NEW i.d.

NEW  i.d.

First day on the job alone,

he had to keep calling the sergeant. 

Good-humored, she was,

joking about new machinery 

that made the work harder. 

Typical military we all agreed. 

 

I voted for Bernie.

I’m all about peace, 

and eliminating fossil fuels

and reducing my carbon footprint.

I drive a Prius, for Christ’s sake.

The new fighters they’ve got—

 

we couldn’t believe 

they’d be louder than the F-4s

but they are. We can hear them

all the way from the Adirondacks.

And they’re expensive, useless.

Can’t dogfight, so what’s the point?

 

Three took off. We waited

for the fourth, like clockwork.

Shit, they are noisy suckers. 

But fuck it. I’m a

fighter pilot’s wife.

My man used to fly machines

 

like those. I’ve stood on the flightline,

watched him take off,

seen him loop and hammerhead,

do the Memorial Day flyby.

I gave birth on the eve

of drill weekend, kept house

 

that winter he trained in Witchita

when he was DCM, that ice-storm winter 

our son was in second grade

and we had a funky woodstove.

I watched my pregnant friend

watching the Missing Man

 

formation over her husband’s

grave. What can I say?

What can I say?

I make no apologies

for my life. Love is a funny thing.

So now this new improved i.d.

 

is good another three years. 

We stopped on the way out the gate

to look at the old F-4 

on static display.

Not Miss Piggy, my husband said.

It’s got Rich’s name on the door. 

Some dialogue from a play-in-progress

Some Dialogue from a play-in-progress

BARRIE

Well, I have no idea how my way of being will help because you and I are as different as a pea in a pod and a rhinoceros, but okay. Here goes— I don’t work. I’ve never worked, and I never will work. The day I start to work will be the day they put me in a home. There is absolutely no separation between, among, within, whatever the word is, the art I make and everything else I do. Getting up in the morning is art. Taking a shit is art. Reading while I eat breakfast. Arguing with Jim about whose turn it is to buy groceries. Making dinner with the kids. Walking the dog. Teaching. All of it. It’s all art. It’s all making something out of something, or out of nothing, but usually it’s something. Remaking, unmaking, starting over, turning around. Everything is raw material and everything is already finished before I begin.

MARGARET

Well, okay. I guess that works for sculpture and conceptual stuff, but not for poetry.

BARRIE

Why not? 

MARGARET

It’s words. They have to be right. 

BARRIE

Oh, well. I get that. Finished stuff, sure, like if you want it in a magazine or something. That’s gotta take a little tweaking. But the first burst of a poem, and the second and maybe the third? The energy of it? The way it flits around and settles? Is that work?

Perspective

PERSPECTIVE

Oak and Ash and Birch breathe their gold.

It sifts through their twigs and branches 

over our cars and lawn furniture.

Oaks and ashes and birches think

life is worth continuing. They want

to make acorns and winged seeds

and tiny cones. They want to make

food for turkeys and squirrels and jays.

If they told you the Council of Trees

had decided to fill this year with abundance,

if they told you they had decided

this was a good year to cover the wounded

Earth with their love, to spread their gold;

if they told you that you, too, could participate,

wouldn’t you say Yes? And here you are!

Every sneeze, every dribble, every gasp,

they tell you, is a price you can pay.

WHAT WE’VE LOST

Before I begin my celebration of Poetry Month, which this year will involve going on strike for better working conditions, here’s a poem.

WHAT WE’VE LOST

I was shopping this morning, double-masked

because my second shot is days away.

Young women working the check-out counters

were waiting for customers and laughing,

laughing loud at some private check-out joke.

And I found my anger surge up at them:

young women, masked, trapped behind plastic shields.

Being human, sharing humor. And anger

at myself for fearing the sound of delight.

What have we lost? What have I lost?

I hope someday no one will understand 

double masks, plastic shields, second shots.

BEGINNING

BEGINNING

 

The book cover shines gold 

in the lamplight.

 

Small birds irrupted from the north

cluster around the feeders.

 

I’m an old woman now

and none the wiser, but

 

at least I can define

emotion with precision. 

 

The landscape of exploration

looms underground. 

 

Forty years but surely not wasted.

Are we between wars

 

or is there simply one war.

Was there ever only one?

OPEN STUDIO POEM #18

OPEN STUDIO POEM #18

 

 

aplomb

solid

chrysanthemum

collage

secluded

 

Under snow, under solid ground,

earth knits a fabric of mycelium,

bulb, the roots of chrysanthemum

and rose.  The February landscape

shapes a shifting collage

of branch and cloud,

a splash of of jay-blue.

We stay secluded, painting

our lives with aplomb.

OPEN STUDIO POEM #17

 

Open Studio Poem #17

disco

lickety-split

splendid

magenta

 

Fairies shelter behind the disco ball

hung in the portal to the kingdom of odd. 

After sunset, they emerge lickety-split,

and all night they dance through the city, 

their magenta wings flashing splendid

in the lights of streets, and traffic, and stars.

 

 

The other occupants of the Open Studio are out to get me, as you can see. But I know where that disco ball hangs, and I know the fairies, too.

Open Studio Poem #16

 

OPEN STUDIO POEM #16

makeup

cattywumpus

kerfuffle

erase

 

I’m going back to makeup.

Not the kerfuffle of my youth,

with eyeliner cattywumpus

to each brow,

not a sad attempt to erase

my decades on the road.

Just a streak of red on the lip,

a little taupe along the lid.

 

Since July, I’ve been attending an online Open Studio with four artists, who are now my friends. Most weeks, they give me words to use as prompts so I can practice my art while they do theirs. This week, I think they were out to get me.