Pat is a technical writer, professional editor, and poet, who writes about her personal experiences of assisting with the passing of three of her very close friends who died of AIDS in the 1980s.
She is the author of a chapbook called, A Luminous Trail Through the Wilderness.
Email Pat email@example.com
Suddenly it matters:
swifts headed to winter
brutality in Central America
twilight-dance in fall in Portland.
Pepper specks, a darkening vortex,
dusk cloud in spiral descent—
they pack into the gradeschool smokestack
like black smoke drawn back, more coming
with their impeccable timing—
miles of numinous blueblack cries chiming
overhead, thick as a galaxy.
without shoes or money,
like souls returning.
passsion governs them:
who goes in first, who last; by what sign
are they called to their need
to commune; how they dive
through the vent without smashing
into ungiving stone. Do they see us,
a struggle of humans? Suddenly it matters:
they have sharp, strong claws
and are friendly to others
of their species—do they
believe in torture, God
or democracy? Or just
the good grit
of soot and seed.
The slender woman on the #12 bus
missed her cross-town connection and is lost.
Whitened knuckles of a solitary hand
clutching a white cane,
the other resisting on the fur
of the panting canine, who is also lost,
she leans forward into an unmapped future
while the driver explores route options and calls Dispatch
to help reconnect her.
This lopsided 3-way intersection
is a six-pointed star, with such odd angles
it would be easy to get lost
at the corner of NE 57th, Alameda and Sandy.
Our bus slides to a halt,
doors open while the driver exits, offers his arm
and escorts the woman and her guide across the street,
waiting politely as they board the #71.
All of this, of course, takes a few minutes
and throws the bus off schedule,
leaving everyone else
behind, bound to their own connections.
But suddenly Now is something we have plenty of.
Here is what you need.
Time louvers its doors open wide and settles
with it's old friend Being over the whole bus.
We are so ready for this, we are waiting
for the light to turn green,
we are waiting
for more drivers like this, we are ready
as he steps back up to his seat, to greet him
with a groundswell of clapping
that rises out of us like a hungry wave —
as the bus lurches into motion.
Her day-and-night attendant whisked her out
through an exotic, perfumed crack
of the authentic two-room suite.
Down the hall to dinner she rolled, eyes slack,
jaws dull—a plate placed
at the table, pale mannequin
fiddling with her napkin, hair swept up
smooth as a standing ovation,
nary a stray all the way to the crown.
Just then, she was queen of nothing.
Just as Joe Aikin's spoonful of quaking Jell-O
found his left eyebrow, Elsie McCracken
raked wizened fingers down the window,
and Marge in her spidery hairnet
fended off a rattling dish tray spill,
Madame tall French knot made a pooched taut
O with ragged lips, as if surprised at herself,
and let loose a note that bloomed
whoopie into a gusty melody
whipping around the room. I swear
it carried the top of my head away, lifted the roof up
off all of us. Like raising the lid
and spotting a diamond
sparkling in a dumpster.
She might not know
who she's been—duchess, diva, or vixen
trilling at Bayreuth, Covent Garden,
that starch-white wedding cake in Milan,
or why she's here
at Golden Fields Manor—
but by goodness, she can still sing.
Decades after her shaggy fling
hiked up the Big Apple skyline,
Fay Wray is back in town
stomping around in a pair of red stilettos,
come-hump-me pumps heroic as fire engines
each half a block long. Sporting a natty ensemble
cinched at the waist, straight out of "I Love Lucy"
she strides into six lanes, tall as an empire.
There will be no more art made of her
terrorized screams, no crowds stampeding
onscreen, no ripped diaphanous gown.
See how she unspools the film.
See her sweep airplanes out of the sky,
mop up trillions in third world debt
like soap scum, bleach mean CEOs
with Asset Clean, balance the federal budget
on one hand—while calmly with the other
she scoops up survivors from the collapsing tower,
cupping them safe in her palm.
See her shortstop the bombs.