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Too sharp to be candy,

and yet you manage

to trick the tongue

into willingness.

Other’s may have

better medicine,

may get to the heart

of what’s wrong.

But you, you bring ease,

you relieve.

Your whole purpose:

To soothe until

healing can happen.

To insert a little sweetness

into misery.

To relax what wants to erupt.

To make the moment bearable.

To keep peace.

Check the time. Reach for scraps of the dream you just woke from.

Close your eyes again. Remind yourself of studies that say

you’re still getting rest even if you feel awake. Curse the studies.

Curse the awakeness. Notice how cursing wakes you even more.

Toss. Count breaths of the person sleeping next to you.

Tell yourself not to be resentful of them, though you are.

Touch your hand to the sleep heavy weight of their leg. Breathe.

Try not to remember something terrible you did long ago.

Perseverate on the details. Wish you could apologize,

though you’ve long since forgotten the names.

Determine that starting tomorrow morning you will be a better person

in a belated attempt to atone for past mistakes.

Tell yourself not to look at the clock again. Look at the clock again.

Calculate to the minute how long you’ve been awake. Worry

about tomorrow. Worry about your kids. Worry about the country.

Worry that you worry too much. Refuse to look at the clock.

There is a lake in the night, dark and deep. Feel yourself held by it,

as if you are floating. As if the night buoys you, cradles you like a mother.

Miss your mother. Take a few strokes in the night lake. Notice

how quiet it is. Feel yourself slip beneath its surface.

When the light comes, swim toward the light.

Biometric

And if they tried

to match the whirl

of my fingerprint,

they’d learn my true

identity is galaxy,

close cousin to the fern,

and sister to the nautilus.

They’d learn I’m most definitely

guilty of Fibonacci.

I leave evidence

everywhere—tiny

invisible swirls,

reminders that I,

too, am hurricane,

eddy, whirlpool,

and sunflower head.

I have been marked

like the pinecone,

spiraling out from the center,

and there’s nothing

I won’t touch.

… by and by, nor spare a sigh, though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie, and yet you will weep, and know why

            —Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Spring and Fall, To a Young Child”

The whole time I ran the lawnmower

through brown cottonwood leaves,

I recited Gerard Manley Hopkins

and waded in intricate cross tied rhymes

that defied the straight green paths

I was making. I hope Gerard doesn’t think it rude

I call him by his first name when I talk to him,

as I often do when walking alone.

He never speaks back, but I’d like to think

I’m better at listening for him.

As today when I repeated again his words

about worlds of wanwood leafmeal,

I swear he rose up

in the dry-honey scent of leaf dust

as if to say, this, this, this.

And while I pushed the red Toro

across the leaf-spangled lawn,

I thrilled to know the world as poem,

to know the ambush of tears as tiny wet poems

to know myself as a tired and ecstatic poem

while all around me the leaves continued to fall.

Conspiracy

Sometimes when walking

or driving or sitting in a chair,

I thrill to see some words of yours

float through the air—as if

a cartoon thought bubble

cut loose from your thoughts

filled with calibri sweetnesses

and times-new-roman puns—

and I pluck the words

from the sky and wrap them

around my wrist. They bob

above me like a helium balloon—

sometimes I almost believe

could carry me away.

Join Me?

all day I spike my tea

with sky—

is it any wonder

by night I’m singing

love songs

Student

The river in autumn

is clear enough

to see the trout

who swim

in the deeper pools.

There are many ways

to speak.

This is one.

After

After the anger dries up
and falls away like an old dried husk,
it might be you feel
like laughing—
at yourself it turns out—
and all that is now possible
whispers to you
like wind in the meadow,

and where before you saw
a single path
you now see thousands,
and you wonder
how you never noticed it before
the way every step
receives you.

The Renegade Page: Finding the Poetry for the Moment

Tuesdays, 2-4 p.m. Mountain Time, October 20-Nov. 17

Need a pick me up? An infusion of beauty? A reminder of what’s going right? A chance to write about what is most challenging? Every moment—even mid-pandemic and mid-election season—contains an invitation to lean into the world as it is. Join poet and performer Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer for a playful, provocative exploration of how to find poetry in everything—from spatulas to depression, from cleaning the kitchen to catalog shopping. This isn’t your textbook poetry—it’s the poetry of your life. Every class we’ll read, write and share poems. $85

Hosted by Weehawken Arts. To register, visit https://weehawkenarts.org/class/the-renegade-page-finding-the-poetry-for-the-moment/2020-10-20/

*

As If Life Depends on It: A Poetry Playshop on Birth and Death

November 1, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. mountain time

When the veil is most thin, come read & write poems about birth & death & how these two miracles charge all the life in between

Now in the season when the veil between the worlds is most thin, come read and write poems about birth and death and how these two miracles charge all the life in between. We’ll consider the Stoic mandate—memento mori—remember your death, and how, paradoxically, it is an invitation to live, humbly and ecstatically. We’ll dance in the playgrounds of metaphor and explore what it is to be alive. What wild or timid ideas are waiting for you to write them? What mysteries are hiding in your heart? Bring your curiosity and your wonder, your fear and your awe. Come surprise yourself. $60

Hosted by SHYFT at Mile High. To register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/as-if-life-depends-on-it-a-poetry-playshop-on-birth-and-death-tickets-122320831901?aff=erelpanelorg

Stubborn

When the brain is separated from the heart, it is capable of doing terrible things to each other and the planet.

—Jane Goodall

And so I try to tend the path each day

between brain and heart.

Whatever smallnesses I trip on,

I try to remember to bow as I remove them.

Whatever weeds try to overrun it—

weeds of should and shame—

I try to yank them out, knowing full well

I never get the whole root.

The more I travel the path,

the easier it is—

though steep sometimes,

and the effort to go on

makes me weep.

And sometimes, it feels unfamiliar,

though I’m sure I’ve travelled this way before.

Frightened, lost, tired, exposed—

yet I try to find and preserve the path.

Because the stakes are too high

when the path is gone.

Because the healing is so great

when I honor the path

step by stubborn step.

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