Blue Mesa Reservoir, 3 AM

August 16th, 2019

Two dogs fidget and whine
inside a canvas cave.
A zipper rips open
the strange night—
a grand piano wrapped
tight in black felt.
Ten legs spill over it,
blind fingers searching,
scratching for hidden seams,
the only audible song.

2019

Jesus of the Meme

July 30th, 2019

He knows He used to say, “Suffer
the little children to come unto me,”
but when Jesus received
His sister’s long ass letter via email
sharing the sob story of Father’s
childhood abandonment of her,
the way it reaches through everything,
He thought, Stop wallowing,
decided it was easier
to post a meme to His friends
on Facebook than to think.
One of His favorites:
two clean-cut idiots in suits,
heads thrown back,
mouths stretched open, frozen
in sarcastic, mocking laughter,
straddled by white, full caps font:
WHEN SOMEONE SENDS YOU
A NASTY EMAIL
BUT YOU JUST HIT DELETE
THE SECOND IT HITS YOUR INBOX
Jesus likes the word “nasty,”
the special power it holds these days.
As the pièce de résistance, He added
His own witty caption—Well, not quite
His own, but that sassy black one,
you know: “Ain’t nobody
got time for that!”

2019

The Dog From Antonito

July 25th, 2019

The woman dropped him off July 5th.
A stray, she said, but shelter women guessed
he was hers. Five-day grace period passed—
no one claimed him. July 11th changed that.
He was mine the moment I saw him
calmly greeting visitors through his fence.
No jumping or barking, no shit in the gravel.
Sweet, respectful, deferential to my old dog
who had to approve first. He did. I did.
80 bucks later he hopped in the front seat,
scanned the horizon heading north.
Stoic, no ventured names perked his ears.
I guessed he might be deaf, but a finger snap,
a quiet clap, lifted his tan brow. He blinked.
Leaping into the house like it was always his,
he stopped cold in the entry, wouldn’t budge.
At first we thought he balked at the sight
of Dorell, but, no, on the porch he leaned
against his legs, sat upon his giant feet,
tongue smiling. Inside, was he wary of new walls,
the potted tree, strange people, foreign smells?
No, the ceiling fan. Skirting the family room,
watching the whirly gig above with worried eyes,
soon enough he learned it was benign.
As was he. Even the reclusive old Siamese
strangely bore his curiosity with sharp swats
and low roars of warning, holding her seat.
Undeterred, he nosed and nosed her, finally
friends. Kennel-rank, relaxed in his first bath,
he slumped, weary refugee savoring water,
heat and sudsy scratching, clogged the drain
with endless black fur and swirling dirt.
Dry, he lay there like a preened teenage girl,
leaned into the brush brushing, brushing tufts
of matted fur from thighs into a wispy pile.
Witnessing his gentle way, intelligent eyes,
obviously once loved by a human being,
imagine my surprise when he wouldn’t Sit!,
wouldn’t Sit!, wouldn’t Sit!, no matter the offered
treat or pushing down of reluctant butt.
Three days he gave me bright, blank stares
with each command. Sit. Sit. Sit. No recognition.
Distant face. Until it hit: this dog is from Antonito.
I dug deep for the word. ¡Siéntate! I said. He sat.
We laughed and laughed, hearing ourselves speak
Español to one dog, English to the other, confused.
Now when we cuddle on the hairy couch, I cradle
and stroke his silken face, murmur in an accent
my high school maestra would absolutely admire:
Qué lindo, qué lindo, buen niño, buen perro,
mi amor. His native tongue becomes a door.
I enter, see his body go rag doll in the hands
of my voice, eyes soften in the syllables of home.

2019
Hank

Yucca Haiku

July 4th, 2019

Anger wears poems
Like a tower of pale blooms
Rising from yucca.

2019

The Basement, 1982

July 1st, 2019

Eleven years old,
I closed the door against
The high, small, laundry window
To crouch before its glow
In the windowless family room. The TV—
An honest piece of furniture,
Brown behemoth, wide enough
To sport a huge doily dolloped
With a basket of dusty, silk flowers—
Held the forbidden.
Oh, Wooden Mother of HBO,
Bringer of The Blue Lagoon, thank you.
Barely a teen, Brooke Shields,
Shipwrecked, sick with fever,
Laid out on her back, prone breasts
Floating islands sponged
By her cousin, innocent,
Cooling her, his hand releasing rivulets
Across her, passed her fever
His fever to me
Down there, suddenly new.

2019

A Gender Traitor* Speaks

June 26th, 2019

Watch the darkening mouth.
You know when it’s coming.
The tone drop. The slurred slide
she makes into affected accent.
Almost British. Slightly swallowed.
Punctuated. Small gestures.
Brace (yourself). Give her credit
for (intellectual) property.
Buy a mountain together. Dream
circular interlocking living
spaces. Holding women.
Mythologize a circle of light.
Sip bottles under trees.
Take and become her brunt.
So young, lift her curtain of hair
from tequila toilets. Tenderly.
Purple teeth and (pending)
(complete) Ph.D. (always mean)
she’s right. She likes to put you
in your proper place. Beneath.
Best with men watching.
In Taos. Over basil and brie.
In dim basements and bars.
Her men stutter apologies
for her blackened chainsaw
tongue. You learn, lean toward
your own kind. Kind men.
Kind women. Kindred. Leave.
A lifetime later, she names you
gender traitor, spits the gavel
normative, normative, normative
at the tiny home, life, family, bodies
you built without her, like her,
inside against the ancient walls
of men. Be (un)impressed by names
she drops. Be erased by her
heroic herstory. Embrace erasure.
The truth, she says, has always
been difficult for you.

 

*Gender Traitor

“Gender traitor (derogatory): A person who supports attitudes or positions thought to be against the interests or well-being of their own gender.” Wictionary

“From 19th century anti-suffragists to today’s anti-feminists…women who turn against themselves.” Epigraph to “Gender Traitors,” Sally Feldman, The New Humanist

Gender Traitor: a gay, lesbian, or bi person. Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

“It’s… been a little weird for me, because ‘gender traitor’ is language you sometimes see applied to trans people now.” Alex Barasch interview, Slate

2019

We Were Little Girls

June 9th, 2019

for Tammy, Talia and Sage

We were little girls without breasts or hips.
Your skin light brown, mine bilirubin white.
You on a ten speed, me a dirt bike.
Five boys surrounded the building site.
It had been raining a long time. There was mud.
Rich honeybrown Illinois mud.

We stepped in gingerly, until –our thrill!—
we were up to our knees in liquid earth.
We wrestled there like girls, best friends,
not to hurt or dominate or pose for boys,
but for the fact of mud slick on our skin,
matting our hair, staining our terry cloth clothes.

I don’t recall the tactical wrestling
as much as the practical joy, Tammy,
the daring doing of something girls don’t do,
and the awe of boys who did not join us.
We walked home caked and proud as the sun sank low
to your little white house with red brick façade,

set up on a steep lot we used roll down like logs
despite itchy chiggers. We rang the doorbell,
grinning. “Hi, Mom!” we chimed loud.
Your mother’s blue eyes were huge and mock serious.
“Not in my house! Out back! Garden hose! Now!”
Remember? Squealing, we poured cold ropes of water

across the muddy continents of our girlhood,
brown rivers tracing the valleys of our knees,
flooding the plains of our hopeful chests and sloping bellies,
skinny arms and legs raising hair like new trees,
raising up the brazen women we would later be,
quaking in the half light of a late September.

2013

Salsify

June 7th, 2019

Token of a different time,
Star shine on a sandy foothill trail
When I was new, and you,
And love was new and opened
A book, pointing at your name.
Wildflower when not a threat,
I found you rare, a mountain gift.
How could I know otherwise?
Twenty years later, new land and life,
You volunteered twice in my garden.
Writer of my history, I couldn’t
Pull you, why? Once, you opened me.
Confused, I counted myself lucky
That you rose from flagstone
Cracks. I let you live, celebrated
Each morning star, until you flew
And flew in my benign neglect. Oops
And oops and oops and, well, goodbye.
Stately lanced cousin of dandelion,
Giant puffs of parachuting seeds, you
Whose bloom likes to sleep by noon,
Resolutely close your umbrellas.
And when you open, you truly open.
Premonition dawns like a slow leaf.
A year will bring its sunny lesson.
Now I see what you can do untamed:
Restless, grow a family in the wind.
Mother just like me, escape artist,
Taproot deep, stem easy to break.
I dug and dug now dig and dig,
Unable to eat your oyster root,
Having mostly grown in one dog’s
Favorite squatting plot. But still,
I could have saved your progeny,
Those inside sequestered beds,
Dog free, chopped thin and tossed
Into last night’s cast iron pan, friends
Of other more domestic roots.
But work was hot, the shovel
Sharp, without imagination. Wilted
In a wheelbarrow, sunburnt, I eat
You only with these toothless teeth.

2019

Today’s Numbers

June 6th, 2019

9:50 am, 6/6/19,
539% snowpack, 60°,
13 hours of forgotten water,
42 minutes on the cushion,
4 hues of potted petunias,
2 Western Tanagers in the birdbath,
1 spent cherry blossom in my hair.

2019

What is a Dream?

May 17th, 2019

Is it a rabbit smashed
upon the road?
A singing trash can
or love sick toad?
A flicker knocking
on a pine?
A teen grown numb
on violent vines?

Is it pouring milk
into an alpine stream?
The kettle’s climbing
morning scream?
The grass above
Poe’s nevermore?
Or is it just this
dusty bamboo floor?

14 Februrary 2019

So Much Water

May 8th, 2019

She woke up her lover
when her womb like a flesh water
balloon burst warm and trickled
onto the sheet. On her side
she slowly scooted feet first
out of bed. Following her across
the yellow pine flooring, soaking
a green towel dark, he yawned.
There’s so much water.
In the cracked window
behind the night, a bowl
overturned, poured white.
Yes, she said.

29 July 1999
dug up for Alison, as she waits

Quiet Cactuses

May 2nd, 2019

Quiet cactuses
Sit under the piñon tree.
Sangha. Family.

2019

Meditation on Birthdays

April 29th, 2019

Split into a multiplying
whole.
Split once more.
Exit a body.
Guttural commemoration.
The parting
of flesh from flesh.
Complete dependence on earth’s
insistent urge:
grow, assist the growing
by splitting time,
splitting food, splitting the mind
into two bodies.
Call that mother. Rare father. God.
Forget their births like air.
Call that
your final lover
gentle scout of the coming year
oracle of aches
celebrator of flyaway greys
who remembers
the miracle of your life
before you, slow to wake, do,
whispers
Happy birthday, Love.

2019

Mosquito Yoga

April 28th, 2019

Challenger       Peak blinding     white is dreaming

of mosquitos       famous        black swarms

chasing me       whining     down dirt streets

slapping air     the local yogi once said       offer

your body     to their stings     nude       willingly

let them           feed           they will agree

to leave you         alone all summer     I have no

faith           in blood suckers’       good nature

forgive me     last year       our first here

no     snow     no     mosquitos     just smoke

I won’t lie     I was glad     to garden   mosquito

free       no silent         back of the knee       stings

or tiny         needle songs     I was glad     but now

the snow     more snow          People can’t last

outside          even for minutes!        What the hell

is going on        with Global Warming?        an idiot

tweets       Please come back fast,     we need you!

as though         warm earth         only means

heat     Challenger      named for       that famous

wreck     lost teacher     brilliant frost     in my living

room window           storm after         storm

will begin the slow      trickle       Crestone creeks

will weave     into     mosquito songs     build

mosquito condos     I will stay         indoors

or slather     scented oils     desperate poisons

on my skin     to weed       my garden

grateful the valley         woke up from       my

selfish     mosquitoless dream         and

towhees     will drink drink drink       their tea

2019

Half Sister

April 28th, 2019

her                 job

is                     witness

let                   them

have               their

roughly           happy

tales               of

a                      father

despite           her

sad                  ones

they                think

her                  life

is                     full

of                     lies

their                stories

allow               them

to                     feel

right                righteous

for                   hiding

his                   will

(keep              it)

confirm           he

nor                  they

ever                cared

enough           about

his                   first

forever           family

to                     provide

for                   their

well-                being

both                sets

of                     stories

lie                    some-

where             in

be-                  tween

are                  always

have                always

been               true

all                    all

loved               and

feared             no

heard              and

learned           him

how                 to

live                  split

to                     forgive

2019