Schwinn Twin

I’ve always been the bent spoke in the wheel at that violent angle proving vicious to lower limbs, Perhaps this is why I kept distance from others.

I guard my independence fiercely; it has a presence others may find bristling. But nothing is as it once was as I soften. Trouble is, I’ve already driven off hope of merging in polite society.

Expectations brown & fade, providing nutrients for a softer medium. I still hope to grow. I really tried to stay on the beaten path, but being born in wilderness outs too readily. Once I walked city streets, though, blending in.

Now I’m torn between returning to my roots & simply getting comfortable where I am.

Now I understand knowledge to be hollow, “can’t” to be a form of surrealism, certainty to flex, Life to be a wild & untameable event.

Dear Time,

I’ve been trying to catch up to you for a longish stretch now. You got away from me a bit ago – what happened there? Was it in Nashville where we shared so many deadlines; where you became a steeplechase run at full gallop, full of fences & water hazards but where you mainly surfaced as Total Taskmaster?

Was that where I pushed back from the table, starving & sated both? Was it where I first perceived your importance & indifference (& impotence)? For surely at that time, you started to slip now having lost traction altogether.

(If Time were a racehorse, it was riding me with a brutal bit bruising my mouth. Foolish with faux power & authority, I was fooled into feeling in charge.)

Now you spin on your own axis. Now you wobble along scarcely missing other planets. I ride your edge but am no longer certain of my own boundaries. I have seen too much, heard too much; bled too much, lied too hard. I knew no better at the time.

Forgive me?

Can we be friends? Can we drop the Master/Slave relationship? I just can’t hold on that tightly anymore. Times have changed, hell, we both have. Boundaries & dynasties blur as I grasp for my place within these. I arrive to find I stand in the center of the Hall of Mirrors.

One by one my systems fail your tests. Words burrow under the surface when I try to speak them. Ideas change color or come so clear as to be invisible when I rely on them thinking these individualistic & whole.

And, Time, what have we wrought with the physical? Good grief! I so miss being beautiful, moving fluidly, the casual fearlessness. Hesitation becomes caution, caution a transparency of hesitation. Hey, I don’t mind mortality – I mean, we all die to the third dimension as we move into others. Perhaps I find that much-touted stance of Youth just plain boring now.

I like my wisdom. I enjoy filtering all you teach me through experience. I am certain of less & less. You, too, have lost certitude & lack surety.

Okay, this is how it is: I started this thinking to point out how far in the lead I am, or you are. But I now see we are so intertwined…walking together, neither leading, both leaning into each other.

I left at arrival & still search a destination only to find the walk is all there is.

Pre-Post Covid

A long set of poems borne of lonely anger. Covid is not my illness, but it may have bested me – financially, figuratively & finally. Were I suicidal, I would already be dead of it. See my images as your own but don’t dwell here long. Love, Carol

THE DISEASE OF UNEASE

How can I not miss all that I miss?

A body so warm beside me

The wash of the sea

That salt-morning light

A family

So soon it all changes

Once again the more & the less

Will lead me a dance divine:

The motherless child

A fatherless girl

A sister-less life

A brother unknown –

The nights like this:

A season at end; another not begun

A time of silvered stars

The rime of the horizon

A single setting at table

A single serving.

I no longer complain or marvel

I am simply through it

Through with it

I long for a bosom

To weep upon

A tickle to laugh, a limerick rhyme?

I yearn for a life which will never be mine

My nights spent alone on the staircase of time

Not poems that wait till the last word to rhyme.

STEEL MIMICRY

Bold as brass, I steer forth upon my course

Unstayed by wind, by aching hands

By sullen feet

My eyes sore of missing faces

My heart salted by loneliness & faintly sour

Faulted by sinecure of sin

I have climbed over decades

Searching an easier path

Than this, uneven stone & shale.

I have bared my soul a thousand times

Only to redresss it, bringing it home

To sleep beneath my pillow.

NOTES

The music defines the moment

One key on a piano

Tapping against time

The days all lit. I gather change about me

Cashmere in comfort

I see my way clear to home

While night approaches

A feral cat, seeking succor

A black thing with green eyes

A pat upon its head

A sufferance for food.

A narrow bed

I am grateful to rest into

The universe hangs upon my wall

A purple swag of planets to behold

A memory I live at the center.

THE POST-COVID WORLD

A 50-50 chance

Of having a car

A place to live

Food to table

I am no soldier

Yet somehow signed up to march in this lockstep dream

Before the lemming rush

Before the bodies take, wingless, to air

I have my life lived already

Enough to spin in front of me

No matter the height from which I fall.

THE READING

I look to you, my divinations

The round cards before me

Shaping a Celtic Cross

You unfold a fervor of vision only

Dizzying with foresight

My place in the middle

Where spirals emerge

A past with a future

Equally in balance

The to & fro of tidal life

The iron in my blood magnetized

To what I cannot say

By what I will not do.

I am agreed to stand the middle

To straddle lies & truth

To make my unequal way.

I remember the solitude of perfection

Once the pattern

Now tilted all a-side.

HOME ALONE

Now defined by idleness

Not sanity.

I feed a neighborly cat

I water sixteen plants

No expectations left

In polite society

For such an isolate as me

A hermit in the cave of time

Lacking the charcoal to

Slash a day – one day

Upon the wall.

And in this heartless stripping away

A promise is uncovered

A fan of words to hold the heat of hell at bay.

KEENING

I know I am enough for heaven

To gather wings around me

To live in former gravity

My pockets full of sins, like rocks

Will wings be strong enough to carry me?

Is even God enough to forgive the unlived life?

“I AM INNOCENT!”

I supinate my palms

One arm crooked, trembling with effort

“You cannot accuse me!”

But my voice is lost in the courtroom’s

Bloody effulgence of noise

The judge looks away

Shifting papers for dates & times

My wrongdoings rendered evidence

Disappointed to find me

Still sequestered to life

Without parole.

THE YOGINI & THE TWICE-BROKE ARM

The yoga chart behind the door

Bought in faith

The mounted visual aid

My self-improvement swear-in

Dust takes longer to gather there

My twice-broke arm cannot hold the rag

Let alone wield it true.

There was a time

I would have bulled through to be a Hero

To attempt a headstand on eternity

Now? Not even Happy Baby!

I am yet recovering from Shivasana.

IN POINT OF FACT

I have no refills

The pens run dry

Down to pencils

Yellow & thin

Reluctant to record my life

This is what is left of me:

A disembodied voice

A nursery rhyme unremembered

A fool to even care

The last to recall my name

Will end me once for all.

ONCE UPON MY TIME

I only wanted a chance to tell my story

To bare my breast, not beat upon it!

I only needed proof of life

Beyond my departure from it.

I guess coming in without a plan

Except to be here

Was a poor idea

An existential fly

In the non-existent ointment

After all.

GROWING

So this is what it means to age

A pick & choose among the words I’ve swept before me

Blossoms baked & dried in the sun of another’s regard.

I even forgive myself this confessional moment

This bedraggled accounting in want of smiles!

I forgive my independent ways

My chancy decisions

The long dusty distances ventured from home.

I forgive the litter of life

The loitering debts, the trespass of my passing

My feet remain unbound

My vision unhindered

My grim will, undeterred

To live my way

To live light & shadow

In all of it, the only me

The best I know to be.

CHURCHES

I remember when I prayed aloud with many

Rather than alone, on paper

Furtive, a dark morning becoming chill

Soft notes playing.

I remember gathering like minds together

Under a domed roof

“Be still & know”

Where I sit amidst a chorus of cactus

A muted hum accompanying all grace

Needing no permission to sing

(Now all subversive in song

Transmitting death on a holy note…)

I have lived in times when children were ripped

From my arms to die by the sword

I remember when I did not look down

Till the hand on my neck forced me

I knew these words, tho not how to write them

I knew these formulas, results never changing

But I have less to live for now

So I write them with impunity.

Come, cut off my hands

Dissect my heart’s four chambers

Brain me unsensible.

I am impervious to curses

A stalwart divinity of One.

I have lived a life seeking eight noble truths

You cannot harm the God in me

Nor divest the Goddess in every cell.

Come, do your bloody worst

I am a stringy old woman with bad teeth

The perfect victim

My findings will never be that for which you search.

My submission will ever be a taint upon your hands

I will not even hate you tho I’ve left love out of it.

Wherein I dwell – that innermost altar you’re seeking to augur out?

Still intact & whole as a Temple

I am barefoot for I stand on holy ground.

THE DOGS BEGIN TO BARK

Brought outside their bedroom dens

Urged from oval, braided rugs

Where their paws tapped a Braille of dreams

Packs & pacts forsworn

Rudely chained to guard posts

In the chill of Autumn mornings

Barking to fill the spaces you once held.

HABITUAL HUNGER

Humanity stripped from inhuman times

Truthsayers hoarse in accusation

The walls of communication

Lined in silk.

But truth wears sturdy shoes

Stands impervious to false victory.

You cannot have the morning!

You may live in the land of no clocks,

Yet all I hear is ticking.

Writing Life

In the photo above, I am reassured of my worth…I wonder that I ever doubted it. This “now” is one where facts are proven not to be, where wishes lack the power of story, where no information can be trusted.

The separation is so powerful, we doubt we exist at times, let alone that others do alongside. We see them, we hear them, we know them. Then we query their place in our lives – even as we reach for their hand to hold, pinching slightly to prove this tenuous reality.

In Nashville, I raised morning glories from seed on my patio. I put long window boxes under the patio railing & planted them. They grew up the rails of the balcony & softened the view of the beautiful golf course the apartment bordered. I do not recall if they had a scent. I do recall their heartful intensity in growing, tiny tendrils climbing against gravity, waving about. Perhaps they had an inaudible chant: “What can I hang on to? Where am I going? When will I get there?” Despite these valid questions, they simply trusted their sole task & grew, putting out delicate flowers. Tho I echo my own cosmic questions, we reach out together, wrapping ourselves tightly around the best & only life available.

The blossoms appear overnight. They open every morning. I’d like to think that I do too. Each midnight dream gathers love, deep & velvet, fragile, tentative & somehow secure.

In my stony New Mexico backyard, the morning glories I did not plant appear each September, resurrecting from dry brown wisps clinging to the cyclone fence. This September they showed up on the other side of the yard – I watered them gently, wondering if they would discover the laundry rack & as you see, indeed, they did.

I keep driving away life & from life. I cannot escape, but the thought I can draws me forth into the void. I am never out of touch with my divinity, but sometimes it is too remote to grasp. My bouquets at the wedding of life are clouds atop the mountains I scaled to marry stars.

Love,

Carol

Random Poems

SHALL I

Shall I only grow tired of breathing my last

And breathe my first

Sucking in air never before tracing lungs

Wailing it out in objection to death

Shall I only toss a dark crust upon snow

With a prayer mighty enough to summon dragons

Beathing that air towards me on mighty pinions

Mouths ringed in flame, nostrils glowing

Shall I only then sail the lasso

Around a silken-sinewed neck

The rope blessed by saints, not slayers

As the beast rolls jeweled eyes to me

A sudden captive, noting my shivering newborn state

Shall we only fall in love that moment

The shocking recognition we are meant for each other!

The careful & tenuous reaching of flesh to flesh

And the song become a whisper

Shall I thus become truly dead upon this knowledge:

We are all kin! The newness breaking my back with joy

That I crack open, my long, leathered tail so long upcoiled

Unfurling ‘pon the cold – barbed of tip & gleaming

Shall I only reach once, the points uprising

From arms of coarsened scales

To end in claws of lengthened crystal

Shall I brush off all the bindings

Uncaring of the danger

As he winds his neck so gently about mine

Shall we leap as one from beyond gravity

Into clouds too thin to hold us

Yet they do.

DONE

“I’ve been there.” Says the brain

With a snap.

Then closes

Leaving only senses

Expansive in the brilliance

My eyes binocular, drinking the horizon

My nose awake to the synesthesia of color

My fingers in scintillant discovery of wind

My mouth agape to oceanic morning

MIRRORS

There is no hope but holiness

Should I wander in this desert

Seeking others

For there are none about but mirrors

So I therein seek my answers

TALENTLESS

I am no artist

No font of beauty

To emerge from sticks or paints

I cannot work with plywood

Building houses for the homeless

My arms afford a pen alone

And paper

There words pour out like landscapes

Over which come sudden stars.

TOGETHER

The front of me behind you

Pressed in, curled around

My crooked arms enfolding

All that’s left me of love & light

The bones within my fingers

Never to be straight again

But somehow cradling

The heart they tap

In silent rhythm.

ENDS

There are margins drawn of boundaries

Beyond the edges of my vision(s)

Etched upon the stony fences

Built so fiercely from my love

They do not stir upon windstuff

Nor give to seas approaching

No expansion – no contraction

Unrelenting as the hardness of a mother’s heart

To a death-cry as she births her child.

LOST

The cave of words, of wonder

Where the morning never reaches

To alight its crystal walls

Where the stars shine on the hour

As the minutes race the clockface

As the seconds all crescendo

In a click.

I have lived here, seems forever

In a solitaire of nightfall

I, unmade by darkness,

Untold in prayer,

Unwept of tears

A forever of suspense

Undone by breathing.

Soaking in the sun-filled silence

Backed with blessing borne & birthed

Do I call your prayers in answer to my own?

I have asked the wind for succor

I am prostrate on the morning

I ask only – my eyes tear-filled –

Take me home!

SPELLS

There is a dance I dare not do

For storms would rise, surround me

Tornadoes all around me

Waterspouts confound me

So I stand & I am still.

Yet I feel the mighty rhythm

As my toes begin to tapping

As my hands begin to clapping

As my happiness is happ’ning

All my souls with music fill.

Tired Of Covid Yet?

I, for one, am VERY tired of Covid.

Of course, I don’t have it. I am simply suffering from its blowback. Sierra County has experienced ONE death & two lockdowns so far.

I have lost good earrings from wearing masks. I have been accused of standing within 6 feet of others! I have lifted my mask to cough & been castigated by other Wal-Mart shoppers. I have hit the wall with Wal-Mart being the only other shopping place in a town with two open facilities.

Olive Garden is closing, I hear. Where else will I find salt-laden breadsticks? Bottomless soup & salad combos? Regal Theatres are disappearing – oh, wait, I don’t do movies much anymore (last one I went to was “Yesterday”.) And I live in a town where delaying “Mulan” is a sign of the downfall of America.

Our two coffeehouses have closed. There is not a scone to be had in Sierra County! How can I go on?

Already on our economic knees, we kowtow completely to our third lockdown sponsored by our Democratic Governor (who unveiled her jewelry line in Santa Fe recently, with a public “Grand Opening”) Does anyone reading this know what a “kowtow” is? Look it up!

I figure I’ve got a 50-50 chance on survival if the air around the election ever clears, that is. Should the man I call “Sniffy” win, Kamala will stick a shiv in his ribs ten minutes after he reads the Oath of Office off the teleprompter, remove her mask & pick up a bullwhip. “YAH!” she will scream, “Get the Trumpers!” In self-defense, perhaps I can throw a container of home-made sauce at her, since all I’ve done is read books & cook for eight months. Cooking has become what religion once was for me.

I don’t mind ending it all, just let it be painless. Happy thoughts? But I know me, I’ll more likely be clutching the crockpot & a bag of carrots to hide among the prickly pear so I can feed the Resistance.

Of course everyone has a gun here but me. My girlfriends discuss buys on ammo instead of shoes these days.

Luckily (and on the 238th day with nothing else to do) I voted the second day the polls opened. Now I see the parking lot jammed whenever I go by city hall. Since the weather is doing a reprise on summer minus ten degrees on our typical 101 average of a day, and with the a/c turned off on 9/30 due to city budget restrictions, I know they are all feeling the heat in there.

The nice gentleman who ordered me 6′ off as we perused the book aisle at a thrift in Las Cruces probably cannot be blamed. He had just been harrangued by a joyous Yahoo about how Trump was “felled by the wrath of God.” Since Trump was dancing to “YMCA” at a recent rally, it sounds like the Big Heavenly Guy doesn’t hold a grudge long.

My Twitter account needs a black border to contain all the bad news. I get likes for such mild remarks as “I’m so old I remember when the ‘Streisand Effect’ was called ‘Banned in Boston’. I use Twitter to improve my Snark Factor only.

I must look on the positive/hilarious side: I bought a 12-pak of toilet paper a week before the CV thing started & have only recently run out. (It’s just me in the house, here, folks.) I managed to run up a $2,000 bill with the medical community upon tripping over a Handicapped parking stop barrier. I have spent hours on hold with Social Security listening to the same four chords repeating – meant to soothe, I’m sure. I laughed at the reminder to service my car on which I’ve accrued about 100 miles in all this time. My sleeping patterns are totally out of sync with real life because life is not real anymore. I have enough “Don’t vote for him/her mailings because….” to put up a nice fire when I can no longer afford the electricity from paying medical bills.

I have frozen containers of sauce, chili, soup & the bag of Brussels sprouts I carefully hid in the back of the freezer. (I removed the icy packs for picnic lunches to make room.)

I have solved all the riddles of the Sphinx on my own & I’m really bad at puzzles. I have achieved enlightenment in my soul if not my midriff.

So, what’s next?

Lifelines II

Part II

I was here before the color blue.

Aglow on clear green waters,

Teeth sharp, ending all-over in claws

I snagged you, dragged you down

Into meaningful disarray.

Bitten & chewed, I have become invisible

My stories only cliché

Beginnings to a nowhere of endings,

Curled like a dog on a chair

Paws scrambling over dreaming prairie

Chasing  you down with a sigh

That is a roar

Making an ending a nonsense rhyme of need.

Don’t Fall Anymore

Just bounce!

One interrogatory sniff

One question & you may choose

A word not beginning with “w”

(like why or when)

A word affirmative in deed, an “l”

(like life or love).

Take my silence instead

Of the dull hum of passersby

With the “m’s”

(like malice & murder)

Writ on foreheads

Held in hard hands.

Lay me down: I bleed from my head

Begging others to scrape dirt from my wounds.

Time grows feral in guarding my

Unrealized future.

These Words Are Tennis Balls

Tossed down stairs

All over yellow in a panic of gravity & insincere footing

I follow them down, no need to juggle anymore.

My arms will not turn from discipline

Tho they no longer turn upon it.

My Words Are Vampires

Clamping with an unholy snarl

Those lovingly professed, pre-formed.

The time will come to shine

Anew

Encapsulate the neonatal future

Now gasping on life support

Inhabited by the unholy present.

The tubes will fall away,

No longer needed,

Crusted with blood, flaming edges

Allowed & allowing, enforced

By specks of former selves

Now stilled & stalled:

Kinetic.

To Be With Me

You must believe as I believe

The imagination of life

Groomed for alignment.

Or you will meet me in years

That do not mesh with my need

And we will grind each other to

Nothingness again.

To start from coming forth

The unicorn horn

Midheaven on our skulls

To peck away the shells

Uncovering that which is not ours

That the world may view.

There is a wish to follow

Imprinted on the very souls

Meant to fly so straight & true

The air of joy invisible.

The Heart Thrives On Order

I age from the outside in

The edges dry & wrinkle

Back from plump health

In silent desiccation

Desertification

Curling patterns losing moisture

A sacrificial offering

To gods with sharpened teeth

Smacking peeled lips

Ringing a knife against a fork.

Yet somehow the moisture of Grace

Nurtures every soul:

My heart will be the last to sand.

Muse Flies In

On the coattails of a dream:

We wrote upon a wall

A typography of words

In letters ordered & bold

Laid out in neat rows

Of not-rhyme.

A countdown to Eternity

Blooded, salted, torn unequal

By love & beauty

Heart attack & repair

I am on the countdown clock now

The last long hours

To spring from scars & stars

To write the Name of God.

All The Songs Are Anthems

To wherever I might march

The drummer with a broken arm

Still rolling the sticks, still tapping away

Smiling in effortless effort

Sweat pouring from my shaven head

A monk of sound

A nun of noise

Living in the profound silence

Of Echo

Blackened & burned –

Once unmarked, unscored, unscarred.

Parentheses

I once was black & white

But strained to beige

By filters of a closely-led life

The colors vibrated, psychedelic,

Blinking out to buzzing purple neon.

Attention with bring me the Aurora Borealis

Waving to the earth unbridled

Old renewed upon this backdrop,

Against a life of living alone

To light another’s way

Awhile.

I Once Belonged

But fierce & fleet, I fled the herd

To wander desert dunes

To dodge the wild dogs

With flashing hooves & teeth of pearl.

Now I wish to settle in,

To have the circle facing out about me!

But I belong to no one

And less to nowhere…

I limp the trails where I once galloped

I fold in the fields where I once foaled.

The straight path spirals

The crop circles broken in beauty

A mysterious perfection

The future cast in runes & reeds

A hieroglyphic in a world

No longer reading Mystery.

Meant for other times & climes

For flashing eyes & virile swords

For the heavy gallop of destriers

A sweep of veils, a flame of jewels:

I sit za-Zen

In silence.

I Have Met The King of No

Many times

I’ve even tried to live in his skin for a mile

Before I shucked it off, that dry husk

Of pain.

I aim to be the Queen of Yes

Insatiable for life

So juicy with

Mist & mint

Freshened upon each day.

October 3, 2020

Lifelines I

My Wealth Increases By Relativity

To the poor I see

Pocket change becomes a standard of measure

To those whose turned-out pockets wave the wind

Small waving flags

To the goods nearby.

I Turned Away

Before you saw

The laughter in my eyes

Your sincerity undone

Unproven by what

You so earnestly affirmed.

Did you think me blind

Or worse, deaf

To insincere verities?

To the immediate gain

Of long-term professions

Of love & fire

In the barren, ash-filled fields?

Oh No, My Friend

I moved before you glimpsed me.

Wiping off my long blade

Of your amorous, overheated blood

On your sleeve, for all the world to see.

I turned, in careless escape,

Leaving my lip-prints

On your soul…

Sucked dry by need & ignorance

By tears of sheer frustration

Blessed by holy men.

It Came To Me

Once so rapt in prayer

To curse & flay

To beat at Fate

Like a child beats at stillness

I moved to shadow from

Holy Light.

I struggle now to find the words

We once abandoned in this dusty field.

Now blown against fences

For all the world to see.

The art show of my world.

No pictures but screams instead

Impossibly brought to bear

Upon my hands.

My Heart Has Broken

‘pon the shores of your pebbled beaches,

The rock-filled flanges of your mountainous demand.

Tis ripped & sore, so bruised, blue

as my sea once was.

The impossibility of love &

Totalitarian Fate

Scraped & scrapped like the palette knife

Against an easel.

Nothing smooth here

Only grated crumbs are left,

The peels of love

Possessed by none

Colored by need.

I Await

Your breath in my bed

The tenure of your hands on

This body, my vanity

Sore from self-inflicted Other.

I have a collar.

Will you not leash me now?

Chain me to heaven

Where I may bark to carry on

The song of the Coyote Angels?

The Glamor of a Life

Unhinged, unfettered, unencumbered

By need to pay but only play along its edges –

Deckled & gilded in

Your words:

My feelings.

This I would live: thus I would pray

Were the words to wash ashore

Like sea-eggs

Filled with salt & potential

Pontificating the hand-over-hand of Life.

Will not the furrows of dawn

Berate the sky?

Encapsulate the ocean, so raw?

Mine/not-mine

The dregs are so much

Sweeter than the life

Has ever been before.

An Afternoon Nap

After a large lunch

Stoked me to write these

A dream on waking

My elbow sore from oldnew wounds

I frayed the edges of my soul

Against the cheesecloth of time

The burlap of sin

Chafing many places

Wrapped in sinew of  possibility

Forgot by even God,

My angels fight to keep me sane.

Interior Lights

Work no more

I grope for enlightenment

Choosing sharp edges to fall against

Testing my mettle.

But life is not my former state:

Life is where I live & where

Showmanship dims to facts of

No audience

Inferior to pacing across an empty stage

The nutcracker season

Came early

Finding me late for limelight,

Lost to imperial need

I did not earn the Right

By wrongs of note & number.

Black, Then White

A bard in a barn

Singing to the livestock

Talent un-mourned

For all its likely presence.

Brought up short by Change

By “new normals”

Entrusted to Age,

Wrinkling,

Eyes sinking back

With misplaced bruises.

I tower over the competition

When this there is –

I sing, a cricket in a midnight corner

Keeping you from twin resolutions

Of sleep & prayer.

My scraping song the fingers pulling your hair

In darkling hours,

Drawing your breath to mimic my music

That together we may grow.

October 3, 2020