Hour 2

If there were an incantation I could use

Sigils drawn on black flagstone

Or blood at dawn on a granite slab

chants of words forbidden that stab the tongue and burn the throat

a rattle made of dragons’ eggs, powders

and potions of ground unicorn and gryffin hide

the mandrake’s cry, the faerie’s kiss

children drowned in nightdark springs

warriors hung by the neck from the Tree of the World

demons clashing their fiery hooves and thrashing their dread horns

the very peals of armegeddon behind their gnashing teeth

What a spell I would weave!

I would then call down the moon and sun

plait them into a Beast fit to

pluck the breath from a weeping mermaid

and spittle from a rose

Folded once, twice, thrice

become a blade

dipped in the fire of a young man’s passion

annealed in the tears of a widow

And send my Beast forth so armed!

To bring me your heart at least,

if not the rest of you.

Hour 1

I am the warm air rising from the ground

in the city, I am the burning asphalt.

I am the sigh of passing cars

on the freeway, I am the rainbow in the puddles.

I am memory and thought wheeling

like twin ravens of old.

The traveler at the crossroads, but also the crossroads

The man in the tent, the dog on the highway

The wolf, the crow, the burning eye

The spear, the gun, the echo of laughter

I am the feet that walk the road

ever turning

The hat pulled low to hide

a cragged face.

Hour Twelve

What Dreams May Come

Lay me down by North Creek

where it moves stately as a wedding march

light as a jig.


Us, under the bridge, you said

“If we stay here any longer, I’m going to kiss you”

and I blushed and froze.


The tall grasses hide nutria (false beaver)

and real beaver too, and we got

such a laugh from that.


Under the bridge, you said you loved me

and were shocked I didn’t run

but said it back instead.


I lay in the dappling light, out of view

dream your arms around me

and sigh with the reeds and branches.

Hour Eleven

Perennial Wallflower


In summer you

agreed to teach me to waltz.

Then winter crept up


and you flew away

with the geese. Now my feet are

frozen to the earth.

Hour Ten

J 3


Gold in the puddles on the ground

and in the sunlight crashing down

around your face and in my eyes

blinding in the golden skies

when I looked up and you said


“I’ll make an honest woman of you.”


I should have stopped there

clutched my heart

and keeled over dead.


Now I know, now I know

it will not get better than that

one bright moment

one second in the sun

one pulse of light

was all I had.

Hour Nine

Goodnight Spider

October is the Month of the Spider

those eight-legged hunters, pregnant and fat

hang low, with wide-cast webs

to catch the most unwary meals

for ravenous mothers-to-be.


She hangs from her net, lazy and gravid

letting it do the work for her,

for she knows that her work is almost done.

October is the Month of Life and Death;

she was not built for cold, and as she spins her sac

she ebbs, fails, and falls into the brown crackling leaves

among the shells of her prey.

Hour Eight

The Last Moments of Heaven


If I had known this would happen, and

if I could have guessed (though how could I) what

my gentleness would bring, I would have been rough

and insistent, but not wanting to scare you, I caged the beast

and honeyed my tongue, thinking that Fate, in its

evenness, had finally run out of torments, and now the hour

had arrived that it may mete out joy, that you would come.


As I walked home the sun was setting in all its colors, round

dinner time, and though I had a deep foreboding, I nonetheless smiled at

the thought you may be waiting for me, that the last

few days silence had been remnants of an old life, sullen as it slouches

into oblivion. I quickened my pace, almost singing as I skipped towards

my home, hoping for joyous news, my own Star of Bethlehem

shining in the parking-lot; you casually (with flowers?) waiting there to

answer in person, and I ignored the pangs of foreknowing what would be

awaiting me upon my arrival, what disastrous new chapter was about to be born.


Golden Shovel poem, borrowing the lines “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” from W. B. Yeats’ Second Coming.

Hour Seven

An Explanation


It should come as no surprise to anyone

that day should end and night should come,

as winter follows fall, and the fields turn black

or white, as the season freezes the earth.


Even the stars must burn out and die,

snuffed like cinders in the lampblack sky.


From starstuff we arise, and to the sky

we rise again, even as we are buried,

like seeds, in hopes of a resurrection

or burned, hearkening to our astral origin.


Even the earth falls back to the sun,

and the sun rises and falls into itself, a stillquiet corpse.


It should come as no surprise to anyone

that a stargazer should feel no fear

ascending as she descends

stillquiet and singing.

Hour Six

J 2


If you were here

turn around three times and wish

A hundred ways I’d let you know:

I would make your favorite dinner

and watch your favorite show

If you were here


If you were here

put the penny in my pocket and wish

I would strip you down and take you

stand you up, unmake you

I would cry out your name and slake you

to hear you cry out mine

if you were here


If you were here

blow out the candle and wish

I would hold you close and let you sleep

in my arms, while I keep

the vigil for your monsters

dispatch your demons and tormentors

and never let you fear

I would fight all my days and nights for you

Keep on all the lights for you

If only you were here, my love

If only you were here.

Hour Five

Brother Stephen


I loved the boy who tore down my treehouse,

so I didn’t tell him to stop. I just climbed down

and let the destruction happen because

he was drunk, and I was a fatalist

and believed then, as I do now

that all good things must come to an end.


It wasn’t my treehouse. It belonged to the town.

It belonged to the spirit of every teenager

who ever needed a place in an uncut swathe of forest

on unparceled land, to sit and stare quietly

or hide from the crowd in greenleaf peace

or let the crowd hide them.


Before, when days turned early to cold and dark

we found an old fender buried in the ferns

used it as a hearth, gathered sticks and paper,

and built a fire in the treehouse.

Floating faces in the glowing light, sparks flying to heaven

and there was the Boy I Loved laughing

when I griped about how my folks spent my college money.

Yeah, it was kind of funny.


He’s not the one I miss. Looking back

on that crowd around the fire, I see my Brother

from Another Mother, My Best Friend’s Boyfriend, he was the one

who helped me out of the tree as the Boy I Loved ripped it down around me.

He held out his hand, again and again, when love got drunk

and ripped the world down around me.


Last time I saw him , he was in a nest of wires

and bottles and tubes and machines that go “ping!”

Cancer slowed him down long enough for me to catch up to him.

Surprise, A Boy I Loved had just wrecked my world, but I held out my hand this time

asking him please, take it, lean on me, while it all falls down.

So far, he has not taken it.


I was hoping, so hoping, like Hansel and Gretel,

We could find our way out of these woods together.