Thursday, September 22, 2016

green stuffing

Old dog bed,
worn and tattered,
(beloved by a canine,
who looks so relaxed,
laying sideways,
with her head over the edge,)
green stuffing emerging,
decorating the tile floor,
like tufts of cotton candy.

Festive chaos.

Monday, September 19, 2016

through the bubble








In the depths of the oasis,
exists a way point.
You run out of breath,
just as you reach it.

You suck in the air
that bubbles from the fissure,
and you're faced with the dilemma,
multiple souls have confronted.

Do you rest for a moment,
and breathe in that sweet air,
then swim back to surface
and its relative safety?

Or do you suck in as much air
as your human lungs can cradle,
then swim even deeper
in search of lost treasure?

Through the bubble?
Or back up to surrender?
The current buffets you,
testing your resolve.

Azure fish skitter
this way and that,
drawn to the bubble,
and your curious presence.

None can advise you.
Only you can decide,
if your fate is behind you,
or a blind road ahead.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

fish out of water

Tribe. Pack. Crew. Squad. Team. Belonging feels good. Warm acceptance and feelings of allegiance boost self-esteem and confidence. But I'm a perennial outsider, springing to life as an outlier no matter where I go.

It starts in Japan. I'm a Caucasian child with curly, white-blonde hair. For homogeny-valuing Japanese, my appearance is a wonder. I stand out against the background of my dark-haired siblings and parents. Random people exclaim over my looks, touching my hair while staring with wide eyes. I grow accustomed to the petting. At the school for expats, I start kindergarten with 5 year-old boys and girls from dozens of countries. My best buddy is David Wang, a chubby Chinese boy the other kids make fun of.

Later, I'm starting the first grade in Massachusetts. Nobody cares what I look like. But I'm on the outside looking in again because I don't speak English well. "Speak some Japan!" the other kids demand. I learn to lie and say "I can't remember any." I'm tired of their laughter and crude mimicry of what is, for me at that moment, my native language. I find a friend, Joanne, a Catholic girl who lives in my neighborhood. With flaming red hair and a mass of freckles, she's been the victim of teasing as well. We understand each other.

My parents divorce when I'm eight. Now, even to my extended family, I'm an outsider. They're well-bred Southern Christians and they don't "do" divorce. My parents are the first in the family to divorce -ever. I'm not Southern and there is pity towards us as the children of divorce. In their eyes, we are now crippled. Any achievement will be seen as an amazing feat of courage.

Fifth grade finally finds me in the South. But moving to Georgia from Massachusetts means I'm a "damn Yankee", a fate worse than death. I am shunned. Only one girl befriends me, the class oddball, Lisa. And I hesitantly follow Lisa down a dangerous path to all sorts of exploits. I'm terrified at first, but she's my only friend. By 7th grade, we're smoking pot, hanging out with grown people - amateur pot dealers, musicians, and opportunistic 19 and 20 year-old men who recognize vulnerable girls when they see them.

Tenth grade and we've moved to rural North Carolina. Given some of the crazy shit I've done, it's a small miracle that I'm still alive. But now I'm a quadruple threat outsider. First, I'm not from there, a grievous sin. Second, I'm a "hippy", or so I'm told. Third, my vocabulary is WAY too big. I'm constantly being asked "what does xxxxx mean?" I'm too stubborn to change by this point.

The fourth and final threat I bring to this new environment is that I'm not a racist. My parents were members of the SCLC and have raised us to see people as people. My high school is highly segregated socially. I neither understand nor conform to that way of seeing the world. I'm soon labeled a "nigger-lover." After that, I'm bombarded with taunts and threats almost every day. A few people are kind to me - not nearly enough. By this point, I've perfected my tough exterior. Nobody knows how much I'm hurting. My circle of friends are all older people. I feel safe with them. I play guitar and sing in a band. I go to school. I graduate - barely. (Forty years later, a high school reunion photo on Facebook features a sea of white faces. Some things, it seems, never change.)

College is a huge breath of fresh air. There's a live and let live feeling that allows me to relax. And there's plenty of other weirdos with whom to bond. It's okay to be an oddball. In fact, we celebrate each other's wacky free spirits.

I've never stopped being an oddball. I no longer expect to fit in. I anticipate wariness from others. Other unique people recognize and embrace me. And I've become adept at spotting those who will be most likely to reject me. They're the conformers and the insecure. The conformers have strict rules in their head about what people SHOULD and should NOT think, say, do, or be. The insecure are those who are so fearful of rejection that they choose small, safe spaces to occupy. A few people are both.

I'm very blessed to have found good friends over the years. Not surprisingly, they're all very unique people. They're bold and colorful. They take up space. Generosity of spirit is a common trait. They're all really smart. And they are fearless.

I'm forever grateful that I never developed that skill of making myself smaller in order to fit in. I'm a kaleidoscope. And I really love all of my colors.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

cheeto






Scene at a public pool in Phoenix:

"What is that?"
"What?"
"That."
"Where?"
"Right by the drain."
"See where the ducky is? Right under there."
"What is that?"
"That's what I'm asking you"
"Well swim down there and see."
"I don't want to get my hair wet."
"I think it's a Cheeto."
"It can't be."
"Why?"
"Cheetos float."
"Oh. Well, what is it then?"
"I don't know any more than I did two minutes ago."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

reflection

She mourns.
Her second marriage is over,
and she's no Spring chicken.
But he wasn't in it,
so how could she be?

Soldiering on,
putting on a happy face,
caring for others,
as is her way.

But hope is an elusive thing,
and she struggles to accept
that this may be, after all,
as good as it gets.

Monday, September 12, 2016

to the ground








In your post-career wanderings,
you model a variety of costumes,
seeking a mélange of new moments,
and surprises in human experiences.

You're a wannabe sociologist,
wishing Studs Terkel could mentor you.
You collect. You question. You listen. You remember.
You marvel at your thirst and hunger.

"You're not old enough to retire!"
"How will you pay your bills?"
Snatch up the naysayers,
drag them to the ground.

Don't look back.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

habitual fantasy

When the big game hits 200 mill or more,
my personality undergoes a subtle change.
I house hunt in multiple cities - Savannah,
Asheville, Charleston, and Phoenix.

Maximum vorfreude, minimum investment. Maximum time waster. Minimum actual payoff. Sheer entertainment..

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

hot pink sunglasses

Driving into the sunset like this,
with the visor no help,
and I'm squinting my eyes
to try to see my way.

Exit to the Flying J in Tucumcari,
I need gas anyway
and a coffee if I'm going to
drive into the night.

Some postcards since I'm in here,
and some hot pink sunglasses,
because I'm 57, and I want them.
Now what are you looking at?

I'm a walking Bell curve,
with respectability at my apex,
and wild abandon on either end.
Even my stats are confusing.

I'm finally that different drummer
that I used to be,
before normal sucked me in,
for a brief, boring ride.

Now if you'll excuse me,
I've got a sunset to ride into.
And through my hot pink sunglasses,
I see infinite joy and courageous splendor.

Monday, September 5, 2016

julio

Yo como una manzana.

Eres un hombre.

Encantado de conocerte.

"Will you stop??? Nobody expects you to speak Spanish. You're an American, for God's sake."

Su hijo está enojado.

Nos vamos?

"I give up. I'm scrambling eggs. Do you want any?"

Esto es delicioso.

"Ahhhhh!"

Ha perdido la cabeza...

...pero él tiene un culo lindo.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

new moon

When dusk was settled and the sky first hinted of stars, a new moon hung over the oleander, reflecting just enough of the sun's light to illuminate our happy faces. We three, just joined at the recent Wisterius Festival, lay naked in the basking pool. Like spokes to a wheel, only our feet touched as we stared up at the night sky.

"I could eat entire fields of berries," Paul sighed. Jax and I laughed. I scooted over to sit between them.

"Should we order something?" I suggested. Jax turned to me and touched my hair, sliding his fingers through my curls. He smiled languidly, relaxed from our lovemaking.

Paul turned towards us. "Let's ask for our Honey Basket."

I pressed the call button and two minders appeared. "Bring us a Honey Basket, please," I asked, "and some champagne." The minders disappeared.

My life was so different now than just two weeks ago. In the weeks leading up to Wisterius, none of us knew whether we would be chosen for joining. This was my third and I hadn't been chosen before. I thought I might remain a minder for life, as some do. But my name had been called. Then Jax and Paul had been assigned to me. Amazing. So far, they had been wonderful, each allowing me to set the pace and tone of our intimacy. Truly, they had been well-trained.

The minders returned with our victuals, lighting lamps as they prepared the table. Paul stood and stepped out of the pool. He helped me out of the water and dried my body before his own. Jax helped me into a sheer robe.

In our Honey Basket, we found berries, of course, along with melons, sweet breads, protein pockets, cheeses, nuts, and golden raisins. A minder poured champagne. I lifted my glass. "To a successful joining," I said. "May we be blessed with productive years."

"May your choice include us both," Jax and Paul responded in unison.