Sifting through your yellowed papers,
now dry as December's leaves,
words peeling like paint,
I lift them out of the old shoe box.
There at the bottom
as if waiting, was Dos Corazones, the Vikki Carr tape,
the tape we bought in Barcelona,
the one you asked for when you could speak,
whose name you scrawled on napkins
when your voice deserted you,
the tape that caused
us to laugh, kick back our chairs,
ignore hot meals, and give ourselves up
to the Spanish rhythms
in our narrow kitchen.
We danced as if sealed
in a miniature globe of falling confetti
deaf to the voices of life.
We'd dance in each other's arms
the Latin beat coursing through us
pulsing like another blood.
I turn the volume high.
The music, a torrential river,
floods rooms, attic, canals in my body.
I look skyward, call you, "Alfredo, can you hear me?
I found it! I found it! The tape."
Joy, like fire, sweeps through me.
Looking up, I throw my arms wide,
embrace you, feel your broad chest, your breath in my ear,
and we dance
Returning home from her MRI
my mother sat upright in her wheelchair,
bolted to the floor of a battered ambulette.
From her high perch above the city streets,
she let her fixed gaze wander
cross-town and up First Avenue,
recalling something that finally brought a smile.
Swathed in turquoise coat
cocked beret and pumpkin mittens,
she seemed a willing model for the latest
fashion statement - "Wish for Color."
I would pray for color in her life
Even whisk her out of this frigid zone
to some tropical banana republic
if it could counteract the cruel diagnosis -
atrophy of the brain - cells sloughing off
from white matter like falling snow,
gathering a dread avalanche of lost tissue
plunging her mind into darkness.
I stare at the pale blue flowers on the wall that will never
If my hands were not confined within their 200 thread-count prison,
I would tear each petal from the wall
just to see the seasons change.
Movement distracts everyone
from realizing each day they die more.
It keeps the inevitability from consuming them.
All I can hear is the waves crashing against folds of my brain.
Apparently I should be grateful that I survive,
but survival loses its novelty after twenty years.
You can't survive when you know you are lying
in a pastel coffin with flowers that will never die.
The muted walls, colored to calm me, only enrage
when all I can do is stare and imagine them ablaze.
MORNING IN SCOTLAND
On the table in a white bowl
two red, bulbous tomatoes
sprouting green spider stems
one banana with brown spots
yellow mug with blue striped lid
sit in companionable silence.
In the quiet room I listen
gurgling water in pipes
tiny mention of rain on window
crinkle of paper and pen
statements without words.
Alone in this kitchen
world going on without me
it is a good thing
listening to silence.
In this everyday hour
time apart; unrushed
I write a poem.
Don't look at me like that,
with your heart in your eyes,
beating for me,
waiting for me to say I want you.
It's a fact of my life that I do.
You know this, you and me,
You won't love me,
I won't stop.
I am close enough to see your pulse
racing in the soft spot at the side of your neck,
the spot where I want to rest my lips,
just for a second,
just to see if it sends chills down your spine,
like the chills that run down mine.
IS SOMETHING IN US
perhaps there is something in us
asleep within the folds
that cannot or will not
unless the precise circumstance allows
awakening from this quotidian delusion
some thing that requires us to obliterate ourselves
make us turn the other way
that things of us
are not aligned with us
and if they are
we do our damned best
to imagine or accomplish the failure
the subversion of which
we are apparently
from the start
in such a manner
untold not even whispered
that as a sovereign state
or single individual
we pull the cancerous bone
from the teeth of the beast
where this came from
as in war
and terror we cannot imagine
that in that moment
that deferment of belief
we are the one
who fired the shot
and died from the most mortal of wounds.
Benches in a graveyard
where workmen view the gliding pigeons
and the pinnacles of workmen's hands;
brown tombstones thin with the years
bequeath of a rustic time
when sunlight trickled trees.
Now the stones stand slim
and toppling, past monuments of grass;
while a city rises round
with elevated steel and gleaming glass
and rumbling wheels beneath the ground.
And on the benches sits the refuse
of the city's dark and shadow --
workless figures, clutching warmth in pockets
and life in humped-up shoulders.
out on a line
like winter clothes
to be freshened
what to keep
what to give away
what to use
in a poem
BY TURNER'S VENICE
AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND
the sound of color
more than the composition draws
viewers into its glorious and
to color a fascination both
matisse and painter of light
j.m.w. turner explored....dark
against light holds you with
its vigor and snap....plays
back like musical sound in