Friday, October 13, 2017
Ode To Odes
Let us sing a song of praise
for all the kind words
the many warm memories
observations of nobility
that have been written
before we sat
and took the time
this very hour
this very day
Ode To Coffee
Most legal of drugs
most essential of jump starts
you bring about speech
overflowing with rabid rapids
cascading down roaring rivers
of thoughts that ricochet and rebound
Ode To Playtime
Thank you for time and space
to be more than myself
thank you for allowing
for whimsy, heroics, and happy endings
Thank you for the eternal chance
to re-write and pre-write history
Thank you for laughter
Thank you for wonder
Thank you for imagination
Thank you for the fun of it all
Ode To Things That Go Bump in the Night
stealth and silence
inform your travels
until the sound
that cries to be ignored
at last can not be denied
and our fears of mortality
of being vulnerable and powerless
have their night
and yet somehow
we endure to dread once more
Ode To Death
written in our life planner
though we may not know when
or how or where
we do know who and why
You invented planned obsolesence
expiration dates and dead lines
you are the omega
for even the most alpha
of dogs, cats, goldfish
grandmas and movie stars
can not delay their end times
Ode To Zee
You knew where it was at
before we knew where it wasn't
you found strength in words
wonder in phrases turned
beauty in an "ah-ha" moment
humor in the voice
of your younger self
Love was seen wherever
cruelty, fear, and bigotry
were unwelcome guests
honor was felt whenever
people stood up for others
and their right to a heart path
all their own
Great giver of gifts
cherished champion of the shy
welcome warrior of words
all those about to write
we salute you
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
All of my contemporaries are worried about their memory.
It begins with the elusive noun — what is that guy's name? We had this wonderful dinner at ______? It moves on to dates — when was it we went to Russia? to Yosemite?
We all complain of household lapses. I walked down the hall to get something but I couldn't remember why I was there. And we sometimes let things we should do slip by: appointments we should keep, performances for which we have tickets. We tease each other as a way of minimizing the anxiety, but it hovers over our shoulders, threatening what is supposed to be the serenity of the later years.
Some of us take preventive steps, like courses in memory retention. I do jigsaw and crossword puzzles and play Scrabble, having read that the brain-hand connection is useful. Recently a group of students came to the house to include me in a study of seniors living with chronic pain. The study seemed flawed to me in its design, but there was one element that I loved, which involved some mathematical memory activity forward and backward. I knocked it out of the park, and for weeks I comforted myself with that success as I searched for lost glasses, keys, a dental bridge.
I like to think that the decline in memory is not due to cells that are dying, or knots deep in the interior of my brain, but rather on an overload of information. The reason I can't remember the last novel I read is because I've read so many novels. My friend's name, a friend I've known for years? Well, I have so many friends; how could I possibly remember all their names? The video I just put on seems vaguely familiar. Ten minutes in and I realize I've already seen it. But then, I've seen thousands of movies.
Nice rationalizations, but really of no comfort. Mnemonic devices, notes to myself, younger friends who tactfully whisper missing information into my ear — those things help. As does letting go of the struggle to retrieve a name or event from the foggy forest of my mind. Somehow, when I'm not struggling, the missing piece of data pops into consciousness, and I want to kiss it, out of gratitude. It may happen moments after I've given up the struggle to extract it, or even weeks later.
I would like to know more about the physiology of the aging brain. Did my smoking (given up almost 50 years ago) leave blank holes? And what is the impact of my daily Scotch? Wait, no, I don't want to know about that one because it's a behavior I'm unwilling to change.
I've watched several friends travel the terrifying road of Alzheimer's. That, or dementia, is the fear that lies beneath our anxiety over lost names and missing keys. Mostly these friends have descended quietly into that dark and lonely place, though a few gentle, sweet people have become aggressive and even violent. It is the survivors who suffer most, I think, as they watch someone beloved, someone who was an anchor of strength, fade away.
I cannot, will not, do that to my children. I don't want to leave them with a memory of me lost to them, lost to myself. And so I formulate a plan to obtain what is needed and try to work out the legalities, the alternatives. Most of all, I hope I can remember the plan in all of its details when the time comes.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
The day . . .
when nothing happens
of sorting spools of thread
of sitting on the upstairs porch in the sun, drinking too much coffee and wishing there were still weeks of summer to come
of backyard sweeping
of silence, when I talk to no one
of no slugs or snails on the garden walkway
The day . . .
of facing the fact that I'm not a very courageous person
of loving the feeling of my sneakers and socks (that are not falling down) as I walk down the street
after a night of uninterrupted sleep
of no internet connection
of no obligations to anyone
of being curious
of eating only healthy foods
of cleaning the spiders out of the basement
The day . . .
I stop fretting over how I lost my favorite shawl
of not dwelling on how far our nation has fallen in the realm of civility
of looking at every person I pass on the street and wondering what they are grateful for
I throw out my folder of resumes; I'm done applying for jobs
I consider the merits of meditation, which is probably not the best approach; I should just pull out my bench and sit
I realize that despite those fantasies of my younger years, I'm never going to be a back-to-the-land homesteader
I delete everything on my Amazon Wish List because I've read that article about "how many books do you realistically think you can read in the remaining years of your life" and I know my Amazon list is far too long and I already have more books stacked by my bed than I can ever read
I consider who I want to be in my next lifetime; a creator of illuminated manuscripts is my number one choice
The day . . .
I really sit down and try to devise that message to someone I think is my high school friend, our connection lost these last 20 years, whose name I found on the internet. I need to say enough so she'll know it's me, but not enough for it to come back and bite me if it isn't her. I think of this in the same way I used to construct love letters to potential romantic partners. Cryptic, but secretly meaningful, if they know the sender.
The day . . .
I finish the letter I've owed to my brother since July. A brother I hardly know as we went our own ways back in another century. But now that we are approaching the last decades of our lives, it seems as though I am longing to reach across the years and miles to find what was lost between us for all this time; to see whether there is anything that might fill in the gap between us.
The day . . .
I take out my mother's journals and try, again, to transcribe her reflections on her love for her best friend — a love she never revealed to her friend, as far as I can tell. But I like to believe her friend knew, as you often can know these things, without the need of language.
The day . . .
I start writing my honest feelings about how I've led my life. It seems like it might be now or never. What have I been waiting for? What knowledge about myself do I already possess that I can't bring myself to commit to the reality of ink on paper.
The day . . .
I re-read the various love letters I've received in my life. There are four packets of them in the attic, and their contents tell me something about myself, or at least the self I was in the imaginations of these lovers.
The day . . .
I finally sit down to write that tell-all memoir I've promised a friend. The memoir of men, women, and sex in my life. I've only gotten as far as compiling the list of who I'll write about and the pseudonyms I'll assign to them.
The perfect day . . .
One that is all my own, with nothing on my schedule.
Monday, September 18, 2017
in the cooler mornings of September
the smell of earth and mushrooms
is caught in the gossamer
of spider webs I can not see
but feel when I walk through
only that which glistens
a sticky near-invisible thread
clings to my arm bare with a shiver
my throat holding my poetic truth
waiting for the words
my cheek still warm from the pillow I dreamed upon
and I'm captured in the magic it teases of —
i could stay here forever
in this pause between season
when I do not have to be ahead
and before I fall behind
always struggling to catch up
I do not need to confine my freedom
in boots just yet
laced in expectations and calendars
still earthing instead barefooted
I feel the moon drops that fell
from my lunar sister
just last night
ignore the clock, she whispers
I drink in the heady grapes being harvested down the road
I'm near drunk in the cooler mornings of September
Sunday, September 17, 2017
The child who explores anywhere with small sure-footed steps.
The child who agrees with life.
The child who sees things in the clouds.
The child who is excited to come along on any adventure.
The child who giggles with delight at the water.
The child who can fight over sharing his toy and roll on the ground in laughter with the same friend.
The child who went to school excited to learn more reading and was put in the non-readers group.
The child who would not leave the truck while his household was being moved.
The child who slept on a suitcase for 3 months in Africa.
The child who had a very special blanket.
The child who had a sibling and was sad when she didn’t leave our house.
The child who went to a foreign school and learned by watching.
The child who skied one small hill at a time until he was at the top.
The child who could not spell.
The child who had a mind full of stories.
The child whose paper stories got too many red marks.
The child who teaches himself music.
The child who sings.
The child who draws cartoons.
The child who paints full canvasses.
The child who inspires friends.
The child who loves.
The child who jokes himself out of trouble.
The child who explores the world.
The child who experiments.
The child who discovered he is smart after so many other messages.
The child who teaches.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Dance Your Heart Out
The room was so hot that
the walls were sweating.
The floor was sweating.
A direct effect of the energy exuded
by a band called The Nightsweats.
When you really start to let go
your knees will sway.
Your pelvis will shake.
Your inner Elvis will show himself.
I dance alone
in an empty room
to let go.
I dance, surrounded by
We harvest heated energy.
We have laughed under three full moons.
Through summer nights.
so close, so familiar.
The first moon —
Witness to the Spark.
The second moon —
The third moon —
Bidding us Adieu.
You said that
A sense of humor
was of most
So many moons shared
over decades of bellies laughing.
Hearts bursting joy.
from statued smiles.
Carrying us through
like a glue
that bonds us.
Inherited from ancestors.
Gifts given by the gods
even if just temporary,
we harvest it.
Like a second moon
in the month of May,
on the brink
of hot, summer evenings —
To fill us
with its warm magic
and sweetest joys.
on the tip of my tongue
refuse to reveal themselves.
They are reluctant
to be heard in open air.
For the spark,
that may ignite,
could create a wildfire.
be drowned out
by the reaction
Friday, September 15, 2017
what if forgiving was easy?
overcoming heartache was as simple as
a long nap,
a float on a pond,
a few tears at sunset?
still cling to the ragged memory,
refuse to sleep,
stay on the shore,
swallow and hold my tears?
believe that pain proves a loyalty
no one demanded
gripping the bars on the window
and ignoring the butterfly
that brushes my arm
as it slips out
through the open doorway?