single birds

There’s no time for you now.

Listen to the dove on the wire,
its loneliness rests on a single note.

Illuminated, the hummingbird greets the salvia in the searing heat.
What wisdom can you share, when there’s no one at the end of your call?

Call anyway. As long as there are blossoms
and the dog’s bowl, someone will hear your beckon,
the tiny bit of hope in the chimes
by the glossy privet.

Dusty and hot, you drink from water no one can see.
Call me, back to the shade, just where the wren was,
but we won’t see her ’til morn.

Remembering Brian

You had beautiful handwriting,
and that’s what I choose to remember about you,
if this is remembering you.

I will remember not remembering sitting
on your lap on a hot day.
Me, tiny, shirtless, in a diaper.
You made sure I didn’t become a swimmer just yet,
your nameless friend next to you in the picture.

I will forget remembering when mom took to me to prison to see you, and you had made me a beautiful purse with a fish on it. I remember I no longer have that purse, because I am no longer the name you put on it.

I remember you sent me a card thanking me for the money I know was for drugs. And I’ll try to forget I paid for your death, and that I never got to say goodbye at the river, where the fishes swim among your ashes, next to the quickness of our lives.

And I’ll see, today, my poor handwriting, and know that letters were your one, beautiful gift.

Wanderer (C. Glover)

We sent Jimmy for you, for just a second.
We sent Jimmy for you all.

Flash. Headphones walking away. Flash. Hastily
baggy pants. Tracks. Flash.
The conductor. Flash. Just the second of the rest.

You stank. New bike, dismantled. Then you’d get it together.
ZZ Top dreams, a committed beard, and knees in-out-in-out. And not only when you felt one of your sisters watching.

Just a second!

Ted K. hair, Irish red beard. Yeah, that’s him. I know him as Misunderstood. Wow,
that’s a lot of blood.

Yeah, Mister Understood. I knew him as a child. He did something to me that wasn’t quite …right. Within seconds.

Transgressions forgiven. Eldest said “we all get a pass.”

Jimmy was only there for a second, to identify my brother.
Then we sent him for the rest.

1990, 1994, 2002, 2019









2 After (Part I) – Red Death

You and I, we stood opposite
and opposites, on each side of the river filled with wilting roses.

Been a long time since we’ve seen their eyes,
swift the robin with sad emeralds and thick hips.

Get off the ground, use those thighs like the trunks of a wooden sword,
cuz the coal man is here to take your life with a shotgun, RISE! and

rose in the barrel

so.
many.
petals.

Born of fire, 2 before, V and S dyed you red. Here, pass the torch.
As you died, dried red, the dead sea that once held your jewels
now sees nothing.

Look away, big life, as your rotting limbs cling to the cliff,
nails like teeth roots. Clamping, clamping.
Give us a slight smile.

Rest, beauty. The little dog will find you soon,
…but you will never go home.


Where the wildflowers are

A lady bit a face into a leaf
when the wildflowers were asleep

The face a plate of shock and horror
at what the world had become

The top of the face, a pumpkin’s
handle, eyes to the sky

green cataracts
carved into a scream

When the flowers woke
they didn’t understand who was among them
and they could not escape

A turkey vulture flew overhead
silent soaring
eyes on the dead
who stood paralyzed
on the verge of a thing

About that house

I am clutching my favorite book
and the devil knocks. She’s fat and grey and cross-eyed.

At least consumptive devil I know, in her room, flat ass, wetting her pants as she sleeps. Why did you make me hate this house? It was the prettiest of all 18.

No sleep for me, just a forgetting and a morning re-read. In the book, the venison sounds amazing, but I wouldn’t know. Later, I would know chops and applesauce, but tonight I swallow fear.

Fear for the things I never did.

Fear for the things I would never do.

Fear from emerging from a traumatized womb, where a dick filled with heroin and a 12-pack were the perfect paring for the perfect empath. Physiologically and psychologically magnificent, and

ready to question the world.

Clutching Laura Ingalls

Fearless isn’t thoughtless
wild and precious
it’s a chaotic calculation
keep going
step through the river, so clear
and cold, so inviting but
deadly, who is below at
your toes, your ankles?
life’s piranhas lingering there
wanting for you to drown,
to sleep in that one piece,
blue, folded legs like a smooth
labia, yes I said it mother,
I see you watching me, thinking
I’m untamed and sit on rounded

heels and and you’d be right will you
throw me in the
lake again, this time harder,
with more force, your shoulders
barely buckling, oh mother, you
gave me wings, but kept me
clipped, scaled, a good swimmer
and the lizard in me wanted
to stay below deck, clutching
a wet Laura Ingalls, begging
you to leave me be; sweep the
angels, kill the angel, let the
angel leave, rocks in pockets
below the float buoyed by hope,
always buoyed by hope

Fade

not like my dream, where I’m standing in flowers.

instead, my field was peppered with peppers, little legs, bloody red, crawling
up mine as I watched
daisies from afar, against a little house,

you outside, red-head, can’t hold too tight to that.

red is fading now
back to bed
fade to pepper
fade to flowers

fade

Seeing

I see color.
~Me

Though I have no illusions that the world revolves around me, I do think that I am spoken to. The words are always there. Sometimes they whisper, sometimes they are loud, but they are always speaking.

I’m in the same boat as everyone else, but thankfully not a large boat off the shore of some unfortunate harbor. I’m not going to name it, though, it’s already been named. It’s some version of the Scottish Play, and let’s just leave it at that. And we’re all staring out, unfortunate actors, waiting for a cue, waiting for the next act.

I had a laugh when this play began, as it was right before I was supposed to embark on some sort of personal journey for three months. Like space was going to be made for me and I would work out all the shit in my life. Oddly, space was made for me, but not in the way that I wanted. Instead, the streets and my neighborhood around me said “have a listen” and “have a look-see.”

And what I heard were birds, and fewer of them. I saw and heard Western Bluebirds, my lonely wrens and sparrows in the bushes, and an eerie calm. And I saw color in my yard – yellow, pink, lavender, and white. White is prettiest as a blooming azalea at dusk, the sky filled with dark clouds.

And so, I thought, this is the space. The world is quieting down to where I can think.

Rose and D

“We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.” ~Eeyore

When she was ten, Rose lived near the old lake town, on a single road just across from the road where the willow tree lived. Many years later, Rose would occasionally sing the old story song “Bury me beneath the willow tree,” passed down by the late Almeda Riddle, to remind her of that tree down the road.

Rose lived with her boozy mother in an old apartment, and her brothers and sisters who she sometimes lived with, and sometimes didn’t. They were more like ghosts, she will recall later on. She knew they existed, but they were really never there; just phantoms that appeared and reappeared, with their usual scorn for her, the eighth child.

Rose lived her life by landmarks – the willow tree, the corner grocer, the relics of the old mining town, and a donkey named D in a field across from her apartment.

D was a large donkey with long, untamed fur, and large brown eyes with eyelashes for days. D never wore a halter, and was kind and gentle.

She didn’t visit D every day, only when she thought to. Their relationship was composed of Rose scratching D’s nose if D let her, and if D got tired of that, would saunter back toward the shade.

It was a mutually lonely existence; Rose on the hot cement outside the fence, and D standing in the dead grass on the other side. Whenever Rose approached the fence, D trotted excitedly over to the fence, and then would exhale an unspoken “oh.” The friendship did not yield an escape from the fields, or an apple or two, but it was there, nonetheless.