Sun and Rain

I woke up feeling
Like a piece of glass
While the sun casts blinding rays
Through the middle of my soul

I woke up feeling
Like a piece of glass
Ground down into tiny shards
That dazzle the eyes unpredictably
In the glaring sun

I woke up
With an awful taste in my mouth

I woke up
With clothes like sandpaper on my skin

I woke up most of all
Knowing something was gone
That I couldn’t replace
That I couldn’t even remember

When I was a child
I thought myself a monster
When I couldn’t cry
When I should have been crying

I used to lick my hands
Spread the spit over my face
And make sobbing noises
Then feel even more a monster
Because they were only fake tears

I’d feel so exposed
Just the way I do now
Like the piece of ground-up glass
In the sun

Even though I’m alone
And no one can see me
I feel transparent
I feel overrun

Sometimes when people cry
They say “It’s raining on my face”

I think it’s raining 
Deep down in my soul
Where nobody can see
And there’s no path
From the rain 
To my eyes

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My Father’s Beard (RIP Ronald Baggs, 1941-2014)

when I was a child
I played with my father’s beard
sitting in his lap

when he was dying
they cut off part off his beard
to mail it to me

I would cry except
all my tears are locked inside
they cannot come out

some things are too hard for tears
some things turn my face to stone
some things make me ache to cry
some things make me ache and ache
no matter what, tears don’t come 

Visiting Your Grave

I may never see your grave in person
But I will be there every day
That’s a promise I can keep
Every night before I sleep
As I travel to the place where you’ll lay

I will be the rain that falls on your grave
I will be the wind in the trees in the graveyard
I will be the soil that grows the plants
I will be the plants that grow from you
I will be the sky that shelters the earth
I will be the earth lying under the sky
I will be the sun shining down on the trees
I will be the trees growing over the graves
I will be the needles and leaves that fall from the trees
And carpet the ground where you lay

So don’t fear that I will never visit
I will be with you every day
I’ll be the rain and the wind
And the sun and the stars
And the earth made into clay
I will see you from above
I will see you from below
I will see you from without
I will see you from within
And if you want my flowers
Just look for the weeds
Growing at the base of your grave

The graveyard in the woods.

The graveyard in the woods.

The graveyard in the woods.

The graveyard in the woods.

The graveyard in the woods.

The graveyard in the woods.

[This is not the poem I’d been working on.  It just came out, rather quickly, all on its own.  Almost too fast to write down properly.  These pictures are the actual graveyard my father has picked for when he dies, and he has also picked out a beautiful plain pine coffin.  He loves how peaceful this tiny graveyard in the middle of the forest is.  I believe it suits him perfectly.  I will miss him terribly, but I feel better knowing his body will be laid to rest in such a wonderful place.]

Don’t ask, I can’t tell, I can’t even explain. (2012)

She skated towards me wearing a red winter scarf. My feet were frozen to the ground. She waved her scarf in the air from a distance. It was the only thing with color in sight. Then it flew through the air and landed in my hands.

I clutched the scarf tight. I didn’t see but felt her fall. I didn’t see but felt life struggle to maintain itself, and fail. I didn’t understand. I never understood. I couldn’t make sense of anything anymore.

I never let go of the scarf. I unzipped myself and wrapped it around my heart. To keep peverything warm when nothing was certain. And then I cried until I thought I would never stop.

And I’ve tried to hide what is gone. But I’m not sure if it fools anyone. There are places we used to go, things I used to do, and they seem as dead as she is. Only sometimes I feel something squeeze my heart. And things pop into focus once again, in color.

I can’t tell you all of my wishes, because they are all in code. I can’t tell you what I can’t do anymore. It’s just one more room in the building, left blank and unexplored. I wish I was known for who I was and not for what I did. I can’t tell you what I’ve lost or what I’ve gained.

I can still see more than people want for me to see. I can still feel things deeper than people expect. What I can’t understand, I still can’t understand, only more. I still want things that can’t be named. I still can’t tell you any other way than this here, right now. What stays, what shifts, what’s changed.

If you wanted something different, I can’t help it. This is what you get. If you don’t understand, maybe it’s not here for understanding. I’m just exhausted, and didn’t have the energy to tell you the normal way. So I took what I had and I went where I could. And this is what you get.

Don’t tell me what I should have said. Chances are, I couldn’t. This is brain damage we’re talking about. It isn’t convenient. It doesn’t instantly vanish. If I could only tell you a tenth of it.

It’s hard to look around and see that nearly everything I used to pay attention to, is impossible to understand. It’s hard to know I can’t say anything unless it follows a particular pattern, like this does. I couldn’t say this part without all the rest before it. All the rest. Not something else. Something acceptable.

I’m scared and I couldn’t tell you why. It’s winter and the wind is blowing hair in my face. I’m glad I have the scarf around my heart. Otherwise I’d get lost in all the snow. Everything used to be familiar. Now there’s so much snow I can’t identify anything. Or not much of anything.

Please, something be familiar. Something be unfrozen. Something be other than white. I feel tiny, and I’m shaking, and I don’t remember anything. Not what I just said, not that you’re alive. In here, I don’t know you. I don’t know me. I don’t know anything.

But it always fades back. And there’s always more. And I always find myself writing this. To you. To who? To me. To they. I don’t know. All I know is I couldn’t have written this any other way. And maybe someone can even figure out what I meant. Because it’s in there. If you look in the right places, and with the right eye for the reality of one experience or another.

I am through, so I hope, sitting up all night with neon pink insects eating my eyelashes. Lying in a sunlit room with parts of me flying into the sky and back again. Night after night trying to avoid being flattened into a grid pattern and dissolved. In lots of pain. With lots of nausea. And I hope never to visit that realm again. A lioness carried me out.

Not that anyone noticed. They come in and change your IV bag and the hours between are left for you to lie still and drift into bizarre hallucinatory worlds that always have an undercurrent of hell on earth to them. They don’t check you for it. That’d take time. So of course they’re blindsided by my paranoia and then, after that was gone, sliding into the blank white snow everywhere. They only noticed what affected them.

I’m out. But it’s not over. And I wish I could tell you the things I can’t say or understand. But they’re just lost. And I get scared if they’re ever coming back. And this was the only way to tell you. So don’t ask it to be less roundabout or full of things that didn’t literally happen. Because right now that’s one thing I can’t do, can’t do at all. Don’t call this creative writing it’s the only damn writing I have at all this moment. And what I’ve done hurts like blinding colors in my eyes instead of a scarf warming my heart. If she’s dead or asleep, I can’t tell you, don’t know, but it hurts.

Which conversations will I regret not having, the most?

I often have things I want to tell people
And then when the person comes around
The subject has fled my mind

“If it’s important, it’ll come back to you”
And it does come back
But only when I’m alone again

“Write a note, then you’ll remember”
But that requires remembering
To write notes and to read them

Eventually, eventually, I remember
I remember at the right time
And I tell them what I wanted to say

It could be a little funny thing that happened
It could be an important personal reminiscence
It could be something beautiful I wanted to share

What scares me is you’re dying now

What if you die
Before I remember
All the things
I want to tell you?

What if you die
Before I remember
All the things
I want to ask you?

You have so much knowledge stored up
Not just idea-knowledge, practical knowledge
Knowledge of how things used to be
Knowledge of how to do things
And I don’t even know the right questions

You have layer after layer
Of beautiful memories
Of places like the Sierras
And the redwoods
And other places
That make people gasp or cry
From sheer beauty

And I know that, like me,
You store sensory memories
With many layers
Until they are so thick with beauty
You could burst

And all of that will be gone when you die
And how will I share those things with you?
And what if there’s something I wanted to say
And I don’t remember it until you’re dead?
Will it matter so much, that I never forget?
Will it matter so much, that it always haunts me?
Or will the only thing that matters
Be whether I said “I love you” enough?

I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you

I love you —
I could say it a hundred times
It would never be enough

Where Winter Goes

I am at the tip of the icicle
Melting away
I am at the bank of a snow burst
Blinding you in the sun

And the sun it says wait for me
Meet me at summer

I laugh in its face
And I run far away, off to cry

Because summer is
Where winter goes to die

And I am the winter’s ice crystals
And I am the spirit of snow
Anything winter, this part of the world
That’s where I’m bound to go

And summer is
Where winter goes to die
I have to laugh at your invitation
Or surely I could only cry

I’m the frost on the grass
But there’s less of me now
The twigs are starting to bloom
There’s hail in the sky
Oh I’ve dwindled, not died
But the birds they are coming back soon
And the ice crystals form a halo
Around the moon

Eighteen-hundred-and-froze-to-death
Is a year you hear a lot about
Around these parts
But it hasn’t happened since
And in my heart of hearts
I know I can’t hope
For a year-long winter

It’s been two hundred years
May be two hundred longer still
Meanwhile I can only
Hold on to the remnants of my chill

And my frost is melting, my love
My frost is melting
There’s nothing we can do
The frost is gone
And that separates me from you