Heart Flutter

Sixteen birds perched on bird feeder
That is swinging in the wind
Fluttering wildly to fight for food;
To stay on the feeder

This is what the inside of my heart feels like today

Like sixteen birds on a bird feeder
Bouncing, thudding, and flapping
And bumping into one another
So hungry 

meaningless rituals

The birds at dawn
Signal the start
So I put on my 
Sacred terrycloth robe
Do a single spin
Light the white candle
Boil the water
Pour it over the coffee
Clap three times
Sniff my morning sniffle
Shuffle old, tired slippers
To the toaster
Watch as the bagel
Makes its transubstantiation 
From bread to toast

I remember ringing the bells in the church
And marveling at my power as a ten year old altar girl 

I made tiny little crackers into Jesus Christ himself 

Here, now, in my kitchen
I am performing other ceremonies 

Whisking, whirling, humming 
Whispering measurements 
Into soft white piles of salt and flour
Tiny little incantations 

Creating my very own magic 
Wielding power ever so gently

Ringing those bells 

AT SEA

Who gets to be lucid 

And who comes into the ER in the middle of the night

Screaming wild nonsense about the president, and how he owes him money 

There’s a nurse there

In this particular ER

For her

Everything is concrete

Extra-real

The musk of him

The white foam gathering in the corners of his mouth 

The clock ticking the wasted time 

In the struggle

To obtain vitals

He is at sea

A thousand miles away

Unable to see light on the shore

But she is here with him

In utter realness

Touching the fabric of him

Seeing him in vivid color

And the tight bold lines that carve out his shape

She would rather be 

The one with the blood pressure cuff

Than the man at sea

With her smart white coat, clicky pen, and glasses on the end of her nose

So that she can peer at him skeptically 

Jot down his failure to “orient to time and place”

She enjoys the steady control 

Of knowing that there is no ship

No ocean

When You Are Old(er)

When you are older
You don’t see old faces
Just young faces you know
With wrinkles Saran-wrapped around their features
And fake white beards glued on
You never even thought when you were younger
That your friends would too get old
You had an illogical notion that
All of your friends would stay, and appear
Exactly twenty five years old
Forever


The chilly moments
Are the ones
Where the Saran-wrapped, beard-glued folks
Start really acting like old people


Talking about
Conservative values and
Fixed rate mortgages

That’s when you think about tugging on the beard

But for the most part

You just see eyes
And a t-shirt
And a jean jacket
And the boy you knew
Who would run his fingers
Through his cool skater boy hair
And talk about how
No one really understands Kurt Cobain

AGAIN IN COLORADO

I.  
Sitting in a shitty burger joint in Manitou Springs  
On the patio
Maybe two other families and
A couple sitting, drinking beer
Very drunk girlfriend missing the door handle on the way 
Into the bar 
The ominous smell of impending rain
My lovely, sore feet in Birkenstocks
Slightly sun-charred
A little dirty
Sips of mango lemonade

II. 
Two candles lit like a little makeshift firepit
A near empty bottle of bourbon
Chilly can-sweat beers
A Mexican blanket
Looking up 
An imperfect circle of pine
Around a white-paint-splattered sky

III.
Tired, scratchy legs and feet
Grey, dark grey, darker grey contours of the mountains
Who have their backs to the setting sun
The three of us
Idling on the boat
Basking in the warmth of instant friendship
Radiating joy and gratitude
Out of ourselves
Into each other
And back again 

IV. 
Front yard managerie of vacationers
Hikers and other crispy folk just off the trail
Sitting at steel tables rusted by winter snowfall
Hot wind through flittering Aspens
Half-warm beers
Greasy goodies for empty bellies
Triumphant dust and scree runners

V.
A silent moment
Content and sipping 
No need for small talk
A girl dances for her mother in a frilly lavender dress
A hummingbird hovers over butter yellow wildflower
A light tittering of people eating and chatting 
A perfect temperature
Aspen leaves dance overhead 

VI. 
Alone in tiny tent
Woolen socks over dirty toes
Last sip of water before a little too much beer and whiskey
Takes me away
Camping mat squeaks
Someone in the tent next to mine farts
I giggle and swan dive into mountain sleep 
    

TO LIVE BEAUTIFULLY

I regularly oscillate
On the whole “god” thing

As a second grader
I openly wept in the bizarre child-bride outfit
Given to me for my first communion
Feeling blessed by the presence of the Holy Spirit
(I still think it’s a little fucked up to feed seven-year old children the flesh of a deity)
In my teenage years, thrashed wildly between
Deciding I was a witch
And praying ceaselessly to Jesus and Mary
In the early college years
Turning to science
And deciding not to feel anything
Years later
Stumbling over spirituality
Like a log in the path
While practicing yoga for sport
Accidental wild crying
To ambient-nothing music
While laying on my back on the floor

Eventually, an older and more
Self-actualized me
Prided myself in managing my feelings
Sorting them into neat, labeled Tupperware containers
Having tidy explanations for everything
But I wonder if to live beautifully
Is to find meaning in everything
To see intention
In the director’s every decision

Having reviewed the arch
Of my swing
I cannot help but giggle a little
I did not know then
And I do not know now

But I do think that:
Perhaps a good life
Is not measured by
How well it is managed
But how artfully it is interpreted

GONE

I breathe in
The poison of missing you
And feel every inch of the room around me
In its contemptuous
Awful
Emptiness

I hear my stomach turn over
And see my heart beat in my chest
And feel everything ringing out
With the absence of you

If I let it
It takes me over like an ivy
Grows into my ears and eyes
Through the web of every finger

But if I can fight it
It is like a heavy hum
That buzzes in my bones

A tightening of the skin;
Like you
Living inside me
Trying to get out

I still look for your ghost in places you have never been

THE MOAT

To be separated like this
Feels too old fashioned
You in your high tower
And me in my moat
I do not beg
Or ask you to come down
I tired of shouting months ago
I just row this little boat
Circling
The smell of you
Wafting through tapestries
Out of stone windows
I do not even know
If i would like it
If they lowered the bridge
To let me in
At this point
I think I might
Just rather row

WHAT OHIO HAS TO OFFER

Conservative, old-fashioned, god-fearin’ folk,
busted trailers filled with odd treasures
post offices the size of dog houses
proud American flags
smokers
Guns
Potato Salad
Abandoned video stores with sun-bleached cut outs of Indiana Jones
1,000 newly opened craft breweries
Hills
Checkerboards of soybean fields
Three generations of broken tractors in a front yard
Football
Pageants
Corn
Hill-top cemeteries packed tight into thick wet soil with the bodies of people you love, decomposing
A lake that looks like an ocean
Amish buggies in a Kroger parking lot
a place to tie up your horse at a gas station
Farm dogs
Log piles
Confederate flags
Little hippy towns with blue-haired 11 year old kids playing chess
Septic tanks
people feeding other people and calling it “a ministry”