What are You Doing
Among the Dead?

January 17th, 2017

In the dark I am crawling
on the bedroom floor of my sister’s cancer memory,
asking, do you need to pee?
We are whisper laughing.

I am waving
my arms, demonstrating
Shiva’s dance over the pygmy
of me.

Taking credit for love, I am dancing
at a Mexican Hindu wedding,
where I later leave a dead woman’s shawl hanging
on the back of a seat.

Dust is collecting
on two boxes of animal ashes: Mojo and Siami.

I am questioning the dream
of my father’s mother never smiling,
of my advancing lips, her turning cheek.

That photo? This is what I believe:
It was only a sunfrown she made, holding her new baby.
The story is mother’s mother was never mean.

The dead are storytelling me.

2017

That Burro on CR Y

January 15th, 2017

Early riser, that burro on County Road Y.
There is no herd to keep her company,
No fellow burro with whom to rub muzzles,
Take turns chewing burs from the other’s fur,
Brown teeth a loving vise, releasing seed
For the prairie. Fie the bur in her side; she’s made
Friends with a fence post, a couple rusty barbs,
Too alone to hex the couple in the bedroom
Down the road, laughing at her morning bray,
Wiping sex away with a red towel.

Boggle words: riser, burro, is, herd,
her, rub, burs fur, vise, fie, bur, side,
hex, sex, red

Confessions of a Hero Worshipper

January 15th, 2017

Have you made the desert
exodus, escaped enslavement
from the paper marriage,
that death warrant to wholeness?
Waters do part when they must.
Have you stopped hoping for him
to ride away with you to safety,
for half a woman to save?
In a room of one’s own, one finds
grace. My room was not a room
but my own face looking behind
my face. Dancing in my nudey pants,
I became my own pilgrim,
my own John Wayne,
the new policeman ruled
by the wisdom of forgiveness.
This was the last day
of my dance with duality,
my true marriage, my holy
matrimony. What is patrimony?
(Do not think too much about
the economic exchange of sex.)
You may want someone anyway.
Man, are you brave enough
to marry what needs saving
in you? When I look
in my own eyes, darling,
I see you, looking back.
It’s nice to know someone like you.
We could be the parents,
the heroes and heras
of the greatest generation.
Ignore those who say
not today.

2017

Our poetry group listed titles of books
picked randomly from shelves in the discard
section of the East Morgan County Library
(thanks to Timmy Fritzler, for that idea!)
Another poet, Brenda Wildrick, suggested
we use those titles to explore a theme.
Here are the titles I used:

Confessions of a Hero Worshipper
Exodus
The Paper Marriage
Death Warrant
A Room of One’s Own
Grace
Dancing in My Nuddy Pants (Nuddy changed to Nudey for the sake of assonance)
John Wayne
The New Policeman
The Wisdom of Forgiveness
The Last Day
It’s Nice to Know Someone Like You
The Greatest Generation
Not Today

Clockwork, or Ghost in the Machine

January 5th, 2017

Not enough of me
To pour into machine molds,
Missing teeth, I cannot fill
The silent, giant gears.
Metallic shriek: I turn
Against, into you.

2017

The Philosophy of Animals

January 1st, 2017

Sky never asks raven to stop being black.
It burps happy nihilism through the blue,
Drops poop on an island of the Cache la Poudre,
Perches in a stand of ponderosa pines above
A group of young drummers come to snub phones,
Pound hard then just enough to hear: the flute,
Twigs break, a rufous hummer suck red juice,
Bomb those with ruby throats. A sugar war.

This, far from my world of paperclips and bookish
Windowlessness, even farther from the South Platte
Where, seven miles north, a man chases opossum
From our drafty hen house to its proud egg stash.

Chickens watch the red light debacle, doze off.
Once-feral-cat slips through the old door’s cracks,
Past stacks of concrete blocks, to sip the heated trough.
Too young to know what owls and barking coyotes mean
Too young to linger with her single kitten in the barn,
She longs for touch, mews the dark back door,
Ignores her virile brothers’ glowing eyes in trees,
Sleeps in pick-up crannies ‘til the engine goes cold.

Come morning, I let her in, upset my fat Siamese who
Screams and squirts bright piss across the kitchen floor.
The new cat chases her in skids and thuds
Up narrow stairs, the attic room her private lair no more.

Books on New Year’s Eve

December 31st, 2016

TV tired of the stare,
Hummus, salmon, mandarins consumed,
The child’s chocolate wafers shared,
Facebook a bankrupt moon,
Over crumbs and a countdown dare
The family wonders what to do.

The woman opens poems.
The man, his mystery.
The child finds riddles hidden.
Quiet is a key.
No one looks up when
The metal vent bangs with heat.

31 December 2016

Boggle Love Poem

December 15th, 2016

I would loan my own—
No, better, I would
Make for you a coat,
Embroider all the words
For love in Latin,
Fill it with fine batting,
With a bit of Tao.

No, it would be a quilt,
Warmer than coal
Fuller than nil.

Born beneath it,
We two,
Despite the old ban,
Our breath a quiet lilt.

Earth would tilt anew,
Chase our canned heat
Like a con sun,
Like a dumb lab’s tail
And never rest.

The tin moon, jealous
Of the way our love lit
Up a continent,
Would quit.

2016
How to write a Boggle poem: Dust off your old Boggle game (remember? the one on the closet shelf sitting on top of five different kinds of Monopoly board games). Shake the letters, remove the lid, turn over the three-minute timer, and write a list of as many words as you can find. When the last grain of sand drops and time runs out, turn over the timer again. Write a poem for three minutes, using as many words from your list as possible. Among the words I found in this game were quit, tin, lit, lilt, bat, ban, con, quilt, bit, Tao, nil, lab, no, tail, it, and tilt. My sweetheart read me his word list, so I borrowed some of his findings, too: coat, coal, loan, can, and Latin.

Weltschmerz, or
How a Girl Saved the Pie

December 3rd, 2016

I was not thankful the morning
The girl listed all the people
She guessed for whom I was thankful.
She guessed everyone right.
I was fine with being wrong.

Despite a friend’s advice not to bake
When having negative thoughts,
I took the chance of ruining
Pumpkin pie.

With grand introduction,
In TV voice, the girl made me
The master chef of my own
Cooking show. I wanted
To smile. I couldn’t. I rolled
The dough, handed her the pin.
She rolled. I measured spice.
We took turns turning
Black spoons over the bowl.

The spices look like skin.
There’s mine, she said, cinnamon.
You’re this one!
Ginger, I clarified.
And Daddy’s here.
Nutmeg.
With pestle and mortar,
We hand-ground cloves
Looking like no one we know.

Stirred, we were a new skin
We couldn’t name.
And joy, buried beneath late November,
Knew I would remember
To tell you here.

24 November 2016
with thanks to Shea

two gratitudes

November 26th, 2016

thankful tonight
to be infinitely smaller
than all the tiny stars

thankful tonight
to not know which
are long dead

2016

Époisses

November 25th, 2016

Cheshire smile buried in the beard.
Creamy rye stuffed into a kiss.

Stinky cheese runs off with my man
And marries him in Paris.

2016

Super Moon

November 24th, 2016

When the moon comes up
it doesn’t care about my mantras.

When the moon comes up
it doesn’t think about the egg it will become.

When the moon comes up
I ignore the crackling fire I built to celebrate it.

2016

Well Up

November 23rd, 2016

In 1677, Leeuwenhoek scooped his joy
from a woman and leapt from bed.

“Before six beats of the pulse [had] passed,”

his microscope revealed a swell of sperm
damning the dry edge
of their pressed liquid world.

* * * *

La Rana clings to grasses on the shore,
yellow eyes following flies.

* * * *

Impenetrable paths, impenetrable paths,
the seeds of El Melon whisper until
someone cracks the rind.

* * * *

Is all a practice in welling up?

* * * *

I stand in the high desert
with an emerald umbrella.

* * * *

La Maceta breaks open,
roots too hungry for terra cotta.

* * * *

Giant blueprints of poems spill out.
Rewrite the ends.

* * * *

Judyth says,
Make sandstone altars to the ordinary!
Dig up, display your bones, your rusty implements!

* * * *

Leap from the dry edge!

2016

after Family Matters

November 5th, 2016
“Family Matters” by Alexandra de Kempf

“Family Matters” by Alexandra de Kempf

Birth dates sprout from our heads
As lottery numbers. Fill in the holes.
Shrug at losing the upper range.

Luck is luck and winning could be
As easy as family love, the array of digits
Ancients assigned to days
Marking our arrivals, departures
And fortunes like spirals.

Perhaps the history of humanity
Is ruled by golden ratios
Of hermit shells, phallic risings
Of red flamingo flowers,
Lineages of human bodies spinning outward,
Spaceward, 3-D DNA. Forget ladders.

Are you a ladder?
Has your health been hammered?
Is your sight obscured
By capital’s metastasis, brain blossoming
Cancer’s white words: not enough
Morphing into more, more? What’s eating you?
The writing is on the wall.

We’ve stopped reaching for each other,
Prohibited by policies banning touch
Learned by clicking state screens.
Print your HR certificate, file for proof.

Instead, we point, mouths wide, teeth bared
Not quite laughing, perhaps shocked
Or screaming. Do you know a rich man’s body
From his stack of bloody books?
Or her Universal Perfect Breasts from fruit
Or the font of bottles?

Don’t nurse. He owns you.
Gift your kids strange teddy bears
He sells so they can sleep alone.
Nestle in with Ambien.
Get six hours for work. Hope for eight.
Let them cry it out in the dark.
Soon they’ll need only a phone,
A silken screen, a monthly plan
To stay in touch.

Don’t bother counting years
Before your children go.
They fall away like leaves,
Lost lottery tickets
You forgot to cash in.

2016

Magnetic Poem Four

November 2nd, 2016

We haunt
Clean farm scent
Winter-soon stars
Little nests
Sky bound animals
Familiar pumpkin
Love bird inside
My kind of castle

2016

Growing Legs

October 31st, 2016

You lost what you called freedom in the lightning strike
Of conception. Cells split for months until you split,
Pushing the fleshy proof of interdependence out
From between streaked legs that could not
Walk away nor deny the tiny mouths of otherness,
The need to pour yourself into helplessness
Personified in bodies that broke off, broke out
Of yours, freed into air. Despite the erroneous belief
You nurtured in your early twenties—everyone
Is responsible for only themselves—you let your body
Teach you something new about love. This is what
Happens when you have grown six legs inside. Freedom
Returns when they, in turn, walk away from you
For good, and you can’t stop shedding. One day you do.
You almost start believing you have only one heart.

2016