Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ship's Clock Bells

On the mantel a ship’s clock
bells each watch —a single chime
marks half past midnight
six chimes three. By six
the backyard young men
partying all night are gone —
no, they’re still at it though
the baby’s no longer screaming —
is it sick? or worse, alone?
The bullfrog, knowing I watch

from the window above its head
doesn’t answer calls from another
bullfrog deep in the reeds.
Nuthatch is waiting

for feeders I carried inside
the night before — rain be damned
I sandal up to hang them
hummingbird wheels.
The washer spins, the dining

room table shakes, my tea trembles
such fearful asymmetry.

Claw prints on deck boards
chattering & screaming —
how can raccoons afford
to mate in the night?
And w
hat’s a kitten’s secret?

No, I can’t say secret
or heart or frozen ice or melt —
simply care for, welcome inside.

— 20 July 2013

Losing Argentina

when I disappeared
malbec swamped my throat
like Andean snow melt surging the acequia
how I chose passionfruit ice cream
wishing it were opuntia

how I pretended I never wanted a screen porch
& a cat door she’d lever bats through
moth wings in shower drains
cactus spines trepanning my hat brim
triple-thorn scar bursts
tattooing escape routes onto my arms
hue & cry of zorros every night

when i disappeared
an out-of-mind fissure wolfed
my household down to the nutcracker
i fled with Chinese zapatos & a shooting blind

the burrowing owls agreed with me
parrot flocks burned blue
I felt like a wasp hive in
the air conditioner after a swarm
I ate no more grass-fed bife
my wallet was plumbed for identification
I couldn’t bicycle

when I disappeared
the desert morphed into pan casero
went crumbling off to where llamas stampeded

acequia, irrigation ditch
opuntia, prickly pear cactus
zorros, foxes
zapatos, shoes
bife, beef
pan casero, homemade bread

— 31 July 2013


The gray squirrel
hangs from her back paws
from the two-sided feeder

furls her torso inward to raise
front paws & mouth, snares
a chunk, floats full length —
meal in paws — to eat it.

Now from front paws
she lolls, her tail a body length
below. I suppose she’ll eat
one whole slab if no one stops her —

not the blue jay watching
from the cast-iron swoop holding
the hummingbird feeder

not two doves pacing the deck
for loot she drops
not even two blue jays, a red
squirrel, more doves.

— 30 June 2013

Stanley & Adrienne

The street I live and write in
was not a left-wing poet.
I also think of Bernstein,
wild and metaphysic heart —

the risk-taking of one who
makes my poems and lives my life
heavy as the white-lipped boy
from my whole erotic self.

My mother never forgave
your life for the privilege.
My themes and the use I have
dream of a common language.

Images glimpses questions,
art with economic power
are mindful of your garden —
the poet-scholar-martyr.

Bowels of the hippodrome,
great crashing alexandrines,
comets trailing tender spume —
edge of meaning yet can mean.

My mother’s breast was thorny —
think the art of translation,
if anything, makes poetry
your turn. Grass of confusion

is something more powerful —
the cry of writhing nerve-ends,
impaired intellectual.
You are, in a word, avid.

[this poem of 7-syllable line, abab rhyming quatrains is a cento; each line is an unaltered excerpt from two books: Stanley Kunitz's Collected Poems Adrienne Rich's Arts of the Possible: Essays & Conversations]

— 6 July 2013

Mrs. X

The woman pulls her wealth behind her
in a wheeled cart. If she’s my mother
it’s because between our last visit
& the day my family told me she died —
alone in her sleep — she escaped,
queened herself onto a plane
to San Francisco, a bus to Santa Cruz,
her white blouse tucked into frayed slacks,
permanent curls though she’s transient —
she’s taller now, seems thinner
but bustier, if foundered swells signify —
cratered-moon face, moth-wing hands,
bandaged flats.

                       When I look into her eyes
she looks away, she doesn’t keep a pet
or croon for bills in a hat, she hasn’t asked
but if I gave her my wallet, what would it buy?

— 9 September 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


poetry cooks my goose
chops me up, spits me out
stomps on my fingers
kicks me in the head

poetry saves me from the news
from women who lunch
from duplicate bridge, hairdos
celebrities, fashion

poetry authorizes me to ignore
polite conversation
to poke at roadkill, to talk
to children instead of adults

poetry explains my moods
my madcop technicolor dreams
my lack of tact, my failure
to tell the truth or make sense

poetry acknowledges
my hatred for patriarchy
my disdain for your opinion
your politics, your religion

poetry makes me a poor
risk for the guest list
of your dinner party
but a good pal for your cat

— 30 April 2013

It Hit Me on Vacation in Chile

Tipoffs —
llama lips rearing, teeth leering —
trailered the email crafted in Spanglish legalese
ginned by the Argentine caudillo punk
ready & able to kill me.

Reader, I bailed —
house, garden, gear, cat, husband Mike if need be —
flew like a budding leukocyte
to Esther’s aid, her latest breast cancer bleeped
but her future vague.

Grandmother now
I housekeep a toddler, sleep in a doublewide.
Andean weather frescoes a turned page.