Am writing

#‎amwriting
when work is so intense I sometimes forget to breathe
even though I’m listening to natural sounds like
waves and rain
wind and birds
and a break from almost not breathing
is advisable.
#‎amwriting
when courage waves at me from others’ lives
as courage more than any other thing
opens my heart
and I don’t want to be without courage myself.
#‎amwriting
when birds nest in junction boxes
and the summer heat feels cool
and work is so intense I sometimes forget to breathe
and a break from almost not breathing
is advisable.
#‎amwriting
when I remember I’m not rich
and won’t be able to walk barefoot in the Saratoga summer
and feel the wind in the pines on that plateau
that’s an ancient ocean floor
uplifted
and I want to do that walk and feel that wind.

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Water-centaur

In the Playa Azul video,
there’s a shot-sequence of grey and blue
sea
cloud,
with mountains erupting across a bay
at low tide.
A man, a little left of center, is wading,
pulling a skiff over to a
powerboat
anchored in the foreground.
Mist curlicues are making new clouds
in the lower valleys,
and a plane flies by, right to left,
laying a fine trail of diesel exhaust
in the sky.

The fisherman transfers equipment
from skiff to boat.
A dog, barking nearby, has a hollow voice,
suggesting house or veranda.
As the sky brightens,
curlicues lose their edges,
and mist streams pour
slow, smooth, and evanescent
over the farthest peaks.
The plane returns from the left,
banking very low,
and the fisherman ignores it,
as he works to tether skiff to boat.
He limps around the assemblage to find the anchor,
which he pulls, and tosses
into the boat.
He’s not seventeen anymore;
the skiff is his trolley, and now,
tethered to the boat,
it’s an outrigger,
or so I think as he climbs aboard the boat
and potters about arranging things.

But when he moves abaft and starts the engine,
he joins his craft as surely
as man joins horse to make centaur.
He’s a water-centaur,
as graceful and balanced as any fisherman can be,
and I guess his aging-pains fly away,
when he sails like this.
Man and boat exit right, noiseless
on the glide.

The cool-hued scene
has me wondering. Alaska?
But he’s not wearing waders,
and the jagged mountains
say, “Maybe Hawai’i?”

Absent of fisherman, plane and dog,
the scene’s so quiet it looks like a still,
except
a reflection moves,
a swell begins to roll in,
and a solitary waterfowl flies
low and quick along the shore.
The tide has turned,
and birds sing out:
Hawai’i for sure.

The Playa Azul video confirms,
“Kaneohe Bay Fisherman, 4:30 PM.”
The light is behind the mountains.
The view to the west, then.
You hear a faint-sounding motor before you see
a boat, a hundred meters out
moving north to south, parallel to the swell,
a water-centaur
low in the stern.

Note: Playa Azul Beautiful Beaches is a three hour ambient video featuring beaches, from Jim Wilmer’s The Windows Channel company. This poem is about the video’s ten-minute Kaneohe Bay sequence.

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Refresh

Changes: After a move from NYC to the Hudson River Valley region of New York State (USA), life is less circumscribed by a city’s dense population and urban landscapes. My mind and feelings are slowly infiltrating empty spaces, as if they’re shoreline caves and I’m the sea.

Sand settling: Of the works that have slotted into my heart the past few years, there are: Anna Badkhen’s writings, Shozo Ozaki’s art, the waka of Japan’s Heian period, and the courage of four people I follow on social media: Bobby Friction, S-Endz / Casey Rain, Bina Shah, and Rahul Pandita.

Action: After more than a year of not writing, words seem important again. I’ll be writing brief pieces, rough haiku-ish things, in a Scrivener project. The way it goes is: write; edit; realize what crap I’ve written; share; re-read from others’ points of view, edit more, stick with some final edited version. Embarrassment is part of the process, needed to knock down the ego that gets in the way of an open heart.

Goal: I’m aiming for some of the courage I see in those writers and artists and people I love.


Refresh

Don’t fall in love with yourself.

Head held high, above the clouds,
where sunlight brushes your eyelashes
with gold, listen
to the songs of people
under the flute of the wind.

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One

One mistake, one leaf

One mistake, one leaf

 

One mistake,
touching my joyful cloth,
bleeds texture,
its darkness.

 

 

One leaf,
curling under the snowy wind,
flashes color,
its fire.

 

 

 

 

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The edge of a leaf

The edge of a leaf

The edge of a leaf

You touch me
and stay
like an autumn leaf
on rain-wet stone,
elemental, separate,
subdued,
same in beauty
of this season.

You touch me.
I stay
like an autumn leaf
on rain-wet stone.

(2007, rev. 2014)

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Thanks. Anonymous

Someone wrote the other day (or I heard, somewhere) something like, “Intimacy is where truth meets love.” I can’t credit the thought, or say it just as I read or heard it. But I’m grateful for it. So here it is to share. Thank you, Anonymous.

Intimacy is where truth meets love (and neither backs away).

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Portulaca too

Sere earth
tiny seeds
next season’s beauty

Portulaca, photo by Hans Jaaven Jose via Wikimedia Commons

Portulaca, photo by Jaaven Jose via Wikimedia Commons

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Portulaca

Sere earth,
tiny seeds.

Economical green.

Portulaca, photo by Hans Hillewaert via Wikimedia Commons

Portulaca, photo by Hans Hillewaert via Wikimedia Commons

Fireworks of color
on delicate petal membranes,
visits from bees
and breezes.

A soft quick death,
withdrawal,
ripening
and, with one
touch
of a fingertip
at the right moment,
an explosive

burst.

Tiny seeds,
next season’s beauty.

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Ferment

Your love,
without relief of occasional plosive hi-howya-doin’s,
without punctuation of kisses
or hugs,
feels like
a maelstrom.
Its whirling me,
its force
in ferment,
takes me
to uneasy places,
when I’d rather be by you
simply
listening to your voice
like still,
soft water.

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Warmth

Drifting snow piles up
on east-facing window screens
north wind breaks it down

 

Wrapped in cashmere
memories sliding down
cool as fresh snow

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Christmas bouquet on a rainy afternoon

Christmas bouquet: orchids, eucalyptus, pine, juniper, & rainy afternoon.

Christmas bouquet: orchids, eucalyptus, pine, juniper, & rainy afternoon.

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Reading on the wind

When I fell for one of Ben Lerner’s recommendations in New Yorker Magazine’s The Best Books of 2013, Part 2,  Geoffrey G. O’Brien’s poetry volume “People on Sunday,” it was partly because I haven’t read poetry for two months, and partly because Lerner wrote he and O’Brien “argue over every line of each other’s poetry.”

But O’Brien’s book isn’t available as an ebook yet. And for poetry, I like the almost-weightless experience of ebooks, of being able to step easily into one volume, then step easily into another.

It’s not that I’m fickle. It’s just poetry seems a profoundly natural thing, something like wind, always there and ever-varying, something I experience best when sheltered by a veil of twilight, reading shyly, respectfully, taking the words in small doses, then letting time and life hold my hands as I assimilate the work. Carrying a few printed books around feels too anchored, too discrete, too obvious, to me.

So, for now, “People on Sunday” is on a wishlist and I’ve asked that Amazon ask the publisher to offer it as an ebook. Buying it in printed form would almost dictate I wouldn’t read it, something that surprised me, the reaction strong enough not to be knocked down by a hunger to read new poems.

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Objects of Desire: A handful of plums

Like I want to close my eyes and sleep past the end of time right now, that’s how Macy felt, at the point where my story of her begins.

To see her then would have been like watching one of those dinner scenes they put in movies.

Directors think these scenes work, just because we all eat. They mix in some words and grins, some shallow viewpoints switching back and forth, some pauses, raisings of eyebrows, chewing (especially in English movies), and maybe a choking on liquid. Maybe, too, a face surreptitiously watching another player. They are non-action scenes.

That’s what it seemed like with Macy. Here’s how her story played out that day:

Macy fell onto her bed. She curled into a C.

On the table, she’d put a bowl containing a handful of plums. Both bowl and fruits were plum-colored. The fruits were gold-speckled, too. Macy was going to bite one later. It would be yellow and juicy inside.

After dozing a little, Macy reached backward, feeling around for the bowl. It was heavy. She pulled the O of the bowl into her C. The bowl felt cool. If you had been watching, you’d have thought she slept, then.

You’d have missed the bite she took. Too tired to chew, she swallowed a small chunk of flesh whole. Juice stained a corner of her mouth and dripped sugar into the shadows of her fatigued mind.

You’d have missed the hunter who rose from that golden bite to hover over Macy.

An unjessed gyrefalcon on her shoulder, the hunter had a bow in hand, and a quiver of arrows, fletched by herself with kingfisher feathers, bound to her cantle. The hunter’s toes touched Macy and took sustenance from her.

The hunter rose like a miracle out of Macy’s dream, and stepped forward to search for water. She would have been utterly delighted to find a table already set with a carafe and two silver mugs, and, nearby, some fruit.

But when she stepped forward, she lifted her feet over the sweet-sour gold-speckled plums nestled in the bowl around which Macy had curled, and strode away.

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How I choose to tell of myself

Should I darken you
with me, sluice
over you like water
spilled from a vessel
kept in the center of
my heart, to justify
the way
you say I stain your
pride?

Should I loosen
my words and
tumble
them
down
the
distance
so
that,
like Angel Falls, they slide
in a
glib rush,
held back by no
gravity,
slipping
ten different ways
and more, y mas,
saying
the same,
again,
again, y otra vez,
what I hold
back?

Should I shimmer
my double wings at you,
and catch and smear
their summer-dust
across your brow,
to, fairy-like,
beguile you
more?

Can you hear a quiet
song,
one that binds me to a
cause,
a land I walk, my feet
unshod?

When I write:

summer cherries
their stems like brothers
dark sweet hearts

can you see narrow stems
joined (by a scar) to form
a five-point
star, airy blossoms, crooked
branch, ancient tree (a cousin
to the rose), un-thorned,
yet fierce when taking soil, sun
and storm to mold
five ox-blood-colored hearts
that hit my tongue
with supple
skins
containing lots of cool,
a lot more sweet,
a little tart,
and something
of that
rose?

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Soft basket

A basket slung over my shoulder
by leather straps, its belly
shaped like a plum,
wove of three kinds of grass —
thick-striped —
holds a stone,
a shadow-self that comes and goes,
places where
I touch the ground,
a river, a sea,
the hot-metal sun,
the frigid moon
in a blue-black sky,
colored lights,
a walnut (or two), brinjals,
an apple tree in bloom, in fruit,
and how one night
I dreamed your name —
its cursive strength.

You called.

I came and touched
your face, buried my fingers
in your hair, swallowed
your wine. We talked,
and kissed between the words.

© 8 Dec 2007, Heather Quinn, all rights reserved; edited 9 Mar 2013, 16 May 2013.

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The cut

See here, on my palm:
a still-bloodied cut
where my falcon’s talon
grazed a hand.
He’s off
to look for prey.
Never jessed, 
he sits by me,
or sometimes on my arm,
turning side-to-side.
Alert to motion,
he goes to feed
in moon-lit worlds.
He comes home
to groom his wings.

to mf on kc 2012

(original title: The scratch)

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Simple

I’m blots of ink,
a line or two,
a supergirl you draw
from inner sight.
Now split
the paper
with your pen
to find my
comic heart.

© 6 Jan 2009, Heather Quinn, all rights reserved; edited 5 Jan 2012, 2 Sep 2012, 10 Oct 2012.

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A story about me

Thomas Hardy girl-woman, spiritual sailor, seasoned hunter. That’s me. But I won’t tell you this. When I was a kid, a parent blew the magic away from an improvisation in a chair. That taught me to keep my stories to myself. You will think you know me, but you’ll misinterpret me in any number of ways. The visible surface of my life has been edited leanly. You’re welcome to reclothe it from your imagination. You can think of me as a paper doll or some such. Unless you have heart, curiosity and much patience, that is. Most people summon one or two of these characteristics, but it’s only the rare person who is all three. So pretty much, my secret’s safe with me.

You want to know anyway? Without taking tests or accepting challenges, without putting the work in? Well, here’s a brief rundown: There are “done” facts: I’m a Mom. I draw and paint. Then there are “would’ve” facts: I would have liked to dance, and be a doctor — a psychiatrist. And then there are “now” facts: I do tech and design things to make money. The rest is nobody’s business.

Do I have “if” facts? Yes I do. Those I can detail, because they don’t belong to me yet. If I had the time, for pleasure I’d be a beach girl. I more than like the ocean: I can’t live far away from it. I can accept an inland ocean — remnants of seas that rose up as plateaus, and folded into mountains that weathered away, leaving limestone strata riddled with caves, filtering rainwater into underground aquifers, the water pressurized, tasting sweet from dissolved minerals, welling up from springs that pockmark worn-down slopes dressed in blue-green meadows decorated with stands of ancient tannic-barked trees, the old fissures softened to valleys hidden in the mornings by ever-present mists: old oceans like New York’s Saratoga County, Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region. Near a living sea, or upon an old one, I’d dance, and have a horse and a couple of dogs. Maybe two horses.

And that’s it. Except: when I’m coldest is when I’m not. When I’m quiet, something’s boiling inside. And when I’m noisy, I’m feinting. For what, and why? It’ll take you years to figure out why, not to mention what’s involved. Just like everyone, I’m an imperfect mess (sic) of contradictions.

Lord, have mercy on us. Ameen.

 

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Silk jacket (wip)

She was smart, lost and afraid of being both. Hunting for allies. she tried to catch me by leaning against a doorway to chat for a quarter-hour every day. “Come, sit,” I’d say. When she would came in, she’d pick up my son’s photo, a basket of pebbles, a dish, a pen, anything not connected with work, examine the object, replace it, then bend close enough to whisper, ruffling my hair with her breath. She didn’t talk about either of us. It was all gossip. She wanted to hear and make noise, to distract herself. I felt a sisterly concern for her. That should have been a warning.

Brought into the firm by the CEO, she was not as protected as she thought. Seemingly oblivious of this, she’d do restaurant lunches people earning four times her salary wouldn’t do, come back late, throw up in the bathroom, then walk around visiting, letting her work slide, trailing a tequila sharpness, or a rum fug that reminded me of slow-burning sugar. She projected fragile enmity, a paradox that made others feel superior. Out of shame and compassion, they wanted to love her. You could see them trying. I tried too.

I was an urban cowgirl.  Most of us in the firm were like that — city cowboys and cowgirls, independent, hard working, in debt to no one — tech workers, very much in demand. We were building a new industry in New York, though we didn’t realize it then. We each had a particular style of dressing — the same only in that we were all different. As pioneers, you see, we were making things our own way. Because I had used to design clothing, and our company produced software for the fashion industry, I dressed with deliberate wit, sending messages through textures, fibers, cuts and colors. My style drew others to me, yet also made a little barrier, a test — could people get past my packaging and figure me out? It was arrogance. Nothing ominous. I used it to keep the evil eye away so I could focus on my life and job.

I can see now how this must have maddened her. I was questions, mysteries, while she was hungry for answers. I must have seemed like a challenge to her at first.

She tried. But nothing she did could engage me the way she wanted to. I didn’t care about her beach weekends with the CEO and his boyfriend. I love Fire Island, but weekends are mine. Her boozy casual dinners for large groups made me shudder. I like eating alone. I like tangled walks through the city night with a boyfriend, after supper and beers.

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By way of the northern sky (edit 1, in work)

In the light that enters morning
by way of the northern sky,
a Swede encloses a Finn in his arms,
absorbing her darkness,
softening with his smooth brow
the recurve tension on her lips,
ignoring that she took him for herself
before ever he took her as his own. 

Unbalanced in their sufferance,
they spin out years of music,
children and, in some of us, dance.
Your sounds echoed in them
before ever you came
gliding with passerine suppleness,
songs hidden in your feathers,
landing with a husshhhh,
with a flutter, like a passing dove.

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