It's too bad that some situations don't come with a trap door. Like many people, I sometimes find myself in embarrassing situations, but then I look on the bright side. If I can still embarrass myself, it must mean that I'm still learning, and that is never a bad thing.

 

It's time for the locust, short-horned devil, scorched grasshopper, fat and thunder shod, invited by the summer ripe of season. It is wrapped up in harvest fire, buzzard-hearted, almost quiet in it's singularity, but when intent expands, it rattles at the stake like an awful witch, and conjures up a hungry blanket of bad company.

Hey Mouse, brown spontaneity, you better run down the sidewalk far away from me because your serenity on my property depends on secrets you can keep from me. Like most of the rest of my kind, I disrespect your squatter's rights, even if your worth, your merit is actually not my call. I can't approve our sojourn, and would have to customize our separation with a snap of metal judgment disguised as an appetizing gift. And that's a brutality I choose to do without. So run, little fellow, run fast, away!

I woke up wanting, and there is never a blueprint for my want. I want to grab a bunch of candy and peel it from the womb of shiny wrap and devour it. I want to be a big dog and snatch a burger and leave the onion and the bun. I want to be the wind and suck a breath mint from the lilac bushes (even though they're not blooming now). I want to be as politically incorrect like garlic on a cookie, as dog poop on a Welcome mat. I want to be a mustang roaring toward the ridge, an Irishman in a kilt dancing the jig on olive water. I want to be a rockface with a strong forehead, broad shoulders and a blank space where life would have given me a brain. I want to be a well digger, a mosquito -- the brief disgrace of being a base-and-treble wire on a blood-filled target, a flea, a nervosity, a steel shaving, something seeking fortune by stealth. I want to be a kite up there on breezes, a hint of color raving, briefly normal than a clatter of disarray, momentarily equal to the sun. Okay, I want a lot of things and I may be a fool, but I'm not a stodgy fool. Come with me!

The body is a congregation of bones, intuition of flesh, a paroxysm of affection. The body is an all inclusive apparatus touched by the neutrality of spit, cheapened by bowels that make a stink about giving up possession. We are encased in the intimacy of our own personal darkness, but also -- because we are the sort that push our intent like gardens into a forest of the unknown, and, if let down, if knocked down, demand our stance upward-- there is still hope for us.

 

Desert: Response Without Apology to Accusation of a Cold Heart

 Life is fundamental, deep pocketed where cactus, agave, mesquite and sagebrush pace themselves.         Xerophytes make vertical and lateral provisions. They specialize with basal strength and keep a distance.                          There the gila monster, beaded blush and black, chews to spread toxin through living pulp of casualty snatched unaware from pediment and life along arroya.                          In this decor, the lizard too, rattlesnake, horn lizard, scorpion, horned toad pursues infrequent food and water over coarse-rock pavement plain, through drift that swivels hips to wide horizon, and whispers flaxen brushstroke in constant change of little difference.                        What goes beyond the tourist here finds that land is not impressed by it.  What lingers learns environment with the tough hide of its skull and features wizened, and weathers harsh to know its limitations that dictate forfeit of a parcel of its verdict and its conscience to achieve equanimity in an algebraic tract.

I like the white light that sticks to ponds on sunny days. I like torrential light draped from heaven. The hoopla of a storm. A big loofah of clouds. And I hold in high regard all creatures and amusedly ponder the meaning- of-life mystery of any language of mood-choice-sound not articulately my own.

DEATH BY BEDTIME STORY: A child hears a wolf at distance because the child has heard the tale, and links one hand with the other. There is no other for the clutching in the expressionless expanse of a small room grown huge from darkness. The child presses to keep a vow of courage, NOT to call for mother, NOT to wet the bed and waits for what comes first--- sleep---- the sunrise--- or death by bedtime story.

TRASH CAN FULL OF EMPTY BOTTLES

One sister looks out the window at flames that lick black air and beat like a heart in a wire basket. Among the bottles, dolls burn. Heads smoke. Faces pucker into melt. She bites her lip and links fingers to hold herself together.

And

One sister counts pennies into neat stacks, a copper village on a fruitcake carpet. She compares columns, debates arithmetic. She is intent to create a little balance in a house gone mad when parents drink.

 

THE OLD PIANO TEACHER: The old piano teacher did not speak of Auschwitz. Where a furnace stirred potpourri air, she ignored a bestial wind that rapped at windows. Where a toy poodle yapped beside two cats in a tartan basket, there was music. She crossed the polished floor in duck-faced bedroom shoes to inflict my mother's will upon me. The old piano teacher wore pearls and gray crepe for the occasion. She extended fuzzy yellow feet to the pedals of Shoninger piano. Light eyes flashed beneath the concertina wire of her hair as she looked at photographs of other students with backs against the wall. As I approached, a recently misted Boston fern whispered when brushed and dropped a frond to the polished floor. The hands of a gold-toothed clock goose- stepped forward only five minutes into my first lesson. I was afraid of the piano teacher, afraid of her old face, her gnarled hands, afraid of her cadaver gray, skin-fisted eyes. She was aware of my discomfort. "Some things change life indescribably," she said. "Music is one of them." She threw back her head as if it was gripped by a savage hand. Her strong, rapid pulse pumped up her calm white pearls. She laughed and played Chopsticks. Done...done...done...done.. done. Done. Done. Done. She was not a monster. The duck-faced bedroom shoes should have been a giveaway.

 

BLUE MOON:  One moon is in the sky. One moon is on the water. There are two moons where the cicada fills his room, then is too big for it. One seed glories in suckled sunshine. One seed shrivels with repast. There is a pact between the colors on the mother's palette. Fingers touched, and eyes. Did you suffer, weaker one? Did what you feel when the other was shoved through the heart attack of light go beyond the skin? What horror did you know of death before the moment born?   One Moon is in the sky. One moon is in the water. The creek bed draws moisture to soak its tired feet, and those of the interloper. Something small convulses on the water surface and sends little signals as it breaks apart. The visitor is ambidextrous. She reaches to bring together a piece from either hand, and fails, and grieves, and agitates the separation. One moon is in the sky. The other moon is gone.

REMEMBERING SOMEONE: Night broke its back over another day all wet with color. Dawn, dawn, another dawn with something started in a room where breath was mechanical and heartbeat was a pulse of light. Doctors gave your shattered nucleus zero chance to fix itself. They told us you were gone. The old priest dabbed oil and kissed glaring cloth. He said your soul was hanging above an empty parcel. I was a hundred miles away and eating pizza with a man who, at best, amused me on the day you fell. I could not catch you one time in turn for the hundred times your kindness fixed me. I looked away toward hills that were full of gunshot. Perhaps deer season had begun, I don't know since not a hunter, and perhaps something with a mother's face went down far from houses bright-eyed in the throat of autumn. The moon was a cracked skull balanced on the bower. It did not recall birds born in wooden baskets and those that fell. What did you remember? Outside the window, leaves trembled. Bark quaked in patterns of autumn as it organized death into a nostalgia of yellow pictures. The earth knew when to let things go. I gazed upon your broken face. You would not want me to see that and would have asked for a hat to hide your hair. I touched a jigsaw geography of bones. I kissed you. Tomorrow they would let you go, and did. I wonder if they unplugged the iron in your home, the toaster, the heating pad with its modicum of comfort, beside your worn out slippers... My vision blurred on the wall as the picture frames let go, and flowers once contained by wooden border, orchard in dress rehearsal of red fruit, and a meadow full of meadowness.... went free.