Poetry

The Borderline


As we zig zag the

US and Canada border

from Maine to Seattle

and into Alaska


We travel through Native lands

families and friends separated

long lines of cars and trucks

on land and bridges

close communities

divided


Passports to be shown

sunglasses off

those with a DUI

cannot cross over

even as passengers

or ever again

I heard it said


Sometimes it's a long trek

other times not

Reservations and Reserves

two separate lands

on one border

or another


Veteran Elders come

to participate

at Eagle Staff gatherings

some well into their 90's


Regalia and bundles

inside the car

the border patrol

depending who you get

know better now

to not go through them


Officers with good training

have learned to respect

the ways and traditions

different from theirs


Indigenous men

women and children

come to participate

in a pow wow

a celebration

a sacred circle

on the other side


First Nations go south

Native Americans go north

First Alaskans go east

Northern First Nations go west


To participate and celebrate

to give thanks for each other

the earth

the land and waters

animals and trees

stories from another time


Everything done in a circle

intricately sewn regalia

headdresses, jingle dresses

made with feathers, beads

and the hide of buffalo

caribou, deer, and seal


Songs and traditions

from long ago

to say we are one

in a circle


with no borders



Verses not written


I think of the verses

I tried to recite but they flew off

my tongue, and got carried away

by some wild wind

into the night, like a firefly

who knows what jar means.


One summer I retrieved a poem

I had imagined months earlier and

found it hanging on the clothes

line basking under the sun

with the sheets and towels

it knew what paper meant.

I let it be. So many good ones

have gotten away from me.



The Dream Catcher Restaurant

Sault Ste Marie, Michigan

July 2019


An Elder woman seated across the aisle from us

Having brunch with a girlfriend

Her jacket is draped over a chair


On it are a moose, deer

An eagle overhead. On a clear blue lake cries the loon

I am back in the North Lakes, woods region


I hear a faint background of seventies music

Bob Dylan, Maria Muldaur, Gordon Lightfoot

Buffy Sainte Marie, Johnny Cash


Our waitress keeps pouring refills while

My husband is making travel arrangements

On his smart phone


I think back to waking up an early morning

At the cabin in Northern Minnesota

Sitting at the dock with a cup of hot chocolate


Reading second-hand, ear-marked, paper backs

While hearing the loon in the far off distance

After a morning dip


A late teen, care-free dreamer

I'd wonder often about that big world out there of

Infinite possibilities


Will I go to college? What will I study?

Where will I live? Will I get married and have children?

Will I be a drifter?


The road of my childhood was not a straight line

My studies and jobs took me far from the lake

To places of no return


I was brave and foolish then

It is a small miracle, I am not dead

What happened to that care-free teen at the lake?


The woman across the aisle

Stood up and put her jacket on

The jacket with the moose, deer, eagle and loon


At the lake

She turned and gave me a familiar smile

And walked away.




He Brings My Poems to the Grocery Store


Before he gets out of the car will he look over the

grocery list and notice my attempted poem on the

back of the page; the one about Second Chances?


Or will he spot it in the produce section while

turning the page to see if I had written strawberries

to then discover the poem. Will he take pause


Read it and smile, or will he look at it as scrap

paper, being used wisely, turning it quickly over

not to lose frame of thought, or be discovered


Maybe he will read the back page while in the long

check-out line then fold it in half and leave it at the bottom

of the cart to later bring outside and let blow in the wind


With all the other lists we write. Or perhaps he'll unfold it

read it twice, and put it in his shirt pocket close to his heart.




The crucifix

on 332 west 23rd street

room 311


in a single bed

hotel room

on west 23rd street

monday

doors slam into the night

a muzzled conversation

on a phone from

the room next door

our beds between a

thin wall

later I hear

his gentle sleep


cigarette smoke wafting

out of the bathroom vent

toilets flushing

showers running from

the communal washroom

across the hall

water drips throughout

the day night

voices and whispers

in foreign languages

not sure what time it is

it's just night

faint background noises

of traffic and sirens from the

north side of the building


hotel soap, rug shampoo

cigarette smoke

new york smells

mixed with my daughter's

lily of the valley

hand lotion which

I put on before I left

her tiny room

on w. 21st Street


earlier yesterday

I walked over to her

apartment in room 4c

to help her pack up

before graduation

for the final move

it all was nice and neat

until it came out of

the drawers

and onto the bed

it was like

a tsunami hit


we sorted her things

marked what went in

all the different boxes

what to keep

what to discard


while reading in bed

I look over and

see an ordinary crucifix

on the wall across

from me

arms stretched out wide

head tilted to the side

I heard it say

in a new york accent:


hey, you over there

yeah you,

come over here

and give me a hug


it made me smile

then laugh

I went back to sleep

the next morning

I woke up to see it

again saying:


hey, you over there

yeah you,

come over here and

give me a hug


I went up to it

and ran my finger

over the small figurine

I saw up close

the mortal wounds and

the sadness of face

the crown of thorns


best not to see things up too

close


before leaving room 311

on west 23rd street 





Across The Creek, There


In between the pines, is a creek.


I should not yearn to be there

when I am here.


In between the pines, is a creek.


I should not yearn to be here

when I am there.

I'll be there soon enough.



The Visit


Lying under four Populus trees

on a Persian tapestry

in Hiroshima Nagasaki Park

in Köln, Germany

with my daughter

on a warm afternoon

late May.


She found love

but not an occupation

nor is she in the right location

for finding one.


A breeze runs through her tears

a dust of blossoms

spin and swirl

as we lie together and look up.


The petals fly and swoon around us

these are blossoms not bombs

a blessing.


I lay down tobacco

at the base of each tree

my way of speaking

to our Grandmothers.


Thank you, Miigwetch

Danke, Merci


We open our mouths to

the rain.




The Stink Bug


What a bad rap

A silent and slow

Crawler

Not known for its speed or

Flying capabilities

When killed

It stinks and it

Carries a heavy weight

It opened up to me about

The Holocaust

Slavery

The American Indian

Immigrants

Dandelions and

Buffalos

And told me

He was just the

Same and that

His name had

Saved him.




Neighbors


Our neighbors travel far and wide

to see their friends and loved ones.

Their friends and loved ones travel far

and wide to see our neighbors;

and to think, we see them every day

except when they go away.




Medicine


My son's affection

is like no other, it's

not like my husband's

or my daughter's.

He can comfort me

like no other. I never want

to misuse or try and need it.

It's just a beautiful thing

to know that it is there.

It's like finding fresh cedar

on folded white linens in a

drawer you never go in to.