Free Fall (for Jimmy Smith, L.A. Blues Artist/Poet)
Heather Long

You play your last dance
so beautifully it feels like tides
breaking. I hear your blues
inside veins where blood sings
and birds waken with crystal eyes.
My tears flow where you will find
them in our handshake. Crickets
vibrate with your touch.

I take you with me now as memory
and ambrosia for my journey to mountains.
I will share your victory with eagles
who soar poppies into gentleness at dawn.
You free fall off edges and give parachutes
to your promises and chances. Yesterday
is not a number and you steal stone visages
each time you become. The last dance
is just your beginning.

1999 Heather Long

Beauty Is
Heather Long

When did I get old?
Why does every lie I've ever been told
end up as a line on my face?
With good cheekbones and a strong
character, anyone could afford to look
like Katherine Hepburn
past her prime, but I'm just me --
flawed by the passage of time,
bad decisions,
and too little sun-block.

There's a girl inside, still full
of romantic notions of noble knights,
fine white steeds, and promises made
not to be broken.
That girl looked, and looked,
and looked, and looked
for Mr. Right; traveled to foreign
places to find his lined face
in a crowd.

That's who I feel like most days;
that young girl, future uncertain,
still gambling for the happy ending.
The mirror tells me different
and sometimes I can't take it.

That's why, most mornings,
I put my face on
by the light in his eyes.

1999 Heather Long

American Beauty
Heather Long

The most perfect was pressed
between parchment pages of Horatio
Nelson and The Naval Supremacy of England, unseen,
unheld, since its trip to the attic in 1969, the year
Jon Benjamin returned from Vietnam.

Wild roses along the Susquehanna suffer
greatly by horticultural comparison to American
Beauty, though their capacity as tokens of childhood
memory remains just as real. Unlike Nelson, it wasn't possible
to trace Jon Benjamin's life through a botany of flowery phrases.

No bewitching Lady Hamilton imparted an element
of romance; no Battle of the Nile marked a triumphant
achievement; no Trafalgar sealed his place in his country's
history. Alive was what we asked for, selling short
even our simplest prayers. Neither a thousand ounces
of silver, nor a hero's welcome, would have improved
the roses -- or the look of a nation's betrayal in his eyes.
1999 Heather Long

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