Thursday, November 05, 2015

They Cut Down the Lilacs

that used to hang

over the board fence we shared. “Help yourself,”
she said, smiling, brown and wizened,
“there’s more than one person can use anyway.”

I filled my house with fragrance that spring,
heavy bunches of purple, white, pink.
In fall, I helped her prune them.
She couldn’t reach the top branches
being barely shoulder-height on me.

We sat on her steps and drank coffee.
She was married fifty years, worked cleaning hotels
to send their kids to college. Grandchildren;
she showed me photos from other states.

She died that winter. They sold the house.
They cut down all the lilacs.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Flatworm Fashion

“the hermaphrodite flatworm... scientists have discovered, can reproduce by injecting sperm into its own head.” The Guardian, July 1st 2015

Have you ever wondered how the fashion industry decides
that animal prints on synthetic fabrics ripped into artful rags
are this year’s “look?”

Fashion experts confer with other fashion experts.
They congregate, exchange germs of ideas
(or sperms of ideas: an orgy of self-fertilization
the fashion monster stabbing itself in the head
with its needle-like penis)
which spread throughout the industry, emerge
wrapped around skinny figures swaying on a catwalk.

In the runway spots the fashion monster writhes
brandishing platform heels and stiletto genitalia.
It’s not that other mates aren’t available:
this monster doesn’t care to look outward
preferring the suck of its own sperm
the solace of its own sweet prick.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Monday, November 02, 2015

After the Drums are Silent

Consider the myth of an empty land,
a land that was free for the taking.
Consider a century of conquest planned
over the myth of an empty land.
Consider gold in a blood-stained hand
and treaties made just for the breaking.
Consider the myth of an empty land,
a land that was free for the taking.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Clock Mistaken for Bomb

I am the most harmless and commonplace of objects
I have neither an alarm, nor any intent to cause alarm.
I count up instead of down.
Why was I snatched from my maker’s hands
thrown into an explosion containment device
dismembered by the police investigation team?
Was it because of the way I look?
Would it not have happened
if my LEDs were green instead of red?
Should I have had a round face
with hands that travel?
Should I have tried to chime or cuckoo
fill my mouth with an alien tongue
to reassure the fearful?
What did I do wrong?

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Installing updates... 1 out of, well, several

For one reason and another I've neglected the blog lately. But October's been a productive month for me-- starting with the OPA conference in the first weekend, I've written quite a bit, been to a couple of readings, visited a writing group, and joined a weekly critique group.

It's good to be back in the saddle.

Rather than dump all the poems I've written in the last month onto the blog at once, I'm going to post one at a time, for a while, and not necessarily in the order they were written.

The Progression from Late Iron to Nuclear Age

Anvil, bang! cues dormant engines. Forges glow hot,
incandesce, jump-starting kiln’s labor.
Molecules, nuclei, orbiting particles quicken—
Red. Scarlet. Tungsten ultra-violet wild X-ray!

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Saturday, August 22, 2015


I'm afraid. Portland is a good hundred miles from the nearest fire, but the smell of woodsmoke is making my backbrain churn with alarm. Forests burning. Run.

half moon eclipse red
Fenris rises open-jawed
in a smoke-stained sky

In June, July, and early August, I wrote three poems in a row about burning. Too much sun at the Waterfront Blues festival? Maybe. But I knew, we all knew, this was coming. You only had to look around: by the end of June, lawns and shrubbery in my neighborhood were August-dry, and the Cascade forests were just waiting for a spark. I can't picture what it's like further east.


is the highway sign I wish I'd seen. Haiku may be too much to expect from ODOT.

praying on my knees
All-Merciful God, send us rain
smoke tears fill my eyes

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Ultraviolet Light

Whenever I come home now there's sand in my pockets.
Sand lines my purse and sticks to my pens.
I live a hundred miles from the beach.
I get in the tub and find sand under my toenails.

Green forest and vineyards, grain and fruit orchards
sleeping peacefully under a snow-capped mountain.
Where is the ocean whose breath speckles me with salt?
Every footstep I take falls on a beach somewhere.

What we thought was daylight was only the moon reflected:
silver apples brighter than all of earth's gold.
My teeth rattle empty as water-worn pebbles.
Tide comes with the dawn and wipes me away.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Driving Lesson

Clock-face the wheel, my mother said
hands at ten and two, point high.

Which made my destination always high noon
and the choices before me love, duty, fear.

Six at the wheel's bottom, six is behind me
no-one gave me a six-gun or a six-point star.

I've learned it's no use to watch clocks.
When the noon train rolls in it'll find me ready.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Friday, August 07, 2015

Warning Plumage

I’ve come to expect the crow
feathers shed in July, black and tattered emblems
of a year of urban life. This summer
I did not find any. Instead

a Canada goose flight primary on the Esplanade, unpatterned brown
glossy underneath with tegmen. What a perfect
quill-pen this would have made, what poems
would have flowed from its sharpened tip to parchment, ringing
with night-flight cries of spring and fall.

on our front porch, a blue-jay feather flecked with white paint—
from someone’s hatband? Someone who treasured blue,
until summer drought, cloudless glaring sky
wore out that color’s welcome. Thrown down in disgust, this feather
is a plea for shade, for rain, for autumn.

Maybe I’ll find macaw plumage, murmuring multi-hued
of encroaching tropics, jungles and hurricanes. Maybe roadrunner feathers
BEEP-BEEPing warnings to passing urban coyotes
(and us: the desert comes, it comes)

or like a Russian prince, rescue a firebird from a trap
and be granted visions—forests burning,
cities aflame with riots: save us, magic birds, O save us
from the things we’ve done.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Burning Blues

Tell me, has judgement come to pass?
The sky devours the burning grass.

Oh setting sun, have mercy on me
I'm a sinner hanging on a burning tree.

I'm a dead man walking on the razor's edge
See my footprints on the burning bridge.

I pray to God that I might be saved
I can find no rest in a burning grave.

The drawbridge rose and it rose so high
It rose on up to the burning sky.

Old Man River, hear my wail
My boat went down with a burning sail.

Old Man Sun, hear my moan
My dog ran off with a burning bone.

Pray for every woman and man
Born to suffer on a burning planet.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dead Leaves

Everywhere you go now, leaves are falling
tender foliage of spring scorched
by summer heating up too fast.

Everywhere you go, young men are dying
scorched by the heat of hatred
burning up underfoot.

The streets are full of dead
crackling, burning bones and ash.
The hot streets are smoking
in the summer sun.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Strength in Unity

You’ve all heard that story—a single arrow
easily broken, a bundle
resists. Here’s one I like better:

the lindens this year bloomed in such profusion
they perfumed the evening air and filled
the sky with drowsy-humming bees.

I got up close and smelled
a single flower. Nothing.
Stepped back and waited: a vagrant breeze

drowned me in sweet scent.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Woman of Far Harad

"He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace."

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

We watched the legions march away to war
in lands a thousand leagues or more from home.
We did not know what they were fighting for

or whom they served upon a foreign shore.
Flesh of our flesh, bone slivered from our bones,
we watched the legions march away to war.

Who knew then what the future held in store?
Did we believe that death was worth renown?
We did not know. What they were fighting for

was held behind a masked and silent door.
We only knew the voice of wind on stone
while we watched legions march away to war

and not return. Defeat was the report
but death was every waiting mother’s moan.
We did not know what they were fighting for.

We watched the legions march away to war
with banners bright, never more to come
back from the bloody fields of Pelennor.
We did not know what they were fighting for.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ridgetop Towns

In the east half of this state, the hills
run south to north; the start of basin/range
terrain that sweeps down through Nevada. Spills
of old Columbia basalt arrange
themselves in layered stacks, erode to rims
that frame the inter-mountain lakes in stone.
Like skirts of heavy black, they lift their hems
revealing painted clays and fossil bones.

And in the little tawny hills, the towns
that cling to ridgetops, and the tumble-down
of barns abandoned; shingle roofs that fly
at sight of storm.
            Roads can no longer find
rivers to follow. Water replaced by wind:
dry brush painting on an empty sky.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Friday, May 08, 2015

Darker Air

It is not only that my eyes are brown,
that (before this frost) I used to wear
sable in my hair.

All my life, unknowing
alike with knowing, I have breathed
this darker air.

All my songs a blacker shade of blue—
my cheeks are yellow roses. Darker too.
These aren’t colors I can choose to wear

or unwear. They’re painted on the inside
of the eyes that view,
that see me through a glass of darkened air.

Who knows me, who sees me true
and where?
I drink strong wine and fly in storms. My wings
are full of agate eyes
and yellow roses decorate my hair.
I breathe dark air.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

Monday, April 13, 2015

Arguing with the Cloud-Shepherd

A path leads away through a stand of bamboo
rustling and alive to the wind
but my feet stay rooted.

A stream rushes downhill laughing
to greet the distant sea. I am
silent and reflect no sunlight.

The wind reproaches my stillness, but I have no time
to argue with the cloud-shepherd,
busy with the Friend’s work.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside