The Mountains

Sometimes, I think I see the mountains breathe,

though I know it is a trick of the mist,

undulating under the full moon.

And I know that it is just

the capacity of the human mind

for pattern recognition,

and the mountains are not truly

curved like a woman’s hip,

her chest and face.

There are not goddesses,

sleeping in stone, sleeping under green,

but sometimes…

well, the eyes play tricks.

 

Eyes

Eyes

There are eyes in the shadows

Gold and filled with black moons,

Black like an eclipse

With the sun radiating behind them.

These are not eyes you see;

These are eyes you feel.

Oh Lord have mercy,

For I fear the shadow of death.

 

It begins as an incessant drip in the back of your mind,

Like a leaky faucet

Drip

Something’s wrong

Drip

Something’s watching.

It builds into a stream of cold water

That runs goose bumps down your spine

 

It builds, it builds

Till Egypt’s cursed ocean is pounding in your head,

Your heart pounds, rushing

Blood to your head,

Like red waves against

A cliff in a storm.

 

You try to hear past the blood,

Senses straining for sounds

You fear to hear,

Fear not to hear.

The padded footfall behind,

The creak of a limb above.

 

 

You do not hear any sound.

You do not see any shadow

Slinking between trees.

You do not smell any primal musk.

But the back of your neck pricks

And your spine,

Your spine can feel those eyes.

 

Don’t run, your momma said

Just stand tall, make yourself big.

But the dark trees deny your proud stance,

So you walk with shoulders hunched

As if expecting

A blow from above.

 

Don’t run, your papa said.

But each muscle is tight

Like a bow, ready to fling you forward.

Your heart churns like a steam engine,

Ready to supply your legs with blood

Oh Lord

Holding myself back

Is the hardest thing I ever done.

 

Cause you can’t outrun a cat, no son,

That big cat gonna run you down.

Gods

Are those your songs in my head?

Are they mine to keep?

Or are they just on loan?

Looking at you is like

Looking out the window at night

Looking out to where the grass

Fades from the streetlight.

That edge, that’s where you are.

That’s who you are.

That’s all you ever could be.

And I’m sitting inside, in the

Warmth and stillness.

I can see phantoms of cold

Rain and wind,

Slanting the streetlight,

Like shadows on the wall

Of my cave

Are you the things I see

out of the corner of my eye?

You make me scream sometimes.

Did you know that?

Do you mean to?

Why, when I turn my back to the window,

Do I

Feel someone watching me?

I always expect to see someone

Standing in that edge.

Am I relieved

Or disappointed

Not to?

Figments

I lived my life in the long cool mornings of fall, and you,

You lived yours in warm and vibrant summer nights

Your air was laden with exotic spices from-

Bombay-Istanbul,

And mine with the cool fresh smell of mint.

You are a wharf rat, and I-

I am the child of farmers.

You lived from harbor to harbor- dock to dock

Working your way around the wild east

I live in the valley, the one you see

From mountains, hidden in fog

I drank the tart cider squeezed from autumn apples and the

Clear water that ran from mountain snowmelt.

You drank wine- spiced wine, warm wine-

Heady wine that coaxed the tendrils

Of your tangled mind

When I lie awake at night, I hear the contemplative call

Of owls, the wild chorus of coyotes

Or perhaps the lonesome

Cry of a fox.

And you, you hear the creak of wood, flap of canvas sail,

Lapping of water, gently hungering for you

Safe in your hammock.

I awake at cock crow, to the coo of mourning dove, and the

Genial shouts of farmhands, the cattle low for their

Breakfast and milking

And you, wherever you are, wake to the strange

Lamentations of a holy man in a tower

Singing in the morning prayer.

In a tavern attic, out of work, you don’t fall back asleep

Or begin your day, just lie-

Lie and listen-

Every sense straining,

For dawn.

Rainy Thoughts

I love the rainy days
I like them for reading with the window open
I like them for walking on sidewalks,
Splishing through puddles.
I like the way people smile at each other
And hold open doors.
It’s like everyone is carrying kittens
Under their raincoats.
Wait, that bulge isn’t a kitten,
It’s a gun!
Holy shit! I’m
Running out of analogies
To explain how the world works.

My First Blood

They told me about the blood.

They said when I bled,

A woman I would become

Woman! Mature, Seductive, Wise!

They did not tell me about the pain,

The twisting in my gut,

The knives in my abdomen,

Stabbing straight through,

To my lower back.

They did not tell me about the smell

Heavy, rotten, cloying,

That follows me

And I glance about,

Worried that someone might smell

My shame.

They did not tell me

About scrubbing stains in the sink

Until my hands were numb

They did not talk about

The sudden

Explosion of pus filled bumps

On my face, my back.

They did not tell me

That I would lie alone

In my bed crying

Without knowing why.

No one told me

That to be a woman, in other’s eyes

Was to be weak

And irrational

To have my words doubted

On the grounds of my

Young hormones.

Is this what it means

To be a woman? Tied

To my bed, bleeding.

Is being a woman

Suffering?

I want to pull myself free of the blood,

But it’s still a part of me.

They will never separate us

So why should I?

Perhaps I should accept the blood

Accept it as my heritage

Rise up a goddess

With blood between my legs.

I am woman watch me bleed.

Denim Guru

You were a guru in denim,

Sitting cross-legged in your room,

That always smelled of incense-

From the gas station-

In your blue jeans with white knees,

As if you had been praying.

They called you a hippy,

Or a geek-

But I knew you for what you truly were-

The quintessential human-

Reaching out-

WITH NO HOPE

Of catching anything.

As I was driving today

I heard a song that reminded me of you.

“you were my sweetest

downfall…”

In a strange breaking-

Of gender roles-

You were Delilah,

And I, Sampson.

I say I wear my hair short for convenience, but,

It’s really in tribute to you.

The River

I left my shoes on the riverbank.

The tendons under my skin stretched,

My toes sank into the sand.

I pulled my shirt over my head-

Left it beside my shoes.

I stepped into the water,

Slowly, carefully-

On round stones slick,

With moss.

Further I stepped-

To where the careening water,

Cut deep-

I walked in until the water,

Lapped hungrily at my bare thighs.

I was eager, yet hesitant,

It is easier to fling yourself wholeheartedly

Off some dock,

Or even to walk in until the water is deep,

than to lower yourself

Into its chilly embrace.

I sank down,

Stretched my body long in the water-

My full length in scattered sunbeams,

My still body quickened with the shock,

A thousand icy fingers,

Caressed the length of me.

My thighs tingled

As the water passed over me.

I stood-

Pulled myself from its embrace,

Though part of me wanted

Nothing more-

Than to sink back in,

And let the river stroke me,

For a while more.

Picking up my shoes and rumpled shirt,

I walked away, blushing.

Reflections on the Smell of Mint

I dry mints in my room.

Cat nip, bee balm,

The wild mint that grows

Roots wet in the lowlands

Prolific in spring.

I like the way they hang,

Leaves to the ground,

All in a bunch.

I like the rustle,

And when they crumble in my fingers…

I like the sudden fresh smell,

As if spring herself-

Storms in her train-

had stepped into the room.

I walk out into the Green World-

Black dog at my heels.

I am enveloped,

In morning mists-

Pierced by sun,

By bird song.

The Green World is my mother,

And my lover.

Surrounds me,

And penetrates me.

I hide from her for weeks-

Like a bear from the cold.

Yet she draws me out,

Envelopes me with shadows-

Pierces me with light.

‘Til I weep that-

Pure, brindled sight,

has seared my eyes.