THE CHANGING OF THE CARD
Nodding my head, I listen
across the counter
to the catch in her voice.
I don’t know what to say,
she says, when I ask,
my hand poised above the order form
waiting to write her sigh.
A middle-aged man jingles his keys
and walks nervously around the shop
looking at the ground
before he orders roses for someone,
someone named Carol or Barbara.
He was stopped cold when I ask,
what would you like to say on the card.
Oh, he was so in love that his cheeks pinked
and eyes glowed.
Sometimes a flower
is used as a quick fix
to get out of the doghouse
back onto the couch
with slippers and dinner tray.
It’s true, flowers say a lot
without a person even writing anything,
but, there is nothing like words,
just said out loud,
words like, I love you,
or just, love.
Words like, I’m sorry.
What about, you are more beautiful
than this flower?
For quite some time now
I have had the urge to change
just one word in a message.
No, to be truthful,
I’ve had the urge to change the whole message
just to see
if it would change a life,
but, I haven’t.
Not yet anyway.
(more delivery girl blues)
to change time
in a splash of metal
across the asphalt
in slow motion sling
shot too fast to make arrangements
I bring my own reflections
pass me by this time oh cloud
destiny is a fickle wind
a rock that falls before you
in a dare with who aware
I feel the impact of her fear
enclosed with country western song
can smell the burning rubber
feel the pull of gravity is wrong
like a rope I’m tied to my place in this
I see the color of her hair is dark
and through the choke of her car’s last sigh
I see her mind in bas relief inside of mine
somehow I know her stumble fear
and even this after I’m gone can feel her
lean against the fabric of time in tears
the center divider of the southbound lane
this cement becomes a trusted friend
that she can feel some safety in
I am singing to the blessed street
to the tortured rocks and dirt
yes, to blacktop
The way is sometimes dark
and you can’t see the holes
that groan a vehicle
but they bring knowledge
of the incredible power of a tiny drop of rain
I spend so much time
weaving the course from here
to yonder in one day
I slip on a steep climb because
of all the mud on my shoes
from the way that life overflows
into the driveways
and leaves a scar where
I already have several
Petals clustered in piles swept pinkly
wind’s caprice transformed the portico
they mated in corners turning twirling
danced in pairs across the floor
I, to curb their grace and frolic
and botch and blot their perfect faces
trailed their color down the isle
of bridal white lace scented claim
My hands were stuck finger to finger
and petals dotted most my legs
sitting in splayed elegant creation
to perfect wedded minute’s I do
was something to behold the color
each bloom loosened now so tethered
with back drop view across the city
sharp buildings stood in hazed reflection
Hold me darling for I hear calling
across this day of roses dying
this flower that binds has touched the fragile
heart of two whose day is flying.
It speaks to me of all that changes
when fancy takes a walk for pleasure
and somehow something hurts to see its
lovely dying for touching tender
THE WEDDING AT GRAND CENTRAL STATION
The lady’s name was Babe.
I read it on the card
and asked to be sure.
She nodded a yes to me
and on her face were years
of tender tributaries
to the river of time.
She was dressed in hospital’s gown,
captured and tied up the back,
but not her pride and dignity.
There was no room for flowers
on the table that held a pitcher
and other plastic necessities.
She managed a smile so lovely
that I thought her fragile hand
might turn into a friend's,
and I imagined its soft inside lines
pointing to an ending soon.
It was just a moment that I stood
rearranging her room till it
was the color of spring.
When I handed her the card
she opened her tears upon my watching
and I clenched somewhere inside
where a memory was,
of my grandmother
the lines etched across her face
like a braided rug
made from pieces of yesterday.
Her fingers trembling
as she cradled baby time,
she called me by my mother’s name
and my child by mine.
Thank you Babe for reminding me
of the precious beauty of a life,
I should have said
as I turned and walked away.
Today on a winding road
up into hills
green from rain I drove,
looking for a gate.
Punch it in with a *
and gain easy access
to opening grace.
Homes that George Washington
might have lived in.
A second gate and another #
and I was granted entry to charm.
The land fell down in rolling green,
the sky was misted with heat
and nature infested hills behind
were heavy with breathing.
I walked to a door carrying an orchid
that drooped in perfect elegance,
and rang the shade-infected porch chime
that echoed down halls.
Then I turned and saw
in a bottle brush tree
just steps away,
a hummingbird in a tiny thumb-sized nest.
I knew inside this perfect crafting
I found the best.
Be sure to check out the Sacramento Bee's article today in "Traveler" on Elko and cowboy poetry at
And my apologies for a Medusa error about the Stephen Dunn reading! I've been posting that it was happening this coming Weds., Feb. 12, when actually it will be on Sunday, Feb. 23! Our thanks to Jeanine Stevens for capturing this error and putting it to death.