Waiting for June

A high-backed, slatted chair
as throne in a long-stemmed garden.

A city beyond it with glass, suits, revelers:
It changes by the hour.

Cars bead the bridge, a laudable
organization if only we knew what it was.

Here, in a garden between houses,
the chair waits.

A person will sit and face the sun.
There will be no sun. 
As now, there will be no person.

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Ezekiel Does Memorial Day

Someone snapped the light switch, and suddenly it’s summer.  Suddenly people are having fun.  

The question mark of an existential figure that walked the streets alone, toting laptop and phone — he’s been replaced by friends and families walking in public and laughing with glee, spilling onto streets eating and drinking.  

They’re living plush as the young grass, right now.  Something we always knew but forgot, and had to go back to origins to retrieve.  

Maybe this bright green exuberance will become parched, and our wandering techie will go back to being malcontent –  “I hate the sun!”  

But for a moment on Memorial Day weekend, Ezekiel has his day, in all his doubleness: All flesh is grass, all its goodness like flowers of the field.  

Dead soldiers had lives as frail as grass.  At the same time, all that grass – all that goodness – what splendor!

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Confused Spring Prayer

May I recognize my hilly landscape
and not expect to live in the plain.
Know that I am the hills and ravines,
the sun-drenched fields and deep shadows, 

gulleys, mustard fields, yellows,
veils of light that drape like silk slips,
brooding camisoles, mist from cigarettes,
palm hats, brilliant ideas, crestfallen spirits,

wilting, questioning, knowing not
to claim, wanting to want that armful
of pungent stems and flowers to toss,
not to hold.

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Yo Mama!

I had been thinking about the representations of mothers, the usual suspects, until I bumped into Yo Mama, a collage by Wangechi Mutu, the indefatigable Kenyan-born artist.  Boom!  Here was the fiercest and coolest mother on the planet.  I paused, wishing that all of us could go through our trials with our stiletttos on tight and enemies severed under our feet.  

In the artist’s imagination, the mother rises again – she is based on a murdered woman, Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti, mother of Fela Kuti, the brilliant Nigerian musician.  She flies, her wide eyes insistent, dislocated, pasted from fashion shot with her beauty, fury and damage as one.  Skin as a spangled leotard, she dominates one panel, sets things right with the snake head sprouting flower blood under her shoe dagger, the rest of the panel drenched in possibility of purer, solid pink future.  Fela’s music survives the attempt of Nigerian soldiers to crush his complex; his mother, a fatal victim of that invasion, survives as a formidable goddess of nightlife or Eden, mythic, eternal mother.

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Exactly As Spring Is, Only More So

The April dusk bursts with metaphors.  Night had sowed magical rain, the day comes forth in pea green, yellow green, everything green. Pavement of scattered chartreuse pollen with tire marks.  The daffodils mesmerize me: tiny geese with pointed head and tucked wings fly arrowlike across the smooth sea.  Spellbinding.  They are both rapid and still, hovering in the folds of time. They oscillate, back and forth, in and out.  Not long ago their flowers were plush, wet and sticky.  Now its daytime hosiery has been washed out and is hanging on the line.

The nonexistent in the existent steps forward so delicately.  The familiar and worldly array of things holds worlds in its grip.  A just-dead flower as fleet bird, then cast-off sheath.  Luxuriant, terrible, ridiculous, eternal. 

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The Art of Squirrel as Poem

Meret Oppenheim

Where the birds nest
Greening treetops
A busy squirrel

You think it’s found its branch
It leaps to another

Propositions made
Then negated

The ordinary sense
We are used to making
Finds danger

It scampers down
Tail blushing in the sun

So much fun

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In Our Cups of Seder Freedom

Four glasses in, heaps of food and words, 
the feast of mouth-people overflows.

The Reed Sea breathes. The message 
in the bottle passed forward each year —

Ask, talk!  Tell, tell! —

God’s backward order 
that Exodus was a pretext
for us to tell the story – 

makes its own sense.

Words, world making.  The whole 
shifts in parts, the bottom glitters,
we teeter in freedom 
white flowers in a night garden.

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Seasons: Everything All at Once

Seasons, the steady four,
are now layered, entangled.

To the bridge’s left, ships hover
in glacial water, a blue-lipped hue.
Love or bankruptcy, horizon’s lower eye
watches time’s suspension

a red-tailed hawk floats
above the bay’s reverse face,
tiny flowers burst
in yellow and orange flesh of lilies.

Monterey cypress lean into 
everything all at once, 
elegant drunkards.

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Flux, March

The pristine snow,
abandoned, sinks —

a sooty skin.

Broken objects
rise up. An arm, 
stairs, cardboard
boxes shocked
by fetid air,

my head 

pushes from the
mud, the primordial

churn, seething, 
thick with salty

Shit or fish 
sauce?  Call
it March.

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The Guest

For three weeks, I was a guest: to different showers
And toilet flushes in the West, to coffee houses, to apps,
to rosemary as box shrub.  A guest to my suitcase.  
To hot tubs and skin in the garden of my tiny cottage. 
Guest to stretches of blacktop like a zip, Lily Valley Church and Rainbow Donuts.

Guest to the mirror: my daughter hosted me. 
Hit me in the gut.  Made me think of another paradigm: host/parasite.
I made a typo and wrote paradise. 

Then I friended Monterey cypress. They lean and question, 
buffeted by circumstance. I saw the bright grass after a morning rain, 
speckled as skin of a fabulous lizard.  Small guests, nothing but.

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