DEAR PHARISEES

We both say we’re Christians, but we don’t agree 

On everything you say a Christian must be 

Your church is a building of brick, glass, and stone 

My church is creation; I worship alone 

You say God’s a man, like it says in the Book 

But God’s everywhere if you know how to look 

You follow the rules, you keep protocol 

I follow the rule to love one and all 

Love to my family, to haters, to jerks 

Want proof of my faith? Just look at my works 

It’s fine to be focused on things from above 

But always remember – the greatest is love 

Question and Answer (a poem)

A kiss is not a contract 

nor a promise of more 

It is a question and an answer 

A key that opens the lock to a new path 

still clouded by ifs 

Hesitant mouths meet like first time lovers 

Unsteady walk across flaming petals 

Fire and silk 

that burns and soothes 

satiates and stokes 

Ancient dance of lips and tongues 

A taste of something more 

waiting just beyond the curve 

Brush of bird’s wing 

just before flight 

The sunset of yesterday 

as today awakens 

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Pregunta y Respuesta

Un beso no es un contrato 

ni promesa de algo más 

Es una pregunta y una respuesta 

La llave que abre la cerradura de un nuevo camino 

todavia nublado por los ¿y si? 

Bocas vacilantes se encuentran como los nuevos amantes 

Un paseo inestable sobre pétalos llameantes 

Fuego y seda 

que quema y alivia 

sacia y aviva 

Baile antiguo de los labios y las lenguas 

El sabor de algo más 

que espera a la vuelta de la esquina 

el roce de ala de un pájaro  

justo antes del vuelo 

El atardecer de ayer 

cuando hoy se despierta  

Where Once I Lived (a poem)

I left my hometown

driven away, like cattle, beyond the borders

of all I knew and cherished

Behind me, streets lined with quaint shops

flower gardens where bees hummed, honey flowing

shrinking in the rearview mirror

and I, lump in my throat

stumbling toward the unfamiliar

new cities that rise like mountains toward the sky

Time drifted and spun

until one day

with lump in my throat

memories echoing in my mind

I revisited my stomping grounds

but found only empty streets lined with faded shops

that sold goods I no longer needed

stench of old bourbon and cigarettes

tangled, thirsty gardens

and houses I’d long outgrown

Shriveled faces peered out from behind closed curtains

stubborn fists shaking at changing weather

So I left again

leaving old bricks and yesterday’s dust

heading nowhere in particular

waiting for no one

for I had become the new city

rising like a mountain toward the sky

Photographer (a poem)

Silence

the wide gap between us

as you stare straight ahead

mouth flat

listening

answering

your silence a language I haven’t yet learned

(is it me? is it you?)

I fold my hands in my lap

pray that you will find the tools

to build a bridge

I tilt my head, concentrate

turning your every word into music

offering you harmony

until the record skips again into silence

I prod your defenses until you smile

and I see you

You!

peeking out from behind the cloud I want to blow away

so you can shine

You laugh at something I say

and I become a pioneer

crossing these wild, empty prairies

to chase that gold

Gray House (a poem)

Gray House 

It was really blue

not gray

but that didn’t matter

it felt lacking 

washed out

pieced together at the wrong angles 

the scribbled drawing of a child 

who’d never known a home 

only a house 

uneven levels 

rooms that made sense until they didn’t 

unfaithful to any one era 

trying to be modern, but laced with the kinds of antiques 

that no one buys 

(not even at a yard sale) 

ancient carpet hiding graceless plywood 

disappointment stacked in boxes against neglected walls 

mismatched expectations around the table 

windows streaked with someone else’s tears 

Why did I expect the homeowner 

to be any different? 

Temperature

Never

was a hard, cold rock

and I, encapsulated inside

tensed when you appeared

But you

with fire in your heart

with flames in your eyes

and a voice filled

with blazing heat

you persisted

until

rock crumbled, melting away

into a river of magma

and you

and I

a shower of

bright, hot embers

reaching for each other

setting the world

on fire

Just a Typical Sunday (a Spoken Word poem)

Just a Typical Sunday

They say it’s Father’s Day

a time to celebrate

the man who raised you

praised you

taught you to be strong

and right from wrong

but they’ve got it all wrong

because to me it’s

just a typical Sunday.

Who were you?

A man with my name

once married to my mother

obsessed with my brother

I was a nobody

quiet, a girl, too smart

for her own self

too smart for you

saw right through

your lazy intentions

and useless inventions

and get-rich schemes

chasing money like a dog

after a car

but it slipped through your fingers

like water

while your daughter

did her own thing

no need for a king

no need for anything.

I learned to survive

in a state of starvation

isolation

no need for attention

so used to desertion.

You ignored my good grades

my sports and school plays

didn’t subscribe to my life

Abused wife?

You took his side

‘cause I must have earned it.

After all

I was nothing

too quiet, a girl

with my own mind

which you never tried to know

and so

nothing I say has value.

Now you lie

in your nursing home bed

stroke-damaged head

and it’s said

that I owe you

attention

my love and affection

long conversations.

But Daddy

when you live your life

in starvation

how do you feed

another?

I never know what to say

or the new rules to this game

you and I just aren’t the same

a shame.

I don’t know who you are

and you only know that I’m

quiet, a girl

not as good as her brother

whatever else you see

through your closed eyes

so don’t be surprised

if my visits are brief

a card, maybe

quick kiss on the cheek

and maybe we’ll speak.

Then I’ll be on my way

not much to celebrate

‘cause what good are fathers anyway?

Father’s Day

is just a typical Sunday.

Small Boat for One (a poem)

Small Boat for One

So you want to be a passenger

on this small boat made for one?

I will raise the sails

hand you a glass

a toast – to us!

Look out toward calm blue seas

and warm, golden sun


But this boat was made for one

and I know how it ends

how it always, always ends


If I lift the anchor

let the breeze carry us too far

you will feel the cramp and quiet

wish for a crew with verve and polish

who talk more and think less

(or think more and talk less, I’m never quite sure)

Then a yacht will float past

bigger and shinier

and you, starry eyed, will hail the captain

abandon ship

sail away into the sunset

I may return to shore

or swim, or sink alone

no matter

for who looks back at a small boat made for one?


You want to be a passenger

so you say

Well I have no more tickets to give away

so let’s skip the tragic ending

my sails stay lowered

anchor dropped

saltwater eyes stinging

turned away from you

journey ended before it begins

this boat only has room for one

Constant (a poem)

Constant

Dawn rises, and I think of you.

The spray of the shower caresses my skin, and I think of you

In the crowded train, I think of you

Beneath the drifting clouds, I think of you

your name as constant as breath.

With every pounding step against pavement

in every crooning song

with the roar of the crowd

and the lowering of theater lights

in the hush that falls

as night paints the sky with stars

you, you, you…

the last (a poem)

that place where songs are birthed

glimmers like dawn on a rippling spring

dew glistening

on pale fragile growth

sweetest perfume of newborn rose

velvet softness of untouched skin

where I once danced free beneath the palms

music spilling from within

red and gold as sun setting on private beach

lyrics of love

of pain

of joy

of rage

of all that beat and flowed and pulsed

until you appeared

 
You, with footprints matching mine on silver sands

You, whose heart pumped the same rhythm

You, with honeyed voice that sang my tunes with yours

 
then pushed me away

drawing dark curtains around what was us

changing substance to smoke

locking the gates of Euterpe and Terpsichore

as I, choking on what remains

clutch dried petals to my breast

in mourning that never ends

living for the memory of dew

memory of dance

memory

of all that beat and flowed and pulsed

 
i have no song left in me.