Saturday, January 2, 2016

Fall

The trees are tired
in this wild rush of fall,
tired of the leaves
constantly clamoring to be up
and bursting into brilliant flame,
tired of being awake.

They feel the frost nibbling at both ends of the day,
sense the coming of winter
when sleep and death
hover peacefully in the air
and all the leaves are silent.

This last effort is not for them,
the straining of the colors
and the trembling against the wind.

It's a lost cause, 
as they have always known, 
and all they care for now
is a still night with a pale moon
and the starlight
singing them to sleep.

Thursday, 9:15 p.m.

She was tired.

She sat on the couch, legs crossed (right over left) and arms folded (left over right) and stared at the silence.

She heard the hum of the refrigerator and the soft whoosh of the heater and a strange buzzing in her ears, as if her brain could not process the absence of children's voices and the sound of bare feet slap slap slapping on the stone floors. As if silence wasn't good enough, so it had to make up something else to hear.

She leaned her head to one side and her mind wandered into tomorrow, next Tuesday, three hours ago, a year from now.

She knew she ought to get up and do something, anything. To sit idly was more than frivolous, it was more than wasteful and wanton and wicked, it was heavenly. And it made her tired -- at least, she accused it of making her tired, because what else could it be?

But the longer she sat, the louder the humming and whooshing and buzzing became, until it consumed her and she couldn't think of anything else and she didn't want to.

So she leaned her head further to the side, and closed her eyes and (just like that!) fell
into a deep and dreamless sleep.

Summer in the Desert

Excepting snakes, the desert makes night creatures of us all.

We wait the long day in languid silence
while the sun burns across the sky.
We hide in dark corners, fighting the madness,
until the evening drops, the light fades, the earth exhales.

When the night winds blow like the whispers of dryads,
when stars pierce the deepening blue,
when cicadas set down their bows and crickets pick them up again,
then we come alive.

We feel our old strength returning.
We have only been sleeping these hot, dreary hours,
until the sun went down
and we could see:
the lingering twilight
the bird shadows measuring the sky
the clear light of a rising moon.

True love

The flutters and excitement
Were pleasant while they lasted--
The pseudo imitation
Of a deeper kind of grace.
Though we pursued intently
After passion's bright illusion,
We were only chasing shadows
That dissolved without a trace.

After all the sparks went out
After all the flames died down
After life was back in route
Then we fell in love.

Ode to Facebook


I like to believe that
I will save the world from
certain destruction if
I immediately repost this
 - illuminating comparison of the similarities between two presidential assassinations,
 - thinly-veiled criticism of the current administration's platform disguised as an economics professor
   failing his entire class
 - little-known fact about ATMs that can help my friends thwart the next gun-toting thief to accost them
 - potentially life-changing article about how baby carrots are REALLY made.
Alas, but for snopes, I could truly make a difference.

I want to change the world.
And if I could cause five years of good luck
to rain down on the heads of thirty of my
closest friends, just by sharing with them
the most adorable picture of
 - a kitten snuggling up to a pig
 - a field full of organic, non-GMO, cage-free wildflowers (no animals were harmed in the taking of this
   photograph) with an inspiring quote from someone unknown but obviously wise and eloquent person
 - piles of money,
I would share in less time than it takes my heart to beat.

But I can't give what isn't mine.

All I have are poetry, stories, and (some would say) useless thoughts.
They're not airbrushed or photoshopped or perfect.
They're not anti-bacterial or peer-reviewed or politically correct.
Sometimes they're not even polite.

But they're mine, and they're true, and they're all I have to give.
And in some way, I hope they help.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Madame President


Mira stood in the hallway outside her father’s room and looked around.  She had passed a couple of nurses, but the floor was otherwise deserted.  The scene was utterly different from the last time, when it had been her mother dying in the next room.

That time, the hallways had been crammed with people -- media correspondents, government officials, aides, consultants -- all waiting for something to happen.  She and her father had barricaded themselves in the room, but it was still unnerving to have to face the whole world every time they wanted a cup of coffee.

And now? A couple of junior reporters had come by earlier, but they only stayed long enough to drop off their cards.  After all, her mother had been the first female president.  She had brought up the entire nation, while the only person her husband had brought up was Mira.

But Mira was not a stranger to Bethesda Naval Hospital.  Her first visit had happened just after the assassination attempt, sometime during the middle of her mother's first term.  And it was the only time she remembered her father losing his temper.  She had arrived just in time to hear him yelling.

“She’s my wife,” he’d shouted, his hands clenching into tight fists.

“Yes, sir,” someone said, “but she’s also the President.”

“It’s my job to protect her.  Don’t you get it?”

Someone must have, for shortly thereafter, her father had filed for a concealed weapons permit and took a few special courses with the secret service.  It had taken Mira a lifetime to understand the full import of that conversation, and, to tell the truth, she was still a little angry -- but not at him.  Never at him. 

While her mother served in Congress, Mira's father had taken her to her first day of kindergarten.  He had helped her shop for school clothes and decorated her locker while her mother campaigned.  When Mira started her period, he raided the cupboard under the bathroom sink and brought one of everything.  Her mother didn’t find out for a week.

And then the analysts had said, “The time is ripe for the first female president in America.”  So she campaigned for months, while Mira and her father smiled and waved.  When the time came, they moved into the white house.  Eight years later, they moved out.  By then it was too late.  Mira was already grown up.

But now her father lay dying on the other side of the door, and neither of them could save the other from the truth.  

Mira pushed opened the door and walked into the room.    

“Bethany?”  He was finally awake.

“No, Dad.  It’s Mira.”

“Turtle.”  His first name for her.  Mira had turned out thick-skinned and introverted.  “It’s coming,” he said.

“I know.  Are you afraid?”

“Only a little.”

Mira sat down and took his hand in both of hers.

“I love you.”

“Me too, Dad.”

He tried to laugh, but he was too weak.  “I loved your mother, too.  Almost more than I love you.”

With his dying breaths, her father was trying to tell her what she’d known all along -- the reason he had sacrificed everything: he had loved her mother.

Only, he wasn’t finished.  He squeezed her hand, and she leaned in.

“I loved her,” he said again, his voice strained with the effort of talking, “but I never voted for her.  Not even once.  You should know that.”

Mira stared at him, and he smiled with his eyes.  Of course not, she thought.  Of course he didn’t.  

He was gone within the hour. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A little bit of literature in your news feed

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook; I suspect most people do.  On the one hand, I love keeping up with friends who would, in a non-Facebook world, get lost in the distance and time separating us.  On the other hand, my news feed is often so clogged with reports of the games my friends play, political rants, pseudo-inspirational forwards, and pictures of dogs and cats looking cute that I log out of it before I can read the stuff I like to hear about.

I think the technological revolution has had the unexpected byproduct of an increase in literacy.  We read much more than we ever did in the past, partly because the written word is that much more accessible than it ever was.  The down side to this, as I see it, is what we read -- Charlotte Mason called it twaddle.  You know what I'm talking about.  But it doesn't have to be this way, and I've been thinking of a better way...

People post photos on Facebook all the time.  I have friends who are blessed in the visual arts.  They post photos of their paintings and drawings (and photos, of course).  Some of my friends post songs they like for other people to listen to, or youtube videos of great musicians playing wonderful music.  Lots of my friends forward inspirational thoughts or famous quotes they like and agree with.  But, at least in my news feed, there is a shocking absence of the literary arts.  And I've decided to try and remedy that.

I'm not a photographer or a painter.  I am a musician, but I don't really have the time or inclination to record musician and share it on Facebook.  I hope someday.  What I really am is a writer.  I craft poetry and prose.  Some of it is good; some not so much.  Either way, I'm practicing my art, keeping it alive as well as I can, amid the chaos of four children and a mostly-absent husband.

So I am proposing the following: I am going to write something literary every day.  It might be a poem. It might be a very short story.  It won't be a cute aphorism or a diatribe against the evils of sugar, GMOs, the current political debates, the rise of autism, or anything else serious and concerning.  It'll be fiction in all its delightful, instructional glory.  It won't be short enough for a tweet (because I don't), nor will it be long enough for a blog (because nobody else does anymore).  It will be perfect for a Facebook post, though.

If you want to receive a bit of literature (high or low remains to be seen) in your news feed every day (or as often as I can), friend my author page, linked somewhere on this blog (as soon as I figure out how to add it).  Tell your friends.  Feel free to forward anything you like or repost it.  It's not much, but it's what I have to give to the world, so if you want it, it's yours for the taking.  If not, I understand.  Some people just really like pictures of dogs with funny expressions on their faces and cute captions.  That's cool, too.  I'm just saying...