If I were to write a thank you poem,
I would address it to everyone whose lives have touched mine
and there would be lots of unspoken words in the background
like clouds in a blue sky on a desert photograph
and there would be plenty of salty ocean tears
because it is so hard to say goodbye and there would be lots of joy
because of the new babies coming into this life bringing their own
amazing innocence and some crying out loud
over the silliest inconsequential things because
so much is below the surface of this sweetness and I cannot begin
to thank you enough for all the life, love and weary wonder you have
invested in me though you might think it small,
I will carry it deep inside this well of memories
somewhere way back along this winding trail that moves like a snake
sometimes touching its luscious body flank to breast, tail to tip of nose
and like tiny kisses, I will remember your patience,
your kindnesses, and hope you will forgive
the ways in which I may have been less than kind along the way
less than aware in the times I forgot to say goodbye or good morning
because it’s too late for that now
and while I can still remember who you are
and what it looks like I will draw you a Raven
the way a child would do with a pencil
or a crayon and just a
few wobbly lines and
you may not recognize it
but that’s okay and
I will dedicate it
There’s something about a birthday,
not the cakes or the ice cream or the presents
or the parties – that’s just noise to me – though
it works for some and I get it that celebration,
for many, can be cool and sweet like watermelon
or cantaloupe on summer days in the back yard
at Grandma’s, or something as simple as
ordering a milkshake at a drive-in window,
once upon a time and long ago, but
what birthdays bring to my mind are friends…
and more friends, those I’ve just seen and those
I’ve forgotten about and am reminded of
yet again, like clockwork, like when the bell rings
on the old Grandfathers’ clock in somebody’s
living room, even though there are no yearly bells
on clocks that I know of… but wouldn’t that be sweet,
to have your own birthday bell clock that rings out
clear and bright – like a memory of a domino game or
a special jigsaw puzzle done together or a certain
swim in the rain in that ancient New England pond
or the call of the Loon or the hike up to
Conundrum Springs in Colorado or that cave
we crawled into on the river in Bend, Texas
once upon a time and long ago on a birthday
somewhere in time…. some day,
when we have passed on by these days
like ghost towns on a lost highway
and all we have left are some well used
memories furnishing our imaginary houses
in some spirit world after time, where
there is no bell, no clock, no rain, no birthday
to remind us of who we once were, the only
thing we may or may not share with our
imaginary friends in the imaginary ponds
of the great beyond may be these memories
that make us laugh or cry or something
in between and wait, isn’t that you calling now
to wish me a Happy Birthday, just when
I was thinking about you?
I want to have a lap dance with Fate
I want Fate to stand naked in front of me
and jiggle her boobs with her shoulders lifted
and her arms outstretched like Marilyn might do it
with her red lips and a sparkle in her eyes
I want Fate to turn around and arch her back
just a little bit so her butt is close to my face
and then I want Fate to tempt me
the way she did when I was ten years old
holding a firecracker in my hand
with a short fuse. I want it to hurt if I
reach out and touch her skin
I want Fate to spread her legs and inch up
close to my mouth. I want to want it so much
that I drool. I want my eyes to get out of focus
just because her crotch is so close that I can’t
breathe because inhaling her perfume would
drive me wild. I want Fate to wrap
her angel wings around my body so tight
that I feel her nipples and her belly button
and every crease and fold and soft hollow
and then I want Fate to get all wet
and then I want Fate to want me to tempt her
the way she tempted me.
I want Fate to want me to fix her car
or patch her screen door. I want Fate
to ask me if I have a hammer in my truck
and can I hang a picture in her bedroom.
On my way to the airport one day,
It looked like the shadow of a flying dog
That might have been jumping for a Frisbee.
Or maybe he was tossed up by his loving owner
The way a father might toss a baby up high
To watch it laugh as it free falls
And is caught squarely and surely
By those hands that never miss.
Or maybe he was jumping
From a footbridge into cool clear creek water
Just because he loves to swim
And he thought he saw the shadow of a fish
Or maybe he was Bungee jumping
From a cable car in the Swiss Alps,
Deputy Dawg on a European vacation
Or from a hot air balloon near Cattle Creek in Colorado
Or maybe he’d just jumped off the tailgate
Of a beat up old blue pickup in the piney woods
Of East Texas, where he loved the smell of the cows
My Grandfather fed every day with range cubes and hay
And he just couldn’t wait another second
To hit the ground running for the those trees
And those cows and that scent so strong
He could almost taste it.
What if our lives were one poem after another,
one song, one work of art, one act of grace,
one moment of inspiration, one dance in some
loved one’s arms, one sigh of amazement,
one heavenly swallow of wine or watermelon
juice on a hot summer day, one hummingbird
hovering over a red cardinal flower nearby,
one bite of buttery biscuit and milk gravy
with sorghum molasses the way they used to
make it with a mule walking in a circle around
a sugar press, an ear of corn dangling just beyond
reach and what if that one more poem, that
one more kiss or drink of wine or flash of color
or splash of cool clear water or dance with that
electric touch of exquisite desire were the need,
the temptation, drawing us on into that circle
slowly grinding the cane of this fabulous existence
a story written in the field and sweet, like molasses.
Perhaps I reveal too much of myself, too much of what
connects me to the history of man, the aching need, the
tremulous salivating magnet of lust too deeply buried
beneath the surface of rational excuses to understand
that one can only look at it like a mountain or an ocean
and either plunge on or look for an alternate route. So
give me a simple path and let me have hope at least, a
thinly disguised replacement for lust, something that will
get me through another day or month or year if I should
be so lucky. Once I walked through days like rose arbors
at a wedding, nothing but promise and peace but today
there is a bruise on my left heal and my head aches and
my heart sinks when I look into the eyes of yet another
homeless person on the street. With every smile they
offer me, I am speared to the wall of my own limitations.
Why can’t I do more? Why can’t I be a better person?
Why can’t I help others in ways I would help myself?
I would do away with this overarching swollen petticoat of an ego
always struggling with self-importance
and the the beast inside this body would charge along the fence line
looking for an opening
the new beast would draw pictures in the sand,
carve images into walls, build homes out of stones
paint with sticks, swim in hot springs, cold springs, mountain streams, oceans, rivers, ponds and lakes
the new beast would walk for days in forests and dig holes just for fun,
lay out at night under the stars, play the flute, guitar, piano, drums, paint naked women, birds, dragons, chickens, trees and drink water from a stone cup,
make cradles from trees and find peace, find peace, find peace, find peace inside.
There may be some logic to it
but I seem to remember you all
at unexpected times.
Some of you are gone now
and some just gone from my life
but still here, somewhere.
And you, you left this marvelous world so many years ago,
was it 1983, when you taught me
how to saw and nail?
We built a doghouse together.
How old was I then, do you remember? Which dog was it?
I can see you there so clearly
as if I had a Poloroid snapshot of the scene.
You were the best ever.
Why did you have to leave when you did?
I know we can’t live forever, but why then,
why couldn’t we have said goodbye
one last definitive moment,
one more reassuring gap-toothed scruffy bearded grin?
What kinds of mysteries are unraveled there,
wherever you are now and is it
or what exactly? Are you happy?
Is Momma Osie there with you?
She had to spend so many years alone without you.
Sometimes she thought I was you.
Sometimes I glance in the mirror and think the same thing.
I miss you so much.
I wish I could have been a better Grandson to you.
Now I just have to try and be
the best Grandfather I can
and I think of you a lot.
I am blessed with eyesight
and all these other ways
of feeling the world
some may have hidden senses,
intuition, instinct, premonition,
some say they sense the ghosts
of the dead, what the future holds,
maybe even the ability to read
an energetic imprint of events
long since hidden beneath
time past. Goodness knows
its hard enough to learn the truth
from books and videos,
all that hidden thought and intention
rushing along beneath the surface
an urgent, unknowable and irresistible
force moving us in many directions
that only time will reveal.
I am blessed with hearing
and so I sing and listen.
I am blessed with skin that feels
and reacts to breath and moisture
and sound and my body trembles
in excitement poised on the edge
of a cliff of anticipation.
I wander the world
in search of high place
from which to fall. You appeared
and the fall was deep and long
and the wind rushed over me,
the moisture softened and excited me
and your skin… I can still feel your skin
in my thoughts these many years past
and there are goosebumps
on my arms and face
and I am blessed.
I wake at 3 a.m. and climb out of bed
as if it were a tree-house
I lean against the trunk of my dresser drawers
and stumble round the roots
of my discarded laundry.
There isn’t much to see or do at 3 a.m.
unless the toilet can be considered
Interesting in any way.
I offer my opinion on the mundane
nature of existence
even as I complicate every little aspect
of this insanely marvelous life I treasure.
Yoga with the ladies, visits with the boys
letters and drawings and pictures
from the grand-kids,
friends, golden and ripe
as peaches ready to be eaten
and still on the tree.