Prompt 12: The Banquet

Prompt 12: The Banquet


“yogurt and granola—and listens to the music of his best-fed child.”

–last line from Naomi Guttman, The Banquet of Donny & Ari


My child listens to yogurt living in her bowl

as though it is an aquarium: feeding bacteria

fascinating to her as herring

for the well-trained seals.


Her laugh is music played off scale, hitting

notes at random growls—granola poured

in metal bowls.


She smells of honey, sourdough—a little sweet,

a little tart.


This becomes me: best-fed mother of all.

Cushions, after Georges Braque, “The Studio” (Vase before a Window)


after Georges Braque, “The Studio” (Vase before a Window)


In the well-lit studio, a cushion

on a yellow stool

near potted plant with heart-shaped leaves

before the three-paned window.


A hand-stitched rounded cushion,

threads of emerald, mustard, pink

radiate like thick-veined leaves

from a central cushion stem

all perched atop a sturdy wooden stool

the painter isn’t sat on.


There’s a palette, quite guitarish,

strings (or brushes) much linguinish.

The textiles in the room are broad:

floral paper, chunky vase

the plant is potted down in.

Layers of papers, swath of pink,

rest upon an easel.  But no one’s bum

is resting on that cushion:

it seems the work’s preoccupation

and featured as self portrait.


Outside the window, weak blue sky

some puffy clouds and street-car wires.

The view is overwhelmed by wood

and golds, especially that cushion:

the one who thought the vase was “it”

(disinterested sitter) put on airs—

painters, writers, all great art

depends upon our cushions.


Fourteen Things I Ordered from Amazon During the Pandemic: A Sonnet

Fourteen Things I Ordered from Amazon During the Pandemic: A Sonnet


Pomi Tomatoes, chopped finely

Hickory-smoked bacon bits

Tuscanini tomato paste tube

Valley Fresh 100% natural white chicken pouch


Turkish dried figs

Pancake turner

Terrasoul Superfoods organic Medjool dates

Terry oven mitts


Iberia black beans, dry

Garam masala certified organic seasoning

Red lentils

Grass-fed ghee

The Murmur of Bees

War and Peace


How to Find the Dark

How to Find the Dark


In Summer, walk behind the thresher

looking for the bodies of small animals.

Pray for them.  When you stand on the railing

of the bridge, do a kicking Russian dance.


Wear a silent bracelet with imagined

skulls for charms.  Canter in the field at night,

till you breathe hard.  Then stop and glower

with your eyes tight shut.


The minister is saying the same platitudes.

Think of chocolate.  Think of your bloody

white pants.  Think of the red bush

of a fox’s tail pushing up from wheat.


The clinical words they told you to describe dying

are communion wafers when you need meat.

Apprentice for the vet who takes no appointments.

He knows the right order for pain.

Skagit Flats

Skagit Flats


Rows of corn

lifting small wings

in June

like cormorant


on rocks in the estuary


How some birds

fly underwater



cursive shapes


I miss our lunches

on that river

the lacquered wood, nautical décor


How we escaped a department

of nudists

and saw one another molting

shedding one way of lifting into the world

for another


Driving through

the first humidity

in June

like flying





Charles Simic is a sentence.

Marie Kondo is a verb.  Nancy Pagh is

a phoneme, one of 44 ways of indicating

the degree of incarnadine flushing

the maple today at 12:08 Pacific Time.

Nancy Pagh suggests building something

out of water then drinking it.

Putting cold fingers in the mouth

to warm them.  Tasting bacon

cooked long ago in the current

seasoning of a cast-iron pan.  Nancy Pagh

rows to the end of a long lake,

climbs out on the sand to rest, indicating

the voice of a thrush in dark forest

directly behind you.  Nancy Pagh

feels the sweat on your neck.  Phonemic

awareness allows you to notice squared

grains of sand between your toes

as you Marie Kondo this blue sweep of lake:

keeping it, keeping the joy that it sparks,

keeping as well the line of horizon

as buttered and bright as

Charlie Simic, clarified.




What do you know about me?  My shades

go up and down, blacking out the headlights,

the sword fern and cedar, the dreamy eyes

of black-tailed deer, your frilly locust reach

just beyond the window.  Inside

I am the first-year knotted root of burdock,

a crunchy step in granular snow,

a stone to hold the tent’s peg firm.  I camp

beside a Swedish alpine lake, watch Northern Lights,

then fry a rib-eye steak directly in the coals.  I am pants

reinforced at the knees walking swiftly down a path,

my Newfoundland dog beside me.  I speak

in accents when I speak at all.  Mostly I just show

how to crumple birch bark as tinder,

how to feed a honey stove,

how to make creamed nettles,

how to walk the woolly world with a knife in my belt, unrooted.

Each May night the Creator hangs small slices of moon

from your branches to dry.  So softly they drop

in the yard just outside my window

while I watch another bushcraft vlog.

Safety Check

Safety Check


The spare tire lurks—useless, flat,

only a metaphor for safety—there, hanging

off the back of my ’97 Toyota Rav


brilliant with the day’s radiance against

the muted, algaed driveway that slopes

so steeply down to the busy street


overhung by the leaning Douglas fir

that was whacked by a falling cedar some

years ago (before I bought this house)


where the robins have built their nest

right above the sidewalk and bring red worms

with threads of moss and clucks of alarm all day.


If I put my hands on the mail in the pandemic

how do I open the door?  How do I open

the flip-top of disinfectant wipes?


When I was a child, how did I move

so lightly from the transom to the dinghy,

from dinghy to the rocky shore


without getting wet at all?  The Summer

I lived in Vancouver with an ear virus

and couldn’t stand up at all.  What?


Resilience is the word everybody’s using,

making bright sounds with dark and sticky

implications.  Meanwhile


down there on the sidewalk some kind of

weird shepherd-corgi cross is looking up, is

a dog with short legs and long aspirations.

Rold Skov

Rold Skov


Some disappearance is literal; some disappearance is myth.

He forged portraits of Dutch merchants

when commissioned landscapes dried up.  I missed

the witch hazel and bitter green willow gleaming

beside our bed.  Old men’s faces, slick as slate,

were something to drape my coat on.


Language makes us cruel.  After the marriage he inked

my name in green curls like a tongue of nettle

along his arm.  Nothing that lives is nothing.

Months from now, in October, on a day of air

and yellow, I will find our tree in Rold Skov

and scrape our paired initials from its limb.

Mid-Century Meditatio

Mid-Century Meditatio


I notice you in an Acapulco chair at the party

how you manage to sit upright


an egg poached in the hurricane

stirred into a pan.


Abandoning the bodies of the dead

the childhood dresses and little white gloves


I stand apart and watch

the madeness of someone elegant


who draws, like forceps, attention

from my particular anatomy.


I notice the Acapulco chair at the party

the nest of its white leather empty.


Music moans like an animal feeling

its mother must be near.


I did not know the term mid-century modern

until I was forty.  It was just furniture


the way forecasts are abandoned

and jackets are worn.  The intent,


the madeness of something,

was music not read until later


after your exquisite body abandoned

the next fashionable chair.