HB

To others you can be
So rough
And to me
So tender

We used to lie on the couch together with our feet
In each other’s faces
And laugh and shout and nap
And stop ourselves from being mean or catty

“You know what?”

“What?”

“Nothing, it’s mean.”

“Good. Don’t say it”

You taught me to be bold and kind and unashamed
And I keep that large treasure
In my trunk
For always

Advertisements

TOM CRUISE, UNDERWATER

When I was 7
We had competitions at the neighborhood pool
To see who could hold their breath the longest
I was always the most pitiful
I would pinch my nose tightly and submerge
While Michael and Ashley
Would watch the pool clock
That was mounted next to the rescue net
I shot up gasping, snot coming out of my nose, bangs sticking straight up

“24 seconds”
Ashley would say, head cocked to the side
Like the absolute bitch she was
(If anyone is capable of being a bitch at 7, it was Ashley)
“Now, I go” she said, in her bitch voice
And put her wiry, perfect little body underwater

“61 seconds!”
Michael shouted
Micheal was an idiot with a crush on a 7 year old bitch

I read, yesterday, that Tom Cruise
Held his breath underwater
For six minutes
Six
Minutes

Now, no one is perfect
But I feel confident in saying
That Tom is the closest thing
A human can get to
Godliness

Even Ashley can’t come close to that

COLORADO

The mountain wind is a breath
From a different god
And when I breathe it
I pray a song
That repeats
In my chest
A hollowness
A simple tune
A wordless song
Filled with only wind

And when I sing
She sings back

The mountain wind and i
Harmonize with a single note

YEAH, MOUNTAINS

I was riding in the shuttle back to the airport to catch
Yet another shuttle to Aspen
I was antsy and felt badly for the two other passengers,
(Both silent, elderly, white males)
As I already stank of vinegary sweat and sandalwood
Every few moments, I would look up from the totally cliché Bryson novel I was
Reading about the Appalachian Trail
And peer to mountains in the distance
Just past the dense foreground of
Applebees, community colleges and dentist offices

I have a hard time traveling alone
If only because I have to stifle
Intermittent urges to double fist pump my arms
In front of strangers
“Yeahhhhh…. Mountainsssss”
I say to myself, eyes temporarily closed

When I finally disembark from my final shuttle
I get out, stretch my whole body and let out an involuntary growl
Here they are; the unadulterated mountains
Unimprovable in their beauty and magnitude
Available to me to adore and conquer
I want to hold it in
But I don’t manage it
“Woooooooo!”
I scream at them
My fellow riders
Stare at me, expressionless
Extend the arms of their rollaway luggage and leave me
I stare at them for a moment, arms still ended in the air
And pivot back in the opposite direction

“Yeahhh… mountainssss”

IMAGINARY AUDIENCE

When I was twelve
I went to the theater
To see Romeo and Juliet
I cried through entire second act
I held my heart
At the beautiful parts
And couldn’t help but gasp when the colors of the lights
Were impeccably right

I felt guilty for my loose tears
Silly for my mushy heart
And lucky to be sitting in the dark

The same year
I sat in church
Pushing my hair behind my ears
In front of my ears
And back again
Surely the entire congregation was fixated on the poofyness of my hair
And were deeply entranced by my twelve-year-old beauty
I was convinced

After church, my mother informed me
That I had a problem she likes to call “imaginary audience”
Meaning that everyone else is too concerned with their own poofy bangs
To care about what my hair looks like
Or if my overalls are dumb
(They were)

Now that I am older
I weep openly at the movies
Wipe my snot on my shirt
Hiccup-cry into the diet coke straw

I’m not sure who is watching, or who cares
But I feel
Unashamed of my tears
Grateful for my sensitivity
And lucky for my mushy heart

YOUR EXACTLY KNEE

My friend talked me into Bikram yoga
Don’t even get me started about that guy
I didn’t know before I arrived
That the class has a script
A series of descriptions for poses
That never changes

I was folded over
Ready to barf on my bare feet
Peering at the tiny window in the studio door
And dreaming of my escape
When the instructor told me to
“Put my exactly forehead to my exactly knee”

I stared at my knee
My head about two feet away from it

It was all I could do in the world
Not to tell this bag of bones
To stick her exactly thumb up her exactly ass

I careened to see my friend’s reaction
And fell onto my slick moss-squish mat

They had indeed, succeeded in matching their exactly parts
Because they’re fucking athletes

I however, am an imposter
One that wants off this boat

I’m tempted, after my fall to take up
My sweaty swamp-mat
And tie it to my neck like a cape
Throw up double middle fingers
And dance out of the room

But I stay, because I’ve been challenged

When class lets out
I explode into eye rolls and exasperated exclamations
“Can you believe those people?”

They loved it
So intense
So detoxifying

I can’t take anything seriously, their faces say
And they’re right

Tonight, you are sitting up in my bed
Our usual routine
An hour minimum
Talking about respective past
And other together-future
You talk about the new house
I stare at your eyebrows
Echo your expressions with my face
Your legs are bent
And because it feels so delightfully within reach
Touch my exactly forehead
To your exactly knee

MY WORK COMPUTER

I know it’s common for people
To sit at work for long stretches of time
I don’t care about
The statistics
Or what the doctors say
About heart disease
Or how much sooner
The office-sitters will die
I don’t care about your yoga ball
Or people and their standing desks
Or their fancy treadmills
I just want to say
That it makes me want to
Hit myself in face
With my unfolded lap top
Until my head distorts the screen

I arrived in the world’s weirdest and hardest to escape airport last night around 7pm, mountain time. My friend Josh picked me up, after a hard fought battle through winding concourses, four confounding escalators and a tram. In between, I stopped and stood, stupefied in front of what looked to be a medium-sized recreation of Machu Pichu in the center atrium. Did i mention that when you leave, you are bid farewell by a 20 foot blue sculpture of a horse with eyes that light up red? Just. Weird.

Now, I’m trying not to get all schmoopy-pants about how beautiful Colorado is. And I’m trying to avoid that little niggle of wanderlust that makes me want to pack up and move, because I’m pretty damn sure I want to stay in Ohio. But, JESUS, guys! Sunset-sunshine blasting through the damn mountains like a cut-out in a Monty Python sky makes me want to give up and say, “You’re right, Ohio is a hole of sadness. Take me, Colorado.”

Came back to Josh and Amy’s. (Sadly, I just missed Amy as she is in Africa doing work as a Child Life Specialist) Josh made tempeh tacos (favorite food) and we sat on their horrifyingly charming little patio while we watched the full moon rise over pine trees. Fuck this place. Seriously. Fuck this place.

IMG_20150731_222600194
Got up at 6:30 this morning. Josh made oats and coffee. I packed my comically-large fastpack and took their car out to Lookout Mountain. Ah, I love trail maps. Instructions to the trail usually appear as follows: TURN LEFT AT THE UNMARKED DIRT ROAD. THIS WILL LOOK LIKE SOMEONE’S DRIVEWAY. THAT’S BECAUSE IT IS. DO NOT PARK HERE. TAKE TWO MORE LEFTS AND PARK AT THE UNMARKED TRAIL HEAD.

Hey, dingalings, are you trying to make it hard to get the top of the mountain? Why is everything so god damned unmarked? No mind. I made it. A five mile hike-run up dusty, winding, cactus laden, beautiful trails. Two miles from the top, there is a road crossing. Lo and behold, there is a bike race happening right before my very eyes. Juniors on crazy carbon bikes, panting and puffing up the mountain. Way to go, little dudes. It kind of blew me away. I complain about the Zanesfield road race being hard. This looked…insurmountable.

I carried on and came upon a young nerdy dude in basketball shorts moving at a good clip. I made friends. Matt is from Boston and moved here because it’s cheaper (duh) and more beautiful (duh). He’s a tech consultant. We shared a delightfully odd mile together and ended up at a nature center at the summit. We looped around displays of wonky-eyed, stuffed bobcats and baby black bears. Eventually, I took my leave as old basketball shorts had run out of things to say. Luckily, I was about to meet Mack.

I came upon Mack near the mansion at the top of Lookout Mountain. He was standing at the bottom of his own driveway in a cotton shirt and white sneakers. “Ooh. You look like an adventurer!”
What? Really? In a sea of extreme sports enthusiasts cruising around the top of this mountain today, I look like the adventurer? Groovy. Sometimes you do become the thing you are pretending to be. He asked me where I was going, I told him right back down the mountain. I said, “Is this the top?”
“It sure is”. I did a little Lauren-jig. “Awesome. I feel great” I let him know that I hail from the flat lands and he let me know that I was at 8,000 feet. I really did feel pretty good.

Mack had been heading out for a walk and told me that there was another way down that might be more interesting. We walked a half mile before he let on that he was, or is rather, a runner. He said, “Let’s jog eh?” HELL YES. We ran down the mountain on perfectly paved switch backs. The roads were closed for the race. We watched elite cyclists get the top, where there was a USA Cycling stage and tent set up. They turned around and barreled back down the mountain. We probably could have gotten clipped and killed by one, but we were delightfully unawares. We ran a good four or so miles before he dropped me off at the trailhead from whence I came.

I do love meeting strangers on top of mountains. It’s just about my favorite thing.
IMG_20150801_105816609_HDR

I would like to say that I bounded down the rest of the mountain. But it was more like a cautious tumble. By then it was nearly 95 degrees F and my brain was le cooked. Went to a local natural foods grocery for goodies and juice. Tried to head back out to do another pass, but I only made it about 2.5 miles total. It was so hot, it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. I made a total of 13 or 14 for the day and I’m quite pleased that I don’t feel like total garbage.

After failing at summiting Apex Trail, I met some awesomely weird hippie dude with long red hair named Bernard who asked me if I wanted to go check out a dead deer on the side of the road, so that he could use it for meat. I said why the hell not. We took a two mile hike together, looking for the deer that he came upon earlier. Bernard, an unlikely hippie from Georgia, is 26 and hitchhiked up here to see his sister. Yep, that still happens. We parted ways when his sister pulled up in an immaculate white Suburu, her hair pulled into a perfect blond tail, Jason Mraz on the stereo. I saw what role he played in the family, and I respected it, because it’s mine too.

IMG_20150801_091610238

DAY ONE, DENVER

SIMPLE THINGS

More than most people
I find myself in beautiful places
Places worthy of instagramming
And it’s here that I do
My worst work
Not because Whitman already covered it
Or because it is too vast
But because it’s too simple
To write a poem about

I am clear about how the canyon makes me feel
And about the fog
Rolling in over the pine

I am clear that the big, hollow howl in me
Is a reason to be alive

But it’s moments like the one happening right now
That really confound

You are getting out of my car
In your black jacket
It’s cold
And something is wrong
But you won’t say what

This is where the really difficult poetry begins

LIFE AFTER HOLIDAY

Be brave
You can go on
Into unhighlighted calendar days
You can go with joy in your heart
Into stark white boxes
You can go on

Christmas and Mondays are constructs
Neither superior to the other
If you prepare for Tuesday
As one prepares for torture
Then torture it will be
But, last Wednesday night
Was no torture
You and I
Wrapped bare legs around each other
From eleven to midnight
Played our game where
I put in wax earplugs and you tell me secrets
What a magical, diary-worthy time that was

All year long
My mother waits in anticipation of a vacation
And once it comes, it’s magical
And once it’s gone, it’s tragedy
One could waste
A lot of perfectly good Wednesdays this way