Welcome to Small Reflections
Cast back the bone of youth
And salt-eyed stumble bedward where she lies
Who tossed the high tide in a time of stories
And timelessly lies loving with the thief.
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Will You Remember|
Your eyes and your fingers grazed
my beleaguered heart, kindled a spark
long buried in the ashes of my years.
Lines on your face mirror the highways I've seen,
chances taken, byways traced for a glimpse of the dream.
Dare we embrace, even knowing how painful the grieving,
how the heart shuts down with doors that are closing.
Should we chance that the gain will be more in measure
than the loss of the leaving?
Our bodies, though lacking the grace of the young,
still fitfully tremble at the touch of the tongue, teasing -
passions inspired to flame. Will we care that perfection of line
and of form lie behind us; will it matter if we can't perform
as expected when the dance and the music were bold,
and perfected with partners we loved
and left for new promises?
Will you call me your lover if you don't see me naked,
if my breasts are soft against the cushion of your thighs
as I kneel to caress you? Can we waltz to this tempo, play
the blues and Vangelis, and never be angry over commitments?
"I didn't know I would meet you," you reflected.
Now I know what that meant, and my pen
trembles as I touch you with words
instead of my body.
We're older, not old. I'll wait a while longer, if you'll understand -
I didn't know I would meet you - when I have to go home, where
only the cold is measurable. And will you remember my softness,
pressed against your hard circumstance, surprising
the two of us with our boldness?
And will you remember that I'll never forget you -
that I've waited a lifetime to whisper I love you,
instead of goodbye?
Are a Mystery|
We have not happened to each other
yet. Not completely. I think your thoughts
so you can finish mine. We play the odds
for the infinite, and our shared moonlight
makes even the sighs of the meadow intimate.
Your laughter lifts clouds above mountains,
your lips make white lightning, and your eyes
drive our proud chariot.
Don't lose me in the distance. Our forever
is in our voices and I want to speak to you
through firestorms. Let's plant a tree
and grow our forest of forget-me-nots.
I'll wear a red dress so you can see me
in your naked darkness, and a parachute
of dances will bring you my smile.
I know white-knuckle journeys are not
easy, but this one is worth a thousand
safety nets. Blue herons are a mystery.
Time and distance are just tangles -
we won't let complications nest there if -
if you won't lose me in the distance.
We have not happened to each other
yet. Not completely.
(With special thanks to Russell Salamon for the inspiration)
Here, come visit my tombstone.
You were the death of me. Thank you
for seeing the wind in my eyes,
the night-blooming jasmine growing
out of my fingers, the silver-tipped waves
that rush out of my lips when we kiss.
Come celebrate! Let's breathe in some
mountains and blow them to where
we might be in a minute. I've dreamed
a tomorrow with room for you in it,
with invisible boundaries, so there won't be
a limit on how near we must be to hear
all the voices we speak in our joy.
Come closer. My heartbeat is free.
It's bright strings are tied to balloons
we might see over water if the moon
wants a visit. Step over your shyness
and share with me ladders that go
to high places. Break off my smile
and let it find you in ballrooms - the ones
where we dance with our faces.
We are freedom. Shackles just fall
when you drop them. Hold out your doubts,
let them catch on the breeze - fly
to others whose temples are cities.
Here, come visit my tombstone. I am
the butterfly you think is so pretty.
(for Jimmy Smith, L.A. Blues Artist/Poet)
You play your last dance
so beautifully it feels like tides
breaking. I hear your blues
inside veins where blood sings
and birds waken with crystal eyes.
My tears flow where you will find
them in our handshake. Crickets
vibrate with your touch.
I take you with me now as memory
and ambrosia for my journey to mountains.
I will share your victory with eagles
who soar poppies into gentleness at dawn.
You free fall off edges and give parachutes
to your promises and chances. Yesterday
is not a number and you steal stone visages
each time you become. The last dance
is just your beginning.
I Will Come To You|
I move in air and I will come
to you when your eyes are blue
from trying to save cities. Fields
of white daisies and purple heather
will paint my picture on your retinas.
A motorcycle between your thighs
will thrum my messages to your imagination
and wet the fire of the dreams
that spring from night.
My lips are only as far as the thought
of them whispering to your desire.
Your touch is my constant. Rainbows
make bridges and memories will climb
them and cling to you. The ocean
hold messages when you sing
to its seashells and hear truth
in its crevices. Wisdom springs
from your mouth, and I want to marry
you to my bosom and make children
with our voices.
I move in air and will come to you.
(for Donn Deedon, the inspiration, especially - and for all L.A. poets trying
to change the world through poetry)
I find your eyes in valley
grasses, hear sonnets in the fertile
breath of your night. You are a monarch
reigning expectation in coal-mine villages.
Driving on surface streets, you cast
off chains that bind us to ignorance
and firmament, kiss our hunger
with a melody of light.
Pregnant silences birth your children
to our corridors; sign language translations
twice touch our vested hearts. Exospheres
disrobe before your secrets, inviting promises
of flight. We cannot live without you.
Our death is written in the pauses.
Between apathy and expectation there
is a postulate for our freedom. Reaching
for converts, you write salvation
in metered refrain. You read
and we become your eyes.
You had a dream of living in a pristine world
where you would walk in streams of light,
sip cordials, and make love in shuttered alcoves.
The way had tangled bits, twigs and stone
on the path of a tomorrow you had dipped in honey
and the sacraments; of wishes born of desperation
and a dread of being ordinary.
Are your tokens worthless then;
what sacrifice did you not make to Truth
when you bartered everything
for sun and the glory you saw shining in the dream?
Reflected by her eyes, you decreed no bounty
high enough to halt the brazen notion –
and when she left, you placed silver dollars
on her photograph to rhapsodize the echo
of your shattered world.
The most perfect was pressed
between parchment pages of Horatio
Nelson and The Naval Supremacy of England, unseen,
unheld, since its trip to the attic in 1969, the year
Jon Benjamin returned from Vietnam.
Wild roses along the Susquehanna suffer
greatly by horticultural comparison to American
Beauty, though their capacity as tokens of childhood
memory remains just as real. Unlike Nelson, it wasn't possible
to trace Jon Benjamin's life through a botany of flowery phrases.
No bewitching Lady Hamilton imparted an element
of romance; no Battle of the Nile marked a triumphant
achievement; no Trafalgar sealed his place in his country's
history. Alive was what we asked for, selling short
even our simplest prayers. Neither a thousand ounces
of silver, nor a hero's welcome, would have improved
the roses -- or the look of a nation's betrayal in his eyes.
Come, let's gather Sunday around us.
This light won't stay for long
and we are waking slowly to consequences.
You spoke in tongues again and I heard a nightingale's promise.
We could take a skiff to the island, climb those hills
that look like small breasts – mine perhaps;
or find a place without reminders.
Mondays are cold. I want the sins
of Sunday to warm my week;
our fingers to speak a selfish language.
On a highway between burning desert sand
and the hot lights of a city, through mountain
topography lessons and laughter,
between trucker wisdom and shared intimacy,
we take a step toward tomorrow.
Hours before, we peel shirts and thirty years to sit
in a grassy field alive with music; tattoos and skin
of a new generation exposed to the retro ecstasy
of Credence and the genius of the Eagles.
They see age -- grant wisdom and knowledge
to miles travelled, puzzled by our wry smiles.
I can't describe the sky, the cirrus etch of impossible
colors, the single star, center-framed as though drawn
by an idealistic child, without recalling your tenderness.
I hesitate to ask: has ever a shower been so eloquently
shared to express the virtue of cleanliness, stripping
bare the ego, opening both mind and eye
to the beauty of imperfection?
Scarce hours become a vehicle, the conveyance
for poetry inspired and written by the years, our lives before,
and the fertile texture of our today. Your sonorous voice
ushers in signs of morning; mine softly closes the day.
Love sleeps tranquil in the hollow between.
Small Reflections was reviewed in the January, 1999 issue
of Poetry Today Online.
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Copyright 1998 Heather L. Long. All rights reserved