The net they caught her in is made of clay White porcelain in liquid curves stands still although she walks within the night (and sometimes day) Exorcist of nightmares, her breath will somehow infuse me in my anxious sleep: a Buddhist dreamcatcher. Her slim hands hold a stick of incense. The curling smoke seeps into my nightly war, darkness controlled and held at bay. Childlike, I reject reason although I know she does not really breathe. Her quiet strength a graceful talisman knife blade secret within a porcelain sheath. In plain sight she guards me hour by hour: Guanyin, at ease within her gentle power ~
Prompt #2 ~ Magic
The red-bellied woodpecker flies over the windshield
We almost collide.
In another world, we do, but there is only wings
now stretching from my shoulders
as my silver hair reddens and the air lifts it like feathers
Only wings, a hunger for so many decades
for so many earthbound
The wheels continue down the road
You do not notice I am gone
a tethered bird left behind
while I climb the wind into the clouds
Beside you, the bird that wears my face
is still, only her head turning from side to side
as she wonders like I have like I do still
at these flightless creatures
set free only in the wake of wreckage
the best of the times I am the worst of times
I am the morning light caught in the mist above the grass
I am wounded darkness bleeding into the horizon
I am water, pooling in a muddy hollow, where a small bird sips
I may be the cat that will leap, breaking the bird’s fragile bones
I am the flight of crows climbing and the vulture in their wake
I am what I know and what I have forgotten, as my mother did
Whatever I am, it is all of this
the hard and the heart-filled
the hungry and the replete. All that I am brims from emptiness
whispering this too I am. This that you seek, this that you fear.
I grew up a third-culture kid, meaning I was an expat/Army brat throughout childhood. Lived on 3 continents before I was 25. Always moving, creating new ‘homes.’ I’m a turtle, in other words. Because I never fit in, issues of translation & culture ground much of my work. A love of other languages and their music also fascinates me: they go ~ like music with lyrics ~ with the images we tend to define as poetry.
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.
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.
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.
in the window sill
threadlike remains of eight legs
colour leached by light
eight eyes will not see again
a tiny web hangs, tattered
“I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra” ~
with apologies to Ishmael Reed
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.
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