At the Noodle Shop

CIMG0249.JPG
This is the small noodle shop close to our dorms. We lived on campus. The woman is one of the owners and she was from Mongolia. Cannot remember her name. 

At the noodle shop, Shenyang, China, November 2011

Filthy words played into the air;
A jangle of sex, the flush
Of belly laughter.
Tensions that encircled and slowly
fell, then rose, fell then rose;
each bump of breath, each spume of slang,
each spiked phrase and dangle of kink,
the syllables traced with veins
that turned red as the skin
of an old leaf turning, spinning, turning
in the indifferent wind.

note: memories of China. 

 

CIMG0192.JPG
A good friend of mine decided to get a turtle for her biology class. Those are live turtles. We left it in the back of a taxi by accident. 
CIMG0115.JPG
Gates of the school where I taught in China. If you turn right, there is a small shopping strip with a couple restaurants, a tiny grocery store, a stationary store. 
CIMG0080.JPG
The string of shops behind our dorms. Shenyang, China.
CIMG0366.JPG
The Ice Festival, Harbin. China.
CIMG0351.JPG
One of the tigers at the big cat park, outside of Harbin. You could pay various fees to see live animals fed to the tigers. Somebody paid for a goat. Yes, we saw two tigers rip a goat in half. 

 

Lizards and Monks

Bangkok 063.JPG
Mural on the wall leading to the Chili Bangkok, a hostel I stayed in.

LIZARDS AND MONKS

Thai beer sipped overlooking a spoiled river.
That strange notion I have traveled,
that I have been somewhere now,
that I have seen the world a tiny bit.
That I can tell stories featuring exotic words
that will draw wide eyes as if
I had visited the moon.
Scarves, key rings, post cards for sale
if I but turn my head or go a few feet.
The call of tuk tuk drivers looking for fares.
Other tourists with leather skin and silk shirts
drinking cocktails and munching fried shrimp nearby.
Their air of many stamps in a passport
polluting the air
near their sun-fried heads.
Durian, mangoes, dragon fruit offered
along the street leading back to the hostel
where Buddha lounges on the stone wall.
A mural that stretches rather too large and too long
for my camera to obediently capture.
Cats everywhere as I return
to the green-walled room
with the hard bed and the single sheet.
Lizards and monks go about their business.
The city bus rolls on by.
A mini water garden dedicated to the local gods
and I stop to watch the water flow over and over.
Spiders judge me, wonder when I will pass on by.
Backpackers speak of heading on to India
as they march past me
still staring transfixed at water
bubbling slightly over dark stones.

 

note– written last month or so. The three pictures are all from Bangkok, Thailand. 

Bangkok 196.JPG

Bangkok 178.JPG

 

Human Clay Pot

IMG_20191020_135841 (2).jpg
Brigit and Jake enjoying the newly shorn corn field

HUMAN CLAY POT

I want someone to tell me the truth.
That judgment that I should give up
and turn back from this road.
That the sky holds no wonders or joys
for my consumption,
that grace will not better me
into some sort of badly mended
maniacally grinning
human pot of perfect clay.
That the wind does not know my name,
that the birds get eaten
by stray cats
indifferent to hope and struggle.
That nothing good will arrive
like a warm pie from
the oven of the heavens.
Tell me the truth so I can rest.
So I can stop hoping.
Goddamn it, hope
cut me into a thousand pieces.
And I have nothing remaining
but a bitter cup of dust
to sustain me now.

 

note– written last year or maybe this year. All the days seem the same day anymore. 

Land of Wheat and Whale Clouds

IMG_20190702_104107 (2).jpg
Eastern Oregon wheat field and cloudy day

LAND OF WHEAT AND WHALE CLOUDS

Soon that fence will crumble
and let me walk
into that land of wheat and whale clouds
where I can pretend how free
I am.
My lips form patient words
for the silly dying
of weeds and dreams and illusions
that make my eyes fill with salt.
Gratitude that I know
I’ll never get to walk there
and I’ll never have to be brave
and never have to be honest.
Because I have words
that will get lost in those whale clouds
that sink below the blunt little hills.
Such a relief
that I kept them inside
where no one has to make polite faces
over the ordinary agony
expressed.

 

 

note– found this tucked away, as you do. It was one of several versions. 

Something About Mist

1521825158150hgtv.jpg
from HGTV

 

SOMETHING ABOUT MIST

Something about mist and time and pumpkins
in a patch.
Something about children and candy
and costumes.
Something about the turning of the old year
into the new.
Something about snow and angels
and trees dressed up
in decorations not yet broken or lost.
Something about love and apple cider
and chilly nights.
Something about beauty and peace
and how fast time is.
Something about hope and death
and leaves recycled.
Something already said
many times in dull ways
that we look forward to like
a handful of candy corn
still left from last Halloween.

 

note: I wrote this for the monthly poetry contest last year or the year before that. Time seems oddly fluid anymore. 

I’m Supposed to Be a Poet

IMG_20190909_142712 (2).jpg
Storm and corn field, Eastern Oregon

I’m supposed to be a poet, I said.
Well, be one, she replied. Be one.
Rip the flesh away, use a figurative spoon,
everyone has figurative spoons, use one,
and walk around in your ridiculous bones.
What sort of advice is that?
It’s my advice, she said.
What does it mean?
It means eat a lot of grapes.
Are you sure?

If you can’t glean meaning from a moldy bit of advice,
then yes, it means to eat grapes.
You can’t eat grapes if you’re dressed only in your bones.
Sure you can, she said.
You can mash those grapes against your ribs,
smear them on your cranium,
tuck them into your eye cavities
and pretend you have eyes.
I find I am out of whimsy these days.
I know, she said.
Maybe you should try being a poet.
I hear that helps.

 

Something I found tucked away in a file.