Scenic Frosting

It is here at the waterfall where lovers unite and embrace,
and smile and pose, shrouded in hazy vignette.
Behind, the white column divides the cliff,
suggesting symmetry where none exists.
The balance is beautiful from below,
from a distance—

The white tongue laps up the same water it’s poured,
flinging glittering droplets into the air,
saturating the moment of romance,
which is beautiful from below,
from a distance.

However,

The real swell-in-the-chest euphoria
is to abandon what is safe and climb,
to look from above, from behind,
to peer down the mountain at
beauty born, lovely and new
So I climbed.

The stream it at peace with its fate as it accelerates to the edge
but I am unsettled and I follow the flow, chasing it
to its terminus, where the known unknown
draws me closer, closer to the edge.
I swell with energy and advance
toward the roar, to the edge
until I am looking down
over the edge
into the mist.

When there is no continuing on and the river drops
a settled soul might sigh and retreat
and descend safely to
postcard moments.
Scenic frosting.

But today, the river carries me
over the edge and I am
falling, falling, falling,
waiting to disappear
into the mist.

Afraid to Face the Light

HERE I EXIST IN THE SPACE BETWEEN STARS
AT THE FRINGE OF A SPOTLIGHT’S BEAM.
THE DARKNESS OF DUSK IS A BLANKET UNFOLDING
SPREADING TO COVER ME.

THEN THE SHUTTERS CLOSE
THE WINDOWS GLOW
AND THE MUSIC SPARKS THE NIGHT.
THEN THE DARKNESS TURNS
THE PIANO BURNS A SONG THAT SETS THE MOON ON FIRE.

BUT THEN THE MOONLIGHT FADES
THE SPOTLIGHT DIMS
THE STREETLAMPS TURN TO FROST.
THEN THE DAYLIGHT BREAKS
DREAMS DISSIPATE.
EVERY STAIN AND SCAR IS SEEN.

 DOES THE SONG GO ON
WHEN THE BEAT HAS STOPPED?
DOES IT LINGER THROUGH THE DAWN?
OR DO WE LOSE IT ALL
WHEN THE CURTAINS FALL?
DOES IT VANISH LIKE A DREAM?

I’M AFRAID TO FACE THE LIGHT
I HATE TO SAY GOODNIGHT
EVERY SHOW MUST HAVE ITS END
AND SO WILL MINE, MY FRIENDS.

 

I Am Fated to Meet Her One Day

I am fated to meet her one day
and as she awaits me,
weaving her stories as great authors do
and preserving evidence of her existence
on the flax paper of a burgeoning scrapbook,
I do my best to avoid her as I craft my own story
that at the moment seems to be going nowhere.

Nothing I invent rivals the vast arcs and clever ironies
the sadness and humor
the suspense and tranquility of her epic creation.
She is omnipresent
through my mundane tasks and mindless activities
through my successes and failures, which seem minuscule in the grand scheme.
What stories could this character inspire?
I never evade her pursuit because she is one step ahead,
always knowing where I’m going.

I am fated to meet her one day
whether I greet her at the front door
or let her sneak in through a pried window.
Fate will find her way in
and we’ll sit together
reminiscing on our story replete with pivotal moments and plot twists I’d missed,
all the clues neatly placed as in a perfectly unfolding novel that I didn’t quite get
until the very end.

Sleep

Sleep makes no promises

it is the riskiest moment of a day

a journey through an unknown passage

to an uncertain world

but certainly a fast-forward toward death

Sleep is the mercurial half-brother of consciousness

a blessing

a curse

elusive for those who crave a release from today

or avoided because it pulls closer the dread of tomorrow

Sleep is messy with savage dreams

that tease with hope

or terrorize with threat

Sleep has no language

It knows no peace

It is exhausting

It takes no rest

The Shells

Feel the crunching of the shells-
Helpless shells!
What a world of broken homes this grind foretells!
How they glitter, glitter, glitter
on the crowded beach tonight!
Gone are displaced crawling critters,
replaced now by piles of litter.
Stereos boom, boom, boom
and drunken parties loom.
Oh, how I long to hear
the ocean swells
from the shells, shells, shells, shells,
shells, shells, shells –
From the murmurs and the echoes of the shells.

Find those perfect, hollowed shells
Ocean shells!
What a barren world their scarcity foretells!
Their tenants ran, consumed with fright.
Plastic ice-chests they could not fight.
Their homes are in ruin,
and in shattered pieces float
On shallow water of a sandcastle’s moat.
On this dune
is not a single well-formed shell.
I begin to feel frustration swell.
Children yell.
Vendors sell
what will be trash! – hear me tell
Consumer greed they do compel.
We’re given things and dreams
but no shells, shells, shells.
But no shells, shells, shells, shells,
Shells, shells, shells –
Lost is the finding and collecting of the shells!

Ah, see the perfect ivory shells,
Pretty shells!
See them! See those shells that Sally sells!
Her booth was hidden by the night.
That big one’s mine– the price is right!
Cash, credit card, or even check
I buy and wear it around my neck.
The time is late.
Except for the few around a midnight fire
the crowds have gone
and to my desire
waves have risen higher, higher, higher.
The ocean is a choir.
I’ll sit here forever and ever
On broken shells or whatever.
Under the light of a brand new moon
On the shells, shells, shells!
On the shells, shells, shells, shells
Shells, shells, shells –
I’m wearing and I’m crushing all the shells.

shells

 

What the Guidelines Say

The guidelines say

who and how we may love

what we might say

what a woman should be

            all autonomy

unless she should desire to reject

the rigid role of dutiful wife and sell her appeal for a buck tucked under string

because the guidelines tell us exactly how we are to be free

and the guidelines say

how we should pray

and who we obey

and how it’s okay

to have our own way

as long as we stay

within God We Trust

and celebrate the holy day

of gingerbread men and candy canes

and the guidelines say

on whom we may prey

and whom to blame

when there’s sickness or disease

or murder or pain

and the guidelines say

how much a criminal should pay

and to whom he should write the check

and the guidelines say

we may tweak the guidelines

for those who are close

as long as no one knows.

Mister

(He is well-known so I won’t reveal his name)

I met him when I was young.

He lurked in an unmarked van near the school

and once moved into the vacant house next door.

He was a foreigner –

an intruder to our land.

As I aged

I realized

every night

he entered my home through the screen

and I watched him with suspicious eyes.

I erected walls,

secured locks,

but like a stubborn itch

he always reappeared.

He sat next to me on the airplane

as I quivered in my seat.

He tracked me through the wires,

threatening to steal my life,

and I spent my nights

awaiting the midnight tapping at the door.

 

Eventually

I would surrender to him.

He was my protector,

the one keeping me safe at night.

 

Until the drunken dinner

when I carved him up

soaked him in butter

and ate him

brushing off the parsley and chives

relishing every bite

postponing the certainty

this would later make me sick.

 

And now I am dying

of this terminal disease

called life.

 

Why was he always near?

And who was so cruel

to introduce me to fear.

Mister2