Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mouton Reunion (Water Street Music Hall 9/8/06)

Twin sets of

laser eyes



locks of hair

Two hands


drum sticks

Two arms


neck of bass

Piano sounds

filter in



to carry

the scene

Sax smooches in –

an adored

older cousin

on his way

to the beach

and you –

lucky you

got to go


Yellow Jackets

How did these items

become part of my life’s

clutter to begin with?

On my desk are two

copies of the book,

Yoga for Pregnancy,

though I’ve never

been pregnant.

Both copies have

been borrowed

numerous times, always

returned with a one-line

Thank You scribbled

on a square sticky note.

Inside a long plastic storage

box of fabric remnants, snaps,

needles, thread, pins, bobbins,

Velcro and shoulder pads, I find a

saved Yoga Journal, whose feature

article is “Be Happier Than You Ever

Thought Possible.” Did I read it?

I can’t recall. I put it back.

Inside a red and black pocket

journal, there is only one – full

moon – entry reminding me that,

after chanting in the Kanon Room

with Cynthia and Maria Elena,

and with Dad’s photo on the altar,

I returned to the parking lot to find

my car’s windshield stunningly

covered with yellow jackets.

What did this mean?

Did Dad caution me

about yellow jackets?

Get stung by one?

Respect them?

Kill one? Wear one?

It felt like a good omen –

that mass yellow gathering

on my windshield – yellow

the color of sunshine, happiness,

joy, intellect and energy –

But the space between my

grief and tears came undone

in that private chanting

service that day. It was

both healing and unbearable.

As it is to recall.

That journal, with its

only entry, was tucked in

with all the mending

materials that I own.

Ahh –Yellow Jack – ets!

how did I not get this

until now?

Jack – is my Dad.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Trouble With Reading Your Poems

I read your poems, knowing

that the vase of fresh cut

roses that you describe could

be fake – could be, that is,

an imaginary vase, rather

than one you see on a table.

The patchouli scented

candle you smell burning

in a darkening cottage,

(as the sun sets over

Scotch pines outside

its dining room window)—

may have been cut and pasted

from an old dream of yours.

I know that raffia-tied jar

of strawberry jam you claim

as home-made by your lover –

I know, even as you spread it

on an (allegedly) warm biscuit,

that it might very well have

come from some big grocery

store chain, made in large

vats in a factory up-river.

I know you may be inventing,

rather than noticing, these

items in the morning of your

day as a famous poet at work.

But you should see outside my

window, my backyard, Billy –

My neighbor, Nick, with his

long-handled hose, watering

the Arborvitae shrubs on the

bottom terrace of my descending

lawn, and the bushy sun-flowers –

just about to pop open.

If I wrote a poem,

I’d show you my soft

new double-wide hammock,

so white and inviting under the

walnut tree. You’d see an oval

umbrella table with see-through

patio chairs, a tray of marmalade

cookies, and blackberry ice tea.

Look – my favorite yellow

finch, wearing his little black

vest – drinking from a puddle,

(leaking from the weak link

between two bright red hoses) –

across a neighbor’s walkway.

I only wish I’d remembered

to bring a camera along today.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Billy and Me

What are the chances,

Billy? - Your name

and mine in the same

front page article of

The Democrat & Chronicle –

Mine - for hanging out

at the Jazz Festival;

Yours - for being the

renowned poet whose

book I brought along.

A D&C reporter, usually

a food writer, singled me

out from the throngs arriving

at the Rochester International

Jazz Festival, to ask, of all things,

what I was carrying in my tote bag.

Auspiciously, I pulled out your book,

Billy Collins, The Trouble With Poetry:

And Other Poems, to her delight, as well

as mine. I had been ransacking my

brain, for a time, unsure where I’d

left you– wasn’t my name there

inside the cover? My acupunc-

turists’ other clients must be

thrilled to have your poems,

instead of used magazines,

to read, while waiting to be

needled, I thought. Or did I

leave you at Muddy Waters

Coffee? Those lucky stiffs.

Eyeing my decorative tote,

the food reporter probed –

“What else did you bring?”

She was probably hoping for

avocado sushi, paired with lime-

drenched mango slices or kiwi.

I removed some Kleenex, which,

I wish I had said was for moments

when the music would move me to

tears. Then I pulled out an Acme pen,

a Moleskin journal, a copy of Email

to Cleveland, a pair of Lauren sun-

glasses, a blue hooded rain jacket.

The one item I did not reveal,

and I will share this with you,

Billy, was a fine glass of wine,

concealed in a green tea bottle.

Have you noticed how similar

in color, Australian Chardonnay

can be to Arizona Green Tea?

Here’s to you, Billy Collins,

for sharing the front page –

with me. Here’s to you,

and to Jazz, and to tea.