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Mother

You were born as they took Iwo Jima
Some distant drum, displaced hum
Trills in your soul- I plead to be heard
But we’ve already succumbed
These throes are just the undertow
And you’re a genuine tragedy:
What does that make me?

When they called you Mein F├╝hrer,
Snickering in scorn,
Describing to me a faded ghost,
But he was flesh when you were born
The comparison to you far closer
In the social memory:
Did it sting?

The nations united that year;
It’s staggering to think of all you saw
You travelled so long,
And what is your flaw?
Erased limbs, smudged names,
You’re a blank family tree:
You refused us any history.

I used to wonder what broke you;
Some kind of cataclysmic shatter
But your lies filling the vacant spaces-
It was the lies that mattered.
I used to think it was your wounds,
But your sins made you ill-
How murderous to love them still.

I sifted through what I thought I knew,
Through the ashes of your legacy,
I tried to know you
Calling your sin your lunacy
Because it’s crazy to deny reality.
Gentler to say you couldn’t love outside yourself,
Than that you wouldn’t love me.

All the tiny gestures
Overpowered by your refusals
Will I grow fangs?
You can be brutal
Especially when challenged
Your hatred burns in your eyes.
Is it my duty to eat your lies?

I’m gripped with sorrow
Over our scrapbook of farewells
And our hasty inscriptions
Still frames of ancient carousels
Frozen in snapshots:
It feels like you were never mine.
You had complaints; I had your crimes.

And after the last goodbye,
I won’t wish for more time.

And that’s a tragedy.


My Lord,

Darkness opens doors
Creaklessly restoring a closed world
I age backwards,
Curled up, a little girl,
I remember the pollen as
Glistening fairies in the sunlight
Sun caressing my skin as
My only gentle warmth, too bright,
But not too hot to touch
I run my attentive fingertips
Through the lush baby blades
Of life emerging in song and sip
Of dew and adamant assertions
Beauty in breaths of transformation
I felt the nature of existence
Railing against the aberration
Present in the shadows:
The travesty of grief,
Teeth set on teeth, cold expectations,
Distorted affections and beliefs,
And I was weak and gasping
Under those grasping hands
Panting between in bright reprieves,
Warring with the dark demands
Crushed in full view,
“A pity,” and, “a waste”
But in the sky some fierce burning beauty
Radiated the idea of grace

Impossible to smother or erase.

Through the door I step,
I see. I recall the days
In sudden omnipresent detail
Inhaling full bouquets
I begged for an end, or
A true start
Torrential tears filling the moat
Incapable of protecting exposed hearts
Standing in full view
Bruised and stripped bare
Subject to untold beatings
Distasteful in the public square,
But unimpeded.
While under knuckle and condemnation
I watched the sky, I,
Caressed by warm salvation.

In me, these moments live
Because I lived; I still do
For with my death folded into Yours,
My life now flows from You.


Down, Down, Dowry

I’ve carried at the caved nape
All my years of able legs
A gilded locket, golden draped
Around my beating chest
Locked inside its welded clasp
Designed to keep her tokens sincere,
Pressed against the giggle or the gasp,
Always treasured, always near

I’ve worn an empty locket.

She charges me for the contents:
Her lost collage of rhapsody
My engraved portent
Of heartache and tragedy
I absently sign receipts
Confused at the entries
Written as fanciful deceits:
She was always empty,

The chain at my neck,

The great weight of neglect
Desires of intimacy and innocence
In perpetual shipwreck:
Love entangled in hindrance,
Tossed to dark waters
Sinking in a murky pocket
Struggles the useless daughter
Against the heavy, empty locket.


An Old Toll

I can’t know
How old I was on the day
She birthed me,
But the years grew gray,
Weathered, worn,
In their ancient stay

Speaking colloquially-
In the familiar vernacular-
Whispering ages past
As seasons pass by in practical
Little miracles and tiny deaths
Erupting into the spectacular.

But the sunsets sing hymns
To my parched old soul
How they danced, holding out hands,
But I was always too slow
To support or defend my friends;
To make amends for my role,

Or the severity of my toll.


Heavy Constellations

I tried to reach you today
Sending flares into the black space
Out beyond and expanding farther
I shrank in my place
As it lit up regions of the starless void
But you weren’t really there
I offered you one more chance
To take my burdens, to take care
To reverse the polarity that aged me
In ways for which I am commended
But if I could spin back the years,
Return what descended,
And curl up secure
In a warm star

Today I would,
But the stars we may see,
Burned to death before our time;
You answered, but haven’t been home.


Barely Grown

I couldn’t have known then
Dirt roads get paved
Feet fell on earthen grooves
Before Rome’s single day
Of wide lanes of stone.
The dusty days we saved
Laid a language of soul
My feet alone still obey
Through the underbrush
We spun new wheels,
Laughing at sudden freedom
Wild children, quick to feel
Slow to reconsider
Cannonballs in murky lakes
We came, we saw, we conquered
Tiny moments of immortality breaking
Like endless sunrises
And ever incoming tides
These optimistic assurances
Weren’t born from pride
But blind faith
Followed by organic baptism
Amniotic waters watch no skies,
They see no future cataclysms to deny,

And our sun-drenched youth
Walked bare roads in bare feet
Towels and clothes over a shoulder
Stopping in the street
To giggle gratitude to a tinted sky.


A Stitch in Time

My life is a patchwork quilt.
Borrowed bits and loose threads
From unexpected alliances
And found familial homesteads,
We sewed together in passing circles
Loyalty in the Sunday hymns
Sewing memories we knew
We wouldn’t wear again.
Stitching laughter, sipping lemonade,
Closing our eyes in the welcome breeze
Every new remnant represents
A new family tree.
Every limb gets a showing.
Nothing is lost in the seam.
My life, the patchwork quilt,
Sewn by sun and moonbeam,

Redeemed by stitches.