MTPR

Monday Poems

"Parowan Canyon"

Apr 21, 2014

When granite and sandstone begin to blur
and flow, the eye rests on cool white aspen.
Strange, their seeming transparency.
How as in a sudden flash one remembers
a forgotten name, so the recollection.
Aspen.

Flood Song

Apr 14, 2014

He wanted to hold back gas-soaked doves with a questioning glance;
he wanted the clock to tick, downwind from this gavel and pew,
from this leash, bucket, drainpipe, and mildewed cracker,
from the mind's muddy swan served on a platter with lemon rids,
from spiders scurrying over its bone-polished surface,
from crosshatches punched into its shredded time card,
from the desert near the tree line where the molting must have begun,
where crushed bodies heave warm, jellylife,
in the thicket at the foot of the wandering,

"The Moment"

Apr 7, 2014

In those days, Betty Crocker
always called for sifted flour, and so
in homes across America, women sifted.
When my mother's mother turned
the wobbly red knob, hulls and stones
jumped in the wire basket,
but by my mother's time
the flour was fine—
now women sifted to achieve
precision, purity, perfection.
It made the white flour whiter.
Then flour came in bags,
already sifted, and women stopped
making their own cakes and bread,
and didn't have time anyway
for sifting. But for a flicker

"Spring"

Mar 31, 2014

Five first crocuses burst into bird-brilliant bloom
and suddenly everything flies: behind a car
ascraps of paper rise, two from a flock, startled dumb.
Some lives begin in abstraction; others end there.
If I find the child's fist this universe bloomed from
I will close it again as my own five fingers,
say worlds as one sentence, fit them into a name
for gold overwhelming finches, feather by feather.
With leaves returned, we still hear birds bu see them now
only when they fly. It's hard to see anything,

"Birds of a Feather"

Mar 24, 2014

Each spring the hummingbirds hover
over the same place on my patio
Where twenty-four years ago hung
a red plastic feeder filled with sugar water

Four or five fowl generations later
through some unfathomable feat
these offspring flutter wings over
empty air in worship of this sacred spot

And I wonder if my great grandparents
fed off the magnificence of the Rio Grande
Where it divides New Mexican high desert
Blood of Christ Mountains on one side
and burnt amber sunset on the other

"Emerald"

Mar 17, 2014

Unbidden, a green memory
sprang forth, so overwhelming
in its clarity, it leapt across
three quarters of a century:
I stood before a counter-top
of jewelry, eye height, beside
my father who had brought me to
that "five and dime" store in the Bronx.
          Among the many rings displayed,
one gleaming emerald shone there
surpassing all the rest, and, firmly set
within a silver band, it was on sale
just for one dollar that my father
told the saleslady I'd saved.
          I bought the ring to give my mother

"Love Letters"

Mar 10, 2014

Wow!
was written in the dust
on the beside table.

The dawn and I blushed together
as your spurs
chinged
around the kitchen
as you started the fire.

I stretched full length
on the cool smoothness
of the sheets,

a kept woman
a woment longer.

Within an hour's time
we'll be ahorseback
in a long trot
to some distant blue mountain
hunting cows.

I'll carry your message
close
knowing there will come a day
I would give a year of my life
for that...
Wow!

"Birds of a Feather"

Feb 17, 2014

(For Marylor)

A woman I love, my ex-wife
with our infant granddaughter
rounded an aisle
in the new Safeway
where we were shopping.

"There's a sparrow flying overhead,"

she said, when she saw me.
We both looked upwards.
I wanted so badly
to tell her something
she could cherish, so she
would know

that I love her, like her even,
more than I hate her, but all
I could think of was a bird
I once saw shredded
by an exhaust fan.

Feathers floating willy nilly.

"Still Alive"

Feb 10, 2014

Grain from farms along the Highline
fills the hold of Nordic Monarch.
Madrona sheds its bark like skin and
the surface of the sea is more
sensitive than skin. Somewhere
my noble fir breathes in
a million cells of air.

"Children of Snow"

Feb 3, 2014

                                       for my Children

I try to stay snow that my children wish
would come hard in Missoula, come hard
in me. There is fun in me like children
of fox and geese, sleds without tracks,
without worry. Yet this winter weighs heavy
as wet snow as I visit Welch and ramble
wishing for right time for ripe snow.

Sing a song for all children
who know that snow is holy,
falls holy on us, we, who should rejoice
in this time of work, of play, of holy
laughter that rings at crisp stars.

"Study for the Ridgeline Blue in Winter"

Jan 27, 2014

Throbs up from the darkening draws, eluding
dusk's clutch. Calls out and the owl
calls back, answering with her own ample koan.
When the world was flat we thought darkness
fell. Now we know it rises firelike from earth,
spindling up the oaks' trunks, engulfing
ridge and canopy.
                      The resulting smoke, then—
hue of a breath exhaled by a late-arriving disciple
come to examine the charred chaos of day
(such a staunch monk!) igniting itself again—
the odorless remains.
                       Then. The hanging

"Indian Brother"

Jan 6, 2014

April 1945

He came to us wrapped in Mother's blue sweater,
his crippled sister, Mary Jane,
murdered by a drunk.
Three days old, Clarence was his name.
"A sissy name," said Mama. "His name is Joey."

She made him a red bunting with white fur.
His hair, shiny black, stood straight
as beaver points on a Hudson Bay blanket.

His serious, brown self seemed lost
in the fancy wicker cradle that could never
be a cradleboard.

"Solstice Poem 2005"

Dec 23, 2013

                             -- for my friends, especially Ken Brewer

Today I glimpsed
a short-eared owl above
a rise just south
of Little Mountain.
Gone, when I looked again.

Of course this is metaphor
for the beauty and brevity
of life and for tragedy.
The owl will kill,
the owl will die.

At home, at dusk, in snow,
I hauled cut flood-wood
from the other side
of the river then
stacked logs by the willows

"The Snow In Wyoming"

Dec 9, 2013
University of Montana Press

...let's see what words you'll use to write the poems you write today, dreaming of Wyoming.
                       -
Miguel d'Ors

The dream will go wherever I go, luminous and dense
with its immovable rock ridge and water
cascading over red or yellow hillsides,
depending on the light,
                  while a buffalo's forehead
clears a path through the snow.

"Toys 'R' War"

Dec 2, 2013

Hey kid!
Need a gun for Christmas?
How 'bout a land mine, grenade launcher
or poison dart?
Wanna go to the virtual reality world
and beat down homeless people?
Hey kid!
We have loaded dice,
hemlock rice,
'n' 28 flavors of body lice.
We have cartoons of a baby buggy
loaded with 30 lbs. of TNT
exploding in a crowded Baghdad street market,
and our laser swords will glow
through Silent Night,
O Holy Night.

Giving Thanks, A Few Years Later

Nov 25, 2013

The sliding barn door slams against the far wall
winter light pours in like water through floodgates
dust floats in trapped sun

I reach up and grab the feet
of one more stunned and screaming
blue-green-brown Naragansett turkey
roosting in the rafters

Quick, he's upside down, wings spread out
heavy body bouncing
against the right hip of my spattered coveralls

100 turkeys, 8 friends, 3 days before Thanksgiving

"Pick Up"

Nov 18, 2013

What kind of finger to point? At which
map showing which right or southern turn? On
the newly poured shoulder, tar sucks at my shoe

I'm willing to walk out here alone, gravel grinding
my heel, gray day and the surface of the road
one continual oatmeal. No one thumbs

a ride on the frontage road but me
so no one stops but you. Stories of fingers
in the psychopath's pocket, suspicion float back

and forth in our first stumbling exchange.
You need me for company. I settle grateful.
Highway lengthens toward silence, hazard lights

"River"

Oct 28, 2013

Do not murder the man whose
grandfather stole land from
your grandfather. Do not make
your grandchildren, who will
love you no matter what, decide
whether or not to tell the truth or
live like hollow stems.

Don't let rage become a flash
flood, or a lightning bolt that
strikes you again and again.

Would you save every tissue you
blew snot into? No, we cannot
save everything.

Maybe we can't save anything
or anybody except ourselves.

"October Aspens"

Oct 14, 2013

I see pale yellow aspen leaves
along the shaded background mountainside
which quake and quiver in the slightest wind
as if they are determined to maintain
their named identity in bold defiance
of the seasons' change to duller hues—
and share their mood of glum diminishing.
         So what is it about this momentary glow
of quaking yellow aspen leaves,
waving along white-grayish boughs,
accompanied by shrieking crows,
cascading under purple clouds,
that suddenly evoke in me a shudder
for all transient breathing things:

"Storm Pattern"

Sep 30, 2013

On my living room wall hangs a Navajo rug
handwoven by Virginia Yazzie. A Storm Pattern
with a black and white border, through which
the spirit line passes, a design like silhouettes

of mesas on the Colorado Plateau. Within the border
it's red, Ganado red, with black and white
figures, the sacred water bugs, the mountains
and the clouds, and the intersecting lightning bolts

How to Write the Great American Indian Novel

Sep 9, 2013

All of the Indians must have tragic features: tragic noses, eyes, and arms.
Their hands and fingers must be tragic when they reach for tragic food.

The hero must be a half-breed, half white and half Indian, preferably
from a horse culture. He should often weep alone. That is mandatory.

If the hero is an Indian woman, she is beautiful. She must be slender
and in love with a white man. But if she loves an Indian man

then he must be a half-breed, preferably from a horse culture.
If the Indian woman loves a white man, then he has to be so white

"A Poem for the End of Summer"

Aug 26, 2013

All the cracks swerve up the
tree making it look old and
realistic. Its small leaves swaying
and shriveling in the hot sun. When
I look at the tip of the tree, the leaves
are tiny green dots, but up close I can see veins
running down each
and every leaf. The sun shines
through the leaves creating spots
and dots of sun on the grassy ground.
One branch multiplying into another
creating fractals and patterns of
all sorts. You can imagine
the root extending into the ground
making the tree stable and balanced.

"Good Intentions"

Aug 19, 2013

Wesley and I aspired to build a lake
in his backyard, with lily pads and fish
and frogs. We dug a hole, planted
an old hog trough, filled it with good
water from the garden hose. Pedaled
for the river, buckets clanging from our handlebars,
fish nets lashed to our bike frames and fenders.

"Little Boys and War"

Aug 12, 2013

I was six; brother was five.
Papa was gone to war.
Planes roared overhead
Racing for the city,
Our farmhouse shook;
Dishes crashed on the floor.

Mama screamed and
Called us to her.
In the roar, we wouldn’t hear,
And rushed outside
To watch the show.

Could we really see the bombs
As they flew toward the city?
“There! There!” we’d yell
As planes swooshed low
And dirt blossomed upward
And lives and property
Were destroyed for our enjoyment.

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