dear wildcat

winter comes again in time and our
skin splits/ the heckling of stars:
the way implied, they could

be a sun, be the warmth
spoken of, yes I know
and we instead cracked

cups glued many times
upon the cloth-
hold fast.

how small the earthquakes warn
of a shatter and maybe
we choose to tie the rope tight
instead, tight around

our own eyes-

my dear friend, hold fast,
hold the hands of your choosing
eyes shuttered and heart wild
with hollow rage like

a sun burns
from its self until done.

and what can we choose but
an anthem of joy or
despair?

dear wildcat, please free yourself
of the hunters trap and if
you must chew your own
leg to be free, be free

or if the rope is tight
and just right, I will try to
find you if you ask,

because I know your wild heart
and you know I am cracked
and full of nuance and
deepest love/

the pain of John’s death, of my
father, of my child self that never
was free and you know and
you know: until your kind

came along and saw me jumping
above the waves, diving with breath
held and swimming, always swimming.
Now I wade where they cannot rip
feet from sand and stand
feeling the crash all around/

it will be a choice again, dear friend

to let an anger go that will not
destroy your enemies, at the
knowledge that nature is unjust
and will not strike down those who

would harm but give them chance
after chance… for you and I
to speak truthfully and
uncomfortably is

the only justice.

I argue you are what joy is born from
painfully and fully, so pull
the wound wide and bare
and see like the ocean waves
there is no choice

but to return to the shore pounding,
flailing as a storm brews or in a sleepy slumber
beneath a still blue free of everything
but the pull of time, no choice

but to hold, “thought by thought.”

through the trees

I smell gardenias when I think of warmth,
feel smooth, hardwood under still new feet
how little hands can scale old

umbrella trees like that iguana
castaway one morning after a hurricane
I spotted arching up into the leaves 

and little feet swinging in the air:
how I hid a small cache of treasure
perched on a branch that 

holds little girls, too/

shiny plastics from my costume
I wore during the warm, Miami nights
twirling and dancing in parades

flipping on the black asphalt,
sometimes landing on my knees still,
and unconcerned I’d collect the

shiny stones that fell off and
put them in the tree hole somewhere
high up- reminded of how I could shine

so bright when I moved quickly,
how people watched
entranced with my spinning.

One evening after dark
I played on the sidewalk on my own
an only child and wildly imaginative 

and spotted the cactuses slowly opening their flowers

like they did every night: a night-blooming
cereus that I went over to put a tiny lizard,
a green anole, on its topmost point

of green just above the little spike 

how it launched itself into the darkness
between itself and the ground way below-
my alarm and wonder at his tiny bounce 

before he ran. What if, he had stayed
atop the blooms having been placed
so safely by my hand,

where the stars above were now closer
and the grass that usually towered, tiny
and inconsequential? And, I hoped

it would feel freedom like I did
up in my tree, free from all
the must-dos and perfection 

the pressure to remain small
but be admirable. I found myself
closer to myself in every treetop

or perched on a floating log
in the partially frozen alpine lake
one spring or stepping further

into the warm waves of the Atlantic
where all that is heard now
is time and my own heart.

we guide the form, in naming

I could not be solid
being hard in thinking instead
far in seeing past
the stories I was told

were the way things were,
and holding this truth
felt dangerous at times.

I could not be solid,
yet more an amorphous
shape shifting with every
change in the wind

like a ghost I thought at first
like the chaos before the fiery
center of a new star that

is warm whether the sun shines
somewhere near or is one day gone,
I realized eventually.

But, it’s just truth, and I really
have wanted to hide in my room
many times or to walk into a forest
and be gone awhile, and instead

of getting angry, I tried wrapping
myself in petals and song
like Billy or Leonard sinking into
my heart and forming or

opened the window and let the wind
gather in my mouth until
I could laugh

and maybe it was good to learn this/

where what is real and natural and beautiful
is dangerous to people too damaged
and still in hiding, maybe

for the rest of their lives because
they are still afraid-

and children who cannot tell
because they must protect others first
to survive, feel it like a scream
they wouldn’t dare and

the feelings in that hypocrisy-
when you should cry
if it is time and rage if it is
required

because to not, makes
better understandable why
someone cannot love.

But, children learn to live
with a feeling they cannot speak
the name of except, I am sad
or crawling into bed one night terrified
of dying when the house is

so quiet and so safe,

it will take work to learn to speak;
and yes, I am serious inside
and thoughtful or maybe

I became this way and was someone
before, but I only know what I was
by what I survived then like

a starfish only looks up
from the ocean floor.

And now, I sometimes need to
stand in the cold somewhere vast
and empty or sit in the sun
as it almost burns midsummer

wanting to stay just there
looking and feeling for something
like a clock knows it was made
to tell the time and will

suddenly stop moving/ hands
pointing at whatever, maybe
it is one in the morning when no one
is looking and thinking, ‘that

is a clock’- how it notices
in this moment the shape of the moon
in its own inspiration and says,
I am not ‘a clock/’

becomes what can be believed
somehow and with little guidance
except stories and what we have
known of love and the songs we hear-

people like stars orbit an unseen force

and call the name and
tell the story of each
named thing like

this is my heart in
every name given.

it’s a snowy warmth he offers

Not your hang-girl,
not in the sun, syrup
from plump figs/no,

the frozen place near
Saint Helens where I
breathed in the cold

burned and made the heart
drum/ with bracing rhythm
that holds a long winter.

There is always a certain
in a man’s face, the wrong
things my father said and

I was just pretty enough
he said, too. I know also

aligned to a certain danger,
the threat of beauty palpable,
my snow-blind, hardened ice;

the warmth of dreams
a river beneath, ended in
my mouth | flowers,

blue asters and jasmine like
new stars under the sun.

I prefer crush like heavy
to feel the world outweigh
things unneeded : the desire

of life without pain without
poems without the color
of indigo,

how someone might look this way:
shakes the pollen free>
I need the weight

the way known
the heart blooms in
the shade of black

irises, muddy feet running
toward thunder.

my gratitude

A pressing cloud
time could open or lift

maybe a wind maybe a branch

in the path of a small bird,
her feet trembling,

to grasp just and dare hope
she will fly away and make useful,

a branch into a home.

Memory is my strength, the press
of air on a sea of golden leaves

and blaze of autumn a cane:
I will walk forever even when my feet

are broken birds like birds broken
beneath the lowest branches- to see

but not see they are gone, me
and others falling will keep falling

like a feather falls with no weight or rush but softly like wings rasp in the air.

Our hearts stay a cold resin, deep in the old oak, a wind nor a bird could lift

with song- but memory, a pressing cloud
barely touches and touches

every thing- and heralds every step.

erasure, the little prince

little prince

A seed blown from no-one knew where,
a new flower in the shelter of her green chamber

dressed herself slowly with four thorns:
“Let the tigers come with their claws,” 
she said, on the verge of naïve untruth.

Her inseparable grace
filled my heart with pity/

the little prince believed
he would never want to return,
“Goodbye,” he said to the flower

{who} made no answer but,
“I am a flower.”

The secret was revealed abruptly
far from his rose when
he arrived on our planet,

a sheep eats anything it finds in reach 
and the flowers believe
their thorns terrible weapons,

‘is the warfare between the sheep
and the flowers unimportant,’ he demanded?
all the little prince’s stars darkened
choked by his sobbing,

rarely a mountain changes position,
an ocean empties itself of waters,
but, the flower is in danger

of speedy disappearance.”

My flower is ephemeral,”
said the little prince to me
and went away thinking

of the sheep back home
he’d left tied to a small post.

Walking for a time upon a road
led to a garden all abloom with roses;
they all looked like his flower/

the universe obliged to pretend
a flower, unique in all the world
was a common rose.

He continued on,
climbing a high mountain
to see the whole planet

at one glance
sharpened like needles.

“Who are you?,” asked the little prince.
“I am all alone,” answered 
the pointed echo.

A fox found him some time later
sitting near an apple tree
who wanted only to be tamed:

the fox said, “Listen.
Be very patient and observe
the proper rites too often neglected,

sit in the grass and say nothing
for words are misunderstandings,
and sit a little closer every day . . .

“The little prince drew near the fox,
a fox like one thousand other foxes
so that they could become unique

in all the world to each other.

“One only understands the things
one tames,” said the fox.

And the little prince thought of the baobobs
specifically the catastrophe of them
being trees as big as castles

like the heart is seized
with the desire to awaken
and bores clear through with roots

being too small, like the planet
of the baobobs, splits in pieces.

And though he had found friendship
he still thought of a single rose
on a planet he no longer
knew a way back to.

Though the stars are beautiful
because of a flower
that cannot be seen

though a desert beautiful
that somewhere
it hides a well,

though, a sheep is in a box
in his drawings for her,

still the little prince yearned;
all-the-while true that all
stars in the sky were 

now abloom, thinking her
on any one of them…

to those who do not know,
confidence in the snake,
a little lonely in the desert,

can carry a person further
than a ship. The little prince
understood this very well

when thinking of his flower.

The story of the little prince ended
when he said to me, “I am going home,”

rushing headlong into an abyss.

“My star can be found above where
I came to the earth. Just like it is
with a flower that lives on a star

that all the stars are abloom for me,

my star will be somewhere there,
and you alone will have stars
that laugh,” he told me,

to be content to have been known.

There is nothing more fragile
on all the earth than 
the little prince with

eyes closed,

him extinguished by a wind,
a weathervane the wind
has forgotten.

Men raise five thousand roses
and do not find what they are looking for
in one single rose like him and I,

and do not wonder,
has the sheep eaten a flower.

Erasure of, The Little Prince by Antoine de-Saint Exupery

-for my most beloved friend, John Zajac.

peculiar children

My cousin Doug and I
on the streets of Daytona,
Florida: he’s artistic,

hands me a deflated, red
balloon without a word and
takes out the camera- I

haunt dark streets
pinning his look to my
white, Keds with dirt/ later,

we scream in the attic
because we think there are ghosts

and he films it all, the way
I run out of the house and through
the surrounding woods like

something still chases
(he can keep up)

then we bang out some Hitchcockian
melody on the piano as our overture.

When it is too hot

sometimes he plays his guitar
in the room my mother grew up in
where all the family claims

an old man died terribly

who hid the liquor beneath the bed
and tripped down the spiral staircase
drunk, into the sunny kitchen.

And many mornings more, my grandmother
who still cooks three full meals a day
makes me cantaloupe with sugar on top

or cheesy grits, before I help her
by snapping the peas for dinner that night
or watch in anticipation if she is making

peach cobbler. My cousin was the first
of peculiar children I learned to see

why growing up in this family
when ways are strange and
strangers are friends

who could take us away.
We like scattered light
though and sketched

constellations of our own in
the night before there
were words

so we could see, so we could speak.