Perie Longo, Poet Laureate Emerita (2007-2009) of Santa Barbara, California, has published three books of poetry: Milking The Earth, The Privacy Of Wind, and With Nothing Behind But Sky: a journey through grief. Her fourth book, Baggage Claim, is slated to be published December, 2013 by WordTech Editions. She has had poems published in many journals including Askew, Atlanta Review, Connecticut Review, International Poetry Review, Nimrod,Paterson Literary Review, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, Quercus Review, Rattle, Solo Café, SoloNovo, South Carolina Review and Wisconsin Review. She has been on the staff for the annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference since 1985 and taught with California Poets in the Schools since 1984, teaches poetry privately, leads a two day Poetry crafting workshop in Santa Barbara every August, and is the poetry chair for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. She is a psychotherapist who integrates poetry for healing at Hospice and the Cancer Center for Santa Barbara and Sanctuary Psychiatric Centers and is a past president of the National Association for Poetry Therapy. She has been featured in the Huffington Post and on the Charles Osgood radio show. In 2005 she was invited to speak on “Poetry as a Path to Peace” at Kuwait University where she also led workshops throughout the city of Kuwait. She has been nominated for three Pushcart prizes, one in 2002 from Rattle and two in 2012 from Askew and SoloNovo.

 

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

I aspire to be better-tempered which surprises me
since I am, except for my inclination toward aging
and cost of implants. My teeth, the dentist says,
are deteriorating faster than my mind. I promised
to floss more. So far things haven’t worked out,
nor has running a marathon, though I have run
into things, like cars. Twice. I aspire to back up
more carefully, slow down, walk more, and smell
whatever I can if only my sinuses would clear. I might
aspire to be an expatriate if the Tea Party overcomes,
which may be why I’ve been drinking more coffee
lately, though this persimmon/raspberry/green tea
is going down pretty well. Speaking of which,
I’ll try to be more organic like my friend
who grows her own everything.
I should think of becoming a better person
which is hard with my love of bad things.
Before I expire I’d really like to fall in love again
besides over myself, breaking my toe. My goal
is to write less personal, more universal poetry,
like Rumi for instance, but smoke keeps getting
in my eyes and lights flash on the left in the dark—
arcs and crescent moons as vitreous fluid
pulls away from the retina like a train
from the station you missed, which reminds me
of standing center stage long ago in the beam
of a blinding Fresnel yelling an unscripted line,
Where is everyone, when the bats dove in, taking over.

TBP in Edison Literary Review, Fall, 2013


BREAKUP

Not that I didn’t want to end our lie,
but he ruined the setting
where we sat on the edge of a fountain
bubbling a hypnotic chant
begging for coins.

Bougainvillea whistled in a warm breeze,
brilliant petals dotting the silence
between hesitant words.
“I’ve been meaning. . .I mean, I wish. . .
there would be a hummingbird,
no crows

but did he have to do it at 7:45 am
in heavy traffic, on the cell phone? me between
an Exxon oil tanker and Mel’s Gardening Service
with no opening, no how are you?
Are you sitting down?

Just, “I’m going back to my second Ex.
She’s comfortable. I’m moving.”

I think I said I was in a jam,
not in the mood right now,
wished him a comfortable life,
then pinched him shut in the cold,
unstable connection. With a sudden break,
maneuvered into the fast lane,
really fast.

Published in Solo Café 3: Central Coast Poets Say
What Needs to be Said


“BEAUTIFUL HAIR”

Before his parting this earth, I saw
hundreds of spiders in the shower risen
from the drain. I put on my glasses
to my own suffer of hair, ran fingers
through diminishing strands, more
in my hands. “Honey, look!” I rushed

into the bedroom where he lay bald
in his chemo state, breathing shallow.
“For me?” he smiled, hazy-eyed,
turning my cruel vanity around
with a kick. We rested awhile, wet
with what was left of each other.

When the bottom dropped out, I drove
to the vitamin store, asked the clerk
for solution to my dandelion head gone
to seed,  nothing but a bird’s nest,
I wept. She lifted from the shelf
a purple bottle of pills labeled,

“Beautiful Hair,” as if the color
would redeem my royal callousness,
the capsules replace my light-
headedness or the touch of his hand
through my once crowning glory
which grew thick again mattering less
 
and less as months dragged on.
One night I dreamed my head full of feathers,
a great bird struggling to break free.

Published in The Enchanting Verses Literary Review

 

 

Perie Longo at Moonday East 2013

 

 

2013 Perie Longo


 

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