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I’m now going to dazzle myself with the pluperfect.

            —Jack Ridl

 

 

And isn’t it dazzling, the notion

that an action not only began in the past,

 

but was finished in the past, or,

as they say in Latin, it was perfect.

 

Not like these leaves, that began

in the past as green flags, but now

 

transform into gold flame. And we all know

what happens next. No, not like

 

the boy who once fit in my lap

and now looks me in the eye.

 

Not like the dream I had for my life

that changed before it could

 

be achieved. What really ends?

What do our cells not remember?

 

Even the dead are here in this room,

on the streets, in cafes. We carry

 

our history with us everywhere

we go, and it wriggles out of its

 

perfect cage and dances through the ending,

though we thought we’d shut the curtain,

 

though the director has long since yelled “cut,”

though the audience has already left,

 

see, here it is, even now, progressive

and as present as these cut sunflowers,

 

spilling their pollen all over the table,

hardening their seeds into future gold.

Poem Not About Fruit Flies

 

 

Once there’s one, you know

that there are hundreds to follow

hiding in and amongst everything,

next to impossible to eradicate—

some things seem to come

in great abundance.

May joy be one.

 

 

 

Aspen Poetry Workshop

Without Making a Sound

 

 

 

The cat does not care that I’m meditating.

She cares that I am warm and seated and still.

I pretend that I am ignoring her and notice

when I pretend not to notice I am pretending.

She settles in my lap. I notice how

this act seems to involve the whole world.

All day, I consider how powerful an act

to touch someone. how even the sky leans in.

 

 

 

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be angry.

Anger seems reasonable. But perhaps

we will do what I’ve heard the Inuit do—

spend the emotion on walking, walk a line

until all the anger has left our bodies.

The moment the Inuit notice the anger is gone,

replaced, perhaps, by sadness or fear,

compassion or just a quietness,

they mark that spot with an object

to show the extent of their anger.

And perhaps, if we’re lucky, when we walk

this way, it will be a long enough walk

that we arrive at each other’s doors,

object in hand, and when the object

leaves our grip, we’ll be able to use our hands

to greet each other, touch each other’s faces,

point to the horizon to all the other places

we might choose to walk now together.

 

 

 

This morning, like every morning,

his mother rises with her heart open.

Somehow, overnight, it has healed.

She is not like the paper doll

that, when wrinkled by callousness,

will not ever return to its former shape.

No, somehow the heart not only heals,

it grows bigger—some miracle she cannot

understand. She thinks back

to the day he was born, the day

the towers fell. As she went into labor,

she thought no, not today, no not today,

until some strange grace slipped into her

and spoke the new words,

of course today, of course today.

How beautifully, how forcefully

love insists on itself. How astonishing,

the daily miracle that leads us

again to each other.

 

Expressionism

 

 

Let me be the canvas, then,

and you be Jackson Pollock—

be the wild one, the one

who burns, the one who

never sleeps and never yawns,

the one who steals the sun

and gives it to me.

Be the one who transforms me

again and again with colors,

ardent and avid and mad—

no, let me be the canvas,

and let life be the painter,

and you, you be the paint.

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