Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year 2008

Rummaging through the local book haunt

I bought a volume with the perfect poem

to read to you tonight.

Paid cash for it,

wrinkled bills & odd coinage.

I thought this apropos

since I had spent

the better part of the morning

worn from a teasing gauntlet

created by my children.

Shocked they were,

to see my feelings actually hurt.

So like children, always hoping

the invulnerable mother vulnerable.

Yet regretful, even fearful,

to discover it is so.

My ankle, hip ache

from the spontaneous afternoon sled ride

down the snow-crushed hill,

my children having watched

as I tumbled head

over heels over head.

Still I stood and smiled,

a bit dizzy but solid.

Now ink mottles the window pane

and the book is here,

on the cluttered dining table

I was supposed to set an hour ago.

I cannot find that poem

which called to me when it was surrounded

by a book-spine spectacular

flaunting itself.

The poem is nowhere to be found.

I have thumbed through it

several times; it is not there.

There are other fine poems,

but the one poem is gone.

The one perfect to read to you tonight,

this night, this last night before tomorrow,

before a whole new year begins,

the year you have proclaimed will be good:

More joy than pain (or at least equal amounts).

More recognition than invisibility,

more companionship than loneliness.

It will be better in so many ways,

better than so many past years.

Better, at least, than this past last year.

Joy, happiness, all that other stuff

will not be elusive, will not be figment,

will be found on the same page

each time it is turned.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston

Friday, December 28, 2007


It’s hard when

kisses sweet, sour, savory

touch so tender, tasty, textured

are waiting for the next available hour

unregulated by life’s obligatory flotsam.

Time when I might steal away,

invent some erroneous errand

that furtively finds my worn boot

navigating a dicey mixture

of ice melting.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

an attempt at haiku

Nearly barren trees
Rust-colored quarter notes sway:
Dangling symphony

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Dark Matter

It’s not so simple. Drawing parallels between dark matter in the universe, density generating gravity while speeding the flight of proximal objects, and dark moments leaking through the man’s twisted exhortations and baffled silences, resigned humor punctuated by rat pack skadoos. There is, it turns out, no vacuum in his life, in this life, it being a continual manifestation of human consternation: sustaining, depleting, restoring.

Like there is no vacuum in space. I can’t quite wrap my brain around such a concept, standing with my older brother (whom I adore despite the ways he refuses to grow, because he ends up growing anyway, against his better recalcitrance), both of us trying to erase the imprint of 40 and 45 years respectively.

Imprint of what space was, at least during the years of our elementary education, when our minds were aflame with this stuff. So here I am today, reading over and over the printed caption that tells us what space is now, how it is not a vacuum, but a fabric, dark matter smattered between the bright objects that still are stars (thank god for something to be an constant in all this). That gravity isn’t centered deep inside each planet (how I thought I was being pulled toward and kept somewhat safely on this terra firma), but is a pucker in the fabric catching celestial bodies so they roll, roll, roll like the donation games at aquariums and museums, not spinning so much as spiraling downward, echoing in circles.

But not like them because in the end, those contraptions pluck the nickel from its imperfect orbit, stick it into the coffers still not full enough, coffers never full enough to fund the public good. Damn the war machine. That would then be a black hole, that would be Iraq, and that’s not what I’m talking about. That’s a whole different lesson. Some later visit to the Planetarium. Some other love affair.

I’m still stuck here, standing in front of the edu-tainment designed for laypeople such as myself, a map of the universe in the simplest of language and brightest of colors. I get that Pluto is no longer a planet. I can let it go and sing hosannas in praise of discovery’s progress (or its revision). I can even see the coherences of the man taking my hand in his as he says he’ll never, ever get involved with any woman e v e r a g a i n.

Yet not only can I see, but I can feel the undeniable coincidence between how science, buoyed by Hubble, explains the universe’s birth, but Hindu myth, pre-dating it by millennia, illustrates it: creating, destroying, all in one elastic band.

Still, I can’t quite grasp that dark matter isn’t space. My heart grasps at it, but my head wholly misses the mark: that ashes we come from and to ashes we go. My eyes are dry as I say to my brother I am despairing of the life we have constructed – well, actually, destructed – for our children. Not theoretical children of rhetorical future generations in nauseating political speeches, but our children: his two boys so many years apart; my resistant son, resilient daughter.

Then, at the same time -- because isn’t that what we humans are? Concurrent contradictions, the love and the hate, the give and the take, the hold and the let go -- the tears cascade down, are confident joy that we – my brother and I, our children, the destined human race – will become the energy we once were. I am thoroughly convinced: our incorrigible absence will be no vacuum and my best guess is that it cannot become dark matter, will not just become warp in the weaving, but will be all of it, none of it, eternally, one.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston