Thrift Store Journal

 

Got a call

from a lady who’d bought

a journal of mine I’d mistakenly donated

to the thrift store,

and wanted to know if I had

more to sell.

I asked how much she’d paid:

“A buck-ninety.”

 

Then she read me the last page

where I’d described

Der Weinerschnitzel’s

orange roof

catching sunset light

against the blue-black sky

of a mountain storm.

I’d finished with

“God’s work is a wonder

and we must always be

looking for it.”

Wordy and trite, I thought.

 

She told me to come to her house

to retrieve the journal

which I did

then paid her two bucks

and she didn’t offer the dime change.

 

Driving home I wondered

how I’d presumed

to know anything about

God’s work.

 

a report on my fast

my factory closes:

no input or

output.

it begins consuming

itself:

drill presses eat

lathes,

pancreas devours the

pituitary,

janitor roasts the ribs

of the foreman

over a gasoline drum.

i look for meaning

in this insurrection.

 

this morning a school bus came

roaring out

my mouth.

i must have built it

years ago,

jaundiced.

 

this is the last call

I make to

you on the outside.

my machines

still run,

producing nothing.

 

i do not need

your help.

 

forever frozen in the photo…

Just recently the sports section of our local newspaper ran an article on a girls’ basketball state championship game in 1992 that was won on the last shot by, of course, a local team. The girls were from St. Ursuline High.  Accompanying the article was a wonderful photo, which inspired this poem. 

girls battle

for the basketball

wide eyes

mesmerized

just one foot each

on the wooden floor

arms reach

for the prize

hair floats

from their heads

torsos twist

 toward victory

faces as serene

faces as ferocious

as faces painted

on a florentine fresco

sea-riding

 

i sit out here

floating island

bobbing on the sea

 

even on a small wave

short lift to the crest

heart pumps harder

 

and then the ride

gentle tumble

into a small depression

 

with big cycles

the moving mountains

anticipation grows

 

the cosmos

speaks with rhythm

and power

 

i seek to

plunge beneath fear

into ecstasy

 

“in his own world…”

it’s not easy being a kid. in school, for instance, you have to sit long hours in a desk and pay attention to instruction that seems to have little to do with life on the outside.  i have nothing against teachers. after all, i fell in love with my second-grade teacher, mrs. blake. but teachers are given the curriculum they have to teach. and parents are given roles by their culture and sometimes have little tolerance for kids not doing what they are supposed to do. a kid can end up feeling trapped. 

 

“in his own world…”

 

my teacher wrote.

mom and dad frowned

at the report card.

but how could they

expect me to stay sealed up

in the classroom

unable to move

unable to breathe?

 

so i continued to

slide between realities —

thin sheets of plastic

stacked so that one sheet

might slip out at any time,

another template for seeing.

 

pedaling and day-dreaming

home from school one day

on a flat-straight Kansas road

i got off my bike to take a short-cut,

crawled under the barbed-wire fence

 

continued on foot unaware

of having left the bike there

and then slipped deeper

into another world

 

surrounded by the enemy

but armed with

magic bullets

magic guns.

 

cats do it. dogs do it…

i don’t think that most of us ever get too old for romantic love, often depicted as only for the young.

i must credit the influence of cole porter’s witty lyrics from “Lets’ Fall in Love” on my title.

 

cats do it. dogs do it:

 

curl their paws in pleasure

when petted.

 

i have but hands and feet

yet need your touch

every day,

just as I yearn

for the wash of

solar warmth

on face and arms,

after the storms.

 

too long

without a warm encounter,

and something inside

begins to die.

 

i still need your touch,

every day, often,

and sometimes ache for it:

warm arms

around my neck,

your kind, soft hands

on my head, my face.

 

Hitch-hiking

Hitch-hiking on Highway 78, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

 

1. My thumb is

thrust

toward heaven

unseen by

Commanders

Ford campers

Winnebagos

blind tons of pro-

pane ovens

porta-

potties, people

whining down blacktop

crying their weight.

 

2. I had sloughed

my metal skin

talked to

finches

yellow lizards

young jack rabbits.

Even grinning coyote

slinking and whispering

death was kind.

Rapscallion raven

half brother

told me

the turtle man

would give me a ride.

 

3. Leather shelled

eyes like

lapis lazuli

he took me miles

into the afternoon.

A loser

farmer of sand

the turtle man

drove a car

of sage, jim-

son weed,

had married the lizard queen

became regal

and so slow he

heard granite sigh

mountains grow.