striae

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

2020

good grief

August 7th, 2020

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

2020

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.

2020

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.

2020

(My Job is to be Strong)

August 5th, 2020

When chest lightning cracks

His brow and soaks my pillow

My hands beg the sky

2020

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.

2020

Loving Day: June 12, 1967

July 26th, 2020

Let it be our day
Loving, honor them
Mildred and Richard
Foreordained
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

2020

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.

2020

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 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

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

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

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

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 crumbs!

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 dust,
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!

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

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