junior varsity – #poetrymonth #poetry

junior varsity

At the crack of the gun
they lurch and surge
with all the chaos and color
of three hundred
discarded candy wrappers
whipped by a summer gust

they come
glowering
prepared
determined
charged with anticipation
of the pain to come
and the deferred joy
of the finish line
three miles away

We parents
behind our cameras
bark inspiration and optimism
imagining rather than feeling
the ground tremble
under the pounding ferocity
as they gallop past.

Barriers – #PoetryMonth #poetry

barriers

cheap whiskey, neat
in an antiseptic hotel bar
across a broad table
its fake wood grain sticky
with syrupy drips
and saccharine words

secondary colleagues
chatter and whine
about pretentious plenaries
and boring breakouts

glass empty, bill paid
duty complete, I rise
offering feigned regrets
to cover one final glance
at your mahogany hair
and flushed cheeks
and tired green eyes

you catch me
at the elevator
we both push fourteen
and laugh, surprised

on the slow rise
I relish the strawberry scent
of your lip gloss
and ask after your kids (good)
your job (fine)
your husband (oh, you know)

what are the odds
in a hotel with 2,000 rooms
yours would adjoin mine

as we mumble our goodnights
in the dull fluorescence
I wonder if you also wish
that the only thing separating us
was a thin panel of drywall

one afternoon – #poetry but not #poetrymonth poetry

one afternoon

It rests in the rolling shallows,
this boat that once had a name
and a worthy purpose,
bumping against its crumbling dock
in the absent-minded rhythm
of the water’s eternal rise and fall.
Cracked and clouded windows
stare at us with a vacant scowl
like marbled eyes in the rest home
when other people’s grandchildren
tiptoe past the open door.

You and I meander the trampled grass,
reminisce around rocky inlets,
taste the spiced breeze of low tide.
We stroll along the polished train tracks,
their shiny new gravel peppered with
discarded, rust-crusted spikes.

stillness – #poetry but not #poetrymonth poetry

stillness

The little purple rose,
petite petals gathered
in restrained propriety,
stares all day
out my bedroom window
like an old maid
with her plaid blanket
of rough Scottish wool
smoothed across her lap.

With the patience of generations,
she watches the changeless scene,
her gentle smile turning toward
the winter sun’s waning warmth.

All she asks is
a sip of water
a few kind words
and the rich taste
of her deep-rooted memories.

detaching – #poetry but not #poetrymonth poetry

detaching

A snip, a slice–
One rose past its prime,
its petals turned sepia
and brittle
like parchment
left too near the hearth,
tips and tumbles
to thud in the dust
at my neighbor’s feet.

I watched her all morning
as she eyed the bush
not unlike the way a crow
inspects a squirrel carcass
squished on the street.

Three times her snips rose,
and thrice she relented,
retreating to survey the bush anew.

I finished two mugs of coffee
and one crossword puzzle
watching her seek
the perfect pruning position.

The bush, for its part, never flinched.

This warrior,
with her feints and posturing,
armored in her striped cloth gloves,
and flop-brimmed sun hat,
and flannel yard shirt,
glowered like crusaders of old,
the grim grime of eons
etched in wrinkles
on her face.

One snip.
One slice.
One step toward peace.

make or break – #poetry but not #poetrymonth poetry

Make or break

Stubborn,
snow clings
in the high branches
against the gales
pouring from stoic granite peaks.
A gray day.
Quiet. Tensed.
I twist tight my scarf,
turn my face to the winds.
Only in their sharpness
does clarity come.

If it comes at all.

I’ve walked
up this mountain
through hip-deep snow
for a dozen lifetimes,
and I will walk it
a dozen more,
building footprint stories
erased by time
and the failures
of memory.

Ever bright,
the lights of your cabin windows
gleam in the distance,
like a tiger’s eyes–
both curious
and disinterested.

As I plunge forward ,
I wonder
not for the first time
whether this climb
is truly
worth the effort.

epiphany – #poetry but not #poetrymonth poetry

Epiphany

As I walk
A rainbow shimmers
Ten hundred gleaming drops
In red, orange, green, indigo
Shaking and quaking
An ecstasy of color
A brilliance of joy

And when winter’s fingers
Flip the world topsy-turvy
And paint a silver mask
Over every color

I know

In the rhythm of my pulse
In the mists of my breath
In the scrape of my steps

That one day the gray
Will be shaken loose
And sent scattering
Like flies off the shiver
Of a horse’s back.

unsent letters – #poetry but not #poetrymonth poetry

unsent letters

Umbrella-huddled blurs
trudge past the cafe window
in dripping grays and blacks
mottled and melted
like zombies
in an amateur painting
raised from the graveyard
of a suburban garage sale

If they were to look through
the rain-melted window
what would they think of me
and my cold, half-finished coffee
sitting across from
your empty chair
trying not to dissolve

Pages in a journal – #poetry but not #poetrymonth poetry

Pages in a journal

Leaves, yellowed and browned
in the cold winds
after a hot, dry summer,
cling to grayed, shivering twigs
that point skyward,
like the splayed fingers
of cracked and crooked wizards
summing stormclouds.

Raindrops slice down,
heavy and hard, soaking in
until the desperate branches sag
and the leaves tear off
one by one
to drop to the ground
where they will decay,
leaving behind an emptiness
where one day
the brightness of hope
will bring forth new buds
nourished by
the quiet tears of winter.

next time – #poetry but not #poetrymonth poetry

next time

No one saw us dancing
at the party
as we glided
separately
from room
to crowded room
greeting old friends
and avoiding each other
with practiced precision
until at the end of the night
our embrace on the threshold
lasted an acceptable duration
and we expressed
our mutual regret
at not spending
more time
together