I pledge allegiance to this line
And that's about as far as it goes
My weekend awaits me like a modest hummingbird.
—Margo Violet Trump (10 years)
Dear Hannah, Dear God
You still loved me even after I said
I didn’t believe in God. You still
need to teach me how to skateboard,
Seattle-style, the way you were raised.
We grew up on different coasts and I,
not blessed with sisters, got you
those apples you like, the perfume you wore
the day you met the Atlantic.
Now, in New York I drive home. Three hours behind
you smash into a logging truck. It is raining here.
I am thinking of your coffee order while
the EMTs rush to you, the way you’ve rushed to me
the few times we’ve met. I spill latte across my knees and
drive past a bearded hitchhiker, his thumb blocking out the sun.
Once they’ve put the die in your diagnosis,
life becomes a misnomer, five stages I don’t
want to heed, even though psychologists have the
need to name, quantify, and order such matters.
Stages are useless once the chaos of limits
is turned loose on the mind. I’ve come to trust
only the creaky one I’ve stepped on for the
first time, the one where I stare into a dark
audience of hidden months and numbers, each as
indifferent as the next. One where suddenly
looking at Orion’s belt or listening to wind blow
through pine trees is enough to make a man cry.
The House Magazine
that I always pick up when I travel to a certain place
with the oversized glossy pages that I thumb through
imagining what could be
(or is it what might have been)
that now sits on the table
buried by so much unopened mail and that I can’t even bear to open up
pictures of all the things we could’ve had
a calm well-put-together life filled with
modern-yet-comfortable furniture and “bathed in natural light”
as far away now as it ever could be
a roomy kitchen waiting to provide meals we’ll never sit for
wide plank floors
that will never feel our feet
The Pin Oak
The pin oak has become commonplace,
Attractive and easy to propagate,
It was domesticated,
And trained to live unobtrusively in our yards,
Where it passes for shrubbery.
In the wild it is unique.
Standing dark and symmetrical,
Against the gray, haphazard growth around it,
At any distance,
It is easily distinguishable.
It clings to its leaves all winter.
If you are there to hear it,
the sound of the wind through the leaves,
Is distinct and intimate,
As the whisper of a loved one in a crowded room.
In January 2017, I found myself sitting at the bar of Cunningham’s Journal in the Sandhill Crane Capital of the world; Kearney, Nebraska. While sitting there I struck up a conversation with a gentleman named Dave Grams. Dave, who was a straight doppelgänger for Hank Hill, was a middle-aged Nebraskan native who sold agricultural supplies. After a brief conversation about his line of work, he asked me what I did for a living.
“Nothing. I just quit my job a few days ago.”
“Well” he said, “Luckily there’s lots of places hiring around here.”
“I’m not from here,” I replied. “In fact, my whole life is packed into that Sierra outside. I left New York three days ago and three days from now I’ll be living in Los Angeles.”
“You going to Hollywood?!?!” Raising his voice so the other patrons could hear. “We got a New Yorker on his way to Hollywood over here!”
Dave spent the next hour telling me about his wife, his two grown boys who followed in his footsteps, and how he couldn’t ever imagine life being any better than the one he had in Nebraska. When I told him I was gonna head out, he insisted on paying my tab and handed me his business card.
“If you don’t make it in Hollywood, give me a call, a slick talking guy like yourself could do well selling agricultural supplies.”
As I headed towards the door “Great Wide Open” by Tom Petty came on the jukebox. I haven’t been to Nebraska since. I think I’ll give Dave a call.
With all this new technology
I’m surprised I can’t begin my transformation
from man to whale.
Why walk when one can float
effortlessly dodging fishing nets
with no more weekdays or mealtimes
just the big blue glide
[ mouth wide ]
embracing experiential banality
and if one day
God again decides to flood the earth
all the better.
—Taylor John Bruck
Have you gotten any lately?
Still on the hunt.
The uniform of a cougar is leopard ware.
I refuse to wear leopard for this reason.
I am a cougar incognito.
Sort of like a sly fox...
My daughter runs, hops, and skips
To the curb’s edge
For her ritual rite of passage
I assure her it’s safe to cross
She runs, hops and skips
To the opposite curb
“I’m a grown up now,” she yells
I yelled back, “Don’t grow up yet. You have time.”
Like a child
I run, hop and skip
To my daughter’s side
Before it’s too late
Ground of Being
I walk on dirt
and I'm not the only one
wandering the winding pathways
drenched with full-blown life
in every twig and twinkle
yet the days escape us
like wind borne leaves
dancing to some secret rhythms
echoing from the shadowy
shrouds of night
the dirt is still and sturdy
consuming the litter of empty skulls
and husks of myriad hopes and schemes
all once longing to be one
I strum the shower's steamy air,
my fingers pinching a pick
that isn’t there.
My job pays dirt, & life's unfair,
so I make chords of my fingers
& shake my hair.
The foggy mirror knows
that I don't care. I purse my lips
with a screw-the-world stare.
My jaw is a vice
& my eyes are a dare.
& my instrument is made of air.
The Shoes May be the Same
And the Road May be Similar
But There Are Still Many Miles
Between Walking in Your Own Shoes
And Walking in Someone Else's Shoes
Enjoy Your Journey
Unseen Child Seen
I am the unseen child turned struggling cynic
I am the struggling cynic who saw love
I saw love and relearned myself
I am myself relearned, reloved, returned
I returned to myself strong enough to be kind
I am the catastrophic kindness that shakes the world apart
I am a part of the world
I am shaking every time I tell them I love them
But I tell them
I am the love I give to others
I am the love I give myself
I am myself
Whether you see me or not
I am the unseen child
As northern birds fly south,
so do my father’s elder years,
for he is in the winter of his life.
The loons have landed at the far end
of the lake, clumsy and noisy in the shallows.
The dog pulls at the leash, curious to see
the giant birds up close.
The water has warmed just enough
that bubbles flow beneath the ice, great patches
of dark blue can be seen through the surface. My dog
whines at my insistence that we stick close
to the shore and off the ice, unaware
of the onset of spring.
The bagel of loneliness
The bagel of being together
Bagel of belonging