I have a question, so I raise my hand. Because there is no one else around, I put my hand down before I can receive an answer. But, I did have time to ask the question. So, from where will the answer to this question come?
I look left and see a field. To the right is a forest, but I can’t see very far in, because the trees are in the way. The road that stretches before my tires is gravel, but I don’t have time to slow. Top down, warm wind blowing through my hair—yeah, whatever… All the freedom of the open road sandwiched between two backgrounds.
Of course screaming does no good, but it feels invigorating to empty the lungs, refill them and press them out again. Medulla-oblongata parallel with the roof of my mouth. At least the annoying echo of the noise streaming into my ears and rattling around before piercing the drum lets me know that I can still feel something. And that thought alone is at least a constellation.
When I finally get there, everyone is there. Not just everyone, but everyone and there mother. Let me tell you she is one big mother. She has to be in order to have birthed all of them, and me besides. Her belly is very round. She notices me looking at it. “Everything is circular,” she says.
They thanked me, which took a long time, because though they would have liked to speak all at once, I know they secretly didn’t think I could handle it—maybe rightfully so.
As I walk towards the podium my heart starts pounding. My forehead perspires. My face reddens. The lights on the stage pour all around me, culminating on my red sweat drenched face.
To lighten the mood, someone yells from the crowd, “Show us your tits.” But I decline. It would be delightful, although there are much more important things at hand.
Many times there is a point in a dream when I realize, that I am, in fact, dreaming.
I ask the audience to close their eyes. “But only if you feel comfortable about it,” I add. Most of them do. I ask them to, “imagine that it is them who are dreaming.” “Relax,” I say, wondering whether my nervousness will project out and hinder their ability to effectively relax. Luckily, at least some of them are trusting. “Imagine that every time I say, me, it is you that is me.” Whenever I say I, it is you that is I. Completely forget about fact that I am a twelve year old black girl, and that you are you, who you are.”
Now this one is just for practice… Close your eyes. Take a deep breath of enlivening air. Keep those eyes closed now, no cheating. Stand up. Raise your left hand above your head. Pause. Now look around. Pause. Ok now sit. And open your eyes.
Now we will begin. Close your eyes, take a deep breath of enlivening air…let it out….stand up…..
I have a question, so I raise my hand. Because there is no one else around, I put my hand down before I can receive an answer.
I pulled a small handful of change
From my pocket
A penny said; 1968
It brought back memories
Memories of hippies
I pictured in my mind—dancing people
With colorful clothes
Those are my memories of that year
I was nine years from birth that year
Memories are funny like that
They’re like a collection
Movies, thoughts, things remembered and made up
All that sort of thing
So I played a little game
A quarter; 1978
Laying on his back
Cut off jean shorts
Under the pits of my chubby arms
Wonder in his eyes
Wonder in mine
A penny; 1984
Kangaroo tennis shoes with a zipper pocket in the side
But I didn’t know how to play tennis
And I could actually use them for sneaking
So I called them sneakers
I guess I was starting to get clever
Mom was gone
A whole family of girls moved in
Dad’s new girlfriend
Her three daughters
Lots of things were changing
I had my own room
My own toys
My own mom
Middle of high school
The smell of the locker room
I lost my virginity that year
First real broken heart
Several beater cars
I beat the shit out of those cars
Fell in love again
Leaped from cliffs
Had to clear the bank
Slapped by small branches
On the way down
Didn’t really believe I could die then
Lived in a great house
Going to school
Snowed the first day of Oktoberfest
That was a legendary party
Broke a lot of hearts
No debt—except student loans, let them sit
If you say it wrong, they know you’re new
Brew Pub #2
Wrote a lot
Long walks down snowy mountain roads
Here I am
Graduated to a writer
Lots of memories
Debt to my ears
It’s hard sometimes to tell where you’re standing when you look straight down at your feet
In the jungle
Is that from a dream
Am I making that up
Maybe I saw it in a movie once
Memories are funny like that
What an honor it would be
When someone said
“Are you a Poet?”
I could say “Yes”
Such a great and wonderful existence
it would be
To ponder the days
and travel the world
writing in whim
No more no less
Barefoot if the need arises
or my favor desires
People could ask me “Who are you, what do you do?”
I could say “I am Doug, I live”
Days and nights would pass
maybe with a loving woman
and maybe a child or two
to love and teach
They could go barefoot
I could share the world with them
And if someone asked me “Who are you, what do you do?”
I could say “I am Doug, I am a father”
But ah… If someone were to ask me
“Are you a poet?”
I could smile
and mean it
and say “Yes”
Take a look at the road your on.
Is it narrow?
Is it well traveled?
Roads that are less traveled can be bumpy,
so wear your seat belt
and be sure to enjoy the view.
Are there mountains on your road?
Or little hills that look big?
If you are feeling strong
you can make your way even over mountains.
Roads have even been cut through trees.
If the road is winding, some people hug the turns
and some slow down and accelerate smoothly out of them.
If the road has a dead end sign,
it was probably put there by someone who knows.
So if you decide to travel down it
without an intended purpose
don’t be upset
when you get to the end
and have to back track to get to the road
that will lead you home.
At times it looks like a beast
with a long tail
and forward looking eyes.
and throws flame.
Yet it has beautiful breasts
which I fondle
when I am feeling hungry
I have a hard time looking it in the eyes at times
knowing I am planted firmly on it’s back
with a plain yet comfortable saddle.
So I ride it.
At times I have jerked the reigns to the left
for no more than to see what will happen
or just to test the edges of the box.
I have to admit
that at times
I’m not always sure whether I should pull in the reigns
or let the beast trot or gallop where it will.
It was three of us who wadded out.
We had to go a long way. I was surprised looking across this great lake that this far out it could be waist deep. But we had to find the edge.
The water was cold at first touch. Wadding in with goose bumps. Once one summons the courage to fully submerge, one finds that it is not that bad.
Only three of us went, though there were ten at the shore. Ten brave seekers with nothing to find.
I for one
My comrades for three
Needed to know
We were different
One amongst us, normally quiet, with an air of distrust, laughed as he dashed against the on coming waves. He smiled and threw his hands to the blue sky. I could see in his face—or was it only in his eye—that he gave thanks to the ground below his feet, the water incasing his legs and the breeze letting him know that he was being anointed with the air around him.
Spraying water with thrusts of feet
The other among us, happy to be there. Veteran of journeys within and without. New story to tell. New something to do. Diving under to feel the cold on skin. Wetting hair not to make clean, but to feel it wet. As he shakes his head droplets of water run to the ends of his hair, leap from the strand to form droplets, suspended only momentarily, then like they had never existed, or left their home, disappear back into the waving mass.
Not far over
A long way
There has to be an edge. We must see the boundary. We must know where we can survive by treading alone. On the shore others sit. Most not aware of our quest, or at least only visually aware that we are far off. A couple wishing they were with—only a couple.
Has to be soon
I am drawn. I am pulled as if by a current, into the face of the head of the wind, yet it’s like a sail carrying me forward. I am not lost. I only seek to find. Everything is a box, I tell myself. I do not fear the edge, I embrace it with wonder.
Bending my knees I kneel on the bottom, tilting my head to the sky. Sucking the air, as water threatens my mouth with each approaching ripple of wave.
We tread laughing for a long time. From sounding the bottom we know that it drops off here. We let ourselves sink, the water envelops our up-stretched finger tips, hit the soft silty bottom and push up. Now we know where we stand, treading water looking back at the shore.
Looking into the sky
Wisps of white
Contrasting the water
Wind at our backs
Engulfed in the space that has allowed me to slip into itself, form fitting as a mold, exact replica of me. Opening my eyes I see through the blackness of this space and can pick out my companions, who also submerged could be stars far off in this galaxy.
And I’m left with longing
And a sense that the world is imperfect
Because there must be something deeply ironic about the whole thing
And if it doesn’t get better
At least it will get over
In the dream I was conducting this kind of symphony of life
Because it generally had to
That’s the thing
In that state when you know you’re in a dream
Yet the dream still has a way of making you
If you do nothing
It will still do
But you can’t always do something
You can’t always do something
You can’t always do something
My enemy was in the dream
I confronted him
Well he was at my home and he was wearing my shoes so I guess he confronted me
I thought I might fight him
But instead he showed me something
I thought it a great sign of compassion
Something I could learn from
He showed me imperfection
No one else around me saw it
They had there own lives
Their own dreams
They didn’t even know I was conducting
Because they were conducting too
On the Bus or Off the Bus
We’re riding on the math bus
You’re not even in my class
So I don’t know why
But, we finally get to the place where we are going
We all go inside
Our professor hands us our homework
The object of this
Seems to be
To make the necessary corrections
Then hand the work back
I struggle on the first correction
For a little bit
Then go where you sit
To ask for help
Just then I notice
The people in the row ahead (well kind of ahead)
Start making out
Luckily they have covers
And I’m pretty sure a bed
Yeah, it had to be a bed
We’re in some room
There is a divider between the rows
But, I know what their doing up there
So we start making out too
Pretty soon we’re naked
And wrapped around each other
And we still aren’t done making the corrections
Well I think that you may be done
I feel stupid for not being done yet
“Do you think the professor minds that we’re naked,” I ask
That’s when I realize I’m not naked
I’m wearing socks
I have a balloon,
it is rounding, it is large, it is filling. You can’t see what is in it,
but it is voluptuous, so I know it is filling. My balloon is filled with ideas not air.
Big ideas, little ideas, crafty and simple ideas. Now can you see my balloon? It is lighter than air,
if you suck on it, it may make you talk funny. Do you have a balloon? Is your balloon lighter than air, or do you use it as an anchor? That’s ok to, after all it is your balloon to do what you wish with. Close your eyes, look at your balloon. What color is it? If you do have a balloon like mine,
I have an idea. We can take both of our balloons and tie them to a lawn chair. If we get
enough balloons, and are really brave we could fly. I’m serious we could do it.
It’s actually been done before. A guy did it back in the 80’s. Real balloons,
real lawn chair. He did it alone though, with our balloons we could take as
many people as we want to invite along.
I think we should invite
Above is the shape of my balloon. It’s not quite round because it is not quite full. Maybe tomorrow or ten years from now it will be a little fuller. No matter how full it gets it will still always be lighter than air. When I die I will go inside my balloon, and it will take me wherever I am going. Then my balloon will be full. P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
I took a walk with John Steinbeck
Hemingway drove by
He was the only one with a car then
The hay lay in the field
Wheat lay along the tracks
“We used to harvest and thresh this by hand,” I said
“Yes,” he said
An Indian (we still called them that then)
Danced on the ledge
In the wheat
He danced for a reason
Some children lived next door to the Indian
They played a game in the street
“You have to use the electricity in the air,”
A little girl said
She was ahead of her time
She was ahead of mine
Her parents didn’t believe her
I could see it in the children’s eyes
The way they worked together
The way they played together
I felt the magic
The Indian danced and smiled