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In the Kitchen of Memory

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Theirs are the young faces brightened

By the garish blue-light of their toys

They look up to cast wary, beleaguered eyes at us

“What do we know?”

We have left the living rooms to them for their disposal

Seated on comfortable sofas and chairs – our gifts for their retreat

We huddle in kitchens preparing healthy meals

For children who are no longer

And will have nothing to eat

As they rewrite their lives in 140 characters or less

Living on likes and bytes

No thought given to the time-capsule in the attic

The one that holds the baby clothes and tangible

Photographs of all their ‘firsts.’

And the trunk jammed packed with sheet

Music for instruments

They’ve forgotten how to play

Maybe they’ll want to explore one day

Like they used to

Sneak into the attic and see the Polaroids –

The young, beautiful couple beaming at their baby

“Who are they?”

They are the originators of your story

The authors who’ve shared the same pen

Picking up when one partner drifts off

Crawling away to heal the cuts

To hearts now cowering in kitchens

Licking the sweet spoons of memory

A Country For No Child

Jaime Kalenga, whose mother died in labor, suffers from malnutrition and tuberculosis. Credit Nicholas Kristof/The New York Times
Jaime Kalenga, whose mother died in labor, suffers from malnutrition and tuberculosis. Credit Nicholas Kristof/The New York Times

There is a country rich in diamonds,

Oil and foreign sports cars

I know this – having read it in

The Times

This is a country in which one child

In six will die before the age of five

Says The Times’ Kristof

But I live in a country that cares

About children – Some of us

Care so much we call authorities

On parents whose children walk

Home from the park – alone

Keeping our children absurdly safe

Ignoring the Angolan mother holding

The “twig limbs,” swollen belly, wizened face

Of the near carcass that is her child

She’s waiting for care from the few who do

Those people who come from far off places to nurse and

Heal everyone’s children

Those people who know that diamonds

Are friend to no one

The people who recognize

The diamond’s sparkle

Being stolen everyday

From the eyes of babies

Leaving in its place a

Haunted spectacle, skeletal frame

Held together in wrinkled brown

Wrappings of skin

The Beloved Monster

lake

Walking against the wind

Off the lake slows my pace

I consider the remnants of

The coldest February on record

The receding snow

Pulling back from last night’s rain

Leaving molded columns of

Autumn’s leaves

Along the road

Heaped dirty and waiting huge

Ice & snow mounds long since

Spent of fun and wonder that

Came new last December

March is here with its uneven

Message: promises of what might be

The patches of green

Slicing white winter

Mocking romantic winter havens

Warmth upended with

The old wooden mailbox

After the passing of

The beloved monster

Patron saint of the winter road:

The snowplow

KITE SEASON

kite

Happiness builds a fast fire
Underfoot the running child
In fields wild with flowers
Laughing, some unknown joy,
That life will be good

Happiness forces arms open
New experience
Embracing daring
Nothing but youth

Before receding to the corners
Beaten back by the collected ticks
A clock and a heart weary
Holding happiness at bay

Then comes
The thumping hush
That muscle upon which
Nothing is lost

Rolling and dipping
Tethered calmly against
Winds of age & change:

Happiness,
Flying its own kite

MARCH 3rd

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It’s still here; winter

Marching to that clove of seasons

We remain road-kill

Frozen, run over by ice and time

Clutching fingers stiffened releasing

Any vestige of warm memory

And all the light

That winter allows

To see war as it is

(Not the misguided

Miscalculations of man)

But nature’s

Mysteries of the obvious

Safeguards of Spring

swans & mallards

The lake is down –

To the frozen edges

A swan or two

And tasteless

Geese footing

To rocky nests

Where they curl into

Feathery boulders among

The cold pebbles

Upon which you’ll slip

Next summer

 

Try to find music in

Canadian geese honking

All night – by morning

You’ll know all about

Exercising in futility

 

They remain in spite of disdain

Small fluffy armadas floating in

February 28th’s icy water

Honking in a frosty daybreak

 

And, just when you’re ready

To curse the freezing dun

Madness of the season

An arcing muster of mallards

Waving in decisive consideration

Of parting clouds

Lands, arching necks

Off which the sun glints its elegant

Emerald promise of spring

PEACE: WHAT IF…

Dry tortugas

What if Peace was publicly traded

In every heart and highly rated

 

At the center on a trading floor

Waved slips for goodwill, ceasefires and more

 

What if Peace invested care

Opened hearts with earnings per share

 

What if Peace paid interest high

In harmonious treaties to ratify

 

Peace will need to be monetized

IPOs will be highly prized

     

Peace could trade in open exchange

Swords for ploughshares to be arranged

 

Peace stock values will rise with belief

No house of cards, dishonesty ceased

No slim margin in which to trade

All activity above moral grade

 

 But…

Peace is too polite to nail and rend

Old Wall Street brokers for their dividends

 

 

 

 

MEMORY: A Necessary Struggle

 BPK sunset

Yesterday my husband put the app *Shazam on my cell phone

(*A method of identifying music simply by holding the phone

Up to a speaker to catch the song’s lyrics)

I left the room defeated and purposeless

Something else for which my brain does not have to work

There are days taken up in battle with forgetfulness

Days that end in celebration of memory’s grace

Now, what will I do

To replace that struggle

With a memory reticent

Holding on to those

Blessings only

To let go

In the upwelling of silence

In rooms wallpapered with lyrics that sing

The long fable of my youth

THE FERRY TO THE DRY TORTUGAS

Dry tortugas

 

 

 

 

Seats (the best) on the top deck

Draped with posh hotel

Towels – pulling double duty saving and drying the seat for

The entitled; the family of five with a guest

 

Middle age couple #1 she holding desperately his hand

He looking like he stole time

Deciding on the white island linen shirt

The #2 she, face a beautiful forlorn ruin looking

Into the shoulder she married.

A shoulder that is turned away from her

As her husband talks across his son’s girlfriend (who feigns sleep)

Explaining something

Important (?) to his namesake

 

The young pale and married couple next to us Russian (?)

He sits away from the rays reading a thick paperback

She sits yoga in the sun

 

Two lovers at the rail; beautiful

Unnoticing of the lame (who are now walking)

And the blind (who are now seeing)

When he of receding hairline & confidence

grabs at her hips

She shimmy’s away

Ignorant of the finite attracting powers of good skin

She stands away a bit – the coy mistress, eyeing him

As the lusty gulf wind whips at her hem

Revealing everyone’s wish