Birthright

little one
how would I know
of what a man is made
I’m sure I’ve met them
but I don’t know them
the men I really know
either throw their masculinity away
or let it beat their hearts broken
and how can I explain
that I’m not like you
but that we are entwined
your responsibility partially dictated
by what’s between your legs
not your choice or mine
but birthright is the starting line
and though your fate is your own
your mother tongue is gifted
as is your name
and those things do give you
your place to begin
I don’t know what men are made of
but I know I made you

A Tiny Trace of Her

Urn

“It all comes down to that.”

Four pounds of pulverized and fragmented pieces of bone.
Packed in a plastic bag labeled with the coroner’s information about the contents.

A plastic bag tied with a rubber band.

Several tiny delicate urns had been prepared, each about three inches high, each containing a small bag of grandma’s ashes. Keepsakes for me and my siblings, my cousins, my mother, and my uncles.

My brother saw those urns lined up on the beautiful antique tea cart in our mother’s living room. The tea cart that had once been grandma’s.

He said those words above, and turned his face away. His cheeks were wet with tears. My amazingly tough and strong brother wept at the sight of those tiny urns.

A larger box containing the remainder of grandma’s ashes will be scattered over family land in Colorado.

Mom showed them to me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to look at them, but I did. I poked at the bag with my finger.

They didn’t feel like ashes at all. They were hard and granular, like sand flecked with with small bits of white bone.

“It all comes down to that.”

Grandma was the granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants from the west coast city of Bergen. She once journeyed there, along with my mother and cousin, to trace her family roots. She found her grandfather’s name in a church registry.

One day I will go there, to scatter my portion of her ashes. A tiny trace of her, delivered back to her ancestral home.

For now, however, grandma is with me.

Mine

Entwined to the words…

entwinedprecipice

Maybe I am a toddler, too
when the rug is pulled
out
from under me
like a failed magic trick
bloody tablecloth in your hands
shards of heirloom china on the floor
I sit in the wreckage
trying not to get crystal splinters
in my naked feet
and you put on my favorite record
to help you mourn the loss
and that infuriates me more
than any loss of dishes
all I want is something untainted
something you never showed me
something that’s mine
mine mine mine
so maybe I’m a toddler too
I just hope I don’t have to spend time out
cleaning up your mess

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Sea Call

Step foot from dock planks,
leaving this crackling ground,
if your hands tremble daily;
if your temper is snap-n-pop thin.
The ocean’s wake-billy rhythm,
rolling rough from sky to sky,
will change your gait for the better.
No more slouching on street corners.
Its salt smack will rid the City
from your domesticated sinuses.
Step foot, both together, jump.
Strangers’ hats you’ve tipped;
their guts you’ll spill, so stay not
or in a day, you’ll kill.
It’s a cascade of debt and doubt,
you pod-less pea.
Step foot now, Sea Call,
the shipboard dream
will dunk your delirium,
washing you clean.

Compact

Let me make your life small
And the rest spacious
Quietly tending the salt-sprinkled corners
Of our yellow house
Boughs of hyssop in the doorways
Fending off those who need more
There is so much rich soil
Already provided
Plenty to tend in one bed
Do that well.
Taste every drop of your own cup
So your thirst won’t consume you
When you have to leave these walls
You can return to a space
Well tended
Well loved