Many thanks to editor Alisa Golden for publishing “A Christmas Poem” in the new issue of Star 82 Review.
“Star 82 Review is an independent art and literature, online and print magazine that highlights words and images in gemlike forms. Each issue features flash fiction, creative nonfiction, erasure texts, narrative art, postcard lit and poetic storytelling featuring subtle humor, humility and humanity, the strange and the familiar, and hope.”
Write a letter to your younger self, they urge: It’s cathartic. Be kind, be supportive, guide her gently toward better choices. Fat chance she’d listen. Pearls of wisdom, cautionary tales–she heard them all. And what, precisely, to offer? Don’t settle? Don’t worry? Stay out of the sun? I wouldn’t listen to me either. If I took another tack, told her she was strong and worthy, capable of anything, she’d only shrug and look away. Not for a minute would she have imagined a soft landing in her sixties, four-bed/two bath, a steadfast spouse. In any case, who am I to interfere– she got me this far, didn’t she? Better to leave her hurtling into plight and fervor and folly so that she can show up here and astonish me. “See?” she would have said.
When the last breath of the last Woolly Mammoth rose into a leaden sky, did the universe notice? Was there a pause or ripple across the reaches of space? When a species is gone, I think it leaves an imprint, a ghost of itself on the fabric of time, keeping the record honest and the world from flying apart.
Many thanks to editor Corey Cook for publishing my poem “Terminal Lucidity” in today’s issue of Red Eft Review. Red Eft Review is an online journal dedicated to featuring accessible poetry for a universal audience.
Bonded to a boulder, living on air and random rain, a forty-year-old lichen claims a thumbprint of space. Centuries from now it will be the size of a dinner plate, will still be young when the millennium turns– not that age applies to a thing designed to override death.
Maybe this doesn’t sound like much of a life: stuck on stone, nothing to do but make more crust. Or maybe it’s a thrill a minute, living up to all that potential.
I would like to find out, to lie on a sun-warmed rock and give myself up, to become with steady assurance all I was ever meant to be.
News of animals, their misfortunes. Hopefully she has not seen these stories. I wouldn’t know.
Broken egg yolks. I give her the perfect yellow rounds, the slightly bigger shrimp, the cookie with more chocolate chips. I am nothing if not vigilant.
Worry about her health, especially her asthma. My anxiety will not help her breathe.
Worry about my own health. The little things. My body is my job, not hers.
Silly, daily mistakes I make. Which might, at this age, cause her concern.
My soiled childhood. This is what therapists are for, to hear the words that must be said to those will not be gutted.
Behavior I regret, the pages of our book I want to rip out. Admission is not absolution. Instead of infecting her with these images, I offer myself now, the improved version, the best I can muster. So far.
Her eyes are clouding with age, and when she peers at my face, I see confusion in hers: How do I appear to her now?
All I can do is lean forward and kiss that small patch of white just above and between her eyes, the star she was given by a god who foretold this moment. She bows her head slightly, allowing my reverence, knowing her worth all at once.
An osprey dives over and over,
as many times as it takes to stay alive
and become incidentally superb.
Driving down the road near my house
I see them flying, a stunned fish in their claws,
as if nothing could be more ordinary
than a bird bringing home dinner.
Wings or brains,
we work with what we have.
I can’t snatch a meal from the ocean
at 50 miles an hour,
but I can plant a garden,
make stories out of thin air,
learn the difference
between an aspen and an alder.
Minute by minute,
even I can be splendid.
Sometimes they are not dead.
Sometimes they just live far away,
and even if you stopped by for a visit
what words would persuade them
of your betterment, the worth
you finally achieved?
What could they do but listen and nod,
knowing what they know?