Archive for the ‘2010’ Category

Snowwomen

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Snow lies upon
tries to cover

whiten our desire.
Desire becomes

only more pronounced
stark red grove

reaching, sagging
wet weight, all

else erased. Even sky.
I, too, have watched it

disappear only to find it
widen inside.

2010/2012

October Monarch

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

because Becca found cancer in October, when I always remember

There are butterflies
in my stomach— chrysalis

ache of acid turning
bitter legged worms into monarch

wings. I throw back my head
gaze at sky, open wide my mouth

let in light. They crawl my column
of breath past teeth

and tongue, perch on parched
lips, unfold and dry. Then one

by one leap! flutter! wing away
to warmer climes where they

eat flowers, lay eggs in someone
else’s grief and quietly die.

2010/2011

I danced around

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

I danced around
him because he
was a good lead.
I danced a dance
I couldn’t hear inside.
I could only follow,
and follow with halting
feet. A man likes to teach.
His hand on my lower
back, a nudge,
spin out, then tug,
dip, reach. I did it well
enough and smiled
for the show. I tried to add my own
steps, but bruised
his toes. I danced five,
then ten feet away,
and he stopped dancing
entirely. He watched.
He always said
he didn’t like to dance
alone. Someone laughed
at him as a child.
But I’ve always preferred to dance
solo. And when he
slowly worked his turns back
into mine, my hair
fanned out as he spun me round.
Back in his arms I
pushed him down, crawled up his legs
and spine, held his head
to the ground. Though he is strong,
he stayed there
long enough for me to run,
booed off the stage.
When he finally stood,
he didn’t cry or bow
and the crowd went wild.

2010

I was planted and my roots grew

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

That is what roots do.
Saguaro drowning in a swamp.

Arnica wilting on a beach.
Redbud leeched on desert plains.

Yet reaching into earth,
for sun, for what we need.

Where is the shovel?
Where are my hands?

These needles, this heart leaf,
these buds, too anemic,

too deep to wrench out
of ground and leave.

January 2010

Camping with my daughter and her friends

Monday, May 9th, 2011

I. Jose shares over crackle and smoke

If I could design what I was
I’d be the coolest thing ever:
I’d have antlers and angel wings
and I’d be a gorilla.

II. Learning to see while they swim

Clouds billow up blues beyond tubes,
depths beyond canvas. How to hook
this space in the heart?
(Girls in bikinis squeal.)

III. Teenage boys and waterfowl banter

Dude! Dude! Dude! Dude!
Like! Like, Dude!
Not EVEN! What
EVER!

2010

in Disney World, waiting for nigiri, sipping Ichiban, enduring karaoke

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

On a stage
two children
sing
we
are
the champ-
ions
off key,
and finally
there is
authenticity
in this too
perfect world
built for them
and their parents’
money.

2010

magnetic poem one

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Brilliant popsicle scent
Of carnival child
Murmurs time
Drips eternal corn
Remember the puddle

2010

Tres Leches en El Dia de Los Muertos

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

~for Rebecca Lynne Kellum Vanega

What I will set out for you, sister, is the cake you never made for your husband.
The recipe you printed wasn’t good. I found it on your desk days after your eyes flashed into death.

Three milk cake, it said.

Probably some gringa’s sorry attempt to recreate her magical Nicaraguan vacation.

Cake after cake I’ve made, searching for what is most luscious, most possibly the taste
that drove your search on the computer that day, months before you knew you were dying.

And they’ve all tasted ok, a bit dry, too coarse, not subtly sweet enough. Until now.

Silvia Barajas Ceja wrote her recipe down, said to have only happy thoughts while we bake, or the cake will be ruined. She has a story to prove it.

And the symmetry of the recipe promised life, promised unities, dualities, trinities, even pentacles of sweetness:

Of course, preheat the oven to the ever alchemical 350 degrees.

In the first bowl, combine what is dry: one cup of flour, one cup of sugar, one tablespoon of baking powder.

In the second, what is wet: the whites of five—yes, five— eggs, one for earth, one for air, one for water, one for fire, and one for mother space. Beat them into white peaks. Into their yolks in another bowl spin two more liquids: a half cup of milk and half-teaspoon of vanilla, liquid incense.

Thoroughly spiral the dry and wet into one, divide them again into two buttered, floured, circular pans. (You will want two. One to eat warm right away and one to chill for three hours. Silvia says it’s better cold. And patience has proven this is so.)

Be sure the oven window is clean because you won’t use a timer.
You will watch the discs rise, golden, done. Pull them from the heat.
Drop them upside down upon two plates.

Puncture the underbellies with countless holes. They wait to receive.

Now, in a third bowl, make a triskele of milk from mothers we’ll never know, and drop your purist snobbery: one 14 ounce can of La Lechera sweetened condensed (Yes, La Lechera. Don’t substitute, says Silvia, and I say, don’t think about the corporate corruption of Nestle. Remember: it will ruin the cake.), one 16 ounce can of Carnation evaporated, and one cup fresh milk—whole, not 2%. Lastly, add a teaspoon of vanilla, to marry the three. Blend them slowly, smoothly.

Lick the spoon. Again. Again. Then pour this cloud over each golden, swallowing sun.

The wet and the dry, again, one.

And I will whip the cream with unmeasured sugar and dollop your wedge and forget the berries as you would. This cake is about milk, after all.

I’ll leave it somewhere you will find it. Where are you?
You have whispered you are the blue in the outlet. I will turn on the light,
leave the cake on the table. This is the one you seek.

Fly into my eyes. We’ll eat.

2010

To my crow’s feet

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

You used to only fly from smile
or bright squint. I refused dark glasses,

afraid I’d miss reality, that grass
would be less vivid or artificially more,

or the sky a perpetual storm brewing.
I refused sunscreen, afraid chemicals

would be worse than too much UV.
You dug your toes in deep.

Now, at thirty eight, you do not wait
for smiles and cloudless days. You write

the history of my happiness
like a map, hieroglyphs, Braille.

My blind fingers read your rayed geography
reaching over cheekbones toward windy hair.

I wear dark glasses, slather night
and sun cream, study your slow sure gait.

I’ve cried. But you, you fly, raise
my face, lift my gaze above

what can be seen of me
to the sun of me in your beak.

2010

In the beginning

Friday, February 4th, 2011

If
for whatever reason
when I grew from colliding invisible cells
one a drifting still cocoon
one a swimming moon with tail
both composed of hugging
trembling molecules
and
smaller still
atoms
charged planets chasing each other
in vast microscopic space
around endless little suns
little suns just more empty space
glowing inside with quarks
self existing lights in space reaching
for other lights
colliding
dividing
multiplying
always beginning and dying
then I am satisfied it all begins
like this
for whatever reason
though I like to think it is love.

2010

Deboned

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

whenever
i debone
a bird, i see
how she
might
have moved
as she
walked
and pecked,
preening
feathers
for flight
(not quite),
how muscles
into which i rip
were once full
of blue hum
and chicken spark.
eating this small god
i pray to be
opened,
swallowed
by sky,
this stark.

2010

Listen

Monday, November 29th, 2010

The world requires doing and noise.
And when doing slows,
and sound,
sound moves around inside. We want
to follow
where it goes and get
lost in a decade old desire—
blue eyes
just before the mourning dove
kiss, or
in the mist of the next decade when no
young boys
will thump through
the silence
holding them like a mother who listens
and knows why
there is war in the world.
We cannot
stop it, and neither can she,
these ornaments of silence, ringing.
We can only notice spaces
between, silence
underneath,
hold them,
release.

2010

Quincy Grass

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

One eternal morning of childhood, the sun begins
to sift haze above the Mississippi River

before trees grab the lowering light. Not far away,
in a small subdivision full of muddy lots waiting

for houses and supplying children with the dirt clod
that will, tomorrow, bust open one boy’s eyelid, a little girl,

the youngest of three children –the fragile, coddled one—
hunches in her pilled pink polyester nightgown over a small

fur-lined nest of baby rabbits at the bottom of the hill
behind her home. They look like the bottoms of her father’s

Sunday naptime toes, nestled tight: absurd toes
with closed eyes,  greasy transparent ears, tiny feet.

She gently strokes the back of each one. It is quiet.
Suddenly she is afraid. There is a stand of trees

behind her, shading where she squats in wet grass,
and beyond that, a long brick house holding her mother

vacuuming, or wiping from the kitchen table the dab
of milk beneath her cereal spoon, or looking out

the kitchen window above the sink, wondering where
Rachel has run off to. There she is. The girl pads barefoot,

panting openmouthed up the hill, through the sliding glass
door of the walkout basement, up carpeted stairs

into the dining room. “Mommy! There are baby bunnies!
They are pink!” Her mother folds the wet cloth lengthwise

three times and drapes it over the long silver faucet.  She insists
Rachel wear slippers. Together they walk across green lawn

around the trees. When she sees the rabbits tucked so helplessly,
obviously, into a burrow of grass in the middle of the yard,

she tells Rachel, “Don’t touch them, honey, so their mother
will come back.” And Rachel knows then that she has killed them.

She doesn’t tell her mother as they walk hand in hand
through the house’s shadow, back up the hill that is only large

because she is so small.  Later that afternoon, when she sneaks
out on bare tip toe to look at them once more, the nest is empty.

Her brow creases. She peers across the taller grasses beyond the edge
of lawn, but can’t see down deep. She studies the roots of the trees.

They are nowhere. Twenty nine years later, three days
after Rachel’s little sister dies of cancer, and before she is lowered

into a water-filled grave, her mother drives away.  The mud
is carpeted with two long rectangles of perfect sod.  Driving

past the old house with her three children, Rachel sees the hill
is only a gentle slope, though it once went down forever.

3 October 2010

One eternal morning of childhood, the sun begins
to sift the haze above the Mississippi River,

before the trees grab the lowering  light. Not far away,
in a small subdivision full of muddy lots waiting

for houses and supplying children with the dirt clod
that will, tomorrow, bust open one boy’s eyelid, a little girl,

the youngest of three children and the sickly, pampered pet,
hunches in her pilled pink polyester nightgown over a small

fur-lined nest of baby rabbits at the bottom of the hill
behind her home. They look like the bottoms of her father’s

Sunday naptime toes, nestled tight: absurd toes
with closed eyes,  greasy transparent ears, tiny feet.

She gently strokes the back of each one.
Suddenly she is afraid. There is a stand of trees

behind her, shading where she squats in the wet grass,
and beyond that, a long brick house holding her mother

vacuuming, or wiping the kitchen table of the dab
of milk her discarded cereal spoon left, or looking out

the kitchen window above the sink, wondering where
Rachel has run off to. There she is. The girl pads barefoot,

panting openmouthed up the hill, through the sliding glass
door of the walkout basement, up the carpeted stairs

into the dining room. “Mommy! There are baby bunnies!
They are pink!” Her mother folds the wet cloth lengthwise

three times and drapes it over the long silver faucet.  She insists
Rachel wear slippers. Together they walk out on the green lawn

around the trees. When she sees the rabbits tucked so helplessly,
obviously, into the burrow of grass in the middle of the lawn,

she tells Rachel, “Don’t touch them, honey, so their mother
will come back.” And Rachel knows then that she has killed them.

Aching, she doesn’t tell her mother as they walk hand in hand
through the house’s shadow, back up the hill that is only large

because she is so small.  Later that afternoon, when she sneaks
out on tip toes to look at them once more, the nest is empty.

Twenty nine years later, three days after her younger sister dies
of cancer and is buried in a water-logged grave carpeted

with two long rectangles of perfect sod, she will see that the hill
was only a gentle slope, though it once went down forever.

3 Oct. 2010

there is some life somewhere living itself without me.

Monday, September 13th, 2010

there is some life somewhere living itself without me.
it is the one
in which my eleven year old son has never said you make me
want to kill myself
.
it is the one
in which i always let stillness,
silence and spaciousness move, speak and think me.
it is the one
in which my lover knows  when we are done
with the lemon dill chicken, his doing the dishes means
thank you.
it is the one
in which he holds me in just this way
whether or not the children are around,
in order for me to meet
the next week a whole woman, not a woman of holes.
it is the one
in which i wake up, rise from bed with grace
and quiet mind toward sleeping children,
warm water, blue bowls of milk.
it is the one
beneath all this, already seeded, buried too deep in soil
to find light, or,
it is the one
sprouted, but i’ve forgotten where i planted it,
and the weeds have grown up so high i’m lost, parting leaves,
cutting my arms on blades of green, looking, looking.

2010

Three Songs in E for Mojo

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

I.    In the mouth of an all-black and white-tipped dog
The morning on the mountain she tried to run off with my son’s placenta, recently buried under a pine seed, by then breaded black with soil, flapping up and down with every joyful bound of her puppy feet, I knew she had come to teach me about loyalty. Not her loyalty to me, which comes so easily, but mine to her after the slap of her eating a part of me, an aged organ I grew to feed a baby. That it fed her, too, made me snap into two sticks of anger.  I kicked her twice. I’m ashamed to say it now. Please forgive me. I had been too proud. But by the end of my then twenty-ninth year, her first, I had listened to enough stories to know she was cousin to Coyote and Raven, had come to pull the solid, serious earth of my birth ritual out from under me and laugh.  She dug up the mossy dark belief I had grown to grow me, the need for my body to be holy, and showed me that even I am only meat.

II.    Living her last life as a dog, a mirror

Eight or fifty-six years later, mornings in a plains town before heading to work and from three children, missing mountains, lost in the high desert of my own cactus longings, I’d sit on a round cushion trying to be in my life and breathe.  Mojo, amber-eyed, would sit crooked on her bad hip, a foot away, look me unblinking in the eyes, black nose wetting mine, and breathe, waiting in her own longing. To eat. To pee. For my fingers to find her waxy silk ears and knead.

III.    Also, because I nearly always forget the plastic sack

Now, more and more, instead of sleeping we walk streets.  Not alleys, where goatheads pierce her feet. Not sidewalks, where she is prone to stop hard and fast, so suddenly, miraculously heavy over scent, a leaden shadow over the base of neighbors’ trees.  Mojo, please! Come! I lean on the leash, my need to move outweighing her need to smell stale pee.  The street keeps us focused on walking, her toes clicking me back and back to here, to my smiling pink tongued midnight on a black leash. Here, to this small tarred street under almost stars. Here, to this god who has fed me her heart for eleven, for seventy-seven years, a bit short of leg for an almost lab, as Bhanu said, but lovely.

2010