Poetry

Sweeter Point of View

 

Job prospects with no love

For carefully constructed cover letters

And a mosquito bites me

Then slips away unseen

Among the laundry list of tasks

That I have yet to address

 

But there you are

You buy me a mango and

Hold my hand as we walk

Through Liberty State Park

Then kiss my chilled lips

After a mouthful of ice cream

 

5/30/11

 

***

 

Laundromat Haiku

 

Tiny people squeal

Run past me kindly grading

Popping pistachios

 

5/17/11

 

***

 

Dealing

 

I am counting them

Each night documenting

The number of discursive moments

Thoughts pop into consciousness

And are tossed away again

A challenge to refrain

From judging

From indulging

 

The cigarettes perpetuate

Those moments yet

The intention is to drive them away

 

Coping it is called

An insufficiently powerful word

Coping

Indistinct and without emotion

Re-wiring

Scientific and impersonal

Dealing

Immature but more precise

None describes the actual

Of longing

To feel

To be felt

To touch and hold

To make love

To be loved

Missing sensations

Connecting with someone

Moment by moment

Touching a hand

Caressing a back

Stroking hair

Kissing lips

Soft, soft lips

Their absence is palpable

I am seeking an outlet

A way to bring them back

Through some new medium

That does not exist

Nothing is capable of replacing

Re-creating

What was once there 

 

And it seems so long ago

That it was you

 

The touch of your hand on my knee

Gentle and eager

Heartbeats racing through

A first date soon followed

By “I love you”

Holding on to those few weeks

Before I left

A moment

A memory I will cherish

When I am finished dealing.

 

11/2/10

 

***

 

Porn film juxtaposed with Harry Potter

 

Collecting the last two items from the old apartment

I knocked on the door

The new tenant

My former landlord’s son

Asleep on the couch

One of two pieces of furniture in the cavernous space

Formerly filled with so many of my things

Our things

His tall familiar friend answered

Dogs gleefully jumped up and licked my face

I asked if he had found a book I’d left

Harry Potter

No, he said, I don’t think so, but I’ll look.

And I noticed suddenly the naked woman

On the 60-inch flat screen TV

Huffing, gyrating, groaning

In apparent ecstasy

Oh, a porn film

Sorry, no book, he said.

Thanks anyway, I replied.

If you find it, Michael can call me.  He has my number.

I went down to the basement

To collect my bike

The last item, apparently, and thought

How unembarrassed he was

The porn film on the giant screen

In my presence

The presence of an older woman

I laughed

And left

For the last time.

 

11/29/10

 

***

 

Waiting for…

 

She is saving a seat for him

The empty lawn chair nestled beside her

In the sand

Lovingly carried

Slowly

With arthritic hands

To the beach

It is not warm today

But she sits

Patiently in her heavy beige coat

And white, cashmere beret

With a book

Which she has read before

And she waits

In the unseasonable coolness of January

By the pier

On Venice Beach

 

1/1/11

 

***

 

Julie at 2 ½

 

She runs into the room

Asks “what’s this?” of some

Random item

The doorknob

A file cabinet

The color purple

Ever curious about her world

Her eyes glint

She squints and gives a little nod

In understanding

Satisfied with the answer

She runs out again

To find daddy

Or mommy

Or her new doll

Her tiny voice hanging lightly

In the December air

Where we

With our

Big, joyful smiles

Beam

In utter amazement that this human being

Exists

Is with us

A part of us

Continues to grow

And learn

And become someone new

Before our eyes

 

12/28/10

 

***

 

The Night Billy Collins Kissed Me

 

You were there

In the hotel bar

Soft familiar eyes

Gazing at me

Perhaps a bit afraid

Sitting inches away

Knees knocking mine and

Watching the baseball game

As you half listened to my

Well-prepared speech

Distracted but I think

Trying

When he noticed us

Or just you

Watching the game.

He walked over

White wine in hand

Not his first free drink of the evening

Tipsy and grinning

You talked sports at first

Then responding to his question

I said I was from Indiana

And you awkwardly asked him

For his autograph

On your lanyard from

The poetry festival

No, not this time

The allusion missed

Or ignored

The moment deflated

He only wanted to flirt with us

With me

And so when he asked you,

“May I kiss your girlfriend?”

I smiled at you

Then at him

For his naïve assumption about you and me

Honest and not without cause

I lifted my face

Gently

He kissed my right cheek

His soft, sixty-something face against mine

The familiar voice so near my ear

Instilling pure joy.

Afterward

You took a photo of me

My glow

Freezing the moment for us both

The night Billy Collins kissed your non-girlfriend

Your friend

Your…

I don’t know

And it doesn’t matter

Because it forever altered the course of

My memory

So that when I think of that night

A year from now

With our bodies so close

The tension thick despite

Your conviction to not kiss me

Again

Or maybe because of

And your wandering attention

To the Yankees game

I will remember that kiss

And forget that I went home alone.

 

12/13/10

 

***

 

After the Move

 

I’m out

Away from the hollow

Shell of a home

What was organic

Heartache

Now left behind

With the bones of our two cats

Or lingering slightly

In the harsh taste of nicotine on my lips

But without the constant reminders

Here with the half moon

Tangerine dangling

Over Manhattan

Lights on at midnight

In the city

My city

My home across the river

Sitting atop a small hill in Jersey City

Surrounded by me

Me-ness.

 

11/29/10

 

***

 

Senility at 36

 

I don’t lose things

Usually

Is it age?

Do I have ADD?

Have I had it all these years without knowing?

Does that explain why I can never seem to stick with one career?

 

I don’t have a career.

Never did.

Nevertheless, I lost my keys

Without knowing I’d lost my keys.

There I was

In front of my class

 

A friend walked in

Pulling my focus from the students before me

And gently placed my keys on the table

I said

“How did you do that?”

Thinking she had somehow quietly borrowed them earlier

 

No, I lost them

They were hanging inside the toilet stall door

On the hook

Where they are always placed

Religiously

So I will not forget them.

 

10/14/10

 

***

 

Forgotten

 

There are minute details

Scrawled in often hasty cursive

A red pen

Some pages wet

Left by an open window

During a storm

Passages long forgotten

They are from someone else’s life

A past blocked from memory

Only joyful moments linger

Somewhere on the periphery

But those neutral

Or painful

They are gone

Reading about them

In between them

Her past

An anxious scrawl

She feels a distance

From her twenty-something self

Over a decade later

The obsessions

The men

The bad poetry

Fucking the bartender

Dating other fuckers

Waiting for phone calls

Kissing strangers

Waking in the afternoon

On the Upper West Side

In the bartender’s apartment

Just in time to see the sun set

And do it all again

With the woman she called her friend

Who pulled her strings

Dressed her up

Short skirts

Thick black eyeliner

A pretty doll

They were never worth

Her naïve heartache

 

10/26/10

 

***

 

Another Move

 

There are boxes of empty CD jewel cases

Mix tapes recorded during the ‘90s

Cat fur stuck to multiple layers of clear packing tape

The sole remains of precious

Surrogate children

The boxes are coated in thick black marker

One label scratched out for another

Re-use of a cardboard box

Recycling before it was cool to recycle

Dust mites have played rounds of golf and croquet

And danced tangos and whatever else dust mites do

In and on top of these boxes

Now becoming empty as I finally

Hesitantly

Place items into the trash.

The boxes have begun to degrade

No longer fit for re-use

For another move

Maybe down the street

Across the dividing line between the decent neighborhood

And the less decent neighborhood

“The other side of the tracks”

He told me, the first landlord I met

Two years ago

A young black man whom I always thought

I’d see again

I thought I would stay here longer

He walked me to this house where I now live

With my boxes still filled with unused items

From a previous life

He saw the house and said

“Yeah, I’ve lost this one, I know.”

He knew because I am a white woman

In a diverse neighborhood and this house suits me

His apartment was nicely renovated

But small and on the other side of the tracks

Where I will now go

Alone, a white woman in a “diverse” neighborhood

And I will be fine

Because I know

That people are just people

That they too accumulate things they never use

Maybe they have tufts of cat fur stuck in the carpet

In between the cushions of a couch

A cat long gone

Pieces of past lives

Home to dust mites

Dancing and playing sports

Holding them back.

 

10/20/10

 

***

 

Hollow yearning for passion

 

Nothing satisfies me

At home alone, hollow

With Bebel Gilberto bossanovas ringing through the empty apartment

Mind swimming through pieces of our life

Pieces of my life

Of a future life without you in it

 

I deliberately wash the dishes

Clean the coffee grinds out of the French press

Empty the garbage, water the plants

Pick up the mouse droppings

The mouse, my only company

Apart from a personified cigarette

 

Days are good, sunlight and driving and teaching

Undergraduates how to write

How to think for themselves

Knowing that my life is good

Even if tomorrow is unknown

Who will want me next?

 

It is not shame at being left

I do not regret a single moment now

But the knowledge that my hands on your body

My lips on your lips

My voice saying “I love you” every day

Several times a day

 

It was not enough

And that is the pain

I have been left

Wanted to be left

With my mouse and my plants and my cigarette

To have the space to understand who I am

 

Alone

 

Now past the point of being able to say

I am a young woman

But I am a young woman despite slivers of gray hair

Slipping out through my scalp

Old enough to have born my students

I want passion again

 

10/13/10

 

***

 

Seven years on, four weeks gone

 

Slowly

My fingers begin to move

Not quite ready to record this ache

In semi-permanent text

 

It is time to start trying

Four weeks gone

Ending seven years of you and me

Passion left much earlier

 

When was that moment?

The first and only other split

Lasted one day

You said you could not leave me

 

Maybe it was fear

Or some lingering desire

For the real, rich love

We did in fact once feel

 

But this time

We are truly done

We are moving on

Apart, broken

 

Healing in different rooms

I hear your voice thinly through the wall

So faint, so far away

A pale sensation of your hand in mine

 

It is time to start trying

Four weeks gone

After seven years of loving

Struggling to listen

 

Because we could not hear each other’s heart beat

Passion drifted away

While we strained

And tried too hard

 

10/12/10

 

***

 

Nipples

 

Why do mammalian males have nipples?

He posited

Quoting St. Augustine

He was not a biologist

She said that she did not know

He said

They are aesthetically pleasing

Only a god could have thought that one up.

She was not convinced.

 

She said

Don’t males lactate sometimes?

 

10/06/09

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