I see her
on a broken down
bench by the creek,
she is drinking
coke from a Micky D's
She is drunk,
red in the face &
She calls out:
Don't mind me, enjoin the
green speared leaves with bright
yellow daffodils showing
happy faces above
the fresh grass, orange-red
poppies cup their gold toward
the sky, bridal white petals
open on the almond trees
She lifts her face
to the gentle sun,
her rum & coke
as though it were
at a garden party,
to obliterate the
deep inside her.
indifferent nature moves, undaltes
behind her, all those daffodils, poppies,
those wild grasses, this floating world
alive and greedy, gasping for sun, water
for the essence of air until all seeds
are dropped, the petals and leaves
return to matter, reborn in the
I walk past the Slattern thinking
that's her dream, to fit herself
the wheel of life.
the ineffable hope of oblivion,
warm darkness of seeds and soil,
awakening in light and air,
that slow turn round the seasons
until she becomes clean and whole
cupping her gold to the sun
© 2018 Elizabeth Rubens, All Rights Reserved
HIGHBALLS & CIGARETTES
I don't recall if my Dad's pal Jimmy Hennessy
had a wife. Nor does my sister. She remembers his red-
haired daughter Ginger, a horny 13 year old who got my sister
in trouble when Ginger talked her into riding the street-
car out to Long Beach to meet cute navy boys.
There is no one left to ask.
We think about this as we visit our 90 year old Aunt,
Ina languishing in a nursing home. Her mind a maze
of demented cunning, scheming to get hold of a phone.
To distract I ask:
Do you remember Jimmy Hennessy's wife?
With a certitude that astonishes us she says,
Of course, Bette. Petite little thing.
And there she is! Vivid and real from 60 years ago,
I hear her raucous laugh, see her brown curly hair
and that bright splash of scarlett on her mouth. I even
hear the clink of ice as she tosses back her Highball.
Once she left her lit cigarette in an ashtray,
I came along and stubbed that cig out. I did this with all
the gravity of a 6 year old who thought of Smokey the Bear
as her mentor. Bette honked her big laugh and we laugh now
that memory restored to us.
Ina still wants a phone.
Me and my sister are tempted, after all she found
Jimmy Hennessy's wife.
© 2018 Elizabeth Rubens, All rights reserved.
Photo by Alfred Stieglitz
1 The Woman of Lake George, New York
His eyes draw me here
I examine flowers—
You see them as small delicate—
I see huge stamen calix—
I watch them
as he watches me
For him I come to this place
to his lens
of my parts
before his eyes—
You can't imagine how it all astonishes me—
He's textured in me—
as I am in him
The soft petals open—
2 The Crone of Ghost Ranch, New Mexico
This ladder took me to my world-
where the shapes sang
Now I live in shadow
the past coiled around me-
Once I held brushes
made colors from earth
light naples yellow
Orange & red & purple earth
even soft green earth-
I find I have painted my life-
in blessed silence
I make a ladder of bone
climb into the sky-
Quotes from Georgia O'Keeffe's letters, from Georgia O Keeffe, A Life
by Roxana Rpbinson, Harper Collins © 1989
Elizabeth Rubens © 1992-2018, all rights reserved
In the cold shimmery fog
old women wait at the curb
possessions packed in shopping
bags. They wait, heads down, drooping
like wet petals. And when a bus comes,
they all board, silent except for
the muted shuffling of feet, suppressed
murmurs.They settle, sit quietly staring ahead—
—fog glides around
the bus, a luminous veil drifting
to the ground—
The bus roars to life, accelerates through
the mist, vanishing. Not one breath of an atom
remains,the strands of grey shifting over the empty
sidewalk where the old women waited in the fog.
© copywrite Elizabeth Rubens 2018
The Persimmon tree is nude,
glowing in the sun.
orbs of muted orange
dangle from the empty
It is a sign of autumn
before the rough windfall
takes the fruit
to the ground, the last
living flesh of the tree
falling away before
the little death of winter.
Elizabeth Rubens © 2018
push the limbs
into a high stride
that is almost airborne.
the sweet startle
Blood sings through
the veins sounding
the heart’s eye.
Each step forward
to infinite possibilities.
Elizabeth Rubens © 2018
I wish there was a film
noir movie on
right now. Black,
white, shadowy rain
slicked nights, air
heavy with doom.
In these low times
we are so fucked.
no one to drive the car.
And Jesus is not gonna
take the wheel.
In film noir
I’d stroll up to the bar
drink my whiskey neat,
eye the man
who lights my cigarette
and whispers in my ear:
Baby I don’t care.
Elizabeth Rubens © 2018
No one to drive the car: William Carlos Williams, To Elisie, The Collected Poems: Volume I 1909-1939 (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1945).
Jesus take the Wheel, Carrie Underwood , 2005
Robert Mitchum to Jane Greer, Out of the Past 1947
Hearing Coltrane and Duke playing In a Sentimental
Mood, hearing the sound of the sax winding in
flowing lines around the delicate notes of the
piano. It brings to mind a past love in 1985, me
and him tangled in sheets that warmed our
cooling bodies while that sound swirled around
us. I was 34 that afternoon when I lost myself
in love and music, Duke and Coltrane long dead.
But Duke was alive in 1972 when I saw him,
fragile and infirm teetering as he waved his baton
around as if looking for the music he could not hear.
And his band played his tunes without him.
One by one the musicians, young as I was,
packed their instruments and left the stage,
leaving Duke alone gently conducting to the
band that was no longer there.
Elizabeth Rubens copywrite © 2018
Camille Pissarro, The Path
Last week according to my Fitbit I walked 80.49 miles, 184,418 steps. A new personal best for me! This week will be lower because I’m going out-of-town, but I will get some walking in. Since we’re going to San Francisco, there will be a few hills involved. Today I didn’t do badly ether, 11 miles, 25,499 steps. So I’ve been getting into a good pattern here.
Sometimes you just don’t feel it. That was me today. I did my yoga first thing in the morning, meditated for five minutes and thought I was good to go. Within five minutes into my walk I wanted to quit. It was cooler and windy. I was tired and my bones ached. I wanted more coffee. I wanted to stop! But one foot in front of the other. I saw the sky, cerulean blue, puffy cumulus clouds and thought I can’t waste this. Sometimes you just have to trust the process and keep going. There will always be a bit of beauty along the way.