Thursday, April 30, 2015

Life Is More

Someone once told me that life is more
than eating, fucking, and sleeping.
Foolishly, I failed to ask for proof.
But now, having held death
and smelled death a time or two,
I know the truth.
Life is nothing more
than eating, fucking, and sleeping
from the first breath to the last;
beyond that
is beyond that
that we can grasp.

For Izy's prompt at Real Toads

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Corpse Flower

Alone.

I haven't slept alone in over a decade
except for naps, and naps
don't count.  Even napping,
my body doubts,

behaves,
stays in its space,
and wastes
empty acres of bed.

Head aligned with my spine,
arms tight at my sides,
I lie
stiff

and still as a corpse
in a drawer
at the morgue -

all bones and bud tight skin.
A flower
that won't bloom again

until it's alone.

Submitting this to Real Toads and hoping that Magaly will forgive me for stretching the prompt!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Damage

Her back
is smooth and straight
unblemished by the weight
of 20,000 settings of the sun.
Her hands
are soft and clean
uncalloused by the mean
work of scraping by
to be someone.

Beautiful and young.
She's not yet the damage that she's done.

She puts her hand in mine,
and I wrap her in the life lines lived
and left unforgiven.
She sees wisdom in my wear,
a sage that I'm not sure is there,
but for her I'll take care to keep pretending.

So beautiful and young.
She can't know the damage that I've done.

For The Tuesday Platform at Real Toads

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pink Sheer Curtains

The sun
crossed the sea
just to paint
you, I think
with light
through my pink
sheer curtains.

The earth
turned just so
and held
to hold.
She was bereft
to let go
I'm certain

of you
through my sheer
pink curtains.

For Grace's prompt at Real Toads

Friday, April 24, 2015

Whole

Daughter,
my wish for you
is that you be whole.
Not just a hole
to be filled by some dullard's dick,
dumb ideas, or distressing
lack of imagination.
Not in a hole
shoveled by your sex;
a six feet under start.
Whole.
From your cells to your stars
whole.
Holy.
You.

integrity - the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished

For Ella's prompt at Real Toads

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Last Legs Of A Long Night

On the last legs of a long night,
I hold myself awake counting
breaks in my bones.

On the last legs of a long night,
I rock myself to sleep singing
home is where the heart blood flows.

On the broad back of the morning,
I know just what to say.
On the swayback of the evening,
I fall apart like rain.

On the last legs of a long night,
I hold myself awake counting mistakes.

6, 7, 8.

On the last legs of loving you,
I hold myself awake counting
sins.

On the last legs of loving you,
I rock myself to sleep singing
ways to make us good again.

On the broad back of the morning,
hope's a fickle star.
By the swayback of the evening,
I'm wondering where you are.

On the last legs of loving you,
I hold myself awake counting
sins

I won't forgive.  9, 10.

On my last legs for Karin at Real Toads

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Must Be Love

it must be love
this free-flowing vein
this pen prick pricking and picking
my brain
this blank paper bliss
bleeding on paper this
must be love -

cause it damn sure don't pay

Written for a friend and submitted to The Tuesday Platform at Real Toads

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Half

Half
of all poems end

howls untethered
from the throat

tree blued, sky rooted

undersexed
and under glass.

For Karin's prompt at Real Toads

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Clumsy Haiku

Stars above my head.
Sharp stones scattered at my feet.
Stiff neck -oh!- stubbed toe.

For Hannah's haiku prompt at Real Toads

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Caliology

Birds Nest by David Hess

The male robin sings.
The female gathers

twigs and grass
and waits for rain.

Then, with mud in her beak,
she weaves and spackles,

sculpting and shaping -
her nest taking

the curve of her heat,
the weight of her wings,

and three blue eggs.
The male robin sings.

Caliology -the study of bird nests

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Woman's Folly

I am creating
a wholesome man
of calcium and clay.

Like God did.
Like my mom did.
But mine will never stray

from the garden;
once he hardens,
he'll belong to me.

I am creating
a wholesome man
for my unwholesome Eve.

Some folly for Hedge's prompt at Real Toads

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Burying Pete

It's a cool and grey
wind in the dead leaves day
today.

There's a bite to the breeze
leaning the trees to the East.

Rumors of rain
whisper of rot in the hay
that lays

in the field

while we bury

Old Pete.

For The Tuesday Platform at Real Toads

Sunday, April 12, 2015

All Afternoon

It was evening all afternoon.
                            --- Wallace Stevens

It was evening all afternoon,
so I worked at the craft that calls me.
No blackbirds outside,
just robins lying of spring
and the swing of the sun.

I thought the piece
fit to release the hounds
upon the heather.
But my weather eye had gone blind
from my scratch
at the red dirt I come from.

For Grace's prompt at Real Toads

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Still Life

It's still
life outside my window.
Everything
straining toward something.
Degrees turning.
Time burning.
Nothing
is still.
Life.

How I hold on to hope.  For Sherry's prompt at Real Toads.

Friday, April 10, 2015

To My Mixed Race, Lesbian Great-Great-Great Granddaughter

As I write this, you
are not even a glimmer in anyone's eye.
When you read this, I'll
be long gone.
Please, bear with my archaic words.
I mean, "mixed race?"  We're all coffee and cream, right?
And, "lesbian?" No one stares or cares anymore.
But that's why I'm writing.

To remind you.

To remind you that we wiped out measles once . . .
and let it creep back.
We won our reproductive freedom . . .
and lost it bit by bit.
Hell, we were the free fucking world . . .
until we stopped paying attention.

Pay attention, child.
Pay attention.

You don't want to be fluent
in grandma's dead language.

A letter to a future descendant for Real Toads

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Feather Dance

eagle_dancer
Eagle Dancer by Woodrow Crumbo

Any Indian who shall engage in the sun dance, scalp dance, or war dance, or any other similar feast, so called, shall be deemed guilty of an offense, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished for the first offense by the withholding of its rations for not exceeding ten days or for imprisonment not exceeding ten days . . .
--- 1882 Courts of Indian Offenses

I am a Hawk -
feathers
fanning
from my fingers.

An Eagle downed
in the Mysteries
of my Mother.

I am an owl -
swift and sharp.

I am a water bird -
carrying
the heaviest
of heartaches.

A Scissortail riding
the smoke
as it floats away.

A Flicker
in the dark.


Notes: A variety of feathers are held sacred by different Native American tribes ( I've used red-tailed hawk, American bald eagle, cormorant, scissortail, and flicker) and are used in rituals, dances, and ceremonies. It is believed that the wearer takes on attributes of the bird.  

If the law forbidding dance strikes you as archaic, consider that an Indian could be prosecuted for possessing eagle feathers as late as 1978 (the year the American Indian Religious Freedom Act became law).

For Ella's prompt at Real Toads

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Last Night's Love Poem

Drunk
on having
an answer to the ache,
thirst slaked
on unripe words,
my belly
moons full
and my head
thickens.

Nocturne  / Turn on

the morning light
full in the face of last night's love.
No kind shadows
or softening silhouettes.
No forgiving ferment.
Wonder where the genius went.

Belly
a guttural groan.
Head empty.
Taste
of mediocrity
on my tongue.

Aubade.

For Marian's prompt at Real Toads

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

It Started With Stars

It started with stars.
They're not what they seem.
Distant and dying,
but trying to be
the shine of the symptom
not the dark hole disease

they're feeding.

Still thinking about the stars for The Tuesday Platform at Real Toads

Monday, April 6, 2015

Seeds

Seeds sown
in the belly of a bird
bloom dark wings.
Songs sung
in the night's womb
are true.

Dreams done
with sleep
take to walking.
Walking
star to star
to get to you.

For Karin's prompt at Real Toads

Sunday, April 5, 2015

For R.

I was all hot tamale
with extra sauce.
Bitch and boss,
I took my one night stands
like a man.

But I didn't mean to hurt you.

Still, I never gave a thought
to what you might feel
beyond the tight curve
of my ass.

I didn't deserve you.

And you

deserved better than me.

55 words for Kerry at Real Toads

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Others' Rooms

Others' rooms womb
pink afternoon light. Words fuck
like rabbits on the leaf
lettuce shag.  Keyboards
shiver and dry stroke
themselves. The cursors.
The cursors never blink.

A nod and a wink to Gertrude Stein for Izy's prompt at Real Toads

Friday, April 3, 2015

For Mine

Behind me there's an old man
with meat in a can and food stamps.
He's a veteran of Korea and Vietnam.

He trembles dimes for cigarettes.
For all he gave, this is what he gets?
I said, "Sir, I'll get the rest.

That is, if you don't mind.

Let me pay for yours;
You've already paid for mine."

Beside me there's a woman my age,
magazine in hand.
Her eyes are on the page, but her mind is burning.

She's got a girl in Navy blue,
she tells me, and her pride shines through,
but there's worry;

"I'm terrified all the time.

When you pray for yours,
don't forget to pray for mine."

A song for Shay at Real Toads.  The first half of the poem is mostly true.  I didn't actually tell the gentleman that I had paid for his groceries.  I was afraid that I would offend him or that he would refuse.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pumpkin Center

Pumpkin Center today.  In the 70s, it belonged to my grandparents.
Some of my earliest memories take place here.


Pumpkin Center sits just off Highway 7,
and it shakes with big truck traffic -
Peterbilts and Kenworths growling,
Macks grabbing gravel on the hill.
The diesel drenched air shimmers,
and the tires on the rigs in the parking lot
are high as my head and fat with heat.
They black the back of my shirt
if I lean against them.

Inside, there is man talk,
the whir of the coolers,
the crackle of the CB radio.
I have a book of dogs
from the American Kennel Club with all the breeds,
and I see at least a dozen that I want.
I list them neatly on a yellow legal pad.
When I get bored with dogs, I sit on Papa's lap;
he lets me run the register if it's not busy.

At the back of the store is an Employee's Only door.
My cousins and I run in and out, banging the door
until Grannie yells at us all
to go outside and play, for God's sake.
We climb the fence and run the winding path
through the cow pasture to the caved in cellar.
It's a dark, open mouth in the wildflowers
with treasure on the tongue of the stairs.
I find an arrowhead and an old, blue, glass bottle.
When I look through the bottle, it colors the world.

For Real Toads

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Paramnesia

"For you can't hang a man for killing a woman
who's trying to steal your horse."

--- "The Red Headed Stranger," by Willie Nelson


A red headed stranger.
The man on the cross.
Sunday School verses.
Steel guitar psalms.
Solomon's temple
with all David's wrongs.
Sawdust and sacrament.

The meek shall inherit
a wild share of sorrow.
Then rise up to heaven
day after tomorrow.
You can kill who needs killin',
but don't beg or borrow.
Ballad and testament.

I learned to pray to the Father
and sing the devil to sleep.
Tell my tale to the hangman
till I make that man weep.
Preachers and whores
are two sides of one need.
Lyric and lament.


Paramnesia - a distortion of memory in which fact and fantasy are confused.

At Real Toads, Magaly prompted us to write about the first poem, poet, or written work that sparked our poetry.  I've written about the strange intersection between my two earliest influences - the King James Bible and the outlaw country music of the 1970s.