consuelacooks

cooking, poetry, and unapologetic intense moments in a life

Category: Portland Maine

“Every man’s memory is his private literature.” ― Aldous Huxley

The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

I learned about the Four Agreements one summer while working in the Berkshires from my friend Tom. A Toltec Shaman named Don Miguel Ruiz published them in a book in 1997. Tom would often climb a nearby mountain and play a flute.

This was the same summer my best friend’s stepfather was hit by lightning in his canoe, along with his nephew, both killed, and drug to the bottom of a lake in Ocala by alligators, only to later be identified by dental records.  This was the same Summer I once again gave servitude to a company I worked for, as, starstruck I listened to it’s elders for guidance, hoping that they would give me wisdom on how to grow up. I just wanted someone to tell me things like, “Don’t do drugs.” or ask if I knew where babies came from. No dice. I learned much about being a teacher, figuring things out on my own, and how to allow heroes to step off of the pedestal every once in a while to give them a break. Heroism was as exhausting for them as my need for a hero was for me.
This is the same Summer I slept only hours a night, seeking solace in the people who lived  most extremely. Everything was liberally done. Including damage. Facebook reminded me of this Summer today.

Facebook loves to remind you of things, and also today it reminded me that three years ago today I was in the Giants stadium in San Francisco. I took a job with a theatre company out there, being hired with stars in my eyes by a beautiful, charismatic, brilliant leader.

I will remember a few things about that place:

Mount Tamalpais : I climbed and climbed and climbed. I was searching so desperately for some warmth in this place I had come for work. I mean, there was no way for it to live up to expectations, and the self loathing, reinforced by leaders, was verbose. Mount Tam was a metaphor for the EXTREME sadness I was feeling, the worthlessness I had assigned myself. I was trying to get up and out, trying to see the world more clearly.

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The Pacific: Never have I walked so much on a beach. Never have I thrown so many questions to a body of water. And never have I considered pulling a Jeff Buckley more than in these weeks.

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Fort Point : The production I worked on took place here, and inside the walls you could find the signatures of all the men who were at the ready in the 1800’s for a war that never came. I learned every curve, every stone, every ghost.

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Golden Boy Pizza,  John, and Jamie: I knew already that I loved one of these yahoos, and the Jamie came later, brilliant, with a madman’s eyes, a poet’s heart, and a sailor’s soul. These two gentlemen, the patterns of good men, unknowingly kept me alive these months.

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The Giants : By God, they might be the most disappointing team in MLB right now, but they were a glorious constant then. There was nothing like sitting against a redwood in a forest with a game being funneled into my ears. There was something to root for. There was a home team. Watching a no-hitter in that stadium was the highlight of my Summer.

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Facebook also reminded me:

Nine years ago today Michael Jackson died.

One year ago I was on Peak’s Island saying poetry to a new crowd.

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Seven years ago, I was getting ready to perform at the Eno River Festival in North Carolina with Rebecca, still eating fire, still being a Carolinian and a Nickel Shakespeare Girl.  Still loving and being in love with one of the best friends I ever had, and ever will have in this life or any after.

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Four years ago I was cooking for a family in the Berkshires for side money alongside one of the dearest, most rock-hard strong women I have ever known.

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They became dear to me -to us- this family, and we became family to them. Sadly less than a year later, the patriarch took his own life, just like his father before.

 


One year ago my friend John was playing Lear in our show Dark Rooms. He knew he was dying, even then. A few weeks later, he was gone, and we were rehearsing a play he financed-literally his dying wish- about the first poet and the first prophetess. We spoke his name every day, and did our very, very best every moment. People came. People fell back in love. People fell in love for the first time. People grieved.

 

I am grateful for all of this, painful, joyful, wince-worthy, and formative. I hope I’m getting better at the four agreements. Thank God there won’t be a test.

“The time will come when diligent research over long periods will bring to light things which now lie hidden. A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be enough for the investigation of so vast a subject… And so this knowledge will be unfolded only through long successive ages. There will come a time when our descendants will be amazed that we did not know things that are so plain to them… Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will have been effaced.”
― Seneca, Natural Questions

 

 

Two years of a march (Portland, Pulse, Memphis, the Sun)

It was nine in the morning that first year
JJ and I had tied one on, dancing with beautiful women
Deep into coastal night
(only after walking into that curious little store with many rooms)
I walked the Mile, flowers in hair, colors of the rainbow.

I loved all of us. The sea. CALL JOE blazing on the time and temperature sign.
And it was there in the bed of a truck.
It was slick and shiny, blazing rainbows in all directions.
I was new, but you wouldn’t know it. We all had a job.

Just unraveling it took an hour. Hundreds helped.
It covered the whole square and then some.

It smelled of coffee, revolution.
late-night fits of artistic frenzy.
The AIDS epidemic. Harvey Milk.
Brandon Teena. Matthew Shepard.
Backstreet Cafe. Otherside. Upstairs.
Augusta. Montreal. West Virginia. Moscow.

By touch you could feel Dale McCormick, Gia, Nancy.
Baldwin, Polis, Frank. Michaud. Maloney.
You could feel the tangent of hatred interwoven, turned to deep blues.

You could taste Portland rigor. The sweat of activism.
The nerve, the nerve of this tiny town in the whitest of states.
The Oddysean journey for voice and a patch of land.
40 blizzards, a kiss, the grace given by old white men to marry.
A child was cradled there too. Surrounded by love, and the purest of songs.

We carried it, danced under it, wept into it.
Let go of it for another year.

The second year there were different names.
Stanley Almodovar III, age 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Antonio D. Brown, 30
Darryl R. Burt II, 29
Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Luis D. Conde, 39
Cory J. Connell, 21
Tevin E. Crosby, 25
Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Deonka D. Drayton, 32
Mercedez M. Flores, 26
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Juan R. Guerrero, 22
Paul T. Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel A. Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jason B. Josaphat, 19
Eddie J. Justice, 30
Anthony L. Laureano Disla, 25
Christopher A. Leinonen, 32
Brenda L. Marquez McCool, 49
Jean C. Mendez Perez, 35
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Kimberly Morris, 37
Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez, 27
Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric I. Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Christopher J. Sanfeliz, 24
Xavier E. Serrano Rosado, 35
Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Shane E. Tomlinson, 33
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Luis D. Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald A. Wright, 31

We carried that flag amidst SWAT teams.
We were not afraid, but really, we still looked.
Over shoulder, behind.
The police did too. We all were reminded of how
the carrying of this, this symbol
this mantra, this, this multitude
is a blessing, a gift, and act of extreme love
it’s so threatening, really.
All those rainbows and hearts, all the beautiful people,
screaming with pride and adoration for their bodies,
their beats, their bravado, their babies.
More terrifying than bombs, it seems. Scarier than the rapture itself, it seems.
This love is infectious, liberal, whole.

Run for the hills, they are coming. And they are probably well dressed.

A year more, and in Memphis I sit calmly, not knowing my town.
feeling smaller than before. Feeling subdued.
Without the invincibility of Portland.
Without the ocean, stripped of the joyful nights of that town.
But I know what it is to rebuild, by God I do know that.
But I do think I want to feel it in my fingers again.
That gorgeous emblem. My friend’s hand in mine.
The awe and majesty of it all. The many tears wept in vigil.
The candle of protest dripping wax onto my palm.

Well, at least we know there are people available for impeachment.
they wave another flag, wear different hoods in secrecy.
There are injustices that still appall,
and poverties beyond imagining.
Right. Here.
Right in this 901 snatchy homeland of the blues.
So it’s time to get back to fucking work I guess,
and leave the pining for some other whiny freckled short girl.
Roll up the sleeves, and write some anthems.
No rest for the lonely, they say.
and for the wicked, it is only a matter of time.
There’s shit to do, and parks to clean.
Kids who don’t eat.
The action is all. It’s like molasses here,
but the guns are quick, the hunger quicker, the trafficking quickest,

the homicide meter running.

so, dignitaries, I’ll see you on the court.
make sure to bring a snack.

 

Sundays, you know

 

During the seventh day dawn

I aim, crave, I fancy–

During listless smudgy Sunday mornings

For your hands to

languidly, with some olympic purpose

let the riostat run high and sling some heart fodder

(petulant, posey, tigers and frost)

on my softer shoulder,

but only a little- as Sundays you know, go more slow

 

I have no big words for the want.

It’s a warmth somewhere between the lower back and the cliff

Sleepy boy clothes

Some ray, some sun-shot, some record scratch and a bottle top promise

to hold the ribs, teeth, and thighs with certainty

on Sundays

to with patience observe

the way we become

the way we are

(for historical and scientific purposes)

as we observe the learning of

the unfurling of

the dots we connect as

hands grasp the meatier parts

books slide in shelves

and gasps become language

in the watchful aurora glare.

 

Smart Plum

triple beats

grasping stolen stillness

in quiet, I study your hand:

considerable, grand- with spacious reach

seizing language like lunch

curly, coltish, sublime and saporous,

in quiet, I study your jaw

the sideways eye that follows

the forehead forward, fallen,

quenched, and satisfied

by a subtle sonnet.

In quiet, I study your spirit.

Gordian and elaborate, made of sea water and a daughter’s nose

a balance over a tall height,

a mosaic motley of ambrosial sentiments

you, a modern Daedalus,

me, a smart Plum,

smattered with freckles, replete with

elemental fascination, soft pining

wishing for some touch,

wanting more time, or just

another day to write you a poem

another like this

a simple message

from a smart plum.

 

Pearls and All

It was thirty days

and the bludgeoning tide took them

soldiers of all heights, weights

varying degrees of manhood

some completely buried

some with gentle wives

Some with ghosts walking door to door

talking of love, light, gentler things

 

It was all strange

 

The way they decayed in the bare light stripped them of all humor, memory

those mouths in frozen fear forever

thinking the thoughts that would

categorize them for all days.

 

I knew one, one day.

He listened to Joy Division and talked

of how Morrissey was a depressed fuck.

How he probably never enjoyed a thing. Even touching a girl in privat-er parts.

We watched a fiber optic flower for the night,

 

sneaking in

stolen corridors of forlorn

Florida Houses, not yet sold.

(This would determine our juvenile record, you see)

We would forever be remembered by these rebellious acts.

By this fire,

and that theft. We fucking loved

being us.

 

But now sweet- we remember you by the heat and decay

the way you smelled after three days

mouth wider than the Joker,

showing teeth for the enemy

as you both stare into the dark rooms.

The dark rooms We never arrived at simultaneously-

The ones that called your name on any Winter day.

You shouted, dear one.

You shouted without audience.

Funny that,

we dressed for the occasion, you and I.

 

Pearls and all.

 

Dress Up

There are a lists of requests

which might sway the unseasoned–

the tireless cautionary ones– from

quick approach

the thought of dress up, the tick of a impatient dream clock

caesarean  ambition, jazz records, the evening wake and walk.

surges of disquisitive early-morning play.

 

perhaps it would be the penumbras

that lovingly sit in the most hazel portions

of each eye that would glance in each several moment.

 

Each has a story one must be willing to weather.

 

(Caveat: I’m far more enticed by being quieted by yours.)

Tell me your stories when I wear your clothes

and call you pretty

and take tasteless pictures of sunsets

while we swim in Gin.

Tell me on a Sunday, and don’t wish me any paler.

Wish me sunk in the sight of you.

 

There is room.

Of that, now, I am sure.

 

 

1049, and ultra marathons

In imagining the flowers

(The ones beneath pearly wan winter)

replete with pregnant universal cogitation

A signal starts in the belly,

past the tiny contenting fingerprints

etched in the hips (they seem so discreetly delicious)

-a solemn supper of the sweet lyrical grace of the feminine

-a banquet welcoming attentive natal secrets

-an eve of nectarous exchanges

I wanted to eat you like a whole peach, pit and all,

pull the sorrows out, name and number them

for Egypt, Afric, Abyss.

I wanted to slide sideways into that sadness and ride it to light.

 

 

Simple, simple, slow, she said.

I want you to say my name.

 

 

447

Buffeted by the roar

they run sidelong to the raw spot

the ice under Sunday feet tempts the fall

but holding steady they

look the anti-hero in the eyes

each.              several.            pore.

They know the smell of the forearm, the navel, the mouth

an inch is not given

but a subtle sigh

reminds them

of the field

they hold in protest

between lovers bodies

the magnetic one, the mine one, the playing one–

(the history older than light or sound, where language began, where heat was discovered and gills grew. Where breath was sucked first)

–that binds the space they occupy.

Jaws hold tight, fists secure in woolen pockets, they are WINNING. Holding tight. Not an inch. Not one.

The crafty wind bellows too hard, though.

It pushes, cracks the moment, shoves

headlong, laughs in the wash of  tired

restraint.

They fall suddenly, with clamorous equivocation, gravid with stones

(the rain, a comedic metronome)

the inevitable rejoinder

into the puzzle pieces they unwillingly are, laggard

as they close ferocious,

and with premeditated lamentation

masticating mouths the substance of fire.

the slightest silk,

the most meager of archangels,

they return to that.

A parley, they knew. They’ve known.

But the comfort was all,

that Sunday.

 

 

Last Light

Two

One night there was
Fire in the sky.
Blue, red, indigo.

Simply stated,
It was some God’s face
Some other time, illustrated.
Some other hand touching my eye with
Colors of heat, simple treasure.

You were there
Scarf, sweater, skin.
speaking of change
Longing for sweat, breath, and bone.

It’s almost as if
At any moment
I could see the trajectory
Of the blood in your veins
Bursting through years lost
In malady, fever.

And some other where
Some time long gone
Older than light
More ancient than sorrow
-It was in that time I saw you
As I surveyed your lovely eyes
Perfect,
In the last light of the day.

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