A Gathering of Poems
from ENGL something-or-other
All rights reserved. Copyright © Goshen College, 2004
Tristan King, a 20th or 21st Perspective Manifesto Table of Contents
Katie Mast, Three
Mornings, Shorn Hair, and (untitled)
Tabitha Rowe, Colors of a Burn and Love's Landscape
Paul Horst, Quest and Brothers
On herons and bubbles and Eavesdropping Poet; A Lesson in Active
Tristan King, Prodigal and In the Way of the Tornado
Jeff Gundy, Dark Man Blues and Signature, or Jonathan Edwards and Joe Walsh Meet in the Electric Brew
Christina Cruz, A place where this sadness might fit, Being with You, and Found Art
Kristin Buller, I used to hate my mother, When salmon do not migrate, and Love is not a feeling
Bethany Blough, Restraint and Patience and Some Things I Haven’t Been Able to Tell You, Number One
Alice Houston, Upon My Subsequent Arrest by the Poetry Police, All I Ever Wanted, and soft moss gathers below the falls . . .
Anita Hooley, Vietnamese Dance, Introduction Poem, and All I Ever Wanted
Kristine Bowman, Of Earth and Children, Of Childhood Fears and the Moon, and Of Mothers and Daughters
Note: During the last week of April, 2004, these
students and I gathered for an intensive poetry workshop at
The poems here are only a sampling of some of the best work to come out of the workshop, and only a preview of the fine work that I expect will come from this talented group of young writers in the future. They are arranged more or less in the order that they came in, though I did decide to move Tristan King’s quirky alternative table of contents near the beginning.
a 20th or 21st Perspective Manifesto Table of Contents
Introduction. Repeat yourself.
Chapter 1. Knock on the walls.
Chapter 2. Listen for the echo.
Chapter 3. Ignore the likely painting on the other side
Chapter 4. As you swing the sledge.
Chapter 5. If there is nothing that bothers you
Chapter 6. About writing poems
Chapter 7. About revision
Chapter 8. Or using the word ‘love’
Chapter 9. We have a hole for you.
Chapter 10. If poems are a discomfort
Chapter 11. Write more of them
Chapter 12. Which will necessitate having a secret ritual
Chapter 13. (tell no one
Chapter 14. to read this chapter)
Chapter 15. For observance after revisions.
Chapter 16. Poems are like triage:
Chapter 17. Poets are like triage:
Chapter 18. Decide who’s going to live and work on them.
Chapter 19. Don’t assume dignity.
Chapter 20. Keep the drowning tub handy.
Conclusion. Learn how to finish a poem.
New words: calliberalitive, awout and arald, mulst, et al.
The Revised and Updated Manifesto.
Your gift of flying will take over
be honest they will love you
when you turn your gift off
at 10,000 feet
Conclusion and Appendix B are missing.
Putative misspelled on pages 42 and 193.
I loved mornings as a child,
crawling over my grandma’s soft body
to snuggle deep into the warm space under the covers
between her and grandpa.
Strings played Vivaldi over the radio-alarm clock sitting on the headboard
while we told each other our dreams from the past night
and created animals out of the cracking plaster ceiling
as the sun peeked through the yellowing curtains.
I told them I’d do this until I turned 18.
For three months of mornings
I lifted my tired body from the foam mattress
taking up too much space on my sister’s floor
while Dad put insulation into my walls.
It was her room; we listened to her music.
Metallica, Ween, and Rusted Root lingered in my head
as I daydreamed through economics.
This morning I woke with my face so close to yours
that I felt your rainforest breath
beneath my sleepy right eye.
Your arm rested on the soft saddle
between my ribs and hips
and my cells quivered with the echo from the tympani in your chest.
I stared at the smooth, round flesh hiding your dreams
from the sun’s omniscient light.
Then the music we danced to in our salmon-colored kitchen
was British rap:
an angry melding of slang we couldn’t quite understand.
That was when Rosanna tied her hair into a hundred pigtails
and laid them on the table when she cut them,
set aside to give to friends back home:
comrades who had similar waist-length locks,
labeling themselves hippies by means of long hair, homemade clothes, and incense,
(the heavy earth smell of nag champa smoke)
She whips her chin towards her back in a motion that would have sent her hair
hurtling over her shoulder
before she snipped the last ponytail.
She ponders momentarily if she has made the right choice,
to shed her most identifying feature.
Yes, she concludes, for in this way
she is free to redefine herself.
That was when we cooked lemon juice and sugar,
stirring the concoction for an hour,
cutting strips of old bed sheets to fit neatly along our calves:
summer was on its way,
and our winter-hairy legs wanted air
We laid newspaper in an overlapping pattern on the kitchen floor
to catch any sticky drops
before we smear the wax on our anticipating skin.
The adrenaline rush and foreign feel of smooth shins
makes this yearly ritual bearable. In this way,
we pretend we are counter-culture.
In our bare legs we danced to British rap
smartly laughing at the slang
we thought was meant to be funny.
They tumble from late night parties into here.
Made-up women dressed as their favorite literary characters:
Anne of Green Gables, Huck Finn; the creative one, Grendel.
What a way to save to finish college.
But that’s what I’m doing,
the bakery assistant sleeping
on Friday nights. I look at
the clock hanging on the wall,
remind them that I have to work at ,
wish that they would stop screaming: I am not like them.
Anne of Green Gables has a scarf around her throat
and giggles into her hand. She thinks
her dyed fire-red hair makes up
for what she lacks in confidence.
“Guess what I did?”
she croons into my ear and has me examine her neck.
A fresh hickey adorns her skin.
I think of leaving the Coronas on the back step for Student Life to find
when the girls laugh, describing the men at the party.
Friday and Saturday, every weekend, they drink and dance to ‘80’s pop.
We don’t even lock our doors anymore,
so when they forget to take their keys to the party, like Grendel did
last night, they don’t have to sleep in the garage
since I won’t hear the doorbell while I’m sleeping.
In the bathroom, Huck Finn sounds like someone dying:
shuddering moans and guttural coughing
as a night of unimpeded indulgence
shows its unpleasant consequences.
Grendel stumbles to the sink, her mascara smudging:
she laughs at how she needs some water.
I know she’ll wake up with microphones in her head,
amplifying the smallest noise into cacophony
But she feels she’s really connected with people tonight.
I shouldn’t complain; I suppose I connected with John Lennon tonight
while I danced alone in the kitchen
Colors of a Burn
Girls with gifts in
Hands on fire,
lit with a crawling blue flame.
Heated hands up and out
to the sky in
Flaming as glow worms
in the dim twilight.
A spritz of spray,
strike of red-headed
match and sizzle of yellow flame;
the sun captured on a stick.
Rest in peace with a whoosh
hands and skin still supple.
Still glowing, white flame;
the moon embodied.
“Sagittarius, laid back and understanding”
but also looking to be saved.
From lost love, from found love, fearing to be lost soon.
Three walls of black stone told
me what the heavens say of me and agree with the stars
as they chafe my mind against itself.
A mummery of scent. A museum of scent: is like
the sound of a flute played not by lips but by wind.
The landscape is flat but still the melancholy grows steeper.
I can feel blood slow
as it works its way through my arms
If I leave them still
they sleep and tingle.
Life seems to slow now.
My body and mind slowly separate.
I look on my body with new awe.
The soul floats away, somewhere above the trees.
It seems so strange to move this way.
I laugh. How did I move that hand?
I look back at myself as an object of meditation,
every line, wrinkle and hair.
As I approach the forest
the wind moves.
The trees talk in loud whispers,
wondering what this creature is
that dares to come among them.
In the darkness, messengers of Manito
pop their long necks from the water
to look upon this strange starving creature.
Four times the water splashes.
I am accepted.
I ask them “if it pleases you
Let me stay in your presence.
I ask you now for wisdom.”
Meandering home after dark,
we see through the bare trees
a red light, blinking like a bloodshot eye.
“What if they learned how
to brainwash you with lights on towers?” I ask.
Ben, the oldest, laughs.
He says it’s ridiculous;
a brainwash is more sinister
and medieval than that.
“What’s a brainwash?”
Little Chris wants to know:
“In dungeons, they lock you up
and drip water on your face for hours . . .”
“Do they use soap?”
“ . . . no,” Ben says,
“sometimes they shock you with cut wires
or pull you between two horses.”
Chris starts to whimper.
The call of some nightbird
pierces like a subterranean scream.
We head toward the houselights.
“I wonder,” I say, “if mom and dad
are aliens who raise us for meat?”
A whispered sidelong “shut up,”
and off home.
On herons and bubbles
Bubble islands surround two twiggy legs
of a blue heron I've not seen before. Could it be
that the arrival of a blue heron marks
a turning point for
Countless unnatural bubbles stream past,
touching the heron’s skin,
bursting upon contact.
The heron steps out of the bubble patch into
clear water. The bubbles return,
harassing the heron’s ability to locate prey.
What brought you here to this river of all
rivers? Why look upon spotted water?
Do you, like me, ever take your wing and
spread the bubbles away, out of your vision?
It's like at the bakery when I wash dishes and the soap
suds obstruct my vision – the awaiting blade – hidden by
puffy clouds of bubbles.
A friend of mine once saw a heron trip, come splashing
down into the water. Have you ever tripped
because of the bubbles? Bashed your head on a rock?
The bubbles at the bakery are natural, born of chemical
free dish soap. But what of the bubbles
at your feet? Do they clog your feathers,
corrupt your ability to fly?
Eavesdropping Poet; A Lesson in Active Classroom Listening
Upon sour barkdust nutrients
are placed the seeds of new trees.
To ramble without our guided maps
is to put aside those graduation caps.
Silence's sweet saturated song
stimulates soft sighing, almost sung.
She pirate in the corner,
knew her as Christina the former.
Give the bears their own stanza,
allow them space to hunt their manna.
The pretty naturey thing
upon which the nightingale sings.
Pick a flower before throwing it away
like the boy with flailing branch mows down God's display.
While cooper's hawks make love in the elm tree
squirrels roast nuts and nibble on brie.
From my breakfast window I saw a truck
hauling a lone two-by-four on its bed
to a construction site. Usually the trucks bring
culvert sections, pipes, grates, things to be,
and fulfill their true excremental purpose
when the foremen’s mistakes get hauled off
to be burned, quarantined, or scalded for
recycling. Exiting the area, the dumptruck tires churn
the pavement into mud under wasteful
burdens: i-beams protrude like obscene cowlicks
and hundreds of two-by-fours piled
like the excesses of God’s original
earth-creature, dual-gendered, consistently
imperfect, and discarded after every attempt
at a sixth day. The insidious, bewildering extra rib,
amazing waste produced in throes
of nascency, as if that was the point. With its only
wooden cargo lashed down three times
the flatbed slowed to a lurch
along the three blocks of dirty pavement, turning
gingerly toward the site
as if considering the wreckage of the entire
intersection to make sense of the delivery. The final board,
slouching toward the addicted
foremen, another sixteen footer to replace
yesterday’s that was cut by mistake into uneven
halves and driven off the lot in late afternoon, refuse
unwilling of an outcome.
That morning I thought of new meanings for the word ‘prodigal:’
dogged, scarred, cursed.
In the Way of the Tornado
You had withdrawal pain again
so we didn’t run down to the cellar, but I was restless too
and cracked a mason jar against the stone
with my foot. The tallow dripped
like eggs from a split fish,
an apology on the dusty cement.
When I wiped it up the thick
puddle felt textureless, matching
my core temperature.
you said to me from behind your palm,
“and it holds on.”
Only below a funnel of debris does that kind
of survival make sense: imagine the fat
exchanging its retained, surprising heat
for my double-helix in shared electrical impulses.
The tallow spread down my hand
like another finger,
neither relentless nor passive,
only pointing itself thinner.
The sirens above us and the nerves firing in your legs
and arms overturned the clean days into
two years’ of persistent, begging migraines.
You and I cornered our stories underground, squatted
by the southwestern shelves, admitting
the silly panic, the mess of
to be mutually guided, or sub-chaotic, or regardless.
Dark Man Blues
Who is the dark man walking in the woods along the path,
beside us, not with us? The first in line now I feel the steps
of all the others, their weight and uncertainty and trust
through the hands on my shoulders. I am learning what
the catalpa knows, the seedy cousin of the one outside
my childhood window with its rattly long pods like rations
for the trip to the next life. I know how the tulip poplar
met the black cherry, how they agreed to mingle their roots
and live one life together, how year upon year they leaned apart,
awkward and alive. All that was obscured is now open,
said the child. Below the dam the long heron, the emblem,
the selfish messenger, stalks his late dinner in the shallows.
In the dry marsh last year’s twisted arrangements
remain in place, and every small creature waits for news.
The burning cities are still far away. Rivers have vanished
suddenly, but not our rivers. Even in spring dusk comes early
in these woods, and yet the true dark never arrives.
Somehow Jupiter finds its way through the clouds,
high and sharp as the bells striking a quarter past.
Back at the dam all the water is still willing to go down.
Signature, or Jonathan Edwards and Joe Walsh Meet in the Electric Brew
Signing 200 times in a row will reveal the weak spots in any soul.
What hope can there be for a middleaged guy who can't make
a decent G or a y that doesn't get twisted this way or the other?
If I could please myself just once I'd know what to aim for,
but over and over it's just no, not quite. I'm no closer to getting
it right than the poor little guy whose mother just shoved him away
for interrupting—he stuck his thumb in his mouth and wandered off
to buy candy or drugs or meet some stranger in the bathroom.
We're one step from falling through the rotten cover of the world,
always, and that's why I go on so earnestly about the grammar of trees
and earning the ending and how to say I am sad and the world
is cold, my house is poor and my car is old in a pleasingly adept
and grounded fashion, e.g. The lovely women have cell phones
pressed to their ears, or All the roses and whisky in the world
won't get me through another night. No amount of coffee
will realign the nubbly ions of my blood, the world hurls itself
through space at least five ways at once and not only is the past
gone, it’s way the hell over there too. I can’t complain
but sometimes I still do. Even my angry love of the seminal
rock musicians of the last century is dissolving in apocalyptic
nostalgia as some jerked over band sings “Norwegian Wood”
in French while the Suburbans and Odysseys and
fight it out on the streets and the pale leaves of the sidewalk trees
signal wildly at the wild wind, hey, did we sign up for this?
A place where this sadness might fit
Remember how we saw the day lay its last breath
across the body of the dunes, how the sky unfolded
its dark-limbs over the slopes. We trudged searching
through the bone-white dust, but all we found by nightfall
were sparse stands of yucca and a hollow where wind carved
through, needling our eyes with sand, shaking the tent cloth
like a rabbit in a coyote’s jaws while we dragged it
still flailing to the ground, rooted it with metal, nylon
slapping like a trapped bird. When the stakes were in,
we lifted our heads to the moon and howled,
sky-space filling our rib-cages, rattling, longing, furious
at the licked-clean plate of moon that had left us
still so famished. I couldn’t tell if the sand ate our sound
like our footprints from the dune-side, or if
it was the wind, dark, snarling animal, that took
our voices into its belly, seethed back, smashed the slender stem
of the yucca plants into the ground, stormed in circles in its cage
of the horizon, wailing that no sand-built hills could keep it.
No use worrying if the tent will hold on this cold, shifting
belly of sand. No use trying to sleep. But remember how
the moon made us each glow like the center of its spotlight
as we pursed our lips, hurled up shit-fuck blood-fur cries.
I remember you stirring beside me, the warm wire
of your body as the night sprawled, frigid, all directions.
Being with you
All day I root myself in the world. I love every body
I come across to touch, its warm jointed heaviness
(each fingertip laid to my lips)—I crave the cold skin
of the soil path under my feet, the creaking rough graze
of tree trunks husking with spring under my cheek—
privately, I nestle into the sturdy torsos
of chairs, savor the sudden bright seep of my raw-skinned
knees, the pinking swell—clasp my own two hands
together like lovers discovering each other because
I know this is the world which houses you,
which somewhere bears your warm weight like a feather
on its flank, your two lined clay feet, and that somewhere
you too come alive with feeling, the tongue of the intimate air
on your skin, sinews sparking with sense inside the universe.
O my friend. I’m here with you. I’m in a body too.
On the road home, you pull off for jagged scraps
of hubcap from the gutter, flung from junkyard
cars as they spun down the highway, coughing
in traffic. In the tall grass, the perfect
tin can waits, mossed with rust, precisely straight-
sided—a metal basin white-glossed in garage-sale
sun, bottom dark-eyed with holes like the liver-
marked back of an old woman—these things
you hoard, a harvest in your basement—
you gather like a bone-collector the separated
pieces of bodies, the old used. You like the
femininity of the rugged and round, trash that curves
in the organic buckles of the over-pressed, the smooth
spine-bent bow of aluminum platters, the spent strength
of clocks pointing silently in circles, washers opening
in calm O’s, dismembered gauges from dead machines
that measure nothing anymore, their arrows that blink
behind glass like baffled eyes.
Sister, in the cluttered silence of your studio you sit
till the pieces sing to you, raise in chord the clashes
of their crushedness. In this junk-heap each tragedy
took sound, made a metal-scream, caved with unbearable
weight to become its shock-made shape that no longer
holds what it’s supposed to.
My dear, I’ve begun to bring you junk
myself. At the river clean-up, I drag twisted metal
from the opaque body of the water. The other day
I offered you a chipped plate, full moon porcelain
webbed with hair-thin cracks. It’s not just that you
teach my eyes to find broken things like treasures—
it’s that in the basement, you reassemble something
I’ve seen before, something roadside-lost, something
waiting in the gravel—you find the exquisite way
the curves of old serving spoons nestle into the waists
of warped counter-tops pocked with cup-stains,
the precarious balance of spheres, of negative space.
I used to hate my mother
That was years, the same every day.
My one wish, not to be
chucked back into childhood again.
Some kinds of love leave only wreckage.
Would I ever be so brave as to announce
how I hated her?
I’m not nine anymore, wearing
my blue and white striped sweater, glasses
that shrank my face,
the birthday party
when she forgot to ice the cake.
What poetry demands is worse than
nakedness, and less predictable,
so I will reach out my hand and
in this new trust
we can wallow
in the muck for hours.
when salmon do not migrate
Learn my secret name.
Not what I’ve studied but
I am my own light. Say it and I’ll cry.
After assembling newsletters,
after homemade toast
and Amish jam served with our words,
after unasked questions and handmade rosaries
after the softness of your lips
brings me back to myself.
I am my own light. I have bruised
in collisions, stretched my skin trying to save
what needed to be lost. I’ve done it all
to be known as myself. With secrets.
I have principles. I will listen
about the migration of salmon
in rivers and your voice.
I have nothing to keep me safe--
no flawless promise, no waiting
net, no armor.
I will not shout.
You are standing here in
the navy presence of memory, and I
stretch towards you. Inside my skin,
loving this space
my body believes in.
love is not a feeling
Philosophy Gym is at
Woodlawn and 55th and
her purple heart
tries not to fall apart
as she assembles
radioactive waste along the
northside curb right before Jimmie’s.
she couldn’t tell anyone
about the child and the gift
that had been slipped into
her pocket, how that had
“How do I say goodbye to what
we’ve had?” she shudders and
in a few moments someone
will throw a potato at her
from a passing dodge ram and
she’ll strut after them
and forget about saying goodbye,
or what we had.
I’ve never been as lonely as
when I was with you and
the door to Philosophy Gym
slams shut on the
at the corner of Woodlawn and 55th.
Restraint and Patience
The names of the dead are written on the walls.
Underneath the words, “Occupation Kills.”
The arabic script flows red on white,
passing through two street blocks.
A little girl draws a picture of a bomb exploding
on a home, in the margins she writes,
“Restraint and patience are our weapons.”
Doug says that compassion and respect for the other
are the true religion and if you live your faith they will see it.
In my bed, alone at night, I pray for my family,
and fall asleep to whistles from night trains in the distance.
Some Things I Haven’t Been Able to Tell You
I haven’t been able to tell you
about my grandpa who died in 1958.
sailed on merchant ships to
He sent my grandma pictures of the horses
and the European buildings that didn’t remind him of the barns in
“I am writing to you with love in the name of Jesus.”
I found their letters in the attic this summer,
it’s the only time I’ve ever had the chance to hear his voice.
I haven’t been able to tell you
about my aunt who, 12 years ago, left my uncle
to live with her boyfriend in the trailer park across town.
The boyfriend was an old man from work.
They met at LAW Transportation,
the trucking company where she had been for six months.
My mom called her every morning and pleaded
for her to come to come.
She finally came back that May, full of repentance,
and no one in my family has spoken of it since.
I haven’t been able to tell you
about my cousin who drew a picture for his family’s
Christmas Card each year. The scene was always in black and white
except for a small red cardinal in a tree somewhere.
He died on his motorcycle two summers ago in August.
His funeral was on the hottest day that summer,
and through it all a cardinal sang in the treetops.
I haven’t been able to tell you
that I hold family secrets and our tragedies
like treasures in the box of my past.
We feign perfection and I’ve learned through the years
that this daily make believe is what begins to kill us.
I promise you that everything I’ve ever known
will some day be ours.
Upon My Subsequent Arrest by the Poetry Police
By Alice Houston, who only seldom and innocently pokes fun at literary convention
Feel its last fingertips on my skin
Watch my goosebumps fade with its heat
Soak in all the light I could daily get
All I ever wanted was to watch the clouds fly
Laugh at the white turtles and castles and bumblebees
Imagine them swooping into their cottonball bowl
Do nothing but lie and watch them pass by
All I ever wanted was to let the dirt stay
See its grain pressed against our hands
Examine the earth closely for a while
Work in the garden at the end of day
All I ever wanted was to ramble without guides or maps
Feel cold without a fur coat shelter
Find those small gifts left to share
Brush of the fir and breath of the wind
All I ever wanted was the chance to breathe
Yawn and sigh and whistle
Without choking on my own defiance
Just to live and let live
And hope tomorrow will be this way
Soft moss gathers below the falls,
sweeping its subtle way across falls
slumbering not at the end of day, but
rumbling, spewing below the surface,
seething suddenly at the break of stone,
spitting and smothering the silent moss
sweeping along the current rush, sliding
above and below its slipshod encasement,
slender and silver as the secret sacrifices of
motherhood. Silently sleeping and gurgling,
Sheeted beneath cascades slipping from the
single source of their strength, streams gushing from sleeping banks
over smooth stone and moss silhouetted against soft sky lines
and swift circles of stars over the dusky sweet scent of the moon.
And the curve of her hip, under coating of olive
and silk, began to dip downwards, the way bamboo
would dip if bamboo could dip, if the grass had
muscles and bones, if the earth had a skin, if
rhythm wasn’t just a virtue but rice and vegetables,
devoured by everyone, even the most sterile
tribes, straining forward. What of me? Nothing but
superfluous height, cursed caucasian thighs. Who
drives her sea’s body, her shoots of rose, her undu-
lating almond beauty? Oh serpent, oh sinew-shaper,
oh hair of rivers! Slow down for me. Go faster.
A swallow flutters in the sun,
flinging itself at the river below in a
desperate search for sustenance,
pausing its frenzied flight only to snatch tiny insects
from the vast water’s surface.
Each time, the bird appears headed for a plunge
into the water’s full depths
but skittishly alights again at the first touch
of the cool deep
on its unweathered feet.
This is me, by day.
By night I am the ebony trees
raising their bony fingers to touch the stars.
All I Ever Wanted
All I ever wanted was to be someone people looked at
and said to each other in hushed tones:
“oh, Anita – she’s so cool/deep/mysterious/intriguing”;
to have special insights that transcend
the normal person’s everyday perceptions;
to win every time at Taboo and Text Twist and Trivial Pursuit.
All I ever wanted was to leave a trail of salivating boys behind me;
to be tragically misunderstood
because of my dashing brilliance;
to sing songs only the birds could understand.
To stop this writing that I know is nonsense
and write about what I really want –
which so painfully is what everyone wants:
to be loved by something bigger than oceans and sky,
more present than flesh or rain;
to be understood by someone deeper than
the yawning bowels of the earth.
And to love that elusive Someone back.
I wait my turn in line.
Like the ones before and after, all I ever truly wanted
was to fall into the deep cold water below.
Of Earth and Children
We savored the wild leeks on our tongues,
wondering if they would bring immortality
or agonizing death by morning.
We gathered morels from the rotting oaks
with the other children; our gritty hands
bouncing the shapes to so many picnic tables.
The rich earth smell of morels, leeks, butter
hung above the fires: the spit and hisss
of our forest findings as our Papas stirred.
Before rushing into the shining afternoon
we arranged three slices of mushroom on
each green leek shoot beside the picnic forks.
We stabbed, touched the mushroom to our tongues,
chewed, swallowed, sighed. In this way we
gradually moved into our bodies.
Of Childhood Fears and the Moon
the eye of a shot buck who dragged himself to the banks
across the roof, through my window, and into my sleep.
the fire constrained in its ring snaps and crackles with
the throb of the great horned owl outside my window breaks
in through my ears and out through tiny goose pimples to the
very tips of my mid-digit toe hairs and the edge of a scream.
its hiss and spit as I sit shoulder-to-shoulder wanting
the dark flutter of a moth’s wings against my arm alerts
my nerves and fires the muscles in my arms as they match
the beating of its large and velvet wings toward the floor.
nothing but the moon and the ecstasy of
the touch of night air moves from window to tongue, tightens
my taste buds, protracts my pupils and ears until they ring
with created noises then deftly, turns and soothes me to sleep.
footsteps on the padded silences of the trail.
Of Mothers and Daughters
Redbuds wind and bend darkly upwards along
the driveway, like a row of ancient women in spring
showering their delicate lobes across the stones.
When I hurry beneath them, they slow me with the
touch of limbs or chafing of branches—leaving always
a deluge of petals, wet with dew and clinging to my hair.
As the life blood flows through me, out from between
my thighs, the redbud blooms flow into my senses.
My feet pad over violets and dead magnolia sepals watching
the cherry tree cast her petals, watching the Coopers Hawks
make love in the elm tree, watching the spring uncurl her ripe
fingers and toes over the surface of the earth.
My mother prunes the redbud and brings the shoots
into the kitchen to snip the stems and arrange them in a
chipped china pitcher with flowers laced around its belly.
She places them on the lower counter to make a white space
for chives, her old scissors, and fresh asparagus spears still
sloughing damp earth from their scaled heads.
Outside the window, the ancient redbuds push out of their
tiny cases, ripen and fall away as summer leaves sprout.
Blushing and greening, they shine and beckon and scatter
their pink and pale petals upon
my trembling head.