Veronica's Garden

I originally started this blog to promote my novel, Post Rock Limestone Caryatids. Now I write essays and poetry about everything, including the Flint Hills, healing, parenting, etc. WARNING: emotional content, sometimes intense. Read at own risk of feeling.

Category: Poetry

Sada Hadur Hai

So there was that man in church who spoke
of his daily quiet time. He would meditate
and ask, What direction is my life moving in?
Where is God leading me?
He was a successful businessman
so I thought I’d probably do well to
learn from his advice, but I can’t meditate. My brain
goes wandering off like a bemused toddler.
Similarly, my life has no direction in particular. Nothing
I expected even looks likely.
And that was before I had to take out that car loan
and hustle more massage business to pay for it, before
the dryer died, my hair falling out from that thyroid thing,
the cracked pipe flooding motel room 6.
I still do yoga,
when I can collect myself. It takes a while.
I put on some peaceful yoga music, a Sikh chant: Moh mohia,
[Infatuated with emotional attachment]
janai dur hai. [we think that enlightenment
is a long journey away.] Koho Nanak, [something about a guru]
sada hadur hai.
[but really it’s here, now.]
I sing along. I lose count
of the sun salutations.
I stand on the mat in mountain pose, looking out
the leaky patio doors, wondering what enlightenment
is, and whether it’s something I really want,
anyway. I have too much to do to allow myself
to be distracted by the Eternal. Moh mohia.
My sick thirteen-year-old coughing on the couch.
She doesn’t like the repetition,
but Dilpreet and I know it takes a thousand
times before you really get it. Janai dur hai.
Triangle pose. Breathe. Forward bend. Bridge.
Ten-year-old watching instructions
for how to make a champion paper airplane.
When I get to final savasana, I try to listen to my breath.
An actual corpse wouldn’t cling to the body so.
Would melt into the floor. Would not notice
that paper airplane flying overhead.
Listen to the breath.
Coughing on the couch. Moh mohia. There’s so much
distraction and noise, I can’t even hear my breath.
And in this moment I see that God is leading me to write poetry.
All this noise, it’s not distraction, it’s the It, it’s the All, it’s the
What it all is. I am to be a poet, navigator of
incomprehensible juxtapositions. Surfer
on the waves of ego, emotion, and event. Witness and scribe
of this body, this being, this
moment
here
now.
Sada hadur hai.

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Unspoken

When the taxes hadn’t been paid
—or filed, and the accountant called
from Topeka to ask why, I didn’t tell her
about the long months after the baby
when death was my greatest longing
and deepest fear. I didn’t tell her that
when you run a motel, it’s never a question
of whether there is a leak, or a clog, but
of which room. Rooms. I didn’t tell her
how I’d come to dread the ring of the phone,
how I jumped at the sound of the
doorbell. What’s wrong now? I didn’t
tell her about the words —trapped, helpless,
powerless—
that had come to be like
fat lazy friends who crowded me
on the couch with the baby. Or that
my marriage had changed in ways that
I didn’t understand, that I couldn’t trust
my perceptions, that her understanding
of causality probably wasn’t relevant to
the question she was asking.
I’d met that slender woman before,
in person, seen how she looked at me, with her
coif and pantsuit and briefcase that
matched her shoes. I in cutoffs with
a toddler on my hip and a failing
business and a debt I could not pay.
I didn’t tell her that I’d had a good education
from a respectable liberal arts college,
could’ve done anything, and I chose this.
This was what I chose.
I told her that my husband had a job
elsewhere now and that there was more
work than could be done in the hours
available, which answer did not satisfy.

She had a girly first name but her
last name rhymed with penis,
and I did not mention that, either.

Room 8, looking east

I often dream of motel rooms.

Midlife Crisis

After a certain number of years—say,
fifty—it begins to appear that the thing
you’ve been doing all this time—the thing
which you thought was a minor obstacle
to be kicked aside on the way to doing
the things you came here to do—
that thing, was, in fact, the thing
you were here to do. And all those
other things, the ones you secretly
hoped for, the ones that seemed so
important that your life would have
been squandered if you spent it all
without doing them, the quest for a
glimpse of the unspeakable beauty
that formerly called to you from dreams,
all those things—nothing. Mere diversions,
vapid entertainment to dull the quotidian
ache of doing the real work.

Ah, this life will grind you down, slowly
over many years, if you’re lucky.
Stone to powder. Bone to dust. And that,
I suppose, is also the point.
Monarch fall 17-09

Mars Conjunct Venus

There’s a rabble-rouser in me.
Likes to fight. Likes to shut down
a discussion with his jury-rigged
arguments made of home-canned
logic and duct tape. Lives with his gang
in an abandoned barn on the outskirts
of my mind. Strutting around shirtless
and sweating like he owns the place.
His girlfriend, she’s interesting. Titian mane
falling over a thrift-store feather boa.
Laughs like the bell grandma used
to call everyone in for dinner. Sings
like cold water from a deep well.
I’d be friends with her, if I could
just get them apart. We watch them,
my little girl and I, hidden under the
low-hanging branches of an evergreen.
We only see shadows through the grimy window,
but we can hear their voices, laughing,
shouting. Firing off the shotgun just for kicks.
If they knew we were here,
they’d torch the place and scatter.
We’d never see them again. But they’d
still be around, out there somewhere,
causing trouble.

Rowan at window2

Black Tangle

Pinwheel

It could take a year to get this place in order,
but I have to sell quickly. And I have to give
it over to the next owner with my whole heart,
with love and joy. So today I’ll plant this stone
flower box, with mums, because it’s late
in the summer, past the season for annuals.
The box is overgrown with perennials that
no longer flower, and volunteer white heath
that flowers too late. Oddly for August,
there’s new green growth under the black tangle
of last year’s moldy stems. I grab handfuls
of dead stuff, roly-polies scatter. Oh roly-polies,
cute dry-land crustaceans, I remember now
why I hate you. How many times have I
planted mums here, how many times
did you kill them? How many gallons
of water did I carry and pour out
for that which was doomed? I remember now
the full heart I put into this place, the
hope I held. How bitterly I gave up. How
intimate I’ve become with the word failure.
Why am I doing this? Love and whole heart,
oh yes. These blooms will be bright and pretty,
if only for a short while: that’s all I need.
Give me a week to show the place, then
let it be someone else’s job. I leave
a chunk of gangly mystery flower, move
the native late-bloomer a few inches
to make space for today’s fresh batch.
No normal person would find beauty
in these weeds, but I am a master of rescuing
the unwanted, of seeing beauty where others
see trash. The beer-can pinwheel isn’t a loss,
yet. I turn it to the slight breeze, watch it jiggle.
Every time I think it’s slowing to stillness,
another whisper wakes it. It never quite dies,
never really spins.

Dark Is the Shadow

Dark is the Shadow, yes, but
Dark is also the Indweller,
silent eternal Divine Love
within you, shrouded for
your protection from light
a thousand times brighter
than the sun. Brilliance that
would burn your eyes to see it.

When the moon crosses in front
of the sun, you can see stars
you never knew of. Forget the
crickets and monsters, there’s light
out there, for those who stand in the shadow,
cosmic rays from elsewhere, beyond
the sun, rushing in in just this brief moment.

Be there for it. Seek it, go wherever
it takes you. Pay whatever is
required to go into the Dark,
to see the light you can
only see from the Shadow.
Accept and claim its alien gifts
rushing in for you and you alone.
Upheaval is only another word for change.

Saturn Square Neptune

Everything at odds with everything else.
The refrigerator heats up the kitchen.
The air conditioner gives the kids nosebleeds
and the washer backs up the kitchen sink
and leaks water somewhere under the floor.
The clothesline runs through a gauntlet
of chiggers. Bug juice and sweat and
I shower and change into clean clothes.
Mud oozing up between the tiles.
And health insurance. Whole days lost
to the phone and the clock and the
checkbook. The premiums are
so high I can’t afford the deductible.
Maybe some yoga will detangle things
so I can write. I focus on my breath until
it’s too late to write. Do you see what I mean?
Sometimes everything hinges on
everything else, but sometimes everything
is a dog fight to the death
of everything else. And this blue-white light
through my core: is it lighting me
from within? Or splitting me apart?

Chiron Return

Let’s get this out in the open: I rush to publish earlier than is probably advisable. Last week I published a poem that I edited twice in the next two days, then revised it so substantially that it should probably get another post altogether.

If I come across as half-assed, and valuing my work beyond its worth, I’m okay with that. That’s what blogging’s all about, right? Take it or leave it.

But it appears some people actually do like my poetry. For you, enjoy.

 

Chiron Return

Did Chiron get fed up with the body
he’d been issued, that stubbornly refused
to heal? Did the master healer hope,
month after month, to find an efficacious
blend of herbs to stanch the bleeding,
or did he know this injury
would be the downfall of a demigod?
Did he struggle to comprehend
the incongruity of a wounded immortal?

Was he annoyed to hear humans claim
as identity afflictions that ought to have
healed decades ago? “I hate to cough because
sixty years ago I had pertussis.”

Did he see the forty-nine-year-old woman
with the heavy bleeding, the torpid thyroid,
incontinent bladder, presbyopia, insomnia,
and toothache—close his eyes, feel the throbbing
of his own nagging wound, and think,
this is what it’s like to be mortal?

Palermo house

To My Demented Friends

Sunrise Over Pond

a few seconds later

To the man who filled his basement to the ceiling
with boxes of meaningless things, because
“There’s money down there,” and
to the woman who said there had
formerly been a hill behind the house,
“. . . but it’s gone now . . .”—
I too live with unfathomable sense of loss,
a pool too deep to swim to the black depths.
Struggling to get to the bottom of things
(“Bring the darkness to light,” she said,
“not the other way around”) and desperate
to rise to the air. I’m not afraid
of the darkness down there, but I am afraid
of drowning.

Miley Cyrus and the Flaming Lips Cover Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds

He said, Miley Cyrus and the Flaming Lips,
it’s so weird, I don’t get it.
He said, is it just the drug thing?
She said, yeah.

She said, I’m having a flashback right now.
She sat back to enjoy the ride.
Any moment, there would be an
explosion of sound, even as
the surface of the pond was still,
smooth as glass, as a mirror.
The sun was setting in front
of the windshield, like watching
a show on a screen. Through
a screen, through the windscreen.
Windowpane.
He said he’d played this song
for her before. She didn’t remember it.
It was familiar and new at the same time.
Deer foraging at the edge of the woods.
Behind her, voices, children singing.

When they got out of the car,
they all danced.

Driving Into Sunset

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