September 18, 2011

My Last Willing Testament

Now I have begun unraveling
the yard I spun on moonish nights,
all woven through with threads of summer gold,
worn softly, and worn soft
with all the touching.

Now I have begun giving away,
piecemeal, my collections,
tokens, and bits, and sacred scraps of
value beyond rubies.

(Or, they were, before
I took them to the bank.)

Now I have knelt, thick of bone,
awkward of muscle, there
by the river where I gathered
lilies once, and later, watered
armored horses.

Now I wash
my banners and my ball gowns
in a machine, mixed
with socks and dish towels,
and occupy myself with
lining bins, and clearing space.

The Roast's Soliloquy (a eulogy to my twenties)

The timer dings,
the door clangs open. Clattering,
I am dragged out, spitting
and hissing and suddenly cold.

No! - put me back! -
I am not finished, put me back
until I'm hard and golden on the outside,
until I'm rich
and mellow on the inside,
until my juices run clear,
gleaming and unctuous around a prick.

I have not been there
long enough, I tell you -
yes, I've been seasoned,
stuffed and brined,
and complemented well
by what you've got there
on the side, and by that wine
you bought, but all of that will be wasted -
it's too soon!

Put me back! You'll regret it, you will
think me good and fine and finished,
till you cut too deep and hit too red,
and make a face - "Uck!" - and spit me out.
Well, it won't be my fault,

I told you I wasn't ready.

April 25, 2011

Skydance

Inspired by this photograph.

When the bonfire of drunken gods
rose, unattended, past their control
& burned a heart-shaped breach in black velvet,
gaping immodestly, carelessly
exposing an intimate decimal of sky
that contorted, naked & furious
at the imposition,
the invasion, the rudeness, the cheek of it,

you were there. You saw it all
and didn't compound the violation
by averting your eyes.

Politeness nothing -
when the universe cracks open,
when the cards tumble into a yes,
when the seventh veil hits the floor,
politeness is an insult.

But morning slammed
a bright blue boudoir door,
all pretty priggish prudishness,
white lace & cotton. Cotton-mouthed,
hung-over, groggy and ashamed, the erstwhile

savages pretended it never happened.
No one saw it.
Until it never happened.
Until no one saw it,

in all its flame-framed glory
but you. So let them walk
beneath boudoir blue skies,
daylight-glazed eyed and all.
You know what's there,

behind black velvet.
You know what's waiting.

April 24, 2011

Joni Mitchell, Coffee & the Rain

It's been a long time
since I've gone out,
casting lines & fishnet
stockings, stocking up
on stories, taking stock
of what I've lived,

and where I've gone,
and what I've done -

- long time -

well, maybe someday
I'll be able
to listen to a slow sad song
without the ghosts of werewolves
forever creeping up motel steps,
and suspended bridges
dangling between places
no one visits anymore,
and husbands who were never
where they should have been -

- maybe someday -

but I don't know that I'd want to.

I lived my early years
as a thirty-year-old woman,
cautious, routine-oriented, just a little bit
desperate. I found youth late, was late
to the party, was grateful
the bar was open still,
overdid it a bit.
I'm pushing thirty now, hard
like a door in heavy wind,

and I don't mind, I know
it swings both ways
if you push hard enough -

- but I don't want to, now -

I'm listening to Joni Mitchell,
who's looked at life from both sides now,
31 years apart, and drinking

coffee on a rainy day,
and for now, it all makes sense,
even to the ghosts.

April 11, 2011

Right Kind of Man (lyric)

It's the wrong time
It's the wrong place
Wrong thing on your mind
Wrong look on your face
There's nothing to do here
You're just waiting around
Nothing to stand for
So you'll sit this one out

In another time,
In another age
You might have been a soldier,
Might have been a saint
And you'd die for a cause
If there were any left
But all the causes are lost now,
All that's left is effects

Lip-servicing leaders
On flickering screens
Rabble-backed rebels
In designer jeans
And they all look the same
They all sound alike
They're all giving hand-outs
And they're all taking bribes

Wrong time,
Wrong place
Wrong thing on your mind
Wrong look on your face,
There's no chance
And there's no plan
For the right kind of man

Tried falling in love
Just landed in bed
She left her face on your pillow
And a noise in your head
By the light of the morning,
There was nothing to say
Yeah, the morning came early
though the light came late

But you'd climb her tower
Like a storybook knight
If it ever felt real
If it ever felt right
Sing by her window
Find a dragon to slay
And you'd even be faithful
If you still had any faith

But it's the wrong time,
it's the wrong place
Wrong thing on your mind,
wrong look on your face
Nowhere left to go,
No room left to pretend
For the right kind of man

Nothing to do here,
Just sitting around
On a stool in a bar
On a therapist's couch
Yeah, nothing to stand for.
You just sit this one out.

April 10, 2011

Dorian (lyric)

The day that you were born,
your mama held you in her arms
and said you were as perfect as an angel

And all of heaven's blessings,
they flew to fill your room
and the stars came down to decorate your cradle

Everybody said,
when you became a man,
oh, you would be a man like no other

That everything you wanted
would fall into your hands
and every girl would want you for her lover

They all said,
Dorian, Dorian
glamour and glory and
victory's waiting wherever you go
Golden one, chosen one
Fate-favored favorite son
Don't disappoint us, now
Give us a show

When you and I first met,
I was still a girl
Stars in my eyes and clouds in my head

I belonged to you,
but you belonged to the world
How could I believe it wouldn't end

So many years have passed
and everything has changed
but how could I not recognize you

Though your beauty's faded
and all that remains now
Is a conqueror's smile and a suicide's eyes

Dorian, Dorian
Wrote your whole story on
Used cocktail napkins from bars long closed down
Older and slowing down
But still making the rounds
Of all your old haunts and your old hunting grounds

Dorian, Dorian
Could have been anyone
But you were the one I thought of
all this time
Wish you could have been the one
Wish I could have been the one
It's done, my darling,
the knots all untied.

April 9, 2011

Wheel Comes Back Around (lyric)

I remember this place. We've been here before
Laughed a night away, raised our glasses to the moon
And I drank in your happy, smiling face and I knew
I'd be seeing you again someday soon

So I counted off the days and the nights
For the next time in another little town
To step into the warmth of your bright living light
And catch the wheel, coming back around

Put a pack on my back, put some miles on my shoes
Crossed a map, chasing down a moment
Caught the mean reds, the yellow sweats, and the smoky blues
Lost and found more than I ever knew I wanted

I have paid a fair price for every lesson
There's no easy landing coming down
From a flight of blind exhilaration
When the wheel comes turning back around

And I've asked myself, if any of it worth it
When the wind went wrong and scattered all my plans
But there's always somewhere safe to surface
And strangers will surprise you when they turn out to be friends

And we'll meet again someday, this I know
Though I'm not sure when or where or how
Guess I'll see you when I see you, somewhere down the road
Guess I'll see you when the wheel comes back around.

Rainy Night, Windy City (lyric)

It was all gonna be so easy
Spare each other from being alone
Rainy night in the Windy City,
A hotel, both of us far from home

Made our own little night on the town
Weak martinis in plastic cups
They closed the dance floor down
But we were still up

Your boys were up having their party
And my friend was asleep in my room
So we kissed on a couch in the lobby
And talked until dawn

Talked about old expectations
The dreams and the chances we'd had
Disappointments, obligations,
The commitments and choices we made

Rainy morning, Windy City
The sun coming staggering up
The desk clerk on night shift took pity
Gave us coffee in small paper cups

We laughed when we said "See you later"
Cause we knew we were making no plans
Kissed goodbye at the elevator
To our hopelessly chaste one-night stand

Rainy flight from the Windy City
On the plane in my clothes from last night
Rainy night, passed so sweetly
Almost easy to leave behind.

Long Way Around (lyric)

I'm living my life
but I'm biding my time
I play my part
but I'm saying your lines
I've gotten so good
at telling the lies you tell.

And I can't stop looking
at this picture of us
Been staying up nights
talking to your ghost
I find the words
but I've already lost my breath

And I take the long way around
The holy and the haunted
hunting grounds
The long arms of the shadows
of my doubts
And all the footsteps
that still chase me down

No strings attached,
but my fingers got caught
Picked the wrong pocket
and lost by default
I guess I'm not
as tough as I thought I was.

So I laugh like a fool,
and I lie like a thief
I wear a disguise
of smiling white teeth
I won't be accused
of weakness or grief, I won't.

And I take the coward's way out
Say it didn't matter, anyhow
Reasons coming easy from my mouth
For taking the long way around

It's not like I'm
some kind of victim here
My eyes were open
and my mind was clear
It's just you meant
so much more to me.

Lines

So you're in prison,
and every line
you scrape along the wall
is one more bar clacking into place.

The answer is so obvious -
stop drawing lines,
start pulling bricks out,
work,
struggle,
DO something -

but then the day is done,
you count the lines,
scratch another one in.

January 22, 2011

Reprise (Reprise)

The fear of repeating oneself makes you forget
some things are worth repeating.

The fear of futility makes you forget
youth doesn't equal foolishness.

The fear of being foolish makes you forget
to think.

Nonetheless, I've said it all before,
when I was young and silly,
so . . .

January 21, 2011

Monsters

They've sucked the life out of me,
I want to say, but
that's a goddamn cop-out -

who is this "they," what kind
of vampire monster
going bump in the
nine to five,

and what use have they for my life -

they've got their own, too much in fact,
rent, credit cards, disaffecting jobs
and disappointing lovers -

and when would they do it, anyway,
there's not a moment in my day
off-guard - perhaps when I am standing, stupefied

aboard a palsied subway car, pressed against
strangers intimately, numbly staring at
the chin of someone whose chin
reminds me of someone I remembered
often, once -

unlikely. But what I wouldn't give -
if there was anything left -
for a bogeyman, a scary,
wicked, shady, snatching thing

to come out from under the bed,
and rescue me.