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July 14, 2015

art before breakfast

To rise and shuffle dim-eyed to the kitchen, reach a clumsy thumb
toward the crucial button at the base of a coffee maker, stand ruffled
and nonverbal as the slow drip accumulates into a single cupful -
I know of no clearer instinct than this. Lilac blossoms are flirting 
from the yard, blades of grass are winking with dew, a zucchini sprawls,
tumescent, in the back garden. A guitar is reclining on the porch, its slim neck
dipping a small curve into a cushion. A pad of smooth blank paper flutters
in the studio; a chorus of paint is surely tuning up. Beauty, like a lion,
lies waiting in the weeds as I, unseeing, take swallows from the stream,
briefly innocent to what will come when I turn to ravage it all.


July 7, 2015


It was getting so late, but the band pressed on. 
I watched from a sidelined kiosk table as the party's hardiest guests
returned to the dance floor, history draped on their soft shoulders.
I couldn't know what brought them here, by what slim margins they passed
through the eyes of needles and hurricanes to shuffle, sweetly innocent,
to the pomp and brass of "Brick House." It didn't matter how many times they'd heard it.
Their arms looped loosely around the other, their steps casual and unhurried,
as if they had nothing left to prove, love - finally - a fact of nature, like the rain
pelting the tent roof, like the moon waiting beyond the clouds, like the lawn
still greening after all these years.


June 30, 2015

younger self

This isn't, exactly, what I remember of 8, but when my mother unearths
the photograph, I am smack dab in the middle of that frame again,
charging into the pool at my grandfather's apartment complex in Culver City,
no lifeguards to keep me from the plunge, my fists poised in an armature of
rebellion and surrender. So when the man at the music festival asks me for advice
I'd give my younger self, his eyes wide as half-dollars, his poet heart
calling him away from the good job he thought he wanted and worked so hard
to get, I tell him the worst part is always just before the leap, the fear of falling
at its sharpest, all those practice runs rendered obsolete. Only in mid-air, I say,
can you know that falling's only the half of it.


June 23, 2015

competitive gardener

We smile for the camera at the ribbon cutting, and the town officials
press hands and offer tidy sound-bytes and make the rounds to see each plot.
A reporter sent to cover the grand opening of the community garden
spies me exchanging pleasantries with a woman showing her hatchlings
of eggplant flowers to a friend. Later, after the crowd disperses, I march back
to my own square feet of soil, where the peppers have been struggling against
the heat and the tomatoes have yet to descend. I can't help but want the best
for these not-quite-offspring, these vegetal progeny of my wistful, wishing hands.
I lean into each nascent leaf, reach toward every thin stem. They all stare back.
"Grow, baby, grow," I whisper, hoping my little prayer finds the roots.


June 16, 2015

in the interest of uncertainty 

“Bring it with you,” we say to our friend on the way to dinner,
referring to the guitar idling in the living room. “You never know.”
We amble down a puddle-strewn road toward lasagne, fresh-sliced watermelon,
a salad of local lettuce and the season’s first tomatoes,
making up band names and a title for her debut single.
She laughs and says, “In my dreams,” though somewhere nearby,
a café owner is chalking a sign that reads “Keep our musicians playing.”

A whole day will pass before an impromptu dare brings Katherine to a worn stage,
which she will climb, red-faced and hesitant. But for now, it’s simply this:
a woman with a song on her back, facing forward, and walking.