REPORT: SEPTEMBER 29

Report: September 29

 

It was the Feast of St. Michael which means

that twelve years ago, my mother died.

The ivory billed woodpecker is extinct again

and the long dream of progress is over.

 

 

A friend called while I was making salad

to report a monarch 

on a goldenrod stalk.

What did I think she should do? 

 

 

We talked, and pondered

what we know. Orange,

thus inedible. Late emergent

or tired migrant does it matter?

 

 

She left it under a hosta 

with a nectar bouquet.

In the morning, it was gone,

we told ourselves, on its way

 

PARABOLAS

PARABOLAS

What if you’re the shepherd,

not the lost sheep.  What if

you’ve lost one thing,

the one thing that matters.

What if it’s your coin

so you sweep and sweep.

What if you’re the sower

casting the seed carelessly,

assuming that somewhere

some of it will grow.

Words again: a Story

tunnel

make 

gasp

pound

wave

turkey

blow

haze

 

A STORY

Our grandchildren found a baby bird 

in the driveway. 

What is it?

Where is its Mommy? 

 

In this hazy time 

when every little sorrow strikes a blow,

when the news pummels and pounds,

what is Daddy to do with this scrap of life

gasping in his hand?

 

The mouth of the dark tunnel

has narrowed again.

So many mommies, daddies,

so many lost, so much is lost,

and what sense can we make?

I used to tell myself I was a poet.

 

It’s a little turkey. 

Let’s put it in the long grass by the brook

where sometimes we see them pass. 

We’ll put some corn around for them to find.

Now wave bye-bye.

One way or another, this will resolve.

 

We saw them the next day

he told me. A parade.

Two hens with six poults

and a tom and a hen with one poult

scurrying between them.

The kids agreed that it all worked out fine.

 

We can tell ourselves stories, can’t we?

They all lived happily. . . 

Can’t we tell ourselves stories like that? 

Words again: Identity

—rye

—eclipse

—identity

—fumble

—gravel 

—sunlight

—cake

—please

—eddies

—release

IDENTITY

A child crouches

in a sunlit field.

A fighter pilot’s wife can’t sleep. 

A new mother cannot walk.

 

I am a whirlpool—

an eddy of identity

where a complexity

of currents meet. 

 

I am a layer-cake of scars:

Wry neck and fumbly fingers.

Knees marked with gravel.

Nose repelled by the scent of booze.

 

Nevertheless. 

As the pummeled moon

still glows in our shadow,

I am eclipsed but whole.

 

I am pleasing to topsoil and stones,

to bears and birds and trees.

I have been released 

by every disappointed god.

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. 

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.

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.

OPEN STUDIO POEM #13: FOR THE LAST DAY OF 2020

OPEN STUDIO POEM #13

bobble

bauble

clarity

celebration

POEM FOR THE LAST DAY OF 2020

With smiles and nods, thumbs up

and applauses, with bright baubles 

 

of technologies—our new necessities—

we’ve bobbled through this hardest time. 

 

We have more courage than we knew,

our loves are stronger than we thought.

 

Now, let us begin a celebration, now, 

as we tiptoe toward the clarity of light 

 

at the far side of this dark passageway.

We are beginning to know 

 

how tender we are; beginning

to know how gentle we can be.

With thanks to Wanda, Kathy H, David and Kathy C for their words.