Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’




Standing on the stoop of your heart,

hand poised above the doorbell,

hoping you’ll open the door,

hoping you’ll keep it open.

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I wanted to be more like you,

I did. I wanted to fit in

your hummingbird world

with its hummingbird nests

and its delicate wings and

its predisposition toward

delicate things, such as

tea cups and flowers

and gossamer strings.

So I painted my body

with delicate swirls

and colorful, whimsical

intricate whorls, and I tried

to fit my whole self inside

your dainty settings,

I tried, I tried to be more

like you, but there is no hiding

these giant gray legs and

this massive gray trunk

and these floppy gray ears.

It’s obvious. I am an elephant,

dear, and I just can’t squeeze into

this fragile world.

I belong home

in the elephant herd.

And I’m sorry I broke your fine

china cups. It’s so evident now

I can’t fit in them, but …

well, sometimes we need

to fail to learn. We need to digress

before we return.

I still think you’re lovely,

though slightly absurd,

oh beautiful, delicate,

bright hummingbirds.

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Poor violets don’t know any better.
They only know it’s been warm for weeks
and the grass is greening and the frost is gone
from the soil. It’s uneasy pleasure, watching
their small blue faces appear so early this year.
Part of me does not want to enjoy them—
the part that longs for cold, for snow,
for the winter that has not come.
One day, there will be nothing left to say.
For now, there are violets blooming
outside the kitchen door. They are beautiful,
nodding in the breeze, no matter
which direction the wind blows.

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You cannot always tell by looking
what is happening. On the outside,
she is smiling, apparently flourishing.
Inside, there is a terrible secret
even she does not yet know. There
was a whisper of it, but she found it easy
to listen instead to the geese with their
raucous arrival, or to listen to the song
of the river pushing through the ice.
Okay, some part of her knows it,
but she is not yet ready to admit anything.
She is perhaps like the tree riddled on the inside
with beetles. At first glance, it looks like nothing more
than a few little holes, but under the bark
there are girdling tunnels. It will be a long time
before she will hear the soft chorus
of dry needles falling. By then,
it will be impossible not to notice
that something is very, very wrong.
By then it will be much too late.

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In the same breath that I curse the world
I praise it. It is impossible not to see
what a mess we’ve made, and yet … how
relentlessly beautiful the rabbit brush
blooms in the ditch, all yellow and vigorous,
growing out of the busted up asphalt
and Marlboro boxes and twisted beer cans.
It’s no miracle, you might say. It’s just a weed.
But I know a miracle when I see one.
It looks a lot like whatever is happening
outside the window right now.

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(another poem for Lian Canty’s Alphabet Menagerie project)

Obey the poem’s emerging form.
—Jack Mueller

This is the poem in which you accept
that anything might happen next.

A red umbrella might fall from the sky
and offer a ride to Belgium.

A constellation of bright sea urchins might
walk by on their tiny transparent adhesive

tube feet. Or perhaps a petulant cherub,
unhappy with a day full of broken hearts,

might urinate on the next line. It happens
in poems all the time—the improbable,

the profane, paired side by side
with the miraculous. Like love. Unicorns, well,

they are more often saved for fairy tales and
UFOs, they belong more to sci fi texts.

But why not have them here? In this poem, ukeleles
might serenade the next stanza with their sweet Hawaiian twang

and their hint of exotic happiness.
An umbrella parakeet might fly its way in,

or a strange man might enter
and wonder “Why?” It happens,

it happens in poems all the time. Though
there are never any simple answers. Always paradox.

The Great Bear in Ursa Major just might hunch over
any errant rhymes and strew them like stars

across the sky. Or a cow might stroll through
with its pale pink udders reminding you

of other things you have never done.
Oh, there you are, you made it

at last into the poem. I was hoping
you would show up, not like in one of those

terrible dreams where you’re wearing only
your underwear and you’re afraid everyone

will notice. No, here you are, ready to do
whatever the poem asks of you, which is

to say yes to whatever happens next,
though the poem is as unstable as uranium,

as fickle as a butterfly in a whole field
of open flowers, and you will be asked to make peace

with not knowing what the poem really means.
And yes, you will say, yes. And you will perhaps see

how you are the umbrella, the seven stars, the parakeet,
the urchins slowly moving their way across the sea.

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Again the invitation
to love the body
this very moment.

Not the way it was once,
all limber and lean,
all smooth and able.

Not the way it might
be someday in the future
if only, if only. The invitation

to love it now. No
exceptions. No rain date.
No directions how to get there.

No box for maybe.
The invitation arrives
as it always does,

without an envelope.
Without a return address.
No RSVP. No name on it

but your own. No trumpets.
No angels singing about
how all flesh is holy. No

clowns telling jokes.
No balloons.
It arrives so quiet,

but so sincere, right beside
the impulse to crumple
it up. Now what to do.

The rising urge to run.
The rising urge to bow.

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