Monday, November 28, 2005

The News
it always takes longer than I want for anything to happen in direct proportion to the depth of my longing, which is not to suggest that if I stop insisting the world cough up what it owes me right now, it will happen; au contraire, the forces of watchfulness will be on to my game and make me wait, teach the lesson of submission to the one thing I care about, and just when I think I’ve finally got whatever it is I’ve been looking for, it turns into a squall of hummingbirds, disappears down the red throat of morning.

Braking News
while big cranes slip beneath the Bay Bridge, we two play hooky, out-of-practice after I don’t know how long of hurling Homeric epithets at each other, my green-eyed Econoline van, wearing sweats and peeling down quickly to basic moves that holler back to an earlier time when you weren’t taking pills to keep your heart going, and when I had a full set of lungs; I pedal with my tongue, you inside my mouth; we speed down the hill, brake for hesitation, come crashing into each other. On one side of the bed as you stretch out, I think you must be a cold black star, collapse, and leave me alone.

Bad News
and for years, I sat around believing you’d take action, that everything was going to change, but the exercise machine remained a clothes hanger, the goggles never made it to the pool, and I never made it to your bed, only the breathing machine that slept with you regulating each sigh while you waited for the father you never knew to come home.

Good News
there are always drugs: Lanoxin, Lasix, Carvedilol, Tolinase; your every day over-the-counter Tylenol Extra-Strength, Tylenol Migraine, Tylenol for Right Brain, Aspirin to take every day for the rest of your life, codeine, morphine if you're on a medical plan or have a good dentist, in-your-eye designer shots of Botox, pain-killers, depressants, uppers, downers, antihistamines, glazed maple donuts at two in the morning.

News Update
finished swearing up and down a Targ├ęt parking lot, phoned my friends and authored messages to an old e-mail list announcing how I’d decided to give up the whole damn thing forever, forget about whatever “it” happened to be at that particular moment, except whatever “it” was, bugged me to the height of my crotch; so I take a ride to the Wine Country. Stay in Calistoga where I soak in a heated pool, listen to frogs all night practice their croaking, and I realize they’re speaking my language (!) and I get everything they say, like love me, love me.
Parking Karma
There's a single woman who reaches into her pocket to retrieve car keys, her head lifted slightly, the angle of her chin indicates how far down the street her car is parked. Sometimes I target a car on this side of the fire hydrant near the lamppost; sometimes in front of the bakery. Today the car is outside the pizza store. I see it.

Before she slides into the front seat, she checks the meter, just to know how closely she missed getting a ticket. The thrill. She presses the car remote and pops open the trunk, places two shopping bags next to each other. Straightens a box of tools in the back.

All this time, my right directional signal flashes red stakes out the spot, warning off all challengers who idle by and drive off. It must be my RayBans. I focus again on the owner who turns the key in her ignition and buckles her seat belt. The car hasn't been washed in weeks. A gray streak cascades down the trunk. By now, she knows I'm waiting as she continues her ritual, turns on the radio and adjusts the rear-view directional mirror.

Finally, there's nothing left to do and she pulls away. Now's my chance. I pull in. I'm parked outside the pizza store. A boy standing in the doorway drips a string of cheese from his slice. I think about getting a slice, too. I look at the clock. I need to get to my group.I've been a member for one month. We meet every weekend.

I'm working to extend my parking karma range from two blocks to three.There's someone in my group who's been coming to meetings for a whole year. He can do it from six blocks off.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

CellPhone Poem 14: Breaking Up Where XBox Marks the Spot
The day after Thanksgiving
I'll walk across the Great Mall,

and use a credit card with a revolving account
that turns pennies into gold and gold into health plans,

taller than I ever thought possible, slinky
with thighs like Sonya Blade in Mortal Kombat,

living at the edge of a culvert
where security systems cook dinner for the homeless,

a member of my own Special Forces unit,
carrying a knapsack of turkey bones

wrapped in tinfoil, the power
to grow apartments from pizza crusts,

feeding a voice inside my computer
so I sound like Stephen Hawking on a good day

standing at midnight in the Garden of Eden
wondering what God was doing before he broke out the world.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Cellphone Poem 13: Cancel Service
I robbed banks for two years straight
they never caught me except on camera.

I dressed up whenever I did a job,
the kids were in San Francisco with their grandmother.

Once they started school I'd hoped there'd be more time
for me to pull off the Big One,

wearing heels, a sheath, maybe a skirt.
I was working in the public sector so I had to dress the part,

because my kids needed things and I needed them,
so there you have it. Sure, I have skills.

I could've checked off a bunch of boxes,
but that'd be like sticking a pin up my pinata

on mornings when I walked to the window,
I was the leading lady instead of him giving me orders,

my husband with no hands in his heart,
a man who never got me except between a rock,

and a bed. After I went solo,
he starts calling on the cellphone

saying how much he loves me.
I didn't need to hear that. I was Number One,

but his calls turned me into the CellPhone Bandit,
and then all the law wanted a piece.

I'd become too good at my own game,
robbed more banks than I even had birthdays.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Listening to a Funeral Oration for Rosa Parks
at the Gas Pump

And late enough for me to pull into the station
without queueing up, ignition off, radio on.
I was a pearl onion caught between the big toes of a gas pump,

my week'd been crazy with nothing going on,
a daughter who'd just passed her driving test,
now she's got a California license,

and I'm coming back from the DMV, running again,
slide my ATM card through the slot,
hear the Michigan Governor eulogize Citizen Rosa,

who sat down so that we could stand up,
when it seemed everyone got out of their cars,
filling up on all those free words.