(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.



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


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,

Grand Shroompa
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.


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


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.

Memorial Weekend
North Crestone Creek Campground


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.


Backyard Chöd

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.

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. (Turn on subtitles for the English translation). Alejandro Chaoul Reich provides a detailed explanation of it in his book, Chöd Practice in the Bon Tradition.


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.


Time Travel

May 19th, 2020

horsetail on the trail
turns me Paleozoic
in my new Merrells

My Mother’s Geraniums

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.

in honor of my mother, a week late