love – redux ~ a poem

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I loved you in a dream.
I woke up remembering that
whereas in real life
I never loved you at all.

I had forgotten that feeling
of air filling the chest to capacity,
of believing that destiny has a way
of working itself out.

I had forgotten my habit
of magical thinking,
of seeing someone everywhere,
in everything.

I remember writing poetry,
in old-style handwritten form,
terrible poems, in notebooks
tossed long ago.

But these poems were never for you.
And that feeling of love –
it was never felt in your presence.
And yet…

here I am thinking about you,
dreaming about you,
and after all these years
this poem is for you.

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pass on pasadena ~ a rant

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Are there cities that you just can’t stand? Cities that for no easily justifiable reason suck the life out of you? I remember meeting a Londoner in St. Petersburg once (and I’m not talking about either London or St. Petersburg in this regard – just relating what this man had to say) who told me he hated Los Angeles – it had no soul. Being from Los Angeles, I felt I had to explain. I said, L.A. is such a huge metropolis with so many different communities and vibes – weren’t there perhaps some areas he liked better than others? No, he replied. He hated it all and couldn’t leave fast enough.

Now, I think I know how he must have felt. I feel the same way about Pasadena (California). At different points in my life I’ve lived in that city and worked in that city and nothing good has ever come of it. (Just recently, I had a job there and breathed an actual sigh of relief when I walked out on it.) If you have never visited Pasadena, let me give you a glimpse beyond the pomp and circumstance of the Rose Parade. As you drive in you’ll notice the sky becoming gun-metal gray due to the place it occupies in the San Gabriel Valley, much like a sewage drain. In other words, it does a good job of collecting the region’s smog and keeping it trapped for most of the year. Although there is a backdrop of looming mountains, mostly they appear as a strangely spectral border threatening to seal you in (think of the TV show The Dome). As you drive through, you’ll note a general grayness to the city itself, despite the admittedly pretty Craftsman-style houses. But it’s this very quaint and old-fashioned ambiance that I find oppressive. (And, yes, I realize there are shiny new districts with top-rated restaurants and the like but these appear to me like so much finery on a decaying corpse.) And then there is the glut of century-old high-spired churches – churches competing in grayness with the sky – churches on every corner. Yes, Pasadena is an old-fashioned and downright God-fearing city. Of course, if you like this sort of thing, stop reading here. But for me, I’m already feeling panicky just giving you a glimpse. I’m thinking of the experiences now, my personal experiences that, rightly or not, are forever embedded in the landscape. The people I’ve met, the people I’ve worked for (of course, I’ve met some great people, too), these people have mainly caused grief.

In short, there just seems to be something about the city and its people that are not conducive to my good health, mental or otherwise. Though the place may be God-fearing, it does damage to whatever I take to be my soul. So, I do understand perfectly now what that Londoner was feeling in regard to Los Angeles. Some places you’re simply better off just passing through.

the moon is full ~ a poem

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the moon is full, ensnared, as they say, in the branches of a tree (in this case, the branches being bare, ashen and brittle).

once, to me, the moon was like a hole in the sky, when a. and i walked across the sand near midnight, the ocean at our backs, and i imagined, because i couldn’t see the ocean, that we were in a desert – a persian desert – with no destination in sight.

and once the moon was so bright it rivaled the sun, though its light was silver white and its rays were like a pollen of radiance. that was in new zealand, in moetueka, i believe, after d. and i – sweet d., who is more made out of moonbeams than a. ever was – canoed in the jade-colored tasman sea.

at this age and still the moon enraptures, makes me want to write a poem. i guess there is still some wonder in the world.

 

well-laid plans ~ a poem

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she marked the calendar
she counted the days
a month
a week
a day
and then she would be free

but that was not meant to be

perhaps a celestial event
had transpired affecting the tides,
the ratio of day to night,
her well-laid plans
in any case nothing occurred
as she had foreseen

the day passed
and when it had
her whole world was different
and she was chained
to circumstances
without promise of release

things that crowd my closet ~ a poem

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I can’t get rid of that –
the purse with the angel emblem
from a store that no longer exists.
My sister gave me this.

And I can’t toss the old cameras either,
like the K1000 my father gave me.
It taught me how to see
photographically.

The clothes should be easier to shed,
but what about the nurse’s cape
my mother wore in the Korean war?
Though it hangs collecting dust
with whom could I entrust?

Please tell me what to do
with old collected things.
Please tell me how to part
with the things that crowd
my closet and my heart.

my anger now ~ a poem

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My anger now is not to be feared:
it’s a smoldering remnant of the past
that upon a flare-up turns quickly to ash.

And I see how once I was like a child
who enjoyed playing with fire,
lighting match after match,
until my fingers got burned.

But I didn’t see it that way at the time.
Back then I felt like an avenging angel
soaring high above the mediocrity and stupidity
of the world, laying it all to waste with
one sweep of my flaming wings.

I’m earthbound now. My wings are clipped.
And all that righteous indignation is gone.
Burned out, I guess. For any anger you see in me
is a holdover from the past, from a time
when I craved, hungered, lusted, and strove.
From a time when I cared.