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These are the rooms we live in
believing when we close the doors
that separate them
we are anything but connected
to whoever it is on the other side
but it takes more than a door to divide us.
(It takes the doors of perception.)
This is the house that holds those rooms
where we believe when it burns down
it affects only us
though there are families
in other rooms
with altars to the gods
of their choosing
and tabletop fountains
that can never hold enough water
to put the fire out even if they didn't start it.
(It's still up to us to put it out together.)
This is the roof that shelters our rooms
whether thatched or shingled or corrugated tin
it's what we all agree we must have
to keep us safe when the sky is falling
to have a place to practice our drums
and sing our hymns and commit those sins
for which we ask forgiveness on our better days
and other days point the finger of blame
at those living in other rooms.
(We still live in these rooms together.
Regardless what divides us.
Under the same roof.
Managing the same
Photo: Vlad Dumitrescu
WHEN RAISED BY PRINCES
This is what happens when royalty
which exists independent of the empire,
which springs from the loins of the tribe itself,
makes it past the checkpoints
& other measures meant to filter them out.
This is what happens when that royalty
follows the trail of impossible chords
& turns of phrase unearthed
by the simple human condition
shared through this common experience:
doves cry all along the watchtower
and we are destined to be left standing one day
beneath a collective purple raincloud.
& I wouldn't have it any other way.
That's how it is with families.
We do what we can to raise each other up
the best way we know how.
This was the scent that marked the end of summer
and the inevitable waltz into autumn's
colorful dance of crisp air and sweaters:
Cousin Tommy's delivery of
his annual bushel of gravensteins
from the tree at the end of his drive.
This was an afternoon of peeling and slicing -
always with the sharpest of paring knives -
never, ever with one of those newfangled things
made for the woman too helpless to handle a knife.
This was the trip downstairs to the big freezer
with trays of sliced apples to quick-freeze
while applesauce simmered upstairs
on the stove top and canning jars sterilized
in the hot water bath drawn for the occasion.
This was the cooking lesson given
at the kitchen counter
because every good woman must know
how to make a pie crust from scratch
and how to fill it with the perfect thin slices
tossed in sugar, a pinch of salt
and some lemon juice.
This is the scent that each year fills my kitchen
and for an evening transports me back
to that table where I watched the good woman
take that first satisfying bite and felt the season
wrap its arms around me and deliver on its warm
sweet promises once again.
“Fuck Atlas,” she sighed,
pouring another glass of wine
and adjusting her tiara.
“He doesn't interest me nearly as much
as that dude who wandered through the dark
looking for an honest corporation.”
I didn't have the heart to tell her
she had it wrong
or perhaps she didn't have the heart to tell me
she had it right.
The Barefoot Corporation is slouching toward Bethlehem
and we are freezing to death in the heat of global warming
that cannot be agreed upon. Pundits quote experts
that I have no lines for, as the Expert Poem
has already been written and discarded
as inadmissible evidence
of this endless effort
to divide us along lines
that keep us in
unable to draw a circle at least
a hundred feet round
and use what we find within
to think our way