I Know Joy

I know Joy- she is my friend.

He introduced us.

She was not as I’d imagined, at first-

I thought she must be grand,

Constant excitement, 

Overwhelming. 

But she is quiet,

Quite unassuming,

Gentle.

She was shy, at first.

Showing her face at only unexpected times…

Preferring him over I, I suppose,

She would round the corner when he’d smile,

And introduce herself in his laugh. 

Joy would appear at his touch, 

Then with his gaze, 

Then in his words- some romantic.

But as we became acquainted,

She bided less until

Those intimate moments to show herself,

And came to appear

Just any time when he and I were together. 

Joy resides with us now, 

Near always the welcome houseguest,

Though one we can never rid of-

Not even in those seldom times 

One seeks space to sulk.

Yes, she requires little. 

He and I need not be together anymore,

Physically, that is

(though she still likes then best),

For her to greet me now. 

I need only think of him,

And she is there.

My close friend indeed.

Deserted

I wept myself into a desert. 

I drained my eyes of moisture, 

All that remained was salt. 

I chased out my breath at such a pace,

My chest could not catch up-

And I lay there panting, pitiful, 

Tear ducts tender, 

Searching the room’s horizon 

For his mirage. 

I know there is no water. 

I know that he has gone,

And I am alone here- this harsh place. 

Still, Imagining 

Helps quench my thirst.

On Missing a Place

We moved from one coast to another.

We met on the first, and are married on the other.

One was sunshine and salt and southern eats,

The other is rain and mountain and bakery treats.

Now that we’ve settled out here in the West

Our pastime is lamenting on the place we liked best-

What we’d give to be served fresh shrimp and grits,

And how beers by the beach are as good as it gets.

I suppose we were more carefree in those days-

Less distance from friends, no mortgage to pay.

But going away is its own kind of blessing,

Just the two of us, together, progressing.

I suppose everyone longs for homes that they’ve lost,

And yearns to recross the roads that they’ve crossed,

Still I guess we can try to embrace the unknown

And be thankful not to have traveled alone.

Charleston, SC
Kitsap, WA

Wednesday Champagne

It’s New Year’s Eve Eve and

We’ve finished the champagne

Binging a cringy drama

On the couch

From 3-6pm

(We got off early)

He’s got work tomorrow.

I have to show my face too.

It’s 9pm now

And I’m still a bit buzzed.

We tried playing cards when our show ended,

Now I’m trying to write

(I first spelled that ‘right’).

I haven’t made it a habit,

Drinking on weeknights,

And I don’t plan to.

But a little bubbly

Sure helps the hours pass

Between

When the podcast ends on the car ride home,

And when the alarm blares the following morning-

Signals of a life spinning about an axis of work, of duty,

Of being responsible,

And tired,

And sometimes sad.

But we’re never sad together.

Certainly not with champagne,

And bad TV,

And the same worn-down couch cushion,

In it’s popcorn kernel covered glory.

Yes, it’s necessary, I’ve decided.

It’s good, to be bad.

Not really bad-

Just drunk on the couch on a Wednesday bad

(Especially during the holidays).

I feel like a better writer tonight-

And that might well be the booze.

But I feel nice,

And I think of words,

And not work.

And I wish

More weeknights

May go

As well as this one.

California King Kind of Couch

We bought a California King kind of couch-

The centerpiece for our living room

With enough length for each of us

To take an end

And let legs sprawl,

Instead you sit at the far end, and I in the middle

And in minutes we’ve inched into each other,

A diagonal duo tangled together amongst blankets and limbs-

No distance can separate us when we’re together,

Not even a single cushion on a shared sectional.

This is just one of countless clauses in our contract,

That we’ve penned letter by letter over

Time and travel.

24 hours in a day- spent with one other,

Days and days on end-

Across homes and coasts,

Through jobs,

Through friends,

Through an engagement,

A wedding,

A pandemic.

I’ve signed

In old signature and new

To never leave my love alone

When he’s with me,

Because every instance shared,

Is twice as special than without.

And because we like it-

Being together, always.

I never thought I could

So willingly give up every precious space

And every precious privacy

In exchange for the seemingly banal-

Making lunch for two before the sun rises,

And being late to work

For leaving a note on the counter.

But that time being awake without him,

Is the hardest part of my day.

And to keep life like this…

There’s nothing I wouldn’t give.

It is not home yet

Our juniper cottage

With its symmetric second floor

And never-pruned hydrangea plants

Is up a great hill

And off the main way

From an Olympic-mountain-viewing HOA haven

Of spot the difference puzzle houses

Adorned here with rotting Halloween pumpkins

And there with early Christmas wreaths.

We are both out West and up North,

Nearly as far as this country can take us,

But there are no ten gallon hats,

There are no ponds thickened to ice,

There’s just rain.

Still it is a new kind of magic

To wake up to fog rushing your window

Like steam from a boiling over pot,

And looking up before sunset-

To notice only the peaks’ air has thinned

And the powdered sugar mountain tops

Are beckoning again.

We have chatty squirrels in our trees

That speak their mind while we stack logs out back.

We keep two cereal bowls in the yard  

Unsure, still, if we’re sustaining

The shy abandoned cat our neighbors warned us of,

Or the family of plump racoons we spied

Our very first day of arrival.

It is not home yet.

But we are filling its inside

Slowly with things old and new,

With smoke from the wood stove,

With the smell of fresh breads in the oven,

With imprints of our bodies, our hands

Across every surface.

And each day the place grows more familiar:


Which stairs creek the loudest,

All those corners where paint has chipped,

Where my husband hides the dish rags…

It is not home yet,

But it will be.

Bed-Haven

I rub my eyes each morning

And blink at the bright

That’s inching its fingers out

From behind the gray curtains

Un-subtly.

The instinct to close, not open.

To retreat back under fleece sheets

At first sight of dawn

Encroaching.

I think-

My limbs are still stiff,

My throat is now dry,

But to reach water

For these desert lips

Means lifting

From perfect warm

Nurtured all night beneath my body,

Into the iciness that remains

Surrounding.

To sip,

To slip

Away ever so tenderly

From this bed-haven,

Is to start a new day.

And I tell myself-

Even if I ever let myself,

There’s only so long

I could stay.

Good Morning, My Love

Blink twice if you can hear me.

Blink 20 times,

And rub both fists

About your lids and 

Around your sockets,

And open your puckered mouth.

That’s it – now gaping –

A ferocious yawn,

Inhaling the stiff air about the sheets

Like a drowning man finding 

His first breath of life.

Not yet self aware, 

Not quite out of body, 

Peek-a-boo your face 

Towards mine –

And surprised

By the lamp light beaming 

From the background bedside table –

With winding neck of a baby bird,

Tuck your head back 

Towards the safety

Of your shell (dark and warm)

The inner-between of 

My neck 

And the pillow. 

But the crack in the egg

Cannot be un-hatched. 

A new day has arrived,

And so must you to greet it, 

and me with it. 

“Good morning, my love.”

“Oh hello,” you answer,

And nuzzle yourself in 

Even closer. 

Those Dreams

He held me in his arms

And I couldn’t

Scream

Have you ever had those dreams?

When someone’s after you

And you can barely drag your legs

You can barely let out a whisper

MOVE

YELL

You think

Upon the blankness that is yourself

On one of this night’s split seconds.

Who is after me this time?

My college debt.

That woman who scowled in the grocery store that time I wasn’t wearing a bra.

The thought of being alone forever.

Another faceless character

For another restless night

From another wreckless choice

For another flightless fight.  

Let my subconscious imagine

Wings

Next time

Or a voice

As loud as the heavens,

Or let me dream

Something better entirely.

Deciduous

Autumn wind arrives to

Whip the novice branchlings about

Their deep rooted posts

And bare them witness

To the shame of shedding beauty.

Red and orange decadence

Withering to pale brown

An ugly color.

Full, rich coats of cover

Dripping to

A dry ground.

Crisp weather

As biting into

A ripe apple.

Biting cold

As tearing in to

One still green.

Green has gone.

Red and orange,

Soon brown,

Til what remains

Is a bare

Placeholder

For whites

And wets

And crueler harshness

Until the trees

Having had enough

Decide to

Turn again.