They’re giving away

They’re selling face masks at the art gallery
flowers, polka-dots, rainbow, BLM
Still we bleed because we are human
No end in sight

On the porch, she rocks
sewing something
waving from her roost

They’re giving away face masks
at the stone church
All kinds, free
And still we bleed

Drop the guns
Drop the hate
Pick up the needle, thread, fabric
She tells herself
Stay busy

Because we are human, we bleed
We think
We aim to keep our hands busy
and our hearts full

Drop what no longer works

Work on making something new

Something of use

under the flowering tree

Plush carpet was the ground in pink veneer

Tree waved and woman waved back

Held her vaccine card with strong(er) hand

Proud to have traveled this far

sav(or)ing the moment on insta

Showing off the aliveness of it all

Committed to her health

Slaying the pandemic dragon

Seen by the cherry blossom trees as

pedals drifted into the reservoir

Making the present stay

Taking the moment away

A Year Into This

Some days. when I feel tired, that crick in my neck, I remind myself of the time, at the onset of the pandemic, that I carried a cappucinno, a mocha, a chai tea latte and an iced coffee home. I had to go to Starbucks because Maison Kayser closed. And it looked like Starbucks would close tomorrow.

I balanced the morning drinks in their cardboard holder. I carried them home. Decided in the sunlight walk that I would rent that house in the Adirondacks. And we would escape New York.

So a year ago to the day, I told the kids, “We’re leaving on Sunday. Pack for two weeks. And we’ll take that dog to foster on the way. And if you don’t like it, you can come home to New York any time.”

And then, after a sleepless night, I changed my mind. I said, “We’re leaving tomorrow, Saturday. I don’t know if we’ll get a rented car if I wait a day longer. Everything’s closing. We’ll pick up the dog and not wait for them to drop him off.” The kids argued. They needed more time.

I had escaped once before with children in tow to the town in the Adirondacks. Then, it was 9/11 and the kids were tiny. And the whole way up on the thruway that night, I heard sirens. And when I mentioned it to my husband, who was driving then. (Yes, he used to drive.) “Isn’t it strange? No cars, but still sirens.” He said, “There’s been no sirens on this entire trip.”

I could swear I heard sirens that September night in 2001. This time, this March 2020 night, I heard sirens too in New York City. But they faded as I drove away.

This time, instead, I feared the rest stops. I worried about taking the change from the man at the gas station. I feel guilty for having that fear. I did not know how to adjust my anxiety meter — should I dial it up or down?

After we left, we only returned three months later — my three young adult children and I — we came back to drop off our winter coats and pack up our bathing suits. Those two nights of our June NYC return, the movie theater on Broadway was boarded up, fearful of the Black Lives Matter marchers. I walked by the cinema as I was bringing treats — cookies and flowers and pre-cut mango slices — to a friend’s family whose child was having surgery.

What did you learn about yourself during the pandemic? I learned that I have a knack for escaping New York.

And that New York City is the place to to bring treats — coffee or mango. It is also a place where I hear sirens. I am proud and grateful and guilty that we left. We returned in mid-August. A few waterbugs had moved in. I evicted them. My husband returned from his extended stay with his sister in Florida.

Some days. when I feel tired, that crick in my neck, I remind myself of the time, at the onset of the pandemic, that I carried a cappucinno, a mocha, a chai tea latte and an iced coffee home. I had to go to Starbucks because Maison Kayser closed. And it looked like Starbucks would close tomorrow.

Today, one year later, I balanced morning drinks in the cardboard holder, carry them home. Decide in the sunlight walk that I would not escape New York. Not this year. Starbucks is open, Maison Kayser’s gone forever.

But it is NYC where I will bring you, my family and my friends, treats.

He said/They said/She said

He said
Get small, stay small
stay pretty
say nothing

They said
Heels, tight dresses
matter over mind

They said
No one will believe you
say nothing
slink away

She said
Not me
not this time
get big, get loud
stay real
say something

They said
I believe you
say it again

They said
I too believe
Some might have said
I don't believe you

She did not care
She did not slink
or cower or cry
or apologize

Okay, she did cry 
a little
apologize a little too
She laughed then
although that was not in the script

All she wanted 
was to contribute
get big
stay real
say something
get loud 
do good
be a part of something bigger

They said 	are we truly one?
She said     one big family in one big world
He     they    she said 	
thank you  

trashing a poem

the sweeping shape 
as the poet with broom in hand,
attempts to make it all neat and tidy
and in the dustpan 
and then taken to the sidewalk.

the piled-up words, a children's story
that starts on one page and proceeds to the end.

but life rarely comes with readymade pages.

the illustrator needs to color the images
or interpret the rhymes
with a sharp wit or a wink or a hidden mouse 
in the corner of every page.
or how about a moon rising?
or a chocolate chip cookie, with a bite taken out?
or perhaps a caterpillar?
so many ways to color the pages of the day,
weeping up the words into the bin
tidying the edges,
knowing that the words 
will need to be tidied tomorrow too.

so the poet puts away her broom,
sails from the room,
returns to the page, 
stays on the shape of today's story, 
hoping to spark a thought of 
of home. 

Celebrating the Truth Tellers

Everyone knows I love(d) Cuomo
but I love the women who speak up more.
I admire and respect these women for speaking truth to power.

He was wrong and admitted it.
How seriously should he meet the consequences?
Did his apology matter?
What should happen to him? I don’t know.
Ask the women.
Ask the jury.
Ask the pastor, ethicist, expert.

No one wants unwanted advances.
No one wants her name tied to some creeper, older white guy.
And while I admit to loving Cuomo’s communication style —
His emphasis on love, solidarity, etc.
His power points and joviality charmed me.
It is wearing thin.

I admit to wanting to go back to the time when he was a good governor,
not a creepy intruder upon a woman’s space and a woman’s psyche.
Because that’s what happens when creepers creep.
They get inside — as if they plant a worm that grows, makes you doubt yourself and doubt your sensitivity. They invite you to be quiet, to be good. Say nothing.

So the fact that a young woman says,
“Nah, I’m not staying silent. I’m not doubting myself, I’m calling this behavior out.”
I admire that. I admire their truth telling. I wish I had their courage.
I love their courage even more than I love Cuomo’s power points,
even more than his daily pressers.
I love / take hope when anyone without power steps up to the mic and says,
“I’ve got to say what happened. And it’s not right. And I don’t want it to happen to anyone else. People, listen. Learn.”

‘Women, speak your truth. Even if your voice shakes,’ the saying goes.
And if a wriggly worm says: “Be nice. Don’t make such a big deal about it. This person’s one of the good guys.” Tell the worm, “Yes, I hear you. And I will speak my truth any way. Because even the good guys need to learn, even the heroes must not harm others.”

Nah. I doubt his apology will be good enough.
If he uses his power to assume everyone wants a piece of him. Nah.
I love(d) Cuomo but I’m not going to let him silence or bully women.
This women’s history month, I’m celebrating truth tellers — all of the women who speak up when it’s easier to remain silent.
Thank you for your courage.

Throwing Shade

She considered purchasing shade.
How much?
Good shade or side-eyed shade? 
Cool shade or burning shade?
Grey or gray shade?
And look!
custom made simple.
Custom shade, tailored to the increasing shade demand. 
And 'lo, does she, we need that
light-hearted, slow burn, revolving,
evolving shade.
Especially now that it's women's history month. 
When does that shade shoppe open? 
How can she get some? 

Hey, look, it’s snowing!

the miracle
is found in the pause

just the wait
after one child
“Hey, look, it’s snowing!”
all turn to see teaspoon-sized flakes

teacher crosses her arms
hands on hips
an attempt to look bigger
large and in charge

but like the children
she thinks of home
of hearth and health and kin
tripped up

caught in the net of beauty

she pauses to watch the snow
the miracle of the pause

the moment suspended, the magic of sideways snow
of snow falling up
out the window
white flakes
heading home

Freezing Rain

Ice slides into cracks
on bridges.
Do not cross.
Reports indicate more 
is on the way.
Freezing cold and flakes fall,
only following the tug of gravity.
Looking to land in a home
on sidewalks slick.
Just water,
frozen, bright, looking to land. 

Less Judging, More Loving

A bird does flit or fly or tweet
but the bird doesn’t hang on to every mean feat.
A laugh may travel across the sky
but the laughter doesn’t come at the expense of you or I.

I know why we need to value our own worth
and stop feeling that others have judged us harshly from our birth.
The shame cycle of ‘never enough’
causes us to defend the castle or to bluff.

For we are made for heroic jousts,
for the equal swordfight, not for the lion’s roar to the mouse.
Equal in battle, in fair play, in rhyme.
We are meant for love and understanding not for lying.

So set aside the buff, the cower, or the care.
We are opening a can of ‘lookee here!’
Follow the heart, open the breath.
For if we are judging — or fear judgment from others — we cause our own premature death.