Sunday, May 31, 2009

What was always there, is found

"I get to sift through the data too. I get to have experiences too. I get to give birth to more desires too. I get the benefit of all this contrast too. I love having an experience where something happens that makes me clarify and focus and think about what I want in a very powerful way. I love that life is giving that to me now. At this stage of life, who would know that something so big could happen that would cause me to actually begin to focus in powerful way? I can see that I was getting sort of lackadaisical in my focus, and it's nice that something has happened, that is giving me a reason to focus in a way that's got me really, really wanting something that I really, really not getting. I can really, really feel because it's really, really important to me because it's a really, really big aspect in my life. And because it such a big aspect of my life, I can tell what I'm focused downstream and when I'm focused upstream, like nothing before that's ever happened in my life. And aren't I grateful to have experience like that? Isn't it nice to have something that's so big and vivid? Am I not glad that it's not limp? Am I not glad that I'm not wondering, hmm, I wonder if that thought was upstream or downstream? Isn't it nice that it hits me in the gut? (Audience laughter) It's very clear whether it's upstream or whether it's downstream. It isn't it nice that I have guidance within me, isn't it nice that now I have given birth to something that is so much bigger than anything that I would've ever given birth to before? And now this very big thing that I've given birth to, is over there and it's calling me? And all the resources of all of the universe are over there where what I want is, calling me toward it"

San Diego, CA 03-03-07

When I saw this excerpt above from the Abe quotes I receive daily, my thoughts about what happened below were reinforced. Thank you, Jerry, Ester and Abraham!

On April 24, 2006, I had a grand mall seizure. It came in the night, without warning. The shaking of my body became the light that shined onto something in my brain called a non malignant meningioma tumor. "It was huge", the surgeon said to me after he removed it. On May 5, I left the hospital with a different attitude. Something had happened to me that was not just a scary tumor, but also a nudge within me and it WAS huge, but not in the same way that the surgeon meant it. Since then, my attitude has changed and brought forth the joy that was always there. And so, the birth of a blessing in disguise and a powerful tool for growth.

In the Place Where a Dark Temple Grew

Leap to it and bounce,
the tree is measuring the rain;
each shake of leaf
becomes a thousand blessings.

The window is open to my heart,
cushioned within this comfort
I walk out into it with my quiet
and stop one blade of grass for just a minute,
stop it from its bejeweled contemplation of day,
then take its meaning,
folded and perfect
and speak of secrets.

And for what give up the right to feel the great mountain?
The sifting of the dirt is within me
and I feel the chasm in my head,
the place where a dark temple grew
is not empty, but filled with light.

The mountain quakes within its solitude
and brings into being a kind of joy
that I didn't have before,
that I knew was there
but thought I'd lost,

oh, glory ... it is found !

© Copyright May, 2006

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Peace Thoughts

If the smallest creature can, so can We

A tiny thing,
is white and gray
with tail curled under
on which to lay,
hyperventilating breath
and heartbeat plain to see on chest.

Reminder of the things that show
how life is
for the littlest know.

"Finding a hiding place like this
takes some planning," I say to it,
seeing it curled at back of dove’s keep
next to the wire and mother sitting eggs there.

Dove looks but does not blink red eyes,
almost tame, but still her instinct is
only for her babies to survive.

Run, her instinct should feel,
because this creature’s teeth
are sharp and real.
Wire would not stop feral demand
for lunch of that under her breast of steel.

As I watch in wonder this scene play out,
the two who would be enemies out in the wild,
sit face to face as if on life reflecting
how the world could be with peace protecting.

I had an aviary of doves in my back yard. Between the glass in the back and the wire of the cage, a tiny rat had made a nest of feathers

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Strapping of the Wench

In hiding place I found my muse
made of pewter air
breathed her in like cool and dark
a chocolate from the Frigidaire

My muse WAS there but she’s not fair
now she’s stuck in scenery of heart
between the tender nape of neck
and the garden afraid to start

She is part of the transformation
in movement out the door
the sound she makes cries free me
and then hold me evermore

Twirl she says in softest voice
to me with a evil wink
then lifts her pretty skirt off floor
and dances in my ink

I brush her off my shoulder
in her next whim then I find
she is flapping arms and darting tongue
in rhythm from behind

I’m tired of chasing after her
can’t she see I need a break
my words are screaming in my head
and what comes out now just seems fake

She jokes a lot when I am down
thinking she’ll get me laughing
but if I could catch that wicked wench
she would get a real good strapping

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Echos From the Past

Trench Coat

I was so happy to have
that second hand trench coat,
not lined for warmth
but flapping in the San Francisco air,
as exuberant as my long long hair.

I went to the docks
holding the coat closed around me
like a beige drenched lover,
catching the smell of fish,
and the rain was in my face.

The silver slanted buildings
reflected in the dimples of the water
as I walked with a lovely joy
born of youth and being cold
and a crazy free feeling.

Without that coat I might not have seen
the seals slapping against the pilings
as I ran down the street,
or the man in a yellow slicker who looked
with tarnished eyes
at my matted sky rinsed smile.

I loved that trench coat.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Message in a Bottle

There was magic in the water
as the sun turned down
and left all its silver fishes
shimmering like a diamond necklace
across the lake.

Soft muted moss swayed
with a lapping caress,
against the rock where
I sat in contemplation.

I saw a bottle floating,
where the water turned to waste
and muck like swamp goo.
It gently hit a rock in rhythm
and chimed with such delight,
I imagined its contents,
some cheap wine and stolen kisses
with the exposed midriff of love
on the naked open grass,
and this bottle,
maybe in a brown sack, passed;
and the sweet taste lingering
on soft open kisses
of two drunk on passion.

I looked closer,
hoping to glimpse a piece of paper
nestled there for me to find,
something that said…

"I have searched forever for you
just to find you here,
too late in this faded time
to kiss you,
but love sighs if you listen
to the caress of air that stirs
around the star-draped sky,
and you will find me there
lost and hungry for your taste."

Such interesting stories in the depth
of shallow, mellow drifting clutter
of a lake in a city:
An orange plastic bowling pin,
next to a flip flop,
next to matted fish line,
next to a Styrofoam cup,
and a coke can.

A story for each object left,
neglected or blown,
like a plastic bag across time
to lodge in exclamation
of the things that make us human.

I closed my eyes and listened
to the sand shifting,
with the sweet chime of my bottle
where a story grew,
and the radiant colored dream
burst and fell around me
like brown wings,

and for some reason I felt so sad.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


She left her mark within my cheekbones
as sure as summer her shape is mine
I even think within the lining
of my heart she left her sign

The shaded place of back yard peace
like open book is where she stays
sometimes she is in the humming
of a morning dove upon her grave

I see the skirt of many colors
circle round her sun tanned legs
I feel her reach across the chasm
to place four leaf clovers on this page

So fragile is the lip of time
that death has left upon my heart
that in the evening dwells the perfumed
evening breeze her fragrance’s part

Gather round her all the wild flowers
oceans place her in their fold
captured are the star-night feathers
that fall upon her heavenly stroll

I see her in my mirror smiling
she shades her eyes within my own
and in the sand of summer’s footprints
she is not walking all alone

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Growing up isn't easy

My mother always says, "Growing up isn't easy." When she says it, she's usually referring to the color of my hair, or the number of earrings I have in one ear. The last time she said it was when my boyfriend honked, instead of coming to the door.

She turned on the couch, where she was casually looking at a magazine, (actually she was waiting to measure this guy with her Mom-ruler) and said, "How rude to sit out there and honk. It's like he's whistling for his dog, don't you think Dear?"

Dear, in this instance was my father, but the comment was really meant for me.

Dad said, "Hmmmm," like he always does.

When I said, "Mom, we're going to be late for the show, I've got to go," that's when she said, growing up isn't easy.

Anyway, I used to think, that what she was really saying was that being a mother wasn't easy, or just wait 'til you're a mother, then you'll understand. I usually just rolled my eyes. Sometimes my mom is so annoying.

She's right though, growing up isn't easy. I'm sixteen, almost seventeen, and so far a lot of things about growing up haven't been easy. I'm really confused about boys and love, and sex especially. Seems like that's all I think about and talk about with my friend Judy. But, there are a lot of good things about growing up too. Sometimes I see something or feel something that makes me just so happy; like the sun on my face, after a week of rainy days.

Lately, I've been thinking about those good things. I started doing it because of an assignment I had in class; Write down the things that make you feel good. It really got me thinking; like, for instance, my house and my yard and my crazy cat, Psycho, make me feel good. The teacher who gave us this assignment makes me feel good. She's my favorite teacher. Her name is Lovey Coffman. Can you believe someone being named Lovey? It's her real name, and she fits it because that's just the way she is, Lovey. She teaches health education, but we talk a lot about other things. She said she used to take all the little things for granted until she almost died in a car accident. Afterwards she saw more beauty in life, and things that she never noticed before, became important. When I thought about what she said, I realized that I take things for granted too.

I never thought before about how good that Psycho cat makes me feel just purring and rubbing against my legs and getting in my lap and cuddling like I was the most important thing in her life. Just patting her and giving her all that pleasure makes me feel good. She's not just a cat, she's MY cat. Another good things is the plum tree in the back yard. It's all white with blossoms right now. I go out there and lay under it in the dirt and I feel something bigger than I know how to say. It fills me with this sweet feeling that is awesome.

Sex, has been the most confusing part of growing up. Mom has told me stories about how it was in the 50's when she was my age. She said she never even knew about birth control until she was seventeen, and that having sex with a boy was out of the question anyway. She talks to me about condoms and jellies and the pill and IUDs as if she is discussing which breakfast is most nutritional. Even though she talks to me about sex a lot, sometimes I feel like there's some mysterious secret that no one is telling me. From what I can tell from all the movies I've seen and books I've read, love is what makes sex something special. I want to know about love.

Anyway, my mom says what she thinks most of the time. We have had some pretty animated discussions about abortion. Mom is pro-life. She thinks that all life is precious and has a purpose. She doesn't believe in capital punishment either. I'm not sure how I feel. I think there are some situations that a new life should be kept out of. For instance, I heard the story of a girl that was older than me, eighteen, I think. The story was that she got pregnant by her own brother and had an abortion.

Mom says she wants me to talk to her about anything, but there are some things that I haven't been able to talk to her about, like for instance "The Virgin Club". Me and my best friend Judy started this club when we were fifteen. Well, maybe it's not a club, because we're the only members, but we don't do a lot of advertising. You can't just go around asking who's a virgin. That would be so embarrassing. Judy and I made a pact that we wouldn't go all the way unless we were really and truly in love.

Dan is my boyfriend. We go to the same school. Dan and I have been going out together for about four months. I know I'm not in love with him. Love is something like the plum tree, I think, awesome. Dan is more like a friend. So far everything has been cool, we do a lot of making out and stuff but that's as far as it goes. I've told him I don't want to go all the way.

At first he understood, but lately he's been pressuring me. He says he loves me and that I'm driving him crazy. "He wants me bad," those are his words. My friend Judy says that if he loves me then he'll love me more if I hold my ground. She wants to wait to have sex until she's married. She's a little old fashioned and says that sex before marriage is against her moral beliefs. She says to remember that no birth control is 100% guaranteed to keep you from getting pregnant. Sometimes she sounds just like my Mom.

The problem is that I would really like to see what all the hype is about, you know? I don't really want to wait till I get married. Maybe I'll never get married. I know it will be a long time before I do. How could I ever love someone so much that I'd want to spend my whole entire life with them? I want to be a doctor first. That takes forever. Oh, and I would also like to see other places, go to Europe, help people, or maybe set up a clinic in India or something. Maybe I'm just too young to even consider having sex, but I think about it all the time anyway.

Then, I found something that my Mom wrote. She's into creative writing. She writes all kinds of poetry and stuff. I really haven't seen much of it, she keeps it kind of private, but what I've read is kind of hard to understand. She's a lot deeper than she seems. It was on the desk, folded, but just lying there. I didn't mean to snoop or anything, I was writing a paper for English and I opened it and started to read it and then, well, I just had to read it all.

The Small Death of 1963

In the 50's, style was petticoats and orange lipstick, and beer was the drug of choice. Our family had dinner together and watched Father Knows Best. Going steady and making out in the back seat of a car was what nice girls did. Bad girls went all the way, slept around, got pregnant sometimes and disappeared. The only birth control I knew about was a condom, and nice girls didn't go to the drug store for anything but ice cream sodas, that left self control as the only option, along with guilt. Sex wasn't talked about, it was giggled about at slumber parties. I sailed through those years and into my senior prom obeying all the rules.

When I was 19 I fell in love. He was 29 and moving on with his life. He was leaving, without any regret, to make something of his life at a big, fancy university. I wanted him to say "I can't live without you, come with me," or "I can't live without you I'm going to stay." He said neither.
I followed him. He didn't whistle, although I must have seemed like a dog waiting for him to say "heel." "In pursuit of higher education," I lied to the questioning parents. In pursuit of love, I whispered to my heart.
I left my sheltered life for the grassy hills and idealism of a university. It was like plunging from a diving board into a swimming pool and finding out you were in the middle of the ocean instead. When I arrived, he had already disappeared into the paperback books, madras skirts and coffee houses of intellectual pleasure. Once in a while he would call. We would ride on his scooter out of the crowded corridors of knowledge, to the hills where the buildings and roads were manageable, and the song from the bell tower less formidable. He shot golf balls into the net's waiting arms and I watched the fog creep across San Francisco bay. Sometimes he would take me home to his one room with the mattress on the floor.

"We'll study," he said.

"Bring your books," he said.

He studied while I memorized the colors of the fabric on his shirt, considered the glaze of his skin against the twilight desk lamp and watched the dark curls against his neck, caress his skin. He laid his books down on the bed and stroked the printed paper, then turned to me. I loved him with the purity of youthful madness, and he responded to the silken moment and melted into me with the carelessness of his arching back, and forgot to leave, before leaving his seed scattered and searching.

Four months later I knew I was pregnant. "Lets get married and be a family," I said, thinking at last I would be with the man I loved, forever.

"I'm not ready to get married," he said. "There's only one thing to do."

He asked a girl he knew to be my companion. "She knows what to do," he said.

Callowness doesn't know what direction to take. There are no sign posts to tell it which way to go. I let myself be led.

There was a certain gray quality to that morning. It pressed into my skin, held my steps back, prevented the perfect breath. I could feel it hitch there in my throat as I tried not to take it in fully, but of course I had to breathe. I couldn't just decide that today I didn't like the quality of the air and choose not to.

The car whined, purred then choked, a living thing, a cohort, a companion in this agony of breathing. She was beside me, red hair corking out the window, disturbing the air with its exuberance, its fiery threads. She was supposed to be my protector, my teacher, she was the one who knew the way into this dark place where I had never been. I didn't know her, not really, her story was locked and my gaze didn't shift the stillness of her voice into telling.

She must have done this too, I thought. How else would she know about the doubt and feel of the tangled ropes of death and forgiveness battling in my bowels? I could tell by the tilt of her eyes and the way she watched me that she knew first-hand.

We squeezed into another country, past border guards and brightly colored pedestrians and when I turned to question her face, Death was in her eyes. Then I understood finally and forever what I was going to do.
Into the streets of noisy faces and the congestion of smells, like ripe sewage leaking into the air, we drove. I heard the cry of a baby and held the small swelling of my body to protect it from the blaring horns and the poverty of empty faces that insisted on being present.

Like a puppet, I followed her to the cracked corner, past the swollen silent buildings, passed the glass tomb store fronts and into the white room. I wanted her to take me back to where I left the person that I was; back before that long night of heavy breathing and naked brown eyes; back before I thought that being his was all I wanted to be;
before the legs tangled, before he melted like warm honey into the sanctuary of my girlhood.

I thought I would explode onto the ceiling of that room and paint the white, sterile walls with the blood of a that blissful union. I remember wishing I could push that careless creation into "pause." Just wait, I said, till I am a little older, till I can be who I want to be, till I can be your mother. You deserve a mother.

She held my hand in the fog that descended on that day into my memory, and when I could see again, the tiny agony of life, glued to the fabric and central core of me was gone. She held my hand still. Her freckled, long fingers trapped the small beige flutter of mine, as she pulled me into the evening.

When I returned to him later, after the white sheet confusion of day had moved into the dark and moonless fact of evening, I saw him for the first time, my vision cleared by the truth of what had happened.

"Let's have a beer to celebrate," he said.

I had just finished reading and was folding the papers back up when I felt my mom's hand on my back. I jumped, surprised, and then I felt awful because she caught me reading her stuff.

"It's OK," she said. "I wanted you to read it. That's why I put it there where you'd find it."

I felt so sad about love and life and that small death that I just started to cry. I couldn't help it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

To Still the Hand of the Muse

Her hands are a metaphor
for a dance that's full of grace
with fingers that trace her thoughts
as if they are connected to the center
of one true thing
that flows in limitless strings
of inspiration

To pause
leaves negative space
and brings to art its depth
for these words are art
with pure and practiced vision
of song that builds and blossoms thus
into waterfalls
that deserts dream of

Where does the cicada sleep

Beneath leaves twisted in some crinkled
golden hue or clutching twig
as time hums lullabies

Winter is storming behind her eyes
and a cold rock is calling for circumference
for her reign will give to glistening basalt
the depth of dreams
and the lines of time in trenches
where centuries are marked
striations of groaning war
passion and lusting for knowledge
will listen

As graceful as the silken slither
of time itself
this thought stills her hand in wonder.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fork in the Road

This is a chapter from my novel, Sweet William.

The road is not clearly marked
as it narrows to a fork;
which way? The heart asks.

William was patching the tire of a Toyota pick-up when he saw Tom's golden Buick pull up. Tom was smiling, walking straighter and looking older, William noticed.

"You got an "A" didn't you? William asked.

Tom's smile grew bigger as he replied, "How'd you know?"

"Oh, I don't know, you just look like you have fifty dollars more than you did last time I saw you", William said, with a wink.

"I won't have it for long. I'm about to fill my tank with gas."

"Good, then you can take this old man for another ride when he's done working," William said.

"Not today," Tom said. I've got a date with Maria. Maybe some other time?"

"Sure, some other time," William said, touching the tire with a friendly pat. I've plenty to do here. Have fun on your date."

Tom jumped into his car with elastic in his legs and drove off with a wave as William watched, fighting to keep the smile on his face.

Later, even though he was tightening lug nuts, William was thinking of leaning against a tree in mountains far away; sitting so still that life around him went about its daily tasks. A cottontail dislodged the rotting leaves and pine needles beside him, then stopped and sniffed, scratched a soft, pink ear and disappeared behind a log. Purple Lupine caught the air, to dance in a spot of sun beside the California poppies that littered the slope. From the trail of his imagination, William heard the sound of water from a stream nearby. Three quail, bobbing their heads in unison, their pointed feather hats erect, marched with purpose towards the sound.

He rolled out from under the car, wiped his hands and wrote in neat print on the yellow order form. In the garage the air felt stiff. The smells of gasoline and oil filled his nostrils. He knew his skin and clothes held the lingering scent long after he left the garage. As he wiped off the tools he had been using and returned them to the drawer, he heard a scrape behind him. He felt the skin on his arms raise to goose flesh and felt his heart move from the peace place in his mind, then skip, jump and speed him a warning.

He turned slowly and looked at the young man standing there.

"What are you looking at?" he said to William. "I saw you with that fat chick ... she your girlfriend? She's got so much blubber; I don't know how you can do it with her. But then you're not much yourself, are you?"

William started walking towards the man. He could feel a red pounding in his temples, could feel the heat rise from inside where rage was hidden, could feel it pushing him.

"You ... listen ... you foul-mouthed piece of no good...."William couldn't continue. His mind had filled up with something that had no words.

The man's face contorted and dislodged a sound that belched an acid laugh into the garage. William could hear it echo unpleasantly across the meadow in his mind, where the mule deer, squirrel and black bear roamed. He saw it form a dark and menacing cloud over the sun-dappled place of poppies and lupine.

As William moved closer, the sounds ceased and the man spoke. "You're a yellow-bellied excuse for a man," he said. "You need some fat lady now to take care of you, ha. I could...."

William's fist came up from inside the cave where the sleeping bear had been all winter. It came up rested and filled with purpose and lunged with the full black weight of his hunger into the face before him. He felt the cartilage like chicken bones dislodge and heard a satisfying crack before the Technicolor of red blood erupted into the air. The man held his face with both hands and sank to his knees in front of William. Drops fell slowly onto the grease-stained cement making a satisfying and almost silent plop.

Before William understood what he had done, before he felt the throb in his knuckles, before he could even think what to do next about his leg that was aching to have a part in the action, the man got up sputtering and turned. In his hand was a knife.

He lunged at William, making a jabbing movement towards his chest. "I'm going to cut your heart out," he hissed, "I'm going to puncture your lungs till there's no more breath in you."

William looked around and saw the tire iron propped against the back of the car and a hub cap lying next to it. He hopped back and forth as he dodged the knife, until he could pick up the hub cap. He used it like a shield in front of him, as the knife twanged against the hard surface.

"Hey, what's going on here?" Clive was standing in the entrance of the garage. William saw light shimmer around him from the glare of the sun at his back, and for a moment thought Clive was an angel; only this angel had a gun in his hand.

"Mike, put that knife down right now. Before you have more trouble then you could ever imagine," Clive said.

Mike spun around with the knife raised and then saw the gun. First, the features on his face that had been a grimace, fell into place as he worked on calming his body. William watched in amazement as a monster became a confused and frightened youth. Mike dropped the knife on the cement at his feet, and then looked down at it as if he didn't know where it had come from.

"Hey, man, I was just defending myself against this son-of-a-bitch maniac," he said and looked at William. "He broke my nose," he whined.

"Do I need to call the police or were you about to get out of here? If you don't, you're going to jail", Clive told him. "You can do a lot of time for assault with a deadly weapon."

Mike started walking away, and then threw a look of hatred at William. "You haven't seen the last of me," he said. Clive and William watched as he lurched across the black asphalt and turned the corner.

"What happened to cause that?" Clive asked.

"He was saying bad things about Nell. I don't know ... I just had enough and hit him. I haven't been in a fight since high school. Then he pulled the knife." Williams hand was shaking as he reached down and picked up the knife and looked at the long silver blade.

William's hands were still shaking later as he sat in the library. He had the newspaper open on the table in front of him but he wasn't reading it. He was thinking about being a man. "He had it coming," Clive had said, but William was thinking about Tim.

Tim had been fourteen ... a slender boy with rosy cheeks and hair the color of Samantha Elizabeth's and curls like his own. "There's this guy that's been bothering me at school," he'd said. "He makes fun of me, takes my homework and scribbles on it, calls me 'pretty boy'."

Tim played the piano. His long tapering fingers pulled passion from a keyboard and it didn't come from a sheet of music in front of him, it came from inside him, from his soul. "What should I do?" he asked William that day.

"Nothing good ever comes from violence," William remembered saying. "Feel sorry for him, I would think. It doesn't seem like he has much self-esteem. If you ignore him and don't let what he says and does get your goat, then he'll probably lose interest and stop."

The words he'd said to Tim were fresh again. How could he have forgotten? William looked back down at the paper where he had read the words that seemed like they had been placed there today, just for him to see; the words that brought back Tim's question and his answer. The article he read was talking in general about violence and its effect on humanity. He read the words again: "We live in a society where violence is too often seen as a solution to our most intractable problems. Violence is not the solution: It is the clearest sign of our failures."

This was a question for fathers, a question for leaders of countries, and a question for humanity. It was a question from every son, and from his own son. Generations of questioning what is right and what is wrong. His own father had told him, be a man. He knew now what his father meant and if being a man was like that, he would be another kind of man.

The violence of twisted metal; violence of one man's solution from the bottle, had slammed into and twisted, then torn apart his family. Where was the difference in solutions? The bottle, the fist ... they both led to hurting and came from the same place. William felt warmth around him and the power of Samantha Elizabeth's soft touch and knew the answer.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Water Down

Tear up the sky
pour the water down
the sound is falling
hear its feet trace my map
into the slide of mud
wrapped in hard down rock
oh rock me with the music
of your liquid breath

dimple darling the street
with rivers filling up into the dark
delivery comes from your potent mouth
as it crumbles the blush of dusk
with stakes that jam the horizon
down into the cinnabar crack of tomorrow

Don’t whisper it’s too late
and I have yearned for sound of tin drums
to make music like your hands in my mind
feed me baby with you patter I’m starved
and rocking in a boat made of splinters
‘til I drown

Stones Throw Rebel

Stone’s Throw Rebel

Come down
to silent waiting water
reflection is a stone
skipped perfectly or is it

I can hear
the songs where I have knelt
giving reverence to wings

Step back turn around who flew
harmony can come unglued

Hear the discord of rocks in plop
and straight down drop

I can turn away you see
and sigh some word
like destiny

To live hunched in everglade
when all the pretty treetops
touch the light
and night would seem that long and strong
to unfasten day

Standing above erect with reverence
it matters not the perfect set
three times plus across the pool
reflects the age of handmade fool
a tool made from bone not heart
reflects no art


through empty space and waters quiver
to rebel all contrive a shiver

Wind Power Warm

In it comes
(the window like a welcome)
wind of the day sky warm
across my resting skin
a breath of healing

It wakes me to my might
a touch that I dream about
is the music playing in my hair
if I could just reach far enough
light sound laughter all singing there

Watch Wind like a river to my rock
calling to me from within my own neglect
I can feel it running up into me
it knows the curves within
and its power folds my bones
until I am sky too
blowing beloved into trees

An Opening of Heart

This is a chapter from my novel, Sweet William.

He breaks like
the cold glass
of the mirror
as his face goes on and on
into the room.

William knew where each tool was kept. He'd pulled out drawers and emptied cabinets; he'd cleaned years of grease and gunk off them until there was only the shine of newness hanging on the walls and stacked in the drawers. He also had a sign made that said, "Mechanic on Duty".

His first customer was the owner of the 1967 Buick Skylark he had seen before, and he wasn't really a paying customer. William loved old cars. He loved their simplicity and power; so did the boy named Tom Griffin. He was 17 and this was his first car. It had belonged to his father, he said.

"Hey, aren't you the guy that said 'carburetor?' Tom asked him that first day when he drove up and parked in front of the garage. "I was trying to fix this (he patted the hood of the Buick affectionately) when you went in to the restroom the other day, remember? I waited for you to come out but I guess I missed you. Anyway, you were right, it was the carburetor. How'd you know?"

"It's just something you know when you work around cars. You can sometimes hear what's wrong without ever looking under the hood," William told him.

"Hey, man, uh... do you think that I could come over here after school sometimes, just to hang out and talk?"

"Sure, I guess. I'm not much of a talker, but if you want to hang out I guess that would be okay as long as you don't get in the way."

"I got to learn about cars if I'm going keep the Buick. See, the deal is," he told William, "I got to do all the work on it myself. My dad thinks it will instill some responsibility in me." Tom laughed, then saw the serious look on William's face, and stopped.

After that Tom spent many afternoons at the garage, helping, or "leaning", as he liked to call it. One of those days, Tom parked behind the garage and spent a couple of hours with wax and a soft cloth just rubbing shine into the gold paint of the Buick, when William asked him, "How come you're not out with your friends? Don't you have a girlfriend or something?"

"Naw," was his answer. "Girls just cause you trouble."

"When I was about your age," William told him, "I had a 56 Chevy."

"Oh, wow, those cars are still great. Where did you live?"

"Oh, I lived around here ... just a couple of miles away."

"I guess things are different now, than they were then. I know, I've watched some of the re-runs of Father Knows Best. You have any kids?"

"No," William's voice caught and he walked away from Tom, back into the safety of the garage where he watched as Tom got into his car and drove away. Then, the ghost of Samantha Elizabeth whispered, "What about Tim, William?" Are you going to deny that you had a son?"

"I don't want to remember," he shouted at the wrench and the screwdriver. "Leave me alone," he shouted at his polished reflection.

It had been the ice cream. "We can't have cake without ice cream," William had said, "vanilla ice cream".

They teased him then. "You want ice cream, then go and get ice cream."

He'd refused. It was his birthday, after all. He just would sit on the porch and wait until they came back. But they never came back. They were hit head on by a drunk driver.

He remembered the blissful numbness he'd felt at first. Then one day, a wave so powerful and full of grinding pain hit him, that he wished that he was dead. It fell on him and ripped through any fabric of pretension that he wore, then it found his soul and squeezed it hard. He'd screamed, tore a chunk of hair from his head, then took a hammer from the kitchen drawer and went searching for his tormentor. He found him in the bedroom in front of the bathroom door where he took the hammer to the full length reflection of himself, until only small shards of glass remained scattered on the teal carpet. He saw those same pieces of himself now, in the tools that reflected more than just his face, but also his soul.

William left early. He told Clive he wasn't feeling well. He left, thinking he would leave his memories in the garage, walk away from them like he'd done before. He was anxious to get back to his safety place where he could look at pictures and read about far-off places. The place that he called "home". But when he turned the corner at the church, he knew that something was wrong. He saw his rat-trap boards fallen and broken on the ground, and his books and magazines scattered and torn. The flashlight that Nell had given him lay in pieces, its spring exposed like a broken spinal cord on the black asphalt of the parking lot.

William stacked the boards in a neat pile and threw away the newspaper. He put the rest of his things in the cardboard box and carried it around to the front of the church where he sat down on the steps.

"Hey, you okay?" came a shout. William was attempting to put the flash light back together while he tried to figure out what he was going to do now. He looked up and saw Tom hanging out the window of the Buick.

"Clive said you weren't feeling well," Tom called, as William looked down at the flash light and continued to fiddle with it.

Tom cut his motor and got out and sat beside William. "Hey, you're not mad at me or anything, are you?" he asked.

"No, I'm not mad at you."

"What ya got there?" Tom eyed the flashlight and box of William's belongings.

"Nothing much," William said, "just some old things that I was going to leave here for the church. I thought maybe they'd know someone who could use them."

"Yeah, they probably do," Tom said, "but that flashlight's broken. I don't think anyone will want that."

"I guess not," William said.

"You want to go for a ride in my car?" Tom asked, as his blue eyes reflected concern.

Suddenly William felt a door unlock inside and open just a crack. He wanted this gangly and skinny kid in jeans and tee-shirt to push the door open. He also recognized something familiar in the pride he saw in his face. He used to feel that pride a long time ago; he wanted to feel it again.

It was then that William let a piece of his heart out, let it float there in the air between them and then clasp onto Tom.

"Sure, I'd like that," he replied.

They got in and as they drove away, William turned and looked at the box sitting on the church steps.

"This thing has power," Tom said, his eyes sparkling as he manipulated the golden Buick. "I gotta be careful, she picks up speed fast. I can't afford to get a ticket and I can't afford the gas she uses either."

"These old cars are gas guzzlers all right," William answered. "Does your dad give you money?"

"I do stuff around the house to make some money and dad said if I get an "A" in geometry he'll give me fifty bucks. Do you know how to do geometry?"

William scrunched down into the vinyl of the seat and looked at the shiny dash. "No," he said, "I was never very good at math. I was always better doing things with my hands, like fixing cars."

"Maybe someday I can be like you," Tom said.

William looked over to see if he could tell if Tom was serious, and his face told him, yes.

"My dad," Tom continued, "wants me to go to college. He says that's the only way to make something of myself. He's a doctor. He had to go to school for a lot of years. When I think about school for that long, I don't feel so good."

"Yeah, I guess I know what you mean."

"I'm having enough trouble just getting through high school. School sucks, big time."

They drove away from the familiar blocks of William's world and headed towards the foothills, meandering by homes with green grass on tree-lined streets. They drove by a women in shorts walking her dog, and a mother running with her baby in a cart that looked like a speed buggy. They passed some people on bicycles wearing brightly colored spandex and helmets. They passed a family in front of a house with dormer windows and a picket fence. William's eyes teared up when he noticed a man and woman leaning into each other as they watched a boy about ten playing basketball in the driveway. "This could be my life, was my life", William thought to himself.

"You don't want to be like me," William said. "I'm nobody. You can dream any dream and make that dream come true."

Up, up they went, as the afternoon turned into the twilight of evening. Scrub Oak and Manzanita climbed the hillsides as the road curved. Large rocks and boulders lay strewn around, decorated in the colorful spray paint of tribal pride. Tom pulled onto a turn-off and they sat there watching as the sun sank and splayed its golden glow across the city.

"I had a son," William said. "His name was Tim." William waited as the colors of the sky turned to burgundy and the sun slipped into the skyline. He waited for the familiar and unrelenting pain of his memory to knock him flat. The air in the car shifted and Samantha Elizabeth whispered close to William's heart, "That's good, Sweet William," and eased the escalating storm of emotion that was threatening.

William turned and looked at Tom. The light was so dim now that he could only see the outline of his head silhouetted against the afterglow of day. William told him about Tim and Samantha Elizabeth, told him about his last birthday party, and told him everything except about his homelessness. When he was done, he felt light.

"I'm sorry," Tom said. They sat there a little longer before Tom turned on the motor and the comforting sound of the engine accompanied them back to the glass-eyed heart of the city.

"You can just drop me off at the church," William said. "I feel like walking."

His box of belongings still sat on the steps where he had left them.

"I'll see you tomorrow," Tom said and started to drive away.

"Thanks for the ride," William called out to him as the Skylark hummed down the street.