they’re filming a tv show in my tiny town [poem]

I’m not the only one who gawks at the scene
Handful of heads and cell phones below
Local photographer in charcoal appears
There will be others

My office, the room where I do all the things
the crying, the writing, the yoga, working, planning, painting
top floor of the old state bank. 1911 was it?
The center of this tiny town — Coleman
in the center of the pretty palm — Michigan
‘bloom where you are planted’
a sign reads in my window

Restaurant Impossible — a television show with goals
$10,000, a Hollywood crew in black, catering van out back
save the kafe on the korner
where friends & family gather
across the intersection from my space

36 people, the chosen, line up aside sun-scorched gray
vinyl siding. everyone is white, makes sense —
the crew is not, Hollywood — F-350 cab with box
truck, California plates, California people
in this tiny town, waiting to put dinner on the screen

Slate Suburban cruises by, hand in princess wave
a parade, past the dozens smiling
woman in lime flaps a hand
Is she happy to be seen?

Facebook event alerted of the news
I knew what I would do — watching, my son playing. Writing with a carbonated Michelob
noise-cancelling earbuds — good friends

Handsome state trooper pulls up
wait, a local cop. Cough, well done, tiny town
smiles at the just-arrived body guard in an Equinox
tinted windows. Two dozen people left standing.
Someone should bring these people water, chairs.

Did you know the Dollar General was closed today?
It’s the only place to go.
Woah. Two minutes later, did you know what arrived?
Chairs — enough for the ladies — and water bottles
Thank you thank thank you thank you

My best friend drives by, white Silverado
‘In God We Trust’ on the windshield
god — I love this tiny town. Did you know
last weekend, the annual ‘Night of Thunder’
our first in three years, my first in decades
it feels good to be back

The final extras now inside. Traffic cones are gone.
A crew member in skinny jeans pours leftover liquid down our drain
crushes bottles — love the California style — wonder
when will we all do the same

Perhaps this is travel enough —a perch
for people watching

Last time I watched a film crew, the desert
western Rajasthan, a Chinese team and Jackie Chan
dark-skinned extras, terrorists with dummy machine guns
on the steps of my renovated hippie style yellow home
a corner bastion in an 800-year-old fort
below me were the sleeping quarters
for elephants. My kitchen window over three feet thick.

India was incredible.
In its own super sweet way
so is this tiny town.
I’m grateful to be here

Good luck, Leah’s Korner Kafe
Looking forward to pancakes soon
You, too? Check them out.

you sexy crescent moon [poem]

you hook me with your tip
as i’m driven under you and inside
madness, taxi, tuk tuks, Delhi

you do not hide
from faces of women in dupattas, men in turbans, cows dawdling
dead on the roadside

look into me, you sexy crescent moon
low, gazing wildy, heart and hara, hot and pricked
just above sugarcane fields forever

are you waxing, are you waning? will you fade or light me up?
i’ll worship and adore you, you sexy crescent moon
feed me, guide me, suck me up

i lie on my side, see you resting, glowing, offering sight to me
bronze face tilts to the heavens, round pout
we’re purple in our humanness

beloved effortlessly seduces his lover, who loves to give herself to him
…cosmic and only time will tell…

i rise in your darkness, offer you my light
round and round and round and round
you sexy crescent moon

first night in india, taxi delhi to rishikesh // march 2014, refurb november 2020

india’s evenings remember [poem]

india’s evenings remember
hold the heat on copper, above a saffron glow
emerald trees witness from mango gardens
blue skies now gray behind cooking smoke and haze
aarthi melodies cricket bat crack crack cracks
chatting and chirping away like birds at young souls
delights for wandering ears and eyes
quick to claim understanding, a purpose
intention care systems for saving the way
        their way, of love

their way, of love
mother’s crimson mark
tika on foreheads in hair parts on
sakti hands on palace steps
        reminders of legacy for some, for now

rishikesh uttarkhand india // march 2014

you are enlightened, said guruji, i tossed it back from the shore [poem]

the swans and eagles visited
when i lobbed your ancient firestone
in that indian lake

thousand years of resurfacing

took a second time, god tests me
i listen to my voice
more than his

baptised by my own free will
in that indian lake

if ganga wouldn’t take me
by golly, maybe kitch-iti-kippi
the icy freshwater spring can kill

unsure if the second choice was just
or if ’twas first, that did bring it back

which rhythm, songbird, shall you sing
you dove in after the second rock
fan of leaping, living for the taking

and poof!, that is that, small splash

in throwing him the second time
returned a gift of bluestone, green, from gray
when i looked upon the shore, you were still there, love

i’m making a new choice this time
not gold, not black. pure

allow what is to be

and we shall see how many
years will pass by, before you come again

who is baba ram dass [in gratitude]

i am an unworthy phony who has moments of holiness, he said

i am not a holy being
who now
and then

imagine a wheel
hub in the center

now and then through
intense trauma
and sadhana, or the love of a guru, or something

moments of liberation
you go
ahhh you see who you are and it’s

all beautiful and then you’re off balance and
i oughta meditate

then the weight has flipped and then you’re off balance and
i oughta stop meditating and do the dishes

you don’t have to go to india
your teachings will be right here
and then he disappeared.

in gratitude to he that is ram dass, rest in forever liberation and light.
gratitude to you, ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram.

golden cosmic wisdom water cannot pour from empty cups. tibet, i see you. [poem]

silent and still
upon the plateau

can you imagine what it’s like?
just. beings. just. being.
vessels of golden cosmic wisdom water
ready to enlighten

        who can pour from an empty cup?

man wants just the taking, of the taking of the man
not leaving lone magnificence, righteous rights
wisdom is free for all, and within
just. beings. just. being.

        who can pour from an empty cup?

without place to fill their jugs
without sacred drops to drink
without rivers to reach the world

silenced and still
upon the plateau

can you imagine what it’s like?
just. beings. just. being.
vessels of golden cosmic wisdom water
ready to enlighten

        who can pour from an empty cup?

tibet, i see you.
acceptance, patience, equanimity soon will come

mercy, please offer us water. we have thirst.
man, give us back our water wells, our rivers, truths, source.
WE ARE READY but man wants just the taking, of the taking of the man
not leaving lone magnificence, righteous rights

wisdom is free for all and within
just. beings. just. being.

silent and still
upon the plateau

can you imagine what it’s like?

the wet heavy velvet wind [poem]

the wet heavy velvet wind
pulls herself through the hemlock
curtains, boughs floating
on the waving carpet
up low down up low down up

stone forest trees, short
wearing coats, beautiful, warm
storm after storm, weathering
heads down, huddle close
defectors are the first to go

did you see the beech leaves turn
from yellow to gold to brown
before they fell to the ground
turning soft under pressure of
the wet heavy velvet wind

glad we didn’t try like that

the big, deep, spring [poem]

for twenty-five new dawns
i propose a mid-day drive
something to look forward to

the big, deep, spring
not far from where i lay my head
beside gray-brown heavy curls
of my now toddler son

we went on a drive today
it snow and was the first time since it stopped, not that long ago
today it arrive, arrived, and arrived

the cops were there
       that was unexpected, and terrifying

babe wished to go home
before i’d wished anything
fight flight or freeze
never been my style with badged officials
i ask why not a raft ride
        that was unexpected, and terrifying

spotted brown, lake, brook trout
chunk of dishwater hair floating
jesus christ what the fuck
        that was unexpected, and terrifying

an only parent, with a son
and a 12-year-old golden witness
no one else, no jury
        that was unexpected, and terrifying

big swing push, biggest swing push
loaded up the car and crew
pulled out in a line of three

two cherokees, two and a half indians
enough support to get moving
i drove west, they split off

five miles from our place, a rental
cozy covid safe haven in the north, home.
car off. cries out

never have i ever been so close to
losing someone
like that
        that was unexpected, and terrifying

shirodhara: an ayurvedic oil awakening [poem, and embodied request]

drip drip
drip drip
drip drip drip streammmmmmmmm

warm oil streams across my face
pours from a pot above my head
falls an inch below my hairline, just above my eyebrows

running softly across my skull
rushing rivers to my temples
swimming in a swirl of curls
oil pools beside my head, towel on my hair

third-eye sleeping safely, kept under iPhone lock and key

life nectar continues to caress, sweet sweet fragrant oil
thinking momentarily fades away, sweetness in to take his place
simple sweetness, supple powers, of the lady with the oil
inner knowings wait for outer silence sweet sweet sweet

muddled being, struggling with decisions, none
crying heart, lamenting heart, learning not to love, but love
how to disappear and live again, shirodhara oil can you also come

minutes, hours, lives pass by as truth and grace remain
to hold supple hands of a woman in her prime, within an oil awakening

Opium in a baggy at the tea stahl [poem]

Black tar, she enjoyed this kind
in high school, rolled small balls
smoked in a marijuana joint
sometimes fired on its own

where in the world did
midwestern teenagers get this
poppy product adored by the Rajasthani man
tar-stained teeth, no shame

offers it to the American
mother in a navy a-line skirt sitting beside
chubby toddler in his tan and black fedora

it was always her favorite drug
pretended not to love it
she remembered the high well
smooth, relaxed, easy

for 16 years whenever asked
which she preferred best
last time she tried it, was a child

two men sat on a bench, cornered
across, in the cement block tea stahl near the fort first gate
pale blue button downs neatly pressed
brown skin, just a few shades darker than
their milky tea in slender glasses

government workers, kind dumb simple eyes
on the plastic baggy of opium held open to
the mother, eyes wide yet smaller than her own

she watched them watch her
the son, the baggy, chocolate inside
the mother clenches her jaw, purses her lips
hostage status in the exchange

Take opium? He asked, smirk and gentle smile
slides the black tar
his finger and the dime-sized dollop
oozing, My life is clean now
I heard her say, did you hear

he pressed resin on a pink tongue
skin scraped against sharp teeth below.
winding the baggy round itself, returned to a pocket
reached for water before the son, half liter
down his throat, just like that
he crossed his legs above the knee

now, a swallow of chai
held the glass with charisma, confidence
strange sexiness in the dark, this man

son banged a red litchi juice carton on the table
demanding attention from the audience, watching

name is Garfur, he told her, relative of
the politician who owns her hotel
last name Khan of the muslim warrior clan, three
daughters, one son, worked in camels before now
tuk tuk driver

life is good
opium cigarettes marijuana chai
easy life

who knows what my future brings
I heard her say, did you hear

now, this isn’t for me

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India // spring 2019
edited for form November 2020

You bowed to me [poem]

how many days have you walked into my room,
rice on a tray, dal, quiet as a mouse
careful not to wake my sleeping son
while seeing my mess, some shame
an american queen, closet concubine, waiting for the work to be
done at a desert hotel with
a pool

today for lunch I demanded plain spaghetti
        just boil it and bring it here! I heard myself yell at the phone

why did i speak like this?

disgusted with undercooked beans, abundance
of sunflower and rice bran oil, and salt

tonight for dinner I requested fancy dal not on your menu
one prepared special for entitled tourists like me
        dal makhani, it’s possible? I ask
        sab kuch milega, you say

when you brought it to me, my robe
closed tight around my chest, lights low, I opened my door, my world,
you entered, placed the tray on the table, silent

        you rose, met my gaze, pressed your palms in
        anjali mudra, opening your heart

my breath left me
        thank you, thank you, I said
        who am I to be so proud?
        I meant it

I longed to be a beautiful woman [poem] // tale of our first solo scooty adventure in the desert

I caught my shadow on the single-lane asphalt road with broken rocky shoulders that drew a line south in the Thar, save a few curves of sanddunes drifting across the surface. My head was tightly wrapped in an emerald green pashmina from Jaipur, the scarf tail dancing behind our bodies roughly one hundred kilometers from the Pakistan border. It was 95 degrees at ten am. Before we’d set off that morning I covered my son with the usual heavy gray cotton flap of his baby carrier, attached him tightly to my body, and drove down the slippery stone slabs of the fort first gate. It was the first time we’d ride here just the two of us.

The path was edged with desert cacti who wore silken flowers of faded fuchsia and tiny white pearls. The road cut through fields of harvested cumin, gathered into stone-topped drying piles amongst scattered mounds of sandstone boulders. The road curved through one small village of people who lived by shaping them. I smelled dirt. There were sandstone homes, carved beautifully, but most were square squatty concrete buildings, some with bright white lime and turquoise facades.

Muslim shepherds in sweat-stained dhotis with bulging inner pockets, slender frames, walked slowly behind dreadlocked sheep and black goats with twisted horns and rectangle eyes. Six or seven golden and burnt black camels in shade, sometimes alone, like the saggy backed bony cows who occasionally wore 15-inch horns. We passed by dung and clay huts with straw circle tops. Kids chased our scooter, which made me nervous, but happy to be seen. I smiled at the older humans, being, waiting for me to pass.

I longed to be a beautiful woman in a movie, the kind who poetry and novels are written about, dressed with a green scarf round her head, tied at the neck, pair of wheels under her, upon an open road.

Going deeper into the desert, I continued toward the Shakti temple an hour from town.

My dreams were now alive in the shadows on the ground.

The same, questions of your father [poem]

        the boys in the temple today
        spoke down to me, questioned
        again, about your father

eyes, pure white, open and embracing
circles of brown round black, still believing these are
more beautiful than any anyone has seen

        I regret what I told them
        you will have children. never leave your sons, I say
        please do not do what some of your real fathers did, I think

I turned my back and walked away from
my choices, the surprise and hypocrisy and beliefs
your parents, my parents, just products of lifetimes

        I hope the questions stop
        It’s not the Indian way, they say
        abortions, preferred. you think, they think, silent

your father, being human being, a man
tender boy made in mountains, naive, frightened
existence we created, they created, were created, are created

        truth, still a mystery to me
        father will love him, he is his son, they say
        it’s too dangerous to try, you say, they stay silent

nearly two years have passed. I am not the same
surely neither are you alone, in the secret of fatherhood
missing, or dead. to us you seem the same

        I hope the questions stop