Friday, December 31, 2010

Country Evening

The sounds of a country evening
Waft across the fields with smells
Of cornbread and hoppin' John:
The bellowing of burros in the barnyard,
The slow clang of cow bells,
And the lowing of cattle
As they head home from the sweet meadow grass
Into the corral for the night.
The calves cavort and bulls quicken their step
When they hear the low rumble of an old Ford pickup
And the clank and creak of rusty hinges
As someone opens the gate.
Supper time: Animals come first
In the daily routine of farm life.

Written October 2010

A Picasso Morning

Pre-dawn on the Caprock
Is a flat, even line of horizon
Appearing out of the night -
A solitary stroke to indicate a mouth.
Slowly earth and sky
Unpurse their lips;
Muscles slacken to reveal
The subtle shades of rose
As the sun approaches its entrance.
Hidden light washes
Away stars with the glisten
That perspires from dreams.
Then a golden bubble
Emerges from that mouth
And floats into the morning.
Unable to be sad for long,
This blue child smiles.

Written May, 1983 (First published on PoemHunter, and poetfreak)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Waltz Wave: Winter Locusts

all gone
to winter
to the trees
are pale husks of
their summer
selves, soon
be filled
with ice and
breeze of

October 2009

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Waltz Wave: The Stormy Sea

sea is a
black boiling waves
attack the
with white
caps like teeth
gnash at

September 2010

Camping out Christmas Eve

This camp-out we invented to help a rag-tag flock of teens forget they cannot be home and erase all of the canned Christmas reminders on every tube and every corner that is like salt in these wounds of broken families. We wanted to soften the ache for estranged, absent and abusive parents.
We will make our own simple ceremony, simple gifts to each child. We hope to draw them into this day of happiness; let them discover the back door to a missed childhood.
We found a small spruce last night growing close to the tents, christened it “our Christmas tree, ” placed a creche in the branches near the top with strings of popcorn and berries for the birds. Tonight we will hang their stockings there, stuffed with pecans and oranges, sweet morsels of chocolate and jokes on bright paper.

A present waiting to be unwrapped,
This Christmas Eve morn
Looks like any other winter day of gray.
I get up to kindle the morning camp fire.
The sun is folded below the horizon
Laying banked by an ash-colored cold front.
Then rising, it burns its cloud blankets for warmth,
Smoldering copper, flaming crimson,
As saved embers glow brightly,
When dawn breathes upon them.
Now snowflakes large as angel down
Begin to fall,
Glistening the pine boughs.

October 2009

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Winds of Winter

Winds of winter whistle
Through the cracks around windows
And whine under the door,
Like coyotes yelping, wanting in for the warmth.
Winds of winter howl in the pines
Mimicking wolves and the sound of hunger.
Isolating in its sheer desperation.
Within I counter with my own sound-scape:
A fire crackles in the hearth;
Ravel and Respighi play on the radio.
I set the kettle on the burner,
Watch the flames lap with blue tongues
And listen to the cheery skirl
That holds at bay the screech owl
And the moon-lusting lupines.

The Moon's Departure

Science tells us the moon is leaving --
A slow uncoiling of its constant orbit --
Widening and widening
Until it is unraveled from the earth --
Set free from our gravitational tether
To fly away towards worlds unknown --
Taking its somber face and moody dark side,
Astronaut footprints and flags,
Lunokhod (the Russian Moon Robot)
And our mirror-studded laser reflectors
That let us know within a millimeter
Just how far the moon has strayed each day.
What others in the universe will make
Of these mementos is hard to guess.

But more important to us
What will regulate
The flux and flow of madness?
To say nothing of how this will lay waste
To reams of astrologers charts, calendars
And farmers' almanac tables.
And will menstrual flow cease,
Making eggs be planted
In old uterine membranes,
Not freshly minted each month?
And come to think of it,
Will women still be labeled unclean,
Without that flood of blood?
What need will there be
For niddah regulations?
I suppose we will have to invent some engine
To motor the tides on schedule
And the synodic rhythm
That ebbs and flows
Inside every cell of life.

I think we will have to lasso
That lunar orb to earth with cables,
Or duct tape and kite string
If all else fails, and not let it go.
Or fetch another moon from Saturn
(It won't miss just one
With so many gems in its crown.)

Otherwise what will stand for its image
Of muted light and mood change in our poetry?
And what will happen to the role
The moon has played in our dreams?
What beacon will replace
The aura it throws on amore?
How much courage must we lovers have
On a midnight walk on the beach
Without moonlight
To pull our heartstrings together?
Will my heart have to leap
Into the gap between us,
Like a blind aerialist
Not knowing if my beloved
Has reached out, heart open,
To catch me?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sap-Rising Song

A sapling learns the work of trees
Is standing tall and pushing deep.
Its being, tall and maple,
Stabs the iris with a hue
Too precisely to be doubted or confused.
But flowers fade;
Leaves fly;
Seeds depart
To start their own slender lives.

And when the thick girth of wood
And snaking labyrinth burrowing below the earth
Hide mysteries too myriad to ignore,
It must reveal the song of roots
And deep inner layers of trunk.
Now beckoned by the insistence of warmth
To let dark rings spill forth and sing,
That sweet dew, distilled from the toil
Of standing tall and pushing deep,
Glows like honey
On rough, cracking  bark.

written April 1976, published on poemhunter April 2009

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Hobo's Christmas

Hobos in holey coats
Would stand around the oil drums fires
At Santaland, sometimes sharing a thermos
Of Christmas cheer and off-key caroling
Of “Joy to the World”
After all the children had gone home,
Until the city put up a high fence
Around the seasonal attraction,
Where a tollbooth with a charge
Enjoys very few visitors.
But no hobos bother those deserted fires.

Now the homeless descend on parking lots downtown,
Hugging the hoods of parked cars,
Spreading arms over the still-warm engines
As an angel would extend her wings before ascending
Into the clear, holy night.

written and published on  poetfreak 12/20/2009, and on poemhunter 12/26/2009

A Burden Shared

Bent oaks absorb the incessant drizzle
On dark thick shoulders,
Dripping excess on the ground below.
Shading deeper with wetness,
They bow closer to the ground
With the weight of great gray clouds
Like a pall upon their backs.
And when the wind moves through them -
A shiver of cold -
They shift a heavy burden in unison.

written October, 1973; published on poemhunter May 2009 and poetfreak March 2010

Shimmering Heat

Searching for a gas station off of the interstate,
I drive through the shimmering heat
That ruffles my vision of the highway.
The image wavers - a mirage floating
Which thirst-crazed wanderers
Would distrust - my oasis
Swims into view:
Truck stop.

published first on PoemHunter May, 2009; revised and published on poetfreak Oct. 2009

Friday, December 3, 2010

'When I Saw the City in a Fog...'

When I saw the city in a fog -
the towers dimly there,
losing their heads in grayness -
I suddenly knew
the earth had dreamed us,
dreamed us all:
the weeds themselves
nosing out of slumber,
skyscrapers and radio antennae
blinking tired red eyes to heaven,
cars with muffled honks
probing the dark stillness with lights
like blind men's outstretched arms;
and me, shivering in wet shoes
because the park's damp privacy
was too inviting to refuse.
And when the earth finally awakens,
will we all collapse inside that head? 

written March 1979, published on poemhunter 4/20/2009 and poetfreak 11/21/2009 

Closer to Sealife Than Mammals

In the ebbing tide's wet shadow,
Standing barefoot on the strand,
I perceive the suck of out-rushing water
Pulling my toes into mud.
These fat little nubs - closer to sea life than mammals,
With snail or tortoise shells on their backs -
Or like the tiny clams
Burrowing below the sand
To avoid following the waves out,
These periwinkles dive under the surface.
Rather than the natural inclination
To counter the force that pulls me -
Just like I lean into a gale to plant myself
More firmly against wind currents -
Instead this time I side with the pull of tides
That is anchoring my feet,
And let it take me deeper into this primordial goo.
I feel the quiver of life underfoot with surprise,
Much as the awed young surgeon
Who first holds a beating heart in his hands.
With the soles of my feet I am palpating a pulse
And I am struck by wonder:
I must be standing on the heartbeat of the world.