When I wake up, my son tells me a riddle:

Sunday, September 03, 2017

(for Gregory Crosby)

It's a grownup.  It's a woman.  It's the person who gave birth to me. 

When I wake up, I pick up my phone to check the time, check Facebook, check the app that says how much deep sleep I got.  1 hour, 21 minutes.  You were 20% in Deep sleep.  Deep sleep helps with physical recovery and aspects of memory and learning.  If you're feeling extra refreshed, you likely spent some time in this stage.  I am not extra refreshed.  I try to remember my dreams.  I think I was getting something renewed, some government permit.  My friend, the poet who always wears a suit, was there maybe.  We were in a snaking line in a government agency, but we had each other to talk to.  We were kind of having fun.  We were kind of menaced.  I was in REM sleep for 1 hour, 38 minutes.  REM has been shown to be important for your memory and mood.  During this stage, dreams are more vivid, heart rate is elevated, and breathing is faster.  I think, I will set my intention for the day.  I will be compassionate toward myself and others.  My mind spits out expletives in return.

Before my son was born, when he was still a fetus named Eva or Ella or Charlotte, I found out he was a boy.  When the ultrasound tech told me, I said, Are you sure?  There was a period of adjustment, but I decided that I would named him Charles and walk him around by the hand, both of us scowling at people and being precocious, like Esm√© holding her brother's hand in the Salinger story.  Come along, Charles.  I came to realize, that while precocious, his name is not Charles, we are not orphans in wartime England, he is not my brother, and he will only intermittently hold my hand.  Yesterday at Barnes and Noble, he zipped back and forth in front of the Legos, his voice rising as he demanded larger and larger sets.  I redirected him to the small cars, helped him choose one, then we read a book about high maintenance ponies, and then I ushered him to the cafe to get my coffee.  He zipped ahead of me to come to a halt inches from a young man waiting for his drink, and then he pointed his finger at the man vigorously, saying, YOU!  The man did not look charmed, nor did we talk about military wristwatches and dead soldiers.  Come along, Charles.  

It is August and we are tired.  We are worried.  My son looks at me as I stand at the bathroom sink and bursts out, I don't want you to die!

Sunday is my day to sleep in.  My son tries his best to wake me, and I try my best to stay asleep.  Finally he walks away to find his father, leaving a rubber turtle next to my pillow.  When I wake an hour later, I am tenderly holding the turtle's flipper between my thumb and forefinger.  Come along.

(I wrote this poem as part of a poetry exchange with the poet Rebecca Bratten Weiss.  http://tinyletter.com/The_George_Sandinistas
We're taking a hiatus right now, but look for our chapbook in the future!)

April 30th poem

Monday, May 01, 2017

Some Facts about the Cold War &etc.

That time I refused to stand for the National Anthem being played over a film of daisies in a field, girls in bikinis, and fighter planes, and the kid from 8th grade asked if I was a communist—it’s lodged in my mind, diamond-like.   

My mother told me never to be polite at my own expense.
Everything else told me always to be polite at my own expense. 
When I was a young teenager, I had a summer job at a library warehouse that shipped books to Army bases all over Germany.  Before my first day of shelving books and slapping on shipping labels, I had to report to an empty chapel-like building on post and swear to uphold the Constitution.  I was 14.    

When I was 11, Colonel Bean came to our class to explain to us that our nuclear arsenal was a deterrent to war.  When we asked some questions about that, he asked us how we thought things should be in the world.  People shouldn’t have to worry about where their food is coming from.  Everyone should have access to what they need.  People should feel secure.  He told us that was communism. 

My son tells me, One day I just became alive.  Then asks, What did I say when I became alive?  
(He didn’t say anything.  Just looked at me like, “I’m here.  Here I am.” Like he belongs here.)

I don’t know where any of us are going with this. 
Something that wanders away to bloom somewhere else is called a volunteer.

April 29th poem

Sunday, April 30, 2017

I wanted to write you to say how much I admired you, but I was too tired

I meet Jill at a bar.  She's encouraged me to go outside to see the other humans on the sidewalks and in the parking lots, after dark even, even after bedtime.  But when we lean toward one another across the booth to say some things, to check in, the acoustics are horrible, bad sound system bouncing my ear drums.  All I want to do is eat fries and commiserate.  When Jill spots a table outside, she sits up straight, then locks eyes.  "Should we?  Ok, quick!" and she's at the door, plate in hand while I'm still back at the booth goofily trying to pick up a coaster with two spare fingers.  Sometimes you can be too careful.  Other times, you can grab what you need in your own two hands and make your move while you can.  Later at home, I want to text her about how much I really admire her for all she's done-- I mean, besides spotting the table.  The life of her.  But I'm too tired to figure out what to say. 

All these full-souled women searching around for the next thing to do, here in the latter days of whatever the hell this is-- I see you.  How brave we've been.  How nervous.  I'll set a catalpa flower on an altar.  A prayer card showing a mother holding her child.  Rock from some quarry somewhere.  I'm tapping out signals on the network.  Is it clear across town? How's the sunrise in Joshua Tree?  How goes the scything and God?  How soon until you can stand by the water again in northern Michigan?  

April 28th Poem

Saturday, April 29, 2017

How Wondrous Strange to Be in a Body 

You might as well know, my son says while looking at a transforming robot, that his legs open up.  He flips open compartments on the thighs, revealing nothing.

Later I sit on a camping chair in the backyard, after the two irises have bloomed but before the mosquitoes.  I blow bubbles for him, and he chases them with a metal spoon.  Make more villains! he cries.  I am wheezing, like the dying mother from My Life As a Dog.  Mine is only newly hatched asthma.  Pollen.  Though come to think of it, once as a teenager I complained about something to my mother, saying that I was going to die.  Yes, she said.  You are.  (Might as well know.)

"Who are you?  Answer without your name, your job, the things you've done, friends or passions."

this light
these leaves
happy shrieks of children carried on breeze
mourning doves calling

leaf shadows
whatever poor spirit
is trapped in the myrtle

On the walk to preschool I'm telling my son how some people plan their flowers for maximum blooming-- spacing out the daffodils, the irises, the rose.  He asks if we can tap trees for sap sometime.  I think he saw it on PBS.  I tell him that that happens mostly in the northeastern United States.  "New England, it's called."  I'm imagining he hasn't been there, but he was an embryo there.  In Vermont ... the woman who wanted to practice her sound balancing ... she had me lie down in the meditation hut while she tapped at tuning forks over my chakras.  She says that's something is stuck in my second chakra, a blockage ... tapping, tuning in, kneeling over my pelvis.  Then I feel a whoosh and she falls back on her heels.  After that, the implantation happened.  I noticed the spotting and put it together later.  I don't tell my son this on our walk.  He stands up from his stroller to adjust the stuffed cloth tail he's pinned to the back of his pants.  Blue with white spots.

April 27th poem

Thursday, April 27, 2017

What It Is: Notes Toward Something Real

I wanted to write something real, but
I couldn’t remember the name of my goat
friend. The goat had had a rough birth,
leaned against my hip
in a muddy field in Vermont. 
I was newly pregnant, shiny and baffled. 
It will be ok, little goat mother,
us mothers said to each other
through our bodies. 

In my notes from writing group, Margaret's comment 
women’s bodies as failed performance of a cultural ideal

I was thinking about being pregnant in New York—
All that first trimester dizzy on the subway stairs, a descent,
uncertain destination.  Hormone fog, muddy mind.  Tadpole in mud.

 (I was really very dizzy and had no job.  I was
back together with my boyfriend.  I was
hot in the summer and had to only eat the right
amount of food, not too much and not too
little.  What am I doing. What mystery am I.) 

All through this haze, up to the quickening the glow
the metamorphosis the tearing the shit and fluids and
meeting another human so gloriously himself and
also a space and time traveler I could tell all through it,
but especially that first summer, the thought recurred: 
I would not require this of another woman, I would not
ask her to go through with this if she could not.

I’ve been wanting to record the dream I had that Charles Bronson electrified a crowd at a protest by singing a spiritual.  He looked completely different than I remembered, tall and lanky with a lean face like the red-haired Irish priest in the show about demons.  This Charles Bronson was flamboyantly gay, but my mind is thinking buoyant.  I realize then rigid machismo will crack open and make way.  That there is much else to electrify us.  Spaces to make for one another.  

What is it?  What?  What?
Making tea, my mind searches around
For what is different.  Then, a click:
Oh, I’m not in the young woman’s game
anymore.  I no longer require the approval
of others.  I step toward the kettle, just
as a metal colander falls from a stack
of dishes in the drying rack.  My thought
having jostled it.  Reach out
and catch it with one hand. 

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