Chokehold

Icantbreathe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chokehold

“I can’t breathe!”
Eric Garner’s last words,
gasped as Officer Pantaleo’s hands
squeezed his windpipe shut.

“I can’t breathe,” Garner pleaded
as he died, begging—
every cell in his body
screaming for oxygen.

“No reasonable cause,”
said the D.A.,
when the grand jury choked on logic
refusing to indict even though

the medical examiner ruled
Garner’s death a homicide.
“I can’t breathe!”
protesters chanted.

“This fight ain’t over, it just begun,”
said Esaw Garner. In her voice
I hear every cell in her body
screaming, begging, pleading for justice.

I have been eating poetry

photo
New Albany, Indiana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been eating poetry

Wildly gorging on it,
like it was chocolate, and you know—

I cannot keep candy in the house.
I’d be fat as a tick, as Mama used to say.

Poetry is calorie-free, sweeter than syrup
but sometimes so bitter it stings going down.

I sat alone in a softly-lit hushed restaurant last
Saturday night, reading poetry, poetry, poetry

and savoring vegetarian chili, roast carrots and
a cold brown ale.

There is no happiness like mine:
so much poetry—no room, even, for dessert.

 

 

 

(An ode to Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mark Strand, who died this week.)

Denial

I saw a picture of
Michael Brown’s mother
as she heard the verdict.
I felt her mother’s pain
radiate into my heart,
into my safe flat-screened life
a roaring scream—
and with the pain,
my own weak shame:
in my white-bubble youth
I was taught justice would be served—
to everyone, it says so right here.

No. Justice fled, unarmed
was shot dead
in an alley
on a street
in the dark
in the night—
Justice was too threatening,
I think that was it?
Justice was gunned down
in a hail of close-range verdicts
excusing the inexcusable:
racism denied is still racism.

Rivers

river
Sky above Ault Park, Cincinnati

Rivers

There’s a river in my
November sky—
a river of fathomless blue
sweeping between
ice-crusted snowdrift clouds
floating high
over bare-armed trees
and bare-armed people.

My teeth crunch an apple
my feet crunch leaves as
Monday’s snow melts into
tiny sidewalk rivelets.
A boy zigzags the lawn
hunting acorns he trades
for tired smiles from his mother.
Love flows like a river, unstopping.

Why wait?

photo

Why wait?

Why wait for inspiration to appear,
surging onto your page like a whitecap
gliding over the sand
salty, foaming with words

Why wait, when outside the wind sings
naked trees wave their long arms,
even their sturdy trunks sway, drunken

Why wait, when the clouds above
skate across the cold sky
like children sliding on ice

Why wait, when the house seems to have weighed anchor,
rocking with every gust, creaking like an old boat
setting off on a choppy uncharted sea

Aftermath

ginkgo leaf

Aftermath

I feel like a river
so full I might overflow my banks
for years, so dry, now I am water, falling—
falling like the ginkgo leaves,
that lie scattered like footprints on the sidewalk,

so rain-slicker yellow, they are wet, oh
I had such a fever, once
I was empty as an old Halloween pumpkin,
scraped, drying, dry inside,
dying I was dying, I was lying

on my back, floating on the current
so hot the water sizzled when it touched my skin
I floated so long
hypnotized by love and the sky and
the fever’s fire

Once I was a wound, bleeding
Now I am welling up vivid as blood—
maybe I could be that red rose, blooming,
trembling in November’s
sharp teeth

Indiana Sunset, November 10

sunset and graveyard
Ovid, Indiana

 

photo
Ovid, Indiana, another view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
the start of a poem:

driving home from Indiana
sunset blazing an orange goodbye
contrails crisscrossing the deepening sky

speeding through billows of dust
from the seed corn being processed
by harvesters crawling the darkening fields

Pendleton, Eden, Maxwell, tiny towns
brick houses, bonfires blazing in backyards,
November leaves burning, summer burning

up ahead, a great pyramid of golden kernels,
oh, how they glow, under sodium vapor lamps
such a harvest, this year, such a farewell

 

Vibrations

telephone wires

Vibrations

I read today that
four hundred forty beats per second
equals the note called “A”

I thought of you, of resonance,
of tiny ear bones trembling with words
of the resounding delight of being heard

How the word ‘vibrant’
rings like a bell of poured molten
bronze, cast

cast like a spell, pure magic
syllables sometimes sing like plucked strings
music of minds in tune

Spellbound

red riding hoodMy poor feet cannot stop
bewitched, like in a fairytale, cursed:
they cannot stop, so I walk and walk and walk

as if my head is no longer in charge
as if my heart might burst from
beating and beating and beating

This golden hour: cresting the hill
breathing molten light and
air electric between twin storms

air so clear it crackles in my lungs
Was I sleeping too long?
Where am I?

A wolf’s dogging my footsteps,
I hear him, throaty and relentless
breathing and breathing and breathing

maybe I’ve wandered into another realm?
Even my shadow, once so faithful, has turned away
nothing is the same anymore.