#166

November 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Hills lie.

It’s my mantra while I’m running.  A hill in mile 2 will tell you that you are way too tired to finish 5.  A hill at mile 10 (or 25) will tell you there is no way you can finish 26.2.  A particularly ornery hill may tell you that you can’t even make it to the top – that even though you can see that street sign at the crest, you’ll never make it.

But hills lie.  Hills will tell you that you are depleting your energy, your muscles, your endurance, and you won’t have enough to finish.  Hills will tell you that you aren’t as good as you thought you were.

Hills will tell you that you hate running, but hills lie.

If you push through it, hills will tell you “fine, just get to the top and then you can walk for a minute.  You’ll need to recuperate, and you earned it” — but it’s a lie of omission.  It doesn’t remind you that when you get to the top, even though you will be panting and dripping and burning – it will surrender.  Hills don’t want you to know you can recover.

You must tune out what the road tells your body – the lyrics of its taunting song are written in the ink of shallow superlatives and empty ‘nevers’.  You’ll never make it.  This is the hardest.  You’ll never finish.  You are the weakest.

You can’t see over the hill, but the perspective of the road is even lower.  Do not follow the blind.  The road is only your enemy until you learn its manipulative games.  Until you let your legs and your lungs be louder than the lies.  Until you listen to the sky, who can SEE the other side and is chanting in the wind that it. gets. easier.

You will get to the top.  It will relent and you will keep running.  Do not expect ease with the first step of flat ground, do not give up when you don’t get it.  Prevailing is pushing through four or five more before suddenly your breath is returning and your legs are rejoicing and yet you are still running.  You are stronger than the hill wants you to believe.  You are stronger than you supposed.

There will be rest, yes, but you don’t need it yet.  Remember this.

Hills lie.

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#164

November 12, 2014 § 2 Comments

A sneaky secret keeper,
Time
never tells as she vowed.
Perhaps the phrase should be
Only Time
allows
enough of the fog to settle that we might
in our finite vision, finally
be able to see
the pieces
clearly.
It turns out Time
knows nothing
except where wisdom
is hidden –
beneath the cloud of what we think we know –
so she holds it
out of our reaches.
It turns out Time doesn’t tell.
She teaches.

#163

February 7, 2014 § 13 Comments

Coffee shop concerto connoisseur
I am listening.
“Eavespicking”
The world does the dropping.
I am scooping up the snippets
that are slipping
from the lips
in line or between sips, there are
tiny bits of magic
out of context

You may say your daughter
was braiding rainbow thread
but depending on precisely
when you turn your head
like a marionette
outside my grasp
I may only catch
braiding rainbows
a spark
of vocal static

The rest may never
come to life
if I can’t write,
can’t decide
in the context of my composition, who
or what
or why
is braiding rainbows

but that tiny drip
of inspiration
will stain across these pages
continuing to steep
in contemplation,
an almost insignificant
addition
to the writer’s burden
hanging in the space
between my pen
and my intentions

I will always feel a twinge
of magnetism
in the weight with which those words hit the page

so maybe it’s already poetry
suspended in coffee-clutter sound
Maybe it doesn’t need a writer,
just someone to write it down.

As writers, we write an awful lot about writing don’t we? For more on the significance of these journals, take a look at #110.

#162

July 16, 2013 § 85 Comments

So are you, like,
super religious,
with all this?”
he flicked
his wrist
at the silver cross
crossing
my collarbone
but implied
with his eyes
more
than the metal resting
in the crevice
of my throat

“I don’t
wear a cape”
I answered, smiling,
providing
an escape
he didn’t take.

You know what I mean.

Do I?
What does “super religious”
looks like?

Because, I
sometimes
am a Cliff Note Christian
thinking
someone else’s summaries
are sufficient
to get the gist

Because, I
sometimes
am a brimstone Christian
thinking
its “good enough”
to be
“good enough”
to escape the flames

Because I
sometimes
am a sawdust Christian
quick to pick
at the bits
in the eyes of others
and blind to mine

But if you’re asking
if I punctuate in colons,
echoing sentiments
name – colon – number
or if I beat out rhythms
in thumb prints on the cover
of my Bible
or if I spout off “tsks”
from the lists
of all the things
my “super religion”
doesn’t permit –
no.

This is not a “Can’t
because I’m Christian
kind of super
religion.
This chain is not indicative of
captivity.

I may be a “Don’t”
or a “Won’t” Christian
(there’s a difference
of intention –
just the way I choose each day
to wrap
these silver symbols over skin)
but that’s the “super” thing
about religion –
from beneath the stacks
of unopened devotions
and amid the sawdust mist
and Cliffs un-noted
I arise each morning knowing
I want more
from the twisting of this orbit
and wake up face to face
with equal parts free will,
and grace.

But if “super religious”
means I need
an extra-strength
prescription faith
or if it means it takes
something superpower strong
to hold together
all I weave
well-intentioned, yet
always flawed
then super religious?  Yes –
Thank God.


									

#161

June 21, 2013 § 12 Comments

These children
like fireflies between my fingers
only twinkle for a minute
and I have to catch it.
Hours sending lessons
into careless wind and dropping
songs like stones into rivers
that only rush over them

Insignificant.

So often
seemingly
insignificant

I am reduced to
reverberations
rolling vaguely behind their hazy eyes
swishing out in low-rise tides
“did you hear what I said?”
they did,
they say
And sporadically, when asked
sometimes
they can play back
a jumbled mix track tape they
(luckily)
(subconsciously)
recorded –
and surprise us both
but they

are fireflies flickering
on my palms
only twinkling for a minute
and as much as every fiber in my fingers
long to pluck it, stuff it
into mason jars filled with moments
that I could open on those long and
hollow, expansive days –
that I could play
back to them when Hanon
isn’t as bright
as the Harry Potter theme –
I refrain

Such infrequent
fragile light
is not my job
to ignite,
but my reward –
and my responsibility
to preserve

#160

August 16, 2012 § 8 Comments

He was always 10% late
and I never got a discount.

Swooping in like the sea
had almost forgotten high tide

waves of studded leather
Starbucks and smoke

wafting from lips lined
with sin and nicotine

he on an “axe” and an amp, and me
(punctually)

on my pink
left-handed
acoustic.

Lanky rocker – whose headbanging
black hair had retired

before his tour bus dreams.
Quite a pair – him and me

knee to knee in a studio
too small for the smell of stale gigs

that seemed to seep from his case
or his skin

(really what difference
was there to him

and his gangly
mic-stand skeleton?)

#159

August 15, 2012 § 9 Comments

She carried time.
(Not as heavy as you think –
she was walking
with a clock in her arms)
Holding hands.

#158

June 14, 2012 § 15 Comments

Shouts of swimsuited mini-Vannas, pointing
to crayon-colored posterboard pricelists
which – if Truth in Advertising
applied to minor enterprise
would give the cost of soggy hotdogs
over-powdered lemonade, under-iced
and cookies home-baked only
on the picnic table racks of sun-ovens
but we buy them anyways
Much like the eye and beauty,
value is in the wallet of the holder.
Past the picket line of child commerce
beneath the watchful eye of the napping guy
armed with a cooler and a cashbox
lay the lengths of tin tables, teetering
unevenly on cracked concrete, covered
in discarded relics.
Like the shreds whipped from semi-tires
stripped flying down the interstate,
ribbons of evidence flicked
from the grip of a warp-speed life
lay waiting – a museum exhibit of decades
decaying on tables – anticipating
the hands that may reuse them
Most of which
I fly by, interested only in the reasons why
one would try to sell such things – but I
am a sucker for books.
Attic-baked, dust-glazed
deeply creased, and long-since steeped
in fingerprint oils of mysterious hands I’ll never meet
I graze their pages –
the thinner, softer, the more torn – the better
Irrelevant print I will never read
(Wisdom made public is fairly cheap)
but for handwritten dedications
and scribbled inky margin notes,
I will count my quarters out,
(feeling sneaky!)
Much like the offerings
of little chefs in the street
An under-estimate on the pricelist
of just what “priceless” means!

#157

May 31, 2012 § 14 Comments

“It was stuck in my head
for days,”
she said –
“until I sat down
and got it out”.
And for a moment
I am scared to death.
She is eight –
nine, maybe… so small
that it’s hard to remember.
But she is
young
and I am holding
so much potential
in incapable hands.
Build to handle
Hanon,
yes
and made
for mastering
Mozart – my hands
can handle octaves
with ease despite their size
— always much
to the surprise
of the judges –
But there is much
these hands can’t do
for someone so full
of music
that Barbie dolls
and Easy Bakes
are played
to soundtracks
non-existent
until she gets it out.
She is a living jukebox
of latent masterpiece
A composition prodigy
in potentia
She speaks of the piano
the way gravity
would the heft
of the universe –
as though there’s nothing to it
As though penning music
years ahead
of what today
she could read off the page
is just natural.
I could never have taught her
to be this way.
Instead, I must be careful
not to break it.

#156 – Rewrite

May 16, 2012 § 10 Comments

Let’s make imaginary deadlines
to meet like Ira and George.*
Stay up all night with me
in a quiet room –
like the Gershwins.
Sunlight steals
my reverie
so sit with me
Two pads of paper,
a bottle between –
wine and a watchful moon
to ward against
the responsibility of sleep
Bring me a full box of pencils, just sharpened
to those dusty, surgical
points that I love
The lace of lead will stick to the tips
of my fingers, swell the edge of my hand – spreading
as the world is darkened
Like fruit inside a paper bag
we would ripen
Like pianists playing double hands
this Rhapsody would not be Blue
because silence is more creative
if I’m silent here with you
I will reach into the empty air
and find your genius resting there
I’ll hum soprano to your syncopation
Sink sleepless into chicken-scratch
stretched across dawn’s treble clef
and erase the dotted line
where art and life detach
I’ll rummage for phrases on the ceiling,
browsing selections you’ve rejected
break my metronomic heart
with the sounds that you’ve perfected
I’ll bounce ideas off the whites of your eyes
Watch the weather change and seek asylum
in your mindstorms – rain
that falls to these pages
like we’re Americans in Paris
in April –
but we’re still painting stateside
and I’ve got Rhythm
but you’ve got blues
So who’s
to say
the kind of art we could create?
I will share my notebooks with you
You can read every page – except
the ones I’ve written on
those are where my heart is kept
But I will give you every word on my blank pages
the unwritten potential midnight engages
and I would share a spine with you on library shelves
the result of magic deadlines we created for ourselves

*When composers George and Ira Gershwin were facing looming deadlines, they would lock themselves in a hotel room without distraction and work until they completed the necessary projects. Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, and I’ve Got Rhythm are all Gershwin compositions.

I spent quite a bit of time going back and forth on whether to assign this a new number.  No one but myself will have been around long enough to recognize it – but it has already made an appearance on this blog.  Seeing as how I spent more time on the rewrite than the original though, I decided it deserved a new number indeed!  For anyone interested in seeing the original you can click here: #56