covid summer round 2

even on the best of days there’s always a small bit of
just getting through
pushing past
reaching by
and I just wish that my silly little
human brain
could see all the glory in each second that I
push through
instead of sneaking past

clean sheets
in a safe home
that I often hide in
with a heavy chest
heavy eyelids

I told someone recently that my home
is sacred to me
that I appreciate knocks and calls
because taking down the defenses
can take a few tries

in these walls it’s harder for me to
let you down
piss you off
do it wrong

there isn’t enough time in the day to consider
if I did everything right
hell
not even that
to even wonder
if I didn’t hurt anyone
so I close my eyes
and hope that you’re okay
and that I wasn’t any part of
what made you not

my brain is just a switchboard
how may I direct your call?
hit 1 for family related matters
2 for work and anxiety while
3 will connect you to everyone else I’ve ever known and
hit 4 to hear my insides churn while we
talk about everything I forgot to do and
5 will list out all of my commitments
I no longer want to commit to
but am going to
because

water keeps pouring into
a full cup that spills continuously
the weeds are thriving on the ground around it
they’re taking over
the flowers never had a chance

ruin

this is the only home I’ve known for my grandmother
the red southwest tiles fill her adobe home
it hasn’t changed at all
the vases and plastic plants that have always
held the ceiling up
are still straining against the wood slats
the saguaros still feed the the birds
still drop fruit
still threaten to topple
but now the tiles are
cracking
thirty years and the house is
settling
I have to watch my step now
the cracks are
splintering
so many sharp edges to dance around
they aren’t trying to hurt me, they’re just
getting older
settling
would they have cracked if we all hadn’t
walked on them

what’s wrong with ruin
why can’t I witness it and think
yes
you are allowed to
collapse
why can’t I see her and think
yes
you are allowed to ruin
you have done enough
your columns
can crumble now
let the weight bring you down
let your roof hang heavy
you’ve done enough

there is so much beauty
in the collapse
the colors breaking through
the billowing dust
spiraling wildly into the dusk

I can only hope I die as a surprise
letting no one know
so no one feels they should decide if I need to be
held together
so no one feels they have let me down
if they choose to let me
collapse
disintegrate
and disperse

I hope it happens in the desert
in a canyon I know
and I hope the coyotes and ravens
know what to do with me
and how to take me home
to their little ones

I don’t want her taped up
rolled in bubble wrap
and deposited into a brand new
fully staffed
coin-operated home

so then why
won’t I let her
ruin

chamaca

My dog got scared this morning
tail tucked
hackles up
as two silver labs came right her way
my sweetest voice didn’t overcome the pounding in her ears of
run
run now
this could be the end
their wagging tails mean nothing as she
snips
yips
and they look to their owner for clarity
I should be proud of her for learning to
protect herself
to say no
without biting
but I’m angry
that she didn’t go quietly
didn’t let this invasion of her space
go undiscussed

my upbringing brought up this fear
this need to hide
and be unbothered
when bothered
to believe
way way down
in a vault I can’t open yet
the idea that
disturbed waters
can only wreck boats

I want to be like my dog
my little rescue mutt
that walked through the desert
for 7 dog years
sub 20 pounds
and still can make a damn good
second impression
because with her
you have to earn her trust
yet somehow
despite the scarcity and fear she lived
it only takes 3 minutes
and her tail is out
her ears are back
and she’d lick your teeth
if you let her

bird feeders

“some people have bird feeders” he says
as we pour oats and sunflower seeds onto a rusty pie tin in the garden
nestled between two bamboos and a bale of hay
two blue-green mice have made their home
the compost their endless feast and in the pie tin
always dessert
we defend their kingdom from the neighborhood cats
and find their tunnels in the compost
warm in the morning when we bring out our eggshells

all I want to talk about anymore is life
the mice in the straw
the carpenter bees on the gladiolas
The peonies growing
swelling
the jumping spiders in the greenhouse

a universe is such a subjective thing
sometimes I wonder who’s setting out all of these treats
for me
who’s watching from their back porch
saying
“I hope she likes what I left her”

give it back

sometimes it feels good to know that I will return to the earth
that the ground will take me back and I can once again
be useful
I wonder which parts of me will go to the tree
which parts to the mushrooms
stepping easily between the kingdoms from my home below the surface
because up here where I take parts from the trees
parts from the mushrooms
I can never be sure if my words are working
if my actions are aiding
but I take energy from the other realms like an IOU
because we both know that I’ve got my carbon on loan
and every fall I take is a small payment
iron rich interest left on the rocks as I learn
and heal
I’ve been falling a lot lately on my path to use
to knowledge
and I’ve been keeping quiet about my cuts
scared to show you how many sharp things I’ve kept
close to my heart but
there are worse things than bruised egos

I don’t know how to write this apology
my eyes were bigger than my lifetime
and I’ve taken too much
but I will do my best to share my stolen goods
these things I haven’t earned
the comfort of this skin
the shade of this tree
the silky cap
of a shiitake

first snow

it stops cars
lawn mowers
time
the first snow still stops hearts
after all of these years
it’s so quiet
like everyone is just
watching
because they are
and they’re all telling each other
to watch

we spend all fall worrying over
the hard freeze
the last chance
clenching my jaw and tiptoeing around
the end of season stress
eating
and not eating

then it hits
and we melt
as the obligation of wrapping up
disappears
under that white gentle blanket
putting all plants
and worries
to bed

black widow

there’s a black widow in my shower window
for months I’ve greeted her with the name “mama”
even though she’s always the same size
always without eggs
there’s not enough world for her to grow strong
to become a mama
so she subsists on the cellar spiders
that dawdle by and slip down the wet walls
her small little graveyard
in the groove of the sill

my brain gets caught in shower webs
memory loops
infinite moments
my clenched jaw my unheard panic
why can’t I help her why should I help her
why is she broken why can’t she be okay

I don’t think I’ll ever stop fighting the urge to scream
to cry
to fight
to call and call
and call
and text
that you should call

so I set timers
and chant reminders
constantly holding a seat at the table
for my screaming crying
self
no one else wants to have her for dinner
but I can’t just leave her out in cold
we sit together
so she can cry into my shirt

I hold her hand
I take her phone
I tell her
“We aren’t going to call again”
I tell her
“He will always come home”
I tell her
to add 5 minutes to the timer

if my black widow doesn’t escape her sill
maybe it’s because she doesn’t need to
maybe she’s found somewhere safe and warm
and maybe that’s enough
maybe strength has nothing to do with it
maybe strength has everything do to with it

some april snippets

wrote a poem-a-day for national poetry month – all can be viewed on my instagram, @toritoripoems
but here are a few:

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day 16 // national poetry month

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day 18 // national poetry month

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day 24 // national poetry month

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day 2 // national poetry month

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