Thursday, April 29, 2010

PAD Day 29 - And Suddenly______

Evening, Fly-In, Bosque Del Apache

A cold wet afternoon of birding
hiking soggy edges of the fields,
the trail along the river,
following the muddy
footprints of the deer.

December sun sank
behind the mountains,
cloud reflections in the ponds
caught fire.

And suddenly 
the sky was filled with cranes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

PAD Day 28 - End of the Line


Never did I plan,
nor was it my intention,
to spend my life asleep
on a deserted beach
with the moonlight on the dunes,
landscape of a dream,
alone when it rains in the night.

Yet here I am
curled in a hollow of sand
against the tossing sea,
the raindrops on my cheeks.
Since this was not my plan,
nor my intention,
it all could be a dream,
and these may be tears,
not rain.

Which does not lessen the darkness,
nor leave me any less alone.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

PAD Day 27 - Hopeful/or/Hopeless

Small Bones of Time

These may be all we have:
moments picked as clean
as I have seen
gull bones on the sand,
mouse bones in the dust
behind a cupboard door,
the fox skull I found once
in a field.
These may be all we have.

Small bones of time
empty as abandoned shells,
clean as stones
wavewashed endlessly.
These may be all we have.

Monday, April 26, 2010

PAD Day 26 - More Than Five Times *

The Serendipity of Gardens

I’ve tried to write this poem
Five times now 
Today and yesterday,
Pruning the vitex and desert willow
Trimming back the  Russian sage
Thinking what to put in that border
Where  purple sage and Mexican sunflowers
Were a riot of color last year.
In fact, probably more than five times
While weeding the evening primroses
Digging out the irises that won’t bloom
Deep under the plum trees 
Too far from morning sun.

In the kitchen for some toast,
A coffee, pomegranate jam,
I think maybe I’ll give up now
And just pay attention
To the serendipity of flowers
Forget the impossible poem.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

PAD Day 25 - Poem Inspired By A Song

Bird On A Wire

Migrants coming through
Backyard birds nesting

Constant motion at the feeders
Appeasing avian hunger

Small birds in the pines
Pyracantha, Spanish broom

Then,  midday silence
Nothing moves

The answer on the powerline
Cooper’s hawk overhead

Later, in the evening
Feathers on the gravel

Unkind hawk, flying free,
Has moved on

(Song: Bird On A Wire, Leonard Cohen, 1968

Saturday, April 24, 2010

PAD Day 24 - Evening


We went to the Earth Day Party
At the Co-Op in Nob Hill,
Bought an iceplant for the berm
 at the Santa Ana Nursery,
Listened to Brazilian jazz
And danced our asses off
Under the music tent.

Then walked home through
Unfamiliar neighborhoods,
As the moon rose over the Sandias,
Breathing the purple air
Of lilacs and wisteria,
Listening to the evening doves.

As dusk fell, the wind came up.
Dogs barked behind adobe walls.
Home now, tired and sunburnt,
Feeding the cats late dinner,
Ending a perfect day.

Friday, April 23, 2010

PAD Day 23 - Exhaustion *


They found the old iron bed
In a junkshop on Route Six,
Loaded it in the truck,
And took it home.
It took four weeks
In the sun by the barn
To sand it, paint it white.
They've moved the bed  with them
Several times across the country.
By now it needs repainting.
But it’s under the east window
In the bedroom at the back
Of the house,
Where they go on the days
When a nap is both necessary
And possible.
Crawl under the quilt Ren bought
 At the Texas flea market
On a Hill Country visit
 When everyone was still alive,
The hard times out there
Waiting for them then.
A nap under that quilt,
Dream filled journey in the
White iron bed,
On a bleak winter afternoon
Or a summer day with the
Ceiling fan turning
Can feel like the only thing
Saving them
 from the boneyard.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

PAD Day 22 - Earth

At Twilight

Yesterday at twilight as I crossed the lawn
something moved above my field of vision.
Up where woods' edge slopes to lilac bushes,
children's sandbox, kitchen windows.
In that zone between the secrecy of forest
and the known of human dwelling,
three deer:  two doe, one halfgrown fawn,
stood still as trees in trees' grey shadow.

Longlegged bandits from the forest,
wary eyed, curious and hungry,
they had come to browse the garden:
mint, tomato plants, sweet basil,
tender leaves of newly sprouted spinach.

Hours in the mud spent digging, planting,
weeding, moving stones, seemed unimportant
to defend against such beauty.
For this I would have planted twenty gardens
Grace was what I needed more than food.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

PAD Day 21- According To______

Life According To Hoyle

 How would it  be
If being a human
Was like bridge
Or poker or chess,
And it came to us
Complete with a book
Of rules and instructions,
Life according to Hoyle?
No more agonizing,
Making decisions:
Who to marry
Where to live
What to do
What to name the baby
Where to take our vacation
Divest or invest this year?
All the answers
Would be found in Life's pages.
No doubt or confusion remaining
Look each one up in the index
Final directions found here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

PAD Day 20- Looking Back / Forward

In Defense of Looking Back

Don’t look at me like that.
I know you think me cowardly,
Call me slow and weak.
If you had ever loved this way
You would have done the same.

Half mad with grief and loss
All I wanted was to touch her,
Look at her once more.
I thought I’d saved her from the Underworld.
I didn’t know the fury of the gods.
How could I not look back?

Monday, April 19, 2010

PAD Day 19 - A Person

Thomas Jefferson’s Poppies
It couldn’t have been easy.
As founding father, empire builder,
philosopher of state,
He suffered headaches, persistent diarrhea,
Insomnia into the small night hours.
For him the pursuit of happiness
Was an often distant, difficult ideal.

Remember though, he was a gardener,
The Monticello gardens laboratories
Of plants from every corner of the world.
And in those Virginia gardens grew  exotic poppies,
White and purple plants of joy,
Papaver somneriferum,
Sleepbringer to the ancients,
Milk of paradise,
For Kubla Khan the very hand of god.

Jefferson, a man of industry and contradiction
At work atop his mountain
Craved sleep, deep dreams, and peace,
Ever independent and industrious
Took matters into his own hands.
From his botanic pharmacy opium poppies
Offered comfort, brought release.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

PAD Day 18 - To_____

To Be A Bird Next Time

If we return,
And mind you,
I’m not saying
That I think we will,
I’d like to be a bird.
Probably a raptor,
A Cooper’s Hawk, or Kestrel,
Something light and free and fast,
Fierce of talon, eye and beak,
Swift to hunt and kill.
Able to spread my wings
And ride the thermals
On a high blue October afternoon.
If we come back,
And who knows?
Perhaps we do,
It’s time to start working
On my karma.
I’m certainly not yet worthy
To be a hawk
Or any other bird.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

PAD Day 17 -Science

In The Presence Of Chlorophyll

 When Mike came to prune the trees in late September, he said the cottonwood outside our kitchen window was slowly dying from the inside out. This winter I thought at last it’s over, we’ll have dead limbs the flickers will enjoy, and when we take it down only a stump. Then two weeks ago I noticed tiny heartshaped leaves were blowing in the early April winds.

Light energy
Carbon dioxide and water

Friday, April 16, 2010

PAD Day 16 - Death

Pulling Weeds
An afternoon of weeding by the neighbor’s low stone wall,
Begun in sunshine, ended in thunder and rain. We come inside for supper.
My hands smell like mustard and dirt.

Under the Russian olive
White-crowned sparrow corpse
In the foxtail grass

Thursday, April 15, 2010

PAD Day 15 - Deadlines

A Deadline Missed

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, sun so hot I have to get my hat, put sunscreen on,
I wander through the garden, noticing the changes after the windstorms and the rain.
Here are lilacs in full bloom, the desert willow by the shed is proudly budding,
Prairie sage beside the fence already growing tall.
It’s just mid-April but I can see that spring is almost gone

Stone birdbath full of robins
Hummers buzzing by
Too late to plant the lettuce

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

PAD Day 14 - Island

At The Nature Center

They’ve been sitting on their nests
For weeks now
On the islands
In the middle of the pond
Taking turns on the eggs
 As the days grew warm.
Today, while humans worried about taxes
 A better species left the safety of their island
 Led a string of six small yellow goslings
Out onto the water
Proudly introduced them to the world.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

PAD Challenge Day 13 - A Love Poem *

The Prompt was actually "A Love Poem or An Anti-Love Poem"

Thirty Years Without A Love Poem

How long has it been
Since I wrote you a love poem?
How many years has it been?
Almost thirty years now since
I begged you - run away with me to Paris,
Tahiti, the Greek Islands, anywhere.
It hasn’t been the life we dreamed of, has it?
We haven’t been to Paris yet.
But every morning yours is the face
That I wake up to, discuss the day with,
Over tea and cereal.
Every night your kisses
Are the last thing that I know
Before the darkness takes me under.
Thirty years without a love poem
Have been thirty years of love,
Sometimes sorrow, often joy.
This is just another Tuesday afternoon,
I’ve gone shopping for our dinner.
Soon, you will be home, 
Your dear face tired and hungry.
I am writing you this love poem just to say
There are lilacs on the kitchen table, it is April,
Thirty years later we're still here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

PAD Day 12 - City

Duke City Contradictions

Mariachi music in the Plaza,
Gang  shootings every other day.
Techology corridors hang over
The river’s crumbling west bank.
Below, geese and ducks feed on sandbars
 In the middle of the thick brown flow.
Buried bones of mystery women on the Mesa
Tossed in  rocky pits, forgotten.
Murder links them to the violence lurking
Just below the surface everywhere,
Under cottonwoods and willows
Along  hiking trails and bike paths
Downtown bars and sidewalks after dark.
Families Sunday strolling by the water
Enjoying picnics in the park
Giraffe and hippo babies at the zoo.
A five-year-old smothered in the sandbox
Damaged children every evening on the news.
Here between  mountains and volcanoes we are living
Lives of paranoia, cultural celebrations,
Methamphetamine, and guns

Sunday, April 11, 2010

PAD Day 11 - The Last______


(Saying Goodbye To Molly)    

One Last Time

I wrapped her in the old quilt
We’d had as long as we’d had her
Eighteen years or so
Ocean years in Delaware and Truro
Months of traveling across the country
In the camper or the truck
She didn’t care as long as we were there

On that late September afternoon
Two years ago
I held her in my arms
Pulled the yellow rocker out into the noonday sun
Our vet is kind and gentle
The end was easy
The old quilt comforted us both
In the peaceful autumn sunlight I held her in my arms
We let her fall  asleep one long last time.

PAD Day 10 - Horror


Like a bear or werewolf
in a suit and tie,
silk stockings,
good wool coat,
cooking meals,
laundering the bedclothes,
fingering my rosary beads.

And all the while
my claws grow longer;
during dinner conversation
I feel my own fangs
bite into my cheek.
Shaggy heart awakens
to household smells
of dung and blood.

Such a show of contemplation
  A black bear writing poetry,
  A werewolf reading verse.

Only listen:
Just beyond this room
the damp warm night is breathing.
I will rip the glasses from my muzzle,
throw the pen across the desk,
I will burst forth into the
hissing moonlight.

Believe me when I tell you
I will tear the beating heart
Out of your breast.

Friday, April 9, 2010

PAD Day 9 - Self-Portrait

Poem for Myself on Monday Morning                       

I stand among the blue tiles
brown and naked,
toweling my wet
and fragrant self,
feeling the beauty
of my own skin;
wondering     Degas,
where are you now?
Not here, to paint
the muscles in my back, bent,
the way my shoulder curves
to meet my arm,
wet nippled breasts
small shining,
the generous proportions
of my thighs.
My portrait will not
make an exhibition:
Woman Drying Body After Bath.
I will take my secret sculpture
out into the morning,
among the roses,
woman glorious,

Thursday, April 8, 2010

PAD Day 8 - Tool *

 My Mother’s  Garden Knife

Blessed is she who weeds her mother’s gardens
And every garden that I've had was somehow hers.
Even this one, so unlike her Pennsylvania stone walls
 Enclosing rhubarb, rhododendron, and strawberries,
Roses, foxgloves, peonies, and mint.

She taught me everything I know about a garden,
How to plant, and how to weed
Garden knife in hand, long days’ Summer hours
On her knees beside the old red barn,
Her cats for companions in the catnip,
In the buzzing herb beds conversing with the bees.
Through years of pain and loss, depression,
In the herbs and flowers she knew joy.

Here in this dry and stony desert garden,
Her steel blade in my hand,
She gently whispers green thumbed lessons
Instructs me “Listen,
From the pines the doves are calling,
The redbud’s in full bloom.
Take comfort in the iris,
Take comfort where you can.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

PAD Day 7 - Until_______

Until The Lilacs Bloom  (With Apologies To TS Eliot)      

December’s not the hardest for a gardener
Bare branches, winter’s barren room.
No, that honor goes to early April
This cold impatient time spent waiting
For lilacs’ purple bursting into bloom.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

PAD Day 6 - Ekphrastic Poem

The Witches’ Entertainment     

There is no moon tonight
and cloudcast hides the stars.
Put on your hats, my beauties,
soon we ride
across the  darkling Spanish plain,
seeking louts who wander
from the taverns in the town
wanting only
the warmth of their own beds,
fire on the hearth,
a sodden night of sleep
too drunk for dreams.

We shall remake them,
fly them
dumb creatures of the earth,
to ecstasy and terror in our arms.
By hidden light of dark day stars
cross tossing stormy seas
to visit cannibals
eaters of human hearts
then drop them
bloody, riven, gnawed
Through forest leaves.
They will hear music
played by monsters
around a ring of fire
deep within the midnight trees
dance with us,
strange sisters,
then sleep
abandoning despair.
From unreasoning sleep awakening
they will not remember.
Will not care.

(After Goya’s Flight of the Witches)

Monday, April 5, 2010

PAD Day 5 - Too Much Information

The Bag of Snakes Let Loose

Tell me the truth
She asked me
Over and over
I knew she didn’t really want to know
Tell me, just tell me the truth
She asked me once again
And so
I told her
Like a bag of snakes let loose
Across the kitchen floor
We’ve been busy now for years
Coping with that truth
Trying to put it back into the bag.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

PAD Day 4 - History


Arroyo Seco

What are we doing
 in these alien desert places
under brooding mountain faces,
fierce light
that drove pioneer women mad?
Drying from the edges
hands, faces, feet and hair,
our very hearts  grown
dry and withered
soft corpses in the sun.
Living with the daily losses
of our sisters,
landscapes that formed us,
daily rainfall on the
gardens that we knew.
What are we doing in this desert?
We have no history here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

PAD Day 3 - Partly______

Partly Read

This house is littered with our lack of concentration,
partly-read books in every room.
Self-help and poetry on the bedside table,
several novels on the carpet
by the purple reading chair.
postcards marking our lost interest.
Cookbooks and dictionaries, limned with dust and fur,
cover dining table, sideboard, chairs,
until we need to use them,
look up a word, cook something, entertain.
On the coffee table, stacks of travel books and
magazines with articles about the places
we dream one day we’ll visit.
turning the pages of our lives
while we still can.
hoping not to leave
too many chapters partly read.