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.

Credo.

I believe in the soft, distracted smile
turning my way and the girl who
draws vines on her white Keds
in permanent marker.
I believe in stately trees and turning
pages beneath their boughs
with searching hands.
The adept hand signing, “hello”
when there are no words to be heard
or knitting colorful yarns on
telephone poles. I believe
in gardenias that bloom between
the alley and the sun, the sounds
of Cohen from someone’s kitchen.
I believe god
is held in the mouths
of philosophers and children:
that beliefs are dangerous without
love and art is an act of goodwill.
I believe in ethics and the
responsibility of leadership but even more
in the resiliency of the human spirit
like a ghostly pounding heart
as we sleep.
I believe in the spaces between:
in pauses and think-backs and could be’s,
especially in “perhaps” and
I believe in the dog’s paw
that smells like sugar cookies
now that we are family.
I believe we should be careful
of words like, “inconvenience.”
I believe in the storytellers and song-
makers and especially in grandmothers
watching mothers turn the page.
I believe in simplicity of
needs: the hand that must be
held and the mouth that
must be fed. And, the
needs that go untended,
the boy clutching his teddy
as he dreams.
I believe in the untenable
breadth of the universe
and the starlit dust
inbetween it all. I believe
‘god’ is in the trees
and the wave tumbling
towards the shore and
the eyes of strangers.

many worlds

All the reasons the heart couldn’t form,

a humble stem/kitsch in your mother’s attic:
there’s a hundred hours left

still,and the sun won’t really set
just sway into someone
                  a world away, 

looks like you, looks like I,
holds a star like space holds/

limitless.

Even how love, was the baby frog I kept
in my pencil case to bring 
along to school,

‘little buddy,’ because the softness
of empathy is there before words
get in the way

but only realized when we talk about it.

It’s likely not many notice
the beauty of someone young
holding their space fully/

or how         outside of god
we hold the words of many gods
we have loved in our memory:

I still will sing
at the end of the world
walk into storms the same way

a ghost can only be ghostly.

Eat the cake! I really think it is fine
and to love peculiar things
like tiny frogs and funny-nosed sloths:
 
because love informs when chaos
gentle at the gate is hot
and all-too-ready.

the crash

Truth is to forget underwater
how the waves crash
beneath the seam

how the waves crash
truth in seconds
how under

the shower I crash
how in dreams I
collide with colossus

and tragedy and conquer/
uninhibited, un-able to
drive seed to

stem. Truth: I forget
to crash beneath
and end up above

the waves in
love thinking this
is who I become now

like summers I swam
between mangroves and hot
sea surging, that perfect

storm on the horizon – I love
so deeply in truth
underwater in the crash
of waves: how the seam

defines if we will live or die/

the crash beneath
stormy skies
and showers:

and how wide
is the breadth of
a wilderness

that came before the place
we can not reside.

Memory Still

I need photographs of you to remember
the way you smiled at me
moments that cannot be re-
drawn with crayons
or pounded into the present
with frustrated shrieks.

I have a string.
It is a thread of grey
long and trailing behind over
the horizon; I am walking
on a highway back
somewhere

where has that place gone?

If I follow the thread back,
will I find you there?
Or, are memories scaled in shades
of black and white
fluttering like a bird’s heart?

I don’t really need the photographs
to remember; it is that I
wish to flesh out memory until
you are standing before me

a reflection of who I am
and so spectacularly,
who you are

and tip-toe up to kiss you
gently, breathing life
into your eyes that
was gone

to see you smile.