Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Portable Feast

“I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
Roger Ebert

"Life is never fair. ... And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not."
Oscar Wilde

“Cooking is maybe the purest expression of love in the sense that you always cook for the other.”

Jacques Pepin

That’s the thing about writing. You can decide how much you are willing to disclose. And Roger Ebert could have easily continued to telegraph his reviews without baring his soul.

When I first saw Roger Ebert’s new face, I was in shock. Since his reviews continued to illuminate the films I watched, I assumed the generous jowly guy giving out the stars had remained the same. What I discovered instead was that cancer had radically altered the topography of his physical body. Radiation left his chin in ruins the blade was unable to restore.

Consequently, he has lost the ability to speak, but not to write. He communicates via a computerized voice system and blue post it notes. He continues to write 5 to 6 cinema reviews per week, and is actively journaling on an award winning blog. Since his diagnosis, more than five hundred thousand words of inner dialogue have poured out of him.

Though he takes his nourishment through a tube, he hasn’t forgotten the joy of food or the camaraderie of eating. His most recent book, "The Pot and How to Use It", is a paean to the communion of breaking bread.

I lost my first husband to melanoma. He died at age 30, after putting up a valiant battle. He wasn’t ready to die. When I read the Esquire article about Ebert’s buoyancy, I began to wonder about the wisdom of “waging war” on disease. For one thing, it distracts us from living. For another, it gives the disease a monster status, which I don’t think is helpful.

Whether you view an invasive species as the enemy or not, I have come to believe that you must humanize it, embrace it and recognize the ways in which you are the same.

a portable feast

they are cells
that have gone mad
for life
you must know
this feels.

a profusion of leaves
scales a wall
each birth
than the

blue papillon
casting shadow
on shadows
the sky

Written for OSI prompts, "champion" and "grace".

Sunday, October 10, 2010

she is feral

she is feral

she is smooth

a gem

tearing down love

wild in bloom

rushing home

Written for OSI, "lonely" and Sunday Scribblings, "essential".

Monday, October 4, 2010

all that was

all that was

all that was
has been

that valedictorian moment
delivered neat
in a sweated glass

the sensible career
a ghostly frigate

all that was
has been

the moon
was my purser
your legs sprouted grass

a flock of nameless birds.
backward stroking
oaring deep

Written for OSI prompt, "try".

I am an overachiever. Not by choice, birth order or even temperament. It was a condition of survival.

Nourishment and protection were offered in exchange for a measured amount of success. You would feel it hard on the knuckles when you overstepped that invisible line that kept moving.

For this reason, “try” is a loaded word for me. I struggled with whether or not to publish this piece and once published, to explain it.

Steeping myself in your poems this week, I decided to push my inhibitions aside. As the sky slowly clears, I continue to discover what it means to try life openly and with a new depth of view.

Friday, October 1, 2010

the 31 Balboa

This is a poem about impermanence, accommodations made gracefully, the tangled beauty that emerges. A large portion was gleaned from early morning trysts with a grove of cypress at Land’s End, San Francisco.
The 31 Balboa is a bus route that threads through numbered avenues--1-48--lost in time and chilly fog. Bait and tackle shops, a 50 year old Japanese ice cream parlor, the eight dollar haircut, bald crushed velveteen seats in the Balboa Theater. The reference to Officer Keller has to do with Sea of Love, Al Pacino’s 1985 comeback about the implacable hunger for connection and implicit perils of opening up.

Nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing is so gentle as real strength.
-Ralph W. Sockman

the 31 Balboa

wrapped in
ribbed knit navy
the anonymity
of fog
a wash
in postwar ramblers
thin fading rays
of love

we are all of us
running from
some thing
the tail
of the barchans’
break loose
of their pockets
of the hands
they have changed

in the rain soaked
breath of morning
we glide in a
slic of dreams
Officer Keller
to a spree
we all agree
was committed
by somebody else

the distant
click of tile
to formica tops
my one wet eye
ticks off
the stops
from here
to land’s end

dark eyebrows
a tenuous sky
crusted arms
icy winds
the sheared face
of cypress
slopes to the sea
intricate lace
lies below
your gaze.