October 25th, 2010
When winter laughs at her icy secrets,
and blows her ragged skirt,
Rose, once adorned in red velvet,
whispers, “I was a queen.”
Winter howls and her branches droop.
But blackbird arrives, festive as ever,
his shiny black cloak,
smoldering up her cold limbs.
He sings of spring; aromatic orchards bursting into bloom,
and bees murmuring while sipping nectar.
He plays his flute like a gentleman.
“I know you, Rose,” he trills.
“You are lovely and delicate.
Ignore crackly old winter.”
Rose weeps at blackbirds melody,
there through sunlight and shadow,
in velvet and rags,
he adoring them equally.
As he plays for her, snow tiptoes down,
coloring him white.
August 27th, 2010
Stars like jewels seed the sky
Blooming flowers drenching the black bed of night,
Shining above creeks and rivers and dreamers
Resurrected until the sun turns them transparent.
But you can drink them while they’re fresh
On a blanket tossed on the ground,
They pour into your mouth and eyes
Universal juice to the soul.
Night after night after night…
March 22nd, 2010
Testing, testing, can you guys hear me? I couldn’t think of a snappier way to present sound than a recent trip to southern Louisiana.
In New Orleans the decibel levels flew off charts, right along with history, dog ugly and gorgeous as any I’ve ever heard. Even so, I relished the whole Who Dat and Zydeco music and the waitress named Nicole but pronounced Ne-cole. Her inflection piped out like a shot of New York swirled with Louisiana Creole. I kept asking her questions, well, because I’m irritating that way, and because I adored her voice.
“Why y’all don’t vee zeet more?” she finally said, grinning.
Ne-cole, Ne-cole, Ne-cole. A charming sport if I ever met one.
The sounds of New Orleans were spicy crazy indeed. In the streets were drummers, harmonica players and clacky washboard renditions. People were chattering like squirrels, their shoes popping on sidewalks.
In Café Du Monde, we finally plopped down, legs worn and feet aching from traipsing every inch of the French Quarter and miles beyond. I figured I’d earned myself a beignet, snowed under with powdered sugar and washed down with a café-au lait. Spoons were clinking against glass coffee cups while sugar buzzy conversations exploded, and underneath that, the sigh of our pooped waitress, trying to keep up. A fat tip was in order, which made her smile.
So, two days later, I listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival in the car as we headed to St. Francisville, because it would have been a sin not to hear Born on a Bayou if one is going to hang out with gators and Cajuns. And because I’m a Creedence groupie.
Visiting here is like stepping on ancient, exotic soil. Did you know even history has sound? It wails and screams and laughs here in the wind, the birds and bayous.
Three times now I’ve come to this place, trying to grasp a tragic and mysterious chunk of history. Bits and pieces the land has absorbed and yet shouts through the live oak trees. But none makes sense, nor do I condone it. Meanwhile I fancy the people and appreciate the beauty of place. And I remember those without voices and try to honor them with my presence. My heartfelt interest.
The following poem is based on a cemetery we visited while staying on plantation grounds. It was only one visible record, but there are still many loud secrets. Listen for sound in silence.
They have gone silent and cold
yet I heard a woman’s voice
in a crows cackle
But that can’t be
sixteen souls long hushed
resting like whispers in black dirt beds
on loud property
they didn’t have time to praise
Days booming with tears and laughter have passed
no more spring afternoons, summer days
snappy fall breezes
blazed with red
They lie silent atop a hill now
ringed by a stone wall
gray and chipped
shaggy cedar to ward off sun
and pine silt carpet for decoration
I traced their names with fingertips
when the sun was blooming
and remembered those I never knew
Marguret, Thomas, Mary, Edward, Sarah, Percival
and the others
Then when night turned to coffee
we walked through crispy grass
sky flushed with hot stars
now fallen icy atop the hill.
Bonjour Mes Amis- Good day, my friends. Listen well.
December 28th, 2009
Now that Christmas is a memory and a new year is sneaking in, I wanted to say hello to my favorite internet friends and wish you only the best for 2010. Dream big and don’t let the world snatch them. Like snowflakes in south Texas, your dreams and wishes are rare and beautiful, something to be honored and cherished. Whatever they are, hang onto them no matter the odds. We’ve heard about the stinking odds, a million times over. But I’ve never been one to listen and I hope you don’t either. I’m rooting for each and every one of you this year. Hang on tight to your dreams. It’s going to be a lush ride!
Speaking of snowflakes, we recently had some in south Texas, which made many smiles appear. My daughter Grace and I ran outside and twirled in the stuff like crazy white women. When we ran out of breath we pulled chairs together and let the snow powder our hair white. I’ve lived in Texas for twenty-two years and have only seen this amazing sight twice before. In honor of that special day, and our dreams, I wanted to share a poem I wrote.
One day in south Texas snow came
Like silvery white stars, aching to fall,
On conifer branches and girls twirling,
Dark hair frosted white, the aroma of wintergreen,
Down from heavenly places
Slipped quietly through the sky,
Flakes bursting and descending,
Shimmering on rooftops, glittery, glittery snow,
Like silvery white stars.
May 25th, 2009
Dearly beloved, we gather together on this summer’s night to celebrate a union. Observe there are no chairs. The lawn is strewn with blankets. Please choose one which suits you. Lye back and view our natural lighting, black velvet glittered with stars. Listen, natures orchestra just arrived, frog bassoons and whippoorwill violins, flying from trees to hands and nesting there like wild poetry.
On our blankets, the world proposes. An onyx sky flecked with diamonds, the ring. Proudly wear your jewels, for you are now married to eternity. Until death do us part does not apply. Who’s to say when we depart we are not flung into the sky? Permanent jewels at long last.
Flaming up night.
And by day, lolling on soft cloudy beds.
Look at the billions of stars! Shall we not all gather there? The wild ones, streaking, bold blinking, meek, holding down sky as they held down earth. Finally coming into your own, you crazy, exotic stars.
On earth the lucky are flushed from obscurity, you embedding them on lavish settings, the self imposed coal admiring and polishing them. They sparkle and sparkle, yet desire more. When earth opens its mouth, there they are, rioting with gleam, you mesmerized. Move along unaware jewel. Prepare yourself for unveiling.
The earth awaits your fanciful arrival. Sky sees your vivid hues and says shine. It knows who you are and has admired you for the longest time. Diamonds, like stars, belong to all.
I now pronounce you men, women and destiny. Night sky makes the declaration, stars sliding over.