Poem 12: A Haiku Sequence for the Twelfth Poem

Three windows above

my desk frame the trees outside —

green portrait of limbs and leaves.


I scrubbed my desk last

night so today I could write

with a cleared head.


Twelve hours blazed past

to now, my eyes blurred and red,

grateful for the end.


My weary eyes dive

into the living green scene

just beyond my reach.

Poem 11: I Know I’m Not Alone

I often think of you. I’m sure I’m like many women

who’ve lost their moms — wish we could have

one last talk. There’s so much I want to run by you –

your thoughts on Trump and what he’s done

to your GOP, how I could always see how smart

you were, you would have excelled in anything

you wanted to study at college, your one regret

not going, losing Matt by his own hand.

For other

deeper things, I know how you think

and what you’d tell me. It’s the things

I’ve come to see since you died

that I wish for one last chat. I don’t want

to become a story you forget. I hope

you think of me too, that the afterlife

is all that you’d hoped, even if it’s

different than what you were told.

I’d love to sit by you holding our similar hands

one more time, our fingers laced and strong.

Poem 10 What is Love if Not Transformation

The quail in the old Wild Area (as we called it

before it was bulldozed for houses) used to use

the aspen grove for their rookery. I often saw the chicks

following their folk as I skirted the trail along

the south side of grove, which in my mind explains

why those little scurrying feathered kids persuaded

my body to become a newborn quail. Right out of my shell

I bounced my floppy topknot around like the elephant calves

I saw on NatGeo swing their face noodles for fun, though

my topknot is on a smaller scale. My new life

is a smaller scale, so the patch of grass

looks like a plush motel that could house my whole family,

head plumes and all. The happiness of moist dirt underneath

soothes my fears. It took no time at all before I stopped

missing my thumbs. I love my three toes. Sprouting feathers

clinched the deal. I never want to turn back. I love

my quail life and will scuttle through this grove and follow

my clan wherever they go. I love how safe we all are

here iour private aspen grove.

Poem 9: 20 Little Poetry Projects and the word list for #9

Summer Fugue

A good friend is a comfy jacket that matches

all your favorite jeans. Or maybe a good friend

is the carport where you park your beat-up VW.

Calloused elbows rough to the touch, the scent

of freshly squeezed lime, love as red and earthy

as beets, the click of the lightbulb switching on,

the first sip of sweet morning joe. I want to listen

to how you touch my hand, to touch your voice

with my fingertips. Like when Judith and I kicked

around UTEP after the campus was closed to cars.

Elbows no longer rough when rubbed with half

a fresh lime. Lime puts me in mind of mojitos

like the tall glasses we drank poolside in Coz.

Dagnabbit, I should have grown spearmint this year!

Because then we could go on a dive trip this winter.

Women think they’re our equals, bwahahahaha,

I heard my brother-in-law say. The established laws of evolution

will take care of him. I’m thinking of the Neanderthals

and the furry or scaled game they once hunted. Judith can

take my BIL out with a quick round-house to the chin,

if we can’t wait for evolution to come save us. ConCon

would be so happy for that. All of this will come true

in six months, like the woolly mammoth who visits twice a year.

Dinosaurs love my mom’s chile con queso most of all.

¿Pero, que podemos hacer? The tostados sit up and take notice.

I see the big one is wearing a comfy-looking jacket

made of maize I pulverized with my hands.

Poem 8: My Mother Was Never a Tree

My mother was never a tree,

nor a tree branch, nor the leaves

that block the sun into shade.

She was the shade itself,

the cool hand that took away fevers

and calmed bruises children got

from playing too hard. She was born

on a prairie that lacked shade

except for the windbreak the CCC planted

after she was born. I think that’s why

she appreciated the little shade there was

on the prairie, and she became

what she appreciated. She folded the

fear of God into her skin, knew

her calling was to provide balms

to those who needed balm. For years,

my mother dreamed of the bison

that once roamed the land of her youth.

A mother bison provides shade

for her calves. All she has to do

is stand beside them. When the grass

died for lack of rain, it was the shade

that sustained my mother

and her sisters. They ate bowls of shade

for breakfast and daydreamed of rain.

Right now, my mother

is the dream that runs through my mind,

and everywhere she goes, her steps leave

foot-shaped indentations of shade.

Poem 7: Ode to the Almond

A woman’s tears spill

to the ground, her

tears spill from the wounds

behind her green eyes.

They make small balls

of brown mud. The woman’s

tears are a child’s tears.

The woman’s tears

become mud balls

that grow hard as

compact dirt, the insides

light and filled

with hope that

spills out of her body

with each of her tears.

The woman’s tears

become seeds that

grow into trees

that bear nuts

the shape of her tears.

Poem 6: Crows at Sundown

I look out the kitchen window at the slanting light

that gilds all the shrubs and trees in the yard.

Tangerine clouds drift like schooners in the indigo sky.

A sudden clamorous cawing of crows calls me

to go outside where my like-minded neighbors


join me at the fence. We look up at a long row of black birds

strung close together on a telephone wire.

There’s not a single crumpled feather among them. I imagine

they can see themselves in the smooth sheen of their pals, their

beaks filled with dark song. One of them lets loose a singular caw!


like some horny housewife who wants to burn the restaurant

down because her husband goes there every day, because

he sleeps after tv each night so he can wake up all fresh

when he leaves again at dawn. A woman can be

jealous of bricks and ovens and crows who seldom


talk about restaurants or buildings because they never go inside.

My neighbors and I can tell the crows enjoy a strong wire

like this one they can safely perch on, where they won’t get

torched the second they touch down, despite the clamor

of voices that pass through their coiled claws.

Poem 5: The Motherless Child Revisits the Field

The girl’s untouched skin

never answered her questions,

so for the past dozen weeks,

she guards her own body.

She walks from her suburban home

to the nearby field, stepping off

the sidewalks’ stable physics and

away from the streetlights’ particles

and waves that want her safe.

The studied grasses recognize her,

counsel her to cleanse

her briny face with aspen bark.

All night, the geography of trees

listens to her through the feral ears

of possum and coon and quail

who quickened at her arrival

then grow still, awed by the girl’s

own light no one can extinguish.

For hours, the moon lingers,

diffusing her light through the trees’

branches, like spottled gleaming light

refracted in the eyes of wild dogs.

When the moon departs, the girl

picks up a psalm in the meadow

by the aspen grove and bemoans

the darkness before she walks

back to her dark quiet home.

Poem 4: Morning Gratitude

Bless the Sonicare toothbrush

and the dark oils from my hand

smudging the white plastic. Bless this

Pike Place Market cup I bought at a yard sale

for 25ȼ because the handle was cracked.

Bless Super Glue that fixes cracks

and the ashtray I made in high school

ceramics that I dropped in my 20s.

Bless the Pantene 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner

that streamlines my shower and the soft

quick-dry turquoise towel that touches me

head to toe. Bless the stretchy New Balance

black shorts I slip into and have for close to 10 years,

the ones with the built-in briefs so I can

be commando, free of extra elastic of briefs, the shorts

I’ve searched to replace on Amazon and Ebay

with no luck. Bless the 80% cotton t-shirt with turquoise

rain cloud on the chest I pull over my head.

Bless the Berber carpet, installed 20 years ago,

for padding the floors softly as I walk

down the hall to the kitchen for coffee

and for holding on for another few years.

Bless the Keurig coffee maker for the squeals

it makes with my morning cup, careless

of the waste it sends through my hands

to the landfill. Bless my daughter for

surviving the pain she suffered when I left her

with her dad for 8 months that she calls a year

because it was so longer for her than for me and for

loving her mother despite it. Bless all the little fawns

in the forests who wait under shrubs

for their moms to come back.

Poem 3: The Way Light Moves

I often walk to the forest near my house so I can’t

see the rooms of my house that confine me.

I’m not smart enough to speak Tree, but I want to learn

how the distance is never as great as we think

between where we are and where we want to be.

It’s difficult to listen to the clap of crows winging

away from here, but I want to learn how to do it.

Chain link fencing surrounds the new pit

earth movers made of this corner where a 100-foot

water tower will be raised. But they razed

100-year-old trees to make room. The pit

is walled in on all sides by the rocks and dirt

that once filled this space. The berms circle 15 feet high

on all sides. I want to trample to the top of the berms,

feel the dirt give way under my feet. None of this business

is neat. It’s as messy as the art room

of the elementary school a short walk from this pit.

The light is used to watching the children play in the yard.

The light climbs the trees all day, low to high to low again,

but how can it climb when the trees are now gone?

We keep our sorrows to ourselves, just like

the balsamroot and service berries keep

secrets they won’t speak.  I wish I could speak to them all,

tell them I’m sorry for this pit that wrecked their home.

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