Just Us

Just Us

See
We survive
As mirrors
Of each other

Deflected death
Reflected misery

Reaching to live
Reaching for safety
Reaching to remember

Finding arms, hands, hearts

Third

threes are important to me
and so are you
but your gone
too, as well, also.

and I expect
ed it
and I saw it coming
and I trusted some process

again again again.

she told me
the third betrayal
is a rebirth
and I left
left left
was left

until you saw nothing
in or about of me.

but here in this city
of not quite ashes
I will gold your gaze

not above
not below
only at the waterline.

[staying late]

Scene:

The desert shifted to hold a small clump of humanity. Sprinkled with some insanity of New England where the amount of green they have around the houses is directly proportional to the happiness inside. her and her and her and her and his block was made of hoses which are slightly different, which had five rooms and rucked sidewalks. The women walked to work and the men took buses smelling of frayed chemicals. In the background a plant sticks those chemicals to the cky, to the cactus, to the dying grass, the undersides of workboots.

Worn.

She asks her to stay just
a bit past five, a tight clutter
of receipts cover her once clear desk
“ I know,” she says “it is a long
day once you are done in the field.
Your tired, but women
I find are more dexterous.”
finally home
she elbows the door
SHUTTts
the fake brass knob
and leaves discount cans
on buckled porch.

He sits

it wasn’t a bad
feeling, enough of mood.
A striped nut threaded down,
her sholder
tighteding now
as she tries to flick
it off, but it began, has begun.

She and she and she
lay in the back-dry-grass
making shapes
out of chemical sky

sister, two: straightens those plastic straws
you buy at the dollar store
the straws you can bend and straighten.
She takes them all from the bag,
pulls and lines in rainbow color order.

Sister (ten): sleep walks
into her and her roomeverynight
drops her blankets and goes back to sleep
without warmth.

Worn.

she and she and she
come in:
expectation.
Desire.
Play.
Exhaust.
Terror.

They – an odd pronoun – just first
glances and she already thought how it would end.
As she pulls out a chair
and typical sits.

A tree swallow
glides inches
cut grass once rises
then fall back

a shedding down blanket which was a leaving present
much to thin. She and she and she
sleep sides by sides tug at blanket ends where the feathers poke out sharp

she and she and she and she and he

when she works she doen’t think
of things but two
I am tired. What time is it. I am tired.
What time is it. I am tired
what time is it. Time tired time time

sister (nine): she hid in a truck stop bathroom once
sat in her stall
feet and crossed legged
on the cool metal seat.

A man came to her at work
“you are not offended by our,
the way we talk right?
Its all in good fun.”

she dug
hard spade
into harder dirt
nicking rocks,
slicing roots

according to her and his history
it was a good
thing. Once it is always
a good thing

by thirteen he was so used to auto-
mations he leaves non sensored sinks running for hours.
At the plant he moves his parts,
walks up late and runs
gasping, to the bus.

One between summer and fall they sat, and sat, he makes lists for her to comeplete, a complete change by tomorrow. Of course the quail were scatter running and dry grass rubbed under toes, she and she and she sit but do not move.

When he talked hurt
a giant squid tickled
tentacles, sucked
her minds feet
through both doors.

Worn

before puberty she and
a neighbor set an action figure blockeade
both ways of the sweating oil road. Hid to watch
for tire explosion. After several attempts a man
caught. Yelled. Held
their young arms and eyes in anger.

Time tired timed time
tire time time
time time
tire.

She lost

after/she lay
nose up studying
some space between rare desert rain

smooth wind sanded
rocks snatched
between air condtioaries
and sharp light.

That kind of woman doesn’t live here.

That type of hair would be shorn from her roots.

That job would look to good without her.

She has no tired thoughts to pin global between foot and floor.

She has too tired arms gather her girls
and jerk she and she and she
away.

She and she and she
grew up fast:
making family meals.
Taking sides,
running away.
Grew up slowly: afraid of too much glare,
afraid to be out of their room,
they hid behind hanging shirts in her and his closet
and waited.

Worn out

she and she and she
Grow up.
Expand out.
Leave the chemicals
but not the dust.

Home for the Hoildays

Note: I went home for the holidays for my days off and I didn’t go to my home island for the first time. It was strange. Here are some poems I wrote in the summer after high school and my first year of college.


  Directions to the County Park 

Follow blind bay road around the blind
      corners of blind bay.

years ago we played in the tide poolsbuilding
sand jails for baby sculpins.
in summer the water seemed warm
we painted our legs with cliff mud
and climbed a leaning cedar tree.

Turn left at the dusty blue community center
      the road is a slight incline
      past a hayfield.

middle school we strolled in afternoons
splitting girls from boys. and we
flicked dried crab shells with bare toes.
                       
Another road, left again-cedar fir maple
       and empty campsites.
soon we discovered ultimate frisbee,
loud music, cars, and ran late
into summer twilight until the disk
began to glow.
      Then beach through the dried thorns
of nootka rose and ocean spray.
today the park is empty
an eagle wades in the eelgrass
and we are scattered

high school, college, alcohol, drugs and jobs.

northeast wind blows and few
maple leaves under the rusty swings
past the dwindled sun. 


Off the Grid
 

I live in a house which is dark at night   our water is out
of a five-gallon tote, the outhouse is fifty feet     that way 
we keep bread in rat proof containers,                        go to community
potlucks. drink homemade beer,       drive slippy slide
up the mountain in a blue Dotson pickup. smoke
weed in the dirt roads after dark
wave to passing neighbors boats. a momma hen     protects her chicks from spring rain, peaks around our door
when we offer her food,                            she retreats into the tall grass,
              and unripe wild strawberries. 
 
 
Older Sister 

She left home
      and no
I don’t know her now
sometimes on the telephone we talk,
when she visits we are little kids 
giggling in fir tree forts, fear
is a polished exit
her life lies
in half packed boxes 
I have never
looked inside. 
 
 
Tacoma Port Protest 

Crane lights streets and seagull wings reflected
off their helmets shields,
everything was heckling and waiting. 
Around 2 am we discussed our position,
eyed the fully armed
serve and protectors
and mobilized
by their good neighbor fences
started an early morning march
linked arms, our group retracting,
slender tentacles of a startled anemone. 
They used their tools well.
Rubber bullets
grenades of tear gas.
long wooded sticks
to beat a girl down
mace her face on the concrete. 
shooting through the fog of gas
they advanced, eyes invisible
behind dark plastic shields
and we were shore crabs
scurrying for any form of safely.  

Family Dentist 
He gives the usual
a lecture about smoking
which includes his first,
his only, cig
and the undisclosed health problems
that comes with smoke filled lungs
and age. 

I believe him
because liver spots cover
both cheeks
and he graduated from Oregon State in 42.
He gets the year wrong

and we are back in 2006
while he re-reads my poem
cut out of the island paper,
binder clipped my chart
just by the note on my molar cavity. 

He smiles, nods at my printed works
tells me McCarthy
(do you know who he is?)
required his solider students to write poetry
tells me I am cavity free
but always continue to floss. 

Yes, People in These Islands Do Work 

we live on glacier leftovers
rocks in the Doug Fir
scrape life out of root formed dirt
and suck water from above the high tide line. 


Shaw Store Checker:

She asks me to stay
wait out these few moments till 6
desperate for talk
beyond,  is that all for you today?
and         the ferry is running late. 
I tell her the store sells too much beer
but she rings up another pack of paps
digs fingernails through short brown hair. 


County Handyman:

working for the county
is a yellow truck, with flashing light
good benefits.
He keeps the town keys
for each public restroom,
every island’s dump. 

Farm Hands:
he smiles in English
laughs in Spanish
we snip and peel garlic
in August shade. 
 

Dive Tender:
      I love the women
I tend for, they have purple and pink
stripes on suit shoulders, matching weights
and fins,  keep their braids long.
ignore convention. 
as I was hauling today’s diver’s tanks
up the bow a seal surfaced
whisker kissed her pup
who slipped up her back
they floated, heads together
staring us away from the cove. 
 
 
 
 

Birthdays

So I am turning 25 today. When I was a teen I could only plan as far has getting myself to college and even after I graduated I had no idea how to continue living. But I am and adulthood is getting easier. This is a poem of advice I wrote for my sibling when I was 18 and they were turning 16. PS, I choose the beautiful comic sans font to express my feelings.


16

or obnoxious life lessons form an older sister

1. don’t worry about the sweet
bit, or kissing, when it’s ready
everything will be all that.

2. there is plenty of time, wait
for perfection, fall is young; rotating to maturity

3. the forest holds night all day
let yours escape.

4. the essence of the air has turned
from blackberries to frosted leaves
take your warmth with you when you go.

5. light hangs on a left over rain
drop. you hold the answers in your fingernails.

6. soft passage light is purple in tonight’s sunset.
you know your course, set it
hold it, chart it. defend it.

7. the madrone on broken point is half gray
half golden red. you are balancing a constant struggle.
keep your fire stocked and lit.

8. car alarms are common place,
we don’t hear the panic in their cries
the rain continues a lazy drizzled rhythm.
listen anyway.

9. you look more like
yourself each day
yes of course
you are beautiful.

10. 1. paint toenails
2. do math
3. finish Spanish
4. play music
5. change the world.

11. we all want to be the best of something
but all we can manage is staying alive
and saving hope.

12. you are the best at smiling
and avoiding the dishes.

13. remember that life is a universe and everything.

14. mice tap dance at night
making trails though the rafters.

15. our baskets are woven tightly
to keep old secrets secure
find the loose thread, pry gently.

16. love. hmm, comfortable and squishy,
but a single sage bush lost against the sand.
don’t believe me, just tend your heart well.
plant it in a sunny place, water thoroughly.

Notes from the Morning Ferry

Note: I wrote this my senior year of high school. I was homeschooled but took classes at the community college in my last year on island. I was 17. I was ready to go.

“Welcome to the Washington State Ferries
may I have your attention please
this is an important safety message.”

Morning rose like a drunken businessman, briefcase in hand.

The moon hides in a paler strip of sky
two fingers above the tree line.

“I like the way the light looks
in the morning, very soft”

The churning white of ferry backwash: envy

She has taken up knitting,
yanks her hair into a French braid bun
drinks caramel lattés by the wall heater
in pink high heels.

Pink buds peaked out in mid-January, eager faces at a window.

He barely tops the benches
strides the ferry in brown moccasins
smiling with half his front teeth.

Her fingers ache with winter
wedding band drops slightly closer to the bone.

The sound was a sleeping cheetah
waiting for the chase
and pounce of tomorrow’s storm.

They stand out like patches
of mold, on sourdough bread
everyone eats around them.

A log floats in the emerald lee of an island.

He stands, hands in pockets,
hunched into himself
but we offer no apologies.

“I always forget what I am going to say.”

He still wears his high school sweatshirt
specked with paint and sawdust.

Each breath is a fresh hope, dying.

He traces two fingers slowly
across his forehead, dusting
the walls of his mind.

“I have a half bottle of bourbon left over from the weekend.”

Which lies do we choose to accept?

They have placed cigarettes behind
their ears, will light
up as soon as we walk off.

There is a ritual in every ending.

“We are now arriving
at Friday Harbor all passengers
please disembark via the car deck.
Thank you.”