Archive for the ‘2020’ Category

An Interracial American Family
Visits the UFO Watchtower

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

The entrance to the rock lined garden reads:
There are two vortexes spinning just east
of the gift shop of the San Luis Valley UFO Watchtower.
On this incredible point 25 psychics have agreed.

The sign further instructs visitors to leave
a token of their deepest desire or special needs
for the two spirit Guardians, also verified, whose power
is such to manifest our material or spiritual greed.

I reminded our girls of the sign’s caution not to steal
other people’s tokens: bad, bad karmic seeds!
We studied piles of desperate offerings about an hour—
mostly purse or car floor junk people didn’t need.

Coins, plastic flotsam standing in for lack, for you and me,
products of this century’s throw-away carrot economy,
the empty successes on which we’ve only slightly soured
after months of lockdown, protests, relentless screens.

Bored by random piles, I closed my eyes to tune in, feel.
No psychic—I felt nothing, only wind and dry heat.
I climbed stairs to search sky, chagrined to be a downer
on the whole UFO-alien-vortex tourist scene. Saw nothing.

It’s possible, I admit, and several loved ones believe,
and even I honor Tibetan Buddhist alien-looking deities,
but truth be told, I would likely run, piss or cower
in an alien’s presence. I actually pray to never meet

one in my lifetime. I feel at home on Earth, terrestrially
satisfied with distant stars, mountains, rushing streams.
Regardless, the earnest owner of the UFO Watchtower
in the middle of this salty, dark-sky desert needs to eat.

My generous husband shopped gleefully, bought every
type of tourist trinket but a hat: t-shirt, alien-head earrings,
alien magnet, tie-dyed life-sized alien blow-up doll, our
own his & her alien print socks, alien heart coffee

cup offered at a discount price for slight printing
smudges, post card, two Gumby-alien bendable green
dolls, painted alien-faced rocks. Gifts for his daughters.
Unmasked, we drove home, clutching inalienable dreams.

2020

Undraped

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

A domestic Christo and Jean Claude,
I let dust, coiled hairs, black grounds,
bread crumbs and toothpaste puddle crusts
drape my surfaces like white or pink fabric,
orange and blue umbrellas only I can see
across the landscapes of my house. I notice,
I notice, the textured grime, the tiny piles
of things. Days may pass, or weeks, until
I cannot bear anymore the memory, suspense
of what’s underneath—abstract shapes, clean
lines, order, shine revealed by spray or sponge.
I become the artist and the audience in one,
for those who do not notice what needs wiped,
do not notice it newly bright, except perhaps
in an unexpected lightness of mood while
stirring coffee before setting down the spoon.

2020

Minefields

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

The moment when a feeling enters the body/
is political. This touch is political/* said Rich
the year I was born a girl. The minefields

of my husband’s black body, mine,
my sons’ white bodies, mine, proliferate.
Text fields. Silent white woman mother wife

poet, keep quiet. (Not) your stories to write. Mine.
My body ignores their borders, knows what lies
beneath a temple, gun, knee, has hung from trees.

Keep them all alive, three hearts beat/en outside
my body, mine, blood I built and build with touch.
I turn down, muffle public words. Cannot speak

for the men I serve, lives, minds (not) mine. Mine.
I tiptoe, tremble, touch their skin, wrap arms
around them in the dark, in the kitchen.**

* from Adrienne Rich, “The Blue Ghazals,” in The Will to Change, 1971

** “To protect a loved one, you should wrap yourself around their head and shoulders with your back to the device. You then become a shield against the shrapnel.” from Attacks of Terror: Surviving the Unthinkable, by J. Brett Earnest, 2003

2020

Recovering Art Goodtimes

Monday, June 1st, 2020

We all carry the echo
baritone poem shouts us alert
in thunder throat rolls
spark-eyes peeking from electric hair
takes flight in upraised arms
hugs us off our feet, wild grandpa
squatting, mushroom
springing up red magic overnight
wisdom spores on the wind
wind of Art’s word
huge and silent now, healing close
to the brown earth
our hearts the archeology
of duff seeded with him, beating
waiting, praying, needles parting
his new voice to rise
at any volume, even the page
the page is loud, very loud
we hear it, we hear him in it
we hear him.

2020

What is Essential

Friday, May 29th, 2020

Saint-Exupéry might say we share a small planet, love.
He might say I am the petty, pretty rose, you the little prince.
It is a tidy metaphor for love, but, these days, limited.

Watch. On alternating days, one of us is the rose,
feigning uniqueness and fragility, or the little prince,
wanting to love tenderly, attentively, or fly off, equally.

Baobabs are not so easy to parse metaphorically.
We can weed and weed our faults while shoots are small,
but shoots keep coming, impersonating roses,

seducing us with fascinating problems, fine drama, inner
entertainment. Something to do. Their easy seeds blow in
from childhood, neighboring planets, grow while we sleep.

We’ve all fallen in love with the drawing of three baobabs
splitting the little planet in their rooted fists. Antoine admits
his intricate care with this drawing is an urgent warning.

But if we are both the rose and the little prince, let us
also each be the planet and the baobab. Let the planet be
our sturdy sense of self, perceived core, sweetest clinging.

Let the muscled baobabs be our demons, dream-crushing
fears, insecurity, illusion of separateness, alienation—
breaking our hearts beyond solidity: self-grasping dust!

Can you love me, darling, crushed this way, in the grip
of the baobab? Can I love you, a pile of pulverized rubble?
Long live the baobab for doing what it does: wrecking us!

If we are the rose, the prince, baobabs, and planetary crumbs,
let us also be the endless space holding every broken, starry
adventure of us. May we enfold each other that way, my love.

for Dorell

¡EL BIRCH!

Monday, May 25th, 2020

Scratched into the campground bathroom
wall, these two unlikely words, ¡EL BIRCH!
complete with inverted exclamation point.

In the stench, I conjure a grandmother sitting there,
holding her breath, noting the swear, thinking,
“No, that won’t do,” so planned a quick return

with a nail file from her purse, to carefully turn
the curse of the T into a tailed R, shout-out to a
white tree that doesn’t grow naturally in these parts.

2020
Memorial Weekend
North Crestone Creek Campground

Excuses

Monday, May 25th, 2020

Meditation is killing
my poetry, my storytelling
my need to be read, to read.

Or is it all the screens
stealing me from my body,

my need to be out in sun
bagging winter’s dog shit,

pulling up the yellow dead
from last year’s plots
I never harvested.

2020

Backyard Chöd

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

I am a suet seed cake pressed
into the shape of a woman.
Pop me out of my package.
Encage me in a green basket.
Hang me from that piñon limb.
Watch the Western Tanager,
tiny feathered sunset, delicately
eat my head, steal my eyes.
Two Black Headed Grosbeaks
vie to nibble off my arms.
Their brown striped wives spar
to take turns with my neck,
leaving shoulders for the muted,
butter mate of Tanager.
Everyone flees when Magpie,
huge with white, black and blue
plumes swoops to gobble up
my seedy breasts. My heart!
The limb sags. The basket slips.
Hidden behind bedroom glass,
you knock on the window
to scare him off, leave some
for the Mountain Blue Bird, sky
too timid, too diminutive to spar,
watching from the bird bath
dreaming of my knees, my toes,
but he is too slow. Grosbeaks
get to them first. Tanagers
return like a gang of seven
red setting suns, crumble up
my guts in rounds, dropping
crumbs for the chubby-cheeked
ground squirrel and nervous
chipmunk, both planning wings
for their next life. When all that
is left of me is grease on a green
basket, the sun licks that off
like batter from birthday cake
beaters. Now I flicker and blink
in the eyes of a dozen backyard
birds, the tiny hearts of squirrels,
in the slant light of day reaching
over the San Juans, every ray
waving goodbye, goodbye.

2020
This poem is inspired by the ancient Bön Practice of Chöd, as seen performed here by my friend Geshe Tenzin Yangton, the purpose of which is to cut through attachment to one’s body by ritually offering it to all sentient beings. Alejandro Chaoul Reich provides a detailed explanation of it in his book, Chöd Practice in the Bon Tradition.

Unconditional

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

A broken lower incisor
abscess made him thin.
Stress stole her eyelid,
ear and cleavage skin.

Toothless and Scabby
lisping and peeling,
Gaptooth and Seczema
loving and ringing the 50s in.

2020

Time Travel

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

horsetail on the trail
turns me Paleozoic
in my new Merrells
Native_Horsetail_Reed_Foliage__33248.1585424574

My Mother’s Geraniums

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

It is safe to write about red geraniums,
their sharp, earthy aroma, and imagine them,
once summer and hummingbirds have passed,
dragged in off the porch, blooming indoors
all winter like my mother’s prayers, so red,
such bright fistfuls of love for her wounded ones,
it is hard not to think of blood, her blood pumping
through all of us, if it could, if she could will it.

2020
in honor of my mother, a week late

could be sky

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

the robin

throws herself

at glass

every window

for days

like me

2020

stalemate

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

a rasta once asked
do you know she is your queen?
she is, he agreed

queens cannot compete
with fantasy when sad kings
prefer smoke to light

he stops hearing her
dubs her his enemy’s name
forgets he’s the foil

why have peace talks
about the same war they’ve fought
the last seven years

they wage a battle
who can go without speaking,
eye contact, longest

every small move
through their rooms is a chess game
neither one will win

2020

A Glass Window
Is A Glass Window

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

A few dozen attempts—
bumping her orange breast,
battering fragile grey wings,
tapping tiny claws against
the glass sky of our bedroom
window— brought no success.
We stood on the bed, shoved
our faces against the pane,
knocked, waved our arms,
growled like friendly monsters,
turned on and off track lights
to flash warnings overhead.
Only the latter seemed to give
the robin pause, an inkling
that perhaps an entire world
exists beyond that promise
of sky where other beings live,
move as shadows or gods
beyond her realm, laughing,
shaking their giant heads
at such heartbreaking will.

2020

Hank Knows What

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

It happens nearly every walk.
Hank dives into woods like a deer
hurdling logs and bramble.
Then the yelps begin. One or two,
or, like today, a litany of shrieks
accompanied by popping cracks
of unseen branches breaking that
sets me running, whistling, yelling,
hatching plans for mountain lions,
mother bears, bull elk, unexpected
yucca knives or cactus patches.
I watch for his emergence up ahead
or behind, but often, I am wrong;
he is waiting on the opposite end
of my terrible anticipation, sitting calmly
on the trail, or running to me full stride,
adrenaline lit, crazy eyed, tongue
lolled, breath ragged, coat dry,
unscathed by Hank knows what.

2020