What Does The Giraffe Say?

Since Ian turned 16 on 11/27/17, thought I’d brighten things up my drawing my favorite creature (a giraffe), and that little bird (aka, dodomommy).

Enjoy. As e.e. cummings wrote: it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

Forsythia in flower, November 27, 2017

Or as Mother Nature has long told us, expect the unexpected. It may be a tiny beauty, or something terrible. Be glad that you are above ground.¥

 

 

Tags: birthday, giraffe, dodomommy, forsythia, November, quotatons, e.e. cummings, poetry, artwork

Wild-Eyed Poets and Basketball Stars

My father is a lifelong “wild-eyed sports fan.” A native Washingtonian, his childhood revolved around the Senators. One year, he bolted across home plate to shake Roy Sievers’ hand as Sievers crossed home plate after scoring a walk-off home run for the Washington Senators.

I’ve written a few short articles in The Washington Post about Dad’s near-legendary sports-triumphs: the time he sneaked into the White House, along with the Championship Washington Bullets, and had hot dogs with First Lady Rosalynn Carter. His longing to see his beloved Nationals take a pennant, or the World Series continues to keep him moving.

And there is the love he and my sister and I have for going to  Bruce Springsteen shows. Even Dad stands for the legendary encores, and the lights-up tent-revival sing-along of Born to Run and Thunder Road.

A bookworm, too, in his retirement, Dad has developed a callous on his elbow where it rests on his favorite reading perch, the porch swing of his house. Because I am a writer, he has always passed along must-read books and suggested writers.

For years, he has plied me with dog-eared copies of Sports Illustrated as proof that the greatest writers in any medium are sportswriters (my favorites include George Plimpton and his Miami Notebooks and just about anything by  Frank Deford).   Like Dad, I’m sure that at the top of their game, sportswriters are our true poets and storytellers–not, by the way, content creators.

The most recent addition to that list may be new-to-me novelist and sportswriter, Jack McCallum. His Summer 2017 profile of Tom Meschery, poet, teacher, and former NBA star. Check out Meschery’s blog on sports, literature, and news. But first, grab SI, find a porch or imagine one, and swing for a moment as you read.

Dreaming of Margaret

There are no ghosts for me to fear.
When you arrive here, mid-dream, post-
midnight, you appear whole and rested,
your mind ready and quick as ever.
We get on with things.

You are dressed in our favorite shade
of purple–you were the only grown-up
who dared love such color in my Seventies
childhood of mustard and green. I wanted
to be just like you: confident enough
of what I could do to do it.

Tonight, you must be near, reminding
me of things I have forgotten.
Just one more time, we stand side
by side and cheer our candidates
and make poor jokes. We walk
arm in arm, to New York City

and a theatre. Your diamond smile,
your perfect hair. The best day
I’ve had all year. Then the dog

barks and the sun snaps
through the blinds. To find
you, I see, I need only
close my eyes.

 

on a wing and a prayer, 1

JUST BEYOND THE GARDEN GATE

I ate that apple, whole. I spit
its tiny black seeds into my hands.
Later, I’ll plant them to see
what clay makes, other than that
creature who found me here, blaming
me for that ache in his side, and a chunk
missing from the apple in his hand.

FullSizeRender (1)

No one said Paradise would be easy,
or that a bed of roses—I’m talking thorns, hon—
is a place I’d ever lay my head.

Adam is off, shaking his fist at me
and pleading with the clouds. I will not
let him drag me down,, all that anger
and finger-pointing. Who has time?

O! This sweet apple is so filling,
its skin so red and unblemished.
O! That satisfying crunch every bite
I take! That hard white center
is irresistible. For all the trouble
it has caused, I am savoring
every morsel. It is so ripe,
my lips run with juice.

key words: poetry, Janice Lynch Schuster, Eve, Garden of Eden, apples

ANGELS PASSING TIME

for Meme, 1920-2015

Birds flew, like checkmarks in the sky
marking off the clouds. Where I stand,
I can close one eye and squint.
I find your face, drifting
in the light. Birds travel
so quickly and far, to a place
I can only imagine, not know.

how her garden grew

Where I stand in the snow
it is cold. We once stood here,
together, eyes lifted to the sky
as it darkened for a storm.
You told me I had nothing to fear,
you were near and would not leave me.

Anyway, you added, thunder is only angels
bowling, and lightning, the devil’s anger.
He is a poor sport, you said.
And what about the rain, I demanded.
“Just rain,” you said,
so much magic could only go so far.

Have faith, you told me,
though you cannot see.
We were on a balcony
full of last summer’s flowers,
their dried heads nodding
in the wind.

 

KEY WORDS:  grandmother, heaven, faith, angels, poetry

Orders

what did I mean to save
that day I stood pounding
your chest, fired by urgency
that was not love
but habit
a current that ran once?
I felt it for years
even after it had stopped
and you could not deliver

what did I hope would return
to life that night
with my desperate pleas
my counted breaths
my lips pressed hard
to yours, together

what was left
in the cold spaces
between us, the disruption
like Arctic air pushed south
to Tampa. We were tangled
up in wires

if only I had shut off
that device, the one that jolts
me awake lonely nights
when I reach across a smooth sheet
for your rough hand
closed into a fist
you will never open

key words: DNR, love, grief, poetry, Janice Lynch Schusterleaves on fire

Steel

dancing buddha

I was forged by desire,
hot, molten, flaming
that lovers stoked
at their own risk.

They melted into me.
I was hammered
by love, reduced
by its aftermath.

My leaden feet lifted
by force of will,
I learned to dance
with monkeys
and their crosses
and that weight
on my back.

What else could we do?

When nothing ever happened
on time, when doors slammed
with us behind them,
when we witnessed
everything
but saw nothing,
when we prayed for help,
and were left to ourselves?

Weren’t we all steeled
by love, etched on singular
faces, long after the bodies
have gone to dust?

What wouldn’t we try
to be so warm
again, to strike
over and over,
casting our mistakes
without regret?

key words: Janice Lynch Schuster, poetry

What Fire Was Like

 

 

leaves on fire

What we needed, we did not want.
What we wanted, we did not need.
Whatever safety I sought in you
Did not exist there.

We were in a cold room, two sticks
for hearts. When they rubbed
together, some kind of furious dance,
a spark, ignited the bed,
set the house on fire.

There is no joy in melting
into the other. No self in the end,
no sense of what made
us whole—or what we made.

The skeleton frame of the house
stood still, smoldering and terrible,
while we watched, our hands seared
by nothing we could touch.

key words: Janice Lynch Schuster, poetry, divorce

Supermoon, for Joyce

The air is so heavy
Even the well notice the labor
of the lungs, and all we take
for granted, that our machines
in their molecular perfection might run
forever. Cicadas’ summer roar
reminds us of forces
beyond our control.

And yet, we charge–the heat,
still humidity, moisture
where oxygen cannot find release.

We go to the river, chasing breezes
and a supermoon. A trick of the eye
and perspective, she is ready
to swallow us whole.

A trompe l’oeil, you grab her
in one hand, offer me this gift
of levity and light, a chance
to breathe easy
in the night’s embrace.

 

Holding the moon