Before Jack Fest

October 7th, 2019

Wax, falling moon
You nicotine grin
Calling me west

2 October 2019

Better Church

October 7th, 2019

A throng of poets
Is better
Church than church.

2019

Sorrow Stones

October 7th, 2019

Sorrow
stands
up

Untangles
the
cold
river

Imitates
a
cairn

Imitating
me

2019

Strings

August 25th, 2019

Tethered to the puppet
strings of two dogs
arms and legs tugged
by scents I cannot sense
I surrender to nose joys
made not for me
but for these dogs now bowls
for love my grown boys cannot hold.
I let my masters linger hungrily
sniffing shadows
while I pause over here
on the dark road looking up
waiting to move on.

2019

small enough

August 25th, 2019

august and july
mosquitos held me
hostage from the milky way
hatted netted hurried
absent starlight
impossible to feel small
enough to write

2019

Crestone 4th of July

August 23rd, 2019

Burly men and women shout
Happy Interdependence Day!
from the fire truck, smiling
everyone waving
at each other and mosquitos
kids scrambling for candy
on new, hot pavement.
Northbound, the parade
passes us all
turns right at Galena
for the other side of town
just one block away
turns right at Alder, southbound.
The crowd walks east one block
to watch it go by again.

2019

Vertical Prayer

August 23rd, 2019

Vertical prayer flags
Cling to their posts in thick rain
Still manage to pray

2019

(i love the way)

August 23rd, 2019

lines warp
in the wind
and the fold
and the word

2019

Blue Mesa Reservoir, 3 AM

August 16th, 2019

Two dogs fidget and whine
inside a canvas cave.
A zipper rips open
the strange night—
a grand piano wrapped
tight in black felt.
Ten legs spill over it,
blind fingers searching,
scratching for hidden seams,
the only audible song.

2019

Jesus of the Meme

July 30th, 2019

He knows He used to say, “Suffer
the little children to come unto me,”
but when Jesus received
His sister’s long ass letter via email
sharing the sob story of Father’s
childhood abandonment of her,
the way it reaches through everything,
He thought, Stop wallowing,
decided it was easier
to post a meme to His friends
on Facebook than to think.
One of His favorites:
two clean-cut idiots in suits,
heads thrown back,
mouths stretched open, frozen
in sarcastic, mocking laughter,
straddled by white, full caps font:
WHEN SOMEONE SENDS YOU
A NASTY EMAIL
BUT YOU JUST HIT DELETE
THE SECOND IT HITS YOUR INBOX
Jesus likes the word “nasty,”
the special power it holds these days.
As the pièce de résistance, He added
His own witty caption—Well, not quite
His own, but that sassy black one,
you know: “Ain’t nobody
got time for that!”

2019

The Dog From Antonito

July 25th, 2019

The woman dropped him off July 5th.
A stray, she said, but shelter women guessed
he was hers. Five-day grace period passed—
no one claimed him. July 11th changed that.
He was mine the moment I saw him
calmly greeting visitors through his fence.
No jumping or barking, no shit in the gravel.
Sweet, respectful, deferential to my old dog
who had to approve first. He did. I did.
80 bucks later he hopped in the front seat,
scanned the horizon heading north.
Stoic, no ventured names perked his ears.
I guessed he might be deaf, but a finger snap,
a quiet clap, lifted his tan brow. He blinked.
Leaping into the house like it was always his,
he stopped cold in the entry, wouldn’t budge.
At first we thought he balked at the sight
of Dorell, but, no, on the porch he leaned
against his legs, sat upon his giant feet,
tongue smiling. Inside, was he wary of new walls,
the potted tree, strange people, foreign smells?
No, the ceiling fan. Skirting the family room,
watching the whirly gig above with worried eyes,
soon enough he learned it was benign.
As was he. Even the reclusive old Siamese
strangely bore his curiosity with sharp swats
and low roars of warning, holding her seat.
Undeterred, he nosed and nosed her, finally
friends. Kennel-rank, relaxed in his first bath,
he slumped, weary refugee savoring water,
heat and sudsy scratching, clogged the drain
with endless black fur and swirling dirt.
Dry, he lay there like a preened teenage girl,
leaned into the brush brushing, brushing tufts
of matted fur from thighs into a wispy pile.
Witnessing his gentle way, intelligent eyes,
obviously once loved by a human being,
imagine my surprise when he wouldn’t Sit!,
wouldn’t Sit!, wouldn’t Sit!, no matter the offered
treat or pushing down of reluctant butt.
Three days he gave me bright, blank stares
with each command. Sit. Sit. Sit. No recognition.
Distant face. Until it hit: this dog is from Antonito.
I dug deep for the word. ¡Siéntate! I said. He sat.
We laughed and laughed, hearing ourselves speak
Español to one dog, English to the other, confused.
Now when we cuddle on the hairy couch, I cradle
and stroke his silken face, murmur in an accent
my high school maestra would absolutely admire:
Qué lindo, qué lindo, buen niño, buen perro,
mi amor. His native tongue becomes a door.
I enter, see his body go rag doll in the hands
of my voice, eyes soften in the syllables of home.

2019
Hank

Yucca Haiku

July 4th, 2019

Anger wears poems
Like a tower of pale blooms
Rising from yucca.

2019

The Basement, 1982

July 1st, 2019

Eleven years old,
I closed the door against
The high, small, laundry window
To crouch before its glow
In the windowless family room. The TV—
An honest piece of furniture,
Brown behemoth, wide enough
To sport a huge doily dolloped
With a basket of dusty, silk flowers—
Held the forbidden.
Oh, Wooden Mother of HBO,
Bringer of The Blue Lagoon, thank you.
Barely a teen, Brooke Shields,
Shipwrecked, sick with fever,
Laid out on her back, prone breasts
Floating islands sponged
By her cousin, innocent,
Cooling her, his hand releasing rivulets
Across her, passed her fever
His fever to me
Down there, suddenly new.

2019

A Gender Traitor* Speaks

June 26th, 2019

Watch the darkening mouth.
You know when it’s coming.
The tone drop. The slurred slide
she makes into affected accent.
Almost British. Slightly swallowed.
Punctuated. Small gestures.
Brace (yourself). Give her credit
for (intellectual) property.
Buy a mountain together. Dream
circular interlocking living
spaces. Holding women.
Mythologize a circle of light.
Sip bottles under trees.
Take and become her brunt.
So young, lift her curtain of hair
from tequila toilets. Tenderly.
Purple teeth and (pending)
(complete) Ph.D. (always mean)
she’s right. She likes to put you
in your proper place. Beneath.
Best with men watching.
In Taos. Over basil and brie.
In dim basements and bars.
Her men stutter apologies
for her blackened chainsaw
tongue. You learn, lean toward
your own kind. Kind men.
Kind women. Kindred. Leave.
A lifetime later, she names you
gender traitor, spits the gavel
normative, normative, normative
at the tiny home, life, family, bodies
you built without her, like her,
inside against the ancient walls
of men. Be (un)impressed by names
she drops. Be erased by her
heroic herstory. Embrace erasure.
The truth, she says, has always
been difficult for you.

 

*Gender Traitor

“Gender traitor (derogatory): A person who supports attitudes or positions thought to be against the interests or well-being of their own gender.” Wictionary

“From 19th century anti-suffragists to today’s anti-feminists…women who turn against themselves.” Epigraph to “Gender Traitors,” Sally Feldman, The New Humanist

Gender Traitor: a gay, lesbian, or bi person. Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

“It’s… been a little weird for me, because ‘gender traitor’ is language you sometimes see applied to trans people now.” Alex Barasch interview, Slate

2019

We Were Little Girls

June 9th, 2019

for Tammy, Talia and Sage

We were little girls without breasts or hips.
Your skin light brown, mine bilirubin white.
You on a ten speed, me a dirt bike.
Five boys surrounded the building site.
It had been raining a long time. There was mud.
Rich honeybrown Illinois mud.

We stepped in gingerly, until –our thrill!—
we were up to our knees in liquid earth.
We wrestled there like girls, best friends,
not to hurt or dominate or pose for boys,
but for the fact of mud slick on our skin,
matting our hair, staining our terry cloth clothes.

I don’t recall the tactical wrestling
as much as the practical joy, Tammy,
the daring doing of something girls don’t do,
and the awe of boys who did not join us.
We walked home caked and proud as the sun sank low
to your little white house with red brick façade,

set up on a steep lot we used roll down like logs
despite itchy chiggers. We rang the doorbell,
grinning. “Hi, Mom!” we chimed loud.
Your mother’s blue eyes were huge and mock serious.
“Not in my house! Out back! Garden hose! Now!”
Remember? Squealing, we poured cold ropes of water

across the muddy continents of our girlhood,
brown rivers tracing the valleys of our knees,
flooding the plains of our hopeful chests and sloping bellies,
skinny arms and legs raising hair like new trees,
raising up the brazen women we would later be,
quaking in the half light of a late September.

2013