Listen Up

It took me twenty-five years

to feel what you planted

and how I wish that I had those years back

to feel confident

smart

loved

worthy

all the things you told me I wasn’t.

 

I didn’t know I had believed you

until I stopped.

When you told me I was nothing

worth nothing

knew nothing

deserved nothing,

my brain railed against it.

It threw wood at you,

defended me.

It yelled back,

even laughed.

I thought I had escaped.

Scotch free.

 

But,

turns out,

my heart believed you.

Sitting quietly at a table,

hands clasped,

looking at you with wide eyes,

then looking down.

 

You spoke the truth,

it knew it.

And I may spend the rest of my life

convincing it otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Those Not Going Home Again

 

There’s one way into the hospital and

two ways out.

The morgue door is in a yellowish, old hallway.

Not the public shiny hallway with the gift shop selling watches and Get Well balloons.

A darker, dirtier hallway where housekeepers and the people who deliver trays of food to

the living scurry along with their heads down, pushing heavy carts, trying to stay to the right.

It’s loud.

 

There is a small window in the morgue door,

but you would need to stop and look inside on purpose.

It’s not large enough to catch a casual glimpse of those

who won’t use the front door when they’re done here,

waiting triumphantly by one of those large white pillars while a family member pulls the

car around,

but the back door, open to the alley and the hot sun,

where trucks drop off supplies and

load up

those not going home again.

Now A Symphony

That One Note played over and over,

longing, mournful, angry, desperate–

once or twice joyous.

 

War could whisper through.

And career, family, art, music.

But fleeting and peripheral because

One Note Banging

blinding

SOUND SOUND SOUND.

 

Now little laughters, the sun rising, our skins softly aging.

The edges of things!

where before blurry, if not imagined.

Thank you…time?

for lifting that monotonous veil of Self

to reveal the symphony beyond.

 

Why is Peter Gabriel being so quiet?

Marking life’s events by shootings,

I miss when pop stars sung about things that matter.

Didn’t Sting and Bono end apartheid and the Cold War?

Why is Peter Gabriel being so quiet?

 

We need your help, boys.

I think we are stuck here.

 

Anybody out there—could you please lend a hand?

 

Don’t let our stars & stripes arrogance fool you.

We are lost in a quicksand tornado eye of ignorance, fear, denial and confusion.

Our family has gotten too large to agree and lots of power is shifting.

Those who were high are low or afraid of being on their way.

Those who were low are mad and climbing out, looking up.

 

Don’t let our arrogance fool you.

Could you please save us from ourselves?

A Childhood Altered

At fifteen it was nitrous.

Just a tiny puff and the world goes black.

Little Kings, of course,

and,

always,

Marlboro Lights.

 

What would a house look like

made from all the rectangular packs of

Marlboro Lights?

A thousand square foot starter or a mansion with mother-in-law suite?

Weed came later,

from Byron and Colorado

til it got too “good”

and made me cry instead of laugh.

The eight balls,

the slips of paper cut into tiny squares,

the red red wine.

 

As the petrol fumes

creep into my nose at the station,

dutifully grasping the pump,

a familiar dizziness,

that old giddiness.

I do not turn away.

 

The Crayola markers

just after popping the top off

take me back to dirty apartments with

ashtrays brimming over,

clothing piled everywhere.

Then we color stars and planets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Art of Photographing Ourselves

My first selfie was on the beach in Krabi, Thailand. I settled into a shady chair under the palms, popped open my book, and looked up over the pages to see my bare feet in the forefront of such a gorgeous scene I had to capture it just like that—toes and all. I’d taken pictures of myself and my friends before, of course, holding the camera out in front of us, cramming cheeks together to get all our silly, laughing faces in the shot. But the Krabi pic was of me alone. A shot that showed me in the world. It was not a picture of that tropical beach, but me on that beach. It was not a picture of the world’s natural beauty snapped in order to remember years later. It was a statement. Here I am. Look where I am!

I don’t take many selfies now unless they’re with my five year-old son, who sticks his tongue out or squeezes his eyes shut for most photographs. But to a lot of people I know, selfies are a way of life. They cover Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, Flickr sites. But the selfies I see on a daily basis look different to me than my bare feet in Thailand. Where my photo showed a person in the world, the selfies I see just show people. If they are in fact standing in front of something interesting, that is certainly not the point. The photos seem solely intended to capture the person—their perfection and physical beauty.

I’m not a better person than someone who takes a boatload of selfies. I just miss seeing more interesting images. Photos of people with mountains, on pick-up trucks, with each other. It’s our relationships that make us remarkable, not our hair or make-up or clothes. Our relationships to our friends and family, to our homes and creeks and trees and skies and pets and buildings and oceans. I miss photography that captures human interaction with the world instead of curated details of it. The world is more than just our stage. The world that we live in and all its weirdness and wonder is what makes us beautiful.