thanking the crucible

larry’s laughter and ellen’s laughter
and jennifer’s laughter and my laughter
filling the bustling kickapoo cafe
on a saturday that feels like a sunday morning
how much like dogs
the little piglets look
(many of them black)
running around unfenced in verna’s snowy muddy yard
oh it’s YOU
says lavina
walking into the building where the quilts are stored
i‘ve got all my winter gear on i say
meaning i am not standing in the back of the pickup truck
with my half-ripped cotton shirt
and falling apart cap
on our way to pluck beets
or gather peppers
or weed carrots
folding and unfolding quilts
at the glick’s
with lavina and verna
the calm quiet sense that comes with
standing inside a building
without electric power running through it
at the end of belgium ridge road’s dead end
how i have to stand out of the car
to see the land
smell the air
feel the ground under my feet
i haven’t had a day off
in a long time
jennifer says
after we make it through two whole harry potter chapters
staying warm under the covers
while the wind howls about the trailer and
the gray sky stays gray and sometimes sends down
rain/ice showersprinkles
the poem that ends with
thanking the­­ crucible
and its licks of hotwhite blueyellow flame cooking me down
to char and bone
tenderpunk caits describes
my writing aesthetic
in week three
of the poems as prayers course
crayola markers in eight colors are good
for many things including the multi-paged note
wherein i work on taking accountability
for my inner smeagol/gollum

this weird winter parade

half a grapefruit for first breakfast
then a thin slice of pumpkin pie for second breakfast
and third
and fourth
and fifth
and sixth

juniper couch-curled
in pink fleece under purple flannel/down
around lisi the gray cat
who for a while slept next to her head
but mostly doesn’t know how to or care to cuddle

larry who carries extra hats and gloves
to give out/share with people
that might need them
laughing heartily at the lights
the weird small town floats
the effective and ineffective candy tossing
of this weird winter parade
that ends with the climate crisis extinction rebellion crew
(reaper on skates and the world in a casket)
followed by santa in the fire engine cherry picker
lit up eerily –
how i lean over to ellen to tell her
one of the reasons i love when they come to visit
is that it means we go to stuff like this
life is short
she says
it’s all conjecture she says
i’m just living my life she says
each of these short phrases
a reorientation,
a guide,
a  sobering dose of a thinker
offered to the squishy working-it-out heart of a feeler

the string cheese tossed out
from the organic valley float
in the twinklefest parade
that juniper runs after
in between floats
to keep them from getting squished mid-road
and to bring them home
as they are sunbssstantivf snahnks
this is the most sexist joke i know
says ellen, doubled over laughing
(in the midst of the hot potato/taboo game
that somehow has us using testicle as a verb)
about the person who made a freudian slip
when trying to say pass the salt
to their partner
but who instead says
bitch, you ruined my life
and we are all doubled over
partly because of the joke
and partly because of ellen, badass feminist as hell organizer, telling it

work with me

she’s not wearing any clothes
juniper says of the yoga teacher in the video
in a bikini top and short shorts bottoms
so we joke about starting a campaign/fundraiser
to purchase the unfortunate yoga teachers
some actual clothes
you gotta work with me, i can’t do it all myself
the universe says as i plead with ki,
almost crumpled to my knees
partway along the four mile loop
on blonde gravel and snow-ice road
as i walk it out/work it out
(sadness and torment, like dogs, like to be taken for walks)
like an eat pray love moment
or a cheryl strayed WILD moment
which, upon realizing this, makes me laughcry at myself
again/even more
singing holy holy holy
to the small gold brown hill
of a dead cow
in the barn driveway of the farm down the road
where there are usually cats
the long pheasant feather tail
as seen from down the road on my approach home
telling me that ki is indeed a pheasant
and not a crow or a turkey
how the quiet out here is so silent
when i pause my steady gravel-crunching steps
i take a deep drink of the hush
among the shorn cornfields and bare limbs

the feast cooked
for those who have already eaten:
sausage stuffing
vegetarian stuffing
pumpkin pie with jennifer-grown garden pumpkin
kale salad
a chicken
roasted roots
cranberry sauce
lynn and i splitting the bottle
of strawberry soda
its goodness and sweetness make it inherently
a thing to share/never drink alone
the pocket game of charades we play
for the final hurrah of straysgiving evening
and how i don’t want to stop
juniper and i laughing at hand signals/pantomimes
that one can make for buttsplosions
to use in a public or group setting
to covertly communicate to another person
without having to reveal to the other group
that one just experienced buttsplosions
in the bathroom

the house inside me

grey kitty curled
on my palm
cheekbones cupped
in between pillows
in the waking-into-day
part of the morning
the northish side of everything (stair railings, light posts, twisty curvy tree limbs) slapped with an inch or two of snow
the magic dimension-bringing qualities this has
in the woods
out the window and out in the world walking the gravel,
all day, these colors:
light gold (corn stubble) and steel blue (sky) and gray (sky) and white_ (snow and sky)

cold whipping wind
slipping up into the holes at the heels of my boots
and through the holes in my socks
cutting through at first
but warmed by movement
and the laughter at sock rockets
and crooked oranges
the crackly sound
of branches (layered with crunchy icy on the bottom and powdery snow on top)
along the gravel roadside
in the wind
powderfluff snow
not good for throwing
but we do anyway
and i fake being hit
and collapse onto the ground
i’m right here juniper
says in response
to me saying it’s like the house inside me
is splintering apart

the access axis

lotus hands
held to chest
shareen guiding me through
pinching cheeks and arms
to make sure
you’re here / i’m here
the access axis has rotated
i say
while juniper wraps me in some snoogle therapy
as we move forward through the familiar and uncharted
grabbing stars as handrails
well, i guess we walked the sun down i say
as we round the corner to the mobile estate
car lights coming at us
in the darker-than-dusk

pema in her black pants and top
martial arts uniform
walking through the bulk aisle
green belt wrapped around waist
the rose tea she brings me steaming
on a bamboo platter
with honey and a spoon


the spatter lick swish
of rain and maybe ice-rain
against the windows, the skylight, the metal carport roof

a human called home

i spent the morning on my hands and knees for you –
scrubbing the kitchen floor
i text
a la crosse-bound lion
each of us laughing together
in our separate places
at this statement
so now that we are clear on you maybe not maybe flirting and me maybe flirting if it is not an offense, I think we are all good right?
librarian style i read to them
at the dining room table
so they can see the illustrations
from sitti’s secrets as i go
not to be all ‘when i was your age’ about it
i say
to my 19-21-year-old-students
as i share photos of me (shave-headed and blue banged and pink banged in oversize red patched hoodie)
when i was their age
stretched out on a mat in dim-lit room 202
alongside other other bodies also stretching
and tottering while we balance
and breathing our dragon breath through the tough poses
while havvah guides us
with her velvet voice

how we are all a bit shy at first
but it doesn’t take long for us to find our movement
and our volume
kicking and yelling HA is good she says
remember this move (from lunge to kick)
for when you are frustrated or angry
dancing to the top 40s
coming out of the red solar powered radio
that really just needs to be charged by plugging it into the wall anyway
as i halve brussels sprouts
for a simple frankie style
welcome home dinner
of roasted kabocha squash and roasted brussels and
quinoa with tasty toasted seeds on the side

juniper burrito_rolled in the covers
(no, maki,
she says because the toes and head
are poking out)
drifting in and out of the sleep of a weary traveler

waking up from an pre-bedtime snoogle
under the grape/chicory blanket
solar poof still lit
curled in the warmth
of a human called home
like waking up
from one of the best dreams
the last stanza
from the typewritten lion ode poem
i read to juniper upon her return

home can mean so many things
like a tree growing over rusted links
left chained around ki’s trunk,
i mistake your bones for mine



the cornfield horizon

how sharing an order of two dishes
(1. fancy french toast with plum sauce, creme fraiche and almonds
2. broccoli omelette with potatoes)
with someone across the table i just met
(friend of friends)
feels like an awkward kind of intimate
but good-awkward, not bad

the red berries annie and i toss at each other
in front of her front yard
i take cover behind the skinny tree the red berries fall from,
i take cover close to the ground
hot pink hoodie up
even when i’ve walked far enough fast enough (racing sunset)
to generate enough warm to pull it down
it’s rifle deer hunting season
men in neon orange drifting about
lingering near pickups
stringing tawny bodies up
from trees and basketball hoop rims
and the sky and cornfields
booming alive
with gunfire

the breaking
when sun glows silvergold between
the blanket of clouds pulled low to the horizon
and the cornfield horizon itself