Not Broody, but Dying

April 24th, 2015

Four days after he found Geoffrey Greg Brown
sprawled dead
on her side in the run—blocking the door,
I found Rosie face down
under the roost, buff wings folded neatly
like a proper lady,
head tucked beneath herself like the curl
of a question mark.



April 23rd, 2015

Frogs chirp in rounds in the muck
of what’s left of April’s farm pond.

20 years ago, a rancher pulled a calf
out of the hole in its ice
with rope, plywood and a pickup.

I open windows at bedtime to listen.


Healthy Choices

April 22nd, 2015

Twelve-hour work day?
Watch a two-hour war film
Instead of sleeping.


Elegy for Geoffrey Greg Brown, a Fine Hen

April 20th, 2015

When the first chicken you ever loved
Dies of unknown causes
While you are out of town,
And your practical partner
Tells you he has tossed her
In the dumpster, do not judge him.
Pull her out when you return,
When time permits a burial.
Examine her brown plumage,
Recollect the story of her mystery,
How she joined this flock
From who knows where.
Marvel at the joy of unknown origin,
Clandestine breeds.
Remember how she squatted,
Stomped her feet for you
To stroke her velvet back?
Imagine a year of her brown eggs
Bloomed now in your musculature.
Notice in her current limpness
She was more than body—
Clever, friendly, generous bird
Full of electricity and hope.
How she would chase you
Carrying the compost bowl!
Remember her gentle beak
Stealing seed from your palm,
The way you wished the others
Would learn her etiquette?
She is lighter, smaller now.
Her head lolls side to side
On the walk to the shed,
Her eyes two shriveled sockets.
Where is the animal you loved?
You dig where water has run off
The roof of an old outbuilding
And made the ground soft.
Your shovel finds its way with ease.
Sing simple syllables over her,
Curb the urge to wish
Her constant ghostly presence.
Even chickens must move on.
Spread her perfect wing.
Try to take her feathers
With bare fingers.
When that fails, find scissors
In the kitchen.
Pluck two from the neck,
Cut two from the left wing
To share with your youngest son,
Who, like you, knows the power
Of a good name and called her Geoffrey
After you named her Greg Brown.
She never knew her names,
But Brown and Neruda
Were wrong about chickens.
Sit her up in her new nest.
Gather brown upon brown.
Set a log on end.
Promise to carve her name.

with love and thanks to singer/songwriter,
Greg Brown, for the story after this song.

Wont to Do

April 19th, 2015

On this night
of our second anniversary,
Venus burns her lamp
remarkably bright.
How odd, I thought,
pocketing my own small
flashlight. I couldn’t help
but guess she and Mars
were arm in arm
on their walk through
the pasture, too,
but they are not
as close as we are.
He went down and she
shone all alone,
mopping up the aftermath
as love is wont to do.


To Gravity

April 18th, 2015

At last up the sled hill
With boys who both
Outweigh me now,
We give ourselves
To gravity like children
And snow.

Leadville, CO

She asked for it

April 17th, 2015

Give me a good one liner
And I just may let you live.

I’m already dead.
Nice try.
That’s not my one liner.
Go ahead, I can’t be killed.

Point blank.
I don’t tremble.
Sunflowers sprout from my eyes.
My arms become a flock of snow geese.
My body, the prairie sky.
My legs, a washboard road.
She walks it, lost.


…his snore to keep

April 16th, 2015

Morning in my arms
when he gives
himself utterly
to the unselfconscious
proboscis of sleep,
and breath catches
deep in the center
of his innocence,
contentment makes
of me the lord
of a shoreless sea.


Road Rage

April 14th, 2015

Under a tipping moon
a road of decomposed granite
no one ever drove
woke sweating from a nightmare
of fast food and pavement.
Its twisted ponderosas
and shallow rooted firs
became mountain chalets
and firewood. Tires!
it growled, and begged the rain
to sharpen its teeth.


In the Graveyard of my Body

April 13th, 2015

In the graveyard of my body,
I bury the bean of my sister.
Sometimes she’s a cherry.
Peach pit. Cilantro seed.
She branches new from
Vine or trunk or stem
Bearing white petals
Around a black eye
Or lemon fruit or
Giant butter beans
I stew with ham
In which I dip corn bread
To stuff my mouth
With my favorite love song
Sopping wet and simple.

Other times she is mica,
Flecked stone full of mirrors,
The bone carved owl
In her Illinois grave,
A house sparrow egg
Thrown from the nest.
Fools gold pours
From my heart while I sleep.
A dark duo of whos
Measure the distance.
See the drab bird alone, flitting?
Watch her build a nest up high.
Some feathered thing disappears
Into cirrus like a bean stalk
I’m not afraid to climb.