My Red Bench

This morning I brought my coffee and my journal to the porch and sat on my bench. I love my bench. Not long after we moved in to our house I saw that the neighbors two doors down from us had a bench and I wanted one too. Their bench was honeydew green and had two white canvas accent pillows. It sat on the front porch under, what I assume to be, their kitchen window.

My Red Bench

My Red Bench

I wouldn’t call our neighborhood modern. In fact, except for the trees and a few over-the-top remodels, if you were to drive down our street, you might think it was 1956.  Most of the homes on our block have grass and maybe a brick pathway that leads from the curb or the driveway to the front steps.

The house with the honeydew green bench had curb appeal. One of the two women that lived there was rumored to be a landscape architect. She designed her front yard in sections with rock borders and exotic plants and a winding slate path that led you to the front of the house. When Bill and I first moved in, we’d walk over and take pictures of their plants so we could buy them and plant them in front of our house.

“I want a bench,” I said to Bill. We were standing in front of their house. I snapped a picture of their bench.

“I don’t know why they have that bench.”  Bill said. “I’ve never even seen them sit on it.”

“You don’t know.” I said and turned to Bill. “They might sit on it when we’re not looking.”

“We don’t need a bench.” Bill said. He was standing with his arms crossed staring at the house.

“It’s curb appeal.” I said. “I want a bench.”

Bill turned toward me. “You probably won’t ever sit on it.” He said.

“I’m buying a bench.” I said. Bill rolled his eyes. He turned and headed back to our house. I followed.

He stopped at the foot of our driveway and crossed his arms. I caught up and we stood there for a few moments looking at our home.

“I’ll go on line to that garden store, Smith & Hawken.” I said. “I bet that’s where they got their bench.”

“Don’t.” He said. “I’ll build you a bench.” I reached up on my tiptoes, kissed his cheek, and walked up the driveway to the house.

Bill built me a sturdy pine bench. I helped him paint it. We chose candy apple red. She sits at the end of our porch under the kitchen window. I bought two black pillows with white piping and lean into them as I write and sip coffee in the mornings. In the summer, our neighbors Susie and Jerry join us for cocktails or beers. Bill and Jerry stand in the driveway and talk about boy things like boats and the weather and motorcycles while Susie and I sit and page through the latest Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn catalogue. Bill and I sit on our bench and watch the rain. On warm nights, sit and we’ll look at the stars and talk. I love my red bench.

The two women have since moved and a couple bought the house. He’s tall and she has platinum blonde hair. I rarely see them. The lawn is dying and the plants look tired and thirsty.  The porch is empty.

The View From My Bench

The View From My Bench

We’ve gone drought resistant. Our gardener planted lots of colorful dwarf trees and shrubs like Dwarf Day Lillies, California Redbuds, Dusty Millers, Evergreen Current and Fairy Lilacs.  What once was our lawn is now river of grey sand and rock with blue grass accents that runs through pea gravel the color of the beach on a rainy day. When Bill gets home from work, we’ll sit on our red bench and watch the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds drift from flower to flower.

This morning I brought my coffee, my journal and one of my black pillows with white piping outside. I sat on my red bench. The air was thick. The clouds hung low and heavy in the pink and blue sky. A woman walked by with her dog and waved. I waved back.  A man jogged pass on the other side of the street. A white Toyota slowed down in front of our house and stopped. I noticed the driver lean toward the passenger side window and aim her phone at our front yard. I think she was taking a picture.

A View From My Bench

The View From My Bench

Journal Entry: August 31, 2014

Journal Entry:  August 31, 2014

 

I had a good childhood.

me and dad Maui, maybe 79 or 80

Me and Dad Maui Circa 79 or 80

I grew up on movie sets. My Dad was a Production Manager back when you broke down a script using colored cardboard strips. Wemoved from New York to Beverly Hills. “Stepford Wives” was in the can but I still got to brush Katherine Ross’ strawberry blonde hair and help her bake cookies in her Malibu kitchen. I loved how her bathing suit bottoms never matched her tops.  When my Dad was working on “Murder by Death” he arranged for me to meet Angie Dickenson and Earl Holliman. “Police Woman” was my favorite show and it was a way bigger deal than meeting David Niven, Truman Capote or Maggie Smith. Although it was pretty neat to watch Colombo rehearse the same line over and over and over again.

It wasn’t just me. My Dad brought lots of people up in the movie business. He got them jobs, got them training, got them in the union.

Then the script took a dark turn. An unexpected diagnosis. A first surgical procedure doesn’t go as planned. Lake Arrowhead-chemo-recovery-weekends and my Dad’s healthy vital glow mask the executioner. A Second surgery and still Cancer drills deep and takes root.

All scenes led to that final diagnosis.
Seven days left to say goodbye.

“Did you get the shot?” He asked. From his bedside at Cedars, I could see the Hollywood sign, white against the Indian summer hillside.  I held his hand. It felt heavy.

“We did.” I replied.

Cut. Print. That’s a wrap.

That was 1988.

Man of Destiny

Roger M. Rothstein

It took a bit of time, but now I can feel into the gift that is my father. Not just my gift–I still get emails, letters and Facebook posts: I miss him every day; I found a picture of him; There was no one quite like Roger.

I can look in the mirror and see him in the round of my face, the beauty mark on my cheek and my dark hair and eyes. His energy courses through my veins as I negotiate with a tough client.

If my father weren’t where he is, somewhere out there, I wouldn’t be where I am now.  Who knows, maybe he is here, hovering over my right shoulder as I type.

This is my life.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Hello Moon**

Journal Entry:  August 11, 2014

 

full moon morning

Full Moon Morning

I stepped out onto the back porch this morning and looked up to see the moon, still full, setting in the sky. I don’t recall a full moon ever on an August 11th, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t ever happened.

Today is my birthday.

“What a nice surprise.” I tell the moon.

“Sure thing!” He says.  “Happy Birthday!”

“Thank you.” I say

That moon-man smiling down on me, greeting me on my special day, makes me think about how long I have been here. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve looked up and smiled at him in my five decades and one year.

I had my coffee, my vanilla protein shake with an organic peach and I wrote in my journal.  I left the house happy.  I drove through emptier-than-normal-for-a-Monday streets and parked in the almost vacant lot by my spinning studio.  I was greeted upstairs with smiles and birthday wishes.

During class, our instructor Mandy said, “Grab your water and grab your breath.” I don’t know if she meant to say grab, but that’s what I heard.

I looked over the parking lot, to the palm trees and couldn’t help but think about the word.  Grab.

What have I grabbed for in my life? What else will I reach for and grab? I grab a ripe Meyer lemon from our tree in the back yard — twist and pull.  I pluck opportunities as they ripen on their vines. What will I reach for next?

At 51, I am still like a child that picks and chooses what to discover and explore next.  Although, I haven’t had to grab for that much; the important, life-changing things come to me.

I get clear.
I ask.
I let go.
I receive.

It seems easy and in a way it is, but there is the work of getting clear and letting go, sometimes it can be a challenge. Although, at this place it isn’t as much work as it was when I was in another place.

That’s what happened with Bill.  It’s not that we didn’t reach for each other.  We did.  It’s how we came to be within each other’s reach, in that particular instant, that I find interesting.

I’ve written about it many times, it was as simple as that.

Why does the moon smile down on me?
Why did Bill and I get swaddled together in that moment?
Why am I blessed with this life?

I don’t know that I have answers for these questions.  I may never.  I’m good with that.  I’ll unwrap full moon birthday wishes, and magic instead of answers.

Happy Birthday to Me!

 

** Excerpt from the book that I am currently writing.

 

 

Submission Guidelines

 

“No poems about your morning coffee.”

But I love mine.

It’s organic,

French Roast,

expensive.

I prepare it the night before.

I think about how

the black liquid

will turn tan

when it mixes with the ½ and ½

on the bottom of my mug.

How I will stand at the kitchen sink,

look out the window

purse my lips

and sip.

 

Maybe that editorwoman-drinking-coffee_300

doesn’t understand

the hint of jasmine

on a spring evening,

the brush of your lover’s

finger on your thigh,

or the perfect cup

of coffee

kissing you full

smack on your lips

each morning.

Earth Crisis

 

“It wasn’t butter it was earth crisis we were eating last night,” says the tall work-study. The work-study philosophizes about life. “The circle of giving keeps giving” he says.

We’re all philosophers.  Breathing into the dusted sepia pages of books, stacked from floor to ceiling in rooms scented with musk and memory.  Sunlight streams from skylights and neglected windows.  Cars whiz by on Laurel Canyon and Magnolia and the Pioneer Chicken on the corner will outlast us all.

I want to be outside but the cigarette smoker exhales feathers of tar toward saltwater.   The ocean cries and the wall of voodoo forms on the horizon, waiting to hug the cliffs and paint everyone in mist.

There is always a choice.  Today it’s between the all-saltwater-roll-your-own and the voices of those that live among the trees.  Voices that echo in canyons, Love me, free me, color me blue, violet, blood orange yellow and pink; a kaleidoscope of light that winds its way up the trunks of trees.

The trees.  The trees plant themselves into hillsides.  The trees push themselves from rock and stone.  The trees, older than the birds thatwhat of the trees perch themselves, wings spread ready to hunt, older than the iron, stone and wood structures built around them, older than the smoking man. And what of the rocks?

The earth shook and a piece of cliff set itself free.  Tumble, bounce, crumble crash.  Particles disperse and morph into another time.

The wind is hollow. The blue jay hunts for food.  I wait.

I don’t move.  I can’t spread my wings until I know I am home.

I can’t find a home and so I pick up my cup of tea, my crumpled packet of Truvia, my bent spoon, my pen, my new red cap and my bottle of Fiji.  Ten years ago I walked along a beach in Fiji. The Fijians have flat feet. They climb the palm trees and drop-thud the coconuts to the ground.  I thought about moving to Fiji.

I’ve moved before. I was young and splintered. I tread water for a long time.

We all tread water, burn ourselves into a blue flame until we suffocate or stroke.  I butterflied my way to a south-facing beach, crawled up on shore, my home strapped to my back.  Sloshed through thick wet sand. Why not let the sea push me into a dream where the sun sets in the North?

Glue me together.

And what of the dirt that I can’t seem to clean from the bottom of my feet?  Is that from a stone that fell hundreds of skies into my South facing ocean?  Lightning striking sand, melted it into long, thin tubes that sucked themselves toward the beginning.  Volcanoes erupted melted rocks. I am stained by my earth.

Today I stepped on a shard of glass.  I didn’t see it, but I felt it.  I had to stop, sit down and pull it out of my toe.  I am ground fine like glass. A window to peer through, a crystal to fill, to drink from and then place under my husband’s foot.   I have left behind pieces of myself, on pillows and in sheets and wrapped in the souls of those I have loved.

Morning Ritual **

Every morning the woman would wake before her husband.  She would leave him behind, snoring, and make her way to the kitchen to make him his coffee.  Once the coffee was brewing, she’d go out to her garden.

One grey morning in May, she heard the back door open and close.  She looked up from a stubborn weed she had been working to see her husband standing on the back porch, coffee in hand.  Happy for the company, she looked back to the weed.

“I think we should end this,” he said.  She was gripping at the stubborn weed in her right hand, pushing the earth with her left until it let go with a final tug and she tossed it to the side.  She sat back on her heels. They had been together for twenty-two years.  They had grooved into their routine.  She spent most days gardening or running errands and he spent his days doing whatever it was he did.  She wasn’t sure.  He went out with the boys twice a week, on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s and she’d do laundry, or read, or knit.  She enjoyed knitting, even in the summer.  She felt her heart flutter, skip a beat and her stomach felt tight.  She gasped a little for her breath.  “What?” she said.  She gulped for air. “What?”

coffee mug garden

The next morning the house was quiet.  The day before, her husband had packed his clothes, toiletries and his favorite vinyl records in boxes, loaded them into the back of his pick up truck and drove away. She walked into the kitchen and filled the red teakettle.  She sat at the kitchen table staring out at her garden waiting for the kettle to boil.  She noticed her husband had left his favorite coffee mug on the back porch

**This was a piece I wrote this year in the poet Richard Jones‘ workshop.
He is an amazing poet and teacher.

So Beautiful…

 

I was looking down at himlooking down
his hands pulled my hair away from my face
he was looking up at me
we were in his small room
the sun was bright
shining through sheer curtains
reflecting off of light walls
his strong hands
capable
his dark eyes
pulling at me
his voice
a hungry whisper
‘you’re so beautiful’ he said

I let him pull me into him

Sometimes I’ll feel
the dusting of his print
on my inner thigh
on the curve of my lower back
on my belly
I’ll taste that morsel
let it melt on my tongue
that instant
when I gave myself
to this man

I felt I was woman
but I was still girl

I Have Written A Book

 

Let go

The voice floats in through a speaker, or from the car next to me, or maybe it’s the bird sitting on my shoulder, Live in the moment.  The voice sings, murmurs really. Her soft lips tickle my ear, her breath, my neck and her words fall down my spine.

Let go

The breeze lifts me out of the car, the roof opens, peels itself back, I lift up to the blue and the white cotton clouds.  The sun, bright-orange-glowing-smiling, down on me, reaches her tentacles, pointing toward the ocean.  I feel the breeze kissing my belly, my thighs, my shoulders, my cheeks, she moves me, placing me on the shore.   The dolphins leap high to the clouds.

Let go

They Dolphin speak,

Let go

My words fall into place.  Splayed out, legs spread, arms open, back arched, heart beating.  My words rejoice.

Let go.

My heart, broken, mended, healed, scarred, my alive heart.  I watch my heart, lift and soar and the sun’s tapered fingers cradle her.  I am amazed by the contrast of Sun’s orange fingers and my red melting heart.  My love oozes.

The beach glows soft-heart red.  MY open heart.  And the sand is my page and my words, my words, my words, spill onto that page. as simple as that cover Yellow, polka-dot, blue, purple, striped, lavender, rainbow, black and white, my words, paint the page and the beads of sand slip between my fingers and we are there, on the page, me and my heart.

We are bound together, my words, my heart, my poetry.
The page is a live. It is a life. A life lived. A life — on the page.

Let go.
Let the words speak for themselves.
Let go.

I have written a book.

 

** I have written a book of Poetry.  Check it out here! 

 

i was born this way

 

i was born this way
i didn’t make the choice
it just happened
it’s how i look at the world

in detail

in the blink of an eye

in the way moon slips into the ocean
silver ripples
on a black sheen

in the lovers glance
the electricity
they transmit
to each other
alone in a room
filled with other people
how can I not feel
that tingle spark
tickle up and down my spine?
how can I not remember?

i didn’t wake up one day
in second or seventh grade or even ninth
and decide

i didn’t even realize

i just knew what I felt
that i was permeable
i drink each experience
i grow full and heavy
with word

people will ask me
-what do you do?-
such a vague and familiar question

i breathe words
i exhale
onto a page

i answer
-i am a poet
i was born this way-

 

moonset

Girls And Their Rescues

I worked it out in bed, in bedrooms.

In bed with guys.

I know

now

that’s just not cool and

so they buy dogs.

Boxers or pit bull mixes.

They’ve given up

booze and boys and banging and

adopt a rescue.

It’s the thing to do.

I’m not a dog person.

I didn’t get that gene, or

the stripper gene.

Not then. So

I threw myself at guys.

Not all guys, just the ones

I shouldn’t have.

I didn’t turn it into a thing.

It was just what it was. No labels.

We liked sex back then.

It was what it was,

fucking.

Now you’re an addict.

You go to meetings, pledge abstinence and

get a rescue.

grlsndogs