Faces, Decontextualized

episodically

faces from the past

(when she was a whole person,

not this brightly colored

amiable hologram)

stumble upon

her

hidden in plain sight

inadvertently blasting

gashes

in her composure

 

she swallows the panic

imagined awkwarding

shrugs imperceptibly

shouldering back

shifting ever-present

cloak of shame

 

brightly, uncued

“how may I help you?”

 

astute, registers

lack of recognition

 

in dementia clouded eyes

a faint flicker

can’t see past

the internal cumulus

to place her

momentary relief

hastily chased

by crushing sorrow

and humble gratitude

 

her fate, at least

has reversibility

 

clear-eyed interloper

assumes any

twinge of familiarity

setting abides

 

she is practiced at this

pretending she wasn’t

witness to

someone’s darkest hours

 

superficiality managed

she sighs relief

gratified to note

evident functionality

vestiges of her efforts

beneficial

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming…

…already in progress

 

remember that antsiness?

hopping one-footed

from impatience

to exasperation

 

the “BREAKING NEWS”

ticker-taped drama

interrupting

your favorite show

 

interminable

 

in childhoods’ eyes

worthless irrelevant

waste of time

impingement

on your levity

 

the voice of

Peanutted adults

“wah, wah wah, wah wah”ing

until the
FINALLY

stoically intoned

sweet release

 

the discovery

discombobulating

 

of plot twists

irretrievably lost

(the days before

instant perpetual

electronic gratification)

favorite characters

now played by

different actors

and you missed

the announcement

 

now imagine

 

instead of a show

that was your LIFE

 

running on

while you are gone

plots reversed

characters

mystappeared

and NO ONE

has a DVR

 

and tell me again

how incarceration

rehabilitates

 

 

 

 

Costumes

in this life

that doesn’t fit her

she slips in and out

of costume

the intellectual

professional

advocating, teaching

smartly skirting

the absence of her profession

toeing a brightly painted

barricade

the suburban

divorcee

in need of extra cash

burning moonlit

candle at both ends

concealing needs

beneath

lauded patience

and efficiency

the exiled

brood mother

conjuring

aspartame-free

nestings

repeatedly booting

cowbirds’ parasitic

resentment eggs

the “call me at any time

I’ll be there to listen,

stage an intervention,

bake or hold your hand,

give you painful truths

to which you won’t listen”

friend

defriended

defrauded when she

calls collecting

attempting to

befriend herself

the partner

flawed and hurtful

hurting

unmoored

awash in

earsplitting

silent recrimination

treading water

on industrial carpet

the woman

defamed and defiled

vilified and reviled

shedding sackcloth

and incendiary ashes

standing naked

before herself

in harsh or

compassionate

scrutiny

Ode to Poetics

inchoate community

scrapes a foothold

in consciousness

amorphously distinctive

characters

who listen and respond

they can’t place

the staccato

of her hurried footfall

but begin to recognize

the thunder

underlying

measured words

they can’t trace

the jaw-jut

of grim determination

but start to see

firm sketching

o’er chalked outlines

they can’t track

the timber of her voice

pick it from the masses

but catch the strains

of love and loss

or laughing in fate’s face

as she drags

herself upright

they can’t anticipate

the upper octaves

of an impending

stifled shriek

but spot and chorus

outraged indignation

they don’t hear

the trembly quaver

of heartaches’

plaintive pleadings

but witness

the scratchy whisper

coarse suturing

of her soul

 

Clean Up on Aisle 6

I grocery shop

Friday nights after work

from habit

rather than necessity

in the full days

demands of kids’ schedules

house, garden and partner

episodic social life

weekly menu

planned and posted

efficient and organized

chore checked off

as weekend begins

tonight my list

is sparse

self-deluding

endeavor a farce

it’s allergy season

vigorous nose-blow

disguises

upstart tears

I summon the smile

chat with the cashier

repay Trader Joe’s

perpetual friendliness

in kind

small-talk, check

gracious smile

he encourages me

to pick out

a fresh bouquet

on him

Do my eyes

scream wounded doe?