Expecting Him Home That Day in Some Kind of Recovery

I resorted to hippie-ism and all that

morning I baked bread.

The dough puffed up like a big pliant sponge,

alive and rising in the warm kitchen sun.

 

I let my hands guide me through shaping loaves

then rolling out and up into crescents,

sprinkled and smeared with butter and

sugar and raisins, sliced thick

and laid loosely in buttered pans;

they baked to a worthy product,

doubled again in size and lightly browned.

 

When cooled, the glaze would be drizzled

into ribboned hieroglyphics, the DNA-looped

swirls of mother love.

Secret messages from ancient bakers

coded the delicate rolls.

 

The scent of their baking filled the house for

hours and hours. When he arrived, my little dog and I

cried; and he, happy to be so missed, commented

on how good it smelled. Both of us dismissed

the memories that might have haunted us, the times when

the dog did not do flips of joy, when

I had nothing beautiful I could do or say.

 

 

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Oregon Beach Town 2016

At 13, I smoked in the California sweet shoppe bathroom with the older girls.

My sister’s friends called me Volup Bear, and mother loaned them her car.

Pebbles spun as two boys raced down the dark hill, wet night glittering

up the other side. I knew enough to get the car driven home.

Nothing to prevent these rites of passage, even stealing beer

from my father’s men’s club pool, even guzzling a fifth of whiskey.

 

At the beaches and rivers on my belly in hot sand, I tested the power of cleavage.

Ecstacy a set of doors, beckoning.

In the forest at home, my brother was selling smoke by smoke

Mommy’s Marlboros; his leukemia came when we moved to Oregon.

The tumbling of this scaffolding surprised me when I awoke;

friends gone, house gone, just sooty skies and snotty, Oregonian kids.

 

Still like that; my son can’t quit smoking, his girlfriend too.

The grandson swears he’ll never start, but addictions lurk like fish.

Next time I visit Oregon, winter months will rule the tsunami zone;

waves big as apartments, in my dreams my father’s hand reaching out.

My sister assures me I am welcome in her toy town with one of everything.

We could die together; it’s heavenly in the zone; we never turn our backs on the sea.

Then there are the feral people in forests on the hills wherein lie houses with hydrangeas.

The ferals descend and nod, just like everyone else. Every day a beach holiday, she says.

None of us, she says, go far into the forest alone. Their home is our escape from the zone.

The towns’ people smile and talk and greet as if long-time students of Mr. Roger’s.

I return to a thoroughfare designated mine, tumbling waterfall days.

My people, watermelon sunsets, my luckeee oasis in the city.

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Back-cover info on Free Love, Free Fall: Scenes from the West Coast Sixties

Stephen, Merimee and Paul at Panhandle ParkMerimee’s stories slip readers into the times that were “a changing,” the time between beatniks and hippies and then some. The settings follow a winding path from San Francisco to New York City and back to the farm factories in eastern Oregon. The young couple, vagabonds on the road, give a glimpse into pre-women’s lib society and the musicians and sadhus looking for love and life beyond the inelegant, patriarchal norm of the fifties. Free Love, Free Fall is a must for those who are curious about how it really was, at least for this author, and for anyone who also was there, in that time, living through social upheaval and creating it on a day to day basis.

A trip to the Red Dog Saloon in 1965 starts a journey of music and musicians in the Haight Ashbury and life without an instruction book. Merimee’s stories embody the themes of the times: Make Love Not War, No Hope without Dope, Be Here Now, and—surprise!—Peace and Love. The PH Phactor Jug Band makes a not-so-profitable career move to Portland in the Summer of Love, resulting in an end to the relationship that had become too entangled with the detritus of the music scene lifestyle.

Eventually, Merimée flees Portland following friends to New Mexico where she falls in love with the land and the culture. The loosely linked stories don’t tell it all and readers may wish for more where these came from. Lets hope she keeps producing the sketches that piece together an era and a lifetime. Dealing with instability and a child, the young mother begins to let go of her free-spiriting and takes on the serious task of sole breadwinner in the beautiful town of Taos, New Mexico. The stories create a coming-of-age tale in the counter culture, an awakening, and a readiness to move on.

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dependable sweater

Valentine’s Day Feb. 14, 2016

 

My mind is trying to find an in on “dependable sweater”

Maybe she means one that doesn’t disappear for days

and not even apologize

One that never unravels when your parents are visiting

Too late now (RIP Mother and Daddy)

Maybe this sweater shows up at 8 when she says 8

and keeps you just as warm as the label indicates

Maybe she trims off a little fat with those

well-placed pockets and she never sags

 

Bring a sweater that stays quiet, doesn’t nag

or want to go when laying back is a better choice

but still sensible, demands dependably a walk even when

the temp drops and you’re still looking for wool socks.

She will hold her buttons faithfully.

The dependable sweater never confuses size

with purpose or style.

You can tie her arms around you and she won’t fall

or drag.

 

Yes, really. I already knowwhich sweater gets to go to West Concord

for the kids and g-kids

& the Arctic freeze, where frostbite threatens like horrid

parents of yore, to kill fingers or cut off toes.

I know it’s the thick pea green with the big fifties’

buttons that stay closed until you undo them with

intention. She’s a good sweater, that one, quite dependable,

like a good man, like my Valentine, he’s going with me too.

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published on LamentfortheDead.org

For Felix Kumi, school bus driver,
killed by police gunfire August 29, 2015
by Merimée Moffitt

Bedford Ave, Beekman Ave. and 3rd Street
understood Felix who in turn understood the danger
as he slowed his steps, heading home on Friday night.

The cop was undercover, revved up for the gun-buy, ready
for a fight. Felix didn’t make it home that night. Bullets
“went awry” the police chief said. Felix died in the overkill.

“Good morning, Sunshine,” he might have said on Monday
to the little girl with bows and shining eyes. Hey man and some jive
to boys who rode his bus, as their sisters and their brothers had.

On Friday afternoon, Felix gave his last ride, smiled his last
hello goodbye, bent down the last time to welcome kids.
That strong arm turning the wheels on the bus no more.

And the bus goes on and the bullets fly and for this, Felix
will never retire. He’ll be watching the children, but he might ask
a single favor, asking all to forgive the killers and the killed.

The gun dealer’s kids, too, may have ridden Felix’s bus, never knowing
what we know about undercover busts, about how enticing
it is breaking bad, to run with bad boys for the money.

Felix likely sensed the danger as he walked home Friday night
a witness to the cops n robbers’ plight: cops zero, citizens two, downed
for good: Felix innocent bystander, caught bullets meant for a younger man.

Never meant for him but for a brother or his child, for his angry
neighbor’s kids gone wild. Even cops’ kids rode his bus. Felix died for
the wrongness of it, the waste of beautiful lives in this ugly ugly game.

I hope Mount Vernon gives Felix a placard on that brick wall where he fell,
in memory for all he did, for kids, for his family, his courage to stand and witness
to protect and help someone, if he could, when the bullets “went awry.”

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The Tour

We headed south at Counselors, NM, 17 miles west of Cuba

the quiet red rock, pastoral beauty

 

Rains have turned Navajo land green, but

off the highway, fracking for oil is everywhere, even in

the velvety, hut-like hills Di-né call The Black Place.

Coal in the soil colors the mounds that look like

whales or hundreds of igloos in grey rock

 

Red soils layer yellow, dappled with green on the cliffs

The badlands beautiful from El Niño surface water

The elder named Daniel mentioned Georgia O’keefe

to give us two white women context

I thought of her Joseph Stieglitz in NY

making his fortune on her paintings of these hills

wild flowers and cow bones, her craggy face

 

The bright-blue pipes in a ditch were for water from elsewhere

to aid the ransacking process,

all would go elsewhere after resurfacing

 

The toxic cocktail infuses almost a mile into the earth

a mile out in two directions, releasing wasted gas

methane, dirty fuel, poisoned water

in the process. Oil trucks like wooly mammoths rampage

soft dust roads. Trucks rush with the toxic crude, create traffic

on the path-like roads used by families,

farmers, and school kids in buses. Many passed us that day.

 

Each landowner or allottee is given a one-time check. It’s

not enough for the ruination of sacred land,

a people, their history and future.

 

Exhausted from the bumpy ride and the sorrow, heading back

I ask Daniel questions about the sixties, the seventies

in Navajo Land. Two elders can talk like that. He tells me about

his brother hanging out with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda in Taos

I imagine one helluva good-looking Navajo man

 

I tell him about getting wasted on acid the night

I had a job capping LSD for Augustus Owsley Stanley III,

the chemist who first brought LSD to California.

We go back in time just for fun. I tell him

how we had to buy rubber gloves in the morning to finish the job.

He sent an email saying the image of the white powder

on my finger tips will be in his mind a long time and that I was

a good story teller. Such high praise from a Navajo I won’t forget,

nor will I forget the fracking stations,

the squat, toad-like silos of oil, gas,

and the misleading term “produced water.”

A euphemism for water now poison,

awaiting injection back into the Rez.

There is a creek that will burn if you put a match to it,

a woman from Di-né Cares tells us.

 

Hey, Big Oil Bullies, That can’t be called “not-harmful.”

And most LSD takers are pro clean air, and sane and safe alternatives.

Just sayin. We all might consider fighting for this one.

Thank Goddess (and probs the girls and Michelle) the Prez

put cajones and backbone

on this at last, but as he says, there is a point at which it will be too late.

 

Take the quiz. What is fracking? Which states have the most?

Which states send the most dangerous oil trains to the coast?

Which same state could fuel the nation with wind and solar? Hint,

hint: you’re in it.

 

~merimée

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Debbi Brody’s Review of Making Little Edens

Over the years I have heard Ms. Moffitt read at numerous New Mexico poetry events and I was always drawn to her clear and strong poetic voice. When she asked me to review her book, Making Little Edens, I was flattered and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the manuscript.
There is an immediacy and lyric quality to her realist narratives. Each poem is a vignette infused with truths that squeeze my heart, and remind me why I am engaged in the work of poetry.

Merimee addresses the female growth of an adulthood colored by choice; choosing biological and hand picked sisters, choosing a way of life and of parenting, especially in contrast to the difficulties marked by a childhood in the era of laissez-faire (often emotionally punishing) parenting styles of the fifties and sixties.

She is a master of slant rhyme, which becomes a force moving each line along to the next, creating a fluency that is not urgent but awakening. The writing feels organic, unlabored. Throughout the book, Merimee offers herself up as a sacrifice as in, Summer of ‘57, Eureka, California, as did so many women of our generation. Merimee braves this and other cultural dangers head on, where many hide from the same demons. The strength in her reckoning may give others the courage to consider using her tactics as well as hope that the divisive bits in our lives can be made into little Edens. We watch her form her own unique parenting techniques, not in opposition to her childhood, but as an embrace of all the positives that family can be, as a tool for love.

These are also stories of place, most notably California and New Mexico. In one New Mexico poem, Ode to the Chevy on a Stick, Moffitt writes, …the best stuff grows form the cracks, a fitting epitaph for life in one of the most impoverished states of the union.

I smiled through most of this volume, even while reading the hard to face poems like, Bossy Bitches, Beautiful Babes, and I felt the author smiling along with me. This book is an intimate walk through the social upheaval of growing up female in the sixties, parenting, maturing into power, standing firm against the tide in middle-age, doing the same thing in a new context, in a nation that leans towards disrespect of mothers, teachers, healers, mother earth, ad infinitum. The body becomes a symbol through out, especially in the poems called He Mistook His Penis for Power Tool…, and in The World in a Rant Poem which may be the author’s Ars Poetica. In these two poems the Everyman of society is at last the Everywoman

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