Friday’s Ten

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You give me ten, I said to her, and I’ll show you blue corn stalks 

bent at the waist spying on wet larvae writhing in raw earth bleeding mud, 

conjure up emerald-studded Gucci sunglasses’ shattered templates along the highway. 

I’ll paint the vines growing over sacrificial ruins in Tenochtitlan 

where snakes gulp pigs in jaws detached at the hinges. 

Ever see the black ice that skids mango school buses with barely a wheel’s turn? 

It grows atop lanes frayed at the edges with stony tar, rusty nails, and powdered glass. 

Don’t fall in a ditch, or the black rats’ll strangle you purple 

I heard the old man tell the boy on his knee. 

Quick sand isn’t a movie myth carved of convenient climax. 

And cornflowers dot the meadow almost azure not the Iowan June-wheat sun’s tapestry. 

It’s only when she’s waved goodbye and disappears through the gates 

do I smell the clinging scent of honey oil dipped in sea float above 

the rippling hem of my cotton laced wrap. 

She taps my shoulders at an arm’s reach to say, “Hey.”

Lizard and Lies


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What shall become of us?

A lizard and a lie rule the gaze

While poison plucks the garden gone

Behind the wall.

Will we cry when it’s all over,

Shed a bloody tear?

And farmers with pitchforks pierce the snake–

Will the bloom follow, or

Only deformation’s weedy soil?

After the fall, a winter storm silences the din,

Stomps muffled cries below the boot-march,

A blanketed chill.

But April’s coil, the rattle and snare,

That’s the paralysis–and rise, 

Warmly rise like parades floating

Ribbons round receding hairlines 

And rust-red ties,

Like the Nile’s blood, the lines

Spill, crossed, cutting 

Plastic strips yellow-black–

Lettered warning. Keep out.

Crime scene.

Winter Time 


The shortest day, mercifully so, lessening light

Astronomically the one rule calculable, luminosity.

Dry canals flicker bark-pitch under sky blanketed grey.

New boots, half price at the border, shorten my step

Planted, enmired, mud-suctioned to hay and rock.

It’s 15:22 though the sky cares less for numbers than I.

Clouds shake their breath off with wispy shoulder

Disregarding walkers below, lost in foreign shades,

We the burdened, the calamitous, the retuned notes

Cast eyes to a dimming horizon slunk atop dead branches.

It’s winter, her solstice slowing time at the axis,

And happily so, no rush, no filter, just stragglers in exile

For a time, while the light slants low, configuring us

Country-free, wanderers, timed projections sur les Pyrenees.

Moody Tree: Poem 12


Your name means mountain ebony,
a certain Bauhinia,
common to coastal California,
but I call you moody.
You own my front yard,
dominate passages and pathways,
burgeoning weight of verdure or
leafy reaches for spider’s webby catch to
neighboring anchors–rose bush branch or
car parked side mirrors.
How you please my wispy-boned mother braked still,
the dog leashed to the wheel chair,
under a relenting shade,
cooling an afternoon zephyr.
In spring or autumn, sometimes winter too,
you boom-blossom burbling orchids,
delicate pink and purple hazy bells
that sometimes ring in summer too.
That’s when your leaves burst butterfly hearts
of hunter green fringed in lemon-lime edges, a
hovering, healthy, verdant vibrancy.
But on any given week without reason,
your leaves brown at the edges,
then all the way through,
baring skeletal bramble
like bones of the cancerous,
exposed,
radiated,
burnt
for the winter–or summer complaint,
marring the yard, baring the hidden wreckage behind you.
That’s when the pods hang dry in rusts and reds, seeds
to bake or burst, sturdy uterine drip packets,
like dry, pea pod icicle tears crying,
yet unyielding to the grip.
And the next week,
they’re gone,
replaced by the brilliant buds as
poking penile plants peek through tightly tubed petals,
orchid splendor,
the softer side on a misty Monday.
Until Tuesday.
When the mood strikes.
Which outfit to wear for today?