Friday, January 30, 2015

Weekly Worded

                 Photo by CJ Aronson

       Remembering Where We Live

I have returned to this house so often
I forget it’s not where I live,
just where I sleep
with the lights turned off.

I sweep new snow off the porch
but remember it falling
so thick in the woods
the bare trees shivered white.

Animal tracks like a dotted line
disappear into the bushes
and I remember seeking shelter
in the company of living things

so different from me
all I could do was sit quietly.
From the deep pocket of this moment
I broadcast a handful of stars

that settle into their predictable niches.
Old friends, old light.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Weekly Worded

         Tourist as Artist

"It is only by selection, by elimination, and by emphasis
that we get to the real meaning of things." --Georgia O’Keeffe

On the road beyond Chama
I see where her vision lingered,
a stone easel in a dry wash,
her brush an enchantment of bristles
wielded like the cheatgrass and sage.
What I don't see are her flowers
on steroids, or animal skulls
meditating in the calcified sun.
Then a streak of blue that is not sky
passes me on a dangerous curve
as the highway descends
through layers of pink and white canyon.
And now the moon's left hanging,
dimmed by the morning sun
like a headlight knocked out of alignment.
There's a recklessness in this landscape
I can't explain, a Phoenix of rock
on the horizon risen from its talus remains.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Weekly Worded

       The Regular

No curiosity about the special.  It’s Monday.
He knows meatloaf begins his days
just as pork chops define Wednesdays,
and chopped sirloin rounds off the week.
He’s had the special so often it’s not special,

but farmers and ranchers depend on him,
and so he chews the fat of the less fortunate
for the sake of his countrymen.
The waitress offers no menu—she knows
what he wants, though lately when he sits down

he wonders if in the beginning he had a choice.
Why this particular stool, this coffee cup,
the fork with the crooked tine? 
The seat beside him usually stays empty
but he likes the elbow room. 

When the waitress says his name his teeth click
and he smiles like a florescent light. 
When the cook salutes from the grill radio static
seasons the air like the sizzle of hot grease. 
That old song, these habits, this life.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Weekly Worded


Page 178 of Exotic Mushrooms
serves up Plate 146, and on this plate
rests Phallus impudicus,
a steamy sprout of a mushroom
that looks like you understand
more Latin than you thought.
Plate 146 also stipulates, Not Edible,
a warning included for the soft-headed,
those who demand everything spelled out.
I tried penciling my own words
once in the third grade
but a stiff ruler wielded by Sister Gabriel
whacked my knuckles—the nun
who guarded the pure, white page,
archangel at the gates of desire.
By fifth grade our textbooks contained
not only hastily written words
but sketches too, and some of them
surprising for their anatomical correctness.
Fifth graders knew so much more
than exams could ever assess,
but opening our books back then
we had no way to understand character
or the dark soil from which
it so suddenly appeared.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Weekly Worded

         Till the Cows Come Home

My neighbor across the road
doesn’t live in the house he’s building. 
He has hammered a nail here, stuck
a shingle up there, worked at such a pace
the neighborhood judges he must be
strapped for cash.  After fifteen years
watching his effort snail along,
we have given up believing
he’ll ever move in, that the interior
will ever manifest itself as a home. 

Once I suggested it’s an avant-garde barn
for his cows disguised as a house,
that the man is an artistic genius
whose work will only be recognized
after he’s dead.  The lady next door
laughed so hard coffee squirted
from her nose.  She said it hurt enough
to forswear ever talking to me again. 
The neighbor on my other side
thinks it’s a spec house to sell
when the real estate market peaks again. 
Makes sense, I said, a temple
to Wall Street, a tithe to the future. 

But what I really suspect
(though I’ve told this to no one
except you) is since his wife disappeared
he metamorphoses into Penelope
each night and deconstructs half
of what he manages to complete. 
His cows are privy to his patience,
how it ruminates, how it waits.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Weekly Worded

         The Closet

Among the many arms my father wore
I remember hiding, though my brother
had better things to do, until my sister

just quit looking, until the house grew
still and all I could hear was my heart.
The closet kept the darkness predisposed.

It swallowed me like a cloak, shielded
me from my father’s wartime souvenirs
that hung from dusty hooks.  In a throng

of shoes I sat untrodden, my finger
touching the blued length of his shotgun. 
The closet played the movie of my past

on a hundred glossy photographs, and
when I put the album back on its high
shelf I knew that I contained legions. 

I remember how that closet embraced me
until the sound of my name grew soft, and
the moon came out from behind a cloud.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Weekly Worded

       Snow Prayer

How softly snow arrives in the night
to cover the darkness with light.
By morning the world is uniform white
and because it’s still snowing

the sun’s inevitable rising
will be anything but bright.
You see, I’ve got to get going
but visibility is poor.

I can barely open the door
with all of my might.
Oh snow, my lovely
and treacherous angel,

if nothing I say here will do,
I pray, please, at least close the school.