how to find a lover

The portent outside Bell’s glass is reflected here in the doorway–
where the welcome mat is soiled glum grey
Dead leaves mimic the worn out bar’s foot traffic–
they blow in lost but looking
There is a staleness to the light that no one seems to notice
But me
I’m either special or nor drunk enough
“…you’re just too good to be true…”
Background mocks everyone in the damn place
The only thing too good to be true–
matching Powerball numbers or getting free refills
I opt for the latter
They tell me the kind of money that frees you from worries–
never alters the conversation an earthworm might whisper into your blue ear
Pour me another and double the double
The barmaid’s hair shines like the missing sun
My hair lost its luster when I lost other things
Three stools over, a shapely glass hits the mahogany
I’m watching cream liqueur swirl into a “Lady Luck”
I might just be observing someone who is worse off than me
I don’t need luck
I need a break
Don’t you, I mean when does the shit part end and the good crap start hitting the fan
That’s all I’m waiting for
Nothing too complicated
Like pouring a drink, or two, or three
I hear someone chatting up, Billy Eckstine
Maybe this poor soul is more lost in time than me
Well, something has just cheered me up, inexplicably so
There on the wall–
a seascape, its lighthouse back-illuminated, and I see him–
he’s behind the window–
a dark, handsome man wearing a sea captain’s hat
He’s waving to me
Finally, someone I can talk to who will listen

five cent pump pencil

five cent pump pencil

 

jeremiad

it’s unsettled, this thing in our chest
delicate as the velvet underside of lamb’s ear
bellwether of change
preparing to die
in the dark
in the cold
as winter shoves her fingers down its sleepy throat
dormant into the dirt
winter steals beyond the plant
she will claim our hearts with frigid hands 

I am sorry I have no answers
experienced in living
neophyte in death
parse these words gently
it’s unsettled this thing in our chest
delicate as the velvet underside of lamb’s ear

I do apologize for this lamentation
this jeremiad from dust
to dust

oatmeal walls

oatmeal walls

sketched last year-no one died for the writing of this piece-all is well

did I really know her

how well did I really know her
not well enough to know
she taped notes to the underside or back of every holiday decoration
to ensure they returned to their same perfect place each season
I did know her well enough to taste the warmth of her home
before that front door ever opened
how well did I really know her
not well enough to know
she would begin creative endeavors quite seriously
collecting all the necessary supplies
then have a go-at-it for awhile before leaping to another adventure
another collection of precious stuff
I did know she always looked lovely from her smiling eyes to her tiny feet
in perfect shoes
I later found out
she sometimes purchased 2 identical sweaters
just in case
I did know her well enough to sense
her plans were her dreams
I knew her well enough to be a part of her life
and her love
the very same love that kept those big dark eyes of hers speaking
when she could no longer talk
how well did I really know her
well enough to keep her memory
strapped inside my chest
for as long as my heart continues to beat
purple-wild-hair-editscreated this weekend
happy b’day Aunt Nina, forever in our hearts

still missing you

This is a post from September of last year. Three weeks after I originally wrote this, Rocky died. The amazing thing for this exceptional animal was that he passed away peacefully in our home right after we all said goodbye that night and the very day before my mother-in-law moved in. His illness would have made a difficult transition for her even more trying. I cannot believe how much he is still missed. The good ones always are.

I think I made you sick after you showed up on my blue canvas. A painting I patted myself on the shoulder for. I’m so very sorry, my dear friend. Did I do that to you? And it is too late now. I can take nothing back. Not one thing. I should have castrated my selfish fingers. You were saying you were sick. I didn’t hear your silent words. I wasn’t listening. For two months, I think it was two months, I can’t remember exactly–I was buried in my meaningful life. You kept hanging around my studio. You hadn’t ever done that before. Well you had, but not to stay. You’d give a gentle hello then return to your usual places, ones of comfort like the sofa by the piano. We called it “your bed,” not our couch. Actually it was a love seat. The couch knew more than I. It knew how to comfort and be there accepting the additional weight of the masses spreading inside you. The casual invaders I’d grown too busy to notice.

And now, I watch your chest breathing up and down. It is your heart saying goodbye. I’m listening now my friend. I am listening now. Please forgive me when I must say my final goodbye to you and mean it from the depth of my selfish soul.

blue boys

blue boys

Rocky the Shepherd and Mojo the Dachshund – painted last year, forever hanging above our mantel

since 9/11

“A husband and father, as he did every morning, kissing his wife and daughter before driving to Rescue 1’s firehouse on West 53rd Street in Manhattan. And his unusual decision to stop as he walked to his van on Sept. 11, 2001, and return to kiss them one more time.”

“I’m saying to myself, he survived. He was a Marine, he was a Boy Scout (and) he was a rescue guy,” Tillie Geidel said. “If anybody could survive, he could survive.”
– Leonard Sparks for the Times Herald-Record, September 11, 2016
Gary Geidelportrait of Gary Geidel, Rescue 1 – painted this for his mom in 2001

long afterward

he approaches with a tender smile
his wet eyes, lost to other thoughts
she takes him in her arms
wrapping his broad shoulders
she remembers a lifetime ago
holding his entire body in her hands
he is a man
he is a child
their quiet embrace, these silent words

his sadness, the foaming ocean
fear like predators circling
waiting to take away what is given over
his flushed face sinks into her shoulder
his tears pool in the bowl of her clavicle
the dry hot summer air freezes
she squeezes him tighter
I’m still here holding onto you
until you are ready to swim
someday I too will disappear into the middle of the ocean
though you are a strong swimmer now
you must let me float away
after I am gone

there will be sunsets,
and sunrises
where I hope to see your beautiful smile

wood nymph

wood nymph

my son’s good friend, lost his mother last night
she was an exceptionally brave woman

building paper boats and childlike ranting

The Blue Angels are flying over my house. A few years ago they flew so close by I swear I saw an upside down helmet and a smiling face. To fly. Freedom in the sky. In the clouds. I often think it so very ironic that only eight minutes from my house sits a small airport with a landing strip long enough to land a space shuttle–one may have landed here years ago, can’t remember– and I haven’t traveled anywhere in such a long time. I often watch these enormous military planes descend marveling at how they stay afloat in the air when they carry the weight of the world.

It has been a struggle of late, deciphering where I dream my words flying. Used to be so much clearer. Things have grown a bit hazy and the atmosphere thick. God, how many of us are out here, everywhere trying to do the same. Yet, this does not change our itinerary, does it. I’m no different. I waste more time struggling on the ground than flying in the air. I’m growing tired and losing a bit of chrome polish. We all suffer in our own way. I’ve created a personal flight plan that includes spreading thin with just enough left to light coat a piece of paper with tired ink.

My frustration is creeping up and it will culminate one day into pulling the plug on all this social media. And the ‘whys’ as to what I’m doing continuing to write online when I should curl in my cave and go at my muse like Ali. I find the media of media more and more distracting. How much time do you continue giving when time is not bottomless. So much speaks to the musts of social media today. To get your words anywhere, to make them fly maybe even rocket you must pilot the spacecraft. I’ve been trying with all my heart to stay the course. I write myself into places that take me away. Create people I don’t know–maybe I do–I’m not ever really sure where any of these folks come from. Yes, sure we all know there are pieces of ourselves that go into our art. Art imitates life in that order and this is nothing new. It is old. Too old.

I am working on an illustrated book of verse. I’ve mentioned this before. I am not a salesperson. I’m not shy just not wonderful at touting my own work. I was an art director for a publishing company before my daughter was born. I did that job really well because I sold other artists’ designs. Today, I keep thinking, “okay, AnnMarie you’re gonna print a bunch of these books then what.” I dislike pushy tactics. Dislike when instant messages tell me to go read this or that. I won’t do it. I can’t. My innerchild is obstinate and bullish which makes my whole plan sort of ironic–self publishing. You pay a self publisher, yet you still must provide a marketing plan extolling all the wonderful ways you’ll PUSH your endeavor. Pushing art, adds a whole lot of romance into the notion of beloved muse. When this book of mine is ready, it will be placed here and other venues. Will all this matter. Time will tell. At the very least, I will have something my folks can show their friends and something my children can take with them whether or not I’m here.

In my heart, I naively believe in tossing your paper boat into the raging sea. If it you built it true, it might stay afloat. If you built it really well, hell, maybe it will magically take to the air. To the sky where you can soar into the clouds. Like the Blue Angels.
Caroline and Max spiritSpirit mural (based on DreamWorks movie) I painted long ago and since painted over

to flourish and decide and dream

Max frown/acrylic

Max/acrylic

sixteen today
time, is his friend
an entire life
to flourish and decide and dream
he was born
with an old soul
warm and caring
those eyes of his
speak in softness
two more years
then he will fly
all that resides in him
all that is good
all that is still mystery
for now
he’s thinking pediatrician
a tender spot for babies
cares about children
while looking in the mirror
trying to see the man
he will one day become
max copy
Max portrait painted about twelve years ago
15-years-old in detail photo above (at his sister’s 2016 high school graduation)