They Hold

poem & photo by Elizabeth

THEY HOLD THE SEA

Contagious as your hummingbird smile may be,
it is your hands...

hands that sculpt ki into a dragon's mouth
with arcs of mother-of-pearl framing
rainbow flames that smell of warm
milk and nutmeg, while your touch
draws the breath of muscle to bone,
then deeper.

Too few lines cross your hands,
large, almost too large,
they hold the sea.

Thank you to the editor of Something Like Homesickness for first publishing this poem.

Ki–Japanese word meaning energy or life force.

Woman Talks

photo by Elizabeth

In researching other poets in preparation for the Community of Writers, I’ve been especially impressed by an interview with Dawn McGuire, who is living one of the paths I would love to have lived. A neurologist, McGuire used to read her poetry with Judy Grahn, about whom Ani di Franco states, “When I was nineteen I discovered the poetry of Judy Grahn, and I was so moved by “A Woman is Talking to Death“, it’s still one of my favorite poems.”

Grahn’s poem illuminates where we rise from as a people and where too many remain stuck. I don’t understand bigotry, cruelty, or a lack of empathy, but do know when someone finds a way to clearly expose and trace its ripples. I’m relieved I couldn’t write “A Woman is Talking to Death,” because I wouldn’t want the experiences; however, I’d be grateful to write with this brilliance and power.

Mother’s Day

MOTHER’S DAY

How she watched him turn me on the stairs, force his tongue in my nine year old mouth as she basked in the warmth of fire and merlot, and left me for weekends with his Marine Corps son though I cried, begged her not to, his crew cut head telling me to lie down, stop crying, spread my legs. And the Mother’s Day when she slapped my face, kicked my ribs, ripped the head off my doll because I was still making her gift when she woke—she screamed you worthless shit after all I’ve done these seven years. Even now I would forgive the nights from the time I was five that I pressed the cold glass of her bedroom window against my cheek while he beat her, waiting for her to tell me to run next door, call the police, forbidden to run before ordered, forced to listen to her pleas, his fist, the breaking chair. Forgive if she didn’t wish me dead or could engage in dialogue, but instead she remains three, six, twelve years old simultaneously, unwilling to approach maturity or sanity. I too have crawled the edge of madness, felt its sweet vortex as if cauterizing pain, but I keep stepping back from her outstretched arms, reaching always to pull me beside her.

Thank you to the editor of Writing Our Way Out of the Dark for first publishing this poem.

poem & photo by Elizabeth

Desert Rain

poem & photo by Elizabeth

                                                             DESERT RAIN
                                          mud seeps
                                                                    between bare toes
                                                        almost naked I walk miles
                                                                                      soaked in desert rain
                                                and catch it with my tongue

                                                                                       laughing as my mother
walks the balance beam of stone walls
                                              while her husband and I point at Catalina cows
        and shout Buffalo, buffalo! and she so nearsighted
                                                             believes us

                               spinning
                                               wrists held tight as Geno soars me
                                                                                                           round &
                                    round
                                                           parallel to the ground

                chimes        bells         ice cr
                                                                   eam delivered by truck
                                                   treasured pink          green
                                                                             yellow plastic dogs
                                                                                            birds
                                                                               tigers buried in
                                           chocolate  strawberry  vanilla to be lipped
                                                                                   licked
                               sucked away

                                                                                                curled like a sow bug
                                                                                laughing
                                                   belly aching as a finger waving in air
                                       tickles as effectively as one would
                                                                                                   touching

Thank you to the editor of Something Like Homesickness for first publishing this poem.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

photo by Elizabeth

In the summer of 2009, a friend drove me past this sign, which I had to jump out and photograph while she drove around the block.

Turned out to be a happening for an artist involved with Exit Through the Gift Shop , a documentary that focused on Banksy: underground and overground hero, artist, thinker and social critic. He is illusive, creative, technically stunning, brave, quick and smart. While some argue that he is the best graffitist, Banksy has many peers.

Throughout the world, usually by night, graffiti artists draw attention to the greed and propaganda that relentlessly pushes products, images and manufactured lives into the primal part of our brains. Six repetitions is often enough to bypass our critical thinking skills so that we think something false is true. Yet these people and corporations cry foul when graffiti reveals the real cost of their words, images and products.

Exit Through the Gift Shop not only exposes ruthless greed, but also graffitists’ sensibility and artistic craft, courage and brilliant social commentary. This film explores both some of the best graffiti and guerilla art waged and why Life Is Beautiful!