Beautopia

What is that building? you ask the morning, this gray blight on a lovely spring day
corrugated steel siding broken up by long windows
that let the northern light into the industrial gloom of what?
Of Beautopia, the land of handsomeness, beauty, but not your ordinary American beauty
no this is French beauty and a whole world of it
who knew that at 48th and Minnehaha sat the center of the beautiful world
I hope they manufacture lilac bushes in there in all shades of purple and white and even pink
Inside Beautopia they must be concocting batches of after-the-bath baby head smell as
a room freshener
And vats and vats of Labrador puppy paws, like the new leaves on maple trees that are too
big for their branches, but have the faith that someday they will be a big tree too.
In Beautopia strategically placed birth marks, like the exact imperfection that makes
me love you, are bubbling in the lab, still in need of the last bit of magic
your lopsided grin, your laugh lines, the end of your nose that is slightly off-center
the Beautopia people are hard at work making things better, a more beau world
Which looks like me holding the door for a man in a wheel chair, we are both patient while he
maneuvers himself through
It looks like three middle aged women supine on yoga mats, not dead but in heaven
It sounds like Ben playing the piano
It feels like Claire’s smile
Beautopia tastes like warm bread with olive oil and smells like lilac.

I Want to Know

I want to know is the water pushing the sand down or is the
sand holding the water up
I want to know why all of the birds are cardinals
I want to know why Jeff Koons likes balloon animals
why my iris won’t bloom
why the dog cacks up water every time he drinks

I want to know that you are safe and you and you and you
too
I want to know that everyone I love is safe
I want to know why ants bury their dead

I want to know who is in charge
I want to know the name of that tree that has a pink bloom in
the spring, like a wisteria, but not
I want to know that tomorrow morning I will have a cup of
hot tea

I want to know why my blood pumps
why the wind suddenly stops
why elms can look both regal and menacing
why the whole neighborhood drives the same car
why my grass looks better from across the street

I want to know where I was twenty years ago, right this moment
I want to know who I was with
I want to know that I was laughing
I want to know that the sun was out
I want to know that I knew what I was doing

I want to know the name of the nurse at Claire’s birth
I want to know why I overeat
I want to know order
discipline
chaos
fever
abandon.

Safari

What do the monkeys want
are they after the fruit mounded in the bowl
do they want jewels?

(Not to be confused with my children
although the similarities are apt)

Laughter that I find less than comforting
issues from the light fixture
pretends to be a songbird
although it is night

I need a local, one dressed sparingly in red
with a large walking stick
to make it safely to my room

but not before I’ve made a friend.

Fierce spitting motherhood is the same everywhere
between you and the offspring there will be some hissing

Do they want us to leave the little ones?
accustomed to our fallen nature
carelessly dropping juicy bits like sloughed skin

generations after we are gone they will look
for our debris, our detritus, our excess

forsaking branches
while they sit in luxury beds
under mosquito netting.

May 15, 2008

On this morning, well morning where I am, here at this part of the
date line
and this may be my one point

morning where I sit swelling with loveliness from lilac bushes and
crab apples

won’t allow the discussion, oh forget the discussion, try imagining
the horrors

visited in the night, on others far from here, a shift of orientation
from here

Though Whitman got it right long ago, I only begin to understand

That I must be the poet of the horror and the poet of the beauty one
and the same

Yet I can’t love the horror as I love the beauty

how to allow, the death of only children, the evaporation of a
community
to work on my soul

with boring precision, the way the green lush morning erases the
winter

winter so easy to forget and the forgetting easy to accept
while whole lifestyles are not possible

The beauty of horror and the loss of a mandate.

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