Saturday, May 26, 2007

To Mischa on Her Graduation from High School,
June 3, 2007


What can I say my earthquake girl
who's about to put your first long leg behind you
yeah, I can't believe it's happened so fast,
that's what we parents all say...

You grew up with your cheeks smeared with oatmeal
played with Barbies wanted to do arts and crafts
on the kitchen table, but never to pull out weeds in the backyard,
smothered your cat Curtains with kisses, went from tap-dancing
to swimming to acrobatics where you hated the splits
until you found soccer and stayed constant, covered your entire bed
with stickers from the drug-store, stole nail polish from Long's
and did hard time in the back room on a white stool, turned orator
on Martin Luther King Day and won a medal.

We went everywhere did everything together threw frisbees
and played with ball paddles near Joaquin Miller Park,
swam in Robert's Pool, fed ducks at Lake Merritt,
camped by a stream at Mt Lassen and saw the earth steam
through its nostrils. You let me take you to the museum
until you got old enough to like clothing better...
I'd already watched you tuck red hyacinths
behind your ear before you could
look into a mirror and know who was there.

We had birthday parties and made a witch's cake with
disgusting jello brains,
every Halloween you became someone else
and collected bags of candy
that I let you keep for a day as a dental preventative,
the beginning of my being mean and weird.

I stood with you on the bima at your bat mitzvah,
and how we both washed up
at a new place and helped each other to dry off,
how you started to babysit, wore braces
until you got them removed,
then started to drive and work at a job
where you were making money to pay
for your own clothing, felt your heart rupture
for the first time and found out again what it meant to cry.

We drove through Death Valley to look at wildflowers
and slept in the car to hide from the wind,
and in these last several years I've watched you
wield a lacrosse cradle in your firm hand,
away to Mexico to speak in another tongue,
fall in love again, fill out college applications until you are standing
at a place where I will always be for you, but cannot follow.

Remember the things I've tried to teach you in my own weird way,
to celebrate who you are and to choose to be with people who can
celebrate with you. Work hard. Make the world
a better place. Life is filled with memories,
each a jewel on a golden strand. Wear them all well.

Monday, May 21, 2007

8Soliloquy Between Closed and Open

I go to the living room
where the tv glares,
and decide whether to turn it off,

or choose a book to read,
when I hear a knock
that disrupts the surface of the door.

Here's a portal leading to the kitty litter box
then to a geranium shining
in full red bloom.

I've been dealt worse.
Shut up, girl.
Just open the door.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Freedom of Speech

7. Peace Process

Person 1: You said you were going to park your car over there and you didn't. Why do we even bother having these discussions?
Person 2: I don't remember saying that. You must be confusing me with someone else.
Person 3: Anywhere you get Linux clusters you're going to see scalable distributed storage systems.
Person 1: I absolutely remember your saying that.
Person 2: But I have to dodge baseballs flying over the fence from the playground.
Person 3: You can never outsource strategy.
Person 1: That's not the point. You agreed and now you're going back on your word.
Person 2: It's something you wanted me to agree to. There's a big difference. I never really agreed.
Person 3: The Incas had no wheel, no arch and no system of writing. But they knew how to twist and braid countless miles of grasses and slender branches into ropes--sometimes as thick as a wrestler's waist.
Person 1: If you come to a table, you sit down.
Person 2: This is not my day.
Person 3: Stand-up routines hover at the brink of comedy.
Person 1: Now you're talking nonsense.
Person 2: I don't see why I can't use your driveway. It's big enough, and you only have one car. The kids always come out of the playground and leave wads of gum stuck to my windshield.
Person 3: I 'm very appreciative of all the supportive mail and comments!
Person 1: Move your parking problem somewhere else, and stop making it my problem!
Person 2: I've lived here longer than you...burned trees in my fireplace that were growing where your driveway is now.
Person 3: The Product Management role will go away entirely and make it easier to drive data directly to the developers.
Person 1. Does that give you parking rights?
Person 2: I have street cred.

(A baseball comes flying from across the street and bounces in the middle of the three persons. Person 2 catches the ball and throws it back.)

Person 1: You've got a strong arm.
Person 2: I didn't get it from lifting weights in the backyard.
Person 3: Scientists introduced a machine that can read human intentions.
Person 1: Now you're trying to screw with me.
Person 2: I'm so sick of this.
Person 3: Ich w√ľnsche Sie schlecht.
Person 1: I think the homeowners association would like to know the facts.
Person 2: Go ahead! It says in the rules that driveways are to be shared between two cars of differing license plates and colors.
Person 3: To hell with the homeowner's association!
Person 1: What did you say?
Person 2: Who asked you?
Person 3: I want to fix up my car with tinted windows, a stereo system, and a statue of Mary on the dashboard.

(Another baseball comes flying from across the street and bounces in the middle of the three persons. Person 1 catches the ball and throws it back.)

Person 1: Who knows what they're going to throw over here next.
Person 2: That's what I've been trying to tell you! Right now it's baseballs, but you have no idea what they're capable of. Why do you think I want to park here? Believe me, it's not out of love.
Person 3: The Java posse invited him talk at the user conference scheduled for next month at the Simian Ranch.
Person 1: I've seen what they can do.
Person 2: I'm getting nervous. Yesterday the police were giving hardened criminals tours of our neighborhood. One of the cops said that this place is so ghetto, even the wire fences are rusted.
Person 3: A skeleton with techno brats under the nightstick was offed in theatrical portions with their protein guns set on glue.
Person 1: I'm not surprised.
Person 2: You wonder what this world is coming to.
Person 3: Parking labels.
Person 1: A forced settlement?
Person 2: What are you trying to say?
Person 3: Alternate side of the street parking.
Person 1: Just like that?
Person 2: Cool your bootheels in the freezer department, fella. Now what are we going to talk about?
Person 3: May I interest you in a Rolex? Old-school, I know, but damned stylish with the right laptop.

(Opens his coat to reveal many watches. Another baseball comes flying from across the street. Person 1 & 2 started chase Person 3 into the school yard.)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Freedom of Speech

6. Take-out!

Person 1: (Standing in front of a microphone.) Go on. Say anything you want. This is a free country.
Person 2: (remains silent.)
Person 1: The first thing that pops into your head. It's only a rehearsal.
Person 2: (remains silent)
Person 1: Really. Just open your mouth and say anything. Anything you want.
Person 2. (opens his mouth and makes a brief sound.)
Person 1: Good. That was a start.
Person 2: (Steps in front of the microphone and taps it several times.)
Person 1: After not meeting for a year, the General Assembly will want to hear what you have to say. Go ahead. Take a practice shot.
Person 2: (Holds the microphone and makes another sound. Then steps away.)
Person 1: A sound is good. Words are vibrations. Just open your mouth and start wailing.
Person 2: I.......
Person 1: C'mon, buddy. It's almost lunch-time. I wanna get myself something to eat before the crowd rolls in.
Person 2: You....you.....you...
Person 1: You're gonna do fine. You've got alot of support. People died so you could stand behind this podium. And three of them were my buddies, all operatives. Guys with families.
Person 2: Thank you.
Person 1: They'll all be applauding, hooting their heads off, jumping up and down to see how your shit is tucked inside your pants.
Person 2: It's good to be here today.
Person 1: You're on a roll. Now show 'em who's boss!
Person 2: Ppppplease be seated.
Person 1: Oh, they'll like that. Shows courtesy, a hospitality. Nice touch. Of course we all know about that sort of thing, hospitality. We just take less time to do it. We like 'em in and out, you know what I mean? But then we bring gifts. Give out hats at the main gate. Jeans aren't as big as they once were. Manufacturing's gone to the dogs, I mean abroad.
Person 2: I see.
Person 1: Gee, I'm hungry. I wish there was some take-out around here.
Person 2: Take out?
Person 1: You go to a restaurant, put in an order and then take it out. You dig? So you don't have to sit around in some joint. It saves time. Even better, you call on the phone first, put in your order, and then arrive and pay. Take-out...Okay, so let's hear the rest of it. You know what to say.
Person 2: I've never spoken in public before.
Person 1: Oh Mary, Jesus, Joseph. Never spoken in public before? And this is the guy we put on the hot seat! Those idiots down at headquarters really need to have their heads examined. And three guys killed, tell me what for?
Person 2: You volunteered to be my coach.
Person 1: Coach, right. Let's get back to it.
Person 2: You were going to help with my speech.
Person 1: Put one word in front of the other and try not to trip. That's the secret. Exude confidence. Why do you think we have so many actors back in the States turned politicos? People love someone who's walked down the red carpet. Get your licorice stick in gear.
Person 2: Like this? (Adopts a stance.) Or this? (Adopts another stance.)
Person 1: Fine, fine. But it's how you sound that's important. You ever heard about the talkies?
Person 2: (Shakes his head.)
Person 1: I have to teach you everything. That's before the movies, they had these silent film stars batting their eyelashes. Once the talkies came in, they had to sound like something. And you've got to sound like something. You've got to convince people you're not just another American puppet. You've got to show 'em you believe in free speech!
Person 2: But what if the bride has moved inside my house without a proposal? How do I know if I can trust her?
Person 1: This is no kind of wedding shit. Deal with your personal life somewhere's else. Free speech man, that's what people have died for.
Person 2: I'm already married.
Person 1: Then what are we talking about?
Person 2: So my mouth is free to speak?
Person 1: You betcha.
Person 2: It seems, my self-enamored sir, you are the one who likes to do all the talking.
Person 1: (No response.)
Person 2: Or did you want to order a certain kind of speech? Something upbeat, sprinkled with a few jokes to ignore the obvious facts?
Person 1: Don't be ridiculous! You know what we need! A call to the opposing forces to cooperate with us on the ground. How many times must I go over this?
Person 2: Take out!

(Person 1 signals to the back of the auditorium. Two guards come and drag Person 1 away from the microphone. Another officer approaches Person 2 with a pizza box. He sits down and opens it, and begins to eat.)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Freedom of Speech

5. Online Daters

Man: Drive?
Woman: Stretch.
Man: Walk?
Woman: Catch.
Man: Bike?
Woman: Sit.
Man: Go.
Woman: No!
Man: Yes.
Woman: Stay.
Man: Huh?
Woman: Eat?
Man: Ball.
Woman: Play.
Man: In.
Woman: Now?
Man: Right.
Woman: Rain.
Man: Stain.
Woman: Shirt.
Man: Pants.
Woman: Plaque.
Man: Huh?
Woman: Sweet.
Man: Swing.
Woman: Sue
Man: Mike.
Woman: Meant.
Man: Ann?
Woman: Lynn.
Man: Meet.
Woman: New.
Man: Tree.
Woman: Climb.
Man: Swing.
Woman: Waltz.
Man: Split.
Woman: Huh?
Man: More.
Woman: (Says nothing.)
Man: Big.
Woman: Room.
Man: Pain.
Woman: Drain?
Man: More.
Woman: Gee.
Man: Whiz.
Woman: Kid.
Man: Man.
Woman: Nice.
Man: Splice.
Woman: Two?
Man: Help.
Woman: Kelp.
Man: Sea.
Woman: Free.
Man: Gone.
Woman: Pawn?
Man: New.
Woman: Try.
Man: Work.
Woman: Time.
Man: Ahhhhhhhhhh!
Woman: Ahhhhhhhhhh?
Man: (Says nothing.)
Woman: Mouth.
Man: Word.
Woman: Last.
Man: Ahhhhhhhhhh!
Woman: Ohhhhhhhhhh!
Man: Yes.
Woman: More?
Man: Bahhhhhhhhhh!
Woman: Bahhhhhhhhhh?
Man: Bahhhhhhhhhh!
Woman: Pooooooow!
Man: Doooooooooo!
Woman: Eeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Man: Briiiiiiiiiinnnnng!
Woman: Loooooooooose!
Man: More.
Woman:Push.
Man: No.
Woman: Puuuuusssssh!
Man. Good.
Woman: I
Man: Love
Woman: It
Man: When
Woman: You
Man: Talk
Woman: To
Man: Me
Woman: Like
Man: Thaaaaattttt!