Selective Memory

March 10th, 2018

In every era of my life
I focus on what’s hard, groom with sighs.
Embracing moments, sure—
A student’s shine, three small detours,
Two diving laughs, a friend’s door,
Her fire road, his midnight pledge—
All while standing on a great ledge,
The dark vertigo of what more.

My boney, endless needs.
Here and there agree to disagree.
From plains to hills
To plains from hills
And back to hills again.
Looking back from every here
The ledges disappear
Or hone the beauty pain.

It seems my life is lovely, high or low,
And I’ll look back to now—
As black waves build to steal
My sweetest love into the deep,
And I am wind- and salt-stung, wading, braced—
And recall only the shore of him: solid, free,
Suction-soothed, grains shifting softly under me,
The moon waning in the morning grace.


Milky Way

March 9th, 2018

Silvia Barajas-Ceja once said,
“No bad thoughts while you bake
Or you’ll ruin the cake,” but I mixed
An inexplicable sadness in with the eggs,
And the cake baked just fine,
Except for when it sunk a bit when I opened
The door too early. Undaunted, sadness
Rose again like a chest after inhalation,
And goldened and fell again, cooling
On the stovetop. It didn’t matter.
You flip a three milk cake upside down
Anyway, and it should look flat,
Not domed. When my knife shagged
The wall of the cake and left a gouge
Right before I dropped it on the plate,
I didn’t care. Whipped cream hides
The dents, swaddles my sorrow
Like baby Jesus to feed my friends.
When they said it was the best cake
They’d ever had, my sorrow
Sparkled in their eyes, a milky way.


Event Horizon

March 9th, 2018

“You are approaching the crone,”
small babes in the room announce,
bouncing on young mothers’ knees.

Or rather, my uterus makes
a cosmic joke, opens like a black hole,
an event horizon of information
setting up my babes to have babies.

I’ve thrown out my seeds to be swallowed,
Lent rough arms, blue eyes,
Wide face, strong back, tough feet.

My fractals zoom in yet ever recede!
My holographic birds perch in distant trees!
“Fly home, fly home,” this old body drones,
But my feathers have long been released.

With thanks to “Sidebar: The Holographic Principle,” by JR Minkel, in Scientific American: “Quantum mechanics starts with the assumption that information is stored in every volume of space. But any patch of space can become a black hole, nature’s densest file cabinet, which stores information in bits of area. Perhaps, then, all that’s needed to describe a patch of space, black hole or no, is that area’s worth of information. The idea is called the holographic principle, after the way that a hologram encodes 3D information on a 2D surface…. ‘The world doesn’t appear to us like a hologram, but in terms of the information needed to describe it, it is one,’ Bousso says. ‘The amazing thing is that the holographic principle works for all areas in all space times.’”

Piñon Doesn’t

March 9th, 2018

Piñon doesn’t ask me how I am.

“Not fine,” I don’t say. “Tears have run
my eyes all morning.”

“Why?” its needles don’t ask.

I don’t say, “Because the one
I gave my life doesn’t want my hands,
Would rather fall alone.”

Piñon drops a cone.


Heat Haiku

March 4th, 2018

Electric heat blows.
Woodstove—cold ashes and coals
Unplug. Cut kindling.


Final Grief

January 29th, 2018

The edgeless hole
you left in my childhood
chest awaits.

I beg life. I beg you.
Let me lower
your body into that grave.

Let me shovel dirt
over every lost and never-made
memory of you.

Let me tuck you into earth
with my story,
hide you like a bone.

I’ll lean on my shovel and sob.
Roll out a rectangle of sod.
Lie over you like a dog.

I’ll sit up. Stand like sky.
Walk back into my life,
your living tombstone.


This Kind of Night

January 19th, 2018

Live among people who revel in quiet.
Let night be fully night.
Exit the dim house with Leo on leash.
House lights homely earth stars—
Sky has swallowed the neighbors.
Leo pulls me into darkness with his nose.
Roads wait black and silent minutes.
The giant empty sound gets inside.
Let’s sit on the winter porch and listen
Past midnight, see if quiet minutes
Churn to hours.

Leo gets nervous. A pack
Of valley coyotes howl. Their yipping
Such a tonal range of clownishness.
Think their laughter human.
Listen close for people chiming in,
As I would like to. Join the coyote din.
A second mountain pack
Starts up its echo ruckus in duet.
House dogs cough a husky bark or two
Of distant memory, genetic mourning
For a tongue now lost to them.
Leo squeals a whimpered beg to walk,
Not stop to listen to the night.

From middle of the road, we shuffle
To the shoulder, then a neighbor’s dark drive
When headlights beam their distant crawl
Toward us, throwing light through stands
Of piñon pine like flashlights cutting up
A wild colonnade. And our six legs. Like prey,
Long shadows scramble mad for cover.
Once the car has passed, its path a thinning hiss
Of asphalt kissing wheels, I hold my breath,
Look up at Taurus, almost disappear.

No wonder now—that cosmic gleam
In longtime locals’ eyes. This kind of night,
Given time, will have its way with everyone.
Make us not quite right for well-lit city life. There,
In debt, I shred my heart to pass through nets.
Swim in schools for coins and loans. Self-turncoat.
Jealous, uncomfortable, I’ve feigned fun shrugging off
The Crestone gaze, a bit too wild and bright
To live for bills alone. It dawns, this place
Will night my face, star my eyes. By then I doubt
I’ll even care if colleagues look surprised.


Walking the Green Belt

January 12th, 2018

Piñon desert paths remember
All our feet until the wind.

Post office bound, his dog ahead sniffing the way,
I swear I see my son’s size ten Converse tread

Of yesterday, homeward bound from school,
Slightly off the choppy sea of dog paws

And mule deer hooves, the scattered
Patterns of factory made soles in sand.

Imagining his solitary walk, I grin: his cheeks
Rosy with winter, blue eyes scanning

For prickly pear, then, the sudden upward glance
At sky, his left foot stepping just there.


Zen and the Art of Moving
Back into the Middle Class

December 26th, 2017

The new house starts out pure space.
We imagine living in it this way, empty,
Like monks or motes, needing nothing
But to float on light, to wake from a dream.

The trucks roll in with couches and beds,
Boxes of clothes we forgot we owned,
Too many dressers, four decades of Nat Geo,
Easels, two hand-me-down wheels and a kiln.

We break our backs on the chance
There will be time to paint, throw clay, collage.
(Where to store old paintings without a garage?)
Pans! Spices! Bowls! Books! Zafus! We’re home!

Space fills and fills like a mind. We settle in.
The couch is comfortable. Most of the clothes fit.
Enlightenment comes: we are not monks, but parents.
A teacher. A carpenter. A commute. A mortgage.

Left Pointer Finger Relearns her Place in the Scheme of Poetry

December 16th, 2017

Can she type now? Having lost her outer corner to a paper cutter, not unlike a jaunty, tilted beret lifted off by sharp wind, she donned flesh colored bandages a month, forgot how to work unencumbered by pain, accustomed now to pointing up like a tea pinky, up and out of the way.

(Her beret: a bit of faded pink me-jerky topped by white feather of nail. Grotesque little hat! I can’t throw you away! The day we parted, I dreamed of tossing you into roadkill in hopes a Sangre de Cristo raven would take you in and up like a Tibetan vulture’s prayer. But still you sit on a bedside shrine! Abject object of attachment! )

This poem, the first since then, is practice to get her moving again. Her fingerprintless tip, in pins and needles of severed nerve sleep, tries to remember an old dream. She doesn’t hurt anymore.

(Middle finger–still protecting her little sister–strains to hold back on the keyboard, slowly learns to step aside and let her walk again.)

Despite dried tension—the clear-scabbed, tick-sized fact clinging still to the middle of what is raw, she insists: Let me do it! I can type! Right thumbnail bumps her on her way to B. The little cringe passes quickly, whispers: best to keep a honeyed bandage on her one more day till all is finally thin, pink baby skin. What a miracle! Our edges crawl to close around a deep rose center.

December 15, 2017, exactly one month later

Our Range

October 29th, 2017

Even in two beds mountains apart—
An hour drive, two thousand plus feet of sky
Between—I whisper the usual to him, to night.

His name a sigh breathed against memory
Of his shoulder rising up a peak that falls to face & thigh.
Window streetlight sun glows wide behind.

To whom can I pray: spare this silken range of man.
Let us rise & rise. Warm with kiss & palm I climb,
My own eroding peaks in slow collide.


The Mississippi of Motherhood

October 17th, 2017

In the midst of rhapsodizing endless lost days spent at home with my children as babes, toddlers, kids—their faces terrifying lights of innocence looking up, trusting I’d give everything, which I mostly willingly did—those days before a black hole swallowed my resolve, my bed, my home, and finding myself now sitting with my 15 year old son, the baby, who’s lived with his father for years, watching the movie he chose, Colossal—not one I would choose, but touched, nonetheless, he wanted to watch it with me, knowing I’d like the fight sequences, which I mostly did—I am reminded of the Romantic sublime inside the silence of mothering, those eternal minutes, swept up in children rivers, not drowning, no resting, no branches, no bottom, just treading in place yet moving by giant steadfast current, no white water thrill, just slow and brown, the Mississippi of motherhood, water in my ears, shore out of sight, I could never fully surrender to the pull, nor to the brown depth, and yet, with only three years left in my last child’s childhood, I can think of no other timelessness I’d fancy more than the terrifying boredom of slow witness: the mystery of my boy’s voice cracking into man, his whiskers, his leg and armpit hairs thickening by the minute. Please, life, I beg: take my regret, mundane me to bliss, trade me my every regret for this.


The Deep Sleeper’s Scheme

October 14th, 2017

Our bed, a shallow tin—
I am the turning key.
Our blanket is the lid.
You are the cold sardine.
Come morning, snuggle in.


Reading your Copy of Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems

September 29th, 2017

I love to read your dog-eared book:
“No Tool or Rope or Pail,”
page one-fifty-nine.
“After the Argument,”
page one-thirty-one.
Of course, “since feeling is first,”
page one-twenty-seven,
and “The Middle Years,”
Ninety seven’s “Sonnet”
made me rush below.
Finding poems whose pure pages
you have innocently creased,
defaced for your own sake,
is like walking into a private sanctum,
reading in secret the stains,
the dapple of your mystery.

S Mountain

September 29th, 2017

Salidans love S Mountain, and so do I.
It reigns above the Arkansas,
Over little streets like a weathered ziggurat,
One road spiraling off its peak.
Though I’ve always clucked my tongue
At the sight of crosses carved or hearts
Or letters drawn on hills or mountain tops,
Somehow the giant S is a quiet marvel,
Especially when it peers above low clouds
Like Olympus watching over the town,
A place for bicycles, rafts and tiny gods.
A girl named Shea says the S stands for her.
A local preschool teacher/bartender
Says it actually is the number 5,
An oracle warning naïve nomads
How many jobs they’ll need to survive
Here in paradise.