Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Dcrjsr, "A large Great Basin Bristlecone
Pinus longaeva, showing both live
and dead sections," 2010

Fast to catch aflame, and fast to burn, these hills—
and brushfire’s what will come when lightning strikes.
Ashes float on updrafts, turn to dust; still, we’ll hike.
We’ll follow creeks alongside soot-stained rills,

Lay our packs on charred briars’ brittle spikes.
There, we’ll catch a magic fish behind the gills,
feed it bread to tell our fortunes, good or ill,
in the shade of trees that split when lightning strikes.

This land’s as real as our bodies are, which means
it’s all somewhat a dream—an accident of physics,
or a poem, a summer’s fire cracking hardened seeds.
And in the ashes that we walk through, there are greens
that’d make an emerald weep—it’s our life’s matrix,
love, an unquenched fire, an evergreen joy we heed.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Patrice Lewis, "Tarping Hay," 2010

Everything is open to the sky—the scrap-wood sheep
pen, the pitted bed of the skewbald pick-up, even the
attic (a missing patch of shingles on the roof make an
accidental skylight)—everything except for a ziggurat
of fresh bales of hay. Once scythed, each alfalfa blade
no longer changes sun and rain and earth into energy,
as free as the rhizome-born can be—now, coverture’s
applied to the hay stacks curing under tarps, the green
fuse subsumed by an agricultural marketplace's needs.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Mary Cokenour, "Cave Rocks / Sierra La Sal / Dry Valley," 2014

The mountain reclines, propped up on an elbow of
old volcanisms, a dense slope-shouldered anticline
pressing towards the highway. But this is only one
manifestation of the Heavenly-Man-Neither-Man-
Nor-Woman, this mountain—every part’s a whole
in this place that sings itself into being through its
mineral self, its organic self. As if Adam Ha-Rishon,
my ancestor’s gigantic, all-souled embodiment of
Creation, was Walt Whitman, as if my minute self
could understand such a gift (it can’t). Still, I’ll sing
to it, within it, my thin voice scratchy as a cricket’s,
joyful for the rain in the distance, for greener land.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Tknife, "Hike and Yucca Use," 2011

The spiny lizard lays his azure-dusted belly
on a warm sunlit spot on the yucca, scales
sharp, basking. I see his whip tail, think of
the whipstitch we'd practice, repair made
by cutting then slowly peeling that dagger-
sharp leaf tip of a yucca down, down, until
the fiber comes affixed to its needle. We’d
become cobblers, fixing a broken huarache
strap; we’d become saddlers, mending an
old cinch, making it strong enough to hold
the water we’d cache, that yucca needle-
and-thread work strengthening, fixing us.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


Alicia Mart├Čn, "Libri Come," Auditorium Parco
Della Musica, Rome, 2012

Anansi’s fourth cousins twice removed stopped
by today when I said I had gold-inlaid tumblers
full of whiskey, and magic lanterns that cast all
the silhouettes that ever were, and a Medusa’s
coif-worth of snaking cables sliding themselves
into knots, all for them. I hired them to haul off
fragments of memory; both bent by the heat as
much as by sacks full of broken treasure, they'd
hoist themselves up to the lip of a Hell-mouth,
toss in books with broken spines, loose leaves,
dog-ears. I gave them all my whiskey, and the
right fat coin for each ferryman, and got a gift:
I could almost see and nearly hear my husband’s
mother and daddy, so missed, gone far past that
horizon they'd lately sailed, both telling me it’d
be all right, even if I had no magic coins to bring
them back to this place full of apples, our home.

Saturday, August 06, 2016


Jstuby, "Vernal pool at the top of
Enchanted Rock, Texas
," 1998

We’re nothing but, and nothing if not,
bounded. Skin touch air, bee on petal,
a water strider riding surface tension—
we delineate self through a land of this
not that, edges so important some get
their own names: the vermilion border,
an ecotone, a scarp. It’s summer on the
Llano Uplift, and sweat stings my eyes,
blurs every bit of borderland. The hard
shapes the hawk sees soften, become
permeable, interpenetrate—lost in an
edgeless place, I forget all my names.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016


Grief surprised me today, leaking from some old
failing seam deep underground.
I saw low clouds
scudding by this morning, their 30° angle lift same
as in every August past, the same as when I came
here, the very same as when Peter left for good. I
sometimes feel like my heart’ll break from nothing
but the sight of white clouds in a white sky, tilted
so uniformly as to be a sign, one as unreadable as
the words piled up inside me. If good’s what I was
left for, then I’ll have none of it.
For good, all these
leavings and stayings, permanent as any recurring
dream. For good, these loves, this grief—and me,
all choked up, unable to weep. I look at the sky, at
the signal clouds of August, as they wave goodbye.