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”

IF HOME

If home is knowing
Then we are far from home now

out on a long walk
with no shoes

out in the unnameable tundra

braving
or hiding

building or denying

but all trying

all trying

if shelter is complacency
we are without nest

all of our belongings
torn from dresser drawers
thrown in the streets

all of our ummentionables
exposed

if a bed is a place
to hide from truth
we fear we might never sleep again

standing in fields
clutching cold pillows
wondering when the gift
will be ours again
when we will belong to sleep again

we are frightened
but bold
we are learning a new craft
learning how to build
new houses
new beds
fresh comforts

the security of knowing is gone
but we will not
always stand in the field

not with our newfound
ingenuity

creativity and fearless construction

we may never go back to the places we know

but we can build new ones

and they will be homes if we say so

ACCESSIBILITY

The dominant means for perception
Are not the only means for perception
Did you not know that one can
Touch to see
Sign to talk
And roll to run?

There are worlds unknown to you
Nooks and crannies
Nuance of gestural language
Finding rapturous joy in the discovery
Of adaptation

There are so many means for perceiving
And enjoying
Left yet to be turned over
So many uncharted paths
To take in our world

Slowly we build bridges of understanding
Make new tools
Shift the culture
Make windows where there were walls

Humans are change adept
We can live in the coldest
And hottest parts of this earth
And survive

Consider what we can achieve
When given the small leg-up
Of a ramp
An interpreter
Printing in braille

It is time to build a window
Where there was a wall

CANCER

Cancer is the crab
From ninety to
One hundred and twenty degrees
Highly sensitive to his environment
Intuitive
And keen
And ruled by the moon

He is also the same crab
That has made me cry in the shower
Wondering if I, like my grandmother,
Should put sticky notes on the bottom of all my treasures
With names of those bequeathed

The same celestial crab
That walks sideways
To avoid truth

Has slyly walked by us
At night
Scratching his claws on hardwood floors
Keeping us from sleep

Apparently, one can build trust
By not looking at him dead-on

But I do it anyway

Staring into his arthropod eyes
Knowing that he can see me
From every direction

We play our games
Dance imperfect circles

What does he know that he will not say?

The living fossil
He is older
And wiser than us
He keeps his secrets under hard, treasure-trunk shell

So we wait
And watch
His direction

Sleep with one eye open
Dubiously following his moves

LITTLE FLOWER

I simply cannot wait
For anything to happen on its own
So I tend to
Pop the bud before
The blossom

Like a child who peels back Christmas paper
Just enough
To read the text on the box
Retreating to my room with secret information
A squeal of silent delight

So too am I
Peeling back petals
To glimpse at
Style and stigma

Perhaps they are better
More fully realized
More apt to show their rich color
If I were to wait

Because I could never tolerate such a punishment
I will gladly accept the center for what it is:
Green, green
Unfinished,
Unripened,
And unprepared