Jane Says

This city’s madness,
a tapestry of too much of it all.
There’s always someone or something
that drives a steak into my personal space:
an angry man in a black car honking;
a family walking four abreast on the sidewalk, slowly;
my neighbor vacuuming the concrete on her patio;
the lot across from me a construction zone of cats, gravel and a “dust control” truck.
Cement and traffic.
People and skyscrapers.
I just want to get away from it.
And yet I have lived in the country
Where the absence of annoyance
is a peaceable kingdom
that can be dulling,
like a drill to my temple,
boring,
until I’m lobotomized and desensitized.
Because it’s easier to be average
than to step outside.
So never mind,
this wayward thought
of leaving my jungle behind.
I think I’ll stay.

*

But if I left where should I go?
To the lands south of here, perhaps.
The broad avenues and cobblestone quarters of Buenos Aires,
where I’d amble among the vendors offering silver jewelry and cups of perfumed wine.
Or maybe to the ocean,
where I’d stand at the edge of a Caribbean beach washing my toes, the sun heavy on my shoulders.
My little dogs would wrestle nearby,
their fur faded and salty, littered with sand.
Scratching, always itchy.
But would I be satisfied?
I don’t know,
for I’m not sure what I’m looking for,
aside from these abstract concepts of happiness, knowledge, acceptance
and love.
I have thought of evaporating,
to escape the disappointment
of these things I don’t have,
or that I’ve lost.

*

I seek an authentic life,
in its most abstract sense,
like devouring an apple to its core and swallowing the seeds.
If I only eat the flesh,
I will only half know the apple.
Why eat around the hard and bitter parts?
The problem isn’t my city,
nor is another place the solution.
That’s the painful part,
which causes me to swell
with tears.
And yet, I can’t help but wonder,
if starting over is such a terrible thing.
Perhaps it’s out there after all,
my home.
my family,
myself.
I can’t know the answer.
I can only hope.

Things That Go Missing

Once someone gave me advice.
If I lend someone a thing,
I must never expect it back,
so I should only give what I can do without.
If they return it, it will be a gift.

Wisdom, I thought.

Yet, it does not apply to stealing.
For if someone takes a thing,
I have a right to expect it back,
to hunt it down to the ends of the Earth
and to seek vengeance upon he who took it.

I think here of my little dog.

When she went missing,
I thought the Universe stole her.
The quantum ray read,
“Frankie is here. Frankie is not here.”
Her electrons spilled through two slits.
In one world she was with me,
and in the other she was no more,
like my parents who have gone too.

I was angry; I had been mistaken.

The Universe did not steal her,
it merely borrowed her.
To pet, I presume,
because she is so cute
and has a good heart.

After the wind had ruffled her hair,
and the skies had looked down upon her glowingly,
and the sun washed its rays in her golden fur,
the Universe returned her to me,
stinking of garbage but otherwise unharmed.

A gift indeed.

Apathy of Flowers

You sip your rose
as pink petals swirl around you,
ripped from the branches
of a cherry tree by a solar wind
that tears through the streets.
You text your tattooed friend
to meet you at the outdoor cafe
when the wind tips your glass
with its oily claws,
leaving sticky flowers on your lap.
You laugh and order another.
You’re right to enjoy this moment of summertime in springtime.
Or are you?
Behind you, the wind gathers strength,
and the flowers turn in an eddy at the intersection,
pummeling the windshield of a convertible that rounds the corner, swarming a woman as she crosses the street.
This is how the end begins,
with a warm day, an unnatural wind, and the flight of flowers.
There is nothing to do about it,
except to say, “oh well” to your apathy.

Today’s Star

Who were we to each other
once upon a time,
long before we sat in this circle
on the grass talking of
sunshine and wine?
Perhaps we looked
upward to a star
named Trappist
and settled upon our drums,
striking the snares with precision
to tell the skies
we’d been here before
and would be here again,
in this place
and those to come.
Hold onto your memory,
you whose smile is strained,
eyes haunted,
for I see what you do.
This storied day
is the one that
always repeats.

Her Half-Life


She’s a nice person.
She has a common face.
Her lips are painted magnolia, cheeks rouged pink.
Her hair is pulled back, dyed straw blonde and blown straight.
A smile is affixed to her face, quaking as if drawn by a child’s finger.
She looks towards the door of the subway car, her mask tight.
She’s resentful because she’s had no voice.
She was whistled at when she was young and ignored now that she’s old.
She’s been yelled at by men for driving too aggressively and honked at for going too slow.
Her boss eats the lunch his wife packed and interrupts her to say she should use fewer words.
Her friends make recriminations over the mommy at soccer practice who brought cupcakes instead of healthy snacks.
Her own kids don’t know who she really is.
Her husband treats her like furniture.
And she can’t stand it.
But what is she to do?
She doesn’t want to be a Bitch or Slut.
She’s a Mother.
She’s a nice person.
She clutches her black purse and jacket,
staring into space,
her lips a slash of purple skin.

Dissonance and Palms


In the City of Palmettos,
I am drinking my coffee and looking at the remnants of a waffle, alone.
Mottled shadows fall across the wooden table dripping of varnish that dried in haste.
A cacophony fills the open air.
There are too many people here,
as there are in Manhattan.
Finding peace seems elusive,
for there is always a voice asking something of me,
demanding that I speak politely or insinuating that I do not.
My silence is my stubbornness.
It reminds me of the night before, a stark contrast.
We walked along the deadened street where
I reveled in the quarter moon, and how close to you I felt with your hand in mine.
We stumbled upon a restaurant curling with European charm, then onto an ancient church, gated, with an overgrown path that led into darkness.
But this morning is the same as all the others.
Too much noise.
Too much humanity.
Dissonance and palms.

Los Suenos

Lady Tico,
my winged Queen,
what is it that you carry in your cherry red plane?
I imagine it to be nothing more than dust of the country you last visited; the one with an incendiary sun and birds of prey which eat lizards, their guts spilling onto hot stones.
You are a dark angel of smoke monsters and clacking engines.
I had feared your coming.
Yet your plane swoops innocently above the mountain tops and through fog rings.
It buzzes across the Great Lake, connecting two continents on a slip of earth.
Then it descends, landing on a grassy airstrip greeted by white horses and steer with creamy throats.
The lizards dance, their heads bobbing, and the birds of prey perch in a nearby tree, watching as they clean their feathers with hooked beaks.
Then you, my Queen, step out of your plane in your blue satin heels and linen dress made of golden thread.
The sunlight holds your hand and cloaks your shoulders like a cape.
Your hair is a color wheel of complements.
A train of wild flowers blooms with each step that you take, the dust from your heels its watering can.
How foolish I was to think that you would bring ruin to my patch of heaven.
I realize now there is no such thing as entropy in the lands that you’ve touched.
You shock us all into immortality.

In Case of an Emergency

This is not a test of the emergency alert system.
I repeat.
Not a test.
So listen closely.
Our universe is a slice of bread moving through a void faster than you
care to know.
After all, how to make the perfect summer cocktail, watching the new rom-com trailer or cute animals in sweaters is definitely more pertinent to daily existence.
However, while you were distracted,
other slices of bread, which could be similar or totally different from ours, have been careening along side of our universe, weaving in and out of traffic.
Some are texting, others are drinking a forty or just stoned out of their minds.
One ran a stop sign a few light years back.
It’s actually a miracle that we’ve gotten this far on the great cosmic highway without an accident.
But buckle up folks, because you’re about to face a major collision occurring exactly NOW, or when space-time says so.
Best case scenario, the Milky Way escapes with a jolt bigger than any earthquake you could imagine, complete with hell fire, followed by a brief free fall, then temperatures hovering around absolute zero.
Worst case, it’s the end of the world.
On the bright side, its also possibly the beginning of a new one, not that you will be around to tickle its tummy.
The exact outcome is very hard to say with all these
mathematical approximations.
We tried our best.
This is not a test.
I repeat, not a test.
Brace. Brace. Brace.

Recruitment

People are not commodities.
They cannot be imported,
or deported.
They are the brick and stone;
the pavement and the horns;
the barren trees that twist in winter storms.
People are an expression of culture,
and their absence is death.

Fractals

LISTEN TO THE AUDIO RECORDING

A dandelion is torn from my hand by a wind that cloaks the prairie.
Storm clouds nock like archers, sky bruised and yellow.
My tabby cat’s fur is worried,
his eyes are flecks of gold shaken over a green river.
There is a cut on his belly,
fat and orange,
the blood well-licked.
He cries in the flowering tree in my front yard where
sheets of rain pain the branches.
Our horses lay down in the pasture,
bodies heaving like frightened angels.
Chickens hide in holes where they once took dirt baths.
I huddle in the basement with my mother and sister,
waiting for the storm to pass.

The projector carousel stalls.
Someone in the room coughs.
I can’t turn my head.
The images click forward once more.

I’m on a boat of tall sails on a glinting ocean.
My hand clasps a glass of golden wine.
The liquid shimmers and dances in the afternoon sunlight.
The boat see-saws gently like a rocking horse.
A gull swirls in the cornflower sky, free of clouds and storms.
A woman with blonde hair and calico sunglasses holds her hand at her brow.
“I told you the weather would turn,” she says.

The projector stalls.
Someone coughs.
“That was wrong,” says a smudge.
“Correct it. Hurry. Turn the slides backwards,” says another.

I am present.
My hands are on my knees.
My breath still,
joints stiff from the folding chair.

Others are in the room with me, watching slides of their own.
And I wonder:
Are any of these images really mine?
Or just memories that someone wanted me to see?

I stand to leave.

“You can’t go!” says the smudge.
“It’s too late,” says the other. “She’s awake.”