Always, in returning to the house of my farm-grown summers I come home to the wild oat, the whole grain of me. Riding bareback again through the fields of a long-ago self, who I was rises golden and green in a warm wind: Bud hasn’t gone crazy yet. Audrey and Rose still live. The hayloft babies are hiding in the rafters of first love, waiting to be born. The lake’s so deep you can swim one step out from the bouldered shore. Blind Grandpa keeps his pockets full of change. Cackling, he leans on his cane, throwing every quarter-nickel-dime onto the ground. He listens as we fall upon them like scrabbling crows. Gran scolds but he never stops making us rich. Dad shows Bob and I at 5:00 a.m. how to hook a worm (I’ve been saving them from a dry street death ever since). Later Gran, with a shake and quiver of strong, baggy arms, scales and cleans eight small bass in the kitchen sink. Uncle Jim drives his tractor in a pressed white shirt. I slip out the door, running past rabbit-friendly trees to hide among sky-driven stalks. Lying down, I press my body into sweet conversation with the earth. Here, no machinations of the soul, just secrets told, flitting like fireflies through branches of maple, alder, birch. Who I became is the land that grew them—a defiant wave of long grass beside a paved road, a wealth of open sky, water deep enough for a man to drown in, the flickering light that might save him.
This poem first appeared in the Taos Journal of Poetry and Art in July, 2017. Deep thanks to then-editors Veronica Golos and Catherine Strisik for selecting it.
Below this whale song of waves: the fin-happy,
sounding through all the dumb canyons
of the sea, coloured crayon-bright in the dark
flooded basement of the earth, shadow-drifted
across aqueous meadows prismed with light,
blending with gray rock and white sand,
knobby coral and long swishy green,
ferned and prickled, smoothed and elongated,
troubled hard, dense, small
but here, and free—
the mute-mouthed, mandibled hungry
and the hunted—to a grotto-chased,
honorable death. Or those given eyes
to see the dangling hook, the silver
door swinging shut before it’s too late.
Those at least, weapons in the hand.
Not a cavernous ground zero.
But this water knows, in its reach, how
my bikini got its name. Makes me think
of dreams I barely had, so quickly did they
sink from sight, but whose notes floated
long after, as if there was something
I could yet retrieve. In a tidal lullabye
of voices I cannot hear, the many mouths
of the sea open and close, open and close
lips I cannot read.
Another poem from my chapbook “Irresistible”, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in March. Like to read more? Pre-orders (upon which the print run is based) end soon – January 12th! May this new year be as exciting for you as it is for me!
stands like a bearded yogi
in the willow-edged stream
that runs under the main road
an easy block from the sea,
waiting for his own kind
At that intersection
of necessity and desire,
it is no accident when
the still life breaks from
its green-daubed canvas
with the long, scissored plunge
of his beak, and swallows whole
and writhing, the little fish
that almost made it.
Sometimes, in the rivering
silence between two hearts,
I am stalked by
an elegant longing
and taken suddenly
by its gleaming need
And hope I do not
reach too slowly
into the sea-deep amber
light of its promise,
like these bare and slender
branches that have crept from
their tangled weep of shadows,
This first appeared in North Shore Magazine and is included in my chapbook “Stealing Eternity”.