Since moving from sunny Albuquerque to soggy Bremerton, Bob and I found reading we both like quite a bit at the Hugo House in Seattle, Works in Progress, an open mic for all kinds of writing on the first and third Mondays of the month, 7-9 p.m. (sign up at 6:30 p.m.).
The Welcoming Committee
I think they yelled “homo”
or perhaps it was “om” or “home” someone hollered from a speeding window
as I walked along the tall iron fence around the naval base, before
I turned onto this quiet street and sat on this bench to talk to my notebook.
While the moss picks out a life
between cobblestones, I transform
the indifferent gift of hollered wit
through the alchemy of incomprehension:
Was this the call of longing
for home, for peace, for natural order?
the anger when home, peace, natural order
become a question?
Do I always have to be the questions
no one wants to answer?
I am like this moss, lost
to home, to peace, to natural order, fit only to fly
on wild winds, to root in specks
of earth, to encrust the predictable concrete with life
in all its chaos, to be
soaked and sated and washed away in the next rain.
A passel of school children passes chattily
behind me. Someone has told them
they can be whoever they want to be,
as long as they button their shirts
on the correct side. Perhaps
they are telling each other now.
I love taking the ferries, and they’re a good, er, “place” to write.
Meditating in the Dark
In shadow where water hides from sun, its surface
takes the shape of Earthly things—
evergreens like a many-turreted, ivied castle wall
red smear of little house on shore
denser dark of the ferry below that shows nothing of earth, heaven or water
The nothing is a membrane
between worlds where a gull floats, pretending
to be a duck far from shore.
There are shores
whose veils of evergreen
I don’t want to peek behind.
My surfaces are as opaque
This was the first poem I wrote in Washington:
The moss on the stairs isn’t climbing
The sidewalks and bridges, the stone walls of our new city are growing, furred with moss. Mold spores black fronds
in the puddles around our sink. Even the damp folds of my nervous system are growing: green, black and furred red, toxic
and nourishing. People tell me how brave I am, starting over like this. I don’t
understand. I didn’t spore in this new puddle, only splashed down, still myself.
I’ve been watching the last of the move-in bruises fade, the one that came not from boxes but my fist. The silhouette of palm and pinky is faintest stain
seventeen days since you asked me to stop hurting myself, “Please,” and I held back my hands along with the howling I’d dammed with blows.
You’d hoped the good sea air would heal me. It does. You hoped it would heal me
more. I want to tell you: This is life: how it feeds, how it poisons. The same act.