Wait-ing


The slow table shuffle of Tuesday nights

not enough business to make any money

I give in to reality and try to be as pleasant as I can.

Refill hot tea water, try to boost the radiators,

make Ryan laugh.

Don't bug the cook.


Two men walk in. Table 8 - mine.

One has thick, long blonde hair and earrings,

the other is very thin, tall, dark hair with glasses - vegetarian looking.

Mm, two men.


I approach, laying on the subtle mix of easygoing,

cool and female charm,

they ask standard questions, we joke, they order.

Blonde goes to the bathroom and dark calls me

over, hasty. It's my friend's birthday - do you think

you could put a candle on what he orders for dessert?

I wink and nod - these are things we do here.

It's his birthday, of course, be happy to.


I deliver dinner, they eat, talk, laugh. Dark

finishes and walks languidly to the dessert case.

His friend isn't looking - he motions me over, out of sight

makes his request. I wink again, the waitress.


He turns again to the case - I notice his body.

He is taller than I thought, thin, long.

I know someone who looks like this. Someone

who is supposed to keep in touch

and send me some of his stories.

I make a latte and heat up Espresso Cake and

think of how the weeks have slipped by and

the tall, thin man hasn't called or written.


I feel angry, here we go again.

And I thought we were making

progress. But we aren't, I should know, we never do.

We just fumble at words, buttons, apologies and then

both escape. Are we smarter, have we grown? Or

are we deeper, connecting ourselves unmercifully,

not meaning to—not needing this on top of everything

else. The doubts fly and I shiver.

Distance lets me know distance

I don't know him at all anymore.

The espresso cake has melted.


Blonde and dark sit for another hour.

I keep filling water glasses,

they talk loudly, enjoying each other as I watch.

They leave a nice tip, and

when I'm looking the other way,

slip out.

Feels familiar.


—Heather Siemsen Farha


Family News


My brother called today

Wanted to know - did you get email from mom?

Boots died.

There's a picture in our family album

of a young boy, smooth cheeks

hair combed for Grandma

roughing it up in the yard with Boots,

our grandparents farm dog.

The boy's right arm is around

the flecked grey squirming body

and the dog's mouth is delicately chomping down on

the boy's left wrist.

They are circling each other, attached, whole

as boy and dog should be.

My brother never had dog.

When I ask him

Are you sad? He says to me

She was the closest thing I ever had to having a pet.

He mocks a whimpering sad voice, to say he's ok

but still, he called to tell me.


Grandma and Grandpa let us pick out the puppy

when we were small.

We drove to a farm and the fat, warm bodies rushed

out to meet us,

Boots was the only one we could

hold - she stayed calm

she had found us, picked us out

picked out my brother.


Christmas this year we were at the farm

Boots couldn't run out to meet us

her arthritis and the cold made her limp slowly.

We wanted to pet her but she looked afraid

touches hurt her somehow

I wished we had petted her more

when she was young and we could.

The only people she would let touch her

were Grandpa and my brother.

And he called to tell me,

to talk about Boots.


—Heather Siemsen Farha

Battery Park, New York


Last night I went to dinner with Forest in Tribeca. We discussed such weighty matters as recent dreams, Halloween costumes, and the stress of having a heavy aura, over pumpkin sage soup and cranberry juice. We parted ways at Chambers and Greenwich, and I walked alone towards home along the West Side Highway. As I entered my neighborhood, I came under the shadows of the World Trade/World Financial Center complex and I began thinking about the geometry of the buildings and the negative spaces around them, and how that geometry interacts with the chaos of the trees and people and dogs which surround and fill them, and I was daydreaming about being a photographer -- how I would frame the elements of geometry and chaos to make people see as I do ...


The end of the street, towards the river, erupted in purple flame.


Fireworks!


I ran to the end of Battery Park City's main drag and then to the end of its promenade along the Hudson. My heart pounding, I stood and watched this totally unexpected display. It was just close enough to feel the air displaced by the explosions, and just far enough to maintain that heart-stopping moment of suspense between the light and the sound. The noise echoed from the massive glass buildings of lower Manhattan like a thunderstorm in a canyon, and the colors were reflected from a million polished surfaces. The Statue of Liberty glimmered in counterpoint off down the river.


Then it was over.


Heavy smoke hung in the air, lit orange against a purple sky by the lights of the city. There were only a handful of people watching with me, but we all raised our voices to cheer. As I walked back home along the river, I could hear the water slapping against the stone bank of the promenade, and birds speaking in the trees, just like in a real place.


—Krystl Hall, October 27, 1995 (Lynna Howard's daughter, who lives next to what used to be the World Trade Center)

All photos and text ©Lynna Howard. Appearance online as work samples is not to be construed as publication. All rights reserved. Do not copy nor distribute without the poet's permission. Thank you. Contact lynna.howard@mac.com


 

Fullness


The rushing rains drown out the crying branches,

Broken with the onslaught, they fall to the river below.

Diving into the blue sea, to a shore to rest.


A small child carries the branches,

On his run through his forest dreams.

Laughing, playing, and fantasies abound,

But as he tires the need for his mighty weapon lessens.


A new day dawns bringing with it leaves and soon the snow.

White powder covers the branch like a blanket heating it to grow.

The leaves around it leap into a raging fire and,

He is consumed into one.


Its energy pooled to feed the earth, and health.

The small seeds of a tree have followed it to its resting place, Pleading for

its help, at first it holds on not wanting to let go.

But then it slowly wanes and sees its chance.

Life is brought to him at the sight of the people breathing in his new

petals.


—Theo Carpenter (Lynna's son)

The Second Coming


Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


—William Butler Yeats

(okay, so he's not exactly a "friend")

—Theo Carpenter (Lynna's son). Photo taken in 2005.