The Practice-Pant

On the surface, it is a short breath.

Sombra

But it is so much more. My dog pants to let me know things. He pants in front of the door to let me he has to go outside. He pants with an extra flourish when I pick up the leash. He pants and growls when it’s dinner time and I pick up his food bowl. He pants and whines in the backseat when we pass the park. I know these pants. These particular exhalations each have a meaning, an exhortation, if you will. But he has a new pant. One I don’t understand. It happens after dinner. After an evening walk. As the light is falling out of the sky. He stands in the kitchen, in the dining room, in the space between rooms and pants. In-out. In-out. Over and over and over and over. I pet him. He pants. I take him outside. He pants. He stands and pants. What are you telling me, boy? What are you saying?

He is an old dog. Maybe fourteen. We found him in 2004. He was probably a year then. Maybe two. You do the math. His hearing and eyesight are pretty much gone. He still loves to eat. He poops and pees with gusto. When he is out on a walk, his nose romances each blade of grass. Then he pants his evening pant. In-out. In-out. Over and over and over and over.

Always in the dying light of the day.

As if to say…

The practice is inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye and her notion that words are like oars. Dip them in the water. Explore with them. Feel how they touch and bump up against one another. Let them take us further down the stream.

The Practice-Shard

Is it always a shattered bit with a knife-like edge?

No, I don’t think so…

On the beach, I used to find bits of glass so soft and rounded that I didn’t believe they were glass. They were jewels. The blue ones were rare and expensive Tiffany sapphires. Clear became diamonds. Green were emeralds. Even the commonplace brown became amber.

I didn’t know where these jewels came from. I didn’t connect them to the glass slipping out of my small hands and—whoops–breaking on the kitchen floor to the soft jewels in my sandy palm. I didn’t know the amber and emeralds came from too many Pabst Blue Ribbon Beers or Molson Ales on the rolling seas. Or that my precious sapphires came from milk of magnesia bottles meant to settle a sea-sick stomach. I didn’t know how the ocean lurched and leaned and made bottles slips from wet hands, then tumbled the bits across the ocean floor, smoothing the sharp edges until they wash up in grains of sugar dust sand buried like treasure.

In the winter, I pour the treasure on my bed and put one of the gems in my mouth so I can taste the salt and the sun and the ocean.

A shard of memory.

The practice is inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye and her notion that words are like oars. Dip them in the water. Explore with them. Feel how they touch and bump up against one another. Let them take us further down the stream.

The Practice-On Hiatus

The Practice is going on vacation for the month of April. Poetry Month. Each day for the month of April, I will post a poem from a different poet on my Facebook page. Join me there. Let us drift with the poets for a bit.

The practice is inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye and her notion that words are like oars. Dip them in the water. Explore with them. Feel how they touch and bump up against one another. Let them take us further down the stream.

The Practice-Sanguine

Those joker doctors
Such godlike wisdom
Dividing us by humors:
Slow moving, Phlemy people
Predisposed to unexcitability
Got Phlegmatic.
The Bilious,
Whether from the Melancholy black or
Choleric yellow stuff
Were ill tempered.
Wouldn’t you be?
But the ruddy,
Apple cheeked,
Blushing
Blood born
Healthy sanguineous souls
Tinged by optimism
Even when our blood runs cold or
Gets sucked from our veins
We keep our cool
Slip on a red sequin dress
Tip sangria to ruby lips and
Smile

The practice is inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye and her notion that words are like oars. Dip them in the water. Explore with them. Feel how they touch and bump up against one another. Let them take us further down the stream.

The Practice-Cleave

Did it begin with the butcher
Or the lost soul?
Was the slicing first
or the joining?
These conundrums of beginnings
These chickens with their eggs
Same chicken but which came first?
Were we ever whole
Or did we begin with splitting apart
again
and again
and again?
Have we been picking up pieces and sticking them together
madly trying to reassemble ourselves and find
our place in the tribe
from which to leap
again
and again
and again?
Or maybe it began with the simple confusion of a word
Misheard
Misinterpreted
Misbegotten
By one who thought he might be leaving her
When really he was always going to do the opposite.

The practice is inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye and her notion that words are like oars. Dip them in the water. Explore with them. Feel how they touch and bump up against one another. Let them take us further down the stream.