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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Darn Lucky

 

 

 

It happens, you know—the day opens itself

like a tulip in a warm room, and you meet someone

who amazes you with their willingness

to be a thousand percent alive, someone

who makes you feel grateful to be you.

 

And it’s as if life has been keeping a beautiful

secret from you—like the fact that they make

elderberry flowers into wine. Like muscadine.

Like the yellow-green floral scent of quince.

Like the perfect knot for tying your shoes.

 

And it turns out life does have wonderful

secrets waiting for you. Even when the news

makes you cry. Even when some old pain returns,

that’s when you will meet this new friend.

Someone wholly themselves. Someone

 

who makes you smile in the kitchen, a smile so real

that when you go out, the whole world notices.

It’s enough to make you want to wake up in the morning.

To go into the day. To be unguarded as a tulip, petals

falling open. You never know who you might meet.

 

 

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after her funeral

hanging her ornaments

on the evergreen

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As the Chemo Begins

 

 

 

Most of her hair was gone already,

but I guided the electric razor across her scalp,

brown tufts falling into my fingers.

 

We listened to music, drank wine,

toasted to vulnerability. She made jokes

about not needing to buy shampoo.

 

I sang along with the songs we had chosen—

choked on the lyrics to “Life is Wonderful,”

hummed when I couldn’t sing.

 

There are days when wonderful

is so far from what we might have chosen,

but wonderful it was, my hands

 

smoothing across the new naked landscape

of her head, delighting in the feel of the fuzz,

marveling at the gift of sharing loss and fear.

 

There are days when we lean into each other

and cry. And such a terrible wonderful it is,

letting the tears come. Weeping them together.

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no wine, so we toast

with our laughter—

our joy half full

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Part of me wants to give you

the book of answers, the solution key,

to help you know which decision, A, B, C or D,

will bring the most healing, the most happiness.

I no longer believe in such a book, such a key.

 

Instead I wish for you the peace

that comes only with surrender—

a word that sounds beyond reason

until it becomes beacon, becomes

north star, becomes map.

 

May you know for certain

that in every case, you are beloved.

May you know beyond doubt

that no matter what happens,

you always become more essential, more you.

 

 

 

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potato chips

and muscadine wine—

communion of friends
*

 

the audition—

showing up

the most important role

 

*

 

on the road to bald-faced

the joy on the path

so true

 

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for Jack Ridl

 

 

My friend Jack is really St. Peter.

I trust him. He has a knack

for finding the good in people,

 

for bringing it out. He has a way

of creating Eden out of a blank page,

out of a living room, out of pixels.

 

He knows the gate to paradise

is right here. He knows how to say,

“Fuck death.” He knows how to love

 

the world, how to hold those

who need to be held, how to care.

I am not always so sure I believe

 

in God, but I always believe in Jack.

Sometimes when I ache, when

I don’t know how to write another word,

 

Jack will send me a note. He’ll say

something like, “Grief is an ambush,”

and then, just knowing he understands,

 

I go on. I watch the willows turn yellow.

And Jack is here, too, holding open the pearly gate

so that heaven will slip through to this world.

 

He’s got his cup of coffee ready, and one for you

and me, too, to toast to all the beauty that is,

to all the beauty still left to be made.

 

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What One Evening Can Do

 

for Christie and Dave

 

 

Tonight, just when I am ready

to believe the news and give up

on humanity, someone I love invites me

to her home and fills my glass

with wine that her husband has made.

 

And the husband brings me plates of cheese

and crackers and tomatoes he grew

in his garden, and they tell me stories

about travel and books, and they give me

a bed with clean white sheets

 

and a tall glass of good cold water

and an open window to let in the breeze.

All night the coyotes sing in the canyon,

a reminder of the wild nature of things,

and in the moments before sleep, I feel certain

 

that the world is good, that we are here

to take care of each other and the land

we live on, that one beautiful act will inspire

countless more, and that love can change

everything, All night, the coyotes sing.

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100_0891

            for Stewart Warren, now in hospice

It was the early 2000s. I was in Del Norte as an emcee showing movies for Telluride Mountain Film on Tour. From the stage, I could see in the dark audience a man who was almost beaming. He had “that light” about him. Did I know him? I wanted to. After the show he came up to say hi.

“Are you a poet?” I asked him. Why? Some hunch.

He nodded and tilted his head to the side. “Yeah.” That’s a word that when Stewart said it had three syllables.

Over a year later, Stewart Warren admitted to me that he hadn’t written many poems at that point. He was a drummer, but he had a poet heart. That was easy to see. At the time, I needed poets who were willing to travel and teach in the schools, and he was gloriously game. I invited him to Telluride, and he had the kids drum on the desks and write. He was equal parts goofy and glamorous, childlike and ageless, playful and profound.

After that he came here many times to teach, to perform, and many times just to help me with programs. He’d dress up in a sport coat and jeans and he’d be my right hand man, helping with details, making everything easier, smoother, more fun. One tricky thing: I’m a tea drinker and he disliked tea, called it “pond water.” After many visits, he finally showed up with a new coffee maker, the one I still have. “I know that all the poets who visit here in the future will be grateful,” he said.

And isn’t that Stewart—the one who jumps in with a devil-may-care grin and a plucky “yeah.” The one who, when given a big pair of shoes, finds a way to grow himself into them. The one who turned his own difficult story into a life out of helping others share their stories. The one who relentlessly continued to learn, to push himself, to inspire. The one who thought of what others would need, and then gave it. The one who brings out the best in others because he dares to bring out the best in himself.

*

September cottonwood

just before the barren time

turning itself into gold

*

Stewart, poet, drummer, partner, friend, web-master, tech-guide, word-sharer, heart-opener, I am a much better me because of you. Thank you. Thank you.

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Sleep, of course. Long,

uninterrupted hours of sleep.

For a week. For a month.

For a year. You’d just put your head

on the pillow, and sleep

would come meet you

like a devoted friend, or like

a dog that will come whenever you call,

and snuggle with you all night.

 

And then, when you woke,

I would give you the certainty

that life is worth waking for,

that you are beloved,

that everything you do

makes a difference, and

by everything, I mean everything.

 

 

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