Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Just a few years since 9-11,
it's all over the Internet, linking headlines, one after another
bodies stretched on a beach, washed back to shore,
the smell of thousands gone to heaven

as survivors sit inside a circle of grief for lost children and mothers,
fathers, holiday goers at peak-season with an ocean view,
indigenous peoples extinct below the ground cover,

while the war in the Middle East,
which has absorbed our world with its killing
continues to make a blood sacrifice
for some religious rant or right.

Nature has reclaimed her theatre.
Give succor to the living.

Sunday, December 26, 2004


I'm thinking you protected me, belched loud on a rock so I wouldn't notice how you couldn't dance the way I always wanted you. Our link together is billowing silk until it cuts

through the force of years as you got dragged up on a beach, while I was washed into the sea, and how we both missed each other. I'm thinking the computer keyboard are piano keys to a song I'm playing.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve 2004
Along the trail,
there's a sewing machine,
its bobbin a rusted minaret for sparrows.

I think the fairies were repairing
the world last night,
at least along Leona Canyon.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Looking Backward
Some people think a house is a castle,
but yours was a citadel
where you holed yourself off from the world,

watching tv at your desk in a bedroom
that really was a living room.
Some people think a house is a castle.

Each day you cursed the world in your room
allowing dawn no asylum through shut blinds,
where you holed yourself off from the world.

Moving from your desk to a computer desk,
inside a character who was king of them all.
Some people think a house is a castle.

Busy? You were dodging memories,
wrapped in the lineament of a child
where you holed yourself off from the world.

Yours, an inviolable space, a bubble
I, or strangers could rarely permeate, a place
where you holed yourself off from the world.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Offshore Spherific
She worked in a programming sphere
where the passage of conscience
made her think life was a reality show,
any day a contestant could go packing,
as judges reached the shoreline
the whole thing could blow up in her face.

Real problem: there was so little face-to-face
in the web sphere
where a straight line
had no up and no down and no conscience,
only for those who failed to go packing,
and no one was underwriting that one-hour show.

At least not immediately. The politicians talked a good show;
they looked her right in the face,
said jobs were in the mailroom packing,
and unless she played along with their surround sphere
by going offshore with her conscience,
she could forget everything, including a byline.

Not even the networks knew about wavy lines,
they didn't have enough imagination to show
a "crisis of conscience."
Like any sane person, she did an about face;
there was so much BS in the hemisphere,
now she's judging for herself who needs to go packing.

If she got the word to go pack,
it's because her signature wavered on the dotted line
where she'd rhapsodically doodled, entranced by the material sphere,
wanting to feed her hunger, so she could show
no hunger; no question, it was her face,
a credit card never had a conscience.

But it wasn't about conscience,
was it? And it wasn't about who was going packing.
That was a threat. As plain as her face,
as the nose on a fish who's just met a fishing line
and finally understands its own element; no show,
the real thing: just being tangled in her own perfect sphere.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Motion Tabled
I cook for the ghost crowd,
roast chicken, string beans,
white wine, wishing I'd gone
to bartender's school and learned
how to mix the right drink
so maybe I wouldn't
have fallen in love with you.

I did anyway, sipped whatever
you poured inside a goblet
with its woman's body for a handle,
a gift from the czar's table,
a toast for long life
on the eve of a wedding,
something in your family.

Or did you drug me,
slip a few red grains
lodged beneath your thumbnail
into my cup,
and I, who wanted more than anything
to live within your four walls,
pretended not to see?

My bones tell me you are happy somewhere.
What am I going to do with all this food?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

You know,
the girl who stays
near Eastmont Mall
because when her grandma,
who use to live up
the street from us
died, all the kids
but none of them
went to the County,
except the oldest
doing time
at a youth facility
in Fremont,
and Symaria,
who sees her Momma
every so so
along with
her two-year old brother,
that makes eight
boys in the family,
sucks her finger
all the time
come on, she's nine
years old like me,
just sucks
with her barrettes
even in hip-hop
class where you gotta be
doing something else
with your hands.
"You wanna know where is she?
--Sitting in front
of our TV set dreaming--"

saving up
all those stories,
some day Symaria's
gonna tell.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Public Discourse
Beethoven's 5th, ballgame cheers,
Doris Day's phone in the 50's,
ringing at the same time
from several street corners,
tucked in a purse, backpack, brown bag,
or held firmly between teeth,
bright Chesire Cat of a mini-kiosk
flipping into a street sign.

She calls from points unknown
to "come and get me,"
when coming and getting
don't know each other
from either direction,
the way a Lion King roars
at a stage puppet
with its head lopped off.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Ambassador's Message
Can it be possible
I've walked away from everyone
I've loved, when I thought
they were the ones who disappeared,
watched them
roll off time's edge,
calling myself "clean,"
an innocent, laughing
like a madwoman,
bloated with truth?

A father, mother.
Lovers gone. Now you.

Was it my solitary nature,
my need to sort out
what you said first
without a quick answer,
for recruiting you
into this hostile mess
as our silences glazed into years,
when I'm the one
who should've stayed put,
bathed your feet in pomegranate juice?

Can I answer this question?
Can a hostage speak freely?

One evening at summer's end,
you locked yourself out,
left your furniture
for someone else
to dust off with a wet cloth;
I, crouched ragged
in a dirt corner, knew
I couldn't save you.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

After Akhmatova
A cataract more like mist
forms on sliding doors
between a couch where I sit
surfing channels, and trees outside
rooted in a water table whose levels rise
before they recede
the way love has from me.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Don't Mind Us,
We're Just Here
to Identify Wildflowers

On the outskirts
of bitterroot
take the water route
to get funded
through a helping
of potatoes
pass the gravy
no room available
for an empire of oil?

No more openings
no more creeks
hail thunder
to the chieftain
on a bedroll
give me hummus
wild orchids
look like scrotums
pinkies on a pyre.

with a mask on
very scary
Tiger Lily
Peter Pannish
what a nebbish
tip-toe diplomacy
global warming
in a pot-stirring air.

I'm walking
in my diapers
I'm a baby
pampered tie-dye
bachelor buttons
in my sandy
vagina scratchy
going naked
want my bottle
suckers what a bunch.

I'm trailing
on the outskirts
decked in trillium
in delirium
jeans with lycra
counting pollsters
can't be possible
temperate weather
so dry them bones.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

To a Young Girl
Watch out for those run-amuck kind of boys
with frayed jeans turned
toward stone pebbled hands rising
from the bottom of kelp beds
who pull you down, down,
much taken with your song
flowing red flecked
inside molten granite;

be on the look-out should one of them
promise a recording contract for all times,
and study the way you kick up sand
along a foaming shell's edge,
so moved so much to place
both your song and stride
inside a cedar box no matter
how your pitch changes.

But speak as I will, a woman
who has loved deeply if not well,
I know none of this
can mean anything until a visitor
stands beneath an awning of love,
who trawls you inside a net
until murk conceals
any thought of your wildness.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Talking to Bob Blues
Today I went out for a stroll
behind the condos where I live,
along Leona Canyon Trail
down by the water that's a sieve.

Sugar-pie daddy, it's so long,
Sugar-pie honey, no more song.

For all my memories of you
that I wear like a crocheted wrap,
until I reach the bench where I
sit and talk of this one and that.

Sugar-pie daddy, it's so long,
Sugar-pie honey, no more song.

And why our love flowed around me
without my sensing its warm touch,
how you always stayed far away,
but said how you loved me so much.

Sugar-pie daddy, it's so long,
Sugar-pie honey, no more song.

Now you listen to my questions,
without getting pushed out of shape,
a leaf drops from a tree, twirling,
then another, again its mate.

Sugar-pie daddy, it's so long,
Sugar-pie honey, no more song.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The Baker
She kneads dough
from whatever's been

hanging around,
rolls out earth, fire, water, air

to the thickness of an eyelash
until the goop is more

or less uniform.

She's ready to bake cookies.

Today the shape of a circle
is her favorite.

She frames one out,
sprinkles a planet

with mountains,
those green trees.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A woman bound in black rags,
a burqa falls to mold and mulch.

She's hollowed over a single spark
inside the discolored sink of her hands.

Hers alone this splinter --
to stone with rocks, or feed with her breath?

Just a moment, please.
She's thinking.

Because she swore to keep the treaty,
even after her family disappeared

to a place she can't imagine,
her heart exiled within her chest.

She must allow the spark to burn.
And yet...

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Sing Song
When they hear you've died, even now,
so many people don't know what to say. I don't get it.
I thought death was a well-known thing
as compared to when my parents
stopped working. You'd think with AIDs,
the War in Iraq, and 9/11, word had gotten out.

If I were still a technical writer,
I'd put together an instruction manual for co-workers
who avert their eyes,
or tell me how they've sprained an ankle,
or wait for me to call and ask for help.
They are the rescuers.

But what can I tell my friends who stop by my desk
with their unsolicited gentleness,
explain to them how our rivers diverged,
even as I held you between my thighs,
rocked with the great mystery
of who you were?

It's the finality, the caesura
of our lives.
What's left is notation,
written on the face
of our children, the G clef
of how much we once loved each other.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Prayer for Tashlich
I cast my memories
to geese at Lake Merritt
so as they shit,
somewhere between sky and earth,
my Gemini, who had a heart like a volcano,
you will hear me.

I pray fogiveness
that I could not admit to myself
how much I loved you,
because it was opening a deep wound.

I pray forgiveness
that I could not admit to myself you were dying,
and was not there to shepherd you
through those burnt mountains.

I give thanks for the last joke
you left me with,
and hope you are singing
to a loft of children.

Love is what calls us into being.
Death calls us back.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

For My Husband, Robert Galitzen
The week you died my gas tank
never dipped below the half-way mark.
I kept driving and driving anywhere
to let in the fresh air.
I had a magic gas tank.

The week before you died
I saw babies asleep with chins on their necks
in strollers, angels of dimpled thighs,
and pigeons rose in spirals against
the rectangle of buildings,

and so I was caught off balance
when I found you in your bed,
eyes rolled back in your head,
arms stretched out as if to receive
the cold kiss of death without flinching.

I had a magic tank of gas
that took my car everywhere,
but not back to you.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Iphigenia at Lunch-time
I'm exiled in a country
between two great waters
where tornados churn houses
into oversized toothpicks, in a mall
where there use to grow corn.

Lunch-time I serve french fries,
wear a uniform that lets me
nod yes or no
without needing much else, but sometimes,
I disappear into my own language,

and thinking this way,
no one would know how my questions
prey upon my mind until they become gelatin,
my father and mother still in the old country,
whose shores I may not cross.

Achilles, my husband in make-believe,
I wanted you to grab the knife
from my father's hand and stop him
from etching my throat in sacrifice.
I had hoped you'd divine

what I could not ask -- to defy a nation
gathered on the beach for history's recital.
So what became of our bravery?
You killed in battle, and I,
pouring black oil upon the altar of a memory.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Porosity of the Styrofoam Man
We bleed
into each other's cell phones.

On the bus
your life follows me,

the same man
with a package in a plastic bag.

I hear about people
you're trying to escape,

the same ones
who’re coming over for dinner.

I hear about heart attacks
and nervous breakdowns

what your friend should of done
instead of opening his big boca.

I know where you'd really like to go
if you could get a day off,

instead you went shopping
with discount coupons.

“Deals mean long lines
and no parking spots,"

you advise, "which is why
I don't drive."

(I don’t know who
you’re talking to now),

nodding for me to take the styrofoam
& remove its plastic,

maybe you tell me
to hold the date,

I don't know
which one, or if this

is about concert tickets
my styrofoam man wants to buy,

while you or he
take(s) two blue pills

how he stayed up
all last night,

like a wheel balanced
on its chrome rim shining,

and I'm feeling you,
I'm feeling you right now.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Ludlow Massacre, 1914
Her name was Little Lucy, no connection to Lucille Ball,
but visitors at the Capitol Mall didn't need to know.

She worked the crowd, flashed her dimples,
wore smoke-soaked clothes, no shoes for her,

the only familiar thing, a hooded black sweat shirt
so she wouldn't look cold, although she was way past

feeling anything since iron rain had fallen
upon her family's tent in Ludlow, Colorado,

when everything she knew had soaked into the ground.
Now she was telling them how it was her birthday,

counted eight more of her at home, spoke their names,
how she lived on the wrong side of the monument,

didn't have a single present, no, not one.
She really didn't want their rings and bracelets.

It was a game she enjoyed playing,
to make people act like they cared for her.

Time to testify at hearings,
walk past lobbyists with American flags
pinned on woolen lapels, take a number,

sit down, and wait until called.
Betty's boy, because that's what people
always had called him when he was living

with Lucy at Ludlow, took a seat in the second row
next to the rest of the delegation, wondered
when he was going to find a playground.

He hadn't come all this way
to climb a bunch of granite.
Betty's boy remembered laughter coming through

the deep muffle. Because if there was one thing
he could do with his life, that was
to keep playing.

None of the chairman
for the President's Commission on Violence
had seen anything like them,
the way they took to the podium
as though they were in a bowling alley,
and they, the 10 Senators, pins.

"Must've taken a school bus
to get you here,"
said one of the members.

But it was clear by the way
the Senator bent into his microphone,
he saw trouble.

For we are not sons and daughters of the middle class
who go to summer camps and take tap-dance lessons.

Our last day here we waited for night.
Night finally came like a wanted child.

Give us a souvenir, a piece of blue sky,
to take back with us to where the tules grow,

where Ms. Universe has corn rows,
twists, and plants stars.

You think we are children.
But you do not know who we are.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Dusk at Canyon Oaks Drive Posted by Hello
Massacre at Ywahoo Falls
We're going to the white dome
where they've never seen us before,
dragging a sled of cardboard
with a potato, grandmother's picture
in a broken nickel frame.
We stream to the Capitol
from everywhere.

We are not sons and daughters of the middle class
who are trying to make ends meet.

Our ends
only know each other
from the same mass grave.

A girl from the crowd takes hold of a guitar
and tunes hundreds of years on it,
a dry scent of nasturtium and chicory
upon her fingers, sings of children
who gather one wave after another
cresting upon the stairway
of their representatives.

We have voices,
wrapped in government-issued wool blankets
as gray as your lined faces
to tell you
we are buried
at the bottom of a cave.

Come find us
in our game of hide and seek.

Find us
where we have been forced to go,
places that have made us into adults
before we could be children,

which is what one of the boys said
elbowing his way
to the Jefferson Memorial
before any of his pasty chums
could remove their hands
from their pockets,
not being use to pockets
except on such spectacular occasions.

Why, according to him,
it was his own idea
to come to the Capitol
since everyone was getting bored,
although he'd been exploring
the water table,
measuring the exchange rate
between bubbles and oxygen.

He might decide to become a fish.
There was no law against it.
At least, none he knew about,

which is why he first walked to the reflecting pool,
drawn to water,
the creepy feeling it gave him
each time he touched his face
and saw it fall apart
there at Ywahoo Falls
with War Woman Selu-Sa-tah,
Cornblossom whose silken tassels
turned Kentucky red
where 100 children
were squashed like nits.

He didn't remember details in any order.
Something about falling water.

thinking he was not born
to become a storage tank for memories.
He is.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

On the Way Home
Bouquets of red headlights explode in my face,
petals everywhere.

Monday, August 02, 2004

The Online Music We Make
It's the music we make using our words, how we sound to each other. The same way a choreographer can take a roomful of dancers standing before a wall of mirrors, and teach them all the same routine. But dancers move differently, and put something of their own bodies behind each step, the way they understand a movement, which allows us to know something of their personal expression.

So language too, when it's done up right, can become steps for our voices, without leading us to stumble. For listening and talking online is not equally as satisfying as watching a great performance. For not all partners are adept at language or can understand each other's music through a series of exchanged hints. At best, talking online can lead to dialog. At worst, to pointless one-liners that go no place, except bye-bye.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

The Book of Alien Dating:11
Maybe it makes more sense to date aliens, place a post somewhere on an intergalactic highway; I simply don't know how any two people contact each other over the Internet when all we have are words. Well, of course, there are audibles and signals and invitations to play chess, and buzzers to call a person to order themselves in front of the computer screen. But I long for a physical person.

Hopeless Alien: Hey, you out there. I saw your posting from the drawbridge.

Writergrll: You weren't too far away...

Hopeless Alien: Nah, I'm skimming in my saucer tonight. How are you doing?

Writergrll: I'm good. Good weekend.

Hopeless Alien: Nice to hear that. I was looking for your profile the other day up on the Moonsite, but lots of intergalactic weather kicking in and all I got was bounced

Writergrll: By the bouncer?

Hopeless Alien: He's not as big as he thinks he is.

Writergrll: FCOL. I thought you disappeared off the face or something. After I posted my picture I didn't hear from you. I thought it was something I didn't say.

Hopeless Alien. Not at all.

Writergrll: This endless chatter could go on forever.

Hopeless Alien. It does all over the universe. Now tell I a real alien conversing with you now or just the reflection of someone who arrived at this particular portal from some futuristic b-movie in time?

Writergrll: I'm totally overwhelmed, but I'm feeling undeveloped.

Hopeless Alien. Not by the look of things.

Writergrll: What things?

Hopeless Alien. Your breasts.

Writergrll. You mean you aliens go for breasts?

Hopeless Alien. C'mon. You must think I'm really strange.

Writergrll: Just different. But tell me. Are you a man or what?

Hopeless Alien. Not in terms of the typical species definition.

Writergrll: Oh brother.

Hopeless Alien. Not that either.

Writergrll: It's just a form of speech.

Hopeless Alien. Now you're getting warmer.
Elaine was Sick and We Couldn't Go to the Movies
A manicure with purple all-day sucker fingernails to Barnes and Noble for a copy of the 9/11 Commission Report in stacks on the front-door table (piles sounds like hemorrhoids but I'm keeping my fingers in everything these days) , to a nice steak for dinner with grilled onions and peppers, reading New Yorker magazines, Iraqi Poetry Today, and watching TV, a mixed media, a melange experience; sez Baghdad is a captive, forgotten

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Free Speech Zone
A free speech zone bounded
on three sides by a house, parking spot, and a sidewalk,
not very big, but it does the trick for now
say whatever you'd like to say and say it well

On three sides by a house, parking spot, and a sidewalk
without it getting back to people you use to work with,
say whatever you'd like to say and say it well
because truth throws a trip wire and makes it rain

Without it getting back to people you use to work with
who'll try to slip a pillow case over your head,
because truth throws a trip wire and makes it rain
far outside the free speech zone where people are dying.

Who will try to slip a pillow case over your head,
and make you look like some kind of a sleeping idiot on uppers
far outside the free speech zone where people are dying?
Step closer. Closer now.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Climbing Into the Attic,Year 2040
There's a parrot with a Barbie peg-leg... 

a PowerPoint slide show that turns into a mini-opera,
but only when you play it on a laptop, 
which is why everyone wants one,
at least everyone who lives in this house.

Oh, Grandaddy. Play it on a laptop.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

This is so stupid
someone has sent me an email (tralatrala) and he sounds like the kind of person I'd like to meet (right age, size, an involved father, with the community), but I haven't heard from him all weekend after that first contact I want to hear find out more about who he is even if we don't become special friends there's something about discovering another life's trajectory  (wuz it something I said)?

Saturday, July 17, 2004

The Book of Online Dating: 9
What do people mean by chemistry anyhow? Is that a code word for, "Do you think you could go to bed with me?" Or does it mean something more like do get goose bumps when you see me?  Basically, are we talking about pherenomes here?
I guess everyone has their own definition of chemisty and the trick is in finding two people who are on that same wavelength. But how will I even know when I'm in the presence of a similar pherenome type of guy? I once thought I did, and nearly ran my car into the parking lot fence if I happened to see a certain someone walk in front of me to get his coffee from the local java hut.  
I was so emboldened that I even invited him out to coffee which he agreed to do at some appointed time when he was able to  "get his head above water." As far as I know, his head is still submerged, or perhaps it is simply busy doing something else. So much for chemistry. But I do know the trick is that two people must both be experiencing raging hormones at the same time, which is the beauty of online dating.   
For in this world, unlike the more shadowy sinister one out there, we have all boldly stated as we walk through the registration door, "I am available." 
However, the next part is more difficult. It requires sorting through thousands of profiles and becoming clever with search criteria and actually connecting with someone to arrive at the place where it's possible to even get a chemistry reaction, reverse engineering if you will, from the general run-of-the-mill score. So by the time we get that first hit, it's possible to really know something about someone so that everything falls into place.  Or am I just dreaming?
Quiet out there.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Book of Online Dating: 8
We spent several hours emptying the contents of our cups.

"I don't want to talk about my personal relationship," he said.

"I didn't ask you to."    
"I really like living by myself." He sounded like he was trying too hard to convince himself, and went on to describe his current difficulties. 

Once we had emptied our cups and recounted our stories, we left the caffeine haze of Peet's to find our cars. He seemed like he was still sorting everything out, and wanted a friend around to help ease the pain.
In a few days I received an email asking me if I thought we had chemistry. Chemisty? How about something to say to each other?   
Next time before I agree to meet a guy, I'm going to email him a lot first. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Book of Online Dating: 7
"A latte," I said.

TigerTailwas more genuine than self-conscious, something which I liked. However, he did seem a bit faded from his online picture by about five to 10 years, the hair more grey than sandy, the jaw more jowl, and he definitely looked thick, but it wasn't in a heavy or a stocky way thick, it was more how a magnet collects metal filings around its middle because it hasn't lost its charge.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Book of Online Dating: 6
"Excuse me," I replied, and took a quick step backward to the edges of the terracotta tile where I looked at a group of pictures in black frames. They were all of architectural structures, steel beams heaped in various arrangements like pick-up sticks. The place was noisy with people putting in their order for some form of coffee.

Okay, so this wasn't this guy. He'd given me a funny look. I wondered what TigerTail101 would look like. He had described his body type as "thick" and I wasn't sure how that differed from "a few extra pounds."

I waited to make my connection, on the look-out for someone I knew from a 2x3 inch picture. This is really ridiculous, I thought,  how this online dating thing is making me put aside my notion of romantic love. Maybe that's something reserved for younger people, I sighed , whereas online dating services are like a Sears catalog of potential fits, narrowed down to a search criteria.
"Black pumps, half-inch heel. Actually, I really like those lime green numbers. They'll go with my new dress."
This was matchmaking. In my Internet reading, I've heard that in some parts of the Muslim world, Taliban aside, people do their spouse-hunting online and look at profiles not only of potential marriage partners, but also of their parents.

But how can we possibly do this through words? What about that certain je ne c'est quoi -- a downward cast of the eyes, for example, that makes a person irresistible? Or the way somebody laughs that makes you open up inside with endless blue sky?

Tell me, are education, income-level, and religion fundamentals that must first be acknowledged before any real dialog can happen? And how can you even know what the fundamentals are if you are a young person living in a Westernized country where those kinds of definitions tend to be so much more fluid? What is the difference between what people think they want at a certain age, and what we later come to find out we really need?

"You writergrll?" this man asked me. He spun me around and gave me a hug. "What'll you have?"

Monday, July 12, 2004

The Book of Online Dating: 5
"No," he said.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Book of Online Dating: 4
"Didn't I tell you that I had a thing for serial killers?" I wrote to an online fellow traveler after he suggested that we continue an email exchange to make sure that neither of us were serial killers, or live dangerously and get together at some appointed place for coffee.

After hanging out at work eight hours a day with transportation planners, and then going home to listen to my daughter's hip-hop music, I needed a break. I opted for up close and personal.

We arranged to rendezvous at Peet's in Berkeley's Fourth Street district, an easy off ramp from the freeway, plus there was available parking.

In the early sixties, Peet's had seceded from the growing Starbuck's coffee machine to develop its own center of artisan coffee and teas in Berkeley. Fourth Street is one of Peet's newer Berkeley satellite outposts with umbrella-shaded tables outside the actual store. Up and down the street were an assortment of hip retailers. I took a slow stroll looking through the windows until I spotted Peets 100 yards ahead, just as I was tucking a $20 dollar bill into my wallet.

For I had realized on the way to our meeting point that I had no money, and I thought it was bad karma to rely upon tigertail101, for that was my date's handle, to offer to buy me a cup. So first I found an ATM machine and stepped up to its stylish mustard-colored window. I knew that if my date didn't make that initial offering to buy me a cup, I'd think he was stingy. But on the other hand, I wouldn't offer to buy him a cup because that would smack of feminist baggage, which I'd already checked at the car door.

I looked to see if I could match a thumbnail with a face. I saw no likely suspects. But there was someone who'd just entered the area, which was noisy with rattling cups and the hiss of espresso machines. He was looking around, and he was cute.

"Do the words serial killer mean anything to you?" I asked.

The Book of Online Dating: 3
It was a stern letter telling me that my picture had been rejected.

It was more than I could handle. I'd been rejected by some anonymous photo police. For several months, I stayed away from the online service. In fact, I resisted the temptation to go online, and instead frequented coffee bars, attended poetry readings, and watched all the movies in my NetFlix queue. I cleaned house, began to lift the burners of my stove and visited the crud that grew beneath them with soap and water, emptied closets and drove to Goodwill with a box of offerings. I even got a pedicure and watched "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" with a newfound appreciation for spa treatments.

Finally, I snapped out of it and opened a message from my sister who had mailed me an electronic album. I was holding her new grandchild from a recent visit, and decided this was a wholesome picture. But surely, no one would think this was my grandbaby? I decided to excise Zachary with Photoshop's handy cropping tools.

What was left of me was a smiling face. I posted my picture.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

The Book of Online Dating: 2
Speaking of photographs. I'd like to speak about them for the moment.

I went through my collection trying to decide which one to use that would tantalize the troops into thinking I was a hot number. But that really wasn't my goal, I asked myself, now was it? Suddenly, I was filled with doubts and almost self-loathing should I find myself anytime soon in Las Vegas.

I clicked open my stock of jpegs. This particular one of me lying on a tattoo parlor bench was going to give the wrong impression, not that I knew what the right impression was, but certainly not one of a single rose curling up the middle of my lumbar region. It revealed a lot more than I thought was appropriate, particularly with a skimpy white towel draped across my ample behind. Another more recent photo showed me in full dress attire but I was standing before the entrance to a Howard Johnson's Motel, and I didn't want to communicate a certain flighty disposition.

This was about forming new and meaningful relationships, I waffled again. I knew I wasn't going to be able to do this. Finally I located my courage at the bottom of a circular file, in addition to a rather nondescript photo of myself gazing at a disappearing point beyond the camera's frame. Actually, I was looking at my friend who was waving her hand at me and saying, "Smile, will ya!"

I could get the photo digitized, I conjectured, "That should take me at least another day. Maybe two if I'm lucky." But then in a sudden moment of abandon, I posted the photo of myself on the tattoo table. I decided it showed I was daring.

The next day I received my first communication from the service.

Friday, July 09, 2004

The Book of Online Dating
The last thumbnail I dated looked like a frog. But who minds a frog when after 20 years I'd been married to a coyote? Frogs have the potential of becoming princes, once a person overcomes their initial adversion to them, while coyotes just howl at you every night.

My frog did not become a prince, although there is a good possibility he may yet become another's. While our time together lasted for but a brief eight months, we did manage to help each other get through the initial downslide of mutual relationships, he from some psycho, and I from a husband who loved me in all the wrong ways, at least to my way of loving. But what did I expect? At the bottom of a slippery slope is just a bunch of mud.

So after taking yet another oath of celibacy not that I'd ever broken it, I pushed aside my membership from the online dating world. Instead, I decided to meet people in the old-fashioned way, that is, in real life. Once I made this decision, I knew things would really start happening for me; I'd begin bumping into potential dating partners in the elevator, on the street, standing just behind me in line for coffee. It was simple, just a question of belief, might I go so far as to call it faith. My desire and openness for a healthy relationship would simply translate into other areas of my life, which is why after several months, I found myself signing up for another dating service. Only this time, I didn't hurry.

Now before I typed the numbers of my credit card and pressed the Return button, I began to hone my profile. Call it a marketing resume, a single point of contact that could make or break my abililty to realize a social life.

"Gorgeous brunnette with a figure you could die for, at least I do several times a week in the gym," I began, "is fluent in several tongues in several colors that she swaps out for different occasions, is looking to meet someone who enjoys watching tomatoes grow at the Alameda County Fair."

"That should do it," I said to myself, and posted my erstwhile notice with a flourish of a keystroke. I wasn't a paying member yet. My half-baked profile would come up, of course, in searches and I could even send an initial icebreaker with some canned expression of interest like "Hello, there tiger," or "You're an Errol Drool and a Half;" but I couldn't receive email and my description was floating around in the electronic ether without a photograph, which nine out of 10 times is an admission of some kind of guilt.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

My father rode buses in the Civil Rights Movement,
Atlanta Department stores dropping to sleep on people's
couches, rolling up his change of clothes
inside a paper bag, his grab bag, he said.

He told me stories, how the CIA followed King
from airport to hotel room,
how back in those days,
people believed in doing things like the Panthers

who fed kids breakfast,
how my father spent the better part
of a decade demonstrating against the War
in Vietnam, telling them hell, no, we won't go.

He'd grab me by a belt loop,
pull me into the rib of his corduroy
pants saying, "now don't rush outta here, son,
without remembering."

On that particular day I was moving out,
didn't need to be a non-paying guest
beneath his roof. "I have to go," I said,
and stubbed the gravel with my toe

when he checked to make sure
I hadn't left anything behind,
then all hell broke loose as if I hadn't already
heard it a 100 times before.

"That's great, Dad,
but who's going to tell a Palestinian
kid not to blow himself up because his life
means something?"

All he could do as I slammed the car door
and backed out of the driveway,
was to salute me with his chin.
"You will," he said.

Change your direction. Come here.
Be as a goat upon a petri dish and develop new tastes.
Unwind from today's to-do lists. Stream like a dervish.
You are the streamer. Drink tea with a snippet of fresh mint.
Come to this place, my hand extended in greeting.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The last day of June. I want to say something. What's there to say? Really?

Monday, June 21, 2004

Cell Phone Poem
Waiters are bringing wine to the table
Chardonnay - the house
we'll be leaving in a half hour

here they come
did you talk to the realtor
about closing costs?

I can see grass out the window
sprouting over my parent's graves
it's where last time

my friend's test was positive
the cancer is malignant
she wants to lop them both off.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

To hear the trees tell it
would be in the rustle,
rustle in each breeze
with new growth at its heart.

To hear the birds sing it
would be a cry after dinner,
a canyon born
into purple.

To hear my love say it
would be a whole world
fogged in devices,
cleared at its breath.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Was it love?
You gave meaning to her life,
and she took that away from yours.

About a poetry coordinator sitting beneath an umbrella
who reports so and so
is booking readings all over town
now that she's screwing your know who.

About an editor who thinks she's single
because her husband has gone
on a business trip to Italy for two weeks
while she stays home with her son.

About a manager cut and pasting grants
for a million dollar project into a Word document
who's pissed his boss doesn't know
the first thing about leadership.

About the head of armed forces in Falluja
who said Abu Ghaib happened
because an enlistee tucked his brains
up a black hood.

About the Israeli government who thinks
Palestinians are terrorists
who should go back to where they came from
or get pushed back into the sea.

About Palestinians who said
Israelis see history with one eye
and who don't understand
how a tree can die standing

even when it's been cut down.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Carnival: 24th and Mission
A blue screen of death
shut down my operating system,
the narrow escape between bed and desk
widened into the street where I found myself
first uncertain of which way to go
down the steps and then what,
without a mouse, a roller ball to guide my hand.

My feet took over,
went through the turnstile
under the water over the top
to Carnival.
Chiquita QuiroPractico
Szechewan Sapphire Photo
El Farolito Senegalese Highway
where people sit on the ledge of Wells Fargo bank
partying on fire escapes pressed to windows,
Mission Groupo
bands, schools, Filipinos, Polynesians, Bolivians,
Hunters Point, Chinatown
Aztlan Brazilian Mamas in red pasties,
I even checked out Zorro,
his black cape swirling near Vista Hermosa fashions
feathers growing from everyone's mouth, red, orange,
chunks of fruit, grilling sausages, onions
urine-watered doorways,
fire trucks and cop cars catching
women passing out.

My feet kept moving,
my feet kept dancing,
my feet kept dancing,
my feet kept dancing,
if I have to die, let it be at Carnival.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

It's not Bob Dylan, but an accordion player at Venice Beach Posted by Hello

Monday, May 10, 2004

After Listening to Bob Dylan Unplugged for the First Time
Bob Dylan, put down your guitar
and make love to me; okay, maybe
my expectations are too high;

put down your guitar right now
and squeeze me, and I don't mean
in a no feeling kind of way,

I mean just stop what you're doing
and come over here, because your music
is moving inside me, and I want you to, too.

But now your voice is trembling.
It never did those low dips before
going inside the circles of your shirt,

as I look into your eyes past your sunglasses
because you took them off
to see your fans

standing in the warming hut
of your truth-telling music
while our country's leaders

believe peace
isn't good enough,
too wishy-washy,

a woman's excuse
to get out early.
Conjur woman's polishing

her lower lip
with a thumbnail.
Heal my broken wing.

You know that, Bob.
Peace is a woman's way
to clear out the house.

You were an outlaw. I loved you.
Then something happened.

I became a mother,
took an oath to protect life.

But nothing happened to you.
You stepped out of the way.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Lament for Len Sanazaro

Today I rose without prompting from my alarm clock
and brewed coffee ahead of schedule
trying to find a bent corner of time

for you to page through unnoticed
and return to your friends,
sit here with me listening

to birds belt out their chorus
as though there weren't anything else
in the world that mattered.

But it really wasn't spring
when you went
to the basement

as winter receded
from its own frostline
licking ice as it melted

with a long red tongue,
or maybe it was spring
that exposed its gums.

Nothing had a strong grip.
You had a tradition to live up to,
a father who did,

and a brother who almost committed suicide.
Then there was Sylvia
whom you worshipped,

and your lover whose boxes of books
caught your fall,
and who knew before any of us.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Letter to Mordecai
It was one of the holy of holies, not to be discussed,
the possibility of appearing traitorous to your own people
who had grounds enough to believe you were not to be taken lightly
after a brick had slipped off the roof of a building
and landed on the head of a cop.

You were doing what you always did, one of the Mordecai brothers fighting the class war in America,
but who knows if any of it is true, pieces of dust filtered
through a light tunnel of years, with the bundled saga of how you were forced
to ride the rails and ended up in Cleveland, Ohio, and once you came home kept it zipped up.
It was okay to talk politics. Those were the terms.

I listened to you around the dinner table when we visited Aunt Clara in her Westchester County house
whom you wrote about in your letters to your wife my mother, Olga, her stuck-up sister
who hardly drove to the Bronx because she and her husband, Jack, were worried
about their car parked outside being broken into; but we always went there
and you were polite at their table and blotted your mouth with a napkin,
and listened to Aunt Clara describe her work with Hadassah,
and Uncle Jack a Shriner or Knight of Columbus or one of those orders so he could get more business,
and let them talk about planting trees along a boulevard in Jerusalem,
making the Holy Land into a Suburbia; azaelas and rose bushes
grew in their backyard, gladiola, flaming torches.

You were the peace-keeper of my mother's heart, my mother who took us in the car
on get lost rides half-hoping we'd never be able to find our way back,
maybe drive up a moss-covered ramp and do it all over again,
three tasks, pulls on a lever; for the first few hours it was custard
and chicken-in-a-basket, until we drove back down the interstate, passing
Aunt Clara's house to where our dreams settled on the second floor of a walk-up.

I wanted you to go for it, but you were the bottom man,
holding up pyramids of acrobats above your head. Other people
depended upon you and so you found a balance
between what you wanted and what you could live with,
and like you, I rest on that fulcrum, always your cautious daughter.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Melt Down
I dropped my heart inside a glass,
but my love was not there to drink with me.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Spring Break
We walk down to the sea because all roads in this cypress land
lead down to the sea, a path lined with Pacific Coast Iris
starting to dry out in the early age of their blossoming

as the steady soldiers of our feet kick stones in our wake
announcing an arrival to whomever will listen, the wind, the sun
impervious to talk of family or current affairs;

it's all the same thing when we come down to it, stare
along the rolling breast of ocean for the rest of the afternoon
to remember something we both knew

when there was nothing better to do than spend
an entire day gulping water in one end and out the other.
Silly cells. We really got good at it.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Passover 2004
Lashanah haba'ah b'Yerushalayim!

Next year I don't want to be in Jerusalem
because why would I choose to be in a land
of war and death where children
blow themselves up because they have no future?

Next year I don't want to be in Jerusalem
because I don't understand why the Israeli government
continues to sacrifice the interests of its own people
at every checkpoint.

Next year I don't want to be in Jerusalem
because I can't continue telling a story about renewal
when I only see a land filled with shredded skin
and bulldozed olive trees.

Next year I don't want to be in Jerusalem
because how can I pretend this isn't happening
like some media cover-up that's come to occupy
my heart with its lies?

Next year I only want to be in Jerusalem with you
to fill an extra cup of wine at the table
for our Palestinian brothers and sisters,
so we may share the stories of those who died
so we may all set ourselves free from our fear and hatred.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

At the Gym
Hair conditioner in my palm
reminds me of when we use to have sex.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Mall Moment
Buddha sits in the Rite Aid lot
beneath the 1-Hour Photo Sign,
a parking attendant of the garden variety

directing traffic around flats of wisteria, jasmine,
fescue, geranium, ground ivy, his round belly,
as I sit in my car listening to KPFA report

the real evening news,
while that stone cold Buddha
pulls out a dollar bill from his ear, and laughs.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Daylight Savings Time
I hope some day you’ll know why jasmine climbs outside the front door,
or why an empty stretch of beach runs through your blood. Until then,
I cannot pretend we're not related. You're my son.
Tonight I'll set the clocks forward, and the days will grow stems.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Airport Song
I have a carry-on with a singing noise
that goes wherever I go.
Wherever I go,
it goes eeee-eeyah!

I’m waiting to board
so I can get back home,
waiting in the airport
with a toothbrush and a comb.
It goes boop boop, boop da dee doop!

There’s a man next to me
reading a newspaper;
someone's sitting next to him,
but he doesn't want to face her.
It goes oh oh, bodie doh!

She’s wearing a shirt
stenciled with Marilyn Monroe,
but whatever girlfriend’s feeling
she doesn’t want it to show.
It goes donna wap wappa woedie!

"Ticketholders are now boarding
in aisles one through 18,"
I’m over 21 and I still can’t think
what I’m going to do in that empty apartment.
It goes rrrr rrrr rrrr rrrr rrrr!

I'll get in the car and drive back home,
I'll wash up, eat something, and check the telephone
that never goes eeee-eeyah!
It goes blah blah bloddie blah.

I have a carry-on with a singing noise
that goes wherever I go.
Wherever I go,
it goes eeee-eeyah!

Friday, March 26, 2004

A Blossom
Someone left a blossom on my windshield wiper.
A white blossom with pink spikes on the driver's side.
It had to be my love who recognized my car,
and placed it there for me to see after work.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

"knowledge is only a step between two questions"
from code blue at the Genome Zoo by Barbara Damashek

"...information is really defined only by what it's related to, and how it's related. There really is little else to meaning."
from Weaving the Web by Tim Berners-Lee

On the Road to Paradise
Spring swept into the house, a pile of white blossoms
from trees outside getting ready for the next big push,
a pile of white blossoms dispensed before leaf-making

as a poem arrives in my email box with its own root-making
story, an evening of diaphanous beings, him and I,
root displaying its credits on damask sheets

as lucky dog licks juicy thigh to make a performance piece
counting how well he did, awards, even the way
an encore performance can send him further than night.

It's all good, what almost happened last night, my love,
but get real. I want to know who you are, and how you feel.

Friday, March 12, 2004

This online thing in between getting ready to go to Tahoe for a ski weekend before the snow melts. Five girls together in one car. It should be interesting. Let's hope all the girls have CD players, otherwise we're gonna be fighting about listening to what kind of music, hip-hop or trance. I'm sprouting my own corkscrew wings to celebrate a second year of living dangerously. In this whirl of random online dating hits it feels like the sperm and egg are colliding in an electronic soup of the Internet, not the strongest, but the ones most likely to connect. And what about the world today, where teachers are now being labelled as terrorists, so that Bush miscreants can seed the airwaves to disassemble the teachers union and public education as we know it. A prayer for John Kerry. May he continue to speak the truth of a Vietnam veteran.

Monday, February 02, 2004

The Way I Cut Up

A muzzled dog guards Buffalo Exchange in Berkeley while the Hare Krishna Society marches up Telegraph Avenue with thumbnail cymbals. Looking for Anne Waldman in Moe’s Bookstore and thinking of getting my hair done in Chicago. I hear a tribute to Billy Strayhorn on KPFA. Bicycle riders model Spandex in broad daylight. Cute tushies.

Wind is an advertisement for every place it touches.

The in-word at this year’s Seybold Conference is taxonomy. The speaker has a Microsoft 95 tattoo that needs to be upgraded every two years. The information model is the ultimate content management tool. No consistent suite. Way of the stickiness. Young people with continuous partial attention phenomena drive semi-trucks

Where rivers run no fresher than a trickle of saliva.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Elvis Isn't Taking Any Calls
Harold Pulhug gives a presentation in the California Room of the Hilton Hotel at One Hegenberger Road in Oakland. Elvis Presley is his dummy account. Harold uses Elvis to demonstrate the 7969 telephone, a new IP PBX system, which means you can set its properties through a web interface. “Why don’t you take a break. You can refresh your coffee, check your email, and then we’ll start the demonstration,” he says.

He says this several times, at key interludes, between frames. This is the only signal we need to stroll to the back of the room and graze the remainders of the fruit and pastry trays. We’re back. Harold is small-taking at the edge of the projection screen about voice conferencing and data collaboration and about a gateway in Sacramento so the system in question will not hit public service cuts. “Some customers will see that all they want is long distance with pri’s coming in, and that’s definitely doable.” Two guys in the front row nod.

Now we’re back to discussing the 7969. Harold rings Elvis’ phone to demonstrate a pixilated screen that can display content for disability instruction, warnings (this phone is loaded), and application hints. He presses soft keys on the console and alludes to a rocker key that can scroll between services. Now we’re cooking. Harold talks about a directory that can keep track of missed, placed, and received calls with room to grow a corporate directory that’s LDAPted. This web phone doesn’t require twisted cables. Potential cost savings right there.

He’s in the home stretch. Speed soft keys say select. Harold explains the line appearance away and VLAN access as well as digital feed and video conferencing via a Tandberg unit, but then moves from the visual back to the digital, showing how you can drag and drop calls into the web interface after you’ve authenticated the network and can use a batch administration utility primarily for set up purposes. He rings Elvis’ phone again and points to its attendant icon, which shows us that Elvis is idle.

Monday, January 19, 2004

On Martin Luther King Day
I was dark, the swarthy girl
had brown eyes with kindling inside them,
my hips were as round as a Spaldeen ball
we hit against the side of a wall,

for winners walked around the block
past a fire station to the deli on the corner
with a news rack and magazines of movie stars,
each stack was anchored by a chunky iron bar

so papers couldn’t assimilate into street
without anybody first reading the sports section.
Why be blonde and blue eyed, when I could be
fast and dangerous and stand on shale pavement?

But how that iron bar made me feel defeat
when I wanted to fly on my feet.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Tech Notes

Light is the breath of my parents who watch over me.

Green caterpillars stop crawling on a 15-inch screen of leaves. Everything on my laptop computer goes black. It happens as I sit on the rug reading the poems I've been writing about my deceased parents. No more lights flashing on the keyboard.

The laptop rests on the burgundy carpet and is ensnared in a hopeless tangle of adaptor and modem wires; the kill has been made and the predator is still in the neighborhood. I guard the carcass.

Tomorrow I want the computer to turn on, hope its aberrant behavior is due to my failure to pay it sufficient attention. This has happened before. For the moment, I ignore its lifeless screen.

But in the morning after my daughter has left for work and school, the laptop does not go on. I have e-mails to read, clients to contact, Internet sites to research. Then there are the poems.

Why’d you have to get sick and leave
when I was too young to know how much
I’d miss you; birthdays, holidays, your touch,
even in my dreams you drop by infrequently.
Sometimes I think I hear you breathe
by the seashore, in a gully near the rushes,
walking together picking several bunches
of flowers near the entrance to the beach.

Even, if by chance I saw you materialize,
would you recognize your daughter,
back then, a young girl who fantasized
about living opposite from the way you taught her,
what part of me would you recognize,
my feet, my eyes, my hands cupped with water?

I turn the page in my notebook to several toll-free technical support numbers.

I retrieve my daughter's mobile phone from downstairs and dial. Ten minutes into the wait queue, Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony is interrupted by the voice of the tech.

"Hello, my name is Pat. May I help you?"

I verify my name, address, phone, and e-mail address to help her validate my account. Now the tech begins to identify the proper verse and chapter from her troubleshooting book.

"I've got it. Step one. Unplug the power source from the computer."

We get as far as the battery. The tech advises, "Turn the computer over and remove the battery which is near the media and data source." She doesn't know what that means either.

I whine, "But I don't know where the battery is."

The tech provides me with its latitude and longitude.

I see two latches that are supposed to flip some kind of trap door at the bottom of my computer, but I cannot identify anything to pull. I voice my confusion.

The tech doesn't listen and drones on like a real estate agent about location.

Juggling latches, I accidentally disconnect the phone.

I wish we could sit and talk
after all these years, have that exit interview
you wouldn’t allow. Everyone knew
it was cancer. Marty cranked up in a bed, chalk-
white; Olga, flying around unable to renew
her liver. Maybe you didn’t want us to boo-hoo,
while you were being stalked.

In any case, you couldn’t hear
over the IV dripping. We asked each other why
this was happening, days smeared
together any amount of head banging or cries
wouldn’t dissolve my orphan fears.
It was time to whisper good-bye.

Before I call back, I return to the trap doors. I realize that the molded plastic rises at the bottom of the computer are the very handles I've been looking for. I press the latch open and grab the handle. Something slides out and it is, indeed, the battery.

I call back. I wait in the queue. Another tech gets on the phone and validates my account. We do the name, address, phone number, and e-mail thing, and start over.

This new tech has the annoying habit of reading the "Next" prompt that appears at the bottom of the screen as he pages through the troubleshooting guide. "Next, Next, Next,” he says. I think, all we have is now and maybe if we're lucky, next. He intercedes. "Let's go to the training guide. That's where all the really good stuff is. Next, Next, Next," he reads.

Next I am to remove the hard drive, but need one of those itty-bitty screwdrivers and I'm not sure I have one, and even if I do, I don't know where they are. The tech gallantly waits while I open all the drawers in the house and do a quick scan of the basement.

I get back to the phone and report, "I can't find one."

"I'm sorry you'll have to call back after you can find one so we can run through the tests. We also have to remove the memory chips."

He can't tell me what size screwdriver I need, but suggests, "Why don't you just take the unit with you to the hardware store?" Next.

I'm out of the house carrying the computer, which at this point, is minus its battery and DVD unit, its underside exposed. I drive up to the hardware store and find a small screwdriver that will open the single screw that keeps the hard drive barricaded from me.

I call back. I wait in the queue. Another tech gets on the phone. Validates my account.

The new tech tells me that we need to start from the beginning. She explains that since I wasn't able to remove all the components, the previous techs were unable to properly log my actions.

Now I must prepare for surgery. It's time to remove memory chips.

I unscrew the proper trap door. Beneath it are the memory chips, probably about a half-inch wide which dazzle me with their green brilliance, small veins of silverish thread are traced inside each one. A river flowing to eternity. There are two boards. One contains four chips that are stacked vertically, the second contains two chips that are stacked horizontally. Then I am commanded by the tech to remove them.

The services over, it became apparent
you were quietly gone away from me,
never to come home and put up a pot of coffee;
suddenly I became my own parent,
the one who knows all the ways to stare at
four walls and strip them to beams,
to clear out obstacles or move them with dreams;
look at the future and become clairvoyant.

For years, I walked around in stealth
mode, kept my eyes focused straight ahead.
My goal wasn’t to accumulate wealth.
I wanted to know how a person can be dead.
I learned how to watch out for myself.
Everyone said I was a tough kid.

I see two shiny metal things that look like the rounded edge of a fat paper clip, maybe a safety pin. I describe them to her.

"Why don't you try to press them?" she encourages me.

I do, press the metal heads, and the chip is released from its hold to the board, rising to my fingertips that I use as a pair of tweezers. Now I slip the chips gently out.

I can sense that I'm getting close. The tech directs me to place the door to the computer chips over the board, and to turn the computer right side up. I turn on the power and carefully listen for some sound of life stirring inside the shell of my desecrated computer.

Nothing. The autopsy is complete.

She orders a technician to come to my house to replace the motherboard. I may hear from him within a day.

That’s it. I hang up.

I am bathed in a warm light that falls through the window, and makes a circle around me on the burgundy rug. I am encased in a glow. I’ve gotten through my own uncertainty with guides along the way. Somewhere I hear a gentle whirring and it is at this precise moment I know that light is the breath of my parents.

Today I saw you near the BART station
where Chinatown’s elderly practice aikido
everyone dressed in jeans and loose shirts, on tip-toe
dissecting the air into equal rations.
But where did you come from? Former patients
in hospital gowns, maybe on tour from a distant do-jo
facing each other, repeating each form in slo-mo
without the help of medication.

I couldn’t believe it, there under the blue sky
tumbling on the plaza like two kids
who’ve never needed to stop and ask why
life bounces us back and forth in a fine sieve
grinding our edges until we give;
I saw you so quickly, I didn’t have a chance to cry.