Midnight Transmission Reading

November 25th, 2020
Walking the Burn
Blue Daughters
Sutra for Letting Go of Aversion
Minefields

For more Midnight Transmission readings, please visit Jesse 5-0 Productions.

Mother Dharma

November 20th, 2020

A child is a slow

moving thought

you watch.

Its departing birth

a new entrance,

subtle, inching back

into into into you.

You surrender

your eyes, let it

commandeer hands,

arms and legs,

eat your heart,

guts and brain,

become your bones,

your size, watch it

dissolve into a dazzling

dangerous world,

into its own child.

Helpless, welcome

it like sky burial:

child into child

into child burial.

Embrace the lineage

of generous forgetting,

your liberation.

 

2020

Midnight Transmission Promo

November 18th, 2020

Enjoy this new late night reading series hosted by Diné Nation poets Jesse T. Maloney and Orlando White, transmitting the Word from the Rez. It was an unforgettable experience for me–an honor to read with such powerful women and be buoyed up by that smart, gentle audience in the digital realm. Jesse and Orlando are everything you want in a host: gracious, kind, humble and humorous AF. Clips from the evening will be posted soon.

The crumble on the muffin was connecting with an audience member who is the daughter of my most beloved college mentor, Dr. Joellen Jacobs, the woman who, nearly thirty years ago, walked me into the house of poetry, holding my hand through every image and cadence of Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and, later, Stevens’ “The Snow Man.” I found a home. The sonic, imagistic and philosophical joy I experienced in these two poems have guided my aesthetic choices for decades.

I hate to say it, but what a trip when it’s true: it’s a small, small world.

D-Con

November 7th, 2020



We found his box of green pellets, stuffed

the poison in our cheeks, carried it away

to a high place out of reach of the children:

a plastic bag of pillows dangling from a top bunk.

We tried not to swallow en route, leapt the chasm,

made a dozen deadly green deposits in the pillows,

hoped against hope the toxic dust would not

dry us up, turn our blood against our own hearts.

In the meantime, in the daily hurried rituals

of scurry, gather and hide, barely sleeping,

we forgot where we tucked away our riches.

When it snowed, a woman found our pine nuts

in her snow boot. When she spilled her coffee,

grass seeds cached in towels high on a shelf

spilled out like confetti into her mouth. The next day,

stuck to threads of a cotton nest chewed into a mattress

pad stored under the bed, she found our mother

a brown, dried horror husk, mealworms long dead

in the small bowl of her skull, the ribs of her chest.

 

2020

Grocery Store Orchid

November 7th, 2020

I’d never buy one.

It was a gift from a woman

who believes in me. 

Quite soon

the stalk yellowed,

flowers drooped and fell.

The orchid, my orchid,

spends most of its life 

as leaves, teaches 

under water me

by spilling over, dying off, 

teaches wait for me 

and time, as always,

is beauty’s only currency.

2020

The Old Phones

October 30th, 2020

The old phones were family pets,

shared, oily, of heft, a comfort, 

yet also retractable weapons

you could chuck at your sister, 

black her eye and reel in

like a slick catfish. Yes, they were 

small, warm bodies or, at least, body parts, 

you could innocently fondle, a young cat 

cradled against your neck with spiral tail 

you could wrap around yourself 

a dozen times, a DNA boa, a fetus 

whose umbilical cord could stretch 

across the kitchen, down the stairs,

through the hall, pulse invisibly under 

your door where you could wait forever 

on the floor for that boy to say something 

into the dark shell of your ear floating 

inside the flowered womb of your plush 

carpeted bedroom. You could listen 

to his busy signal, the silence inside

his steady breathing, all heart 

beats. You could hear the voice

of your mother in the distance,

humming receive, receive, receive.

2020

handbuilding us

October 10th, 2020

love scores me / slips me 

sticks me / smooths me 

to you before we / grow leather hard

carves its / name into this

body we’ve become / fragile greenware

handed into fire / one earthen vessel

we hope for no fissures / we hope to hold

whatever we must / water wine blood 

even cracked / a bowl can hold 

almonds pencils / seedling coins dust

2020

your heart an opus

October 6th, 2020

three dimensional muscle

sculpture in your chest, yes, baby,

she said, we forget

2020

with thanks to Wendy Videlock

Stained

September 23rd, 2020

I wrap all my bright
jagged shards in lead, solder
their seams, hold them up.

2020

Sutra for Letting Go of Aversion

September 18th, 2020

You carry it in your pocket,
the great joiner and divider.
You carry it; it is not a shackle.
Shiny, flat world you unlock
with holy number to access
poems, gallery, mailbox,
camera, classroom, memory,
algorithmic Ouroboros news
feeding you you, yes, you:
your sudden mysteries and blue
morning dread, headlined
heart palpitations custom
collected For You by algorithm
that can’t comprehend truth,
only what the data knows you
demand: to feel furious, righteous,
ignited by the state, the smokey world.
You want more and more to be
satirically amused, rope-a-doped
with hope. You want to flick through
the bottomless scroll, dive,
kick deep for the story, that final
story that will stitch, wrap, drain
every awful wound. Helpless, lonelier
than primordial God, you uninstall
His newest news app. Undressed,
without hope or fear, observe
the busy emptiness. Bathe
in it, remember how you rode it,
your aversion nothing but a board
numbers buff to keep you surfing.

2020

A Boring Movie

September 10th, 2020

Halfway through the night, he’s up for hours for months.

To sleep again, he’ll read, drink tea, perch on the heater.

Earlier, after dinner, we always sit close to watch a show.

Tonight I ask him for a word. Airplane, he mumbles.

This is my new favorite way to surf Netflix, I say.

I search “airplane” and find what you might expect.

Leslie Nielsen. Every kind of flight disaster film. Cartoons.

War planes. History documentaries. Survival stories.

Highjacking heroes. And this run-on-titled gem:

Relaxing White Noise: Airplane Sleep Sounds White Noise –

Jetliner Plane Flight for Sleeping, Relaxation, made,

obviously, for people who trust pilots, mechanics, engineers—

long-legged men who say yes to the emergency exit seat,

not their short-legged wives who read and re-read

the laminated wordless cartoon instruction sheet.

The soundtrack is romantically ideal: pure, airy engine sound

unpunctuated by coughs, crying babes or conversations

between loud flirtatious strangers sharing a row. Visually,

the film loops a CGI of a Relaxing Airways jumbo jet

soaring through a sky of endless wispy popcorn clouds.

Fluidly panning, we see the plane from above, the side,

float over the wing, linger on the tail logo, back off,

sink below the wing at a distance, look up at an angle,

follow from behind, pass a yellow sun, catch a glinting sea,

rise to birds’ eye once more, shift slowly down to the nose,

pan windows along the length to the tail, land again

on the logo of a sleeping woman’s head on a pillow.

And so on and so forth for an hour and fifty-nine minutes.

Fifty in, he wakes. What are we watching, he asks.

White noise, I say. Uh, he says, and sleeps. I type.

The plane flies in one direction. I am moving around it.

Or, I am still and the plane is turning slowly, showing off.

I look up from time to time, learn by heart the order of the loop.

He sleeps. Really this is not a bird’s but a god’s eye view.

When I am in the sky, I never imagine the possibility

someone, somewhere, could be watching the machine

from above, the vessel in which I am so small, a face

in a window, confined to unfeathered body and two eyes,

photographing clouds below. The wing is slightly in the way.

I crop the shots to hide my helpless state. Memorizing

light on cirrus, finally relaxing my grip on him, I do not sleep.

2020

Sumo Wrestling
in the Time of Trump

September 7th, 2020

Come here, darling,
bring your giant underbelly,
four hundred years of pain
stuffed inside. Here is mine,
too, jiggling with the dark weight—
millennia of white woman servitude,
we two burdens no longer enslaved
in black body or angelic mind.
Trembling with engorged pride
grown over centuries to protect
our fragile kindness, our kind,
confused in our new little powers,
we advance on each other,
misdirected rage coalescing
in a farcical, rippling spectacle
of flying sweat, hugging grips,
crumpled faces, cartwheel flips,
shifting feet, crushed belly flesh,
until the ring becomes a bed
and exhausted we collapse
each into the smallest dolls
of our nested selves. Wooden
histories shed, we search: bones
stretched over by thinning skin,
eyes—liquid gifts asking somehow
to enter the other, be forgiven.

For further reference, read Rudyard Kipling’s
“The White Man’s Burden” (1899) and Coventry
Patmore’s “The Angel in the House” (1854).

2020

Reluctant Inhabitant

September 1st, 2020

A Danish woman with blond dreadlocks drives up
in a newish Subaru, its bumper dent a concave bowl, to buy
her barefoot boy—also blond, curly echo of my grown sons—
a breakfast burrito. Hermit I’ve become, I see her each time

I drive through town to pick up mail or milk: there she is
perched on low walls across the street from the pub,
or on a coffee house bench, bright summer dress flowing,
sipping matcha, calling to her children in a sister tongue.

Early motherhood granted me a similar, darker beauty,
that lonely freedom. I hungered for any confirming glance
for proof I was more than untouchable mother-flesh,
reluctant inhabitant of that mortifying ambivalence.

2020

Big Boy

September 1st, 2020

A small boy crawls expertly out of the back window
of an expensive SUV with its share of dents,
a twenty flapping in his outstretched hand, shoeless,
padding into the heart of a town that loves him.
A man at the gas pump calls hello, his name,
and the boy waves the bill at him joyfully,
disappears into the belly of the organic grocery.
He emerges with three large bottles: two orange juices
and kombucha, manages to waddle back to the car,
successfully pass them up through the driver’s side
to his beautiful mother, who takes a big swig
before passing one bottle back to his sister
in her car seat and the other to him, her big boy,
already past the sill, safely strapped in, reaching.

2020

striae

August 21st, 2020

grasses mingle with cactus
smoked light striates a flat peak
horizons shift at every step, small losses
thin mantle of damp desert cracks
exposes dust an inch beneath my boots
enough wet for a bit more August green
thunder walks me up hill a new way
to happen upon a peeling almost stupa,
stop, cautiously bow to sacred neglect,
someone’s vague religion, follow
my tracks back to the fork where I left
the usual trail to meet the ponderosa
who daily receives my pause to inhale
the sweet bark, a backwards prayer
of wordless promise, protection
for the three who broke off of me

2020