Crooked Paintings

Her scissors slant and slide
across raw canvas
as an ice skater glides
across a winter's pond.
Her strokes
are never straight.

Life, she says,
is not a square, nor a rectangle,
should not have sharp edges,
(well maybe sometimes).
She completes her cutting with a rip
both hands fly free
in opposite directions.

She remembers
in adolescence
on a visit to her relatives
pain crawled up her legs like snakes
while voices shot darts in her mind,
and something in her grew
far away
towards where only branches
of the tallest tree could reach.

Far away
crooked paintings hang like banners,
each one a world in itself,
a world she has inhabited,
and as she says goodbye
the branches of her twisted spine unfurl
with clasped hands
spun together like gold.



Dear Surgeon


Dear Surgeon
Please make me beautiful
and young.
Take away the hanging skin
pull my jaw tight
so I will be silent
and vigilant.
Lift me up
above myself:
whatever she is,
turn her over and upside down
like the last bit of honey in the jar
whatever she is not,
shake her up before drinking
whatever she wished for
that has not appeared
light the candle
and please
while you're at it
take away the pain.

Erase the years of longing.
Erase the years of not believing.
Erase the barren
long walks of searching
and please replace the light bulbs
in those endless dark dream corridors.
Erase memory,
empty space,
bitter kisses
and don't forget
your hands;
stitch back
soul
and truth.



At The Edge for Antoni Tapies


I'm best when the sun goes down
When there's nothing left
my arms rise in the air
remembering themselves. I feel
their weight and how they've been
held back. Then the ribs lift,
offering the heart to heaven.
The spine too considers its pride
keeping everything together. And now
rivers of blood descend thighs, knees, calves
and feet touching earth.


What was pain may be
red or even white.
What was remorse
may be black, brown or even
crimson.
What was left behind
may be blue or one line traveling
to a place without war.



The Cross for Antoni Tapies

The cross lay on its side
to take a nap - tired
of keeping itself up. It
dreamt it flew out
of the painting. With wings
it was free to go
anywhere, to become
a foot. But it didn't know
how to scratch
the itch
because it was only one foot.
Trying only dropped it
on its head. Ah
the foot, all it could do
was look up at the sky.
Clear beautiful blue sky.
Or keep its eyes closed
and listen
to the rain.



My Painting of The Mountain I Painted Over

On my walks toward the top
what remained -
my expose of broad bold
colorful strokes
curving up, around and
through the invisible,
I thought so clever then -
poems in a foreign tongue
that can't be translated word for word
or like those questions a child asks

Why does the mountain stand?

Does it stop to think
I am a mountain
and these are mine
to rule and abuse,
or does it say
let's go shopping
and buy things to make us happy?

Does the mountain dress up
in high heels
to go out for dinner,
or discriminate against
its visitors and say
no, you can't walk on me?

Walk, walk
the mountain has no shame
no remorse
not even one question
the mountain IS
and in the distance
clearly cut
hard lines,
the city
sparkled,
touched by cerulean.


Your Name Is


Your name is
a jewel
hidden in me.
Every time spoken
I get rich.

Your name is
a magic carpet I ride
when I'm lost in little places
that itch
or are wounded.

Your name is
fine wine
drunk from fine glass,
the sound of rain on the roof
kissing me good night.
I sleep better with its arms around me.

Your name is
more than God. More than
a name invented
by men in long white
beards, with a long line
of complaints,
all talking at once.

Your name is
a bridge over loneliness
running through my bloodstream,
an invited ghost
in silent rooms.
You are
messenger and light.



The Visit


I've been reading so much about God
that he came into my living room last night
and laid down on my couch with his feet up.
When I asked him about the TRUTH
he laughed
and took out pictures of his sons.
They were all women
with attachable beards.

Suddenly they appeared
and we drank from his palms
drunk with laughter
he came down
from his throne
and took off his disguise.



Shedding Skins

I

I once told Aaron that
I was like a snake
shedding skins,
getting closer to my essense.

He laughed and said
there would always be another
skin to shed.

II

Even before the stroke
my Mother
was tearing off her clothes
in bed.

After the stroke
left her right side paralyzed,
I'd find her stark
naked, pulling at her skin
as though it too was a layer of clothing
she wanted to rip off.

She didn't know why,
she said she was not hot
nor did she forget
I was her daughter
who played the piano,
or that all her money was gone.

III

Unconsciously
we undress for death
and leave nothing behind.