Part of It

mosaic
I rinse the dish.
I sweep the floor.
The three mile jog,
the one mile walk,
the kiss with my hand
on the small of her back,

all the bad choices,
all the failed plans,
the births, the sorrows,
the resurrection and
redemption of each tiny act-
these are all a part of it.

It flows together and mixes
until it’s all one color
and that’s the paint
I have to dip my brush in.

Here I am,
coating the damned walls with it,
day by day,
as I try to make something beautiful.

And you, as you read this,
are a part of it.

Forty-Eight and Under

dashboard
Everyone tells me I’m forty-eight.
The calendar confirms this and the mirrors all agree.

But there was that moment the other night
when you parted your lips to laugh
and brushed my knee with a carefree hand.
There must have been some magic in that.

The china and linen on which we dined
turned into plastic trays on plastic sheets
and there we were, in a grade school cafeteria,
you, the new girl, and me, the class clown,
doing what I could to make the young girls laugh
because I’ve always loved the sound.

Later, on the drive back home,
you leaned across the console
and whispered a secret incantation
that changed the  keys in my ignition
into a set reluctantly handed over by my father on a Saturday night in June.

It sent my eyes scanning
for a place to tuck the borrowed wheels
so I could make you laugh some more,
and turn the volume down
on all your mother’s warnings.

What You Have

a-littleYou may have but a little,
a little skill,
a little knowledge,
a little hope.

Use it.

As you do, you’ll gather more
and polish what you already posses.
Do you only know two chords:
the major E and minor A?

Play them.

Play them till your fingers ache.
Play them till your eardrums leap
and your brain begins to tingle.
Do you only have two words in mind:
a subject and a verb?

Write them.

Write them till your pen runs dry.
Write them till they whisper something new to you
and your thoughts begin to vibrate.

Paint with the colors on your palette.
Dance the steps you learned last evening
when it pleased you so to learn them.

Love the ones in front of you,
the ones who keep staring at you
from behind their bowls of wheat puffs.

Love them first, for what they
and every other little thing you have
are providing
is the chance
to learn to love a great deal more.

Use it.

Too Much Information

too much information

Information again?
Didn’t we have that just last night?
And didn’t we pour it over a dry pair of biscuits
and have it for breakfast? Remember?

We had to wash it down with coffee, and when we were through
there was more of it,
enough to wrap and pack
in brown paper sacks
and we had it for lunch and we ate it on break
and we nibbled on the stuff all through our day.

And still we’re hungry.

Put that stuff away.
Seal the lid and set it back.
Let’s go out tonight and dine on better things.

We’ll start with an appetizer, a basket of conversation,
and when we’re finished
we’ll have an order of silence,
the comfortable kind,
the kind we used to wrap in wax paper and take along for later
on our trips to nowhere in particular. Remember?

We’d drive till we found a spot somewhere, some place beneath a field of clouds,
or we’d pull to the side of the road
and jump out of the car
to stand in the rain of star light.

Then one of us would fetch the silence,
unwrap it and break it in two,
and hand one half to the other
so we could share it and savor it.

That’s what I’m hungry for.

They’ll be information tomorrow. Let’s go out tonight.

The Various Ways of Ideas


ideasSome ideas slip beneath the covers
and tell you stories as you drift asleep.
Others pinch and slap and kick you,
demanding that you get up, get up.

Then there are those that accost you
right in the middle of the cross walk
as you make your way from curb to curb.

And one day, while you’re browsing the book shelves and holding a steaming Styrofoam cupful of Mocha Loco Whats-it-to-ya, you’ll look up and see one looking back at you through an open space in an eye level shelf in the bargain section where they keep all the good stuff.

And, oh, those eyes.
They’ll flutter and pop,
and you’ll see that knowing grin,
and you can bet your bottom dollar
that this one is dangerous.

Give It the Slip

give it the slip

Tell me what bores you, what leaves you feeling cold and frozen and longing for the end.

Now, do your best to escape it. Dig, scratch, claw, fight, run, or scream for help until your voice turns to shredded, desperate bits of whisper.

It’s killing you. Don’t pretend it isn’t just because you’re breathing.

Don’t let it tell you to be quiet. Don’t let it tell you to sit still and keep your hands folded. Don’t believe it when it promises you acceptance, a corner office, or a mansion in the afterlife. It will never deliver.

Once you’ve given it the slip, stop and catch your breath. And listen. You’ll hear something, but you won’t recognize it at first because you haven’t heard that sound in ages.

It’s you.

An Old Pen

an-old-penThe other pen made promises, but could never be trusted, always running out of ink before we reached the last page.
“It’s not you,” I said, “it’s me.” Then I headed for the drugstore.

There, I ran into an old pen I hadn’t seen in a while. We’d spent some time together long ago, nothing serious, just a few laughs in an old notebook I used to own, but still, I felt bad for having let it slip from my fingertips and having fallen out of touch.

“Look,” I said, “you have to understand, things were weird for me back then.  I was experimenting with graph paper and I had a three Moleskine a week habit.”

The pen just dangled there against the pegboard.

“Things are better now,” I said, “I’ve stopped ripping out the pages, a lot of my stuff is coherent. I got a cat.”

I reached out, touched the plastic. No resistance. The pen settled into my palm and followed me back home.

We started slow, a little underlining, a few phrases. The ink felt smooth against the paper as it made its way along the margins.

Next week, if all goes well, we’ll go downtown and search for a whole new notebook, one we can agree on. Maybe something college ruled, maybe no lines at all.

I don’t know. We’ll see. We’re beginning a whole new chapter.