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There and Back

When I am home, I crave the world,  adventure, romance.

When I am traveling I think of the bamboo outside my window,

moving in the breeze, catching the light of the sun.

I wonder if I filled the bird feeder enough to last until I return.

In the forests I am content

until I think of the great mountain peaks

how the hills rush down and away into rivers and valleys.

In the Spring I marvel at the beauty of the flowers, then I remember Fall

with the cool, crisp air and golden leaves.

If I visit the city I think of the farm; of the rich orange

clay and the horses on the hill.

Of the sunrise that chases the fog away and gives life

to all growing things.

When I drive to the farm and smell the

sweet smell of cut hay,

I think of the sea.

I picture the waves sighing across the sand, and the

birds that wheel far above

The colors of the water before and after a storm,

I feel the sea oats under my hand and the sun on my face

as I walk the cracked boards over the dunes

to the powdered sand, to the damp sand, to the shells and the waves.

It is raining now, my window is cracked and I can hear the trains

in the distance. The city is seldom quiet, just like the ocean.

But if you asked me which place was more home

to me than the other, I don’t think I could truly answer.

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The Florida Georgia Line

The tide recedes slowly,

exposing marsh mud better left below the surface.

A heron dips his thing legs into the cool squelch, poised,

waiting for silversides to flash in the fading light.

A fog rolls in from the coast, settling over waving reeds with a hush

It feels like November; the cedars needles are rusting on their branches,

dropping to reveal bare bones.

The gray sky is reflected in the still water,

covering the great bird in obscurity.

We drive over the darkening scene, the scent of salty marsh

following us for several miles.

I believe I will always leave a part of me in Florida-

wherever I end up settling, a city, a forest, a mountain range,

a part of me will always reside by the coast

watching the breeze ruffle the shifting tides.

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Dawn Patrol

When I was growing up, before I had a job,

before I could drive, I used to keep my surfboard in my bedroom.

It would have made more sense to keep it in the garage, sure,

but I liked it with all my other things: my Shamrock hat and my hamster,

my broken lava lamp and mis-matched coasters.

It was a longboard, fiberglass, white with two red stripes on it.

I let someone borrow it the summer I went away to college

and haven’t heard from her since. I’ve thought about messaging her

to ask whatever happened to it, but I feel strange reaching out

only to ask about that. Plus, I think she’s married with a kid or two.

My friends would pick me up in their mom’s van before the sun came up –

we would share fruit from whichever kitchen that day

and decide which beach to visit first.

There is a silence on the coast in the early morning,

something different than any other time of day.

The waves break in almost a whisper, the sound muted along the sand.

The gulls are quiet, rising and falling from the water without complaint.

By the time we arrive, the far horizon where the ocean meets the sky

is a light blue, cool and pale.

We stumble out, hoodies falling past bathing suites, and check the waves

the wind, the tide, the other surfers bundled against the dawn, watching.

Sometimes we we would check our favorite spots before deciding,

other times the waves would be so clean it didn’t matter.

Seminole on 18th, 34th near my Dad’s office, or 3rd street across from Krystals.

If the waves were really bad, everyone would head to the pier

because if there was nothing better, we could all go to Pita Pit.

After watching, and waiting, and deciding, we would head back to the van

shed our stretched hoodies, grab the boards, and walk towards the water –

pausing to attach leashes and adjust bathing suites,

maybe try a stretch or two.

Boards under our arms, we would wade out into the swirling water

Sometimes green, sometimes gray, sometimes clear blue

I can can steel feel the sand giving way under my toes.

Once the water reached our waists we would leap onto our boards

our feet leaving the ground, not returning for hours.

That first paddle of the morning, in the still silence,

my hands dipping through the salty glass: that was perfection

that feeling of being a part of something that is whole

and complete without any kind of human

touch necessary is breathtaking.

It’s what made us get up before dawn and go back, to skip lunch

and push through the hot and the cold, the mushy waves and the clean ones.

Bobbing on the oceans back like a cork on my fiberglass board,

water dripping from the ends of my hair and hands, plinking back

into the vast Atlantic and merging to join the tides again.

It’s the thing about growing up that I miss the most.

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Jeffrey Scott

My Father ran track in Kansas during High School,

He told us how he was small, but fast, and he could out-run

any of the boys on the Football Team.

When my Brother didn’t get his growth spurt early enough he said:

“Don’t worry, it just takes a little time.”

My Father is the man that his Father wasn’t,

the kind of man who declined late meetings and weekend business trips

because they would take him away from his family.

He is the kind of man who helped me struggle through Algebra,

and got as excited as I did when I brought home essays stamped with A’s.

A man who took time to teach me the difference between southern rock

and classic rock, drumming out the beats on his steering wheel,

and laughing that he couldn’t hit the high notes that Steve Perry could.

He wears a suit and tie to work, and with his sunglasses on

people have mistaken him for an agent about to bring in someone for questioning.

But I know better.

I’ve seen him carry my sleepy sister from the car and tuck her into bed

I’ve heard him checking the locks on the doors

after the house goes quiet at night.

I’ve been with him when he pauses to rescue earthworms

who have become trapped on the sidewalk during summer

and watched him return them to the cool ground.

He is the man I want my son to be, and the person I want my daughter to admire.

He knows I need him as much now as I did the day I was born,

and he doesn’t laugh at me for that.

My brother finally got his growth spurt, but the last time they raced,

I think my Dad let him win.

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Let’s all go Geocaching

I have a story for you, a long and involved story with no particular point,

a story about a purple back-pack I bought the summer I visited New Jersey

and your brother hid under the board walk with a dollar in his hand

to slide between the slats, and we tried not to laugh when people stooped to reach for it.

I took it home and started college – started trying to fit every book on

Kate Chopin into it, late night snacks, a water bottle when my sister insisted.

I lost keys and my Burt’s Bees in it, finding them again with effort.

Soon, a tear reached from one end of the front zipper to another-

My sister was binding books with wax thread, and I applied an orange strand

giving the bag an appearance of teeth.

I took it to the ocean and filled it with salt and sand

I took it to Mom’s and she filled it with soap and warm water.

The week before I was going to fly to Colorado to meet his mom, I left it in

the front seat of the car, parking on a side street, heading to Art Walk without it.

I got halfway home that night before I realized: My wallet, my makeup bag, my notes

from class, my keys and the keys to the house I was petsitting for, well,

they had vanished.

We started a city wide search

We filed a report at the Station

We combed the surrounding bushes and trash cans, hoping, swearing it would never

happen again if just please, let me find it.

I returned home without my purple back pack.

The next day, we got a call from the Police, the Jacksonville Police, who were going to

file a missing persons report because a backpack and ID were found in a ditch.

My Mother said “No, she’s right here, I’m looking right at her.”

We met at the Gate gas station on I-95 and there, on the hood of the Sherrif’s Car,

I saw my backpack. It was wet with dew, my keys and cards were missing, and most of my makeup was ruined. The orange wax thread was gone – the bag smiled a toothless smile at me as it passed from Officer to Owner.

I had my ID, I had more wax thread, the culprits spent $199 in gas and split town, flinging my bag from the passenger side as they fled west.

Someone found my beautiful bag in the ditch on a country road while Geocaching. They called to Police to file a missing persons report, and kindly placed it in their hands, where it found it’s way back into mine.

My mom washed my bag, not for the last time, and later that week I flew to the mountains. It only seemed fair that we should both take in the view.

 

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Mane and Tale

Let’s swap war stories and see who’s is worse.

Let’s go hunting and figure out who balks

when it comes to the kill-shot.

We can make plans to spend the Holiday’s together

before you cancel, knowing that our parents

have nothing

more in common than we do.

Or we could go to Gatlinburg, and I can spend

the entire time wondering why

I ever decided to leave the farm.

Let’s see who is happier at happy hour

or in the hallway of a barn with no lights,

watching the storm roll in over the mountains.

I’d rather polish tack with a stray dog and a barn cat

for company, with a horse who knows

when to look to the horizon and move

on to greener pasture.

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Monarch

I have a friend who faithfully reads my words, but tries to pin

down the person, place, incident they hint at –

Like a collector filling a case with insects

fragile wings frozen mid-flight.

He does not understand that these writings are mere

attempts at reaching, holding in my hand

that feeling before it slips through my fingers

and returns to sand, water, stardust.

I want to tell him that you cannot grasp those memories in one hand.

You cannot capture them and pin them down,

to spread their wings and lay them behind glass for collectors to admire.

I write about the last grains in the hourglass,

the feeling of water that drips between cupped fingers.

I want to tell him you cannot capture the things

that rightfully belong to the air

to the spaces in-between breaths.

There are stories that never make it to the front

page, and songs with melodies that never leave our minds.

There are smiles after the picture is taken,

there will be smiles that we miss.

I will keep putting them down on paper

and He will keep growing his collection under

the desk lamp, glasses perched on the end

of his nose, reflecting golden light.

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