The Practice-Woo

What is this little word that stares at me with two eyes?
Is it oogling me?
Is one of those eyes going to wink at me
And say, hey baby, come on over to the big W?
To which, I would roll my eyes.
Maybe they are sweet puppy dog eyes.
Kind, patient, ever faithful
The kind that walk you home
Through the woods
Never turning wolfish.
They might be gimlet eyes
Fixing me in a formulated phrase
Sprawling me on the wall
Pinned and wriggling,
Making me question me;
Or at least why I am not with you.
Perhaps they are simply curious
Wondering who I am
Who we might be
If we danced one dance
Or two.
It all begins with a look
A one-time glance
Maybe by chance
Sometimes by design
Then you step in once
Or twice
And oooh-oooh-oooh
When you look at me the way you do
When you woo, woo, woo me
I slip, slip, slip
In a puddle of goo.

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-Interregnum

Quick backstory: my (maternal) grandfather was legally blind. He was read to through college. Blindness did not hold him back. In fact, he hated being perceived as weak or disabled. He hated weakness. In himself or others. (There are many family stories about this trait. Bankrupting his own father’s company is but one.) If someone could be better, then, damnit, get better or get gone. Being his granddaughter was a tough gig. Thank you notes were sent back with red ink spelling corrections and suggestions for better penmanship. (Yeah, I know. How could he even see my handwriting?) Needless to say, I steered clear of this tyrant. Except in the afternoons, when one of the family members, usually my mother, would read to him. All non-fiction, of course. One of the books I remember most was about the origins of words and expressions. I still recall some of them. I remember thinking at the time how it might be really fun to make up origins of the words and pass them off to him as fact.

Like Interregnum. Basically it’s a five-dollar word for a period when normal government is suspended; pause, interval. The origin of this word began when a king had his way with a village pixie one night. Sometime during the night, she slipped out of his bed and out of his life. Only a funny thing happened. That king had the emotional rug pulled out from underneath him. This little poppet from the backwoods pretty much untied the king’s corseted heart. He mourned her. He lusted for her. He created a word for her absence. Interregnum. It was ordained throughout the land that business stop until she returned to him. She never did. The king was overthrown during his ordained interregnum. He didn’t mind. He’d found that he liked the pause, the interval, the space between things and he disappeared too.

But we were left with this word. Which fell into disuse. Every once in a while, lovers find the word and use it to describe the mournful time apart from each other.

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-Scorpion Heart

“It looks like a scorpion,” he said.
What?!?!? She thought. That’s a heart.
That’s clearly a heart.
How could it possibly look like a—oh wait,
He’s right. It does look like a scorpion.
And a heart.
And that’s when she thought about scorpions living inside hearts.
Magnificent defended hearts
Tucked behind the bars of ribs,
Pulsing in the darkness
Waiting
Ready to stab
Anyone
Who careens
Too close
Too carelessly
Close.

Be gentle with your scorpion hearts this Valentines Day

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-Leaves

What are you thinking of?
Plump aspens
Bamboo spears
The skeletal hands of oaks
Maybe the star shaped maples
Are they interlaced
Or waving
Are they still and heavy in hot dense air
Are they arching above you in a canopy so the shade
around you is mottled with shapes
not named in geometry?

Or maybe that funny mind of yours
Is thinking of her exit
That moment when she stopped occupying the space next to you
You can probably diagram that emptiness with an architect’s precision but
Was it green or golden
Or blood red?

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-Blank

as in fill in the
as in draw a
as in a mind went
as in shooting
as in point
as in look
as in empty, zero, flat, busted, broke, bare, void
except
when it’s a check
and you can fill it in with something good

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.