Thursday, September 11, 2014

Light Calling

She held
  her life in her own hands
as if it were an egg.  Strange, small,
     fragile.
A world within, unknown. 
Unexpectedly still intact, she had never seen the whole
of a shell. She imagined
the egg pulsed; felt not vibration
from this hope but believed
    birth
not death
would be discovered if she were careful.

Between her thumb
and middle finger, she held it up to the light
streaming through her bedroom window,
to see if she might see inside
but found the covering too thick.
Still, with her index finger, she twirled
this secret little world around;
an oval earth rotating on axis of her will.   
She cupped it gently
                   in her palm,
feeling its cold, smooth shape.
She placed it on a piece of paper, spun it like a bottle
in a kissing game;

removed her touch and noted shadow
and when tired of speculation,
                 she devised a plan for hatching.
She made a nest of blankets in a basket
and went to sleep to wait.  She dreamed
she was inside the egg, warm and safe and placid,
curled up tightly in a ball.  She felt this
while her eyes were closed but a sound
from faraway
woke her and her eyes without permission opened.
Her confinement produced no great unease
though her feet began to tingle.

She strained
        to hear the sound outside herself− a voice,
muffled,
       deep.
Conflicting thoughts entered her mind. 
She felt compelled to venture out and meet the call
but also wary.  There seemed only one way out−
that of fracture and this, if she were honest, she feared,
so holed up like a mole in hiding she fell back asleep. 
For years. And in the dream she dreamed she woke
unable to remember where she came from but knowing
who she was. 

And light was streaming
       through
the bedroom, spreading over her, so welcoming
the day, she stretched
        and was subtly aware
that as she did, small bits of shell fell softly off her,
though overall this was unremarkable.  Sitting
on the edge of her bed, she stilled a moment before rising,
and asked the voice that was in the light if she might
be able to see at last the large world outside herself,
and for the ability to release her will, offering herself
to the divine, deriving
power from something higher, demanding nothing
and asking for help only and finally, when she stood,
                                                            with eyes wide open,
she walked out toward the calling,
                                                             unafraid.

Margo Roby


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Our Bedroom


The lock on the door that does not keep the children out; every
size of sock, balled up, scattered everywhere, unpaired;
dead
deep-red roses
drooping sadly, heads bowed down, stems entombed in a clouded
vase− eleven of them, so, one short of a dozen
(strange); brown framed
               depiction
of a laughing, happy Jesus beneath a brown for background
canvas of our names in cursive inside heart of petals; bought
for twenty dollars at a yard sale,
          end of day,
two velvety violet-ish
couches, covered in dog hair, one doubling as a desk, the other
as a hamper; on the coffee table, another vase (this one tinted pink)
with withered flowers– these of unknown variety – purple, too many
to count;...

Plants do not fare well here.  Like the best-laid plans.

                         ... edges
everywhere, crossed, overlaid: books, furniture, shoes overlapping
the edge
where carpet meets tile;
edge of dresser, mantle,
nightstands, all surfaced with papers, trinkets, valuables
and not-so-valuables, threatening
to topple
off;...

There are no clear lines here.  Sharp-played piano keys sound
out.  I cannot tune
                        it out.
Not
plunking of rote song
but rather impromptu melody made by small, playful fingers,
moving like geed horses
and also bullet-voices marking breaks, shooting through
these flimsy walls.

...bluest blue sky
seen from my window; subtler blues inside, copycat shades
on candles, glass, hair on a painting where I was favoring
experimentation, in photographs, scarves,
sheets; lip balm in a small, round tin that I can’t open
but won’t throw out; few spots open for sitting or even walking;...

A dismal mess.  Signaling
   disorder
in our marriage? 
So says a study.

...blanket thrust off the bed in heat, still crumpled on the floor;...

What calm I remember, a ruse believed sub rosa, wrought carefully
with such intricate threads of denial.


...words, words, words, meandering across pages and pages−
poems, prayer journal,
notebooks full of distilled hope; (such
              shallow thirst)
attempts to release heavy weight of this; damaged trust
hidden in a drawer;
half-truths pandering to sentiment hanging on all the walls;...

Media in vitae in morte sumus.

...paperwork combed through for clues; in bowls, matching rings,
unworn; captured and enlarged mocking smile; the muck
of bad luck evidenced in disarray; indulged in urges; aroma
of your cologne, distinct; written rants; and more than what
is written here or even seen.


But, oh, beautiful, imperfect man− my room was a mess
before you moved in.

The Sunday Whirl
                       

Friday, September 5, 2014

HOW TO GRIEVE A DREAM


First:  acknowledge that it is a dream
you grieve−
nothing more.

I have just that.
Nothing more.  I have just begun. 
Have only just stood
in the hollow made by that assent
staring into the void, turning
my soiled hands around and around
to see if I can recognize the dirt
woven in with my veins.
Have only just
recently seen
that it (we− you) was
(were) merely what I wanted it to be
and nothing more.

How, seeking reality, did I,
made of clay, sculpt
man with such care, my hands
so gently
smoothing?  Yes, my fingers
can still feel skin where I thought
your face to be.  I cannot call to mind
an image of my thumbs sinking
into your flesh
carving out cup-shaped sockets
to look so deeply into
but here, I see,
beneath my nails, the mud.
What greater sin than this
surmoulage?  I do not believe I breathed
when we kissed.

I had a falling dream and woke to find
I really fell.  I am still plummeting.
In the mornings, words greet me.
Unfinished words, I long ago
(not that long ago) began to paint
stenciled on my wall.  The pencil
marks for every letter
are still there, illegible
from anywhere but up close
but the crimson color fill-in fills in
three letters only of a phrase
that was meant to say
a room of one’s own.  I left
the project incomplete
when you moved in.  

Too, unseen, behind books
another fragmentary sentiment:
Half-done purple painted verse:
Hosea 2:14.  I followed your voice
instead, afraid of the desert
and true tenderness.

All these partial writing on the walls.
Like the picture taken early on
that now looks altered in this light.
I can’t say quite how I perceived it before
but now your grin jumps out
too self-assured and my own small smile
registers a certain wariness as if that girl
knew more than what I know now.
And there I wore, and wear even now,
around my neck a symbol of your heart,
that supposed offering.

I think step two is to stop addressing
everything to you, to turn away
from that which I’ve created so I can see
in whose image I’ve been made.
To see what is truly bound,
not around my neck, but on my forehead,
what is tied as symbol to my hands,
what is fixed in my heart and mind.
What words expressed,


I do not wish to make you smaller
than life but only life-sized, finally
so I can recognize my hands when clean.
You can then break, freely.
I will leave your pieces be and pray,
confessing guilt for forgery
and after kneeling, my eyes will see
the evidence of woodwork, revealing
that I have never been alone.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

These Things

A dream
is a poem
is a dream.  Obscure.  I am picking it apart
for clarity, piecing back as best I can, the glimpses,
fragile, lightweight half-truths that they are
and I am considering letting them drop.
                                  Letting them go.
(Though they shine)

I do not want to write you this.
I do not want to write one more poem for you.
I cannot avoid this.  I cannot mature
past this
point.
Past
     this dream.

You have just brought me a cup of coffee−
     these
are the sweet thing
you do.  You ask if there is anything else
you can do, lightly touching my back, leaning
                    in
to kiss me.  These things
that I’ve interpreted as love− as if love
is a formula to be expressed by specific
                   symbols.
But nothing is this simple.


You have left me with my coffee and my pen
to write.  Do you guess that I will write of you? 
My hands are bleeding.
As for the rest of me− what will
become of it now?  What
will  I look like
in the mirror anymore, I wonder.


We only ever saw the stars
                      so dazzling,
the one night.  Remember?  Even though
every night, I look up.  I said that night
that we were missing all the good stuff.
I don’t know what I meant.  These− all−
are just fragments.  Our foreheads touching,
unaware someone was taking a photo. 
Were you asking if there was anything I needed?
Did I fall asleep with vision of that moment?
Just that one.  That one and ones like it
and build dreams
to carry me through
the waking?  What will I do now?  Everyone
else was looking at the camera but all I saw
was you.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Belonging

Not long at all
after we started dating, we declared our song to be “Ho Hey”−
which is a stupid name for a song so we refer to it instead
by the lines of its chorus & these lines, I bought for you
on your birthday with a frame & now hanging
above our bed
are the words, “I belong to you,
you belong to me.”  I read recently
that:
“There is a reason the word belonging has a synonym
for want at its center; it is the human condition”
& I suppose this is true, but the thing is, though now
I can’t imagine how I’d live (or ever did) in your absence,
belonging either to or with another was something
that I always feared; autonomy, the language that I spoke,
the rift that I created to exist between us & somehow,
in spite of this, you caught me & being caught
turns out to not be bad
at all.  In ways, to be sustained in union produces certain
new-found freedoms.
Shortly after I ceased resisting, I found
encompassed in your arms, room to move in brand new ways.
                                   Allurement
sifting previous notions, softening
the hard ground I’d stood upon, so flight became an option. 
Beneath my feet, the sturdy rocks
I’d forever taken for granted began to shift like old, rickety
floor boards in a dangerously aging house
& jumping now, a bit more promising…

another strange
fact of speech discovered in what it means to cleave−
the unwritten understanding that inherent in the explanation
of is a choice:  to split from or stick fast to or also
both if interpreted in biblical terms
& I think
my reasons for remaining
in my alienage were simply
tools
constructing makeshift cliff I wished someone would
save me from, quite confused on the differences between
what was desire & what was need until you kissed me
& my bones turned into wings.  I still can’t speak to you
of love without a stutter but at least the subject
no longer renders me completely silent.  Your courage
baffles me & fuels my own.  Together, we
compose unspoken,
unmatched melody reviving romance.  Released
from cloud-capped
captivity, I’m flourishing feet on ground.

Friday, August 22, 2014

What's Constant

Baby, I can’t tackle
the news or noise− I’ve tried.
I can’t take the static
or the slant or the supposed
statistics anymore, so,
I return to you
curl up in the comfort of us.

I read the stories,
the suppositions, all the slander,
and I get worked up
and then worn out and my ears
just hurt.

I start
to fear
for the state of the nation
and the future of the truth
and where it stands.
I start
to fear my own voice, the burn
in my throat
so I return to truth.

    I begin again to poise,
                          to position myself
                          on the side
                          of what I know
                          is right.
                          I return to you,
simply,
because baby, see,
truth is, you’re my voice
of calm in this crazy world
                         and you’re the reason
to my rhyme,
     meaning,
not that you’re my higher power
but only that you’re one
God-given reason to believe in one, 

so because
I can’t write lines
to tickle the ears of the masses
and because
I have a knack
for leaving unfinished
what I’ve started…
or
rather, an addiction
to new ideas
that trumps my commitment
to completion,
    I find it easiest
               to just write
never ending words for you.

I try and center,
remember back
two days ago
how we had a downpour
and the thunder
roared
and the
ground flooded, the rain trampling all
the dirt

and how
when the sun returned
I noticed like it was a brand
new phenomenon and I heard some bird
song vying for attention
                         that I’d never
heard before.

How suddenly the sky clearing−
sun-cracking ember first
then brightest blue warding off
the clouds
seemed quite poetic
and verse-worthy.
How I hadn’t even realized
before that moment
that my mood
had matched the weather.

The weather is as fickle
as the headlines
but at least it’s fresh.
So, I’m drawing from that instant
a little bit of joy
and cleansing and I’m likening it
to you because
I’m convinced that if anything
in this world remains as good, it’s love
and baby, love
is me and you.

Love is the way you
look at our daughters
like they are morning
glories just discovered
in earliest hours.

It’s the way
you teach our sons
how to be men
in a world of boys.

It’s the way you
tuck me in
and wake me up
with the prickle of goose bump kisses.
It’s that your kind
and that I’m rather fond of you.

It’s that your thoughts echo
and your heart mirrors mine.
It’s your midday call and your steady
talk that’s balm for my frantic
overloaded mind.

And though the seasons
                         shift
and the clock
ticks quickly and time
slips fast away
especially when we’re together
                    the fact remains
                    that your presence
is reminder
that love, not fear, fuels
voice.

So, I’m done wrestling
with words of protest.
I’m done with platform
and with preaching.
I’m giving in instead
to what some
             still
believe makes the world
go round.

I’m silencing whatever’s in me
that’s afraid of healing.
It seems this fallen world
            has finally culminated
to a place of mass insanity,
given itself over to terror
and to hate

but I now surrender
      in this dark
      hour
to a purer force−
that of love.

And I’d rather write sap than filth,
romance than lies; I’m energizing

   my own peace movement,
my own
sit-in where I don’t move
until I’ve swayed

my heart
toward courage; the courage
to write on and on to you,
unashamed of simple love poems
believing there’s still
room
for progress on that front.





Sunday, August 17, 2014

Spent

I.
To put things in perspective:
there are children starving
in Africa…
and in India…
and even here− in America ( the Beautiful).
The above−
       a note to self.
My-self:  who, sadly, it is easiest to think of.

II.
The list of what
                 we can’t afford
is growing rapidly.
Meanwhile, we are not in view
of any bright or grand futurity.
The middle class is learning
that the stark black type that wrote them in
and the white blank space that offered room
to move were merely hues….or shades.
Not anything to be counted on.

Now, the gap widens and we more clearly see
the grays defining
just exactly what transgressions truly are.
The grays grasped
like straws, like the slippery lowest rung,
are bleeding up as we begin to understand
what it means to go without.
Oh, Lord, forgive me for hoarding
such loftiness of speculation.
Je suis farci of self.
Hard times will soften hearts or lines.

The underclass, the so-called dregs,
the  demimonde, still by definition work
and the women at the bottom relent to roles
and certain rites of supposed passage, sights
set on some lying light
at
the end
of a very long tunnel, the flame
anymore barely visible, just the dimmed
orange of a waning candle

Forgive me my judgment of all the women
who walk Van Buren selling selves,
who close their eyes beneath
the looming power anticipating
drug of choice and its promise of relief−
the feeling of (if only fleeting) being at last
reborn; the only promise ever kept. 
Forgive me scorn for those who only
seek asylum, fleeing to a country that at least
has food to offer if not welcome.

As we learn,
now, to live in a nation whose dream has expired,
along with any generation still inclined to mourn
the loss, I ask for pardon
for all previous assumptions. 


I still tell
my children that there are children starving
in Africa…in India…right here, in the land
of vagaries.  We’ve never missed a meal. 
We’ve never walked a mile in a child’s
footsteps on way to well for water. 
So what do we know of need? 
Divorce us, Lord, of separation if you will
or must to break us into recognition. 
Reveal your heartbreak and stay your hand.
Grant us less not more and bind perspective
around our necks.