as she emeralds

morning cynthia jokes is this the women’s
yoga retreat headquarters while we both approach
the whitehouse with mats under our arms

ian at butcher block pours
gen mai cha into a tall shotglass
and says now it’s mochi time
(talks about how the bitter
of the brings out the sweet
of the glutenous rice with black sesame)
just before she heads out on the
40 mile ride home i appreciate marie’s
consistent quality of presence
open always i say the shine of tears in her eyes

cynthia giving pointers on the
right-angleness of
forearms-to-biceps for a
farewell/so-long tripod headstand
in the sideyard

hummingbird hovering several feet away i freeze
mid-broccoli harvest sending hellos and love
to kate on wings as she emeralds
up and away
(followed later by a similar visit
outside the bike shed where i
patch a flat)

another kind of pride/satisfaction:
somewhere along the line i learned
how to splice wires together which means
i just went in there and fixed that little
bike computer i once got for free meaning
it will once again track miles but not tell me
what time it is because the small button on the
back no longer works


dear fran, dr. mutulu shakur writes
your heart is as big as the missouri sky
at the bottom of a typed/copied letter to
family and friends which includes news
of being considered for release
onto federal parole
i look forward to being reunited with you all
outside of these walls

avoiding the charred/blackened parts
mica and i pick at kettle corn failure part one
while nina lifts stirs the gigantic pot of
tomatoes on the karma kitchen stove

tufts of feathers (black)
accompanied by a chicken head attached
all the way to the neck
littered along the back edge
of the greenhouse/compost pile area

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hearts/arms to sky

in the dream, m-lo and i are
dinnering with my parents
and s/he refers across the table to me as sweetheart
which s/he follows up by asking
can i call you sweetheart?
(a term we never used)
and i say oh hell no joking

but really not caring
all of which is a gesture/suggestion
that six years later
we finally made it
through all the bullshit
long morning light
casting shadows of all seven of us
(marie, nina, cynthia, annie, liat, emory and me)
lined up on the cistern and lifting our
hearts/arms to sky
somewhat synchronized

cynthia standing along my mat
guides me through my
first forearm backbend
perhaps a mixture of pride
and satisfaction is what to call it
(it = weighing out our harvest
[orange of carrots, dusty of potatoes,
husked wonder that is tomatillo, etc.]
and portioning into CSA boxes)

when nina asks i say
this one’s for my watch and this one
is for a little vibrator we laugh

like a cat on a hot tin roof
cyn says while marie and i
work our way with drills
across the tin roof we are
drilling down to the purlins
with roofing screws

we move methodically up and over


box of potatoes, carrots and the smallest
array of eggplant perched/balanced on my head
as we walk the path to laura’s from which mica
points out the scarecrow in the corn patch in the distance
scene enough to stop and take it in
decisions that i think
will make me feel good/better but instead
only make me feel horrible i say followed by
could be all those heavy(ish) boxes i just carried

but i feel light (for the first in a while) i say
while we circle and snack on apples and popcorn under
the swirl of ceiling fans

sun bigger than sun redder-oranger
than the burn of lava and neon
as it lowers itself
flanked by cloud bouquet in the west as seen
from the back of a rusted toyota truck
hurtling down a county highway
all while a powder moon (swollen)
traces its own arc westward
put a lid on it joe says
about the tallow candle left aglow on
butcher block so
i can see the slice of bread i
spread butter and liliquoi jelly on

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of all the fire

you look tougher than when you
showed up this morning june jokes
about my bloody nosebridge point of 
frisbee-to-face contact
first in the pond
whose waters are cool enough to elicit
a yowl and how my body
cutting through it feels like
all the clear-watered rock-bottom pacific northwest rivers
i’ve ever called home
panic is an indicator (canary in a coalmine)
that there’s something to attend to he says
if your first move is attention to yourself
then your ability to show up for others is
going to blow your mind
wherein marie demonstrates a pop-up
on the porch floor and we can see
the ocean around her

ashby’s paws stepping along my back
and sleepsprawling on my arm
in the orchard where i blanket lounge
in state of emotional spentness/exhaustion
post-lunch and pre-afternoon build (rafters day two)

singing/harmonizing along to
gillian welch (sometimes a voice [mine] with
so much vibrato it sounds
and sometimes feels like crying)
while i shred/chop cabbage, carrots and beets for the salad
and saute onions, garlic, spices, potatos, cabbage, green beans, summer squash and tomatoes into masala
sound of hammering drilling and sawing
in the not so distant side yard

laughing up a list
with annie, ty, and ian
of made up names for the discount foods store
whose actual name (hitchin’ post) i can’t remember:
snack shack
treat street
lasso and luna bars
granola gondola
munchie mansion

snack saloon

bursts of uproarious laughter
rising from screened-in front porch
the word loophole over heard multiple times
(presumably in reference to
ways to work around vows
of celibacy) heard from my
hammock-drape where ashby curls on
my chest and the filling-up moon casts its veil
on my bare limbs
i say it’s been getting cooler
it could be you say because of
all the fire
and best human she says

and the ache/weight of
staring down the same vision
through our very different ways of getting there
(and the ouch of this very particular heart curse
that i haven’t figured out how to navigate with grace)


are willing to tough it out she says
may your sky
i say be a million glimmerings

from the water world:

A boy cools off under a waterfall in Kabul, Afghanistan.  – voice of america, day in photos

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i built this body memory

cynthia sporting the burger & fries leggings
for cistern-top group morning yoga sesh
with kittens we
backbend before leaning in

marie’s mom’s home-made liliquoi jelly
in a half pint glowing gold
on butcher block
heaven i say sampling it on sandhill bread

mallet and chisel back in hand
how it feels good to return to
familiar work and how it
hurts to think about
how i carried you in me
when i built this body memory
as opposed to the hollows of now
the yowlp of an alarmed/injured chicken
in jack’s (jack russel terrier) jowls

all 5 of us (cynthia, nina, tyler, marie and me)
lined up along the top plate
(held up by some height-enhancing implements
such as ladders, stools/upside down buckets on tables,
temporary scaffolding a la two ladders and a plank)
chiseling in where the rafters will lay
strong sun and strong wind
on our skin

astounded she says i am the first
(of all bodies she’s ever worked on)
with no lower-back knots
right, i say, because i’m too busy
making the upper-back knots
really good
to receive such attention/care

i say/think about tasha
kneading out my knots

cheering and yelling from above as
the rush of two trains (each on opposite tracks
in opposite directions) occurring simultaneously
roar past

train drill wherein all eight of us
practice flopping to the ground (bridge)
as fast as we can in order to
conduct our experiment test to find out
whether the conductors always sound the whistle
under this bridge or if they only do it when us humans
are leaning out over it waving
hah mih nih nah neeee ayyyy eee ayyy
(aaaaaay doombah, eeee ayyy dumbah)
piled up in truck back we sing/howl out
to moon glow (approaching full)
cast across sky and through
tree canopy
rolling hills rise/falling below us

talented i say about dagny
just like this kiddo i tap the shoulder of emory
who asks if he can curl into me
shortsleeved cold in cooling moving air
we share our warm

how we snack-frenzy storm the
whitehouse kitchen (granola bars,
biscuits, liliquois jelly, pretzels,

from the water world:

A migrant quenches his thirst after disembarking from the Irish Navy vessel LE Niamh at the Messina harbor in Sicily, Italy. – voice of america, day in photos

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passing around the glittery shoes

in the dream
i arrive early to
tuesday and a few others in
indoor pool/hot tub glow
setting up for a
dance party/art event and then
she’s co-counseling me on the phone
during a super rough support-needed time
and when her turn to be counseled comes around
i have to herd the playground kids
for an earthquake drill only
maybe it’s not even a drill
but the real thing and i point to the hills
let the others know we’re headed that way

kitten party on and around
unfurled cistern-perched yoga mat
while i do 100 bicycles
hold plank
until it’s as if all the stretching
was what pulled the cloud curtain
off the sky

cynthia-made sequinned mask
passed on (gifted) with accompanying stories
while omelet cooks
i peer out through the hand-cut eyeholes
as if everything that exists
was cracking in half i say
about last night’s loudest-i’ve-ever-heard
three-part thunderclap that was way less like a clap
and more like a detonation

lowering chomped collard seedlings
into hoophouse bed’s reverse nests
followed by a decent dose
of fish water
strawberry chocolate cynthia says
thought of you
more silence i self- prescribe
best attempt i can think of to
short circuit old/new hurt

didn’t catch a single fish except one
emory says in an animated
report-back from the ozarks and illinois
have a cookie he gestures to
the bag on the benchtable

frankie’s got good
dance party outfits emory calls out
under the karma ceiling fan swirling star
while mica cues up the
4-song dance party playlist

i emerge in black selkie onesie
sequin short shorts
tiger stripe cap
sequin kerchief and sequin arm band


to sly and the family stone
beastie boys
tears for fears
and lorde
we jump sashay moonwalk shimmy
passing around the glittery shoes

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under gray-sky-clearing
mica’s day off we
(mica, nina, me)
cistern-top yoga
surrounded by sunflower sway
as long as the battery lasts
and then some

fabius riverside sandy beach lunch perch
where we  pluck inadvertently minty dried apples
(dried apples stored in jar that once stored mint)
from pint size mason jar and talk about
whether our parents would be
fun people to hang out and smoke pot with

nina, mica and i
laughing and rambunctiously singing
uphill and down as we pedal
through our fumblings of old german
(the song about how the rain is coming
and the farmer has to get everything
[corn harvest?] under shelter)

breaking away hurtling
ahead hoping
the length of train will still
be stretching itself out under me
when i arrive at bridge overlook

nina and i inspect wraparound bruise
starting on the underside of
second toe but also sortof starting
on topside site of cleating

a round of exquisite knucks
resulting in the following
sharpie’d mysteries revealed:
slug gold
burn flow
time tuna
fire blob
ogre chad
best flew
cats tart

does it have a fruiting body mica asks
in the first round of
the smurfing game
(in which one person leaves the room
and the remaining people decide what
smurfing means
and when the person who left returns
they can ask as many questions as they need
to arrive at the correct answer [for instance:
is smurfing something people do? do all people
smurf? when do people smurf?])

first drops on the edge of the distant storm
and the drops after that
and the drops after that
landing on skin of limbs and face
me star-splayed back-laid
on cistern under patchy and sometimes lightning sky

echoing everywhere i say
pants or not pants the
disembodied voice gurgling up
(along w/ m.i.a.’s bad girls loops)
while sleep tosses its life ring around
and pulls me in

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the bewilderment

like a doctor the organics inspector
crisp behind small but precise glasses
and clean unwrinkled peach button down short sleeve shirt
item by item we go over the forms i am
careful to not call our compost compost
faint but visible bruise
mica points out in karma living room light
on top of the cleated foot
accompanied by strange taut swelling
on underside pad below toes

monarch butterfly dropping down
in and lifting up out of
the patch of zinnias in
swigs of chocolate almond milk
and bubbly sips of la croix peach pear
signs of a savorer

srtrength and resilience tyler says
emotionality nina says (vulnerable/strong)
bringing beauty mica says
love stan says and eye contact
while we circle around the dinner

the making of which was one small sliver
of the healing
carrot butter
african lentil spread
massaged kale salad with basil, ‘sun’dried sungolds, one of the few cucumbers and
a side of toasted/tamari’d seeds
pile (of humans) and popcorn (in a bowl) on bed
i click through pictures with my toe first
then nina shares hers beginning with arrival
and ending with the build

my friends nina calls the spiders
mica sucked up with the shop vac
but who will i talk to says nina
songs have been my mantras i say
and sing the four small but life-boaty lines:
lay down the earth
breathe in the air
open up to the water
step into the fire
that do indeed give me courage

to step into the wildfire sweeping
across forested heart wilderness

the bewilderment of
being a human with a heart in a world
of other humans with hearts


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