Past fiddle creek, p.3
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       Past Fiddle Creek, p.3

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multilayered shadows of pastel foliage

  Lakeshore is a painstaking exploration

  of the depths of her own imagination

  churning up bouquets of subconscious clues

  She sets up her easel in rush-hour traffic

  to capture freedom and independence

  of sleek lightning-fast steel boxes

  Her self portrait in the hall of mirrors

  is the day-to-day reiteration of brush-stroke

  fingerprints known as Noelle’s pastels

  Yes, they light up a room all right!

  Noelle’s pastels challenge brilliance

  to accurately reflect refractions of light


  My Heart Is a Child

  I may be

  aging steadily,

  my beard

  turning gray,

  my hair

  falling out,

  my face

  accumulating wrinkles

  like autumn leaves

  in the yard,

  but my heart

  is still innocent;

  it knows nothing

  of my life;

  it knows nothing

  except the same

  odd cycle of emotions

  it’s been going through

  for forty-odd years.

  I may love

  and I may lose.

  Maybe I’ll succeed

  or fail in business.

  I can be

  calm or anxious,

  happy or sad,

  timid or bold,

  mad or glad

  or totally elated,

  but my heart

  remains conscious

  of only one beat…

  one beat…

  one beat at a time.

  My heart

  doesn’t know

  how old it is;

  it has no concept

  of time.

  It reaches out

  to you by reflex,

  reaching out

  for something

  beautiful and vital,

  reaching out

  with the chubby arms

  and dimpled hands

  of a toddler,

  taking those first

  tentative steps

  toward the comfort

  of your loving



  Passion’s Circus

  The strangest feelings are yet to come

  as we retreat in sheer panic

  the first time a lion tamer cracks his whip.

  A seemingly harmless fantasy shows its fangs,

  and I try to snuff out burgeoning passions

  with a fire extinguisher…

  but instead proceed to spook the zebras

  into a furious and bewildered frenzy.

  A troupe of midget clowns speak fluent body language,

  their sight gags like quixotic parables

  alluding to lovable laughs and laughable loves.

  Blinded by converging spotlight beams,

  creative impulses tightrope a treacherous expanse

  between enlightenment and destruction

  with no safety net spanning

  the sharply foreshortened depths.

  A rabbit in my hat tricks me into thinking it’s a dove

  emerging from a satin handkerchief

  or an ace up my sleeve inexplicably transformed

  into an oriental puzzle made of bamboo and string.

  I expect her to appear

  with the knife thrower or fire eater,

  and I’m surprised to see her spinning through the air,

  from trapeze to trapeze,

  heightening suspense with every breathtaking backflip.

  My love is an innocent wonderment

  practicing the subtle art of suspending

  countless desires on a balancing beam,

  striving to assimilate the physical and spiritual,

  like soulful Tibetan acrobats

  celebrating the metaphysical gymnastics

  of living and loving.


  Long Division

  Dear Georgia O’Keeffe,

  I suppose things weren’t

  much different in your day.

  Back when the 20s roared

  like gigantic flowers

  bulging with jazz licks

  and cat’s meow.

  Fame was the name

  of the game then,

  just as it is now.

  Whistler viewed it

  as the subtle art of making enemies,

  like some elaborate

  new form of long division.

  Georgia, I’ve had a taste

  and it gave me a strong sense

  of an artificial structure

  made of fear and alienation.

  Tell me, is that what drove

  you away from Manhattan’s

  garish glitz and glamour?

  Was something other

  than the stock market crashing

  when you bolted off to Taos?

  Georgia, you brought fame

  to New Mexico and left

  your husband to attend

  his extensive collection

  of pictures of you.

  What sort of new math

  were you two working out?

  What radical new formulas?

  You blazed new frontiers,

  Georgia, you experimented

  with the give and take,

  all alone with oil and canvas

  on a vast desert landscape.

  How did you last so long?

  Ninety-nine years

  is a very long time,

  especially when so many

  are spent alone.

  Georgia, it would appear

  that you dealt with your fame

  by hiding out at Abiquiu,

  making famous paintings

  of bleached animal skulls.

  You chose to leave

  Alfred and New York

  and the 219 Gallery behind,

  only to become

  a world-renowned recluse

  self assigned to a solitary outpost

  at the pinnacle of artistic acclaim.

  Georgia, was it

  a worthwhile trade-off?

  Was it worth the effort?

  The loss and sacrifice?

  If you had it to do over

  would you still

  be working things out

  in long division

  and nonlinear numbers?

  Would the Gaea

  principle still apply?

  Or would you stay

  with Stieglitz in New York

  and practice chaos theory

  on the ever increasing ranks

  of ex-friends and enemies

  gathering among your admirers?

  Fame is the name of the game,

  Georgia, you know as well

  as anyone the equation.

  But, tell me, how’s the balance

  over a long lifetime?

  I’ve been having doubts

  about the quid pro quo

  of giving something heartfelt

  and beautiful in exchange

  for something so harsh and mean.


  Past Fiddle Creek

  On cassette, a tape that’s been played too many times.

  It should be her turn to drive but he’s not giving up the wheel.

  Fringed in icy lace, a river streams beside the highway.

  Clouds cast shadows that scurry across the canyon wall.

  For twenty minutes she’s been watching the water

  change from blue to green as they descend the mountainside.

  Between them, they haven’t uttered ten words in four hours.

  In the distance a column of dust rises like chimney smoke

  and a column of cars lines up behind the roadworker’s stop sign.

  The face of the canyon is a manmade avalanche,

  the product of dynamite and crouching Catepillar conspiracies.

  The voice of the mountain shrieks like a train wreck, echoing.

  Bouncing down the hillside, boulders leap across the road

  into the river, SMACK SMACK CRACK CRACK


  Tons of skidding gravel mimic a chorus of grinding teeth.

  He’s thinking, We all take our hard knocks in this life;

  some people let it make them bitter…and others don’t.

  A pair of frontend loaders SCRAAAAPE debris off the road.

  At water’s edge, chunks of ice sparkle crown jewels

  and they finally get on past Fiddle Creek and Devil’s Elbow.

  The 45th Parallel creates an imaginary comfort zone

  halfway between the North Pole and the Equator.

  Sunlight glares brilliant reflections of mirrored meadows.

  After the melt, white flags of surrender dapple

  the rolling hills of afternoon coming to an end.

  She notices: The pines have shed all but little mittens of snow.

  He’s looking forward to Wyoming, where the sky is so pale

  and icy peaks are so pale that all borderlines vanish.


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