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Posts Tagged ‘control’

no wonder my feet
never reach the brakes—
all this time
trying to drive
from the passenger side

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In the dirt crawl space
under the yellow house
my brother and I
would play among dad’s jars—
dozens of jars
filled with clear greenish liquid,
all of them holding
dead white fish,
their colors
long since faded.
Every black-capped container
was labeled with typewritten
lettering, but we could not yet read.
Mostly we stared
at their clouded scales,
their pale fins,
their useless eyes.
We did not question
why they were there,
stacked beside the winter coats
and boxes of dishes we seldom used.
Dad finally threw them away
when we moved,
though he did not want to let them go.
He cared about those fish in jars.
Not the bodies themselves,
I suppose. Perhaps
because he had been
so alive with the catching
and naming of them.
Perhaps because
there are so many things
that cannot be caught
nor labeled nor set aside.
Like the pain that
even then was beginning
to reach for his joints, grabbing
his shoulders, hips and knees.
Like his father’s anger
that he always carried—
something pale, many scaled,
something vital that died.

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You can’t solve being human. We will have this affliction till the day we die.
—Jeannie Zandi

I tried to know it,
catch it, show it,
to splay its wings
and pin them—
to chart it, graph it,
plot it, map it,
quantify and reckon,
I tried to stuff it,
box it, pack it,
leash it to a pole,
I wanted answers,
wanted keys,
I wanted oracles,
and in came tamarisk,
rodents, dust,
whole rooms
of I don’t know,
a screaming child,
my milk dried up,
my fear devoured me whole.
Splintered, rumpled,
rankled, crumpled,
my all collapsed,
unplastered.
Undone, released,
exposed, relieved,
I flowered
utterly mastered.

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We’re human. We hurt each other.
–Wendy Videlock

As wind softens canyons
as water smoothes glass,
the days erode what is sharp
in me and grinds down
these layers of sludge
that have built up on
my shores, all these stories
that I have collected
—even believed—
as portraits of myself.

I remember reading
of a Chinese monk
who decided to rid himself
of worldly possessions.
Instead of giving them away—
for they would become burdens
to someone else—
he set his every thing in a boat
and let it drift to the middle
of the lake, where he sank it.

I would like to sink my stories
this way—heap them
into a heavy box and lock it
tight and drop it in
the deepest lake where
they could do no one else harm.
I’d like to believe
that it could be so easy
to release the burdens of the heart.

But no, it’s this slow,
wearing down, wearing down—
the sloughing of the known.
And who is that wants
to protect someone else?
As if she could control
how the world goes?

Let’s put her and her story
into the boat, push it off
and wish her the best.
Meanwhile
the days do the rest.

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Dear Rumi,

After reading “The Guest House,” by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

The house, remember how it was swept
so clean last time you came around?
Not a book left on the shelves. The closets,
hangerless. The drawers, bare. Not even
a dust bunny under the bed. It was terrifying,
really, to inhabit all that emptiness. No cup,
not even a dirty one, to offer you. And you,
unphased, led me to the river to drink.

I am almost afraid to tell you I bought new cups.
And the shelves, well, there are lots of new books.
Many I have not yet opened. I just bought them
hoping to know, know something, something more,
something about nothing. That is ridiculous,
I know, and I can laugh at myself and still
I order more books.

There are rugs in the halls, and lamps, and I could even
offer you a stool. Is it so wrong, Rumi, to have brought
all the furniture in again? Shame, she came again
last week. She spit on my mirror and it won’t come off.
And Fear, he trampled mud all over the new white carpet.
And Anger, he tossed two of the new tea cups
on the floor where they shattered like hope.
And Hope, she picked up the pieces and made
a mosaic of wings.

I am learning, perhaps, to better greet
these visitors and laugh as you suggest.
Sometimes I even get excited to hear
the doorbell ring. And sometimes when I hear
footsteps at the door, I run to the closet,
curl myself into a ball, cover myself with old coats
and boots and shudder.

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perhaps to prove
she can change the world
my daughter stomps
on the icicle right when
my camera clicks

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