Purple Balloon

This purple balloon
spit with wet lips
filled with hot air to maximum capacity
bulbous and breathtaking in the space it makes
and takes
without asking.

This purple balloon
tied with a string
straining toward the ceiling
wanting to touch the fluorescent light
just to see what happens.

This purple balloon
breeding more static
into electricity
causing gravity to rebel
in the rubbing hair of passerby
trailing its string from thing to thing
draping its arrogance
into the center of your attention
without thinking.

This papier mache
torn from pieces of infinite care
torn from pieces of wretched think
the fingers sure and staunch with destruction
jagged edges and smooth intermingle
inside the blue bowl soup.

Each slick piece
waxed to the balloon
spread with sticky adhesive
chunks of newsprint slathered like egg whites
onto the surface

Each slick piece born from honest work
painful missteps
creative choices
the words repeated on one strip full of step-by-step instruction
others experienced with time and influx
of crunchy expulsion

The blurring of paper into grey matter
the layering of life
work
missteps
choices
words
time

drying and curling into a new balloon-shaped being
in grateful preparation for the prick

of the needle.

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Like Breathing

the push is as important
as the pull

the exhale as vital
as the inhale

i learned today that the incoming tide moves air through the sand
pulling water in, moisturizing
luring, suffocating

and then in an instant, returns it
pushes back with force

exchanges water
with considerate inevitability
washing the sand with enough air
for bubbles

releasing the grip of water-filled lungs

and expelling it as an exhalation

like breathing.

Orion straddles the rooftops

The underside of night
and I am throwing away boxes
that held pieces of my old life

and there you are,
as I’m tiptoeing back from the dumpster
careful to hop over the puddles that gather
to the terra cotta steps that lead me to new.

You are straddling the rooftops
bringing to me a punchy light
watching me as I stare up into your vulnerability.

Now you are the action hero
sandwiched between two buildings
risking your life to save the victim

Now you are the kitchen maiden
holding up her skirts as she walks to the privy
squatting over dignity

Now you are the normal
the everyday warrior

toppled from your pedestal stamp on the sky
shoehorned into the sliver I can see.

Now you are again my Orion

a constant backdrop to my altars
a wink to the fathers of my youth

peeking in to check on me
and watching as I stare into my vulnerability.

Dear Sister, Part IV

Dear Sister,

She teaches me the meaning of poise
the open face and silent eyes
the smile, the purse, the reticent lips

She invites the silence in for tea
encourages me to fill the space between.

We leave out unnecessary ums and uhs
in favor of softer thoughts. She pulls them
like thread through a loom, and weaves her response

into the fabric of the moment.

I find myself blessing her delicate hand
in lieu of cursing this clumsy klutz
the goodness tangible in my patchwork prose

as it drapes around my shoulders.

Unspoken Altar

I’ve pulled from your memory before.

The underside of age weeping into a word pile,
and your image coined in repetition of a phrase I cannot remove
from my psyche.

Today is not a day for the belly of death,

I recall instead your birthday. One unfamiliar
to my word paintings, as this month is wont to do.

The overshadow of Christmas creating more obligation in these days
than it ever would in any other month.

I want to apologize to you for that.

The fault of family often lending itself to louder
the lack of “look at me” in your demeanor
has gone unnoticed by me too long.

The rustling of the plastic sack
where you often held the bounty of your trips
where my greedy child fingers grasped

and a singsong thank you volleyed half at your face

before I ran off, your smile reaching the small of my back
instead of my eyes.

I want to apologize to you for that.

Tomorrow will be the day before another obligatory holiday
but I am now smiling in secret with you
at the younger me we both knew.

I am not a surfer

I can feel the chill of the water
in the wind that sprays my hair

the wet sand puddled in places
picks up the paraffin in the sunset

the wink of old footprints
flush with footsteps untaken

the smooth belly of the sand ready for me to pat

I propel forward, the waves that chatter my teeth
inching closer to me, like a feral cat I want to pet

prancing one foot further each time
ready to be ransacked

and then they arrive,
beneath the postcard sunset and the
silhouette summer day swimming in my vision,

I see the surfers.

Expecting Baywatch, these boys slobber into the sea
one barely making waves
the other backwards and flapping like a drowning seal
these are the photographic evidence I need to know

I am not a surfer.

My brethren chainlinked against the seaweed, I cannot look away
expecting success, failure, death by shark, who knows?

I never thought before that surfers could teach me something new
show me on a platter a principle I’m likening to

it is not about being flashy on the board for all to see
it is not about still life adventure on a mailed piece of paper
it is not about escaping the mundane by tasting the tide

it is flapping in the undertow, crashing into other swimmers,
knocking your head sideways into the water
ingesting seaweed and measuring which way is up

it is walking right back into the deep crash of beachtime
it is a flashing mindpicture of yes
it is worth facing the undertow

it is knowing you are a surfer.

Motherf*cking Encouragement

Not going to let me stop
let me drop out of the moment
or cancel my subscription.
Not going to let me tear out the pages
give in to rages more spectacular
than not
Not going to tell me the answers
or dance around the cast
of characters you know I need to see
Not going to take away my direction
arrest my inflection of thought
or take my power from me,

are you?