The Sweet and Low Down
Small gestures matter,
and I’m not talking about flipping someone
the bird. I got a note from the principal.
See I can spell that because some teacher
taught me the mnemonic, The principal is
my pal, and he is. He thanked me
in writing for my work with the teachers.
I came home and cleaned my house
lickety split. I was high on a small
gesture. I feel this way in the Midwest.
Last time I visited I was wandering
in the produce section of Hinky Dinky
or was it Piggly Wiggly—so corny out there.
And the clerk yelled, Hi, how are you?
I stepped back in a panic, thought
I was caught squeezing the melons.
But he was sincere. Day two in that market,
I knew the checkout girl’s name
and we exchanged some news of the day.
I know this will sound like some Feel-Good
New-Age advice, but why not smile at a stranger?
I did try that in the supermarket, here in NYC,
but the woman did not smile back,
did not say hello to my hello.
Oh well. I did not take it personally.
That’s the other thing that matters,
don’t take it personally.
No one is out to get you or me.
It’s a matter of being in the path
of hurricanes, earthquakes, the robber,
the suicide bomber, the terrorist.
I have myself panicked now.
My shoulders are up around my ears.
I am worried, not angry, but in need of one
small gesture. Thanks, I would love a cup of coffee,
yes, with one sweet and low.
On The High Seas
How do I tell you, Life,
I am tired of your stealing
my dreams, hopes, desires
as if they are loot you can haul away
and present to some other. Who the hell
is paying you anyway? You can’t fool
me. I know the patch over your eye,
The doo rag, the parrot that recites
Submit, submit…all lame tricks.
Your ship may sail in open seas,
above the law, but what if
I sneak aboard? I can do that.
Your men would freak out.
It’s bad luck to have a woman
on board. I’d wear some push-up
lacy bra, garters, black stockings,
some high heels for your high seas.
No doubt about my intentions.
You would all cower by the tall mast
and I would claim my dreams and desires,
showing you a thing or two, my Life, you.
One with Color
When I stare at Benjamin Moore color chips
I might as well be inverted
in a shoulder stand, humming ommm.
Something about the tone
of Lime Froth 2031-70
lifts my spirit.
I am serious. I like the gentleness
of froth on my walls but
Neon Celery wakes me up.
It’s crisp, flashy.
But if I stare at it without
the Lime Froth, I am in second grade
I must follow directions.
We had chanted We must skip a line
so many times I became hypnotized
(Nirvana even then)
and did not skip a line and erased,
and Joey, the kid who loved the Dodgers,
turned me in.
I cried and Nancy Budd said, “Don’t cry,”
and Sister Celia said, “You can go
to the water fountain.”
I still had to write
I must follow
directions. I needed
to be one with Neon Celery
but ached inside, always have
and always will, to be luscious
I taste those pies, see them
wobble on my plate,
With the right mix of key limes
and cream I could spend my life
tasting pies from Key Largo to Key West,
could fling my tired soul into
the high weeds of Spring
Meadow Green 2033-70,
I could chant ommm with no need to follow.
The Sacred Eye
Blessed be the cats who live in the rocks
along the Mediterranean,
who huddle, heads together,
a furry flower searching for the sun.
At night they retreat to the dark
caves along the Teyelet, curling
like one to pray to the moonlight.
who leave plates of water, cans of tuna,
food for cats to survive, breed.
Blessed be the Egyptian goddess,
Bast, body of a woman, head of a cat,
possessing a sacred eye,
giving birth to all the names for cat:
chat, cattus, gaous,
katt, katte, kitty, kitt...
May the sounds of cats cluster like moonlit shells
washed up from the sea.
May they howl for peace, paz, pace, freiden, shalom.
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