Ghosts Are More Territorial Than Cats

ghosts are more territorial than cats
I knew you wouldn’t
follow me
you prefer those same empty rooms with
mapaches
scratching at the screens

I felt you watch me pack the dishes
take down the pictures
put my cloths into suitcases
and take apart the bed
I assembled there
two and a half years ago when
you were a flesh and blood human
I didn’t know

de último
I stuffed the cats into cages and
took them away
yowling

they’re getting used to it here
already
they love me more than
my own ghost

ghosts are more territorial than cats
which is lucky
I could walk away and leave you there
you would never have left yourself
in spirit
the way you left in body
one cool dry dawn
sin mirar atrás

it was easier for me to go
the excuse about the inundaciones
is true and everyone knows it

I didn’t say adiós when I left
or hasta luego
either
I walked out the door
as silent as you
as silent as cats

I am not territorial
at all

I bolted the bed together in the new room
with no ghosts
put my shoes in the closet and
the spoons in the drawer
I’m home now
with my books and my
masa madre fermenting in the fridge

at night under the fan
I open the windows to the
sea breeze
and dream sweetly
of cats

Six Feet of Separation

Surreal

It was13 months ago that the world (mine) shut down. Remember that? Yours may have shut down before or after, but most places on the planet have been “closed” for some length of time during the last year. Isn’t that weird? Who would have thought??

I haven’t written about this. It’s such a polarized subject and I don’t like public conversation on polarized subjects. You may have noticed.

In March of 2020, Costa Rica closed its borders. For three weeks or until further notice which turned out to be November. Surreal. I never thought I would live in a world with closed borders, ever. I mean, there wasn’t even a war or anything. Amazing.

March 2020

I was so scared at first. We all were. I was scared of the mass death I imaged would begin to sweep the globe. Social unrest. Violence. Scarcity. I wasn’t really worried about toilet paper, bread flour, or juicy steaks. I was worried about drinking water, rice, beans, cooking oil.

Ironically, we never ran out of a thing. Tamarindo was a booming tourist town fully stocked to supply thousands and thousands of visitors with everything they could want. And when the borders slammed shut and the thousands of people left, guess what. There was plenty of stuff for those of us who were still here!

Those months of lock-down were awesome. Not from a financial stand-point, of course, but from a quality-of-life standpoint. The nights went immediately from a noisy booming ruckus that started at sunset and ended at dawn, to complete quiet. I’ve never slept so well. The streets were silent. Not just quiet–silent. I could lie in my bed in the early mornings and listen to monkey troupes all the way back up into the mountains telling each other who was where and which way to go or not go that day. At first no one was allowed on the beach, but as soon as we were, every day was a family reunion in the sand. Seriously. Everybody you knew was there. We had all of Tamarindo to ourselves, just like we used to in the rainy season back in the old days. I remember after the government started letting people move around the country a little more and the first San Jose tourists started showing up. It was weird to see someone I didn’t know in line at the store or walking down the street.

We didn’t make very much money, but there weren’t a lot of places to spend it, either. For months, the bars and restaurants were very limited or closed. Only grocery stores and pharmacies were in business. There was even a period of time when people were so scared of each other I only had one or two friends who were brave enough to come over for dinner if I invited them. We had a lot of good times on those quiet nights in my kitchen. Nobody was busy. Can you imagine that? Can you remember? For months on end, no one was busy and tired. It was fantastic.

News

I don’t watch “the news,” therefore it has no power to frighten me. There are things I am afraid of, but they are not things that I see on tv shows.

Open

Then Costa Rica opened up again and BOOM BABY, we’re back. It’s not “like before,” but Tamarindo is Tamarindo again. Traffic jams. Lines in the stores. Tourists who smell like Coppertone sunscreen and wear special big hats and flowy dresses they bought specifically to wear on the beach. I found this very amusing when “the world” opened up again and the tourists came back. I forgot about the thing of buying special flowy clothing to look pretty in on the beach. During Lockdown when the beach belonged to locals, there was none of that nonsense. Baseball caps. Board shorts. Bikinis. Old t-shirts. No clothes at all if you’re too young to go to school.

And Now?

Who knows. People all over the world are getting vaccinated. This makes them feel much safer. As long as there are travelers, we’ll be ok in my town. In my country. New driving restrictions are returning next weekend, apparently, as “cases” are on the rise again. The restrictions don’t change much for me personally because it’s not the same as a curfew. The curfew is for your car, and I don’t have one.

Wait, so are we “better” because of all the vaccinations? Or are restrictions increasing because we are “worse?” I’m confused.

Of the people I know who have died in the last year, one of them may have been from this virus. I spoke to my family in Milan, Italy where the situation is supposedly completely terrible. They are furious because they say have essentially been on house arrest for one year. I asked them how many people they know who have died from the virus. They said two. Ok, wait. I’m confused.

I must be very very lucky.

Lucky

I am very very lucky. I am aware of that.

Immunology

I can’t help it. I have to go there. I’m very lucky. I live in a town where we can be outside in the sun all year long. We can run around barefooted. We are allowed to breathe air. We can get in the salt water every day if we decide to. We get dirt under our fingernails, inhale god-only-knows-what in the dust every time a car goes by, and our pets who sleep in our beds run around in the gardens and on the streets and on the beaches. These things provide immeasurable benefits for our health. We hug each other and kiss each other. Yes we do. I imagine that most of us here have been exposed to this virus and I observe that all of us are doing just fine. So far. We wear our masks in stores and on public transportation because we have to, and any other place we feel like we want to, if we do. I don’t. But some people do. So far we haven’t had trouble respecting each other. If we lose that, we’ve got nothing.

Six Feet of Separation

And now we wait to see what happens next. I am waiting with the television off. I am pretty sure that when the apocalypse comes, I will recognize it. And if it’s a tv show, I might decide not to watch. I might decide to go surfing or take a nap in the hammock. I don’t really want anyone within six feet of me, anyway, at either of those times.

Some Great Vacuum

there are no poems
for you
only wind

the water has turned
cold as ice
the moon has
come and gone

there are no poems
for you
but there are dreams
in which you are different
now

stars have fallen
wind has moved
a million grains of sand

if words came i would
put them on paper
but there is
only wind

air rushing south
toward you
toward some great
vacuum

March Night

i want to die in the arms
of a March night
in Guanacaste.
heaven is close, then.
angels hover above dry trees
brushing branches with warm
breath.
chicharras
clutch tiny twigs
playing love songs on
transparent wings.

Noche de Marzo

quiero morir en los brazos
de una noche de marzo
en Guanacaste.
el cielo está cerca, entonces.
los ángeles aletean sobre los árboles secos
rozando las ramas con su aliento
tibio.
las chicharras,
agarradas de ramitas diminutas,
tocan canciones de amor con sus
alas transparentes.

The Bus Roared Like a Lion

when the bus pulled up
to take you away
to the airport
the driver who opened
the luggage hold for your
suitcases asked
where are you going
and said ustedes to us
even a stranger could see
in the half dark
we were nosotros
one two-headed creature
you answered
aeropuerto and kissed me
the bus swallowed you and
roared like a lion
as it tore us into
tú y yo

Amen, Cheers, Pass the Pancakes

I spent a long time over the weekend writing up a post for today. But I realized during the night that I don’t like it. Meh. It’s about trying to be present in the present, not lost in the past or the future. It’s readable, but I’m not feeling it this morning. I even translated it into Spanish. But I don’t think it quite hits the mark.

So, instead, I’ll tell you about the present.

I’m in Washington State, half way through a vacation/visit to my sister and her family. It’s very cold. My niece and nephews have grown from toddlers into 6-foot teenagers. One is in college, two are in high school. Their paternal grandmother is in the ICU with pneumonia and is not expected to recover.

Last year over the holidays in Tamarindo, I promised myself this trip. I kept my promise. But it’s not like I expected. Nothing is like any of us expected. I guess that’s what the blog post I tried to write says, in different words. My parents didn’t come this year. My friends here are keeping their distance. Of course. There are a lot more sick people in this climate than in Tamarindo. And I don’t want to get it now because I don’t want to miss my flight home. All of that said, I so love being hunkered down, cozy by the fire, with no where to rush off to. I think I spent way too many hours of my life rushing places.

The last Christmas I spent in the States was 5 years ago. Pio was with me.

Now, do you see why I have to write blog posts to myself about being present in the present, not lost in the past? Yeah.

Today is Monday. The last Monday in 2020. Everybody says they hope 2021 will be better. That would be awesome. I found a lot of things to love about 2020 but that’s just me. I’ve been lucky. I’ve also been unlucky.

I’m going to drive with my sister and my niece over the mountains to Seattle today. I’m thinking of applying for dual citizenship, and I need to be fingerprinted for an FBI report. I expect it will be a dull read lol but I have to do it. There’s an outlet mall that we all love on the way there. We’re leaving in an hour, and should be back by evening.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to snow again. Before the weekend we’ll be toasting Happy New Year and I may very possibly be attending a funeral. Or not. Next week I give my sister back all the sweaters and fuzzy pants I’ve been wearing, and head back to the land of summer.

So there you have it: a glimpse of the past, the present, and the immediate future. Something is about to happen. I don’t mean today, I mean really soon. I feel it. I hope I like it.

Amen.
Cheers.
Pass the pancakes.

Conozco Islas

vámonos de aquí
dejemos atrás la tierra firme
echémonos al mar
nuestra cuna, casa, ataúd
y avancemos hacia el horizonte
con brazadas fuertes

no temamos baby
al sol, a la luna
a los espacios líquidos
desconocidos

vámonos de aquí
te ruego
conozco islas
que desde aquí no se ven
conozco los dragones
a la orilla del mundo

no despidámonos más
excepto de la tierra
donde nos raspa el aire y
nos atrapa la gravedad

A Poem For The Kiss / Un Poema Para El Beso / Un Poesia Per Il Bacio


there must be a poem
for the kiss
a quiet poem
a gentle kiss
the one you don’t remember

she presses her lips to
your warm forehead
a terrible journey
is over and
silence begins
now

another poem might say
you seem to be
only asleep, but
not this one
this poem has
watched you through
a thousand sleeps and
knows the difference

her lips press your forehead
this last time
trembling

the doctors have
turned off the morphine and
you are free of
this destroyed flesh

they will bring her
your ring, later
to keep
in the poem
with the kiss


Un Poema Para El Beso

debe haber un poema
para el beso
un poema silencioso
un beso suave
el que tu no recuerdas

ella aprieta sus labios a
tu frente cálida
un viaje terrible
se ha terminado y
el silencio comienza
ahora

otro poema podría decir que
pareces estar
solo dormido, pero
este no
este poema te ha vigilado
mil veces
mientras duermes y
conoce la diferencia

los labios de ella tocan tu frente
esta última vez
temblando
los doctores han
apagado la morfina y
estás libre de
esta carne destruida

luego, ellos le llevarán
tu anillo
a ella
para guardar
en el poema
con el beso



Una Poesia Per Il Bacio

ci dovrebbe essere una poesia
per il bacio
una poesia a sottovoce
un bacio delicato
l’unico che non ricordi

lei preme le sue labbra
sulla tua fronte calda,
un viaggio terribile
è finito e
il silenzio inizia
ora

un’altra poesia direbbe
che sembri
solo addormentato
ma non questa
questa poesia ti ha
guardato mentre dormivi
mille volte e
sa la differenza

le sue labbra ti toccano la fronte
l’ultima volta
tremando
i dottori ti hanno tolto
la morfina e
tu sei libero da
questa carne distrutta

le porteranno
il tuo anello più tardi
per conservarlo
nella poesia
con il bacio

Prey / Presa

catch me
in the fish trap
i offer my flesh
for your feast

in this way
i become you
i knit my body
into your bones

in 1000 years
we will be together
still
in single grains of sand

*some hunting cultures suggest that prey voluntarily yields to the hunter as part of the circle of lifea rarely-recognized form of love



PREY / PRESA

pésqueme
en la trampa para peces
ofrezco mi carne
para saciar tu hambre

de este modo
me convierto en tí
tejo mi cuerpo
dentro de tus huesos

en mil años
estarémos juntos
todavía
en granitos de arena

*algunas culturas de caza sugieren que la presa cede por voluntad propia al cazador como parte del ciclo de la vida–una forma poco reconocido del amor

It’s Better to Ask For Forgiveness Than For Permission / Es Mejor Pedir Perdón Que Permiso

I was talking with a friend the other day. He hadn’t realized I’m a writer, disguised as I am as a surfer, and just discovered my blog. He knew Bill and Barbara, so that’s what brought him to my writing. Then he made a comment that caused me to cringe. It wasn’t a criticism; it was an observation.

“I see you’re now doing mostly poetry,” he said.

I did a mental facepalm because I know exactly how silent I’ve been for months on end, and said something noncommittal like, “Oh, well, yes… Sort of….”

It isn’t really true that I’ve only been writing poetry lately. I’ve been working on a book, but that’s not ready to share yet. Maybe someday, but not now.

And the things I’ve been talking to myself about–the “Musings?” I can’t blog about them. I as in I wouldn’t/won’t. I could write about politics and pandemics because I do think about those things a lot, but I’m not going there. Too polarized. I dislike shit storms enough to do almost anything to avoid them–including keeping quiet.

My personal life in the last months has been a dizzying combination of overly boring and overly interesting. I know you’re used to me throwing down my personal life like a true exhibitionist, but I’m not doing it right now. Time has a way of giving me heavy doses of truth serum that causes me to spill all, so we’ll see. I’ve filled up the better part of a college ruled five subject notebook in the last few months, so the material is there.

I just want to say this:

It’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.
Always dive off of the highest platform.
Take the call.
Say yes to suggestions.
Do your fucking homework and hand it in on time, for the love of God.
Don’t lie.
Stay awake.
Your gut instinct is the combination of the messages coming from your head and from your heart–listen to it.
Not all advice is the right advice.
Most advice is not the right advice.
Climb trees.
Drink the other beer.
You aren’t going to live forever but you’ve lived before and your cells know it–on a molecular level you’ve already been almost everything.
Don’t be afraid of the dark.
Don’t worry about making sense.
If you breathe out all your air you can lie on your belly on the bottom of the sea.
Get some sleep.
Drink some water.
Repeat.


Es Mejor Pedir Perdón Que Permiso

Hace unos días, yo conversaba con un amigo.  Él no se había dado cuenta de que soy escritora, disfrazada como soy de surfista, y acababa de descubrir mi blog.  Él conocía a Bill y a Barbara, y es esa historia que lo trajo a mi sitio y a mis obras.  Hizo una observación que me dio causa para pensar.  No fue una crítica; fue un comentario. 

“Veo que ahora escribes casi solo poesía,” me dijo.

Mentalmente, agache la cabeza porque yo se exactamente cuan silenciosa he sido últimamente, mes tras mes…  Dije algo evasivo como, “Ahh.  Bueno, sí…  Mas o menos.”

No es la verdad que he estado escribiendo solamente poesía.  He estado trabajando en un libro, pero todavía no está listo para compartir.  Quizás algún día, pero ahora no.

¿Y las cosas de que he estado hablando sola—los “Musings?”  No puedo escribir sobre estas cosas en un blog.  Es decir, no lo haría.  Podría escribir sobre la política y las pandemias porque sí pienso mucho en estas cosas, pero por allí no me meto yo.  Demasiado polarizado.  Tanto me disgustan los berrinches virtuales que yo haría cualquier cosa para evitarlos—incluso callarme.

Últimamente, mi vida personal ha sido una mezcla mareada de demasiado aburrido y demasiado interesante.  Yo sé que ustedes están acostumbrados a que yo revele todo como una exhibicionista verdadera, pero en este momento no.  El tiempo muchas veces me da una dosis del suero de la verdad que me da por contar todo, asi que vamos a ver.  En los últimos meses, he llenado casi todo un cuaderno de los universitarios de 200 páginas.  Así que, el material está.

Por ahora, solo esto quiero decir:

Es mejor pedir perdón que permiso.
Tírate siempre de la plataforma mas alta.
Acepta la llamada.
Di sí a las propuestas.
Haga tu maldita tarea y entrégala a tiempo por el amor de dios.
No miente.
Mantente despierto.
El instinto tus tripas es creado por la síntesis de los mensajes que vienen de tu cabeza y de tu corazón—escúchalo.
No todos los consejos son los consejos correctos.
La mayoría de los consejos no son los consejos correctos.
Trepa los árboles.
Toma la otra cerveza.
No vas a vivir para siempre pero has vivido antes y tus células lo saben—al nivel molecular tu ya has sido casi todo.
No tengas miedo de la oscuridad.
No te preocupes mucho por tener o no tener sentido.
Si exhalas todo tu aire puedes acostarte de panza al fondo del mar.
Duerme.
Toma agua.
Repite.



I’m Lying in my Hammock When I Hear the Phone

(poem #2 in a series in progress)

I’m lying in my hammock when
I hear the phone
make a cricket sound

it’s you
you found me
you want to be my friend

I’m lying in my hammock when
I hear the phone
make a cricket sound

it’s you
saying hola
and I answer
because I always do
because your hair is curly and
your eyes are blue and
I am lying in my hammock
with the cats

you tell me things that
are the answers to
questions I haven’t asked

I’m lying in my hammock when
I hear the phone
make a cricket sound

it’s you
you ask me questions that
have long answers so I
summarize

you say you like me
I tell you
you don’t know me
I say it because I’m scared
because I do know me, and
there are crickets in my phone
at night I dream of cats

you have only imagined me
you have no idea