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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

 

 

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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One Week Later

 

 

 

There are moments I forget she is gone.

Perhaps when I am in the garden. Or painting

rocks. Or making dinner. And then I remember.

She’s gone. I cry less now, but still.

I cry. Of course. Because the cloth I use to wipe

my glass table. Because the vase I slip

marigolds into. Because the necklace

I am wearing. Because out of nowhere

the sound of her voice. Because

the book I am reading. Because

when I think of how much she loved me,

how much I loved her, I gasp and

my nose starts to tingle and my eyes

well, and I know she would tell me

not to cry, but I do. Because it’s a beautiful

and rare gift to love someone. Deeply. Because

she was my gift. Because I was hers.

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for Phyllis

 

 

I remember the day she chose me.

It was fall. I didn’t know then

I would come to love her, didn’t know

how trust would grow, like catnip, like oregano,

more robust, more wild every year.

I didn’t know how I’d been waiting to be chosen,

that she would help me find the wings I’d never felt,

never seen. That she would dare me to fly.

That she would be the wind.

 

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I was so excited to drop the impromptu Valentine

in through the car window—a white heart

with a big blue eye at its center that I’d ripped

into shape from an old magazine cover.

 

It slipped through the open window

and landed just right on the driver’s seat,

the eye facing up, the heart facing the door.

 

Imagine my surprise when my friend Kyra

told me she hadn’t been in town today.

Really? I asked her, stunned. Really, she said.

 

Because who would think there were two

red station wagons in town with the passenger door

bashed in and the back full of camping gear?

 

Dear stranger in the red station wagon who parked in town,

I know I didn’t give you the heart on purpose,

but I’m so glad I did. Sometimes our mistakes

 

have so much to teach us. Now I know

how I want to treat strangers: Like beloved friends.

Like people I thrill to shower with love.

 

 

 

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On Earth, just a teaspoon of neutron star

would weigh six billion tons. Six billion tons.

The equivalent weight of how much railway

it would take to get a third of the way to the sun.

It’s the collective weight of every animal

on earth. Times three.

 

Six billion tons sounds impossible

until I consider how it is to swallow grief—

just a teaspoon and one might as well have consumed

a neutron star. How dense it is,

how it carries inside it the memory of collapse.

How difficult it is to move then.

How impossible to believe that anything

could lift that weight.

 

There are many reasons to treat each other

with great tenderness. One is

the sheer miracle that we are here together

on a planet surrounded by dying stars.

One is that we cannot see what

anyone else has swallowed.

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            for S

 

I don’t want you to die.

I know that is selfish,

but it’s the truest thing.

I know we don’t speak of it.

I know I am supposed

to find acceptance,

to find metaphors about

rebirth and letting go—

the trees are always good that way—

but I don’t want to.

I hate that you are hurting.

I hate how far away you are.

You and I both know

that I would never write this

in your card. No, instead,

I send a metaphor about birds,

about resilience and

the gift of wings. Instead,

I tell you I love you.

It’s the other truest thing.

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