Poems by D.D. Aspiras 2018

D.D. ASPIRAS is a poet, printmaker and couples/family therapist in San Diego, California. Her previous experiences in the performing arts and as a designer inform her writing and artmaking. She is interested in writing haiku as a contemplative practice, writes poetry daily, and deeply values art’s power to transform us and connect us to meaning. She is also a mother, wife, and avid runner. If she had more time she would have a garden of bonsai trees and learn how to weld.

We never shared fire.
Many things we did not share;
we kept things tidy,

hoarded candles and matches,
hidden from the wind and rain.

I miss building fire –
flashing bits of burning wood,
watching the light dance.

Hand blown orange glass –
I bought myself a candle
filled with promises.

The scent of pink bergamot
and pear blossoms fills the air.

I enjoy the strike
of the match against the box
and watch the light catch.

I AM NOT A POEM

I am not a poem
but a falling
into the river
that has always been.

I am not a poem
but a turning
towards a star
that wants to be seen.

I am not a poem
but the hardening
of a stone
before the polishing.

I am not a poem
but an opening
of a heart
that seeks to know.

BIRTHDAY

Full Pink Moon rising
the light of day behind me
blossoming Spring night

my friends are the evening stars
my joy is the nighttime sky

WE MUST BE ARMED

We must be armed
at all times
with the most powerful
of concealed weapons:
kindness, compassion,
and willingness to stand
for what matters.

We must be ready
at all times
to burnish our shields
of patience and understanding
to blinding brightness.

In the fog of living,
deploy these at will.
We must not
swerve.

DAILY COMMUTE

How did this
I don’t know
What did I
Do what did
I do to
I never
Got the chance
I never
Got to say
No I can’t
I want to
What you did
How did you
You did but
Yes you did
How do I
How do I
How do I
Stay open
Keep moving
How do I
Remember
The good times
Yes I do
Remember
And I am
Still moving
Yes I am
Staying open
Staying open
Staying open

This is love, to fly toward a secret sky,
to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.
First, to let go of life.
Finally, to take a step without feet.

-Rumi

touch me
without your hands
use your imagination
use everything else
don’t come to me with foolishness
don’t come to me without time

show me the world
not your hands
or where they’re pointing
use your imagination
use the parts that dance
don’t come to me with lullabies
don’t come to me without dreams

show me who you are
not your hands
or what’s in them
use your imagination
use all of your life
don’t come to me with trinkets
don’t come to me without heart

DO YOU?

Hey lizard, in the sun, do you care about the flowers,
the honeysuckles swooning in the late day hours?

Hey hummingbird, drinking, do you care about the cars
racing down the noisy street to the hipster bars?

Hey butterfly, en route, do you care about the train
moving faster than you with its own pre-destined lane?

Hey there red-tailed hawk, do you care that I can’t fly,
as you sit there on that pine tree so close to the sky?

Hey mourning dove, I hear you, do you care that I mourn too,
as you sing in the morning and remind me of the moon?

I’LL KEEP RUNNING

Last year was the first time
I swam in a lake.
Under the water
mussels sliced my feet.

Last year was the first time
I ran in the rain.
I didn’t know rain
could be toxic at the time.

Last year was the first time
I swam under the moon.
Letting go I floated
in cold black water.

Last year was the first time
I ran in the dark
with barn owls and wind
soaring around me.

Last year was the first time
I ran over a mountain.
I hurt along the way
but I made it to the sea.

This year I’ll keep running
because I’m beautiful and free
like the lizards in my garden
and the hawks on the streetlights.

This year I’ll keep swimming
because I want my heart strong
like the high tide as it surges
and the pines along the shore.

A LARGER EMBRACE

I had a dream about falling, into a too-late nap after the sun had already downed. The room was dark and lit only by the light coming in from the living room through the open door. I was curled up like a ball on top of the covers in the bottom corner of the bed. Cold, I reached my hand out and when it felt you I could not believe it. I raised my head to look and you were beside me, where you had never been before. I was terrified with wonder and questions of consequences and you were smiling, there beside me, where you had never been before. I fell again, not into sleep, but into yes, into arms, and relief, and at last.

NIGHTS LIKE THESE

we mothers
are like the New Moon
no one can see us
on nights like these
worrying about tomorrow
as we look down at our children

we mothers
are like the Full Moon
no one can see us
on nights like these
when we are shining our brightest
amidst the dark of a storm

we mothers
are like the Spring Tide
no one can see us
on nights like these
our hopes rolling back and forth
in powerful waves

SLEEP

a fantasy
dress rehearsal
a fall into indigo
a path to the other side
yet another thing to hunger for
in the dark
a luxury of hours
for forgetting
or reconstructing
a version of life
we’ve never lived

BENEATH THE GREEN

I came across a small glass vase today
as I was cleaning.
A cutting of ivy –
I had forgotten about it.
Roots had burst forth,
spindly white offshoots on the end of the stem
like ghostly spider legs suspended in the water
reaching for the ground.
I suppose roots aren’t meant to look pretty.
They have to elbow their way,
blind, into the ground,
searching and siphoning.
Drawing in what they need –
mineral salts from the earth, water –
they urge these upward
to the parts of the ivy facing life above ground.
Leaves open and reach in the sunlight
making sweetness that feeds its whole being.

I suppose roots aren’t meant to look pretty.
They are the tough parts,
the seeking parts,
the hidden life
beneath the green.

cool and collected
I wish that’s what my name meant
instead of desire

Life becomes heady again.

My garden spills over in late Spring,
when the warm earth
is filled with roots and moisture, snails and worms,
where I walk through thickly jasmine-scented air
amidst a spectrum of color-fancy:
the amethyst of giant banana flowers,
the vermilion of cape honeysuckles,
the blush of pink-white roses pushing past vines,
the emerald shine of thirsty hummingbirds,
the lemon-yellow of daffodils,
the fuchsia of bougainvillea draping
against the backdrop of the bay’s mid-morning blue.

Everything coheres:
all my loves,
all I have seen,
all that I still seek.

Fall and Winter are far away,
but the colors, even then,
will be breathtaking.

A thousand times I
held the moon and sang to her
of how I loved you,
for no reason but to sing
music that warmed me like wine.

A haiku on anticipation:

the curve of a waist
above fresh sheets –
summer evening

MOURNING DOVES

Mourning doves,
how lonesome you sound,
singing out your sorrow,
even when paired.
An uncanny birdsong,
full and low,
like breath across the mouth
of a large earthen vessel,
or the sound of a pan flute
blowing through the Badlands
calling out for
someone who is gone,
unfindable.

BONFIRES

Finally, dusk;
the bay and sky

are all mine

and I fill myself,
layers of visual pleasure:
turquoise, translucent, above
the horizon
along the early parts of night.
dusty halos above streetlamps,
blinking red reflectors on bikes gliding by
bright pairs of headlights
moving along the edges
of Fiesta Island,
and Ingraham Bridge, arcs of gold lights

in the distance.

It’s warm enough for bonfires.

I think I’m going out tonight.

CASTLES
I am composed of
warm moving blood,
skin that weathers cold,
teeth that bite hard,
and a heart that is often
too soft.

I hold on tightly,
sometimes not for long enough.

I hold on loosely,
sometimes for too long.
I gave grand gifts
for mere sand in return.

I make castles out of sand.


SILENCE

Sitting in silence,
the fog from all this living
slowly dissipates,
like clouds clearing at sunset,
like longing when it finds home.

PURPLE NIGHT

purple night
sharing her secrets
her body not vacant
but spilling with clouds
my eyes lit with flames of recent
rendezvous

purple night
I don’t have the slightest idea
how I regained consciousness

but I did
my two feet failing
collapsed when I tried
to walk away

Spring sun glaring

I did walk away
there are more than two paths
I made choices
little everyday choices
to burn to collapse
but I got up

purple night
your body still spilling
teasing with twinkles and
dark matter dreams

I keep walking

EASTER LILY

Down in the city
inside brick walls under skylights,
a shaft of light shines
on the white blooms of an Easter lily.
Candles in glass votives twinkle.
I feel my shoulders come down.
The life of the lily,
the light of the sun,
the hands that lit the candles –
common, full of mystery and beauty,
found miracles.

I KEEP MYSELF WHOLE

I keep myself whole
by changing shape;
key-like to unlock doors,
knife-edged to remove infection,
chain-link to keep things out,
concave to carry
the love of those who’ve stayed,
convex to magnify
the moments that mean something,
and when I am very tired,
like waves at ebbtide
receding from the shore.

I make no apologies.
My power is in my form.
I am always changing shape,
to keep myself whole.

A haiku on the old coiled wall heater in the bathroom:

reliable friend
keeping me warm when I am
totally exposed

SEEK ME ALWAYS

Seek me always.
For what am I
but hours of a day,
falling light,
blooming life,
widened eyes,
existing only to meet you
in each moment.

AWAKENED

I woke up in my mother’s bed in my childhood home.
It must have been late morning; the room was so bright.
Sitting up, I saw my reflection in the large circular mirror
across the cluttered room. I became aware of a crystal tree,
to my right, next to the bed. It was about seven feet tall.
Three large glass orbs hung above me from its branches.
Inside them were spiders, the size of small tarantulas, skin like black satin.

They appeared to be sleeping. I stared in wonder and horror.
I eased myself out of bed to get away. Then I saw the orbs fall.
I froze as they shattered on the ground.
The creatures, awakened, rushed across the floor.
In panic, I grabbed a book and hit one; a substance,
black and viscous, came forth, sticking
to the book and the floor and my feet.
I knew I would never reach and kill them all.
And besides, the mess would be staggering.

My panic subsided. I was no longer afraid.
They were not coming for me, but making for the door.

The Shock of Aging

Surprise!
We’re taking you to go see
Cats for your 12th birthday!
Your aunts and uncles are coming to visit
from Lake Tahoe!
Your dad won a big bet
so we are going out to a fancy dinner!
I like you!
I love you!
Will you marry me?
You got the job!
You got the raise!
You got the promotion!
You got in!

Surprise!
Your 20-year-old friend died of lung cancer.
We don’t want you on the team anymore.
Examination Result – FAIL.
Your friend cancelled/didn’t show up for you/didn’t
call you back.
Things didn’t work out.
People misunderstand you.
People leave
with no explanation.