Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Reckoning

In a house of desert stone

the sun first shines – on a wash bowl

and pitcher half-filled with water.

The other half sinks into the skin

of a woman who arose

with lamplight and the need to write.


Having washed off

the sweat of old dreams

and some tears, she listens

to the wind. Outside the soft

hum of womanly song

hangs over the saguaro

like wool on a spindle

waiting to be spun

into her own grief or joy.


A gospel of living

she wants to leave her daughters

before she journeys thin

and transparent into the field. Her ancestors there

singing at the edge of a trail

once traveled by wagons. Now by coyotes.

They breathe in dust – almost tasting

the salt of unseen hands

that reach out for a tribeswoman. She

who will come soon with ink

on her skirt. The brewed scent

of red pepper and cocoa

on her breath.
Note -- the ancient Aztecs brewed chocolate as a drink with red hot pepper. It was
considered a spiritual drink with magical properties.



Monday, December 23, 2013

Thank You

      if the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough"
       Meister Erkhart

Call me back
from this cactus
     where I
           have  been
wearing its cloth

and cleansing
my space
with burnt sage.
            The worst
             of my pain
                  gone,  exorcised

by the  wind
and returned
               to stone ruins
               that bruise purple
                     in the dusk.

Lend my breath
a flock of birds
to etch the sky,
                an utterance
                of prayer
                     so ancient and plain

               our tribe of bones
               will feel
its strength, its syllables
                  on the horizon’s tongue.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Winter Divinity

In the afternoon light, grass
is a brown sweep of fabric,
the dragging robe of a saint
where sparrows and doves
feed on its scattered seeds
and pine needles.
                        The scent
of wood smoke and old roses
haunt the air – reminiscent
of boughs that were sacrificed
for fuel, and fallen petals
gathered for mulch
                       protecting milder
saplings and shrubs. An aura
of giving pervades the garden.
And I hail St. Francis
praising what he might call
the divine work, the collaborative flame
                   Of Brothers Sun and Wind.
This gorgeous print  is by artist, Marie-France Riviere, her tribute to both
Pope Francis and Saint Francis. More of her lovely paintings can be found
here --
at her online gallery/website.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Woman Contemplates The Water Cooler

Trapped in a glass lung,
water waits to be drawn
then sipped between gossip
and complaints.

Its spirit reduced
to these shared
ounces and hours
in an office

which should be
a stream or river
polishing stones, soaking through
tree roots and keeping
the earth cool

while fragments of former lives
lie embedded
among shoots of new growth.

My tendons are  stems
stretching , binding  movement
to wind and  light,
white pines and old world sparrows.

North Carolina
calls me back. Her breath
history deep, a hearth
exposed on a hill

where there’s enough
shards of clay and wood
 to comprise
the rattle’s shake for rain
or healing.

Where a woman stirred
pots and carved dolls
with a paring knife,

her fingers scented
with tea olive, limber
as the bark of a sapling.

I was not born there
but born of her.

Her ancestry ringed
around those joints
that let me travel
telling my bones

their song is the song
of the seeker, the wood wife
who sleeps on the ground
and listens for water --

the course of her next journey.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On A Missing Friend

The Whereabouts Of Johanna

Take seriously every unknown wanderer who personally inhabits the inner world,
since they are real because they are effectual.

                                                                      Carl Jung

 You have disappeared for the day –canceling nothing,

but on your desk there is a tea cup

painted with blue willows and bridges. Something

you haven’t used in years or rearranged

on the cabinet’s shelf.


Always stored in back, it was left  barely visible

like the poetry you used to write

with unique details and characters. The sailor’s wife

who strolled the shoreline waiting

for his return. Sea horses

littered the beach around her, dead and delineating

keys to holes in the horizon

where spirits passed through.


Or the sculptor’s mistress

who curtained the window

with her wide sleeves and skirt

as she watched rain

wash over cobblestones

envying a permanence

she could never share with him.


 I haven’t heard of these women (or others)

since you sipped chamomile

from that same cup

telling me they appeared in a dream

and your duty was to transcribe them.


Seven years ago, you sat there

holding this blue garden in your hands, deliquescing

in to a drama that was not your life, but still

compelled you to leave, lament

for more than a day. The time

it takes for cut lilies to open.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Clairvoyant

The only difference
between the cliffs
             and her stiff-skirted figure
             is motion.
both are slate- blue
layered and distinct. Underscored

with a crinoline, she keeps her guard
and endures the wind’s push
toward the water.

             A taffeta bell
warning others not to come
too close -- or land on the same beach
that measures  her shadow
             with long strips of sodden grass.

She  grieves and would  prefer
to have been carved
out of stone, a witness to  time
           not a live totem

that spirits and angels impart
with their insight. Her pale throat
hosting  other voices – while muting
           her own.

Days ago,
she found the remnants
of a piano washed ashore –
         some of its wooden keys
         laid out like rib bones. The breath

of  Debussy emanating
from the ruin.  Nuages, ces Nuages --
                       clouds, those clouds.

She wants to be sucked back
into his being, into the first piece
she  learned to play,  drowning out
                  a chorus of strangers.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sonya And Saint Petersburg

The river keeps her company
as she walks the old street.
                           Her eyes
handing tears
to the air, already damp
and smelling of pungent flowers.

Mist falls behind
like a bridal veil, sheer
          with threads fraying into faint light;

and somewhere on the outskirts
of evening and  the city
                        a young man’s shadow
                         patches the cracked cement
of a prison wall.

In her dreams
he always faces the corner,
                    cold water
                   rushing over  fallen branches
and unlevel ground

In her dreams,
she  marries the current,
jumping into something better or worse
                  and leaves sorrow standing
on the dike. Her place marked
by two cobblestones
                    matching the size
                    of a woman’s tiny foot.