Freezing that special moment,
when you kissed or smiled
or cried, with the only
words — your words.
Beautiful and sad and angry —
There are no other words in
Holding the moment to remember —
seeing the words you thought
only existed for that brief
moment and reliving the
Manhattan Cowboy I
My small child part —
(the part that misses
fruity cereal flavored milk)
it does not understand
those feelings of longing.
It sleeps and plays and
A smell wakes me from
childhood. I am lonely.
Leather and old cologne and
sweat. I can feel the
strength of the presence.
The memory and anticipation of
desires — I sigh and wait, knowing
what I’ve never known before.
The part of me which will end
this life knows the answer —
will I get my cowboy? Will
I be swept away? I need it.
The wide hat and tough
boots make sensations creep
through my heart and groin
and eyes — feeling I’ve never known.
The current part of me
is looking — weeding through
thousands. I’m looking
for the beautiful city boy
with bad habits I want to hate
and a permanent scent of leather.
How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me
I was once was lost
but now I’m found
but now I see.
Lord, deliver my James Dean
Bring him to me — to
take me and overtake me.
I can already feel his body.
I keep getting the same image of G in my head. Lying in the beautiful soft pink, a thread exposed on her lower lip, an imperfection. Something was odd about her mouth, it wasn’t right… it looked as though she were made of resin or wax. I can see the vacant expression in her sleeping face. In life she was fully expressive, day and night. It haunts me lately that I couldn’t touch her, couldn’t speak to her, couldn’t touch the casket after carrying it to the car. G would not have been proud of me. She would have been irritated with how weak I was and how I could not comfort Dad and Rita. Now I realize the horror. I ache because I cannot call her. I never called her, but she was always there. Now I have lost my opportunity. I pray I am not so cold to others. That face, the false face on my grandma’s shell will never leave me — I know that. And I guess I don’t want it to.
in memory of G, a mystery
Strange woman, you left us
wondering who you were and
why you couldn’t go on.
I waited and waited and still
thought I had more time — these
things don’t happen to me —
the strong always survive —
this should be the fairytale.
It’s not. Your secrets were
your secrets — tiny new pearls
in the oyster of your life.
That mussel was enough for
me. You secrets are now eternal.
Brent and I still made noise
(the irritating chatter you always
hated). We didn’t even try not to,
hoping you’d sit up and tell us
to cut it out. We miss you.
I never found a new gold bug
for you and I am sorry. I’m not
sure I really tried. Probably not.
I do not think I was kind to you,
lovely woman. Reverent, yes.
Respectful, yes. Committed, yes.
But kind…? Dear woman, I loved
you deeply. I hate the days
I put off visiting. I hate that I wasn’t
there at the end for you, though
I know you felt me there —
I pray you were somehow comforted
When I saw you, you were weak — very weak.
You were artificially alive with tubes and knobs
and gauges and buttons — it wasn’t you in
that shell. I could see you fight; try to get back —
get back to what…? I know you didn’t want this.
I cried for you — hard. Some of the tears were guilt
(I never did enough). Most was pain — separation.
I never wanted you to go and I almost couldn’t take it.
in memory of Mike Henson
Once again a death made me numb. But this time I finally cried, and I never cry when people die — I just can’t. But Mike… she was strong, mentally, physically. She became consumed with cancer, which trickingly fled the body and suddenly returned without warning… One final blow. There are not others like Mike and I am cold at the thought that I will never know others like her. Some people seem to never get sick or hurt — they spend their lives carrying others, nursing, loving. If we stop riding on the backs of these people, who seem happy to have us there, we might see them cry or cringe in pain from the awful weight of so many in need. These deaths are tragic. When the strong have gone, the rest of us must learn how to walk… must help each other to fill the shoes of the one we lost. When it set in — when the hard fact set in, I cried. I cried knowing that I would never see her loving stride, her tender and honest smile, her patient eyes. I cried. Every inch of me trembled at the terrible revelation of her now permanent absence. And somehow, peace has followed. Rest well, dear friend.
It is time to bury the youth — the naivete; put away insecurity and fear and doubt. It is time to mature — really mature and see the joy of being me. But sleep is more within reach just now — and I can mature when I wake.
I am the one who flew you in here —
from other places, places I haven’t been —
it was me. I can’t make you look at me —
my eyes, my lips, my hair, my waist
Don’t look, there is nothing to see
and I don’t want you looking anyway.
I believed what I was told about beauty and love
Nothing is inside.
I tried to produce a reasonable excuse for you to still be here and I get nothing.
I feel terrible that I may want you
and will never know you because of this world.
I can’t sleep with confusion and doubt
fear regret pain mystery hatred.
Can you be near me and soothe me
I ache and can’t stop running now
I have tried to run from you — stop chasing me and leave me alone
it is so cold here by myself.
I can’t live knowing I’m not loved
be quiet mind and put out the raging fires.
Gray may be all I know.
in memory of Daisy Duncan
I like to think that people never die – that they are indestructible. God sees things differently, though. Each time I am convinced of a person’s immortality, they die. And tragic deaths might make my suffering easy (forgetting the pain of the dying ones). However, God caters to the needs of many and takes them silently and without pain. You can’t understand Him, you can’t see his plan, but it is there and it is everywhere and you breathe it and you eat it and and and and. I can’t not move on anymore. must run. If I stop to have a chat I get attached and that’s when you cry (or get so upset you just can’t cry). When you love someone with such a strong love… I am going to let God do it all… I don’t want to understand. I will watch and I will cry until it is my turn to prove mortality (or my soul’s immortality).
for Jennie Lloyd’s baby
Enveloped in darkness —
surrounded by perfect blackness
(the comfort of mother
on all sides)
Grow gracefully, child of
Love — inside your peaceful shelter.
Your mother is special — young and
full of energy and wonderful
thoughts and hopes and you.
Kiss her often, precious
child of God.
Feel the smile you bring
to her face when
your mother sees herself
in you and sees
things she wishes she could be.
Be careful of the world.
Hold tightly to the hands
that guide and protect you.
Know when to run home and
when to soar free.
Sometimes parents need
a shoulder to cry on —
welcome that moment
and comfort those who need you,
child of Light.
Be who you know you are.
Don’t let the world hold you back.
You can be whoever you want.
I look forward to knowing you,
child of Jennie.
Gold Bugs Pt I
for G, who is always with us
Beautiful and unpredictable woman,
stop hiding your secrets in jewelry boxes
with your finest turquoise pieces – prized
possessions from a vacation, a former home
(I never really bothered to ask).
Can you see me reach my hand to you,
and still hold on too loosely? Can you
feel me slip away and turn away?
I am only gone a moment – I must
search for another of the rare golden bugs
we have spent many hours discussing,
all the while making no sound.
In France, I found one (and cried when
I heard you valued it). Where next?
Egypt, where they have lovely scarabs?
Or should I simply spray a cicada shell? –
a false, but dazzling interpretation.
It seems important to you (and is to me)
that I find these tokens, these treasures.
They enhance your warm face and make you
smile. Smile more – when you do I feel
warm and I decide to search for more bugs.
As I look into the face of a man 33 years postmortem, enough time for Jesus Time enough to realize -- to gain beliefs. He isn't watching over he is part of me. I can feel it in the way his eyes were blue and in the way he was Irish -- not fully, but enough. O'Hara -- O'Hara -- O'Hara. I praise him leaning on a door or a wall. I praise him wired with energy... too much energy. He made me an insomniac. He got away with it. If I make dots on the paper -- salty wet dots, it's realization, it's discovery! it's wow! And maybe I should go to a movie, buy some flowers and a new typewriter -- to peck away at in my own way. I long for lunch poetry and Joe LaSueur. Come Frank, I am waiting.
Dust and saltlicks and fuzzy caterpillars. I loved the farm. I often complained about the heat or stickerweed or the heat — such incredible heat. I was secretly relieved and secretly upset when G, with her parents moved into town. Where in town was the garden full of overripe squash and where in town were the cows, anxious for discarded watermelon or cantaloupe rind for dessert. They moved to be close to a hospital — to make certain they would have a place near for death. Poor G, it broke her heart, and us kids would sit around making all kinds of noise and she wanted to cry. Cry now, G, cry. Were off making noises in our own places — we’re grown now. We know you need a little peace — we will be quiet now.
I remember holding back tears as G told me how soft I was, killing the small insect — green and perfect. Moments before I observed it, now crushed. I felt like that creature — crushed.
The newness of morning would not yet have been cleared from my eyes as I would sit with my brothers on the floor in the living room to watch cartoons and eat cereal. We always drank the milk leftover from our overpouring. It was sweet and fruity, raspberry and cherry. I can’t forget the taste — the feeling of summer mornings. I can never feel that again. And my brothers with further complicated lives no longer sit by one another, but fight for the recliner — who can be most comfortable — and who will win…
We are still here on the cusp of all that is to come. At 21, in the 21st century, I still know nothing but pain and separation. People die quickly, and I have surrounded myself with them. G passed one week and one day ago, and Mike in August (Daisy passed sooner). I am on the verge of all that seems real and right, but I am pulled back by childhood friends, the gods and goddesses I needed. I feel more and more as loved ones die that I am growing a little more into a real man. Perhaps my father experienced such a growth this month, and I feel blessed that I have not had to grow on his behalf. The world is a different place and the ideals I cherish (those of the fifties sitcoms and fantasies) are dead. I think we will be better because of it, but I somehow am not consoled by that fact. I fear becoming my parents and I know that it is important – no – imperative that I do. I can’t believe that I can no longer visit western Oklahoma without feeling a great deal of grief. I thought I liked it just for the simple things. I guess it was always G. Sadly, I doubt it was Grandma McGuire — always G. I watched an eclipse with her shortly after her mother died. Christmas Day there was an eclipse. It all comes back to her eventually.
I am alone. I can’t think today, or work, or have a cup of coffee without
feeling like a fool — a lonely soul lost in the game, the life-waltz. Do my
parents understand — truly understand that to be me is to want, to
love, to long, to hate, to read, to grow, to cry, to laugh. Do they
realize that I haven’t changed since I first sprouted in this earth? I’ve been
tested and questioned. I am ready to turn in — to rest. There is a pile
of papers and twenty messages for me. I must do some work. Will I
ever be able to survive without the shade of my parents? Will I grow
in the full sun? And there in the sun, withering, will my parents be able
to see that I am as human as they are, and that I need them to help
shade the sun at times, but not to hide me from it completely. I long
for the danger I fear.
If I break a cup or a bowl in the living room of this dusty apartment, it
will just lie there for months. I can’t bring myself to pretend that I am
Welcome to the World
Welcome to life — to its infiniteness
Welcome to the new — the undiscovered — the uncharted
Welcome to your future — prepare for pain and joy
Welcome to love — to hate — to reality
Welcome to all that lie ahead — and your fear of it
Welcome to a time when everyone is better than you
Welcome to a time when nobody cares
Welcome to God’s little joke — to his humor
Welcome to this little green planet
Welcome to America
Welcome to a place where music is our god
Welcome to a place where TV dictates our choices
Welcome to the fairy tale — the Cinderella story
Welcome 5 minutes before the pumpkin
Welcome to the year 2000 — we didn’t die