Our Uber driver says we don’t look like bus people.
Here at the depot, in a tangle of shopping center roads—
families, a man in a wheelchair, in a row along the wall.
We get tags for the suitcases, hug our backpacks close.
The ticketholders clutch their belongings, balance them in their laps.
Cell phones, Walmart bags stuffed with veggie sticks, nacho chips.
The station smells of something unidentifiable, maybe
stale food, matted hair, layers of clothes that need laundering.
Those with nothing but time, and twenty-seven bucks
take the bus from Austin to Laredo, an all-day affair.
We join the snaking line, inch our way to the man in the day-glo vest.
Too old to be working, he stows our gear in the belly of the bus.
Inside, the bus smells like the station—worn, old, sweat-infused.
We slide into two vacant seats, watch the parade of passengers.
The driver paces the aisle, speaking English first, then Spanish.
He shouts the rules: No alcohol, no smoking, no drugs.
It’s not Simon & Garfunkel, we’ve not gone to look for America,
we only wanted to see the Alamo and the missions.
We ride with the survivors whose teeth and skin show everything.
They’re bus people every day of their lives, they pay cash
While we keep our well-worn credit cards and wallets
hidden in the front pockets of our jeans.
Reunion season…I’m looking forward to reading on May 31 with poet/ Barnard classmate Suzanne Noguere and others, at our Barnard reunion, and on June 8, at Wellesley College. Hope to see old friends at Barnard and friends and former students –especially from Wellesley Reunion Classes of 1994,1999, 2004, 2009 & 2014–my Wellesley Reunion reading is on Saturday, June 8th 3:30-4 PM in Pendleton West 001. Q& A and book signing to follow!
Shades at the Reunion
When we gather like this around the table,
every five or ten years, drinks in hand, raising toasts,
in the back of our minds, always, are the ghosts:
The cousin who died at forty, when the cancer flared.
The school friend, gone at barely fifty—she loved her smokes.
Toxins and her genes did her in.
The rest of us—we’ve survived,
though we’re not sure why or how.
My friend the hard-edged newsman
laughed when he told me his on-air transition phrase
“elsewhere in the news”—as if we could
move from tsunami to oil spill to death of an ex-president
with any kind of grace. When he lay dying
in his hospital bed in Croton-on-Hudson
this old journalist stared at tv images of Baltimore burning.
It’s all like it was before, he murmured.
Knowing all this, we sit in the cool air,
September sun on our faces,
hearing the songbirds carry on
like Yeats’ miracles in Byzantium.
You can download it for free here–and Origami Poems Project will provide easy instructions on how to cut and fold the chapbook.
Happy that my poem, “Sugar Pumpkins,” is included in the South Florida Poetry Journal’s new anthology, ” Voices From the Fierce Intangible. In great company–including Denise Duhamel, Lyn Lifshin, Julie Marie Wade,Andrew Glaze, Blaise Allen and so many more!
You can order a copy from SoFloPoJo here: https://www.southfloridapoetryjournal.com/—
We grew them in raised beds, their vines profuse,
the orange fruit scant. Hard to grow Cucurbita pepo
In a drought season. Still, the six we found shading themselves
under their companion leaves made us think we might grow
enough to feed ourselves all autumn long. The orange globes
sat on the mantel for months, past Thanksgiving,
when we exiled them to the foyer to make room
for Christmas rosemary and holly branches.
Tonight, we choose the largest sugar pumpkin,
Carve a hole in the top, scrape out the seeds and strings.
In goes the mixture—rice, grapes, walnuts, onion, celery,
enough cumin to give it some heat.
When it’s baked to a turn, we slice it from the center,
So slender arcs of pumpkin fall into a circle, looking
more like a flower than a squash. It tastes of pie
curry, redolent of the summer earth.
— unstoppable, reliable, upstanding citizens of the garden.
No rain? no problem.
They husband their power,
call a halt to blooming,
get into the business of making seeds.
They remind me of our late neighbor
a tall thin fellow in his ninth decade
who rummaged through trash cans
to pluck out a wearable shirt.
He wasted nothing.
~My poem, originally published in *82 Review, now part of the *82 Review Special Pocket Poems issue. Download it for free at http://star82review.com/2019-pocket/contents.html?fbclid=IwAR38aZTAtqHTCiG8ymrgdUbbMR-SGGL7NrGkraYFrsYjKPP8djTPLfaM77Q
… My father-in-law left us two years ago, at age 97. My husband led his siblings in the division of the parental furniture and the disposition of his father’s ashes. He also began weeding our bookshelves and donating many long-unread volumes to the local library book sale.
And then he turned to his baseball card collection….
Read my full essay in today’s online Baltimore Sun.
Happy to be in good poetic company in the Spring 2019 issue of Nixes Mates Review. My poem, “Putnam Avenue in Spring” appears here.
Overnight, melting snow gave way to waves of daffodils
smothering the hill near the Protestant church.
But churches hung in our peripheral vision,
an annoyance, a reminder of what we rejected.
The public library was our church, the holy source where…
My new microchapbook, from Origami Poems Project, is now available for download at no cost.