I Whisper to the Ground

Son on shoulders,
I walk
Through the carnival crowd
I lift him
Wishing he could lift me
We could ascend under Mary’s umbrella
When the winds shift from the East to West
Together we’d jump into a chalk dream
Defended from venom
Defended from the hurt
Defended from the drugs
Needed to sort through this mess.
Red pills, blue pills, choices made
Let’s purple them together,
A much happier color for new shoes
I walk in
Son on shoulders.

I whisper to the ground:

I, too, am afraid of everyone.
I, too, feel them swallowing my soul.

Image: “Broad Shoulders” Iby Kim Roberti

Porcelain Doll-man

Tonight, I write about how sometimes we have to shatter everything to find the pieces that matter most.

I see myself in a picture,
Looking far away, looking removed,
And I want to run away from everything
They asked me to do,

or just sledge-
hammer the flawed porcelain doll-man
standing on the stage singing words
so well he doesn’t realize, like Monkee’s,
they are genuine words of other people who
need me in make-up to don the costume hung
in the closet of life’s green room
and speak for them.

I see myself in a picture,
Looking far away, looking removed,
And I begin to make up something to believe
I pin something on my sleeve to seem genuine

a medal, a badge,
some rank indicator of success that pins
me to a thing greater than me, sitting behind
in the green room showered, un-costumed,
flipping two quarters, one for each eye,
while the porcelain cracks
expose a seam the spirit can
slip through and haunt the crowd.

I see myself in a picture,
Looking far away, removed,
And I mistake myself for a stranger
Under these stage lights

fading the doll’s clothes,
I strip.
I strip the old man’s blindfold
so he can see where he walked,
ambling casually among strangers with gin
and tonic in hand, numbing them
with his meaningless wit
protected, protecting, protect.

I see myself in a picture,
far away, removed
And pick up the frame and feel its weight in
my throwing hand

hearing the voice,
that Monkee voice echo back
from the audience, laughing
and jump out naked on stage
mistaken for a stranger
by my own friends
hoping that my angel didn’t
give up watching over me

I see myself in a picture
I look far away, I am removed.
It falls to the stage as fast
As the porcelain doll, shattering.

A Mother’s Dreams

The final poem in this Mother’s Day trilogy was written over a decade ago and speaks to the strength of a Mother’s Love in spite of fears and in spite of circumstances. No matter how tired the best mothers get, they persist and that must be respected.

Your dreams do not predict the future,
Be relieved they process the past
So you can function this morning.
Your fear still burns
The sweet blood in your veins,
It contaminates your heart.

Your dreams wake you in a sweat.
The anxiety you felt when he refused
To rebuckle, the dread you felt when he
Ran past the play ground into the crowd,
The terror you felt when the car broke
Just a fraction too close.

Your dreams are not real,
But real enough:
A girl swept up by adulthood
By things she cannot control.
Tired, nevertheless,
She does persist.