Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The February Project 2012
by David Kirschenbaum and Jill Stengel

(David wrote the first poem each day, Jill the second.
Poems are divided by a row of bullets.)

February 1

took the bus to bellevue,
to have my diabetic feet checked out
had my diabetic nails cut,
diabetic feet pulse checked.
the training doctor wanted to scrape down the bottom of my feet,
but the lead doc said no,
he wants me to,
the second i get out of the shower,
rub some prescribed liquid onto them to seal in the moisture,
but i’m broke,
so he said vaseline would do,
and i asked what if i don’t shower,
because i don’t except on occasions,
like tomorrow,
meeting my parents at nyu langone medical center for dad’s spinal fusion surgery.


I never my date-mistake November, and then life snowball rolling down
slope a giant massive tumbling like the beginning of old...

In short, the outcome(s)--after many tremors, the earthquake(s)--nearly, a few days last week a series of bad; nearly, is having what we've been through; just, showing signs of wear, but fewer toward.

We holding together, but holding, even when seems to be broken pieces holding.

But then I hear, and, things.

I am in some way or another, her. I can't recall if we, she and I, but I many.

My heart family, our community, especially.

I send you, this day and always, hope enough. I would really like even a little time.

And love and,
And I,--

for Norma Cole

February 2

in the recovery room
after three hours of scraping bone from his hip
and installing titanium screws
all to repair the hole in his spine the staph infection made last summer,
my dad, breathing with the help of an oxygen mask,
makes the craziest of crazy eyes just for kicks.


ululation nation
one under a false impression
life everlasting

if hell is for children,
how did I
get dragged along?

was somebody's

a time

once upon a time the end
my best favorite short story
the end begins

but what
is not always
so clear

nor always

February 3

hey lauren,

this is real, from grantland/espn's the sports guy bill simmons' super bowl mail bag column. you'll enjoy, trust me:

Q: Seriously? Who are your male readers marrying that they can't go camping in December or watch the freaking Super Bowl? Granted, I don't have a huge number of girlfriends, but I don't have ANY girlfriends that are as shrew-ish as the guys that often write in make women seem. Either I'm wrong and every girl I've never met is just effing horrible, or you all are just perpetuating some convenient, but insulting, stereotype. You're a fantastic writer, and I've been a devoted reader for years, but the "my wife won't let me do anything cause women are terrible and no fun" thing is bullshit, and worse, it's hacky. Stop it, you're better than that. Sorry for the scolding, but some of us like sports and don't suck.
— Lauren, Pittsburgh

SG: And just like that, "Lauren Pittsburgh" became the no. 1 search on Facebook by horny single guys who like sports.


lil' under the weather from not sleeping enough, trying to fix that. plus my dad just had surgery to fuse the hole in his spine last summer's staph infection left him. they used titanium screws, scrapings from his hip, and cadaver bone. he's recuperating well, still tired, not hungry, agitated, but outlook's positive. mom's staying here.

just finished the january project:

and am at work, with jill stengel, on the february project. rebooting boog and the levy lives series as four times a year in sidewalk and start another four times a year workshop where an individual author will read as a feature and then give a poetry workshop, with a musical act in between. and i saw my roommate's gf in the bathroom with only a tee and panties. you'd like her.

and so it goes.



is starting to settle

are dying, see, and no

bad things are for
us, no matter how

are still alive, we
have the opportunity for


can get through this,
over this, whichever preposition we


aren't dead yet, so let's do

February 4

2 a.m. dad phones from his hospital bed
he woke up and had to go to the bathroom
and forgot he was in the hospital
and got up
and all of his ivs got pulled out
the drain in his spine from the surgery, too
and it’s $780 for a private nurse, $350 for an aide,
so I got dressed in yesterday’s clothes
and took a $10 crosstown cab ride
to his hospital bed
folded my leather jacket into his closet
tucked my legs into a sideways chair
and leaned back to sleep by his side.


the next one is about the robin tree, you see

their russet breasts coloring the winter-bleak,
varying in richness, in hue

as they perch and flit and remove last traces
of summer, each mouthful of faded wild cherry

no juice to stain, yet their darker reddish brighter
against bare branches, grey sky than the berry
against the green of warmer months

ten to fifteen there, counting unclear due to constant
movement, but ten, fifteen, a splinter group

the green in winter bush-trees, home to fifty, he tells me,
fifty, returning to roost at dusk

quiet don't disturb them, returning home at dusk
they startle upon human noise, presence too close

I do too, sometimes, you know,
but I don't get special treatment,
special trees

February 5

giants in the super bowl,
the hospitals’ tv’s are crazy small
but my dad’s in an adjustable bed right by me.


I don't get to take cross-town cab rides here in Davis, largely because there's nowhere to go.
Not really, but kind of.
And, besides, most of my emergencies are here. At home. Hospitals, as hospitals, figure rarely in our landscape, except as the building up the street aways, next to the doctor's office, and where Auntie Lizzie works helping ladies bring their babies into the world.
But there was that other hospital not quite a couple of weeks ago, too far for a cab ride, not that one wouldn't go, but it's pretty far, about 25 minutes without traffic, on the freeway, or do you say highway where you are.
And there was an additional hospital, simultaneous to that one, where my mother and her beleaguered lungs were struggling, 500 miles and not a way to visit her.
Telephones and taxicabs and treks across the rice paddies in the night, the cars depositing who knows what all sorts of chemicals and debris into the farmland we cross above, the great divide, the causeway, the wetlands.
White egret in evening flight, last rays of sun golden reflection on its underside.

February 6

what kind of authority
does the executor of a will



Slowly, rebounds bouncing us all over, all of us, the trauma reverberates.
But bettering.

( ) calming. Bad medicines, gone. Withdrawals, likely gone or almost. New little medicine, helping. Have had to lower the night-dose once, am doing so again tonight. I consider this to be a good sign.

( ) flipping out pretty erratically. Police came one night, a concerned passer-by called 911. I wasn't killing her really, it just sounded that way. A good set of lungs, that child, didn't inherit our both-sides tendency for asthma. Got a lot of other stuff from branches of the family tree, but not that, at least. Officer One and Two left after ascertaining everyone's relative safety. Last night, a repeat performance on flip-out, with variations. Less screaming of hers, slight increase of my own. More than zero. Less than I could have if I had given voice to my rage, fear, horror, and so forth.

Why me why me why me why me.

But you know, I don't ask myself that anymore. I just wrote it because I was thinking, "What is the rage I typed there?"

It's not why me, it's why her, why him, why all of us.

And, no why.


Just because.

Trisha, you don't know Trisha, Trisha said the gift is the wound, the wound is the gift.

It doesn't make me feel Better exactly, but it does help me to look for ways to strengthen who they are instead of foolishly attempt to make them into something, someone else.

Give me strength, I ask, give me strength.

Ask. Of what great force.

I have only myself. And the trees, the wind and sky and air and sun and moon, stars, springtime blossoms, summer heat, summer fruit, autumn, winter's robins and the early bulbs, narcissus, hyacinth, snowbells as Penelope says, crocus, and the daffodils that just came up yesterday after a long year of sleep.

I have only myself. And the world of things around me.

And I have you, and other yous, and all the yous that I know and love and hold close and reach out to, the mothers at school who hold their arms out to embrace me, the cashier at the Co-op who writes her cell number on the receipt, these and those and thou.

And my star-family. Five of us.

And the rest of the family, families, extended and all.

But it still really feels like it's just me, a lot.

And I have to be strong for all of us.

And it's really really hard, a lot.

And I am doing it anyway.
Because if I don't, then what?

And so I do.

Because it would be harder, really, harder not to.

February 7

no insurance me needs a z-pack
to knock this flu out.
mom gets one of her docs to call one in under her name to cvs,
and I mention this to my sister.
“What if she gets the flu and needs one?” she says. “She won’t be able to get it.”
“Then daddy’ll get one called in for her, and you’ll get one called in for daddy,”
I tell her.
“That’s not how grown-ups work,” she says.
“You say so.”


red-tailed hawk perched atop
no outlet sign, light rain
open close tail feathers ruffle gentle
bird shower in the morning

come and get him, he's disturbed
the class, the teacher, thrown, kicked

was it this morning or last
must have been last morning, small
segment of rainbow, piece of a promise
we barely saw it, but we did, we did

dear thomas alva, a parenting manual
for yourself, for us, most helpful--why didn't you?

february rosebud on the ground outside
kindergarten fence, so much warm
this year they never stopped, only slowed
same day as first daffodil

finished dinner two hours late
four crammed into bed, superlative
snuggles, three hours late was it?
schedules are brutal.
we had a good night. tomorrow
will be hard but that's tomorrow's problem
and getting to bed on time obviously isn't
enough. we had a good night. enough, for now.

February 8

last spaghetti and meatballs dinner
mom’s meatballs were bad for the first time ever,
so bad it stunned me,
so bad i regretted eating the leftovers she kinded me to take to the city.
tonight? mom’s meatballs are mom’s real meatballs.


It was a hard path and a dangerous path, a crooked way and a lonely and a long.

The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien (Ch. IV)

February 9

trying to watch this week’s missed ricky martin starring glee on dad’s macbook
and after a half hour on the phone with cablevision
obtaining an id and entering a new password
the technician directs me to the on demand network channels
which i never knew existed on folks’ cable
clicked on fox and then glee and then 2/7 hd episode of glee
and there he was, ricky martin, about to shake his bon bon.


did a little corvid reading
seeking answers to mysteries
discernment, specificities, similarities

began with raven, crow
sought expertise to no avail, the sky
tonight a vivid pink at dusk

corvidae, most intelligent of birds
tools, extensive cache systems, detailed
memory, grief for their dead

late-night research, local beauty
yellow-billed magpie engages
in extra-pair mating

"for the birds" new meaning
something to consider

February 10

the pain meds dad’s taking
after the surgery to close the hole in his spine
last summer’s staph infection caused
are making him constipated.
laying in bed tonight in pain,
going to the bathroom at the slightest possibility of a bowel movement
and then
and then another trip a few minutes later
and still
and then another trip a few minutes later
and then
his whole body awakened,
we decide to watch the second half of kevin james’ the zookeeper from the dvr.


she said it's often
the things we most dislike
that we end up knowing
the most about

the sky was grey and cloudy
sun peeping through upon occasion
ultra-colors of the day subdued
brown of wood gazebo, of dirt, of mostly bare quince branches, dull
cement, her black wrap around her
swollen belly, all the quiet
of the palette, broken only
by the new few small coral pink
blooms of the early quince
and one orange plastic cup
next to the free box of radishes

February 11

i would keep a videotape in my parents’ vcr
with the remote on paused record
waiting for something to pop on to keep
and watch again,
usually something from mtv,
an interview with sting,
any time original vj martha quinn popped on the screen,
videos i dug ’cause i dug them,
videos i dug ’cause i dug them with my pants at my ankles,
like whitney houston’s “how will I know,”
4 minutes and 33 seconds
of 22-year-old first album whitney belting,
and slight dancing
in a metallic grey one-piece clingy sleeveless dress with separate matching sleeves
while black clad dancers kicked and moved all around her
it’s impossible to recall how many times i watched and enjoyed this video,


I want to go to Japan with you
I know I shouldn't, but I can't help myself
you would look so good in the traditional robes
and the dinner, oh, the dinner, at the seaside place, abalone
and all, you would love it, and the bath
I want to share that bath with you

and what then
and what then
o, idle fantasie
wake me not from these dreamings

February 12

the day before our mom’s 77th birthday
while we were still eating at our parents’ house
my brother started packing up the food he bought from the kosher deli.
“dude, we’re still eating,” i said to him.
“oh, what am I breaking a rule by doing this?” he said.
“it’s just not what you do, we’re still eating,” i said.
and he didn’t give a shit and kept packing food away,
making you feel guilty if you wanted to make a turkey sandwich,
because he put the mustard away and you’d have to ask him for it.
i went into the kitchen to heat up the kasha varnishkas,
sat back down with it,
and took a serving spoon of it to put on my plate.
“oh, we’re gonna have a whole lot less of the kasha to take home.”
“here ya go,”
and i flipped the kasha-filled spoon at him,
and a few seconds later his cup of water was headed at me,
“you wanna fight motherfucker?” he yelled at me.
when i was a kid
and he would terrorize me always
i would have cowered,
hid somewhere in our flatbush apartment
our long island high-ranch.
now 45,
6’ 3” and 310 pounds
it’s just,
“yeah, let’s do it.”


Dear Humble Servant,
Raise thyself from thy knee
and hold my hand in friendship,
in love, in equality, in companionship.
Honor me thusly.

February 13

ian and i wander around the game room at the oceanside nathan’s,
after coney island original the second nathan’s ever,
where i’ve been going since i was eight,
us all traveling in a van to lisabeth laiken’s birthday party
taking naps in the back during the long trip
i later learned was just 40 minutes.
a year later we moved here.

he picked a star wars sit-in-a-chair shooting game
and i watched him shoot away
then i went for a pop-a-shot basketball game
and i barely completed any as he watched
before we hunched atop dueling motorcycles
bending our 46 and 45 year old bodies left and right to steer.


I don't have much to say about her
myself, but "watched and enjoyed" paired with image
of your pants at ankle-height, a personal
heart-felt tribute indeed.

Ah, Martha Quinn. Sting. Early MTV.

And a time when people my age or so
didn't die, they, we, just didn't
except in rare and extremely
unusual circumstances.

Once upon a.

February 14

today’s my folks’ 61st valentine’s day together,
a day after mom’s 77th birthday.
yesterday my can’t drive yet
kinda housebound
post-spinal surgery dad
whisper-called me on my cell from bed
while i was in nathan’s with ian,
“your mother just left the room for a sec.
pick up flowers for her,
and birthday and valentine’s day cards.”


twenty-one, and more valentines
than ever before, because I don't count
the schoolyard ones, the if-you-give-

to-one-you-give-to-all ones

"the flight of the lonely goose"

on cardboard or was it canvas, cardboard

pretty sure, plus tulips, I think

they were tulips--I have always loved tulips

plus two more bunches of definite tulips

and wasn't there also candy, chocolate,
maybe something else as well

such generosities previously unknown

and yet there was more to come

the card, mail slot drop-off

or postal delivery, can’t recall, Picasso

the blue period, or something like

"I'm blue / hope you are too / your secret Valentine"

a few audacious phone calls, still

mystery with "no"s all around

but now, after 22 years, I have solved

with certainty, I know who blue, you

. . . . .

you fucking miserable wretch, unable

to tolerate my happiness if I was with another,

no, not unless with you, though I could have never--

so I should suffer, because you were "only"
one of my closest friends?

you wanted that I should suffer for daring to seek

daring to be true to my own convictions

instead of settling for someone else's ideas

for YOUR ideas, as if your ideas for me 

were something that I ought to conform to

when my nonconformity was one of my more attractive
attributes, unless opposed to you...

I should suffer for being fool enough to be brave

and strong and true to myself, I should suffer

for not giving in to the power of your ideas

I should suffer? If you loved me, you 

would want me suffering?

later you told me about your girlfriend

older, bought you new glasses, blow jobs like a Hoover you said,

a mother-figure with such a mouth? ick.

another time, after not seeing each other for a bit of a while,

on Haight Street in the sunshine, I was 

sitting on a bench, you told me I'd gained weight

so maybe pleats aren't my thing, I 

didn't know then, just like I didn't know

that you don't do that kind of stuff to 

people you love unless you are fucked

in the head

maybe in the past 22 years you stopped being a loadie

did something worthwhile with your beautiful guitar-playing

or your drawing, maybe you got un-fucked-up

or maybe you're still passive-aggressive, hurting 

those you love who won't obey, applying

ache in a back-handed manner, undermining

sense of self and trust so they have nowhere else to turn but you


blue not good enough for you

I refuse you entirely

I lay claim to my happiness


my strong little sense of survival

that kept me safe from you

February 15

my mom saw that a kitchen wall is peeling in my apartment,
so i called my building’s maintenance department
told them i have someone skedded to scrape my bathroom walls and ceiling today,
before they come tomorrow to prime and seal,
then paint the next day,
and asked if he could scrape the kitchen while he was there for the bathroom,
or if the kitchen would have to be inspected first
before any work could be done there.
they only inspect on tuesdays and thursdays
and only in the mornings.
but i wanted to stay with my folks in the island a little longer,
meaning tomorrow morning wouldn’t work,
and i skedded it for tuesday
so be back in my apartment on or by monday,
which buys me a few more days with the folks.


Love conquers nothing, nothing
nothing at all

February 16

the auto repair shop
said no lifts are empty now,
bring by the jeep at nine or 10 in the morning
to see if the hole mom’s car fell into saturday
damaged more than the driver’s side running board.
asked dad to call them back,
see if i could drive it there before they close
and then get a lift back
so tomorrow i could continue with my sleeping until early afternoon thing.


o wise and clever me

(this is not always a good thing)

February 17

“i’m a manic depressive who takes lithium,
who’s looking for someone who can prescribe,
and maybe counseling, too,”
i uninsured say to psych clinics around the city,
so when my meds run out in a week or so
a new scrip will help the highs and the lows stay medium or so.


night is quiet now, so rare
in the early hours, this night
too advanced for original plan
of slug-killing, culprit watch

the garden an accidental representative
of household wellness, not moment
by moment, like the two nights this week
I was awakened mid-way through, but overall

this year's winter garden nearly bare
healthy leafy greens I don't recognize, some
I do, all unpicked, hard to remember
such things, and the barely-grown leeks

not enough late autumn water, rainless
winter, I now remember to provide, tenacious
ok to grow slowly for now, sun and spring
will save you, fix what was broken
should we make it that long
should we make it that long

February 18

on sunday went to buy soda at waldbaum’s
for company and for us
coke and pepsi two liters were $1.99
while canada dry ones were 89¢
so i picked through the canada dry family,
and ended up with
canada dry diet cranberry ginger ale
a&w diet cream for dad
a&w diet root beer
7-up, which I didn’t realize canada dry now handled
diet cherry 7-up,
long one of mom’s favorites,
diet squirt,
a brand name I recognized from regional baseball cards in the early eighties,
and one store brand plain, and one orange, seltzer.

what we learned:
dad doesn’t like a&w’s cream soda as much as dr. brown’s
dad and i thought the diet squirt was crazy citrus-y
and mom (and dad and i) no longer liked diet cherry 7-up at all,
preferring the canada dry diet cranberry ginger ale.

i bought a two-liter bottle of diet pepsi yesterday from a neighborhood grocery,
because I was jonesing for it,
$2.25, because it was cold,
so nice.


a day of not being hit by my children
one whole day

this is not victim confession hour
rather the state of a mother with challenged
and challenging children, and no
I don't need your advice, thank you

everybody has a solution an opinion an answer
THE answer, each of you knows just what to do
hit back don't hit back yell don't say anything time
out time in rewards punishment medication
and which one no meds and here's the horror story why
hard work yard work more play outdoors stay in

I like best the woman I spoke with Friday
"keep putting one foot in front of the other"
and Mary G who reminded me to breathe
most basic, most vital, most right

if, with the assistance of the cadre of professionals
I have employed, I still struggle to such a degree
what makes you think you actually
know better? arrogance, stupidity
a sincere desire to "help" which
happens to look like in your opinion
I am an idiot and have done everything
wrong up until the point that you
have come along to save me
from the folly of my ways

suddenly I understand Janet's stepping back of old
the kindness of not advising even when truly knowing
because sometimes a person just has to stumble
find their own way and all

but this is no stumble, this path
a washed-out mountain pass, an avalanche-
eaten series of hairpin turns, I stop breathing
as I contemplate this landscape, note
no air and understand my fear on those real roads
with no guardrails yes drop-offs my anxiety
perhaps because I live those inner roads daily
another set to navigate enough to shake, suffocate

what I do need: faith that I am sound
that I am telling you true, not embellishing
for attention, not misunderstanding my child
my children, not making it up like Teacher MCG
thought I was that first year
an oversensitive maudlin mother

believe in me believe me listen if you can
and maybe send over dinner or come
chat with me or call
socially withdrawn, can't make reliable plans
can't compare "regular" emotional growth
self-regulation, share stories
of slumber parties, big events
my big day: I didn't get hit
and no one freaked out too badly that I'm aware of

things are just different, that's all
just a different scale of measurement
and my beautiful brilliant kind-hearted
overly reactive challenged and challenging
children are also just like yours
with bee-stings and bruises and books to be read
trees well-climbed and rescued from, oranges
to pluck ripe from winter trees, peel
thrown beneath a bush, juice dribbling
down chins wiped with backs of hands
later clutching narcissus, daffodils, "I
love you Mama" because they do, they do
and I them because I do, I do, no matter what

February 19

my dad’s temper is getting shorter
since the surgery to repair the hole in his spine that the staph infection left
or maybe mine is
as i run around my parents’ house and the neighborhood
doing all the tasks that used to be his,
and others from mom,
car to mechanic
food shopping
picking up prescriptions
making them coffee
doing laundry
and so my temper gets short
and he pulls back
and when i say i’m going to do something he asks for,
like find the phone number for waldbaum’s
so he can tell them he was charged $1.79 per can of chicken of the sea
not 89¢
i go into the kitchen
find the number and as i’m walking into him with it
i hear him on the phone saying
“i need the number of waldbaum’s.”


we have no tv
freakin ad execs can make
their kiddie bux off someone
else's family
and--it's like heroin
more more more...

February 20

watching “inside story: ferris bueller’s day off”
almost 26 years after risa and i saw it in the theater
and we stuck around until bueller told us
“you’re still here? it’s over. go home. go.”
planning to see her and lil’ juliette tomorrow.


took a picture then
another, more and

got one I liked
realized I look

more so than most
days now I

so does the camera
lie or lucky

is this possible illusion
so good after

because when I awake
the mirror will

me right back to
where I really

and maybe I am
better off knowing

February 21

my dad,
when he heard of my eight in the morning psych outpatient appointment at bellevue,
joked, “yeah, you might as well not even go to sleep,”
knowing of my penchant of late for even later than usual hours.
so first night back home,
i started plowing through the shows i dvr’d while away,
and as i was narrowing in on five hours of potential sleep,
or watching all of the showtime shows i’d missed a few weeks of,
i picked californication, house of lies, and shameless,
and left my apartment at six to get the bus there early.


Maxfield Parrish visited tonight
igniting the sky above the budding
peach trees, drawing out evening's
light for our awe, wine glasses held
still for a moment, children-sounds of
playing not silenced for even a second
because they are natural wonders too
and need not pause for such things

February 22

four weeks of lithium from bellevue only costs two dollars,
and now i have an extra $48 to live on every four weeks.
so i fill the scrip at the hospital’s in-house pharmacy.
an hour later i see the bottle in the clerk’s hands,
“are those gelatin caps?” i ask
“yes,” he said.
“i can’t take them, i’m kosher.
“this is what i usually take,” i say,
pulling a lithium tablet from the container in my pocket.
“all we have are the gel caps, what would you like to do?”
and now i no longer have an extra $48 to live on every four weeks.


pen, paper, that feeling in my being

why I still often write by hand, the way I feel
about writing, while writing, the magic
soothing alpha-state, the flow, the better

than everything feeling, at one
with my own highest self

* * * * * * * * * * *

my eldest child, I give you

this in your veins, the flow
of blood and ink, writerly
desire, love of language,
wonder at words

and I give you knowledge
and I give you companionship
you may feel alone, at times
very lonely, but I am here, I have
walked these roads before you
I have made words into worlds

you will find your way, you can
find your way, I hold a light
aloft for you, unable to choose
your precise path, but I can
hand you a candle if you let me

February 23

finally went to sleep after four hours in two days
(it’s not advisable for a manic depressive to sleep so little,
makes the manic more so)
sleep four hours that night,
then 2.5-hr long nap that afternoon


sleep tonight

thoughts race, leap, connect
explode into new constellations
bright shiny elusive stars, out
of reach but tantalizing, I desire

cannot clutch ideas to me, trickle
fickle sand, too tired to hold
inspiration at the latest turn
no quiet this night

February 24

as if his legend couldn’t get any greater,
while watching ken burns’ baseball documentary,
discover that yankee great,
baseball hall of famer lou gehrig,
traveled with his mother on road trips
the great iron horse himself traveled with his mother on road trips
on the same trains that the rest of the players took
from city to city before baseball’s west coast expansion took place.


hold hands to cross streets, look
left right left eat apple peels not pomegranate I don't like orange
peels but you say little mandarins
are sweet the peels eaten by kindergarten
mouths yet kumquats are refused by same

one day I will teach you to tie shoelaces
and he will learn too, thankful for now
for slip-ons for soft soft cotton the boon
of the sensory world careful with seams
fasteners collars necklines waistbands tags
sleeves elastic fabric detailed stitching every bit
full of caution full of care
I am reminded
of the quiet music, dim lights when the oldest
was born, how I felt an emergency flood my veins
every time music's highs and lows were too varied
when the lights were too much, when she cried
and I could feel her distress, and it wasn't
until years later that I found out, yes she did
feel all that, yes she did sense everything that much
yes, her senses were in fact working overtime

and also little he, and littler you, and me, and the big he
and we are the sensitive house, and we
struggle, but nowhere, I believe, nowhere
can be found a family who loves a rich sunset
a peach tree in bloom an early spring bulb as much as we do, our love
as powerful as our perceptions
our senses sensitivities the passion
of the uncontained uncontrollable pleasures

February 25

i told my mom that after being the mediator for every special occasion
for every year since adulthood
that i wasn’t calling my brother or sister,
and i was coming over on monday,
their anniversary day,
by myself,
and my mother said fine,
but she keeps asking me to come out sooner,
to come on sunday and watch the oscars with her and my dad,
i said no,
that because of my sister taking away her free movie card from me
(“out of spite,” she told me a year after she’d done it)
i hadn’t seen any of the nine best picture nominees,
so i was going to tape the show on fast forward,
watching just the billy crystal and songs sung parts,
maybe the death montage, too.


That previous poem, I meant to write a poem about how hard it is to take care of three high-need kids, and to have to tend to a husband's emotional needs as well, how I feel drained and unreplenished and how I want to focus on myself and my writing and probably never will at this rate unless something, something changes.
But then I wrote another poem instead.
I suppose I am okay with this.
There are so many things to say.

February 26

watch the oscars preshow on e,
then the billy crystal openings,
video, monologue, singing,
and then go to sleep,
which becomes a three-hour plus nap.
wake up around midnight
to fast-forward the oscars.


One day I will be a tree. I will be a crocus, a daffodil, a tulip in spring. I will be a bee dusted with pollen. A dust mote shimmering in sunlight. I will be a batwing in the night, firefly that I have never seen. I will be in the air that caresses my children as they cross the street with their own, teaching left-right-left. I will be the bird on the wire singing down the sun some San Francisco evening. I will be everything, I will be everywhere. Energy is not destroyed, just, my dear, changed.

February 27

as my folks hit another milestone,
i think of a game i played when younger
that if i got married today
how long would i have to live
to be married as long as they’ve been.
today’s their 58th and i’m 45,
oh well.


a day of discussions:

moles have funny noses, gophers do not, they
are not bunnies unless you are Betsy a long time ago
and then “the bunny” had to be killed, struck with a shovel
and taken to the vet, rabies shots are awful

organic pork versus conventional pork
what is there to say? I am no judge of such things
want to make rude jokes using “pork” slang
but think they will fall on unknowing ears so don’t

this bird of gold, background color-blur
I want to BE this picture, you teach me male
from female of the species, open
question never spoken, nor intimated

truth and lies are subject to interpretation
one broken pencil, one broken boy
one broken classroom, one boy gone home
facts are easier: I will keep him out of school

February 28

i was trying to figure out what to make for dinner tonight,
knowing i’m heading to my folks in two days,
so i have five more meals to hustle out of my kitchen
and five eggs left.
i’ve been scrambling four of late,
but don’t wanna leave just one over,
so it’s five scrambled eggs, a whole bunch of heinz ketchup,
and some half-frozen water to drink and chew.


“I will not be unfairly accused” tells me everything
I need to know regarding pencils, first grade, and
my son’s attendance at school--this child
will remain at home with me for now
learning calm, finding happiness, round peg
in square hole, or was that an octagon
trying to squeeze into a triangle?
whatever the shape, he’s mine and for so briefly--
I can give him peace now, what he needs now
and hope that this is enough for later,
at least a little bit

February 29

basically no food in house,
just exact number of choices
for exact number of meals,
and no soda now for fourth day.
i miss choices,
and i miss soda.
so today,
$10.99 in the bank
no soda sales at rite-aid
or gristede’s
but gristede’s has wild cherry diet pepsi,
which i haven’t seen here in a while,
so i buy two bottles,
then two onion bagels,
quarter-pound land o’lakes yellow american cheese,
and 32 ounce plain nonfat yogurt
(to be combined with the grape nuts and raisin in my apartment).
$10.26 later, cut one bagel in thirds,
toast top and middle,
make last two cans of tuna,
solid white.


David wrote to me tonight:

how in a month of writings x both of us did some sorta sex not come
up? strange

I responded:

Maybe it's b/c I'm a prude and it's contagious

I'm not really, I just don't talk abt sex much

Rather do


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