The End of the Book

I teach kids to read
I want them to love words
and stories
and books
like I do.

That means I mostly read
kids’ books, appreciate
the subtle sophistication
of children’s lit,
of children.

But…I just slogged through
365 pages
of adult action adventure.

Kids won’t put up with rambling,
with details that don’t matter.

But…I read it.
I liked it enough to finish.
And the last two pages
were fabulous, the best two pages
in the book.
It was about hope.
It was about goodness.
It was worth it.

But…it’s back to kids’ books for me,
at least for a while.

Test Poem

To Christian Politicians Who Pass Laws Making Hate Legal

You can codify
it, make it legal, but hate
is still not holy.

What I Learned Doing a Poetry Marathon

The real secret to writing
isn’t a secret
The pros have been telling you for years
to act on your intentions
and write

It’s about priorities
It shouldn’t be the lawn
that needs mowing
the laundry
that needs washing
the friend
who needs validation
The writing comes first
No excuses

No one faults the business owner
for doing business
So no one should fault the artist
for making art

For me
it has to be
about thinking
and writing

Forget about what’s for dinner
There’s always cereal
and canned soup
and some of us thrive
on words

Poem #12

Coming Home from Dinner

After dinner sky
sweeter than any dessert–
Whipped pink and white froth

On the horizon,
blue-grey clouds, jagged and thick,
like mountain ranges

Poem #11

Tower of Babel

No como arroz, y el no come frijoles.

He didn’t understand my English,
and I was afraid to use my Spanish.

What if we quit being so afraid
and just did our best to be understood?

St. Francis was on to something.

Poem #10

A Poem for Old Ladies

What do you wear
when your love takes you to dinner,
the old love you’ve been sleeping with
for decades?

Why, the prettiest thing you own!

A Poem about Nothing

When I should have been composing poems,
or at least thinking about them,
I folded laundry
had a snack, and
did the lunch dishes
that had been taunting me
for the past three hours.

Life gets in the way of art,
even on those days when
I’ve committed myself to art.

But there’s no art without living.
Writers who lock themselves away in the garret,
even metaphorically,
have nothing about which to write.

But laundry? That’s what I get?
Not even dirty laundry,
not that I care to air that
even for art.

How the Hell Do I Know What We Need?

How the Hell Do I Know What We Need?

I can only tell you what I need.
And you can tell me what you need.
Together, we can say what we need.
How’s that?

I need friends,
even the ones who don’t always agree with me
on the issues of my heart.

I need a home that’s truly mine,
with a garden and chickens.
Running water and air conditioning are nice, too.

I need my family
to know that I love them.

I need people.

I need dogs and cats,
my four-legged family,
and the llamas and goats and donkeys
down the road,
and the roadrunners and buntings and owls
in the trees along the creek.

I need my man
for as long as I can have him.

And I need a purpose to be here
even if that purpose is to be
a part of a community,
a friend,
someone’s family,
someone’s home.

Midday, June (a visual poem)

Midday, June

Inside, my big mutt dog,
who looks like an Anatolian
but whose mother is surely a Great Pyrenees,
sprawls across my treadmill
all snores, ivory fur, and black face.

Outside, the sky is smudged charcoal,
the air that peculiar clear green I’ve only seen
in Oklahoma when the atmosphere is charged
and ripe for a tornado.

Still, I pull on rubber boots
and walk outside for inspiration
to write a purely visual poem.

After Grandpa Died, Hour 6

Consider this a rough draft. An hour was not enough.

After Grandpa Died

We found the newspaper clipping in his wallet,
yellowed, creased, from a time when
mixed race women of African descent were called
mulatto wenches.

The story?
Three women sold?
How does this figure into Grandpa’s story?
I always thought one of them was his mother,
but the look on your face makes me think
of another possibility:
his half sisters?

I’d always heard his mother was an Indian,
but I never met her,
never found her name on the Dawes’ Roll.
Maybe I should let it go,
make up my own story like you suggested.

But I have a story–
Grandpa, on the porch whittling
Me, careful to avoid his spit can,
singing along with him as he picked his guitar
or played his fiddle
How he loved my beautiful grandma
and cornbread and buttermilk in a bowl.
And…
the clipping in his wallet.