Hero

Look through crack
and you can see her,
a small brown bird-
nothing fancy – with an
insignificant chip
to make herself known.

Or perhaps you will see
the eye of a rail,
hiding in the rushes
or hear the whinny of a sora
in the wetlands,
letting you know
she is there –
but shyly.

She does not have the glamour
of daily bombast –
simply the effervescence of
doing right,
being true,
being there when
there is the only place to be.

And if someday the tread of swords
lies beneath the plowshares
you will know she has been here-
because as surely as the day
follows the night and
the people have dreams on
freedom’s highway,
She – my sister
and your sister too-
she is there she is there!
And we will miss her, yes,
that is true. But-
there she is
in the crack of history.

RIP Heather Heyer
8/14/2017

Water stories : an octet

1.

My grandfather slipped into silence
for several days at a time.
It was a family thing, you see,
my grandmother and her sons accepted
water from a stranger – he meant no harm.
Brother Harry from diphtheria went
to a grave in Wyandotte’s ground.
Willy he never knew nor do I know of
his death other than a headstone
covered in lichen -his name I found,
my search is done.

2.

A twin called Eugene also slipped
these earthly bounds when cholera
reached the town of Allen in 1884.
His brother James survived him only to
be struck down by scarlet fever.
Water from the well was drawn –
Was it murky? Did it leak?
my mother’s uncles moved on
before her father was born.

3.

Sweet Adaline and James called Mortimer,
Viola, Rosaltha. Amanda – these Tyler siblings
did pass away in the fall of 1841.
From Varick, New York the survivors of this fever
fled to southern Michigan.
Did water do it? No one knows
but guesses abound to what led
these children to early graves.
Sister Florence survived to give her granddaughter
her name.

4.

Peter Donnelly and Florence Stitt married
in the rectory of St. Anthony’s Church.
In February of 1918 a quarantine
was declared in Hillsdale.
Scarlet fever or some such disease
roamed the land and
so the church was closed.
Does water come into this story?
Well not as a cause of death.
They had a child named Mary
And thus I came to live.

5.

Lake Huron nearly claimed my mother –
a watery grave she avoided when
a boy of 14 held her to his boat.
He led her towards shore until she could stand –
unlike Patrick Cavan who slipped
into the Detroit River and drowned.
And I wash myself in daylight’s tears
questioning not the passing of stars.
Tears mean life and relief.

6.

The floods of mid-Michigan once
again in my lifetime-
the edge of the Tittabawassee breaks into
the Wildlife Drive, the Tridge, the Farmer’s Market.
Everything closed except to kayaks
and canoes.
1986 recalled and statistically
impossible to happen again before 2086.
This water soaked land
damns our numbers –
the impossible becomes the norm.

7.

And farmland in California
is parched as the drought reigns supreme.
Cucumbers, tomatoes, corn suck
the moisture through their roots,
stems are conduits drawing drops of moisture-
whatever fluid they can find.
Too much, too little, bacteria driven,
she heals she kills,
she heaves us into a quandary
as the glaciers melt and the oceans rise,
saltwater drenches shore after shore.

8.

In my youth grandfather and I
stepped into Lake Huron – my inland sea.
The water that surrounded us
caressed and comforted.
I never questioned this water –
A blanket of quiet cool to the touch,
wide and calm.
This water was like my grandfather –
never silent with me.

 

7/2017

and i sat watching

for a pot of gold
for a ripe tomato
for prince charming
for an end to loneliness
for a place of solitude
but i didn’t see anything
except for a cockroach
except for a broken promise
except for a worn out shoe
except for a paper chain
which is strung around my neck
and i let it hang
the vision of reality
in a lost world
just watching…

what i’d do

i’d do most things for you
i’d swim backstroke
through tidal waves pulling
me under the under toe
i’d do it yes

i’d trek upwards on ground
dirt bike paths
blinding my eyes that
sun is

but i’d do it

eroding my feet to stumps
crutching my way along
over there i’d go
yes
i’d die for you
you bet i would

but i won’t kill
not even for jesus

9-20-1980

I will not change

I will not change
I may get stouter,
shorter, grayer,
but I will not change.

I may move on
to other places,
situations, heartaches
and defeats,
but I will not change.

I may get lonely,
crossed and overlooked –
the snake may cross my path
dragging me down with him,
but I will not change.

Moodiness may haunt me,
surround me in my sleep,
cloud my waking hours –
the unicorn ever at my side but –
I will not change.

You can cut me,
beat me, desert me,
and take everything I have.

You can kill me.
But I will not change.

4/17/83

Saving the Kirtland

This is how it begins –
Flip lip lip-lip-tiptip-CHIDIP.
Intensify with vocal chords
that sweeten the ears
of that choosy ground nester
and a woman with binoculars
around her neck.

He perches on top of the world –
a little distant
but close enough to hear and see
and amaze the jack pines
that surround him.

Yes he can fly when I
merely walk.
His wings dart upon air
while I stumble along
paths and roadways,
some taken, some neglected.

We have different diets,
alternate breath,
chords that mesh with noise
from myself, ringing
from his beak.
Perhaps we vary by a molecule
or two.
Our DNA hedges on
iceberg or leaf.
We are life itself –
no coincidence from
where we came.

Swing of life
you exceed the circulation of branches.
When we save the Kirtland
we save ourselves.

6/2017

Blue

My blue is mute.
It sends anonymous postcards
through shivering knees,
hoarse lips.
Fancies whimsical parade
this showcase.
Only depth perception
acknowledges its existence.

Water

It is 60 percent of everything.
Living that is.
Each molecule needs it, breathes it,
dies
without it.

What comes easily is taken
for granted.
The sun rising,
the moon setting,
the earth spinning.

My clothes are clean.
This machine turns
and scrubs and toils
so I don’t have to.
Not so for the native lady
who walks from town to river
and spends her day not reading.

What comes easily is taken for granted.

My hands are washed
by a spigot that is never
dry.
This energy grinds on
and the cooking and cleaning
and eating and bathing
take up no time at all.
What comes easily
is taken for granted.

What we take for granted
Can be lost.
It is finite and precious
and life itself.
Walk against the tide
my son and it pushes you
back to where you started from.

6/2017

This nation of immigrants

In the hallowed halls of Washington
the quintessential American
traitor once was called.
That little war with Spain based
on lies about the Maine –
no Twain did not approve.

Aliens and sedition – we all from
this unceasing law
each immigrant from old
clobbered were yes –
by freedom’s bell.

the Irish from a famine soaked land fled –
resume the chant
“go home go home
you are not wanted here.”

The Jew from central Europe
did return from whence he came
to hangman’s noose –
he was not saved.
“Too many” we cried
We cannot let this boat
set at liberty’s pier.

Poor or bedraggled
Syrian or beaten
so not us
and yet so true.
Each new citizen
was never approved
whether language or hue
each difference we chew at –
Phew!

Cruelty you bend the spine,
avarice you break the heart,
beget conflict everlasting
while humanity departs.

6/2017

Make him go away

Make him go away!
This deep blue mourning
drags down the lids
of these frozen eyes.

Sweep it under – gone
like the geese of fall
no more to fly –
arrow formation.

Take my roses
for your own – steal them
leave the thorns be –
hind to sweat my blood.

Red river rushing
the stones and sand swept
away build else-
where – land to slumber.

1980s