deer eyes alive

my knotted calves
from jillian michaels telling me yesterday
not to phone it in
and how i try to stretch and massage
the tightness out
how i could (and do)
spend hours on the couch up against the front windows
where the birds gather to feed on the huge head of the mammoth grey sunflower
a mere four feet from me:
the downy woodpecker hanging upside down
clinging to the seed head with its feet
the tufted titmice climbing the leaf stems
up up up and down down down
like a ladder
and the juncos pecking around at the ground below
and perching/snacking
on the cockscomb seeds
the KABLAM going off
while we walk to the mailbox and down the hill
rounding the bend to find target practice
(home-made target with bright orange spraypaint
and three people gathered around a pickup
where they balance the rifle and aim)
nestled in the woods below

the glow of deer eyes (alive) in the ditches
while we ride packed snug
in the front of anne’s truck
rumbling through the deep dark dark
with a thirty pound kid in her backpack carrier
liz calling the square dance
while we laugh and clumsify
our way through the steps

the wild moving red

the slipslide of ice
on the gravel where we walk
into blustery wind
on a kind of day where too many layers
is probably not enough
first the sound
then the sight
of some mighty V
moving overhead:
not geese
but cranes
whose sound is more of a haunt
and a song
than a honk
open mics are still one of the ways
i believe in people
laurel says

at the open mic
where about 10 of us gather
in the downtown storefronty space
to read/share
our work

the mug that cracks
as jennifer pours hot water for tea
into the ceramic vessel that was just out
in a car on a 20 degree day

the wild moving red
in the video footage
of northern california fires traveling swift and
devouring everything in their paths and
while the footage comes from someone driving through flame
to get out, i think of the wild creatures

of the good and terrible

fajita leftovers heated up
and in a bowl in my lap
with a fried egg
while i make my way on the living room couch
through the final pages
of the good and terrible novel
about women held captive
in the australian outback
juniper on tiptoes peeking out the kitchen sink window
to assess the state of the growing things
after a drop in temperatures overnight
and shares the droopy kale report
grey kitty meowing
outside the front door
which i open to let him in
and wipe the accumulated snow
off of his back with a thin towel
so cold i bring water to a boil
and pour it into a glass jar
(which holds a butterknife
to keep the glass from shattering
in a cold-meets-hot shock)
and screw the lid on tight
and put it into a sock
and then tuck it under a layer of blanket
in the cat warm box
on the front porch

about the quietness

i never thought about that apple says
about the quietness of woodstove heat
(as compared to a furnace
blasting off every other 15 minutes)
the redmaroongold blanket flower
blooming in the plastic ‘terra cotta’ pot
that sits on the desk or in the windowsill
something summer flowering
in early november
Anthropocene lifestyle of a Pleistocene being
j says when i ask for a specific call/assignment
for an essay i’m eekingout¬†
we sing the song (blessed change) annie wrote
(i believed in solid ground
until i saw the earth in motion
in the winds of steady change
in the ever rolling ocean)
on the west coast in a time
of shifting and this song
is the reason, i realize, i am here tonight
because of the way it sends itself
through my body
driving slow through the dark night
(between 30 and 40)
on the side highways
because this is the speed that feels the most sane
to move a motorized vehicle through the thick cloak of dark at

everything, almost, can be fixed

chris the mechanic says something
about six  months of gray but how
it isn’t so bad at his shop
because it’s bright
and warm
he also says everything, almost, can be fixed

the two dogs i read as yellow labs

greeting us up the road
one whose name jenafr gathers
is something that sounds like ruby
based on what the people at her house call her
thwapping her tail all around
and looking her cute face up
into mine
while we say hellos
and the other older more tentative one
who stays back but sees its safe
so comes in now and then
for a little pet before she
backs off again
the wind a hard force we walk into
hoping (though you never can be sure here)
it will be at our backs
on the return walk
how i align my steps
with jennifer’s, careful not to step on a heel
practicing drafting
it’s the corn i say
about the shorn fields
giving the wind its power
the poll volunteer
who remembers us and our bikes from last time
asking how we got here this time,
seeing the red on our cheeks and the
bundled layers
and how jenafr responds with
we walked – we exercised our right to voted
by exercising to vote
and for a short moment

we are famous
in a sea of others gathered
to cast a vote
juniper picking worms and slugs up
from the wet gravel road
and moving them
into the safe zone
where gravel road meets grass

until the waffle iron sings

i chop the apples and hickory nuts
while juniper does the fancy gluten free ingredient mixing
until the waffle iron sings
to tell us
they’re ready
the bright orange of two persimmons
nestled among maroongold strawflowers
and wrapped
in a package of other sweet things
sent from portland
from the best tweedle in the universe
the ginormous stainless steel bowl
at lisa’s place filled with:
smarties, dubble bubble, starbursts, a lone peanut butter cup, lollipops and suckers and jolly ranchers and twizzlers
all trick-or-treat size

i slow down

rain so rainy and cold so cold
the skittish cat we call little is spotted
curled up in the box on the porch
until we let her in
for an afternoon snack
we pass the horchata back and forth
while the tunes from the kitchen
leak out every time a server in a pink polo
walks in or out
jenafr tells me about the self-declared misogynist
shooting women in a hot yoga studio
and mentions incel
which sounds vaguely familiar
but i must have wiped it from my mind
because i have to ask what it means
involuntary celibate she says
and characterizes the people who identify this way
or who ‘belong’ to incel as
men who are forced to be involuntarily celibate
(as they say)

because women won’t have sex with them –
angry men, entitled men, bitter men
men who believe women owe them

i let out my scorpio i say
about speaking the fire inside
over the seven teachers in idaho who dressed up as the wall
with ‘make america great again’ written across it
and the seven other teachers who dressed up as
and how the school district included it
in photos on their site’s home page
the possum i slow down for
in the middle of the road
that the glare of the headlights tells me
is already dead