Friday, February 26, 2010

Asleep or Awake

What is it that we're really saying when we wish for other things?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vignette IV-Unfinished

Another cold and dreary day

to set along the other cold and dreary days.

A steady drizzle covers my eyeglasses despite the large hood covering my head.

People appear as islands even more so on rainy days.

A young boy runs in circles in front of the Federal Reserve,

ignored by his mother but not by the homeless man who watches him.

A baby in a stroller sits under a blanket several feet away

from the same mother, ignored, too.

Water from a puddle soaks through my cheap shoes, chilling my toes.

Inevitably, someone will say, “At least it’s not snow.”

The rain does nothing for this ugly city.

Inside, the woman sitting at the front lobby desk never has anything to do.

She stares dreamily out the glass walls,

she can’t really be seeing the city with that look on her face.

She poses quietly, like a woman in a 19th century painting, a Degas counter girl

or a dance rat; a woman bathing or brushing her hair.

She, too has no privacy.

Even on the elevators we are watched.

And we watch ourselves in our reflections in the doors.

We watch each other but time still seems to fly by us

like a silver streamer in the wind.

What is it that we gain from watching?

Monday, February 15, 2010


This Saturday I am scheduled to attend an all day training class at a hospice. I have volunteered for the so-called "11th Hour" program, which if not obvious from the name means being with the dying in their last moments if they so request.
I'm nervous. Clearly this isn't something I want to mess up. But, I've wanted to do this for quite some time. My father died in the same hospice organization nearly seven years ago and I was so impressed and grateful with their care, and would like to be a part of that.
I don't fear death. I fear lots of things, but not death. I fear growing old, being laid-off from my job, never doing what I am meant to do, being ordinary and/or bourgeois, marriage, babies, menopause, heights. But death is just the way we move from one mode of existence to another. If I am able to assist someone in that transition then I would feel like I've done valuable work in my life. I also hope I can bring comfort to those who remain after their loved one has died; what a tough place to be in life. In a poem I'm working on I wrote,

Grief doesn’t lie.

It is sharp, penetrating,

a deliverer of the inconsolable and undeniable facts

that once given will eventually leave,

though slowly,

easing its way out the door.

This should be quite a learning experience, I look forward to it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

When I Was Happy

Happiness is not a memory.

Remembering is as Vast as Forgetting

I remember every sky

and how the light shone

or how it did not shine.

I remember every ocean

long after it has become an unfamiliar touch

and all that remains is a moon-like energy that lacks intuition.

The burden of light.

The resistance of water.

Every breath a new beginning

yet every day people die, and some of them I love.

And they die.

And they die.

Doesn’t the universe ever grow tired of me?

Stupid, damaged, holy fool that I am.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Vignettes I-III Unfinished


The homeless man is shaving this morning. He stands out on the sidewalk, no water, the cream on his face a shock of white against his brown skin and layers of clothing all the same dark gray-green color. He uses a cathedral window covered in a black iron grill as a mirror. There is nothing in the air but the smell of shave cream, held in place by cold, gray clouds.


The tropical plants are now mixed with poinsettias and oversize Christmas decorations and a pattern of golden light shimmers on the low ceiling above the fountain. The reverberations of voices mix with water that here gushes up, there falls down over blue tiles.

Sometimes small birds fly into the lobby and for a while live in the Ficus trees and find crumbs of food on the restaurant floor. Often they fly up, up high above to the windows that look out over Fourth Street, maybe to their old home, and they sit on the ledge and watch. Then one day they have disappeared.

The walls of the lobby are covered in a thin veneer of travertine, as any Louis Kahn influenced building would be. Behind that a harsh, rough gray concrete, behind that the offices that surround this lobby of restrained tropics and giant Christmas tree ornaments. The water and glass and stone are all carefully orchestrated to create a place, a mood, maybe a feeling of self satisfaction that not even a tiny bird lost on the inside looking out should disturb.


It seems in an effort to fashion a decorative theme to create a calm environment, the opposite happens. So it is with hospitals and so it is with this office. Tan may be considered a neutral color but once it is the repository of so much dissatisfaction it becomes anything but neutral.

To see the same color on walls, on partitions, on desks feels claustrophobic; the only reprieve for the eye is the carpet which is a couple of shades darker than everything else and scattered with flecks of red and purple.

The windows, if one is lucky enough to be near them, are almost always filthy, a quality that is enhanced on dark and dreary days of which lately there have been plenty.

The windows are like many other features, meant only for certain people. So are real walls and doors, and furniture made with solid wood.

Those that reside in these special places are primarily men, overwhelmingly white, with wives and children, of which they often complain about, and are so deep in debt that they will never escape.

Between Hell and Reason

"Politics and the fate of mankind are shaped by men without greatness. Those who possess greatness are not in politics." Albert Camus

"Patriotism is a way of loving one's country that consists in never wanting that country to be unjust, and in telling it so. But patriotism itself has never been enough to make men rise to the strange struggle that is theirs. There must also be the delicacy of heart that feels repugnance at each compromise; the dignity the bourgeoisie lacks; and in a word, the capacity to say no." Albert Camus

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Late December

In the woods, today even the birds are quiet.

The sun is bright and blinding, defying its December temperament.

It’s good to see much is still alive in the winter.

The water in the creek will be long gone by summer

and delicate branches,

like so many Chinese brushstrokes,

will be hidden by April.

What is it this world wants from us?

There are times when the loneliness is so intense

it becomes a sharp anxiety

and there is nothing to do about any of it but wait it out

until it subsides

and reverts back to its regular ache.

At least here, surrounded by the ageless,

being alone becomes a minor tragedy.

Even this wanting to die

means nothing when placed against it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


There was a time when I knew everything.


creator of new worlds,

no longer earth bound.

The light was consumed by my heart

and it dispersed throughout, down to the marrow of my consciousness,

my dreams altered.

Now I stand on the edge to nothing,

of being unknown.

What a relief.

The things that mean the most can’t be explained

and I’m unable to name what has been possessed,

it lives only in the silences now.

As when I was a little girl, I pass my fingers across my lips,

closing, then locking

and toss away the key.

Today I watch as birds drop from the trees like little brown leaves,

momentarily staining the light through the branches

Let it go, let it go,

let all of it go.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Certain Slant of Light"

Stopped at a red light I looked in my rear view mirror and was laid low by the evening sky a dark blue with no pinks or golds just deepening blue before darkness. I felt an urge to drive off into that blue light and then run and run and keep on going into that sky and not stop for anything (there has to be something better than this now life). And then I remembered being young and seeing that same sky in a different place and a different time and a feeling of comfort came over me so sweet. Wistful for youth.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Stormy Night

I dreamed I was laying in bed in the bedroom of the house I grew up in. Was my father still alive? I heard the wind blowing from the snow storm and dreamed it was the wind making the tree branches scrape against the bedroom window. I remember the tree that stood so close to the house. I thought to myself I would rearrange the furniture the next day so that it was as it used to be. Why is the bed here instead of where it's always been? Who was in the house? I sensed my father. There was a light on somewhere outside my room, a golden, warm glow. In the dream, I was aware of my boyfriend lying next to me as he lay next to me in my sleep.
Eerie how real it all felt.

I woke up with a gasp, a bit afraid, and struggled for a while trying to locate myself. So disoriented. Here I am, in my home, far away from what has not been my home for 25 years. Hours later and I still can't shake this dream.