Challenged.

“Let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.” G. Washington

First we argue, and then next pretend
we always knew the truth. Butter is
good for you. Who knows? Maybe chicken

skin, too. Or is all you really need
the broth from boiling them? Sure, let’s just
go with that. Galaxies can’t breathe, grow

like lungs that expand and shrink again,
like brains, like empires, like the earth, like
dying stars growing large as they grow

cold. If your hands are cold, you might be
anemic. Or diabetic. Or
tired. Who knows what your hands could tell you?

Palm reading makes perfect sense. Of course,
minds reveal themselves in the body,
and the body changes to reflect

the mind. It’s not like astrology,
you know. How is that supposed to work?
You need to know the mechanism

of action. Like drugs. We know how drugs
work. Well, most of them. Well, we thought so.
At least, we have evidence they work.

That proves something, right? Listen to your
body. It makes up its own laws. You
better figure them out. There is no

such thing as common sense. The waters
are rising. You might have a bit of
a fever. If Vulcan existed

it would have been hot. Sizzling. Pluto
was a planet. A planetoid. Is.
Or not. It’s a fact. Depends on how

you define planet. Words change with time.
Remember when gay meant happy? Then
it didn’t. And now it might again.

Keep asking questions. That’s what makes change.
And watch the answers. Watch what you say.
What did you say? I said, “If.” Oh. If.

/Stumbles Uninvited.

“Read no Letters, Books, or Papers in Company but when there is a Necessity for the doing of it you must ask leave: come not near the Books or Writings of Another so as to read them unless desired or give your opinion of them unasked also look not nigh when another is writing a Letter.” G. Washington

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.
We try so hard to be detailed,
accurate. I was doing it
all. Yes, I was doing my best.
I was doing the best I could.
You did the best you could. We both
made mistakes. We all made mistakes.
It was no one’s fault. It wasn’t
either of us. It was just a
mistake. A glitch. An oversight.
An error. A revelation.
A miscalculation. A flaw.
How did I miss that? Yes, you’re right,

I’m not very good at that. It’s
an eye-opener. It’s open
access. I guess. Maybe I was
too open, or maybe too closed.
I don’t know. I didn’t want to.
I didn’t have access. I was
taking notes. I kept good records.
It was a typo. The other
set of data. It was the wrong
sample. The reviewer didn’t
like what they saw. There’s a conflict
of interest. At least a conflict,
anyway. There was some bias.

There was an insertion of bias.
It was inadvertent. It was
the selection. It was biased.
It was the color of her clothes.
Pink. It was the look on her face.
Her face was pink. It was the look
on your face. Foreboding. It was
a misreading. Body language.
It was the coding we used. Black.
Blue. It wasn’t a secret code.
I didn’t understand. Black and
blue. I am confounded. I am
confused. Just blue. I am afraid

I am out of time. I’m trying
to fix it. I’m trying to fix
everything. I said I’m sorry.
Didn’t you hear me? I’m sorry.
I take it back. I swear, I take
it all, all back, all of it. I
didn’t mean it. What? Whatever
you want. I’ll do it over. I’ll
do it again. I won’t ever
do it again. Do whatever
you want. Honest. I didn’t do
whatever it was. I didn’t.
I’m not that kind. I won’t. I’m not.

In Light of Resistance, Universe of Verse, and Poets for Science …

Conscience

In light of “Poems of Resistance,” “Universe of Verse” (which has a LIVESTREAM tomorrow evening!), and Poets for Science (#PoetsForScience), I figure it’s time to come clean on the underlying strategy of the poem sequence I’m developing through (most of) my #NaPoWriMo poems, specifically the “Civility” sequence. For this poem series, I am writing the poems in sequence, using as titles the theme of the day from the “What the F*** Just Happened Today” working through the first 100 (maybe 110) days of the current administration, matched with the appropriately numbered quotation as epigrams from the “Rules of Civility” as scribed by President George Washington as a child. I have a spreadsheet to keep all the pieces nicely lined up. There have been a few days (considering my injury and recovery) where I have been too much in pain or fatigue to manage it, and a couple of poems for NaPoWriMo are not part of the Civility series, but by and large, this is what I’m trying to do. It’s tricky, and there are layers to where I’m drawing inspiration for the poems that I’m not quite ready to share yet, because it is still very early in this project. I mean, really, talking about 100-110 poems here, and I just wrote #17 yesterday. So, I may not be able to pull this off, BUT, it’s an idea, and I’m trying.


Originally posted on my Facebook stream. Lightly edited.
The image used is a “paper quilt” I made as a gift some years ago from the 110th of the Rules of Civility. Obviously, these are something special to me.

Denied.

“Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play’d Withal.” G. Washington

The water refuses to breathe
for the fish. The air refuses

to slow the light, and the light won’t
mute, gentle, or bend in rainbows.

The garden crawls away from earth,
into wire arcs and plastic tubes.

Ice doesn’t know how to rot, so
it simply melts and fades away.

The chill that slept cozy beneath
erodes, becomes restless, tossing,

and turning, crying out in dreams
of relentless heat and sorrow.

Soil long blanketed becomes raw,
shivers with heat and burns with cold,

prickling root deep and static shocked
as if air’s nerves moan no, please no.

Suspended.

“Do not Puff up the Cheeks, Loll not out the tongue, rub the Hands, or beard, thrust out the lips, or bite them or keep the Lips too open or too Close.” G. Washington

It is the wind that puffs and blows,
parachutes cascading from clouds

sliced open by wings. Here we come,
faces carved closed like wood, lips tight,

floating downward into a dream
sandwiched with nightmares. We’re spiced up

with the supersaturated
breath of the anxious — rich with salt,

dripping with honey, carrying
impurities, imperfections.

False hopes lift us up like a bridge
and settle us down so gently

we don’t even realize there are needles
sharply pricking beneath our feet.

As long as we don’t move, floating
barely above reality,

we can call ourselves a dreamer,
protected in shivering sleep.

Massacre.

“Keep your Nails clean and Short, also your Hands and Teeth Clean yet without Showing any great Concern for them.” G. Washington

It’s the little things that slay us.
No big deal. Just a little thing.

Each piece works alone, but not when
you put them together. It works

when you’re looking, but not when you
turn away. The word “and” where “or”

belongs. Just little things. A dash
instead of a slash. A small moan

of pain instead of screaming out.
A new bruise instead of a bump.

It keeps happening, over and
over. Figure it out. It’s not

my imagination, it’s yours.
It’s nothing to worry about.

It’s all going to be fine. You’re safe.
Just relax. This won’t hurt a bit.

Braggadocious.

“Turn not your Back to others especially in Speaking, Jog not the Table or Desk on which Another reads or writes, lean not upon any one.” G. Washington

The grass says:

I tell you, there is
a hard storm coming.
Just feel the dryness.

I cry out against
thunder and pounding;
I rage against it.
But you don’t hear me.

The air says:

I am much stronger
than you imagine.
You can’t know my weight,
my enormity,

my hugeness, how much
I carry, how much
I touch. I am full
of heat, of water.

Beware, or I will
release what I hold.

The pond says:

I am flat. Trust me.
You don’t want to be
around when I’m flat.
That’s just the surface.

Do you have any
idea what is
happening below?
The hidden battles,

the slow and sluggish
slide into fury.

The stones say:

You think I’m heavy,
but I remember
air, and air knows me.
Winds can lift, and I

can fly. I can fly
to you, but I am
still stone. I can throw
myself, and then fall.