for the sleepwalkers–
who can blame you,
Some days are better
your way. So, if you
put your head down?
If you hummed through days
so unmusical and disjointed
that probably we should have
offered you a prize for
being able to hum?
We’ve all tried it, your way.
There are no prizes for humming.
You were, we were, after all,
ignoring life and there is no
true prize for that kind of nonsense.
But you’re here now, and I am glad.
Whatever woke you–the scent of lilacs
out of season, the scent of fresh baked
bread, the sound of leaders praying
in complete sentences–
Whatever it was, welcome back.
Look around. I am glad we all
made it here, together.
Let’s stay awake.
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for the sleepwalkers–
The evidence is overwhelming
though we each
arrive at our own conclusions.
Each minute, we are free
to decide oh so many things–
to eat carrots, sleep late,
be cruel, buy a dog,
choose the purple socks, knowing—
that in the midst
of all our choices
Absolutely Anything can happen.
See that boy, there?
He carries a shovel through the snow
not trudging, but running
with a puppy at his heels
Kitchen counter mint plant
leggy stalks, crumbling brown leaves
spent last winter, tipped over
frozen, roots up, in the garden
only to revive in a new clay pot, to grow
lush and green in summer
Many days, I remember to be thankful
for the big gifts–lives, breaths, vaccines,
I keep you, wilting one, for the other days
And am grateful for you, tiny reminder
Mind too full
for mindfulness. How
can I stay for even a breath
when my breath is being used up
breathing on the windshield
between us and the future? Barrelling
forward, using breath and the heat from my hands
to wipe away the frost and fog
to see who gets sick who gets vaccine
to see where other minds, irrational or evil,
will do violence next–how can I be mindful
When the mind is full of all this?
Like this. Like following a recipe.
Take the next step, add the next ingredient.
Breathe. So I do.
I breathe and look out the window at
my neighborhood in the dark.
Holiday lights, forgotten, are still up,
and still lit in the darkness–red, yellow, green,
orange, blue shining, reflecting in the snow.
Breathe through this moment too.
And now, this one.
Today’s first story, the one I hear
while still sleepy, the one I hear
while I make orange coffee,
today’s first story is from Eleanor
and she tells about the light
to be found, the serenity located
just below the collarbone
accessed by leaving a dark apartment
in Paris in winter in a pandemic
to walk along the Seine
through last autumn’s unraked leaves
to walk under the plane trees
dappled flicker of light and shadow
light and shadow
and I am so happy, so thankful
to not hear more vital but horrible news
to hear instead, just this once,
a softer piece of the real world
to start this day.
I am so happy to hear
what Eleanor feels
as she walks along the Seine.
masks are the newest disguise
but we are already walking metaphors
in these school hallways, dressed
in hand me down clothes
we’ll outgrow, costumes we chose
because they fit us, this moment
Why bother with poems, if these are even poems?
This habit, this practice is for the woven net
connecting me to the world above and the world
Elsewhere–inside or below or—somewhere
elusive but always near.
Life weaves itself, just so–
Mornings, I cast this wide and battered net
over the day before and look at the catch–
lightly, look lightly at what I caught–
Shining rainbow trout?
Starfish awkwardly knotted to the rope?
Or this: walking yesterday at dusk,
streetlight flashed on above me,
woke up the night so night could begin.
That’s it. That’s all.
It happened in the world above and I saw it.
Caught in the net, and only remembered
because I just read a poem about street lamps
and even now, across town, I know
that light shone all night
and is shining still.
is the word
for how he feels.
He can still
find the word.
What he can’t find
is the Very Important List
he wrote, though he’s looked
Maybe you saw it, he asks.
Maybe you took it?
Desperate, he says.
Desperate to not see
what is lost, how loss
like a river
which is not to say
our street is all winter quiet
and solemn contemplation
Next door to Evelyn’s house
lives a family with busy kids
and a big friendly dog
They are a family at the stage called
Do It All.
There are sports watched and played
careers and committees, a great deal of hunting
sledding kayaking swimming and taking doors
on and off and back on a jeep
to accommodate more sports equipment
In their front yard, a blowup Santa
with an attached blowup dog
in honor of the real,
much bigger and more biddable dog.
Blowup Santa and his dog are not
The two of them spent most of December
deflated and flapping in the wind but
Today they are posed
in their second favorite position:
blowup dog with his head
buried in blowup Santa’s crotch.
Santa’s expression never changes
Which demonstrates either
You can get used to anything
You’d better get used to this
if you’re going to have a dog
Every single day offers up
Comic Relief if you only
teach yourself where to look
while you drink your coffee.
For thirty years,
my friend Evelyn
had the habit of
leaving the lamp post lit
in her front yard
and her garage door
as if to say,
I might drive out
on an errand or adventure
at any moment.
As if to say,
as a friendly reminder,
Here I am.
In Evelyn’s house
after her funeral
her grown children
left one lamp lit
and drove away
Mornings before dawn,
I see it from my kitchen window
as I stir my coffee