Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Change your environment to get things, uh, moving??


Number 2, no pun intended, has been a consistent thought I've had here in Portland, as I frequent tea shops and in turn must frequent the restroom.  Many establishments will share a building in which the single stalled bathrooms are placed in the center of the structure and customers unite in the hallway to wait, an interesting place to strike up a conversation before slipping into privacy.  You never know what can happen while in line for the loo.  Serendipitous, creative endeavors could emerge?!  Ah, damn, this post has turned to shit.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Poetry post turns herb garden.

One bike adventure to The Rebuilding Center on Mississippi, one cutting of plexiglass, one afternoon of nail foraging(have you ever looked down to see how many screws are just lying around?), one evening carrying two, two-by-fours from Steve and Larry's house(two men I randomly asked for wood seven blocks from home, yes Steve and Larry, yes, I said wood), one bloody thumb, gorilla glue, building blocks, one tired arm o sawing, many un straight lines, one hot mess, one loss of vision and by vision I mean simplicity, and one week later I finished and aborted a poetry box all at once.

 I can build pretty much anything at this point...
  My visions were lofty, execution: poor.
Table saw and half a brain more next go round.


 But.. it evolved into this... poems, not to be contained, but plucked up with the pineapple sage or a sprig of mint or some free lemon thyme. I suppose the block I started with held a good idea all along.  And while I thought I might become Barb the Builder, I will not be assembling the next ark anytime soon... But I might like another go at it... Plumbean Book Exchange?!

Thursday, July 18, 2013


"Those poor bonsai just want to grow," a coworker's grandmother said.  Just think of their limbs all twisted and contorted, manipulated and made to fit into one small pot, continually shaped to stunt growth.  Although, Japanese culture says "a tree left growing in it's natural state is a crude thing".

contorted roots,
your branches sag.

clipped wings,
twisted trunk.

for the clouds.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Only one thing left...

This is the oddest place to spend a summer. First off, because, yes, Portland is odd, but mostly because there is no real semblance of summer, of consistent sun, of shorts and short sleeves, of people bustling about in a patterned fashion. Just a random assortment of heated days in this rain stricken city, residents peeking their heads out for a cup of coffee or slowly making their wet commutes to work. Meanwhile, what can you do while waiting for the annual 6 weeks of "solid sunshine" that supposedly ensues after July 4th, clad with movies in the park, BBQs, horseshoe pits, hammocks and PBR or mason jars full of sun tea... yes, indeed, masturbate.

Monday, May 27, 2013


My sister in law eats sunflower seeds to feel like she's back home. She talks to her parents in a foreign tongue, in high pitched tones and her voice chirps most nights via Skype, while I'm trying to sleep before opening shifts at a coffee shop I work these days. I feel my blood boiling when I can't comprehend why she has a particular place for everything, why I don't seem to clean a dish quite well enough, why my brother ever wanted to get married in the first place, why the word grateful doesn't always reverberate in my mind. I watch them come home from their weekend errands to Ikea or Whole Foods or an Asian market and I watch the filling of their house with a delivery from Amazon daily, a new TV, curtain rods, a rice cooker, a sweater for their cat.  And I watch her cook, what seems to be the same three ingredients every night: meat, something green, and gallons of oil and I watch my brother do the pile of dishes afterward, and her scuttle around in her inside shoes as I stare at my bare feet, too stubborn to respect her tradition of covering them and I don't understand what I feel is pulling at my own heels, telling me to let my toes roam free. I simply step back outside to settle somewhere else for the evening. And I think about this making of a home and how I've watched it before and it's not about the TV or the start of a garden growing out back or the food in the fridge or the meal itself but what's created by simply doing these things.  The TV will break, the garden will freeze, and the meal will be gone, the dishes done. Upon returning and watching her crack those shells I feel something, stopped in my tracks as I remove my shoes at the door, and ask, "Do you feel like you're in China today?" and she nods. I ask if she'd like to try a blood orange I picked up at the corner fruit stand and she does and I watch her peel it quickly.  I don't know what it means to feel closer. Perhaps this is it, the closest I can come for now, seeing her with her cats and that orange and a pile of seed shells by her side, home settling somewhere in her belly.

Homage to the unknown??

I found myself walking through a cemetery this evening, faintly reminiscent of a time my Dad and I visited one some summer night when I was 12. I don't recall why we were there, perhaps to pay homage to someone or just to roam.  I do remember the eerie comfort of being in a place that recognized and somehow magnified that death was real or so it seemed as I stared at plot after plot.  I thought about death then as this realm that floated around us, almost tangible, like a constant tango.  I recall standing over my parent's bed staring them awake many nights as a child hoping they could assuage my angst about that moment when life ceases. They could not.  So, many nights I'd let it linger in the air after vivid dreams of a burning earth or dark alleyways in which Death itself or some "thing" seemed to accompany me. These days are no different.  I still dream of death and it still lingers in my waking life.  But it seems to hit harder when I'm going slow, in the polarity, in the juxtapositions. The tiger lily resting on an old wooden fence, the pruned up cheek of my elderly neighbor pressed against her 2 year old grandson's, the ripples from Geese skidding atop the Willamette, the first sight of the Pacific after many months away, the liftoff of a 747,  a smile from a homeless man who doesn't ask for a thing.  I see death in a stack of books yet to be read, I see it in light.  I see it in the planning of a camping trip to the coast.  I see death in all the things I won't be able to do.  I see it in the excitement of possibilities,  in all the places I will never visit and all the places I already have, in the two places I cannot be at once.  I see it in the sunset a friend sends me.  I see it in all the people I could love, if I'd let myself, and all the people I have.  I see it in the humor of the world. I see it when I send snail mail. I see it swaying in an empty hammock.  I see it in my chai tea steeping in a Christmas mug at a cafĂ© on SE 23rd.  I see it sometimes in a single word. I see it in a good one liner. Simply, it hits me when I'm exited about life.  And maybe this is when death isn't so eerie, it just is, coming closer and closer.  I wanted to snap a photo of the sun falling on the headstone reading the last name "Failing" but couldn't muster up sharing the irony via snapshots. So I walked on, past Florence, Wade, English, Deardorrf, Harlow and many others, some with flags in recognition of the holiday, one I've never found myself celebrating, either with fancy Americanized weekend trips or acknowledging anyone who served, sadly, but true.  Instead I wandered the headstones imagining friend's parents  and my own relatives who have passed, what they were like, what kind of jokes they would tell, whether they put cream or sugar in their coffee, if they drank coffee at all, if they had healthy sex lives, if they worried about money or the state of the world or what the reason for living was all about, what my great grandfather's quirks were, if he made similar silly faces, if we would have been close or even liked each other's company. I didn't kneel down and speak out loud above decaying bones or ashes, I didn't know anyone in that cemetery on Holgate.  I only knew that the sun was going down slowly behind gathering clouds and there was a crow near an old oak, picking at haphazardly tossed leftovers and an abandoned house next door, an orange and green coffee mug resting on stacked furniture, a hole in the window screen, and an Oregonian mailbox in tact, waiting, for the news.

Friday, May 24, 2013


an apple core
thrown overboard.
I miss you,
since you've gone.

a starfish
blown ashore,
tethered to
the Milky Way.

debris-filled wake
of wanderlust.
Where do we go
when we die?