prompt #3 ~ something in the house

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

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

poem #1 ~ I am

I am


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.

Britton in Blacksburg ~

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.

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