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Double Yellow Line

Every spring, the same direction:
Slow down. Look around
at this world. Open
Wide
Or at least
Wider than this stare
straight ahead at the long highway
hands clenched on the wheel
eyes in a permanent squint
to see the double yellow lines
through rain
and dark
drifts of brown leaves
drifts of snow
occasional scurry of opossum
fox
or something unfamiliar, swift and dark
The squint against bright headlights
in the opposite lane
Look
heavy yellow lines turn to
Dashes
to dots, then spirals then
Disappear. You and I
Can pass into
another lane can breathe, slow
down and look at the close roadside
trees, sirens, high-rises, deserts
Neon all-night diner.
We can stop, you and I
We can get out of our cars
And go on foot

in common

Across the street, kitten
in the window and
over here, puppy
and me, two ends
of the leash
all three of us
Captured
rapt attention
on the robins
low and clumsy
and the other
nameless
birds
soaring high
swooping onto
maple tree crowns

At the corner of Prospect and Dove

At the corner of Prospect and Dove
they put down their bags.
I think I can breathe here, she said
and took a deep breath to prove it.
That was good enough for him.

So they settled in
dog
kids
vegetable garden
piano music through the open
window daisies and
forget-me-nots in a wide row.
Years went by and when
kids were grown and gone
forget-me-nots still bloomed
amid the daisies and she said,
Sell the house to someone who
plays piano because the whole
street is used to it now.

Awake Is Another Country

“For most of us, awake isn’t even a quality we look for. We are busy with earning a living, getting good grades, anticipating spring break. Awake is another country.” Natalie Goldberg, The True Secret of Writing, pg. 113

all of us are natives
coming home once and again
wondering why we don’t
visit more often when we
love it so, scent of honeysuckle,
the wide porches, fireflies
lighting the evening air

Nobody lives here year-round,
though small children, animals,
a few old monks linger
after the season ends

There are other tourists,
but it never feels crowded
since most visits are brief,
there and back,
there and gone again

spending

People were frugal
back then, she said
as we walked her rows
of potted saplings, shrubs,
fruit trees.

Now it’s all, Throw a granite
countertop on it. Back then, they
made do with what they had, she said
as she rang up my purchase,
last of her redbud trees,
$129.95
plus tax

corkscrew

It’s like this:
the corkscrew inside
wound tighter and tighter
each compression (skipped lunch,
rushed phone call,
held breath, cancelled joy)
each twist made me
smaller not enough
time not enough
space surrounding
minutes and objects
and the corkscrew broke
and breaks over and over
until even sleep is too tiny
and again, I remember —
wake up
breathe deep
stretch and go
slow through all
the curves
ahead

speed limit

Red-winged blackbird
perches on
speed limit
sign
splash of Bright Color
within all the
black
and
white
Rules

if it wasn’t

would have missed the moon
if it wasn’t for this dog
crescent through the pines

would have forgotten
if it wasn’t for this dog
when busy,
slow down

blanket hour

“This is your life. Don’t blow it. You can’t get it back.” Natalie Goldberg, from The True Secret of Writing, p.62.

all of it to say
if you wake early
don’t begrudge the loss
of another blanket hour—
Get up
put on a sweater
start the coffeepot
write down all that swirls
through you and around you
let it out
Smile.
Repeat

shuffle of the day

It was a very well-written day.

As always, morning. And the paragraphs began with the president, full of purpose and direction.

Later, events unfolded in the rain. Occasional bursts sunlight/birdsong.

In the background, if you watched for them, images and characters and breathing beings passed through

Old white man walks slow and stiff careful, careful his arms full of red roses in full bloom.

Black Navy veteran, her hair close-cropped blonde, drives a scooter across the highway. Sign on the back of the seat proclaims her a proud veteran. In front, a tiny black dog in a basket. Head up, he stares down the traffic. Dares those cars to move.

There was another. These things come in threes. But the third one got lost in the shuffle of the day.

So we’ll all need to stay awake today and watch for that third Amazement or Intrigue or Quirky Delight, to round off the set.

To finish this poem.

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