Standing in Faith

Standard

4.16 Standing in Faith

What I remember most is the weight of faith you carried.
Centuries of faith.
The thickness of it, thicker than the incense
The countless spiritual atoms floating in your space
Made everything seem heavy,
Yet somehow also uplifting.
If there was a place for faith
It was under your grey arches.
There are taller buildings, but none reach like you.
Your frame yearned to be taller, and in reaching
You took us all with you, upwards.
I do not doubt we will look up again.
I pray we will.

***

I Cannot find a rhythm in the day

Standard

4.12 I cannot find the rhythm in the day (A sonnet)

I cannot find a rhythm in the day
As gentle fingers probe along my skin
To coax the rotting problem on its way
I cannot stand outside and reach within.
A tiny discontented grain of thought
As light as finches dancing on a bough
Is traipsing through where it should not
And leaving little cracks along the brow.
Now blood does not move merry in the vein
Pulsing angrily beneath the eyes
My fingertips work circles, but in vain
Then defeated reach out for supplies.
When headaches think they’ve just secured the win
That the is the time to take the aspirin.

****

4.13

I can hear the busker approach across the sand
I’ve heard his tinkering from up the hill
And prayed he was luncheon entertainment only.
Sadly, he parks next to our umbrella
And starts to sing
Bienvenue, bienvenue
Bienvenue a Guinee

I want to be lulled to rest by the crashing incoming tide
Not by an improvisational musician
Bienvenue a Guinee
Bienvenue a la plage

It’s not an unpleasant sound, the guitar
Metal picks suspended over a gourd-like belly
Bienvenue a la plage
La plage est jolie-eh-eh

But it’s tin whistle plinking
Plink, plunk, plink, plunk
Bienvenue Monsier
Bienvenue Madame

I sit up abruptly and shove money at him
It disappears instantly and slyly into that big-bellied instrument
Merci, merci Madame
Bienvenue, bienvenue….

Empty Space / Love and Bouldering

Standard

4.10 Empty Space

The empty space inside my head
Is vast, but ever shrinking
I find I bring my focus back
With patient, conscious thinking

Or else I stare at something bland
And let my hands meander
Perhaps they’ll write a shiny phrase
And my brain will take a gander.

I haven’t looked down at the keys
Which I know sounds most outlandish
Would you be kind enough to look
In case there’s something I accomplished?

****

4.11 Love and Bouldering

If I’m a bucket
You’re a crimp
We make an interesting climb
I’ll take your arms
You’ll need my fingers
We’ll make it up just fine
I’ll hold your feet
You take my toes
While we’re both in our prime
And when we’re up
We’ll trace back down
Let’s chalk it up to time

****

Like Everyone Else

Standard

4.8 Like Everyone Else

“Today is a different look for you.”
I anticipate the compliment.
It’s the most flamboyant blue I own.
The bravest thing I can wear
In this world of black slacks and neutral forms
Is a skirt the color of lapis
Printed with symmetrical golden crescents.
When I bought the bolt I was warned it would be risky.
It’s a difficult print to work with.
The little tailor mimicked the a-line photo,
Then added big pockets on the sides.
It’s out of my comfort zone.
“Normally I can pick you out, but today
you look like everyone else.”
I mentally stutter before responding.
I look like everyone else…
I’m dressed like a color block in a children’s picture book!
Then I remember where I am.
It takes Africa to make cerulean mundane.
My American muted purples are luxurious here,
Signifying me.
Here, women wear rainbows.
To stand out is to blend in.
“But it’s nice that you’re trying something new.”
…Thanks.

4.9 Keeps Dancing

I hope that little boy keeps dancing.
I hope the music does not leave his arms,
Even after they’ve grown long and wiry with hard work.
I hope that no one scolds him for dancing,
Tells him that men don’t spin.
I hope that little boy looks up again and again
And starts to beat his feet against the ground,
Throw his head down and his chest up in jubilation
Just for a moment now and then
Just enough to find pleasure.
I hope that little boy grows to be a man
Who dances in the streets every now and then.

Hassan’s Power

Standard

4.7 Hassan’s Power

Atop the granite stone I sit down hard.
The climb up has been long.
Hassan, our guide, smiles and squats down gently near me
“Are you tired?” He asks from his ledge.
I nod with as much honesty as I can muster.
He cups his hands and claps them in front of his face
Pushing the air out through his four strong teeth.
I stare at him, dumbfounded.
He looks at me, confused.
Don’t I understand?
“It’s to give you power!”
He goes back to clapping his hands at me,
his air echoing through the canyon around us.
And I desperately search for whatever power
I’m meant to absorb.
Finally, out of guilt towards a grandfather figure-
“It worked!” I announce, standing.
I cannot disappoint Hassan.
Indulgence is a kind of power.

Too far to truly worry

Standard

4.6 Too far to Truly Worry

Checking in:
Are you ok?
I mean it,
Though I’m far away.

I’m trying to mean it, anyway.

It’s just
The fire is not here
I worry
Though I’m in the clear

It’s a bit too far to carry fear

Those angry faces:
They’ve gone home?
Just checking
Though I hate to phone

I trust that you’ve been left alone

Checking in:
That’s not you, right?
Facing outward
Towards the night?

I prefer to keep the topics light

Ok, we’re good?
You’re not yet dead?
Sweet, I’ll
Just head off to bed

Maybe check online instead

***

I have friends who are stationed in dangerous places – far more dangerous than where I’m at right now. Still, when I check in with them on Facebook and they’re so calm about it, I find it really difficult to maintain my sense of worry. It’s more a dutiful worry than an authentic feeling…

Sunny Conakry

Standard

4.5 Sunny Conakry

I’m ready for the coming dark
When the power goes away
For here in sunny Conakry
It’s out most of the day

I’ll sit out in my wooden chair
And listen to the sea
I’ll watch the garbage ride the tide
In sunny Conakry

Oh happy day
Oh finery
It’s all ok
In Conakry

I’m ready for the Mad Max dawn
When the highways have gone bad
For here in sunny Conakry
Driving’s always mad

I’ll ride my little car along
As careful as can be
I’ll choke down smoke till I get home
In sunny Conakry

Oh sunny day
(Humidity)
It’s just that way
In Conakry.