born and raised in Kaisersesh, Germany.

Slate

We come from slate, rock shale mined by German hands upending earth,

ripping out hard mountain hearts leaving earth’s crust opened, wounded.

 

Between world wars our father’s fathers began building an American hearth,

for found wives, children, creating cities, engineering torrents of work grounded

 

in tradition. Decades streamed by, farms and front porches defined worth.

Our soil slipped away, separating families over oceans, driving the unfounded

 

history of shale locked in grey, our hands, our eyes, now lifting on the Fourth,

but dreaming home’s black forests, town squares, church steeples bounded

 

on all sides by time’s relentless tick. Immigration expands this country’s girth

and we are richer for it, though we build cement walls after sirens sounded

 

our ancestors’ arrivals.  Brick by brick and wire, blade sharp, swirls across earth,

making our country a prison while new immigrants hopes are unaccounted.

My Country

It’s National Poetry Month, folks! Enjoy!

 

My Country

In the half light from this lumbering train,

geese are returning – this is their country.

Sky clears as marshes of winter runoff come

to expected life along these silent rails.

Green turns violently to white, those rough

spires angling up toward heaven, snow clouds

blowing along their edges, casting veils across

white beds of ice, blue in sun, but gray now

as the cup of weather spills its late winter fate.

This is my train, cliff water tumbling – the Rockies.

This is my country. The trees: Black Spruce, Birch,

Fir and Tamarack. The creatures: Bufflehead Duck,

Moose and Mountain Goat. Let me run from this train,

through this valley and disappear into the ether,

into the blue light of meadows, the crowded trees.

Take this weight, lift it from my shoulders. People

my days with Hoary Marmot, Clark’s Nutcracker and

The Great Wapiti. Let this train remind me of fishing

the Missouri headwaters, the steeple-shadowed

Bow River, the Big Hole in August’s white blaze,

my father during a full cast, blind to details, but hitting

his mark just the same. The simple grace with which

he accepts the purest luck and love of what he calls,

“my country,” its vital, stubborn, shake of life.

Every Love

I have a thing for trains. This much is true. I love the romance of them, the way they lumber through the world’s countrysides, towns and cities. I’d like to believe that our country could build high speed rail lines from one end to the next, up and down our coasts. But I’m sure it won’t happen in my lifetime the way things are going. Our country is too reliant on cars, wasting energy, and not thinking ahead. Once, my friend Drake and I rode a train in Taiwan, our feet dangling from the open cargo door, tickets already sold for all of the regular seats. It was an extraordinary journey thirty years ago. I was a little in love.

 

Every Love

Under every light and banner of night,

trains thrum, sound rises to

meet the day, bouncing back and forth

from earth to sky until it reaches

an ear trained for something else altogether.

Absence makes the now palpable, unforgiving.

Tracks wind into distance; a boy sure of his love

jumps the car to find it. Sharp pangs

drive him toward the one thing he needs.

And every folk song ever written,

guitar strum and wailing voice,

reaches back in time through the night.

Whistles for loved ones the train’s iron knows nothing of.

Nothing but steel wheels, locomotion,

steam rising in clouds.

Going forward is it’s own reward.

The leap, the air, the heart.

The Dogs of Central Park

Watching dogs play in the snow today reminded me of this poem I wrote about all of the dogs of central park, which was inspired by my friend, Fran Reisner’s book, “The Dogs of Central Park.”

You can listen to it here as well. http://tinyurl.com/72oapo8

 

 

The Dogs of Central Park

We come in at all angles from brownstones and high-rises, running, sniffing,

bounding across The Great Lawn in every season, once through saffron gates,

dragging our humans to meet ancestors, generations of buried bones, chased balls,

nipping silk petticoats waiting for attention, the play to begin, discovery.

Down along the paths to The Boathouse where we bathed, and rode

the great ships from shore to shore, in this park, this banquet of smells,

in skyscraper shadows, we strolled under shielding trees protected by angels

wings. Leashed, we crossed Balcony Bridge, lunched at the Ladies’ Pavilion

breaking away to hear Shakespeare’s sonnets sung as we raced up granite

mountains to see our ghosts digging, their paws scratching the history of

New York, the immigrants who tamed and lived with us, building the horizon

up, up, but leaving this beauty here for us, where all streets converge,

mapped by our noses so that we may find each other and urge our offspring

into the great maw of hope, driving our humans, our park, our city, forward.