Change in Going Far

At home again, back on this couch.
My eyelids droop; I am a grouch.
When it comes to travel in a car,
I’m not so sure that I can vouch

for refreshing change in going far
and stopping in some hotel bar–
to piped-in music’s thumping beat,
crossing the lobby like a star.

Nor having different things to eat,
no vegetables but lots of meat.
Now I’m back to peace and health,
but, oh, that detour, short and sweet!



For NaPoWriMo, Day 18.



Lies in Springfield

I don’t wish I were downstairs in the No-Name Bar
or still looking out at the greenish, clouded moon.
I’m perfectly fine sitting on the toilet to type this,
and I don’t feel like a jerk for the under-door sliver
of light while my family is sleeping. I never feel bad
about any of these small gaffes and blunders, the
many ways I am inconsiderate, oafish. Actually, I am
never oafish. I swan about and am pure delight to
everyone I meet. I skim over the surface of the earth
like a low-lying cloud–a kittenish cloud, all foggy
caress, never causing low-visibility accidents, my
wet fingers never ever wrapped around your eyes.



For NaPoWriMo, Day 16.


San Francisco Unseen

Don’t talk to me about the automatons—

Laughing Sally at the Musée Mécanique,
how she cackled and seemed to whisper
my name as small, cracked bells chimed

over an artificial bay where robotic sea lions
(with convincing stench) formed my initials
while decommissioned battleships, perfect
scale models, kept watch. Even now, doll-size

Beats stagger outside false City Lights,
and Chinatown, that phantom diorama,

rises, falls, breathes real fog.




If it’s Tuesday p.m., check out Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.


Fruit Crate Labels, Seattle

It’s coming up on ten years since I was thirty, standing on
the side of a hill with my husband in downtown Seattle,
the city where I was born—or I was born near it, anyway,
which is what you say when you’re as suburban as I am,
or was. I am urban now, so I know how it is to stand and
smile politely, interject a word or two, as a stranger jabbers
at you—in this case, about virtual reality helmets. That was
just the thing to listen to in 2003, how everything was right
on the verge of changing. And it was; he was right about that,
the antique store employee who followed us to keep talking
after I had paid $75 for a stack of fruit crate labels, brightly
inked and printed, and then piled in a warehouse, unused
for decades, preserved—as was explained on a small square
of paper stuck to the back of each plastic sleeve. I thought
these would be my new things—collecting fruit crate labels,
visiting Seattle. But now, I could no more drop $75 on labels
than I could go back there to see if the city still slants as it
once did, whether the hill is still there, the store, the man,
if he ever made his fortune in the virtual world, or whether
he found, as we did, just how real actual reality can be.


For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 26 (prompt: write about something you collect or wish you could collect).



In the circle of the road,
the oldest circle, of home and away,
we roll on four circles to close
big circles of child and parent,
child and grandparent.

Though we know the circle
can never be unbroken
by distance, by who knows
what gaps in understanding,
differences in seeing,

(How is it that people can
love each other and yet want
such different worlds? Oh,
but they can. They can.)
yet we will try it, sometimes

fail, always try it again,
this trick of bringing our
loose ends together, being
whole, that being enough
for at least a few round days.



For PAD Challenge, Day 7 (prompt: a circle poem) and NaBloPoMo.


NaPoWriMo, Day 28: Space

Snorkeling in Mexico

In a cave of chalk, the bats cling,
and some swoop. If you keep
your head down, you can

forget them; you can see yourself
clearly, chalk-gray hands and legs,
as if this is your real color, and
you’ve never seen it until now.

Your mask, your face in the water.
Look. There are tiny, colorless fish
darting through the one shaft of

dust-watered sun that lances down
from a hole in the roof of the cave
and unites everything, is the center,
the reason for all the life here.

Clearer than clear. Cleaner than clean.

At the edge, the mouth of the cave,
the people wait, your fellow tourists
who stepped out of the van, walked
down the farm path, like you, but
saw the bats and could not enter

this space, deep and cold, dark,
where you and your husband
drift in and out of the sun, until
you are no different from the fish.



NaPoWriMo, Day 23: Let’s Get Ekphrastic

Phone Books in Strange Towns

thin, yellow
rustle between

hotel room
a guide to

where I am,
what businesses
prevail here,

where pizza
comes from
if I order it,

where to get
a car fixed
if I had one.

street names,
area code,

there are
white pages,

too; I scan
for last names:
do I know

anyone here?
does anyone
know me?

most times,
now, there is
no book

in the drawer
other than
the Bible,

the Mormon

have answers,
place them

like crumbs,
but no one
leaves me

the path
I most want
to follow.



OK, only sort of ekphrastic …. Truthfully, I don’t like ekphrastic poems much — either writing or reading. (But if you wrote one today, I’m sure it’s terrific.) There are some really great examples, some ekphrastic poems that really do work on their own. But all too often, the sense I get — again, both as a writer as a reader — is, “Ehh, you kind of had to be there.” The word is a problem, too: For some reason, “ekphrastic” has always sounded like a painful, gassy condition to me. So, I kind of thumbed my nose at today’s prompt … but I really do love to see a phone book when I travel on business. They’re not works of art, certainly, but I decided to celebrate them anyway.