Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Buffalo Anniversary

I arrived in Buffalo, April 1st, 2008.  All my years abroad I never imagined coming back here to live nor did I expect to stay.  I arrived that day, spotting a pile of blackened snow in a parking lot and asking what it was.  A few months have turned into longer.   An astrologer  told me it was "essential for my soul's growth" to experience this past in a different way.  My first question was, but do I have to stay here?  But I have, at least for awhile.

The poem is still in draft form so don't be too critical!

                             Love this Place
Am I to love this place,
no bridges arch
over a glittering city.
No gargoyles keep watch.

To love this place
where steel mills lay fallow,
hunks of metal shade
gutted homes.
Past the Michigan Avenue
Baptist Church,
my mother and father
enter home on their wedding day,
She dreams of white
And thresholds
 to be carried across.

Love this place,
drip drop of ice
slides off eaves,  
like so many promises.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Modern Love

Have you ever read the column in the Sunday Times in the styles section called Modern Love?  I'm addicted to it, allowing myself to read it only after I finish the front page section and the Week in Review.  There I can find out about the woman who goes all the way to China to meet the man she's been in e-mail contact with, only to find out he's already in a relationship.  Then there's the mother in India who steers her daughter's marriage towards a man from the same village so she won't lose contact with her. 
   So here's the start of mine. 
    The cigar smoking owner of the florist shop convinced me.  "I've got them in the case.  I'll give you a deal."  That was how I ended up with a dozen long stem roses, far more flamboyant than the usual wild flowers or irises that grace my apartment. 
    These red roses on my dining room table carry the weight of blood, death, and the heart.  I visualize them directly entering my heart like so many thornless arrows.  In the twenty plus years I lived in Barcelona, on the day of San Jordi (Saint George, the patron saint of the region) I received a single red rose with a sheaf of wheat, the traditional gift for a woman.  The man received a book which always struck me as the better deal. But carrying the rose as I walked home from work, I felt loved.
     So this is the beginning- to be continued...

    And now directly to an end in line with the very impermanence of life itself:

Cut Your Losses

When I lost you
I lost entire cities,
ancient civilizations,
the crack of shard and bones.

I lost a language
taken for dreamspeak,
pillow fight love words.

I lost the shape
of a peninsula,
your indentation
on the mattress.
Fingers held apart,
filtering the world
in morning light.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


For those not on FB- like I said, it's the best I can do.  Do wish it were better but here it is.  Was debating Pluto instead of Hades for a more astrological touch.

The white clad workers
wash down rods and reactors
see Hades full face.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Turning a Blind Eye

How do you measure risk?  You assume the unthinkable will never happen. My young coworker suffered a mini stroke caused by taking the pill.  What is the probability of that happening?  Do you go ahead and assume that will never happen? 

What about nucleur energy? We've been complacent about it since the last accident. Japan. The earthquake that releases a tsunami that causes a nucleur disaster.  That in the ring of fire on a fault line in a country that lived through Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  But the decisions made were to fuel a highly developed country with little resources.  Renewable resources? 

The instructions given to cope with the disaster are so simple.  Sea Water to cool the reactor.  Leave.  Close the windows.  Clean off your shoes.  Take iodine.   We haven't evolved to the level of our technology.

What's left for us to do?  Prayer?  I had a poem about Chernobyl that was published years ago but lost in all the moves I've made.

A Personal Apocalypse

Candles, crosses,
the low hum of chants
stand between us
and the void.
With death so near
how to breathe?
Step off the sidewalk
into a barreling truck,
drive off a bridge,
or wait for an angel
trumpeting the rapture
that levitates
 the right
to safety.
I stand sinking
in desert sands,
sun  stratches
across my eyelids
till I slide back
into blackness.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tsunamis and what we live that's life threatening

Can you imagine what it would be like to see a wall of water coming towards you?  Or perhaps you don't even have time to react before it swallows you up.  In the movie, "The Last Wave", water was the Aboriginal prophesy of the end.
    What was the most life threatening situation you have ever been in?  Thankfully, nothing as extreme in my life (so far) and most have been of my own making-none of the horrors of the revolts of nature.  Most recently I was swimming in Florida when a fisherman on shore said, "You'd best get out of the water now.  There's a shark."  I moved as if in slow motion to reach the shore. 
    When I was younger and far less mortal (in my mind) there were many incidents.  On a beach at night at Pie de la Cuesta, Mexico armed men tried to hold us up.  The memory I have is still of men pointing shiny guns, blending into the night.  Then there was the time I jumped off a moving train near Brindisi, Italy. 
    Most foolishly was my year spent in Medellin, Colombia in the mid 80's at the height of the drug violence.  There I ducked under a table in a restaurant as a shootout was taking place, saw a man shot on a street corner, and found the windows blown out of the lobby of my apartment building.  And tanks riding up the street while I was sitting at a cafe. Towards the end of my yearlong teaching stint, I was worried I wouldn't get out.
     Youth brings some freedom from fear.  But it's a lot to sacrifice if something goes wrong.  Take Rachel Corrie with all her bravery, facing the Israeli tanks.  And take Christopher McCandless (Into the Wild)dying when he was so close to a highway. 

The Buddhists Say

The Buddhists say
death never jilts you
at the altar,
or finds you
hunched over an e-mail
in eternal wait.

My friend,
tried and true forever,
the black dog nipping
at my heels,
the ever present guest.

We climb Everest,
float down in mists,
drive the empty roads
of West Texas,
speeding past buzzards
perched on posts.
Why not?
 I am never alone.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

100th anniversary today!  Improvements yes, but still so very far to go!  Here in the US women are now (as one feminist writer) expected to be "hot".  Does that explain the extreme high heels?  Growing up in the feminist era, I never wore shoes I couldn't run away in.  Perhaps young women feel no need to run but there is evidence to the contrary.
     In my work life I have taught female students in burkas, those coming to class with a keeper, and women whose husbands don't allow them to work. 100 more years to go?


Past knots and tendons,

I look

through bone

and see,

in centuries past-

my face shrivel

in flames rising higher.

The point of a sword

slashes my belly

Today, head to toe in black,

I barely breathe,

walk the required

steps behind.

The open hand

of my husband

reddens my cheek.

In  India, China girls

form the Greek chorus,

and chant,

Never born,

Never born.


Friday, March 4, 2011


Solidarity.  It's a word I first became aware of with Lech Walesa and his union movement in Poland.  An electrician and union activist, he went on to challenge the Soviet block and win the Nobel Prize as well as become president.  Solidarity is what brought together all the nurses, teachers, firemen, and public workers to protest the Wisconsin governor's plan to cut their collective bargaining rights.  And it's what brought about protests around the country in their support.
    It's not what African oil workers are experiencing in Libya as they are scapegoated by the Gaddafi government and the anti-government protesters alike. 
    And on a less dramatic note, it's not what I found in my workplace as a couple of teachers pressured admin to change classes around at my expense.  How far are you willing to go for your self interests?  At the expense of others?  I discovered sadly that is the enviornment I work in. 
     And spring is almost, the key word is almost, here.  I just received some pictures of one of my favorite places, the Priorat in its moment of glory with almond trees in bloom.  When I lived in Spain, I walked in the groves of pink and white flowers and believed there was a god or goddess, a divinity that brought such beauty.

Almond Spring

For just 2 weeks
of the year,
or earlier now,
with just the precise
rise of degree,
one tree sends
the message,
passing from grove
to grove.
I burst into flower.
Blossoms, white and pink
scatter below
and float high above.
The black of my trunk,
dances beneath.
Molecules of heavy scent
honey sweet,
draw bees and bugs and birds
through me.