How long the day. How few memories. Sun shines warm enough to lay in the grass and watch the dogs fight and play. Over and over. Until no more.
I cry in my car. Because the songs are sad. Because the mountains are so huge and beautiful and covered with snow looming beyond the foothills. Because all of these women. Because silence. Because countless men. Things aren't looking up. But I am looking up tonight. It shines like always.
There's a fly in Bruce's hair. I stare at it for half a minute or more. Also there's a crumb. I wonder about the flies in the bar today. How it was 75 and sunny yesterday and today it's freezing. It's almost December. I watch a video online that tells me 200 species a day go extinct. Every day. I keep seeing a picture of fish swarming the stark blue ocean over and over. How there are half the amount of fish there now than before. When's before? I don't know. I don't know how to unsee these videos. These pictures of blue and fish. I don't know how to preserve the ocean and keep it for myself and everybody. I don't know how to not feel mountainous despair. How to not be guilt-ridden and sad. What do you do to make yourself not feel terrible? Or, what do you do to make a difference? Oh, to change. A woman I like sits at the bar and eats 1 slider and 3 deviled eggs. She swats occasionally at a fly near her face, her food. Her lipstick today is darker than before.
Sometimes I see my students' faces and all of their desire and fear and mistrust. They want to say things but they don't. They don't know how good they are. I get down close beside them and say too much. Fill the space. Look at their faces. One looks at me today as if I am telling her things she already knows, or doesn't want to know. I keep talking. I walk away. Today I saw two of them in the hallway and one walked right past me and another looked at me and smiled nervously and I held her gaze for a second to smile back. We don't know how good we are.
So little of what I observe is terrible, grotesque, or even out of the ordinary. To what do I bear witness, and what does it reveal about me? That I only register the mundane? This evening after I finished work a guy at the bar said--Look outside at the light right now, I'm going to go see it. I went out after him and it was deep pink touching down on cars and sidewalks in front of the hotel and lasted like two more minutes. I got in my car and drove to pick up dinner and the sky truly was spectacular. I kept saying to myself--isn't this just like a painting. The clouds really looked like brushstrokes of grayish-pink and they rolled toward the mountains like live currents. I looked away from all the blinding artificial lights on every store and house and kept my gaze upward once I parked. Would I rather this be something awful? Would I rather tell you that I suffered? Would I rather have not seen it at all? But I can only see what I'm awake to. I can't not see the sky tonight.
Not a winter sky, not yet. But a fat toenail of a moon and a slip of cloud in the blue-black night. Clear. Cold. Not all the way winter, not yet. We are still here.
I look at you two sleeping together and it looks like love. A twitch or shudder across the eyelid, the lip. A jerk of the shoulder. Is it restlessness underneath the spell of sleep, or a need to move, to stir, to change. Subterranean desire. You curl toward him; he curls toward you. Man and dog. On the blanket the swirl of a green leaves I trace with my finger. Smell of your skin. Your feet move beneath the sheets like swimming and I wonder how far there is to go.
thanks to the man with the harry potter glasses and his daughter he was so proud of thanks to the bandaid on my finger and for not making a deeper cut thanks for pie and standing outside with Travis while he smoked a cigarette thanks for my friends feeling better thanks for the news not being so terrifying or maybe thanks for not reading too deeply sorry but I can't thanks for my dogs deep snore and his fat belly thanks for breath pretty much that's all the steadiest thing
scanning through my mind's eye for today's image a bowl of halo oranges a pot of simmering cranberries the dogs gnawing on sticks the lack of people in the neighborhood in the green space outside quiet days loud nights a circle of hands around our plates say grace someone says and I repeat the words my grandmother says knowing it is and isn't a prayer clean dishes dirty dishes again again full trash empty trash everything the same and in juxtaposition mundane extraordinary mundane extraordinary domestic global global domestic close one eye open the other what's the difference in the days from one to the next mood heart waving open
drive into the city listening to Dylan's Freewheelin' for the first time in too long still the same gold as ever after the reading I slow cruise up the block past the Denver Rescue Mission and the Catholic Charities and a Jesus Saves neon sign blares its wares I always have a good chuckle at this one but Corrina Corrina saves me instead just in the nick of time
what if life mattering is only a 50/50 chance
or less meaning half the time this is important and half the time
it isn't or
it only halfway matters all the time or
tonight I saw two cars driving with only one headlight
one after the other
50/50 light & dark
traveling without fear is how I imagined it
some sort of freedom
back into the cold night air and stars and stars and stars
nearly every night, the same image: my little black and white dog curled into a letter c in between my legs on top of the gold blanket. ears perked up. breath steady and deep. an occasional whimper, a heavier sigh. as long as I am still he is still. the real sleep of the night is predictable in a different way. these days it's all turmoil. tangled blankets, ringing ears, wild mind. wild. up and down. all of it. how to anchor myself down? smooth the sails? when?
today = a study in rejection
my body rejects medicine health healing
I reject the news for weeks now
another rejection of my poems in my inbox
my own face unrecognizable in the mirror
featureless and searching
reject happiness reject fame reject stamina
the mountains the sun reject me now too
an image persists some adaptable picture
the shape of my own body huddled underneath a pile of blankets. the perfect sphere of a seedless tangerine, network of white veins. discarded cups and mugs of lukewarm water at my feet. sick day. endless day.
not an image, just a sound: the neighbors howl and stomp and slosh their cups and cackle; the dog barks and barks and barks; I'm sandwiched in between.
why do dogs ache for the scent of something dead on their fur?
how shall you name these dried out plants? dusty beetle, elongated tail, crumpled mum, ember, barren arm, flat turf?
how is this to-do list from a year ago different from today's?
why do you concern yourself with it over and over and over?
how big the breath? how awake are you now on this walk, or ever?
morning. a ribbon of pink sky. fleeting fleeting. a row of birds on the street lamp. a ribbon of highway. cawing like jokes. like did you hear the one about? that one.
Today something beautiful today. Something joyful today. today joy. today beauty. I spend a lot of time around booze even though I don't drink anymore. Is that the beauty/joy? Or is that pride. Or is it laziness. Or is it this life. Joy/beauty of process. I say process so much lately and I wonder if I gave this word an image what would it be. Today. Peaks of citrus fruit in plastic quart containers. Glistening a bit yes the fresh ones glisten. I use a long serrated knife to halve these green and yellow bodies then quarter them then a little nudge with the knife across their bellies so they can kiss the lip of a glass and stay. I stay in this process. It's the shine of the fruit that's beautiful though. And joyful. My hand pushing the knife and keeping the ends of the fruit in little piles to discard after. Making something neat and clean and glistening and joyful and beautiful today.
Behind two fogged mirrors these apocryphal images: teeth falling out of their sockets, joints frozen or sticky as molasses, silvery hairs sprouting like hay. Old people stuff. In between mirrors a yellow yellowing Post-it note carried from one house to another: I am enough. Fat black marker, all caps. I am enough.