is to find pleasure in postponing happiness awhile, letting the lights dim, and go to those rivers you have drowned in before where lament, bronzed with longing, hovers in the air, and fill your lungs with it.
Melancholy is gorgeous when it’s not just yours: no grape more often crushed for its fabulous blue note, no glass emptied as slowly, the bubble-burst of sorrow like champagne on the lips,
no melody more played, strung, as it is, like a bridge you can cross now— weep of the guitar, moan of the sexy saxophone: all that was, and all that might have been.
I had the concept of “saudade” on the brain this morning, probably because of Ada Limon’s introduction to today’s poem on The Slowdown. My poem was written quite some time ago and was inspired by a painting by local artist Lenore Conacher.
Americano coffee in a mug, time alone to savor some timeless good words, the day, for me, just beginning, unfolding sip by sip from the generous cup in which it is first held.
Yes, wars still rage on either side of the heart’s door. But lucky me—a colicky baby born into a colicky world, a world, it turns out, impossible not to love with all the muscle of the grateful arms in which I was first held.
This seemed like the perfect poem for me to post, as I’m still in the glow of my son becoming a new father, the little guy a month old now. It was first published in 2008 in North Shore Magazine.
I have an ear for silence, the not-said and almost-said of a voice in the room
or the once-said so long ago it’s gone to the stars and back like a plucked and quivering string.
Call it the music of the spheres, that insistent ringing of a divine bell
or the toll for living: thump and blood-hum of a heart’s undisclosed lives—
no yawning matter for the mouth that opens only to close without a murmur.
Call it an old couple’s secret handshake, and keep it: after years together, no need for words.
This poem won honorable mention in the 2017 River Styx International Poetry Contest and was published that fall.
May I just add my apologies for “disappearing” for so long – on top of many other events, we took our usual 6 weeks on our boat, mostly media-free, soaking up life on the water, emails and news unavailable in most of the little bays we stayed. And I forgot to post that.
After a long dry spell, I’m happy to say that my little poem HALLOWE’EN is now live at The American Journal of Poetry, along with a feast of others! My thanks again to editor Robert Nazarene for giving it a home.
on a vase of tulips: the pinks whites yellows reaching upward outward way over the edge opened wide to their silken centers until inside out suffused with the vibrant morning light they surrender who they are with wordless grace leaving only small soft footprints across the kitchen table should I wish to follow
Another “golden oldie” from two decades ago, first appearing in North Shore Magazine in 2005.
An anniversary gift, her first time doing it Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, hugged the pilot from behind as instructed, ran with him awkwardly to the edge and stepped into the wind-tug beyond anyone’s reach—
her harness not clipped on. She fell like Icarus a thousand feet, melting from sight with the pilot’sshoes into a sea of limbs webbed with leaves down, down to the forest floor.
Her boyfriend, filming it, stopped. Love screamed through the air as he ran down Mt. Woodside to find her. Until he did, there was hope.
The pilot glided back to an open mouthed crowd, to his twelve year old daughter watching, and swallowed the memory card onboard. His fiftieth birthday.
Who hasn’t known each of them in dreams?—where we fall without falling, see what can’t be happening, get to creatively escape a bad scene. And wake relieved, our lives still
hanging by a thread of assumptions.
This poem won IthacaLit’s 2016 Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize, as judged by Allison Joseph and was published New Year’s Day 2017. The prize came with a generous purse ($1000) and offered a huge thumbs-up when most needed. Sad to say, the magazine recently folded. Both the nutshell poem of the previous post and this one were drafted about the same time. I couldn’t give either of them up – for anyone following this blog, I’d be interested to know if one version appeals over the other.
Don’t believe inattention can’t wolf a mind, expectation—lamb another. They grieve— those left behind— that a short sentence appears to love more the one who put a period where a comma was.
They grieve Lenami Godinez-Avila—friend, daughter, lover. Fate or happenstance, it’s how that leaves a bad taste in the mouth long after, sinking the heart too late to address the assumption the one in charge knows best.
Another poem which first appeared in Volume 8 of The American Journal of Poetry, with thanks to editor Robert Nazarene. This is my short take of a horrifying incident: news article . My next post will feature a longer (and prize-winning) aspect of the same event.
You drink the cool clean water and smack your lips, refreshed.
Elsewhere, in this same country, the water is not clean, must be boiled, then drunk.
Elsewhere, you might be dying to drink it as is, and damned if you do.
Elsewhere, water means business. It thickens wallets. You will pay for it.
You could ask whose future is being spent down to the last hovering drop.
You could ask about thirst—who thirsts for a better life and who for just a life to grow all the way up in.
But you don’t. You drain the glass and turn on the tap for more. There’s never not been more.
This poem, written 20 years ago and finally published in The American Journal of Poetry in 2019 (with deep thanks to editor Robert Nazarene) unfortunately addresses a continuing and current situation (I’m thinking of Texas). It was inspired by watching my thirsty ten year old son gulp down a glass of water and imagining this conversation. He must have heard me – he continues to ask all the right questions about this world that he and all our kids and grandkids will inherit.