Snow Birds

February 19th, 2021

Waxed speed beneath me,
new skis tooled by my son
carry me faster than before
but slower still than he, pole-less,
and my husband, giant snow boarder,
who thrill in the wind and blur,
the skill of the bump
and jump, theft of air,
laugh derailing death again.

They wait, they wait
for me, raise a hand to catch
my scanning eye, shooting
down the backside final slope,
always five or more minutes behind.
They hold my place
in the lift line. I don’t mind
being slow. They don’t mind
being cold.

It is Peter Anderson’s 65th.
Our two families, having spent
the morning separate, meet
at the food yurt to celebrate.
Beer, burgers, and chili cheese
dogs gone, gray jays hungrily
look on, panhandle shreds
of hot dog bun, and my son
and the snowboarders speed off.
I hang back with the oldest three
of the Anderson clan and we
begin our descent, four
leapfrogging peers
of the slow switchback,
the quiet snow.

Soon, submerged against
my will in speed trance,
center of the earth
having its way with wax and me,
my half century knees and hips
somehow managing, I
find myself alone, ahead,
surprised. Not behind!
I stop, look back.
Seconds pass.
The Andersons emerge
as a flock of swans, floating
threesome of silent elegance,
telemarking down the slope,
long lines traced behind,
wakes of huge hearts,
snow an EKG tape
spooling steady, slow.

I let them pass, stop near
where they pause to gather,
confer: mother, father,
grown daughter.
Downed they are,
featherless, unruffled,
barely stirred by slight
breeze carrying to me
Pete’s voice, upbeat, a crumb
of witness and wisdom offered
to his daughter, Rose, who listens
open, bright faced,
to how she can improve
her stance, her form, a language
beyond me, and she,
unselfconsciously, sets off
to try it out. He watches
her knees and toes alternate
lovely angles, oiled hinges
carrying the smooth machine of her
over snow like hushed wings,
and, satisfied, follows, and
her mother, Grace, too.

Audience of one,
I choose to slow to watch
the scene unscroll like celadon ribbons
from above, gravity pulling my friend
toward everyone she loves. Grace,
the final dancer, her symmetries
shifting, disappears in flat light
around a bend, the whispered end
of the mountain ballet.

Instead

February 10th, 2021

Having hoped

in vain

to become a tree

into which no one

carves their name,

I instead

write poetry.

2020

family organism

December 13th, 2020

I want to say, please see

your arms and smile my back

my hours your broken strut

your roof my road to sleep

my heart your sacred head

your bardo prayers my seat

my silent miles your breath

2020

let late november

November 28th, 2020
barely warm coals die 
in thick ash, let them

sun warms my death pose
on the couch, grinning

lush green geranium
settles into light, low

lifts one bloom
to a large smeared window

2020

Midnight Transmission Reading

November 25th, 2020

Here are four poems from my recent reading with hosts Jesse Maloney and Orlando White. With the help of a vile vial of liquid ginseng, this old girl managed to stay awake past midnight!

For more videos of this and other Midnight Transmission readings, please visit Jesse 5-0 Productions.

Blue Daughters
Minefields
Sutra for Letting Go of Aversion

Walking the Burn Reading

November 25th, 2020
Walking the Burn

Mother Dharma

November 20th, 2020

A child is a slow 
moving thought
you watch.

Its departing birth 
a new entrance, 
subtle, inching back 
into into into you.

You surrender
your eyes, let it
commandeer hands,
arms and legs,
eat your heart, 
guts and brain, 
become your bones, 
your size, watch it 
dissolve into a dazzling
dangerous world, 
into its own child. 

Helpless, welcome 
it like sky burial:
child into child 
into child burial.

Embrace the lineage 
of generous forgetting,
your liberation.

2020

Midnight Transmission Promo

November 18th, 2020

Enjoy this new late night reading series hosted by Diné Nation poets Jesse T. Maloney and Orlando White, transmitting the Word from the Rez. It was an unforgettable experience for me–an honor to read with such powerful women and be buoyed up by that smart, gentle audience in the digital realm. Jesse and Orlando are everything you want in a host: gracious, kind, humble and humorous AF. Clips from the evening will be posted soon.

The crumble on the muffin was connecting with an audience member who is the daughter of my most beloved college mentor, Dr. Joellen Jacobs, the woman who, nearly thirty years ago, walked me into the house of poetry, holding my hand through every image and cadence of Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and, later, Stevens’ “The Snow Man.” I found a home. The sonic, imagistic and philosophical joy I experienced in these two poems have guided my aesthetic choices for decades.

I hate to say it, but what a trip when it’s true: it’s a small, small world.

D-Con

November 7th, 2020



We found his box of green pellets, stuffed

the poison in our cheeks, carried it away

to a high place out of reach of the children:

a plastic bag of pillows dangling from a top bunk.

We tried not to swallow en route, leapt the chasm,

made a dozen deadly deposits in the pillows,

hoped against hope the toxic dust would not

dry us up, turn our blood against our own hearts.

In the meantime, in the daily hurried rituals

of scurry, gather and hide, barely sleeping,

we forgot where we tucked away our riches.

When it snowed, a woman found our pine nuts

in her snow boot. When she spilled her coffee,

grass seeds cached in towels high on a shelf

spilled out like confetti into her mouth. The next day,

stuck to threads of a cotton nest chewed into a mattress

pad stored under the bed, she found our mother

a brown, dried horror husk, mealworms long dead

in the small bowl of her skull, the ribs of her chest.

 

2020

Grocery Store Orchid

November 7th, 2020

I’d never buy one.

It was a gift from a woman

who believes in me. 

Quite soon

the stalk yellowed,

flowers drooped and fell.

The orchid, my orchid,

spends most of its life 

as leaves, teaches 

under water me

by spilling over, dying off, 

teaches wait for me 

and time, as always,

is beauty’s only currency.

2020

The Old Phones

October 30th, 2020

The old phones were family pets,

shared, oily, of heft, a comfort, 

yet also retractable weapons

you could chuck at your sister, 

black her eye and reel in

like a slick catfish. Yes, they were 

small, warm bodies or, at least, body parts, 

you could innocently fondle, a young cat 

cradled against your neck with spiral tail 

you could wrap around yourself 

a dozen times, a DNA boa, a fetus 

whose umbilical cord could stretch 

across the kitchen, down the stairs,

through the hall, pulse invisibly under 

your door where you could wait forever 

on the floor for that boy to say something 

into the dark shell of your ear floating 

inside the flowered womb of your plush 

carpeted bedroom. You could listen 

to his busy signal, the silence inside

his steady breathing, all heart 

beats. You could hear the voice

of your mother in the distance,

humming receive, receive, receive.

2020

handbuilding us

October 10th, 2020

love scores me / slips me 

sticks me / smooths me 

to you before we / grow leather hard

carves its / name into this

body we’ve become / fragile greenware

handed into fire / one earthen vessel

we hope for no fissures / we hope to hold

whatever we must / water wine blood 

even cracked / a bowl can hold 

almonds pencils / seedling coins dust

2020

your heart an opus

October 6th, 2020

three dimensional muscle

sculpture in your chest, yes, baby,

she said, we forget

2020

with thanks to Wendy Videlock

Stained

September 23rd, 2020

I wrap all my bright
jagged shards in lead, solder
their seams, hold them up.

2020

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.

2020