The Back Roads

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When you took a hard right off
the interstate I was flung,
doors unlocked, from
my front seat slump,
rolled a thousand times
in the dirt as the dust left in
your wake filled my mouth,
desertion like so many
cactus pricks.

You were once so gentle.
We were once reading from the same page.
Which novel have you since picked up?
Is it any good?

I strain to remember
the softening of our lips,
the slow rumble of the car
down a straight, safe street,
the ending of the story,
spoiled by impatience and
a trembling hand that
flipped to the last page
saw everything she wanted and
willed the ink to disintegrate
before she is loved
beyond the reaches of
those printed words.

You started to speed.
I wish I hadn’t looked.

Don’t take the back roads,
not while I’m still reading –
I’ll be sick.
I’ll be sick.
I’ll be sick.

(2018)

Mary

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You have not simply visited,
unless for you that means
alighting on my doorstep with
two kinds of quiche and
plenty of wine for the table,
when I’d implored that bringing
yourself would more than suffice.

You were my unknowing teacher,
as you had been for many –
I am sure you know.
Knew?
Know?

I will miss you Mary,
though I will never be without;
Your odes and incantations
are on either side of me as I sleep,
sweetly singing that it is noble
to love a mushroom or an owl
as much as any human,
that writing about the early
morning light is as valid as
any political poetry slam,
and that life is to be sipped slowly
with plenty of sighs and grins
between each pass of the liquid
from mug to lips.

*For Mary Oliver, September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019*
(2019)

The Party Is Full

8416-_14_0241The party is full
The canapés have been ordered

The party is full
I already have my talking points

The party is full
I don’t need any more acquaintances
to laugh with as I keep my spirit light
and my many skins unpeeled

(Though you were never destined
for arm’s length distance
were you darling?)

My party was full
I’d brimmed with anxiety even before
the first doorbell ring
but my star-flung mind whined:
“Oh, what’s one more?”

(2018)