Take Our House

We got a house because

our parents had one  

and all our colleagues

at the office had them

and what, we were going

to live in a camper van

the rest of our lives?

Once we had a house,

of course we had to feed it.

Sofas and art and TVs

and espresso machines.

Throw pillows and such.

Weekends we cleaned things

or shopped for things

or arranged things. It was

the work of a lifetime. 

What would you have had

us do? Spend those years

meandering? Thank you, no.

Who knows where we would be

if things hadn't kept us

doing what we should.

Running Outside Time

Despite an intellect that thinks

it's me most days, I know enough

at times to trust the wiser self

within who knows that I's deluded

and only has the power to make

the smallest of decisions. So

one summer evening recently when

I was weary over an old love

or I don't know the heat and things

I'd never done and getting ready

to abandon me unto distraction

yet again, that I that I have

any power over instead decided

to accept my larger being's invitation

we go out into the world and take

a run around the lake. We settled soon

into a rhythm, just the two of us,

and all my arguments dissolved. 

In fact, the I that masquerades

as me most days just disappeared, 

until whatever I I was was something

outside time, something wanting

to run fast again, like when I was

a child and there was nothing else

to be. I just ran and I felt good.

Lunch and Happiness

I read for a few hours this morning

from a random stack of books

the way I do every Sunday but today

I noticed a pattern. Got a minute? 

Okay, on page 49 of Bird by Bird

Anne Lamott's character has her

3-year-old do so many peace chants

that when she calls out "Hey, what

do we want?" one too many times,

instead of shouting "Peace!" 

he just moans, "Lunch." Then there's

this from Robert Johnson's book

Transformation: "If you can not

be happy at the prospect of lunch, 

you are not likely to find happiness

anywhere." And last is this passage

from Chapter Five of Jeanne Birdsall's

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

where 10-year-old Jane, the writer, 

sits in a clearing in the forest

on her Enchanted Rock, eating lunch.

Soon, she's "drowsily drifting away

to a marvelous world where people

look for her and not her sisters." 

And that's about all I've done today. 

I read, I wrote, and shared this with you.

I was hungry and I ate. Now I'm happy. 

Eating a Cherry on a Hot Day

I choose you from the fridge

and bring you slowly to my mouth.

 

My lips cool as they O

around your body and

my tonguetip flicks

your skin.

 

I bite,

just enough

to dent your flesh

and hold you

as I pluck your stem.

 

There is a subtle sucking sound.

 

I slide you deeper

in my mouth and bite again,

hard.

 

How careful I am until

I find your center;

how abandoned after,

 

when I've chewed you

down to nothing,

nothing save the memory

of something sweet.

Looking at clouds, Looking past clouds

I've been reclaiming time each day

to do that agonizing work 

of simply lying back and watching 

all the clouds that drift across 

my mental sky. Like that one

over there. It's guilt about

a friendship I've abandoned. 

The big one next to it is joy.

It shows up every time I think

of hiking Zion with my son. 

That heavy-looking one is grief

over a love who left. I think

it's smaller than it used to be. 

I'm sure it is. The one shaped 

like a motorcycle's hope. I see it

often now. Still, it's just a cloud.

Clouds come and go. What doesn't  

is whatever I've begun to glimpse

behind the clouds. Something shapeless.

Something fixed. 

Attuned

When I was in the tenth grade

and my social studies teacher

Mr. Purdy told us about how

during the Trojan War the gods

would sometimes help a hero

I was too shy to ask him why

he mixed the history and myth,

perhaps because I feared somehow

the answer would lead me past

my father's airless Christianity.

It took me forty years to live

into the answer, which to me is

that the gods mean all that matters

and which lies outside us,

and to be heroic is to be attuned.

 

I'm finished doing anything I should.

Why My Cat Craps on the Bathroom Floor

My cat started yelling at me

at quarter to six this morning

to feed her and I'm like really?

I'm cleaning up the crap you

left on the bathroom floor. 

 

It's my nature, she said, 

I belong on the savanna. 

You can crap anywhere there.

 

You're a cuddler, I said. You'd be

dead in five seconds from lions.

I'M the one who belongs on the savanna,  

chasing lions around like my ancestors.

 

Chasing them with what, she said, poems?

 

She had a point. You have a point,

I said. I'm just tired of my job today. 

I want to stay home and make things. 

 

So go in late, she said. 

We need to be true to our nature.

It's why I crap where I want.

Besides, she said, your job has lions.

How Some Goats Wandered into my Plans for the Future and wound up staying

When we got back together

and she asked what I'd done

all winter I said I learned

to let myself want what I want. 

 

I want to work remotely from

this half-ass high-desert town

that still has stars at night, 

I said, and god you wouldn't believe

all the canyons down there.

 

I'll tend the goats! she said. 

 

I hadn't planned on goats

or her but realized there was

lots of room for both. 

 

I'm no expert, but I think that

you can trust your dreams enough

to let them flex. Mine had space

for her but when she left still fit.

 

Execept that now there's goats.

Something All Right

So this gorgeous Indian woman

I mean completely stunning but

like spiritual too and I were

at this concert in my dream

last week when something made

her laugh, laugh hard. She tossed

her head back (god that raven hair!) 

and howled and her face totally

lit up. I mean it freaking glowed

Then she hugged me and told me

that she loved me. I was whoa

stoked but confused. We'd just met. 

 

I woke up sure it was a sign

and spent the week checking out

people on the bus to see if they

were her. The fuckers weren't. But

I kept looking. "We met in my dream"

is a pretty cool line, especially

if it's true. I so would have said it.

I'm serious. But she didn't show.

 

Then today I see my therapist. Who

tells me that the woman wasn't real, 

not like that. Says she was me. I'm like

"What the fuck?" And he's like yeah

masculine-feminine blah blah blah

that it was me telling me I love me

finally after all these years. 

 

To be honest, I was bummed. Look, 

I know I won't be bummed tomorrow

or the day after because loving yourself 

is cool rare shit and my higher power 

is completely rocking it. But damn. 

That woman. She was something all right. 

Whatever. I guess that means ... heh

I guess that means I'm something all right.

Carry on your walking

Those times when life undoes you

and your spirit needs to wander off

into the wilderness awhile and fawnlike

curl itself into itself it is okay

to let it rest. Trust the dreams

you made and carry on your walking. 

There will be sustenance enough

in ordinary breezes, evening light

that silhouettes the swimmers in the lake, 

and in the knowing nods of others

walking their own paths around you. 

You are not alone. And one day looking back

you'll see your spirit on the path returning,

ready to be home.

Not thinking about last Friday

I woke up two hours early this morning

not thinking about last Friday. 

 

I didn't think about it on the bus in to work

or at work or working out.

There was a lot to keep me busy.

 

I didn't think about

not thinking about last Friday

on the bus in to work

on the bus home from work

 

or walking around the lake

just now in the late light listening

to Memory, the cello theme

from the movie Departures,

over and over. I didn't think

about last Friday at all in fact, 

only about the Fridays to come, 

 

how they won't be what I thought. 

Heart's Desire

I bought an oilskin bucket hat

at the U-District street fair

yesterday that reminds me

of the hat Edward Hoagland wears

in the author photo of his book

Heart's Desire, a book I read

on a 56-hour Greyhound trip

heading west to California when

I was 25 and didn't know what I wanted.

 

All these years later and I come

to find it's as simple as a hat, 

a good book, and a sense of direction.

Missing Bits

Woke up early, bits of my self

still scattered

all over the apartment.

 

Someone knocked me over last night.

I hit the floor wrong.

Shattered.

 

Been gluing me together

all morning.

This piece cut my foot.

This one, I don't even know

where it goes. 

 

Some chunks of heart

flew under the fridge

where I can't reach.

 

People always mean to clean

under the fridge but they never do.

 

Whatever's there stays lost.

The Bumblebee

Even more ungainly than he ever was aloft

a one-winged bumblebee crawled up and down  

toward some end that I could not divine

across the graveled public-garden path.

 

Meanwhile, all around the day was grace.

Sunshine blessed the ginkgos with its

many gentle hands. Koi slid through

their quiet worlds with murmured benedictions. 

A bed of moss bade us lie down upon its

tiny pillowed meadow strewn with stars.  

 

Your hand found mine again. It had been months.

The bee pressed on. Suddenly I understood

the end toward which he sought: The one

with whom he'd wing through all this wonder.