Archive for March, 2012


We were in flight, you and I,
turning in the darkened room.

We know that men must die;
we were the living.

Cutting away disease, compassion,
fatigue, this compass spins in quiet rooms.

Important gestures are lost,
some causes are just, some flights

Justified. We were the living.
We know that men must die.

Even as we dance with shadows,
Warm shadows, red, thrown by flame,

Smoke signals come from god, simple
as candlelight. These too are whispered away.


Strong back

Sit up all night; ashes grind
dirt into palm’s confession.

Be ridiculous without shame.

Spiders in silk mills chew
wheat, corn, rumor, stone.

Spiders cry into their beer, John Barley-
corn presses on eyes, on bellies.

Hard heart, yellow hair, strong back.
Lift the glass, tilt the head. Roar.


Is the coil that sleeps under my mattress,
A tiger gathered tight in mid-air.
Spring lays in patches along this morning road,
Is the frost on the tips of the new daffodils.

Spring is the blood of the lamb that just nuzzled,
just butted the ribs of a child with a bottle.
Spring is the egg and the skunk and the chaos
Is almonds and bunnies and peeps in a basket.

Spring is the news that jumps out of a cake,
Is the payoff that no-one saw coming, saw coming.
Spring is the cleaning the purging the shaking
Of rugs where we’d swept away what we can’t take.

Spring is the hope in a young woman’s  fancy,
The fire in the belly, the cool water rising,
Spring is the leap frog, the frisby, the wild wind,
Spring is the key that we turn to begin.

Praise be

Tired of trying to doze in this run-down crack house. Not crack house. Not really. Tired of trying to doze in this shabby section 8 housing. Complex. The idiocy and mischief of these goblin kids, urban zombies, well, you wouldn’t believe it. You wouldn’t believe it and neither would I, but I see the boxes the boxes the stacks the wand lighters the foil. No. I said not crack. This is not a run-down crack house, this is not a bad HBO series, this is not your stupid father/son/nephew/ uncle/ brother /neighbor’s sad and stupid fucking story, it is not.  It’s more like an imitation of itself. Bragging, guns, larceny, asthma and emergency rooms, and nebulizers and God. Don’t forget God. God goes with crack like cheese goes with crackers. I guess it was just his time, that’s what we said, that’s what I said and I couldn’t get any sleep at all in this run-down section 8 housing. I got some jasmine tea from the ABC Chinese Restaurant up the street on Lomas, and some rice and sweet and sour something, I can’t remember if it was chicken or pork. My kids got lice, did I tell you that? I’m praying like a motherfucker and my fucking kids got lice. God made crack just like God made cheese, like God made my kids so that’s all pure and good. Did you see that show they’re filming here in Albuquerque? My kid was in it, he’s like an actor and all now.  He was like an actor and all, but not right now, he was in the emergency room, somebody shot him and now he’s in ICU. Skinny kid, always been skinny. He looks like a starving puppy, God must love him a lot to keep him lying there, breathing, heart dancing like a lightning storm. Always been lucky, we’ve always been lucky here, praise be.


Across the bright morning I hear
voices and the stirring of leaves,
early spring. I’ve never been
here before, you know, never
needed to imagine this past.

At this moment, though, I feel fingertips
pulsing; I count on the beating
of my heart, one, two, three four,

This, my heart, a metal detector,
seeks iron, seeks the push
and pull of blood and oxygen. 
I feel the clock of opening lungs,

count the beating of this heart, one, two,
three, four, that beats in fingertips, in palms,

Warm breath, warm belly, this body
feels gratitude and sorrow alike yes
in this my heart, counts silently,

Gently. One, two, three, four.

The cookie trees

In March the winds blow cinnamon dust and coconut swirls. Little girls and big girls stand at automatic doors, holding out boxes, holding out order sheets. But the real cookies of spring are not Samoas, not Chinese fortunes, not the lucky sure-fire-can’t-lose fruit bars of your youth. The cookie that wins, the cookie that scores, the cookie that lives to tell the tale is the cookie that grows in trees. Organic, dusted with pinon, cinnamon and nutmeg, the cookie that grows in trees is aromatic and yet elusive. Children and the elderly alike want these cookies, pushing on parents’ legs pulling on trousers, saying you know you know the ones, they are like cooookies, like cookies and they have that stuff, you know that stuff, like grandpa used to make, that stuff it makes mom sneeze and they shake it out of a big shaker, only it grows in trees, take us to the cookie trees, the cookie trees in the desert where the bananas and the dates shake the desert floor, take us to where the cookie trees grow. And the parents shake their parent heads and scratch their parent chins and say what cookie trees are those and the children and the grandmas all sit up tall in bed and say you know the ones, the ones you always got, the ones with cinnamon, the ones that grow in trees, and eventually the parents put the pillows in the back seats and the fishy crackers in little bags and the dyed sugar water in coolers and they drive and drive out there into the middle of dry crack nowhere and suddenly out among the dust devils, the tumbleweeds and nothing much else the cookie trees arise, sweetly aromatic, unexpected, reaching out toward the children, reaching out toward the grandmas, sweet and dusty and waiting to be picked.


In the German doorknob factory there was a tradition of taking a break every morning at 10:15 for grapefruit. At 8:45, Ilsa would take 12 grapefruits out of a wooden crate that smelled of a foreign country and slice each fruit in half. Each morning she would notice the insertion point of the knife, the thick pale yellow skin, the juice oozing and the smell. The smell of grapefruit at 8:45 every morning made Ilsa’s head feel light and funny, like she’d been transported to a country where everything was sharp and bright. She cut the grapefruit into enough segments for 24 working people who saw no sun for months in their foggy island nation. Saving them from scurvy, she told herself as she pierced, cut, and sectioned. 24 people, 8 months without sun, 12 months of making doorknobs, a half day off every quarterly Wednesday. Ale. People who get a half day off every 3 months go first to see their mother and then to the pub for ale. Ale and strong cheese. Grapefuit might prevent scurvy, but mum, cheese and ale prevents despair. And so the doorknob manufacturers, who got to see their mum, drink their beer, eat their cheese, and were in addition protected from the scourge of vitamin c deprivation so common at that point of time; well, so, they thrived, relative to the other scrawny gorse eaters of their time and place. When a reasonably well grown doorknob maker and his family have bones that will carry them and minds that will think their thoughts, revolution might be said to be not necessarily predictable but more likely than in less fortuitous circumstances. And so it was.

In the summer of 1747, a year that must live in someone’s history, a pink-cheeked and robust young man and his various cousins, brothers, sisters and a few stringy grandmas set forth to tell their masters what for. What for and henceforth they spoke their minds, not elegantly but the point was made that workers must indeed have united. People were talking about their wages, in spite of restrictions. Men and women, boys and girls, even a few children and the infirm, could hear their voices risen up to the sky. More than grapefruit, this was juice shooting up into glands they’d forgotten they had. More than cheese, more than ale, more than mum. What was it, what shiny, forbidden fruit pulled them forward, out of their moors, away from their undergrowth and out into the open?

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March 2012
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