Why He Works

September 1st, 2014

Not for money, though it drips in.
But for the fact that bathroom pipes
Need not freeze in winter
Nor tile stink of mold and urine
Nor laundries think of dungeons.

Further, our food is nearly free
If this bit of turned and seeded earth sips
Like clockwork from porous black hoses in shifts
So every motherwort and yarrow, nettle,
Watermelon and hidden toad has her turn.

And generous, compassionate weeds—
Full of their own wisdom and stealth
Which even the best of us overlook or poison—
Mulch-stopped, need not choke heirloom tomatoes,
So red can vine on heat and cool our tongues.

And what of chickens? They, like us, he knows,
Love four walls around their evenings
And roosts for sleeping, and run of earth
Safe from swooping hawks and clever foxes
Where they can dream of eggs and worms.

Finally, an ancient shack, ripe with every kind of cat
And rodent excrement, in his mind and hands transforms,
Becomes a careful plan to keep our friends warm
While western sky shines through two windows
He framed above our heads so we might look up.


Here in the Barn

August 8th, 2014

Here in the barn
In the bardo
Of my body
Roosters learn
To rest with
Gentle hens.


Garden Variety News

June 24th, 2014

North winds blew the paper news
Out from under crookneck squash.
Words weighed down by yellow straw
Flopped upon the sprouts of beans
Who bowed and almost snapped.

We’d laid it down for water’s sake,
To suffocate the weeds, but compost
And blue thunderstorms didn’t bother
To read about the captured soldier
Who’d faced the desert as if he were free.



June 14th, 2014

This morning
Space was a golden mother
Without body
Whose body was also mine,
Whose breath was the sky
Playing ocean.

I didn’t know
Where I was
But home.
I was the child
A mother cannot help
But love.

I was the mother
Of the naughty,
Golden child
Making room
On my vast lap.

Go ahead, we said,
Personify what you can’t
If that is what it takes
To break you
Open like bread.


Buddha Sends Her Son to Bible School

June 11th, 2014

Morning light is low
And yellow. Dirt roads
Of the small town glow.

Cattle on the outskirts
Shine like gold.
It’s early June.

Buddha drops off
Her son, now eleven,
At Bible School
With his best friend
To learn the stories
From which she grew
Like dandelions.

Everyone needs
In which to root.

From behind the windshield,
She sees young mothers
In long, sleek skirts.

Their hair is clean and filamental.
Their shoulders are not bare.
They carry babes on soft hips,
Hold small, washed hands.

Plump greeters in cartoon t-shirts
Smile at the welcome table.
A breeze moves their white hair
In waves like rows of wheat.

Cowboys for Christ,
A bumper sticker reads.

A puff of cottonwood floats
Through the passenger window,
Past Buddha, out the driver’s side.

The air is so many flowers sweet.
She sees only a peony
The color of lipstick.

Unexpected grief rises in her body
While she drives home.

The joy of congregation.
The shame of we’ve missed you.
The Spirit throbbing her throat.
The day it lost its name.

Perhaps she could return
To church.
One metaphor as good a door
As any,
If one remembers metaphor
Is only a door.

The morning passes.

Later, planting seeds with her
In prairie dirt, the boy confesses:

If the Holy Spirit, that part of God,
Is in each one of us, why do we sing
In soft, high voices “Only God is Holy”?
I don’t like to sing that song.

Later still, sunburnt, the boy
Sips water at the kitchen table,
Speaks of baptism in the name
Of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Buddha asks him, Where’s the mom?

His eyes search the space of the room
As he relates the shortest scripture:
Jesus wept. For Lazarus, his friend.

He then quotes God who spoke in flames,
I am who I am. The bush roared bright with anger.

And further, I am the Lord God,
And there is no other besides me.

Confusing books of the Old and New Testament,
He proudly pronounces numbers after many names,
Uses new words: Isaiah, Exodus and verse.

Buddha remembers when she first learned
I am that I am,
Considers who and that and Popeye’s what.

Her son declares this week
The best of his life
Though neither he nor his friend
Found it fair, at first,
When they didn’t win
A prize by school’s end.

That’s bull, his friend had said.

When their teacher realized
Her mistake, she gave them
Each their just reward:

Matching water bottles
For good behavior
And a flashlight to share
For memorizing God’s word.

There is no belittling light
Of any kind in its becoming sound.

Buddha wakes up
In the way words become flesh
And dwell among us.



June 3rd, 2014

Watched pots boil.
Watched seeds sprout.

Only space
And patience

Give out.


Coronation of Kingbirds

May 27th, 2014

All morning the Cassin’s Kingbird
Mistook our bathroom window for sky.

Yellow belly black beak
Black beak yellow belly

Could not crack the why
Of that blue shell.

Upon each failure he’d perch
A foot away, consider the shining wall

With blinking black eyes,
The softest crown of grey.

He couldn’t see the concern
Of black and white

Lovers on the other side, nor hear
Our not unkind laughter

At his error—we who had
Already been bruised and crowned,

Having found what he sought
Behind the glass.


Simultaneous Contrast

May 16th, 2014

The wind is blowing
In the direction
The heifers face.

Indoors and kitchen-warm, I assume.

Here, my man’s high levels
Of natural attention turn me

On: carrot rounds,
Slivered green and yellow rinds
Of half-mooned squash,
Smirks of red and yellow
Sweet peppers, onion piled
Purple on bamboo board.

Each one equally machine-thin
By his blade and angles, his
Down-neck, his black-brown wrist.

This isn’t perfection
Or anxious precision
Or fear of variability—
His sustained vision
Of what is simple
In hand, moving.

Before us, our window.

Without camera,
This is what I have:

White-tipped, green t-posts
Holding up paneled squares
Of last week’s goat fence,
Standing as receding elevens
Framing unplanted earth.

Behind this: weathered electric pole
Parallel to seven wind-torn elms,
Evenly spaced like a plan
For solitude and shade.

The fourth tree’s top: broken off,
Hung up in the arms of the next,
Twenty feet up, parallel to the ground,
The wind’s tori gate.

Behind this: evenly dispersed herd
Of red heifers, everyone mouth-to-earth,
Bowing to green, everyone facing south.

The retina competes with itself
To have it all. We can’t help but stare,
Unaware of this registration
Of beauty born of visual distress,
The vibration of complements.

Don’t look for symbolism here.
This is about irresistible looking,

The way space plays,
Moving hues between
Your eyes and the horizon.

Soon, while stir-fry waits
For acini di pepe to swell,
The cattle turn, everyone facing north.
Direction is not always about wind.

My lover says they are eating
Their way to bed.


Black Rosehips

May 7th, 2014

Rosehips shriveled black,
unpruned by the year’s white shears,
will not flavor tea.

2011, 2014


May 2nd, 2014

It is
To be
There is
To love
In the
Of it.