Lines on a Face

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Lines on a Face

Can be read
Stand with me
In the shadows
In the light
Perhaps we’ve forgotten how to be an open book
I wouldn’t speak for you
Because I can’t

Once when I was young
I fingered the rivers on my mother’s skin, stretched taut
Followed the blue pathways on a thirty something’s hand
Felt her age pulsing in her coursing veins
I read age like the blind read a page
My eyes partnered with my child-hands
Teamed up to untangle her mysteries
Heard her body tell the story of a half-life
Plus some

As we sat on a pew that was ours for an hour on Sunday
Nine/tenth’s of the law
And all

In the pews of Methodism, souls lined up to hear
Truth be told
I could not hear hers
Buried deep within her soul

Mink eyes on the face of a fashionable wrap
Thrown over the shoulders of a worshipper
Stared back at me
Two pews up and to the left
I thought of his sacrifice for status and beauty
(The things of nightmares when you are ten)
And I think of that still
Her sacrifices too
Draped in death

I found the mink eyes
Meet my hazel eyes
Frozen
Motionless
Dipped in death
I looked elsewhere and then I looked back

Lips were red
Injection-less
Skin was powdered and rouged
Nineteen sixty something
And hairspray lingered in the air

Life lines
Seek a safe place to preach the stories they have lived

Stand still at the lectern of life

And speak
Face the music

Face it
I cannot speak for you

Once, when I was young
The stories could be read

By looking there
Buried deep within the soul
Clues lined up, from chin, to cheek to brow
To help untangle
The mystery of life lived
Well
I cannot speak for you

I long to read you as a book
Open
To tell the stories that should be read
In the lines on a face

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On Remembering

 

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On Remembering

remember what hasn’t been
yet. Before. Today
remember what the dreams hinted to
in a happy, haunting nocturnal sort of way
of what might come to be
on some other summer’s day
things hope and longing used to say
in breathy whispers
along the lines of could, perhaps and maybe
moments that haven’t had their chance
to live to see today

remember what hasn’t been
unravel next time. Reweave memories from yesterday
remember Wednesday on a Tuesday
and all the things that wait
that ask to be remembered
like healing, birth and death
and poems that take a year to gather line by line
on the poet’s winsome breath

Join me for the July issue of  The Notebook: These Pages of Mine, coming soon to email subscribers. Click the link here to sign up to receive free monthly-ish mailings in your inbox. Thank you in advance for sharing your inbox space. It is an honor and a privilege

 

 

The Nursing Home Place Where Life Circles Round And People Cry

The Nursing Home Place Where Life Circles Round and People Cry

It has the word farm in its name making it sound like a rural utopia
Window frames hold mountainscapes in their crosshairs
Norman Rockwell comes to mind until I wake up
She screams like a child in the throes of night terrors
She cannot escape her past
We cannot escape her
We sit in a puddle of her past tears
She is gone but I can touch her

I would leave but the one I love lives here
The food has turned to mush
I remember the jars of baby food
Hers and mine
The circle of life comes to mind
She hated cliche more than I
But show me where the circle may be broken
And I will choose my words more carefully
The rocking and mumbling form the soundtrack of their lives

The hallmark of this place is The Hallmark Chanel
And you can’t measure the height of irony
All the happy endings, screen upon screen
Every love story that was ever written
Punctuated by Walmart commercials crossing the t’s
And January Toyotathon’s dotting the i’s
As every story is neatly sewn up
God get me out of here
For the love of her and all those to her left and right
I simply cannot leave
Weeping is my leaving

I lie when I tell her my tears are happy
She is confused by them
For the love of all that is decent I cannot lie, I cry
(And stretch the truth about the happy tears
There is a co-mingling, of truth and falsehoods)
Right along with the rest of those in the circle
When death stares you square in the face
Even the blue ridged mountains cannot console a grievous soul
Who came to visit
Refused to leave
Refuses to entertain the thought of entering this reality, as if she would have a choice
We can mute the boob tube
But not the continuous coming and going
Of givers of care
And diapers and sippy cups for octogenarians and nonagenarians

We leave with all the passion of a foxhole conversion
Committing to the next visit
Dragging our pain right out the heaving swinging door
Into the chill of the night
Free as a new parolee
Free to love from far away
Free to leave the circle of life and death

Into a world where people cry

 

 

 

 

Dear Me, Dear You

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Dear Me, Dear You

I heard your news
Third hand
Softened some of the sting of the blow
I would weep
But I am saving my tears
Rationing them
As if there are not enough for the coming monsoon of grief

Age is cruel
Until it is not
We would be wise to remember the softening
Age has given us
Glory-filled awe
If lines could be drawn in the sand
Of where it can go
But no further
We’d let the disease you have
Have some things to destroy

In sort of a death-defying feat of high stakes negotiating
We’d lay down some of our Isaacs
But hold fast to some of our others
Cloning the sacrificial lamb
For more currency
For the wheeling and dealing with death’s cruel march

Let’s say this
In harmony

How bold in its irony
How cruel in its choice

To take your ability to write your name
I weep with you
Willing to let my tears go
The ones I am hoarding
Let them fall on the fire and put out the flame
Memories burning to ash

I will cherish the places your wrote your name
The thing you cannot write
Any more
In the letters
What nonsense we all thought it
When I, the pack rat, the prophet, the foreteller
Somehow knew
We should save the letters you wrote

Those places where you signed your name

And I will try to write
The words that you cannot

Dear me
Dear you