typewriter fixed

Becoming a Poet: A Complete how-to.

 
 
How to Become a Poet
 
Absorb whatever is around you
Like a box of baking soda in the fridge.
Be prone to hangnails
and mysterious rashes.
Cancel plans at the last minute.
Be unapologetic when saying no.
Judge nothing as beneath you, beyond you,
or outside your realm of interest.
Know everyone has a story to tell.
Carry a large overdraft on your checking account.
Dwell, no, fixate, on detail.
Realize everything matters or nothing does.
Wear an inordinate amount of black.
Or white.
Don’t mix.
Write poems you want to read.
Jot ideas on restaurant napkins.
Lose them.
Carry an extra pen.
Become accustomed to letters beginning
“We regret to inform you.”
Ignore them.
Write some more.
 
 
bride revised 349681__480

1/120th of A Second

 

Is sometimes all it takes to capture happiness.

If you’re lucky.

I’ve done it. Thousands of times.

 

One shot at a time, I would repeat to myself,

While double checking focus and f-stops.

The best it can be. All you can do.

 

Move on.

No hope of meeting client expectations

Not on this job. Thankless really.

 

It never felt like a Nikon

I was holding in my hands

But their lives.

 

The hours alone are punishing,

arriving at first light at the bride’s parent’s house

before the makeup even goes on.

 

Forty pounds of equipment in tow

Sunrise, and nerves already

beginning to fray.

 

The bride for starters is never quite satisfied with

her dress or her hair

or her bridesmaids.

 

The groom often bears the look of someone

who has just been given

some very bad news.

 

Groomsmen are a particular challenge.

Lining them up,

they visibly stiffen.

 

Roll your shoulders, unclench your jaw.

Pretend you have actually met, I cajole.

To no avail.

 

And there’s always the visual artiste in the crowd

who tries wresting the camera away from you,

just for fun.

 

By the time I get to grab a bite

the buffet has been ravaged.

The wedding cake looks like a Dali painting.

 

Drunken husbands and wives

remembering their own ancient vows

push themselves in front of me at night’s end.

 

I still love her, you know, he slurs.

She rolls her eyes, shakily fixing her lipstick

before I freeze them in the blink of an eye.

 

I am always the last to leave

in the wee hours

just as the cleaners arrive.

 

I gather them together for the last image of the day.

They wonder why the fuss.

They wonder about this woman

 

Heading off alone in the dark.

Exhausted

after chasing happiness all day long.

horse resized-3601046_1280

Equine Therapy

 

They remember you:

Their  heightened perception always at work,

An enigmatic sixth sense,

So rare in humans.

 

They open wide their huge liquid alien eyes,

Shift quietly in their stalls.

Their huge nostrils flare in welcome

At your approach.

 

For you carry with you

The scent,

Indelible in their memory,

Of someone once kind to them.

 

Astride their backs

We borrow their majesty.

We borrow freedom.

 

 

The Trouble with Science

 

If it’s true

as grim neurologists now claim,

that our memory is far from intact,

that the very process by which we retrieve the past

is flawed, random, that it plays fast and loose with

fact, detail, even

colour. Then how exactly do I conjure

what was us.

 

If it’s all up for grabs,

all bets off,

what was true?

The way you looked at me that evening

on the boardwalk,

was it as tender as I picture it now?

And your kiss. As deeply felt?

Did you profess your love in three languages

or was it just two?

Before you round the corner do you actually

turn to look at me

one last time?

Are you in the blue shirt

or the red?

Are those actual tears?

 

But science falls short. It overlooks

the power of the human heart

which has a memory all its own,

where the moments of our lives never alter,

fade

or grow old.

Where a look remains as tender

as when first it was delivered,

a heart quickens just as it once did.

Yearning as fervent,

passion as acute,

and in that special place

the moments worth remembering

lie in wait for us, inviolate,

undefiled by time

or synapse.

OLD SHOES

Coming to Nothing

Coming to Nothing

 

The day-to-day momentum

carries us with it,

making it impossible to imagine

this all shall pass.

 

Too much to think this will end,

carrying us into oblivion alongside

all of our carefully honed plans,

our exquisite attention to detail.

 

Who can contemplate that one day

and not so very far away,

another, perhaps even a stranger,

will be charged to sift through our lives,

tossing into random piles

our old day timers, nail polishes

and favorite sunglasses,

expired library cards.

 

Who can comprehend that one day

Some distant cousin may glance

at a dog-eared photograph

of a laughing, red-haired woman,

and ask with fleeting interest

to no one in particular:

Wasn’t she a writer?”

 

 

coca-cola revised

The Spark of Serendipity

 

Fleming left his dirty dishes in the sink and found penicillin.
Modern medicine was never the same.
The inventor of Coca Cola just wanted to cure headaches.
Velcro,
because a dog owner scrutinized
the tenacious burrs
embedded in his retriever’s coat.
The most profound discoveries
are pure accident.
Go looking for one thing and find another,
Maybe better.
On my way to a purebred prize winner
A mongrel butted in.
Best dog ever.
I thought the invitation said Thursday.
And found you.
Leave room for error.
Cast off loosely.
Await the entirely unexpected,
The astonishingly,
The utterly new.

ginger hair 2

Phantom Pain

 
My womb lies intact, unused.
But on afternoons that stretch too long in gloom
I allow myself to imagine her.
Perhaps hair the color of cinnamon and a tendency to
sink into a slough of despond.
A writer, too, I wonder.
Or just as easily a short order cook, a firefighter,
a glassblower.
Her hair would probably have parted to the left,
her second toe longer than the first.
She’d need spectacles from day one,
have a weakness for blackberry jam, the minor chords,
night over day.
Odds on she’d be left handed 
and prone to itchy rashes that would randomly occur
and vanish the same way.
Her name would be Catherine like her grandmother’s.
She would be no one’s fool
and no one’s daughter. 

Blanca

Post Script

Post Script.

You need to know that I want
Unabashedly sentimental songs.
Think Van Morrison
In his earlier, less angry days and
Dylan, in his later, gentler ones.
An instrumental of Annie Laurie is a must,
As too Mark Knopfler,
Who so magically supplied the soundtrack
For my days here.

You’ll need really good food for after.
Excellent, piping hot coffee and brewed Orange Pekoe in china pots,
Kentucky Fried Chicken,
Pizzas made to order,
And a Build Your Own ice cream sundae station
To add the requisite whimsy.

Display a very few pictures of me,
Not huge Bristol boards packed full of them,
So popular these days.
Black and white predominating, if you will,
My unwavering preference.

Flowers?
Yes, my nod to tradition,
Scads of calla lilies, but white only,
The yellow look fake somehow,
Oh, a few off white roses, would you,
Champagne they call them now.

And in the middle of everything
Position one commanding vase of
Fat white peonies,
Because their fragrance, their sheer deliciousness
Outdistances all the others combined.

Everyone there ought to tell
One story about me that stands out for them,
And not just of sweetness and light.
The dark, too.
You all know
I was more than one shade.

A piper would be wonderful at the close,
Just one, as there was for my father,
A whole band of them he felt excessive
And I must agree.

Then let me go.
Knowing that most days
I cherished this life of mine
And that while briefly here,
Laughed probably more than most,
Loved a few of you beyond measure,
And with providence in my corner
Was able to write a few poems
I would not change one word of
Even now.