Don Norman

@: As If
I don't want to be alone
I want intimacy
I want to experience, together
as if two sets of eyes were one
as if the sweet pangs of beauty born were a cup to be shared
as if we were truly I

I don't want to be invisible
I want to be transparent
as if light and I were so alike that shadows found no purchase
as if shame did not solidify my marrow
as if there were some respite from my self

I don't want to end
I want to transform
to become more, without losing that essential core
as if I am not merely a collection
as if I am some how less
as if the great mystery could remain unsolved

I don't want to be alone
as if I were


@: pretty
i've never been pretty
that word, all the feelings
all the expansive and burdensome landscape
it plays across in the great mind we share
has never been applied to me
i learned to wield it though, the word, clumsily
as a compliment to little girls
'' "pretty shoes", "pretty dress", "such a pretty girl"
and pets
'' "pretty girl"
and later, as a stand in for lust
'' "pretty girl"
or a dismissal
'' "pretty girl", "pretty woman"
or a joke
'' "i feel pretty, oh so pretty..."
and much later, as a many layered thing
'' "he's very pretty"

now its a word of the past
an engine for the baggage train of patriarchy and oppression
and a reminder of my own culpability
a word I don't use any more
a violent word like "cunt", "whore", "slut"
a word that dies on the back of my tongue

i watched my daughter, in her battle against prettiness
shave her head and insert gold teeth
she wanted to feel what i felt
the absense of the priviledge and weight
my little girl
who delighted in her princess dress and sparkly shoes
who danced and sang with abandon on the back lawn at twilight
declaring to no one, in a voice like a forest stream
"I am so pretty"


@: Opening
In the morning of my evening
I found, like a lost treasure in a forgotten pocket,
myself opening
not as a stately door on well-oiled hinges
nor as a crooked gate, bent by years
what holds me closed is not latch or turf or rust
but the ghost of a burning coal
an ashen shape that falls away
at your whisper
I am torn open
(not as the temple curtain was ripped
when the lamb was slain)
torn like fabric too worn by living and loving
for the weave to hold


@: Peace
a breath of air
lifting this page ever so slightly
then leaving it to fall
the cat at my feet
rolling tummy up, eyes closed
the horn of the neighborhood grocery truck, some blocks away, announcing its arrival with "La Cucaracha"
more distant, and beneath children sounds, the ebbing and flowing hum of cars on streets all around
a family of parakeets sing the sun down, the sky a brilliant fading orange
I reach up and pull the light cord
and look at this page
blank (and a little too bright) except for the word
hours later, I surrender;
the sparse page unyielding
"i don't know what this word means"


@:love doesn't end
love doesn't end
it isn't a coat you remove
when you grow too warm
love is wearing you
and like a child in a new satin dress
she refuses to take you off even to sleep
she plays wildly in you
without regard to tearing or digging in the dirt
so you quickly grow tattered and threadbare
until love stands naked inside you
until you become love's own skin
through you she feels
other skin and gravity and fire
she refuses to wash you off as
her aroma penetrates your sweat and desire and fear
though, in the course of time
you may find that you are left
in bits and pieces on the road
while love continues on
you will never, ever, be rid of the stench of love


@: Friend Song

it is in the trembling of my fingers,
a trembling that wells up from
bone and memory
that I know you are near

Not your words, though I feel the breath of them

not your eyes which hold me like a cloud holds water

not the grasp of your hand, though it's warmth is a persistent sun

I am moved by your moving, the currents of my life rippled in your wake

I feel you feel, like our hearts are great tethered balloons traveling through the wide sky streams

I am seen, and thus see
I am heard, and know music
I find you here
even in this emptiness




DON NORMAN has been a database programmer, a newspaper reporter, an evangelical minister, a shoe salesman, a leather tanner, a DJ, and a high school history teacher.  He continues to be a father and grandfather.  He likes to stylishly arrange words and take pictures of dancing people.  He is also deeply in love with an extraordinary woman.