Selected Poems

 

CURTAINS

the hover and swoop
of dragonflies
sweet effusion of Lavender

I hear and smell
lying on my mother’s bed
it is summer and a breeze

comes through the window
that opens to the Colorado plain
sheer white curtains

flow over me
barely touching me
as if a hint or whisper

requiring stillness
awaiting the next breath
nothing could be as peaceful

as curtains lifting and waving
in and out of half sleep
empty mind I rest

this is what I remember
of my childhood
it will be my last memory

a gift that holds me
even now
sometimes it is the only thing

that reminds me
of who I really am
an innocent girl

housed momentarily
in this itinerant form
sometimes it is

the only thing left
after a lifetime of seeking
what is good

-2014


CURRENTS

water flows downward
inward, even upward
in evapotranspiration —
water always finds a way

water always finds a way
just as we find our way
through perilous currents
back to the source
we long for

we long for
the bubbling aquifer
turquoise sea
vapor in the air
we breathe

we breathe
the source we seek
not one precise
destination
it is a cycle
both glistening
and roaring like
lions tumbling

lions tumbling
through canyons
over rapids we scramble
to reach home
to refresh in return
beginning again

beginning again
water always finds a way
water always finds a way
to seek and you shall find
cease and
knowingness will arrive

knowingness will arrive
in the clearness
of rainpour and
we will see

we will see
beginnings are everywhere
beginnings are everywhere

-2019


DAY AFTER MANIA

open eyes, open
to the blue world
stay awake to look
around and see

what you did yesterday
in feverish amusement
drove 50 in a 25
laughed the whole way
spun out of control

10% cautious observer
90% wild, hungry
for sensation
color saturation
speed rain body touch
couldn’t get enough of
brash raw elements

10% sighed relief
upon arriving home
90% climbed the roof and
danced atop the skylight
stomping until it cracked
drip, drip, drip

open eyes, open
you are in deep

the ramifications
start now

-2012


THE DRAFTED STREAM

Returning to the fields
to lay down
one last time
in the soft beauty
that once held me.
My fall this time
will be felt inside
the land unendingly.
Here where it meets
the sky on the horizon
capturing me between.
I am born here
so naturally
here released.

The feathering wheat
lifts its face to the
strange and
final quiet
taking me along
in its silent
wind-drawn wake.

Before the jarring snap
my broken listless sigh
I hear kind words
spoken over
a lifetime.
A compendium of
language and love
I leave behind
except slivers of
the most sweet
I take to the open
unknown peace.

I sleep in the glinted barrel
give in to the drafted stream.

With a graceful spin
diaphanous white
my dancer body drops
conforming to the
cradle of the land.

A blanket over
my eyes
the wheat’s caress
will be
a stunning release
into finality.

-2013


CAN YOU LET ME KNOW WHEN WE GET TO PIKE STREET?

One day at school she asked an ASL student
how to sign “yes” and “no” so she could answer
the man on the bus who could not see or hear
when he tapped her on the shoulder and asked:

“Can you let me know when we get to Pike Street?”

The next day she sat beside him
and when he asked:

“Can you let me know when we get to Pike Street?”
she put her hand against his palm
and said, “Yes.”

“You know sign language?” he exclaimed.

In his hand, she replied, “No.”

“You know yes and no,” he said.
“That’s more than most people!”

They laughed.

When she got to school
she stopped an ASL student in the hall
and learned the alphabet.

Then, on the bus ride home
she told the man her name.

-2019


COMPASSION
for Paul Barton

the Thai sanctuary
is silent
surrounded by night

beneath a shelter of stars
the perfect ambiance
for Beethoven

the pianist begins
looking up from the keys
only momentarily

every few measures
to catch the one eye
of Old Elephant

who is tired and bent
from a life of hard labor
but resting now at River Kwai

Mongkol swings his trunk
to the flowing arpeggios
of Moonlight Sonata

his thin, tremulous ears flap
as if applauding, and
how magnificently he sways

to this Quasi una fantasia
that wanes and waxes
from dreamy to brisk

fierce, mellifluous beauty
composed by the
superlative master, 1801

in our best moments
humans possess a tremendous
capacity for charity and grace

a grand piano
resting on a dewy
grass field at midnight…

how creative we can be
in our desire to comfort
and connect

-2020


HAIKU AT THE SKATE PARK

flying through the air
my favorite joy to watch
beautiful life soars

skate jump

THE WOMAN

Is she not but an
orthograde manifestation
of any beauty hidden in the
forest, beneath the rock, deep
in shell, wonder of the heart?

She studies with gentle presence
the eddies astir in our heads
our blood rivers
hurricanes.

The man will continue
to go to her to sift
his sins through her hair
deflate his soul unto her chest
and quiet his longings
in the rapture of her soul.

How beautiful, how
maddening it is
to be a woman.

-1999


this poem is read from the bottom up
-1996

to do
to do or not
and we must choose
“doing” he just does
need not contemplate the
one difference is the beaver

skill
his unerring
his fortitude
in his ingenuity
offspring human-like
lodge for his mate and
to construct a suitable
human-like in his ambitions

home
making a
animal is
the coarse brown
looting leaves and mud
as adhesive glue and gum
hoarding scraps branches bark
Building placing stacking pasting

beaver
building


UNTIL

Until I suture myself,
people will continue
to fall through me.

-1997


WYOMING

I have to see what this is
I have to go to it
explore, wonder
impose myself
split open the dustcloud and dry land
bring my rain

I have to touch this untouchable
listen, receive
sit under the big cedar sky
and wait

wait to see
how the past re-emerges
in time

-2017


PRAYER IN THE DESERT

‘Be still’ says the wind
hazy and dry
tasting of sage.
‘Seek serenity’ prods
the light on the river.

In this spare landscape
certain things find
themselves closing,
others in bloom.

-2017


WHAT YOU SAY

These words
strung together
with careful composition
emerge from
your throat

     charmed, peerless.

Shrouded in a mysterious etymology
they move with the centripedal force
of mercury, all blood pulsing

     to gather in the heart.

Like syrup they flow
into my empty places

     filling me.

-2016


LILAC SOUL

I breathed rumors of its fragrance
even before the purple bough
was shaken free and cut.
Beauty is effusive.
It travels like dust in a shaft of light
noticeable only in stillness.

Beauty floats, it swirls,
it slides under locked doors
to the other side
going undetected until we rest
then we see.
We are called. Not loudly.
Just a whisper is the invitation
to be free.

What holds us back?
Are we brave enough
to step out of our castles, jails,
porches, fallout shelters,
our cocoons, coffins,
our frayed and wearied selves?
And if we manage that, then what?
Will we be brave enough to Dance?

Like Aspen leaves applauding in the sun
caught in the sweep of unbound joy
our old selves put to rest in shadow and ash.
Our hair, clothing, everything will be
scented lilac; we become new (again).
The edge of life is the end of fear
and the beginning of everything good.

The white flag washes over us
like angels’ wings.
We are left holding the sunburst.
Empty. Open. Gorgeous in the light.

-2012


OLAM

Olam is the world
the place where God hides
the place of shifting
colors and tides
where ecstatic forms
beg me to seek and
to seek exhaustively
and then to give in
go to sleep
go to sleep
and I do finally give in
finally exhale
embraced by this lofty day
engaged in warm breath
of remembrance
against the mountain
this mountain
such a bold piece of earth
how it reeks
of the insidious relations of passion
that, lingering, do not give up
how it reeks of the whispers of our history
full of beauty
full of the sense of infinitude
but very past
very unknown to these present days

We used to search the secret places
the interior body of the mountain
used to swim in the moonlit bogs
feigning death
through drowning
out of breath
waiting for the other
to find us
and drink us
down
into the river of the soul
never to be found again
never to want anything again
as we had wanted one another here
in this clandestine valley
where, as mystics,
we scoured the sand, the wood,
and the faces of the other
in search of God

Olam is the world
the place where God hides
where God plays within the distance
an outstretched arm allows
the distance of an outstretched arm
away from our folly and sin
have we breathed God in
at various times
we have given birth to God
in our souls
from out of my womb
came the life and love of God

Yet even hiding moments away
God is oftentimes sorely invisible
to our parched and blinded eyes
how desperately we seek God’s love
how we long for transformation
in the furnace of God’s heart
Seeking eternal life, we fall
in love with one another
in the hope of redeeming
ourselves and the world
we fall in love with one another
in the hope of living this life fully
we fall in love in the hope
of rediscovering our true,
essential selves

Behold, the baby’s cry
the intertwining love of creatures
the mountain that reeks of our passions
Behold, God is near
disguised in the pallor
of mundane life
but near nonetheless
is God
embodied and free
within Olam
is the world
the place where God hides

-2002


MY MOTHER MARY
A Poem of Gratitude

Mary, O Mary
the one who lives for God
who rests ably in God
who knows she belongs to God
the pain is gone
fear has dissipated
anger has no reason
for existing
anymore
there is no greed
there is nothing
I want
there is nothing
to have
but solace
in God
nothing to hear
but God’s voice
in my heart
beating wonderfully, richly
in the Hope of Rising Again

-2003


CROP DUSTER

I used to race the crop duster
in golden fields
on dirt roads.
Almost won on two occasions
when his engine sputtered
and stopped midair
the plane suddenly adrift
serene like a silent glider.
Not even the evacuation
of dirty oil made noise
only my footfalls
as I took cover
under the Cottonwoods
evading the downpour by inches
my white summer dress spared.

My best friend and I napped in our tent
a sheet knotted to the strongest branch
of our favorite Weeping Willow tree.
Unsecured corners fluttered in a breeze
scented by fresh watered garden
strawberry remnants.
We dreamed of becoming elementary school teachers
enjoyed the feel of papers in our hands
passing them out to pretend children
with whom we would get stern
only so we could show mercy later on.

When the lazy din of the
cranky biplane woke me up
I’d part the eaves of the tent
and jump out excitedly
full velocity as if
the Messiah
were at hand and I would be
the honored first to see.

No one ever told me to run in the
opposite direction of the plane.
Never warned me not to inhale.
No one knew better then (our excuse).
Looking back, I should have
taken shelter
in Pam Miller’s bulkhead
and played Old Maid until the dust settled.

Instead I danced in the July snow
raced full throttle in Paradise Acres
Loveland, Colorado.
Gleefully I chased with mouth agape
the slow-falling candy prisms.

Early on the pilot would laugh at me.
Flash his gay low-flying smile
speed up and slow down
according to the ambition of my gallop.
A real race I fancied.
I could see the pattern of his teeth
and the way he parted his hair.
He flew that low.

He was my friend.
At least it seemed
until the wind changed.

Five summers into our playful duel
I could no longer muster
enough air to run even
half the length of cornfield.
As I grew older and slower
he showed less and less affection for the race
as if he had grown tired of me.
(Though he too was getting older.)
He would pass me no problem
as my feet jogged clumsily along
my heart feeling as if it would erupt
lungs burning with every sip of crystalline air.
I was no longer a challenge
for the man simply doing his job.
His exuberant countenance gave way to
the occasional rigid salute
given just before he would pull up
and serpentine
through his poison vapor trail.

By the time I turned eleven
he had forgotten me altogether.
Never acknowledged me.
Flying low overhead
he would simply open his shutters
let scatter the ashes
and disappear
into the pregnant thundercloud
leaving me behind
to pant and heave
bent over my knees
until the rattle settled
and the burning went away.

-2010


JEWEL IN HIS EYE
for Dryw

Dragons, skateboard, Mama
the beautiful boy
lights up the world
says “Yes”
stepping out onto
the porch
tiptoeing to the ledge
of life
looking back at Mama
only once
before dropping in
for real
the 12 ft. wall
VERT
blue eyes smile
fearless dreaming
the jewel in his eye
before he goes
I see it glimmer
my baby boy grows up.

-2008

newborn


NARROW MERCIES
or Scars as Signs of Life

Once a saber hit my face
spinning really fast.
It broke my nose
cut open the skin
struck a quarter of an inch
from my left eyeball.
A quarter of an inch from
blindness and disfiguration.
I walked out somber over
the stitches and the scar.

When I reminisce about it now
I realize something magnificent:
God has been following me around
this whole entire time
averting tragedies
by a quarter of an inch
letting me slip narrowly
on either side of danger
nudging me casually
redirecting flawlessly
time and time again
from blindness into light.

Each of my scars another life
that would have gone unlived
had it been any other god
altering my movements
by a slight breath
the weight of a strand of hair
delaying a sneeze here, tilting
my head a few degrees there.
I dare people to mess with me.
Bring it on Fire, Lions, Spinning Metal
People With Nothing to Lose.
Stitches disintegrate into the body.
I absorb fear and nothing clings to me

-2009


MY MOST BEAUTIFUL GIFT

new eyes see the world
carried and held in spirit
glimmer of angel