Archive for the ‘2017’ Category

Walk

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

On the sage straddled trail, green and brown shards perform an earthen version of stained glass windows. Before the path goes black with smelting slag, I let him off leash, stuff it dangling from my back pocket. Leo, the Aussie mystery mix, free to roam, walks beside me, looks up for approval from my left, as if to say, See, I am good, until the wind pulls him by the nose here and there, and he stops to drop his drops upon the world, his yellow approval, his self assertion: I am here. Even emptied, still he tries. He weaves ahead and back a dozen times, a weft between us. I sing his name—his favorite word, followed by an even better one, the one that makes him tremble, shout in Dog his best English in the family room: Walk! Walk! Wao-aao-aaao-lk! I sing both words, for maximum effect, to see him moved: “Leo and Mama goin’ on a walk, walk walk, walk walk!” and he begins to dance, circle me, tongue-smiling, prancing, passing behind my legs. I wind him up with happy staccato, “Walk walk, walk walk,” dancing myself now, snapping my fingers. He tosses his head against the swinging leash, snatches at it with his mouth, steals it from my pocket. Something dawns. I laugh, he pauses, waits for me to hook his collar, reaches back, takes control of the leash with his teeth, yanks me holding the other end. We walk in the joy of being tied together, our mutual tether. I sing and sing our names. Our feet lift dust. We walk each other. Walk, his word for love, the leash between us worn and red.

2017

Post Impression of a Barmaid

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

Edouard_Manet,_A_Bar_at_the_Folies-Bergère

My hands could not decide
how to rest on the bar.
Arms at my sides—aloof, unmoored.
Arms crossed, holding one wrist—on guard.
Fingers interlaced look like teeth.
One hand resting on the other—maybe lazy.
Arms wide, each hand clutching the nearest edge,
wrists out—an open beckoning.
Ready to serve.
Watching the kindly crowd,
something flickered, overlaid.
Somehow I became her, remembered
many years of serving bored, weary students
the image of the barmaid of Folies-Bergère*.
Her stance denies the welling vacant eyes.
Object of the bourgeois gaze, see
how she looks upon us, her patrons?
Ever awaiting the empty whim, our tip,
next to a stemmed dish of tangerines,
Manet’s sign of fille de joie**.
Ever pouring the public what they think
will finally satisfy:
a drink, Degas, degrees, desire.
I can’t be sure if the reflection
behind, leaning toward
the moneyed man, is hers or mine.
The angle wrong, reflected bottles
missing or mismatched with actual ones.
Perhaps there is no mirror at all,
no skewed perspective, or all is skewed.
I face forward looking
for your eyes, quiet in the bright
din of artists everywhere, most retired.
Before me, behind me, up in the corner, there!
A woman’s green slippered feet,
perched bodiless on trapeze!
I don’t need to see her face
to know why she prefers the air.

2017

*Folies-Bergère: FUH-lee Bear-zhare: a famous cabaret music hall, located in Paris, France
**fille de joie: FEE-de zhwa: literally, “girl of joy,” euphemism for prostitute

Join Us in Evergreen Tomorrow Afternoon…

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

This, from Evergreen bookstore, Where the Books Go:

Join us on Sunday at 4pm for the celebration of the performing arts with featured presentation by Writers Rachel Kellum & Peter Anderson. Following their performances will be an open mic session for writers, poets, musicians, comedians, or even magicians! Whatever your performing art is, we’d love for you to share it with us. BYOB!

Poster for RK and Pete Anderson at Where the Books Go

Dear Me

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

This can’t be said with elegance: you were wrong about this place. No, that’s not right. I was wrong. I’ve lost track of our front range, where either of us end, but we’ve been on the plains for most of eighteen years, arguing like sisters sharing only two legs. You the dusty light inside, bent on wiping boredom out. Listen here. Ignore yourself. Isn’t this your life? Eat, eat! Even if you don’t, I’ll say you did. I taught you love of chickens, feathered ones. To sprinkle salt on the living dish. Despite yourself, despite the wealth of butter out of reach, you have eaten Brush’s roadside honey, shucked her yellow corn, planted Art’s red spuds. Better, you gave bees a home in garden sage, grew ears and eyes in your own plot and they were good. Take the prairie with you. She is not the pale flat-chested sister no one notices. You’ve looked into her eyes. Take her plain face into the bosom mountains. Draw her furrows with your toes. Drop new seed. This wide valley nothing but the mountains’ prairie dream. Your flat green heart.

Work

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

There is work like a sea
in which you must swim.

There is work like cutting
ropes from your limbs.

2017

Burning Books with Jack
on Trickster Ridge

Friday, April 28th, 2017

When he threw Amor Fati
into flames, friends and poets gasped.

White book! Heads shook.

I ran to find mine bubble wrapped
in briefcase, amateur sky
with all the colors in it.

ah jumped in after Jack like a sigh,
after Danny’s hurled script, wanting nothing
more than for words to say nothing,

burn, be nothing with his.
Daiva turned his glowing pages with a stick.

We acolytes of Jack-spent light!

Unreadable ash
made of us and especially
Jack gibbering joy-scat

to the earless moon, hands
grasping at the halo like a drowning man,
fingers coming up empty and fool.

2017
This is a revision of the poem I posted on Feb. 20, 2017, in loving memory of Jack Mueller who died yesterday on April 27, 2017. He lives on and on in the Word.

The Dangerous Life
of Free Range Chickens

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Of sixteen since last spring:
Four chickens remain.
Six killed for fun by two Great Pyrenees,
A mother and pup
Who ran across the prairie in April rain,
Left birds limp necked,
Scattered in dripping weeds.
Then gone the oldest in the flock:
DJ Cluck dragged off northwest.
Next, the Leghorn, white,
Easy target from above.
Not a feather left. I theorize
About light colored hens,
Imagine startling talons, sudden height.
But then went Speck.
Her camouflage no help.
Still, I should have known.
Predators have a taste for the sweet.
Next, in one morning, we are missing three.
Goodbye, Elsa. Goodbye, Fawkes and friend.
There will be no more green eggs
Once the cartons are empty.
I blame the watching hawk,
Dorell suspects the local owls,
Their early morning duet.
He suggests we take a walk
To the base of their favorite tree
To look for bones. Suddenly I think
Of owl pellets I used to collect,
Full of mouse skulls, still whole.

2017

Clerihew for You Know Who

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Counting sound in limerick
Bursting with the ego’s trick:
Scholar poet doggerel
Makes the female bosom swell.

2017

Elevenie for a Kitten

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Kitten
Glue eyed
In playful pile
Of wide eyed siblings
Leaps.

2017

How to Grow Carrots, Onions and Garlic Without Lifting a Finger

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Promise yourself to dig up the rest come fall.
Procrastinate before first frost.
Blame your job.
Forget until snow falls.
Ignore regret’s negative self-talk.
Touch their mushy shoulders come spring.
Witness what you thought was dead sprout green.

2017

Four years I have lived

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

My words are hiding in his body.
Perhaps I am the culprit.
Self-saboteur who hid them there.
Home alone no poems come.
I wait in long space. He walks in at dusk
in canvas clothes, the poem I didn’t write,
with huge thighs, silk arms,
towering white smile like moonshine,
torso warm locomotive stillness.
I hold my breath a moment like kids
passing through a mountain tunnel.
He moves through me. I can’t say why
I was made for this, why I mourn
no muse. Four years I have lived
with a man who doesn’t know
he is my favorite poem.

2017

Omission Sonnet

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

After the lovemaking, after his voice softens
in apology, it is likely best to steer clear
of parsing small omissions that often
mean no more than there are bigger things here
than fretting over who has kept a pocket-
sized fib to oneself. No need to get hysterical,
but one small stab of why soon needs a tourniquet.
Bleeding through the kitchen, playing oracle,
I ask myself, what does omission mean? What
did I do to make him feel he’d need a priest
to seek forgiveness? My worst fear: he’s cut
me from his wary ex’s cloth, the woman I am least
like in my book. I black her off of pages on his shelf,
afraid, by reading her, I wrote her on myself.

2015, 2017

A Question for Merrill Kellum

Monday, April 17th, 2017

The morning after you sold the farm,
Did you wake early to milk the cows,
And, remembering, simply stand in the dew
In your button up gold sweater
And brown fedora tipped just so
To watch the yellow creep up the oak
In your new neighborhood?

I can hardly believe the only time
I remember of you is the many years
Of your retirement in Meredosia,
Hands on your hips to study sky
And cocklebur fields where we kids
Would play king of the mountain
On construction dirt piles, pushing.

You would puff your cherry tobacco
Pipe on the small concrete patio
Behind your house, announce if the world
Smelled like rain on the way, as if that
Knowledge were all that remained
Of your dairy days. It was enough to plant
A slow seed in me, plucking burs from my socks.

2017

In Her Dominion

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Hecate crisscrosses
Milky deserts
Of wrinkled mythos,
Humus crumbles
From her shoes.
Ancient archivist,
She plucks a whisker
From her chin to write
The rascally world.

2017

Ekphrasis on a Lost Image

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Two flowers.
Two birds.
Two women.
Two flying squirrels.
One man.
He makes his maps,
Translates hope for legs
Into one black wing.
The counted and named
Look away,
Avoid his gaze.
Too late—
He has already made
Himself a feathered God,
And the world: a woman full
Of twins
Who will destroy him.

2017