prompt #12 ~ The wolf did it

My grandson says a wolf lives in our car.

He is invisible, Trin explains. And I hate him.

He wants to eat me.

The wolf says ‘stupid,’ which Trin is not

Allowed to say. The wolf is sarcastic,

Ebullient. Fearless. Trin is not.


Perhaps I need a wolf, I think. An alter ego

To remind me what is possible: courage

And a sense of the absurd.

The wolf did it, Trin tells me, when

He kicks the back of my seat.


This is what I will say when asked

About my own deviance:

The wolf did it.

Just this.

prompt #11 ~ waiting for music

Waiting for music


A harp is mystery, unlike

the piano, which I played easily.

A harp is rare in red dirt country

and I had only books for teachers.

But I wanted to play the harp

not the harp of angels

but the Celtic harp of bards


My harp was simple, plain

and sturdy. Months I worked

to make her mine, trading

time & skills for music.

But the music never came.


She has followed me across the world

and back again, my Celtic darling.

Like a lover out of bardic song,

she has crossed mountain & sea

sleeping in dusty corners

To be with me.

Hours I practiced scales, aligning

clumsy fingers w/ graceful strings.

Still, the music hasn’t come.


Perhaps now, as the horizon draws down

and the light of August thins to dusk

I will learn to sing with her. Learn

her strings as if they were my own hands.

The music might well come.

prompt #10 ~ blue

In this red/blue state ~


In the very early morning, blue mist

bleeds from the Blue Ridge mountains

on the horizon. It rolls down the slopes

puddles in the valleys, thick & furred.

Even the evergreens are blued w/fog

softened in outline. This is home now.


In Oklahoma, where the dirt is ironrust red,

the wind blows as red as the politics.

Here, even when the Stars & Bars stake

their claim to race & religion, old manners

breathe blue mist. Rain falls in silvery threads

and light is suffused with blue shadows.


Perhaps my battered hopes will heal, cradled

in air the colour of memory. And red light

will thin to rose, while blue sky deepens. Perhaps.

And maybe, in this misty high place, I will learn

to listen, hearing through red anger the quiet

melody of blues.

prompt #9 ~ spider

in the window sill

threadlike remains of eight legs

colour leached by light

eight eyes will not see again

a tiny web hangs, tattered


poem #8 ~ shovel poem

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra” ~

with apologies to Ishmael Reed[1]


My literary lovers aren’t like me. It is not my choice that I

Follow the tracks of black men, gay men, dead veterans. But who I am

Is all of these men I never was and never will be. Somehow, a

Bridge connects each of them to me, each of us to one another. Cowboys

To angry Indians, men betrayed by women to this woman, who in

Her journey out of darkness watches for the light thrown by the

Men who live there, on the margins, floating down the river in a boat

With words for a rudder. Made homeless by other men always white men of

My own kind, my father told me. But the ancient god speaks, and Ra

Who created everything & everyone, even the white sidewinders,

Reminds me: all pools reflect light. Looking at light is looking in

Into the darkness within us. Each of my lovers has mapped the

Alleys, hairpin curves, and switchbacks of roads like old saloons

Set up to carry us away from bridges, away from all of

Light’s illumination. Not to follow is to submit to fools.

Not to follow is to submit.




Prompt #7 ~ inside out

Inside out

From the gut – the bones, the marrow, the soft & hidden
Places. Where who I really am hides, protected. Safe…
Sequestered behind organs that pulse    inflate    record
Move the seas of blood through the tiniest of tunnels.
Over microscopic bridges without names

Neural pathways crisscross the hidden me, who conceals
Her presence in the ocean thrum of inner music, plucked
Tendons    ligaments    the threads of artery & vein
Each with its own red voice, magnified in community
Camouflage for the uncertain

Without – the smile, the warm confidence. The careful
Lacquer of manners & skills. All the masks we wear
Over our inner lives. Silk and leather and the fey glitter
Of carefully polished words. None of it matching
An interior landscape of apocalypse


Prompt #6 ~ changes


Some things never change
Rain falls to the thirsty ground
In silver torrents
Until you move. And rain
Glitters down, silver threads
That shimmer in the grey mountain air

Light that in another latitude
Scorches dreams
Here gentles the air
Offers up its softest sheen
A kind of curtain against darkness
So that I draw back the real curtains
And drown myself in light like rain
Silver healing.

Poem #5 ~ that was then

That was then

Between the banyan’s ropy limbs
The monk offered incense to the faithful
And to the round-eyed child who only then
Realised where god lived: within this smoky cave

Where saffron robes flickered like leaflight
Like the dreams where she bargained with god
To make for her a home. Here, where sandalwood
Was in each breath. Here, where she would never

Belong. Her very skin argued with the monsoon
Shining through its silver curtain, her pale legs
Crossed in front Buddha style. She is not
Invisible, despite the magic she is certain

Infuses the air. She is người Tây, foreigner
Suspended between then – that longlost then –
And now, some essential part of her


Prompt 4 ~ googling old lovers

googling old lovers

I looked for you yesterday
Knowing that your name
That song of syllables
Bequeathed you by a man
As tall as you perhaps as wild
Would ride the tidal wave
Of names of losses left uncounted
Dark hot sorrow

It was a nuclear separation
The explosive white fire
of my father’s anger
The warm brown sorrow
of your mother’s foreseeing
The incandescence of desire
fell from my fingers like notes
of music from plucked strings
Or water heard, unseen
I did not find you

Only your death
the abrupt end of that road trip
we once thought we’d take together
three years after the black hot sorrow
Of my leaving
you were dust unto dust
Bones broken by familiar hate

and now decades past that fire
the hazy smoke of your name
curls above the embers
Sorrow that I would not feel
Could not submit to
Even now


The house where the wind lives

The house where the wind lives

Has no doors. The windows whisper
To the sagebrush nestled beneath them:
Hold fast, my loves. Hold fast.
Behind the weathered wooden walls
High plains stretch langurously
Their flat bodies supine beneath
The wide pale sky
Mornings, the wind has breakfast
With her lover, cloud.
Cloud’s tendril fingers reach
For sage blossoms
Which wind blows across
The sagging table. She smiles.
Cloud shakes his head, and droplets
Of rain fall from his white hair.
This is the house where the wind lives
He reminds himself. And smiles back.

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