Surprised

poem, art, photo by Elizabeth

WHAT SURPRISED ME MOST…

beneath surgery-bright restaurant lights was the unspoken 
collusion of employees and patrons to ignore the bone-defined 
man as he tapped thin-paned glass to beg for food.

He shoved skeletal hands toward his gaping mouth as if to fill the gnawing 
we could not imagine while digesting pasta and merlot rather than 
our muscles to survive as this man’s body had, his hollowed face 
pled as he mimed across the chasm of language, culture, class. 

After the waiter returned our leftovers, snug in Styrofoam, 
I took them across the restaurant, my legs heavy beneath 
reproach’s hypnotic weight from those unwilling to squander 
etiquette’s rules that insure our warmth while others freeze.

Through my breath outside, I saw him accept a dollar from two 
spike-heeled women as they scuttled from a bar across the street,
yet money’s a tool for future trade, no immediate relief for a churning gut. 

Drunk with hunger, he wavered in the crosswalk till a horn startled him
to the curb. Waving, I caught his eye, offered the bright box. Our eyes 
locked yet he wouldn’t move, suspended in a code more compelling than 
starvation, a code older than the south and dangerous as asphyxiation. 

Cloaked in privilege, I left our paltry leftovers on the bus stop bench 
and returned to the interior’s glare, each of us visible through glass walls. 
He sprinted across the street, gulped what would have been tomorrow’s lunch, threw away the box, and returned to the window beside us. 

He smiled, waved, tried to thank me, but I saw him only peripherally, 
embarrassed to accept gratitude for so little before he walked away.

Thank you to the editors of decomp magazine who first published this poem.

Rescued

Joya arrived 10.5.16, poem & photo by Elizabeth
                  DOG CLOUD

when clean
              you feel like a cloud
     as I finger your hair
                             so  soft   &   light
  you might                             drift away 
                           if not
                  for Love's Gravity   
                
                        gold as Sun
                 airy as Sky
                             You are our Constellation
       after we'd raced too long & lost
              through stars' buckshot 
                       until You reconnected 

          those beacons of Light
              Beauty     &     Hope
    with balls & squirrels & a belly
                  splayed
       for all the love & joy
                  our hands could supply

Thank you NorCal Poodle Rescue for letting me foster the wonderful Joya, five years ago today.

Catalyst

P1800179
poem & photo by Elizabeth

CATALYST

As if disintegrating the stone of our being to sand
we pour ourselves empty to be remade beyond 
the merciless sins we rise above.


The beauty of your breast cleaved away,
my lungs stomping their sun-fire dance always,
yet we reshape ourselves as balm for each other 
till we can bear our stories’ terrible weight


and are transformed as if to sound—
water on granite, wind through pine, 
an osprey’s haunting cry.

Thank you to the editors of The Tishman Review for first publishing this poem.

Passing

poem & photo by Elizabeth

PASSING

you're in Hawaii
so I drove to your house
clicked off the headlights
rolled down the windows
and bathed in the dry oak and grass
winds that normally surround you

which made me think of Langston Hughes
and Zora Neale Hurston, how for decades
they missed each other, each too proud
or lost to find themselves back 
to the other's laughter and company

all that longing over language used

and I wonder if your life is so full
that one less relationship is relief
or if this same ragged cloth
beating my face and chest
wind-whips through the vacuum I've left

Thank you to the editors of Apollo’s Lyre for first publishing this poem.

Sand

Joya; poem & photo by Elizabeth

SAND

brown naked body
sprawled beneath the sun

scars of ritual and beauty
crossing its belly

where birds, dogs and people
have left tracks

soon made invisible
by waxing tide

Thank you to the editors of Agape: A Creative Arts Magazine for first publishing this poem.

If Bird

_1430974 - Version 2
poem & photo by Elizabeth

IF BIRD

you would be my loon
calling long past light,
my mourning dove, my
sweetest finch flashing
sun from black as night. 

If my bird you were I'd
feed you nectar from my
palm and plant thick trees
for you to rest and nest until
I could transform my arms
and hands to feathered limbs—
our hearts remade as song.

Thank you to the editors of The Tishman Review for first publishing this poem.

More

P1070225 - Version 3

“Blue Heart,” mixed media & photo by Elizabeth

MORE

There will never be

only love

only peace

but there can be

more love than

before we got here

and more peace

because

we stayed here.

David Richo, Everyday Commitments

Elizabeth creates 3-D art and photographs with eggshells because their fragility and strength parallel the human condition.

Longing to Belong

Dk in Lt
poem & photo by Elizabeth

LONGING TO BELONG

girl with eyes too large and
milky teeth fairies must wait
years for in a country that ripped
her from Mama locked her in
metal cage no laughter crosses
her howl swells into lost
others' sounds for families
babies resounds past soiled
dreams strips belonging as
those ripping teach children
how arms are weapons

Thank you to Writers Resist for first publishing “Longing to Belong.”