Mornings are dreams

I only hear ravens and crows at first light now. Moss has started covering the backyard, like a map of a little forest, sunlight green.

I still get hot flashes, so I roll up my sleeves to release the heat, and it won’t be long before I have to shower the night off me, of sweats and strange dreams and a dog that visits me at 3 am, like clockwork, to crawl under the covers to get warm. I think I smell skunk on his breath, then it passes. We both start running in our sleep.

The day starts easy, with hot water, lemon, and a bit of blinding sun through the window. It seems to always be red. M awakes and goes straight for the espresso, so I close the doors to my cave. I think maybe I’ll fill it with talismans and flowers and more art, then I think not.

My cave is simple: a handful of poetry books, filled journals. My penholder is a small replica of a typewriter, and its one of the only trinkets I like. Above my head is a print of the movie Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock, signed by Kim Novak, the artist and main actress in the film. Kim and her doppelgänger take up the right part of the frame, and one of them holds a bouquet of flowers. The doppelgänger is crying, and looks down and away. The other Kim is looking directly at Alfred Hitchcock, who stares back from the far left of the frame. The espresso machine starts to go. I jump a little. I’ve been doing that a lot, especially at night. At every little sound my center reacts.

In the middle of the print, Jimmy Stewart’s character is gripping the top of a building. He’s about to fall, a look of terror on his face. I like this print very much, it’s filled with rage, sadness, terror, and indifference.

I will move through the day slowly, the sun will be out a bit. Maybe I will read a new poem, or read the same ones that always give me comfort. I pull at my growing bangs. Time to wake up.

Where will you go when it’s all over

Where will you go when it’s all over, because
the starts in your galaxy are all askew?
Will you fly north, only to return to see
your rooftops removed?

There’s a ghost that rides its bike in the
tennis courts at night. I shine
my useless flashlight on it, and only
illuminate the wheels. I left my phone at home.
I am afraid.

These are times of stupor, as we sit up
in our painted trees and wonder if there
will be flowers in the spring.

There’s a ghost that rides its bike,
like a hummingbird with a compass. The
hummingbird is a compass, a warrior litmus,
rings around the planet.

Where will you go when you’re all over?
I walk the dog at night. My god she’s beautiful, a
face full of scars, eyes full of stars.
I am not afraid.

Stories You Might Have Missed in 2020 (San Bruno Edition)

The Joneses across the street gave birth to their third child. Assigned female at birth, they are waiting for her to identify. They call her Horse. On occasion, Horse escapes, goes door-to-door, and forages for food.

People have figured out that the fireworks are just that, and why are there so many people outside the gun store?

Dog adoptions are up, as are people complaining about dog poop on Nextdoor. Your puppy turned seven this year.

We all got fit, or fat. We won’t know until next year when the Peloton pays for itself, or it doesn’t. Gen Z continues to negotiate time off to surf.

The number of crows has now matched or exceeded the world population.

The cat still doesn’t care.

Brozzi’s Good Death (The Hope of Now)

I wanted this to be beautiful for you.

In the photo I had of you, before I
gave away all my memories, your face is hidden,
arms outstretched to the right, sun on your olive skin.
Your dreadlocks fall around your downward gaze,
illuminated like light through the Catalpa.
And if I animate you in the time between
first light and dawn, your boyish smile and
sleepy brown eyes light up my morning,
even though you’re gone.

I missed you like you missed Reya, after Camilla took her away.
I watched your story like an endless election night, and
my longing never waned.
I watched you search, fly, drain accounts, dent couches.
I hoped you would hold your daughter again.

Hopes for 2021 Include

The bat, understood
Glass slaughterhouses
Soft ground for red geraniums
Using the term scarcity in a sentence
Fewer planes, the return of the songbird

I know nothing more than you were reunited, a decade later. The last words
I read were: “She’s ok. By bedtime last night she was cool,” you said.
You all returned to Norway. Camilla took up singing again.

Two years later, you died in your sleep. They call that a good death.
I found a selfie of you on Instagram, electrodes attached to
your hard, lean, body. Why did you shave your beautiful dreads?
I don’t know how you died, on account of no account.
I let the mystery be.

Did your heart break, or finally unbreak, leaving nothing left of longing?
Maybe you came here to do what
you needed to, to grace us with your beauty,
and show us the depths of a father’s love.

Hopes Now Include

Let love lead me
Let the mystery be

Bigfoot at BAR 717 Camp Trinity

Pay no mind that I was a sensitive Cosmos flower and
didn’t want to leave home. But my mother and 6th grade teacher
made it happen, and I was bussed off to Hayfork to camp at
BAR 717 Camp Trinity, in the summer of 1978.

Nestled in the Nor Cal hills with a bunch of
other gangly pre-teens, I rode dotted horses,
spun bad pottery, and I remember something about Edelweiss.
Not the flower, but the song. You look happy to greet me.

My camp counselor was a tall woman angled like a bent coat hanger,
with stringy hair, and wide gold glasses.
Her next stop was probably a commune.
I slept next to her in the long camp barracks, she our only doorstop to
the woods behind the camp. The barracks had no doors on either end, and
at night I would peer into the woods just beyond the tree of her long body,
before sleep overtook me.

I was already wide-eyed and impressionable when a week into camp the
hard-bodied blonde with the tight blue shirt told me Sasquatch
came down from the hills at night. That was all he had to say.
He could have said the monster from Alien was not far behind, and
I would have believed him.

After the news of our future demise broke, my face
became the fullest moon at night, white enough to
light up the woods beyond “no-door,” my eyes black unblinking stars.
At every twig snap a frog tried to leap out of my heart.

Sasquatch never showed, and I was bussed home again.
I never told my mother, but to this day I still have
night terrors. Large hairy shadows cross my kitchen at night,
leaving rectangular footprints for me to clean.
And still I stare wide-eyed and unblinking through
open-screened windows, Bigfoot my Chupacabra to
everyone’s angels.

At the last reunion

Grey Wigglebutt, a Saluki from Qatar, whined on the drive to Vallejo because he thought he was being given away. His keepers sat driver and shotgun, watching life drain from the hills, the landscape pure strip, pure mall. “Settle down!” they repeated, until they gave up and settled down themselves.

But at the reunion, but there. Grey’s cousins were there. The Borzois, The Greyhounds, and more Salukis like Grey. Grey played hard on leash with an errant hound until we stopped him from hanging himself, then he laid down in the cool grass and thought of nothing but now.

At reunion’s end we set up a racetrack for Grey and his friends, and he ran nothing like in the sands of Qatar, and we felt guilty there were no dusty rabbits. So a wise woman read his tarot cards, and he laid his head on her dirty feet, and dreamt of nothing but now.

————————————————————————————————————————————————

Source material in tone and spirit: B.H. Fairchild’s poem “Angels.”

“Poetry, as a highly allusive art form, fundamentally relies on the poet’s ability to quote, to copy, and to ‘play’ with others’ language, and poetry scholars and commentators equally rely on their ability to quote the poetry they are discussing. In fact, poets generally acknowledge that essentially everything they do in their workaday lives, from making their poems to writing about poetry to teaching poetry, builds on the work of others.” —Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry

To Janet

There’s a picture of you I keep going back to.

You are five or six, sitting next to Valorie in the dirt and weeds.
There’s a hose nearby, one you drank from on hot summer days.
Valorie is holding Brutus between her legs. He’s dressed in doll’s clothing.

The front yard is very different from the back.
Fun piles of fall leaves, shiny lunch boxes, big trees, and
excitement when the school bus comes.

Front yard girl is different from backyard girl.
Front yard girl wears pigtails and hand-sewn dresses,
plays with Tammy and Raggedy-Ann and Andy.

You are the dog.
Brutus, Brutus, lo siento.
You are the hose turned off, eyes black as its disconnected end.

Backyard girl gave herself a haircut, and has bags under her eyes.
Cutoffs, hand-me-down navy blue shirt, long-sleeved.
Valorie is your mother outside, keeping you from mother inside,
the mother who drinks and wanders the house like a specter.

Specter

noun:

a visible incorporeal spirit, especially one of a terrifying nature; ghost; phantom; apparition.

some object or source of terror or dread.

As it was October, you were probably on the verge of knowing.
Knowing that your father would conjure up more ghosts
as he readied to leave earth.
So you turned inward, your core made of leaves and songs
and anger that rises when your survival is touched.

Then you grew older, and the ghosts followed you from town-to-town.
Though already dead to you, they died second deaths to draw you back,
entering your dreams at night like some dark tribe.

So you started to put it down, to find your way through the landscape.
Though the curb appeal is still in front, death’s sandbox is still in back,
full of necessary toys.

Hug yourself.
Hug the ghost of Brutus.
Say to your heart, thank you for keeping me alive.

Rhythms

My rhythms are off.
I sleep through the day,
and daydream at dusk.

In my room I can only see a little of
the morning glories fading
into their purple beds,
dreaming while little bugs
sleep inside them.

If I was a little bug,
I’d nibble on your petals,
and doze in your pollen.
And when your leaves opened at dawn,
we’d watch the sunrise together.

The wanting

When you spend your childhood
learning how to play with adults
it can be quite confusing

The tears and anger flow from nowhere
and the cross-eye becomes the cross-broom
lying in the room
juxtaposed against the pink roses thriving in the sun

So later on, I mean, now
someone said I never knew what I wanted
because I was either Ali or his bee
But little did they know I was making a list

To feel as light as a cloud
To be surrounded by red geraniums
Windy cold mornings that take your breath away
Perfectly poached eggs and someone to cut the toast
Car sing-a-longs without the side-eye
Horse noses to kiss and turkeys to snuggle

Time to linger in a sanctuary
where only I have the key
endlessly blooming flowers
and friends who get me, really get me

come get me