Sand and Green Islands

August 31, 2010

I wanted to write today
but the Sound is so calm
and so cold.

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“Sunflower”

August 23, 2010

Remember when you wanted to name your cat “Help,”
so when you stuck your head
out of the screen door at night
and yelled: “Heeeeellppp… Heeeaaaallllp!”
You’d know which of your neighbors
really cared about you?

That was funny.

And I liked how for Arbor Day,
you bought me a sunflower, tall,
for my sunset window
because you said the head
was like a round compass
and the pink heart you drew
on the westernmost petal
pointed approximately
back to you.

That was one of my favorite
daylight moments of ours,
where for just a few rare hours
our connection wasn’t pressed
between bed sheets
where, admittedly, we made love
like poetic athletes,
flinging the windows wide open
so that even music teachers
coming back from lovers’ opera
would think to themselves:
“Now, that is really—
That is really something else.”

Or remember the day your dog died
and you asked me
to describe you in two words,
so I wrote “Nicole Kidman”
on a wallet-sized piece of paper?
Well, I lied.

Honestly…
you’re more like a stapler,
collecting ideals like
Gorgeous [click-click],
Intelligent [click-click],
Breathtakingly Exquisite (gasp).
And that thick volume of you, I’m sure,
is Heaven’s pre-requisite.

Hell, I’ve got a plane ticket’s worth
of confessions to digress to like:
Yes, I do like watching your old videos
from childhood.

Yes, it was me who planted hollyhock
outside by your mailbox
because you once said life could use
more hummingbirds.

And yes, maybe I’ve spent weeks
composing these petty words,
rotating moments of you
in lyrical stasis, thinking:

Ninety billion trillion miles—
that’s how big space is.
And I can’t find a single metaphor
to tell you just how pretty your face is.

Which is just as well,
because you are allergic to compliments
and you’re wary of drive-by relationships
that leave you sideswiped, I know.

Believe me, I know I’m not really your type.
And like the moon, I’m a lot less pretty up close.
So when you come twirling
through my yard,
I try so hard not to tell you how beautiful you are
how beautiful you are
how beautiful you are
as many times as I think it.

But the next time I call—maybe—
I’ll tell you that loving you
is like stealing honey
in a bear suit
in the middle of summer.
Except, maybe, I am you.
And instead of a bear suit, it’s nothing at all.
Maybe the honey is my boxer shorts.
And instead of summer, it’s midnight,
you’re fast asleep, and humming,
[humming] “How sweet it is to be loved by you,”
in your dreams
with the moon tangled in your ponytail.

But I’ll probably just get your voicemail and say:

“Hey, I know you’re used to small talk and horseplay,
but I’m tired of feeling lost and found, so:
Call me if you need a room full of flowers.
Call me if you miss seeing my toes in your shower.

Just call me if you want me around.”


Teach to Make a Difference (Spoken Word)

August 21, 2010

Teach like money never took precedence over imagination.
Teach like God was speaking through you in active sentences.
Teach like boredom and comma splices found you in an alleyway and you majored in kicking ass.
Teach like you knew how to turn darkness into living color.
Teach like Rush Limbaugh was listening.
Teach like it was April 1968 and this was your last speech for justice and equality.

Teach like you could undo your mess.

Teach like the guard went out for a smoke and Helen Keller was fumbling with the keys.
Teach like night devoured your ship and only you could read the stars.
Teach like your son just told you he was going to drop bombs for peace in the Middle East.
Teach like your time spent on this Earth meant something, because it does.
Teach like the Devil would give it all up for piano lessons on Sundays.
Teach like someone wanted to know everything about your childhood heroes.
Teach like a kid in the mountains asked you what oceans were.
Teach like you were wrongly accused of criminal negligence and the jury was packed with ex-girlfriends.

Teach tolerance like you were a President from Chicago and you’d never seen the JFK motorcade.
Teach responsibility like every line of chalk is another set of track marks you’ll keep from someone’s wrists.
Teach empathy like you could open your heart and palms like pages and let your students read everything.
Teach values like you save young men from trading their integrity for gold dollar signs and buying dreams with their souls on collateral.

Teach like people depended on you to rewrite the history books, from this moment forward.
Teach like potential always breeds reality.

Teach like the other side has guns and you only have one piece of paper.
Teach like your child was being swept away by an undertow while learning how to swim.

Teach like you were in a board meeting with BP with wooden paddles in both hands.
Teach like gold stars were purple hearts and it took bravery to get one.
Teach like schools paid you exactly what you earn.

Teach like your advice is only as reliable as the laws of physics.
Teach like these were your last students, like these were your last minutes, like your words were too important to fade.

Teach until they look at their hands and believe in cosmic agency, fingers trembling though they may be.