Sunday, November 29, 2015


Liz West, "Junk Drawer," 2013.

It’s like a junk drawer in here, full of
obscure treasures, broken toys, books
I’d forgotten (whether to read them or
what I’d read, well, I forget that too.)
I reach in, back to the back, and find
there is no end to it. The drawer goes
on, the cabinet deepens, and I grow
smaller, lever myself up by brass pulls
and fall in. Socks make a soft landing.

Forty questions later, the jinn pause,
wait to hear what I’ll say in response
to the next question. That question is
the one unasked: the one to which the
only answer is laughter and joy, here
in the endless junk drawer of memory
where the jinn circle our stories, glow,
burn without charring bits of our lost
childhood, the forts in the forest, all
the fine trivia and pocket-lint of love.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Peacock feather on the ground

You can’t stitch together what’s not been pierced,
and these memories do pierce me. I bind them up,
chain-sewn through the piercings, and think about
those scraps of Moroccan leather you had tooled
with an awl—what a beautiful, wine-dark cover
they’d have made for this retelling of our stories.

Except we didn’t really tell stories, did we? No, we
sat together, dug Johnson grass out of your garden
together, watched the late afternoon light as it left
gold coins strewn on your living room rug, together.

My friend, my friend, it always seems that if I had
the right set of tools, I could take that lock, finesse
it open, that lock that keeps thee from me. But I
don’t, I can’t. And anyway, you’d laugh and tell me
to get outside where the rain lilies are blooming,
use that dull awl to punch holes in the caliche, plant
some lily seeds and some fresh, feathered dreams.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


"Easter Morning: Battle of the Cascarones," Arianne, 2011.

They say that Marco Polo brought the idea
of cascarones from China back to Venice, but
if he did, what might have been the reason?
Surely the Venetians knew how to pitch woo
without needing to toss perfume-filled eggs
at their lovers. Regardless, cascarones are here
now, having travelled from Italy to Spain to
Mexico to San Antonio to my neighbors’ homes,
these tissue-papered eggs of love & luck filled
with confetti that teases and marks the beloved
at every breakage. So if cascarones were a poem,
what would they mean? “It’s good luck to break
a fragile thing”? No, I doubt that. I’ll go with this:
“Love plays with you, marks you, gets in your hair.”

Monday, November 16, 2015


Tilda Dalunde, "Collecting toes
(In case of emergency)"

This is where we place the fingertips
of the children we lost to sharp knives,
to guns, to bombs. See, they fit so neatly
in rows in this vestibule, these dusky blue
reminders of what’s become so broken.
Such tiny fingernails. The crescent moon
in each is receding, as if it’s drifting far,
far away, taking a child with it, over the
fence that surrounds the pocked yard,
up past the clouds. The light’s gone out,
it’s been shot out, the shrinking moon
hiding its face behind those fingertips.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


From Otto Wilhelm Thomé,
"Flora von Deutschland, Österreich
und der Schweiz.
" 1885, Gera,
Germany, via Biblio.

The log in the middle of the creek
doesn’t seem firmly seated; neither
am I, leaning out over loose rolling
gravel for a better idea of how to
cross. There’s the balance point: a
place where the shadow beneath
the broken trunk underlines the
soggy bark, scribes the creek-bed.
No gap, but it’s off-center enough
to need me to be light-footed, a
barefoot dancer on what’d pivot
and throw me. I don’t trust my
body, don’t trust that I can be
single-minded enough to commit
with sufficient speed and grace.
I waver then wind moves the cane
nearby, telling me how it could
be done: first, cut a stalk almost
twice my height, tie my shoes to it.
Then take off my socks, put them
in my shoes, step up and, balance
pole low and in hand, let bare feet
read the bark while I keep my gaze
moving from horizon to log and
back. My shadow is an elongated
asterisk on the water below as I
find my footing, one step after an
unsteady other, until I look down
and see I’ve finally crossed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


We saw the hunter before we saw
the pheasant—a man far off down
the trail, bright orange hat, rifle in
hand, walking towards us. Then we
saw the bird. It stepped deliberately
near and ahead of us, towards the
hunter and directly along an invisible
line between where we came from
and where the hunter was heading,
as if we three, my brother and I and
the pheasant, had gone for a stroll
together, the pheasant a friend of the
family taking a slow constitutional with
us after dinner. My brother waved at
the hunter, to be sure we—not just
the bird—had been seen. We had.
We got a measured nod, as if to both
acknowledge us and to compliment
the pheasant on its skill, and then the
hunter abruptly veered off the trail;
a dog, his dog, had found something
to flag in the brush. A sharp exhale (I’d
been holding my breath), and then a
look down at a tangle of soft color.
I'd found a scattered handful of torn
feathers—stiff contour feathers and
downy semiplumes—from another
pheasant. There was a small smear
of blood at the base of one shaft. I
looked up at my brother just in time
to see our friend startle, dart away.

Sunday, November 08, 2015


A reconstruction of the Palaikastro Kouros, from
"Resurrecting a Lost Minoan God," Billings Gazette,
October 2008.

If you sit and fix your attention on him, this
youthful god shaped from ivory and beaten
gold, you might forget he’d been shattered,
burnt, buried in a midden, forgotten. Keep
looking: keep your eyes open long enough,
for hours or days, and when you look away,
the god will still be with you—no longer a
dead god in chryselephantine, but alive in
dark midnight blue, a vision of the dancing
Krishna floating in the Minoan afterimage.

Sunday, November 01, 2015


Brocken Inaglory, "Fog Shadow on Golden Gate Bridge," 2006.

I’ve been chasing light for ages. That gold-edged
blue just before the sun shimmied up? It slipped
through my fingers like a hatchling minnow. I’ve
waited in the shadows of a thunderhead to ravel
out fat skeins of crepuscular rays, only to come
home empty-handed; the light’s just too fast for
me, for anyone, really. (Once, though, I found if I
walked slower than my shadow could move, light
might press up behind me, kiss and silhouette me.)