On Loss

Imitation of "The Weary Blues" (http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15612):

Dancers' Blues

The dancers swayed in front 'a him all through the night
Took his troubles in their souls and held each other tight
    Glidin' to that deep dark Blues.
Beneath the Everette overpass, beside the railroad tracks
With the barrel fire's smoke pawing at their backs
    They pulsed back and forth . . .
    They pulsed back and forth . . .
To the beat of his beat down blues.
Each couple matched their breath in time,
And swooned at the upswell of his rhyme
    O, That Muddy Blues!
Tension built up in their frames
Then release coursed through their veins
    Stretched Out Singin' Blues!
From deep down the dancers' souls
    O, That Muddy Blues!
In loose-leashed spirits, with rooted feet
They dug their heels down and heard the man repeat
     "I got the solitary blues and it's doin' me no good.
       Got the solitary blues and it give me only pain
       Gotta get outta here,
       Gotta hop on an eastbound train"

Bum, Umm, Bum went their feet on the floor
They rolled to his riff; then, he sang some more--
     "I'm all alone
       in this lonesome world.
       All alone
       in this lonesome world--
       Gotta get me a woman,
       Gotta get me a steadfast girl"
And all through the night they moved to his tunes
Till the stars had departed and so had moon.
The singer'd stopped playin' and gone to his bed,
But the blues echoed still through their weary heads
Though they slept as a puddle all cuddled in bed.

Loss Poem:

Lost and Found

Along with you I lost a city,
a family of friends, a car
you might have sold me,
the fog. Along with you
I lost those dances

with Lily, David, Ian, or Milan
in dim rooms under fairy lights
where we'd breathe together
and move our limbs as
if they were covered with berries
we did not want to drop.

And, yes, dances with
you in dust bowl truck stop coffee shops,
in front of the shining Chicago bean,
naked in an empty living room. I lost

Dolores park, Ocean Beach, a job for my friend,

those feminist home poetry readings
where we'd drink table wine and read "Underwear" aloud and topless.
I lost late night philosophy and book recommendations. I lost
that look you would give me
just before
and the guiltless glistening of your voice just afterwards.

The day it happened
I stood on my doorstep holding
back my eyes' fog and you gave me
your hat--the one you wore every day,
which I now wear every day--as if
you were going to war and not
to other women. You looked at me that night
with pity, then turned to
face your future seeming to me to lose
this hat,
and I wear it every day
because it is something
I took away from you and I hope,
after much thought, it is a sign
that you may have gained something from me too.

Celebrating the Impossible:

Shades of Blues

It'd been only one week since
you'd kissed me goodbye,
and now you were sitting on the edge of the stage
in this dance hall
all lit up by fairy lights
hung above the windows like streamers.

I hoisted myself up next to you
and sat with my legs
Leaning forward like a five-year-old girl,
my hands clenched on the stage's railing.
You seemed happy to see me
but tentative, and my stomach was
a rubber band ball. We smiled.

Then the valves on the pipes,
outlining the floor's perimeter,
slid open, slowly filling the room with their water,
lapping up against the doors,
sealed to protect the building's other hardwood floors.

The dance partners were amiably
surprised: some giggling, others in love. We watched
as the water reach their chests' level and leveled out. We splashed
our feet in it. I asked how you'd been and you said
Good and I said, There are

things now that I have no one to tell. You said, We can still
Not like I'd want.
What sorts of things? and I crossed
my ankles under my A-line dress. Then in a hush,

I told you about a video
of orgasm as art,
with a woman reading Leaves of Grass in black and white.
You laughed, pleasantly, not at my expense. We
inhaled as sweat mixed with seawater. We talked
about your week at work,
my legs making slow
egg beater motions,
my eyes fixed on the water's swirls
unsettling the field of fairy lights.

The dancers led
slow deliberate spins,
things to call rotations
rather than spins.
They held each other
grounded against the slow tides
of the rest of the room,
swaying to the sounds of Tina Grace singing "Hush Now."
The chairs all floated empty, and no one minded.

We shared a smile
with light and water on our eyes.
I see now it was a sign of friendship
from you and more from me, but as we sat, it was
a smile. You were with me, and together
we watched the couples joined
as one organism
in that slowed
down dance.

Other Poems

With Regrets, Love

I saw the fall coming
and it happened as if
in slow motion, though it was really
swift and sharp, but I did not stop it. I did not
know how to stop it, so I careened
off the cliff and fell to where I now sit
submerged in the old pond, cross-legged
blinking as a frog jumps in, listening
to the water and wondering
where to go from here.


For Will

Today my boyfriend jokingly accused me
of having romantic relations with
all his best friends.

He means, of course, the boy I dated for a month in high school
and a year after college,
the boy who wasn't friends with him
till after the fact, but
this is old news, and he means someone
else too. Even dustier news, almost forgotten,

He means that boy
who I met at fifteen when I said,
"I-like-y'er-shirt. My-boyfriend-plays-that-game. D'y'know'im?"
and he did, and I smiled, and he fell, head over heels
as they say for the unattainable. He means

that artistic soul
who drew in feces on the bathroom walls
of the local BK, "Burger King" then,
who wrote me in as a character
in each of his epic novels
and shared them with my guy
digging doe-eyed for feedback.

That was the year they lived together
in an apartment furnished with milk crates in
a BigBox suburb of the rainy city
they would walk through the sludge of leaves
together to get groceries
and play D and D all night over
buffalo chicken dip

He is the one whose nineteen-year-old face
now graces the back
of a literary magazine
year after year
surprising me
the facts on the back
of a Wheaties box. He smiles, endorsing
a competition for writers "ages 15 to 20"
and I want to protest
the fact that I am ineligible
for a contest created for a peer
and that picture
is too old. He would look
nothing like that now, and the words
"Young Adult Contest"
rub me wrong, as if
his writing was "young adult" because
that's what he was, and he would have hated
his parents' pigeonholing,

and my boyfriend says calm down
he knows that it wasn't my fault
that he loved me and I barely knew the guy but still
I marvel silently that that's "all my best friends"
in the present, as if they are.

Persona Poem - Bonus Prompt


My father was a wolf, not unkind
but determined, and you
let him mount you in your heat, unflinching
and impressed by his muscle and drive.
He has gone, and am I to follow, dragged through
migrations and hunts? No, I am the runt
that would hold him back. I am your mutilated
creation, trying to howl like him
with my first breath, pawing and sputtering
on this dispossessed valley floor. I am
the abomination of your lust.
You stare at my carcass while he stares
at the caribou he has defeated in the mountains,
and you, who spent months anchored to your guilt, with me inside of you,
will never forget that he was there first. It will surprise you
that you will remember more than anything though, this moment and my fleeting
choking howl.


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