Flight path

I look out my office window
working too late, again

The half-moon is round
with a glowing halo —
I know it’s pollution but
my heart sees fairy dust
or the happily ever after
romance of a bedtime story

And next to the bright moon
with its fringe of murky light
soars a large airplane
with its lights flashing
and I can hear its engine
even with my windows closed
(it’s hot outside, otherwise —
you know darn well —
I would open them!)

The plane’s lights —
red, green, white orbs
of unsightly technological safety —
are ruining the beautiful night sky
and distracting me from
my dusty fairy-tale moon

Yet maybe
at last
I realize
what’s been
obscuring
my poetic vision

I always seem to focus
on that beautiful moon
and the romantic dark sky
but ignore the 737 monstrous
hunk of metallic civilization
hurling itself through the night,
followed by a second aircraft
and then a third and fourth,
as if the airport is shooing
all her noisy little children
out of the house to play —

And even though that airplane
is hideous and loud
and aerial anti-serenity —
      it’s life.

And what is poetry —
      if not life?

Perhaps it carries
newlywed lovers
who were finally married
after COVID cancellations,
leaving on the honeymoon
they saved up years for —
and in that plane
is just as much fairy tale
as that beautiful-ugly
dust veiling the moon.

—Terri Guillemets

Desiccated

I write of only 3%
of the landscape
around me —
the green trees
colorful flowers
amazingly adaptive
dryland wildlife
and blind myself
to the rest of it —

but it’s time
to take a good look
and acknowledge
my selective seeing —
the 97% is dull
barren, stark, harsh, hot

out my bedroom window
there is a plain brown
block walled fence, my
neighbor’s white-metal
shed roof, off of which
glares the sun so brightly
it’s blinding, not a speck
of green in sight, except
one small weed emerging
from dusty gray rocks —

yes, there is a lizard
on the wall, doing push-ups
in the morning sun
and I watch him
with fascination
awed with nature
I forget the surrounding
urban desert ugliness —

until suddenly I wonder
where will he get
his next water?
surely from someone’s
yard watering system
but where do we  get
that precious water
for our thirsty homes?
and how much longer
will we be fortunate
enough to have it?

our city and county
allow so much over-
development, it feels
as if they are slowly
killing us, overcrowding
us, not caring about
our quality of life
nor the lizard’s —

but maybe, just maybe
we Phoenicians are
simply outright foolish
for trying to live here
in our air-conditioned
fortresses while the
city dries up around us

—Terri Guillemets

Slam–bang

there is a big hospital nearby
there are several, fairly nearby
fortunately, I don’t need one
right now —
but I’m grateful to be close to them,
that they’re close to me, just in case

so are the firefighters
and the grocery stores
and post offices
and best of all, libraries!

and
a whole lot of people —
for better or worse

all because I live in a big city

it’s convenient —
and it’s annoying

It’s 4:47 a.m.

three hours ago, the windows vibrated
under a circling police helicopter

a few minutes ago
the clattering A/C
that needs to be fixed
jolted me awake

I dozed back off —

this time it was a stray cat
there are so many of them;
I know them all by name —
Old Lived-In Orange Tom
Marked-Ear Kitten Gone Fat
Dirty-White Tuxedo Guy —
some of them like to jump up
on the sill, be loud, cause trouble

this morning, interrupting my dream,
it was Scraggly White Gray-Heart-Nose
yowling, prowling, howling, meowing

That’s it! just can’t get back to sleep
may as well get up, even though I’ve only
had maybe 5 hours — five disturbed hours.

it’s still dark out, and for the first time
in several months it’s noticeably cooler
outside than inside, even with the air on
and the just-past-full moon is up
she’s bright and snuggling with Mars —
Venus, Sirius, Orion, all shining for everyone
and for no one in particular

I step out of my front door, lock it,
and am not even out of my own driveway
before a car speeds by, knocking me over
with its noxious old-car gas fumes
and buck-the-system black exhaust

I look up at the sky, what I can see of it —
nearly every house has bright lights on
shining directly into my eyes, and the
street lights — piercing, glaring, persistent

I’ve made it almost next door
someone is out smoking, I can’t see them
but I smell the strong nasty smoke
and cover my nose with the COVID mask
from my pocket — odd, in my youth
I used to love breathing in the scent
of cigarette smoke — thought it was sexy
now it chokes, it offends, it irks

onto the next block, another smoker,
invisible too — do tobacco lovers hide
in the shadows on purpose?
my grandmother used to do that;
after she told everyone that she quit
we accidentally caught her smoking
on the dark side of the house, but
we didn’t let on — it’s hard to let go of
our addictions — shadows let us hold on

second house in on the second block
a big way-louder-than-legal motorcycle
leaving its driveway, its rider doesn’t see me;
I stand aside and wait as it roars out & away

it’s not even freakin’ 5 a.m., folks. on Saturday!
I came out here for quiet, fresh air, skygazing,
a pleasant walk in cool early-morning “solitude”
but the air stinks, there are so many lights —
oh, and did I not mention all the irritating
sensor lights that pop on unexpectedly
into my face, just when I think I’ve found
a nice dark-house reprieve — bam! — they’re like
the damn ads and email newsletter pleadings
on nearly every modern web site —
catching you unawares, blocking the
entire screen, at the cursor’s slightest
sign of movement — blinding us
like all the sensor lights, blocking
our enjoyment of whatever else it is
that we were trying to do

third house in, second block
the rooster. someone’s backyard city-rooster:
I look at my watch, a 5:00 crow on the dot.

I try to stop being annoyed
try hard to focus on the positive
try to figure out which dim little star
is above Venus, it must be one in Leo —
that’s my husband’s sign

my husband, still sleeping. heavy sleeper.
sleeping 8–9 hours straight through
nearly every night, it’s his superpower
I kinda hate him for it —
if I get more than 5 to 6 hours, and
waking several times at that, it’s a
miracle. light, light sleeper, I am.
I want to sleep, I try to sleep. I can’t.

my husband, who even though he’s sleeping
I already know exactly what he would say
about my quandary, my HSP city annoyances:
— Sleep in later.
— Just stay indoors.
— Join a gym and walk on the treadmill.

he just doesn’t get it. never has.
Flash! another sensor light in my face —
Screw it. for the first time ever,
I’ve given up on my morning walk.
it’s only been a few minutes
and the weather is gorgeous!
but I am going back inside.
How can people live like this?
with so much constant noise
and so many bright obscuring lights
and so damned much artificial stink

heading back around the corner to my house, I hear
the mini-siren warning bloop of a mile-away ambulance —
did I mention that I live close to a hospital?

—Terri Guillemets

Fight for our lives

like wild animals, I am happy hiding
the artificial frightens my being —
but it is time to fight for the earth

—Terri Guillemets

scrambled blackout poetry created from Rafe Martin, Birdwing, 2005, pages 150–151