Sutra for Letting Go of Aversion

September 18th, 2020

You carry it in your pocket,
the great joiner and divider.
You carry it; it is not a shackle.
Shiny, flat world you unlock
with holy number to access
poems, gallery, mailbox,
camera, classroom, memory,
algorithmic Ouroboros news
feeding you you, yes, you:
your sudden mysteries and blue
morning dread, headlined
heart palpitations custom
collected For You by algorithm
that can’t comprehend truth,
only what the data knows you
demand: to feel furious, righteous,
ignited by the state, the smokey world.
You want more and more to be
satirically amused, rope-a-doped
with hope. You want to flick through
the bottomless scroll, dive,
kick deep for the story, that final
story that will stitch, wrap, drain
every awful wound. Helpless, lonelier
than primordial God, you uninstall
His newest news app. Undressed,
without hope or fear, observe
the busy emptiness. Bathe
in it, remember how you rode it,
your aversion nothing but a board
numbers buff to keep you surfing.


A Boring Movie

September 10th, 2020

Halfway through the night, he’s up for hours for months.

To sleep again, he’ll read, drink tea, perch on the heater.

Earlier, after dinner, we always sit close to watch a show.

Tonight I ask him for a word. Airplane, he mumbles.

This is my new favorite way to surf Netflix, I say.

I search “airplane” and find what you might expect.

Leslie Nielsen. Every kind of flight disaster film. Cartoons.

War planes. History documentaries. Survival stories.

Highjacking heroes. And this run-on-titled gem:

Relaxing White Noise: Airplane Sleep Sounds White Noise –

Jetliner Plane Flight for Sleeping, Relaxation, made,

obviously, for people who trust pilots, mechanics, engineers—

long-legged men who say yes to the emergency exit seat,

not their short-legged wives who read and re-read

the laminated wordless cartoon instruction sheet.

The soundtrack is romantically ideal: pure, airy engine sound

unpunctuated by coughs, crying babes or conversations

between loud flirtatious strangers sharing a row. Visually,

the film loops a CGI of a Relaxing Airways jumbo jet

soaring through a sky of endless wispy popcorn clouds.

Fluidly panning, we see the plane from above, the side,

float over the wing, linger on the tail logo, back off,

sink below the wing at a distance, look up at an angle,

follow from behind, pass a yellow sun, catch a glinting sea,

rise to birds’ eye once more, shift slowly down to the nose,

pan windows along the length to the tail, land again

on the logo of a sleeping woman’s head on a pillow.

And so on and so forth for an hour and fifty-nine minutes.

Fifty in, he wakes. What are we watching, he asks.

White noise, I say. Uh, he says, and sleeps. I type.

The plane flies in one direction. I am moving around it.

Or, I am still and the plane is turning slowly, showing off.

I look up from time to time, learn by heart the order of the loop.

He sleeps. Really this is not a bird’s but a god’s eye view.

When I am in the sky, I never imagine the possibility

someone, somewhere, could be watching the machine

from above, the vessel in which I am so small, a face

in a window, confined to unfeathered body and two eyes,

photographing clouds below. The wing is slightly in the way.

I crop the shots to hide my helpless state. Memorizing

light on cirrus, finally relaxing my grip on him, I do not sleep.


Sumo Wrestling
in the Time of Trump

September 7th, 2020

Come here, darling,
bring your giant underbelly,
four hundred years of pain
stuffed inside. Here is mine,
too, jiggling with the dark weight—
millennia of white woman servitude,
we two burdens no longer enslaved
in black body or angelic mind.
Trembling with engorged pride
grown over centuries to protect
our fragile kindness, our kind,
confused in our new little powers,
we advance on each other,
misdirected rage coalescing
in a farcical, rippling spectacle
of flying sweat, hugging grips,
crumpled faces, cartwheel flips,
shifting feet, crushed belly flesh,
until the ring becomes a bed
and exhausted we collapse
each into the smallest dolls
of our nested selves. Wooden
histories shed, we search: bones
stretched over by thinning skin,
eyes—liquid gifts asking somehow
to enter the other, be forgiven.

For further reference, read Rudyard Kipling’s
“The White Man’s Burden” (1899) and Coventry
Patmore’s “The Angel in the House” (1854).


Reluctant Inhabitant

September 1st, 2020

A Danish woman with blond dreadlocks drives up
in a newish Subaru, its bumper dent a concave bowl, to buy
her barefoot boy—also blond, curly echo of my grown sons—
a breakfast burrito. Hermit I’ve become, I see her each time

I drive through town to pick up mail or milk: there she is
perched on low walls across the street from the pub,
or on a coffee house bench, bright summer dress flowing,
sipping matcha, calling to her children in a sister tongue.

Early motherhood granted me a similar, darker beauty,
that lonely freedom. I hungered for any confirming glance
for proof I was more than untouchable mother-flesh,
reluctant inhabitant of that mortifying ambivalence.


Big Boy

September 1st, 2020

A small boy crawls expertly out of the back window
of an expensive SUV with its share of dents,
a twenty flapping in his outstretched hand, shoeless,
padding into the heart of a town that loves him.
A man at the gas pump calls hello, his name,
and the boy waves the bill at him joyfully,
disappears into the belly of the organic grocery.
He emerges with three large bottles: two orange juices
and kombucha, manages to waddle back to the car,
successfully pass them up through the driver’s side
to his beautiful mother, who takes a big swig
before passing one bottle back to his sister
in her car seat and the other to him, her big boy,
already past the sill, safely strapped in, reaching.



August 21st, 2020

grasses mingle with cactus
smoked light striates a flat peak
horizons shift at every step, small losses
thin mantle of damp desert cracks
exposes dust an inch beneath my boots
enough wet for a bit more August green
thunder walks me up hill a new way
to happen upon a peeling almost stupa,
stop, cautiously bow to sacred neglect,
someone’s vague religion, follow
my tracks back to the fork where I left
the usual trail to meet the ponderosa
who daily receives my pause to inhale
the sweet bark, a backwards prayer
of wordless promise, protection
for the three who broke off of me


good grief

August 7th, 2020

six feet apart
is not
six feet under
with breath
a horizon


Apologia for Pavement

August 7th, 2020

When the moon is barely a crack
or dead, an ovary that has released its
last shining egg, and the night is black-black
with sharp stars, split by that splash
of cosmic godmilk no one really knows
until one lands here in Crestone,
I pity city streets, kids closed in by buzzing
light and door to door concrete. Still,
here, on such a night, I prefer the paved
gentle curve, the slow, tarred arteries
of lights-out wide mountain roads
over narrow winding trails flanked by cacti
yucca, tripping rocks, and low piñon.
Such threats require some kind of lamp,
render me myopic, eyes down, dirtbound.
Why be a body tonight? I walk eyes rolled up,
space-drunk, in wide wobble stride.
Silent. Unoccupied. The dog does not strain
the leash, walks close at my side.


Sonnet for Bras

August 5th, 2020

Forty plus bucks a pop, a frugal woman
knows to keep them out of the dryer.
Electric heat pills, puckers, kills.
Of this prudent ilk, come summer,
I drape them across patio chairs,
like plump eighth notes on the staff
of my sunny, free-swung noon,
or, like a too uniform diorama
of a range of purple, white and black
mountain majesties on the edge
of this desert plain. Come winter,
I hang them on night’s doorknobs,
slingshots itching to be filled with me,
launch my heart at the day.


(My Job is to be Strong)

August 5th, 2020

When chest lightning cracks

His brow and soaks my pillow

My hands beg the sky


Writing Subject

July 27th, 2020

Is a subject loving a subject alive
an act of objectification?
These are not remote Gauguin eyes.
My love for you is not confused.
To notice is a word shrine,
my alms exchanged for your long life:

Your scent, incense evolved
from night to sunrise, fresh soap
of a bedtime shower, clean sweat
in sleep’s dawn sheets, waking heat,
I lean in. Your neck joins my breath.


Loving Day: June 12, 1967

July 26th, 2020

Let it be our day
Loving, honor them
Mildred and Richard
A fortunate name
Loving against the law
Caught sleeping
Side by side, yanked from bed
By police, love felons
D.C. marriage certificate
She pointed to
On the bedroom wall
A guilty plea
Cohabiting as man and wife
Against the peace
And dignity
Of the Commonwealth

Brave Mildred wouldn’t stop
Robed white men caved
Gave her Richard, she gave me
The possibility of you
Four years before my birth
At forty two, new with you
My father’s ancestral bigotry doomed
We loved despite old Virginia
Mississippi, walk
Hand in hand, nearly 50 now
Almost as old as their law
Salt and pepper haired
Spiritual descendants
Of the Lovings, interlocked
Our fingers a long piano
Mute with the finest American tune


Blossom-End Rot

July 26th, 2020

Yellow tomato blossoms shrivel to fruit.
Grape-green, long globes dangle
along a vine, a promise, till unknown lack
flattens flesh brown. Hope and time don’t help.
Poems drop the bloom, rot their ends,
never meant to redden. Give up on them.
They’ll waste the plant with worry, regret.
You can’t share poems red but half dead.
Why bother slicing off the salvaged shoulders
to savor your failure alone? Pluck and toss them
small over the rail. Research, fertilize
with powdered fish, love-crushed bones
the dog licks from the pot. Still, here comes
the button-sized rot. There goes the thought.


An Interracial American Family
Visits the UFO Watchtower

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 need
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 pool 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.



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.