for the family we become

best chilequiles maker ever
i say leaning in
my plate full
my belly and heart too
sun on bare arms
that haven’t seen sun in too long
while perched on the southfacing slight slope of grassy yard
where we clip and tuck the uprights into our basket bases
jennifer chopping the apples while i 
mix the crumble together and soon
the smell that only apples in the oven can make
filling the kitchen

the common denominator gratitude:
for the family we become/make
the simpleness i say
and the ability to change directions and shape
in my list of gratitudes


the swedish/scandanavian movement/clapping game
how we can’t help but laughing in mica’s living room
as we move/dance in rhythm
the awe/wonder
and how many stars can fit/be seen
into a sky
including the planet blinking blue red
coming up along the southeast horizon


family because we are

walking through the thinnest mist
this morning
and loving the grey sky above the green summer-leafed-out trees
and the little bits of water
visible everywhere (near/far) in the air
standing on cool ranch porch
and finding that the bat has returned to its roost after a day of absence
while mama cat looks up at me from where she weaves between my feet and as
ashby the cat approaches on the path
i say something like oh good, we’re all together again
as if we are family
because, in fact, we are

the second bouquet i’ve brought
to a second friend
in two days
which makes me think something like
come for the pollination
and stay for the a-beautiful-thing-to-give-to-people-so-that-you-never-show-up-empty-handed bonus

the circle of us

as far as i’m concerned, every dollar bill is coated in blood
cynthia says in the front seat as we pass the great big
silver of the grain elevators on our way closer to the mississippi which is closer
to the train station
and if i were someone who snapped their fingers
in agreement a lot, i would go ahead and snap
the smoke rising from the still-smoldering pile of bricks
That used to be one of two big old beautiful buildings of ‘downtown’ (town of 100) rutledge
the brand new slice/notch
and the small clump of unattached fur
taken out of ashby’s ear as he wanders around me
in the spinach patch 
which makes me say oh honey which is a kindof thing
i never really say
someone’s getting a ride someone in the living room says
about the uncommon sound of a helicpoter
chopping air overhead
family-like  i say on the drive home on the county highways
about the circle of us in gigi and stan’s living room
eating the salad and soup and squash dish and cookies and then
hanging out and talking for quite a while
including an informal go-around about if we used to smoke cigarettes
and for how long and if so
what the quitting was like
not a mist and not a fog
but there is a hazey halo around the no-longer-full-but-not-quite-anything-else-yet moon
as it rises behind the still-bare branches
of skinny tall trees
from the water world:

An ultra-Orthodox Jew gets hit by a police water canon during a protest against Israeli army conscription, in Jerusalem.

if there ever was a time
to use the word hubris
now, this political circus moment, is it

in a gathering of
writers resisting
one person mentions pedro reyes
turning guns into musical instruments
and another says all great movements
begin around the kitchen table

and another talks about talking to his father
about violence against women
and violence against the earth and his father says
it’s the same thing
and another reads a poem titled
try to praise
the mutilated earth
and another says
this is our power,
it’s our time,
we are a formidable force
liz across from me sits and
introduces herself
and how it doesn’t take long to discover
this art-making food-growing commonality
and how she pulls her bright orange-red hat
over her head before she walks out
into the night shining with snowrain
how there was a kind of emptiness
a sort of longing,
and then, there we all are
appearing at the kitchen table
laughing with whoopie cushion fart jokes
through things that would otherwise make us cry
and when i say goodnight
gut muscles warmed from
getting through however we need to/can
(in this case, the heavy moments
that we allow to take up space and pause
and all the laughter
that has to follow)

i go back to my room
the three remaining
spelt almond cookies
liz from smudge
hands to me

i try to gesture the compressing
the layering
(how i am not at all my grandma
but how, in some ways,
we all carry each other/
each other’s traumas
and how we are like overlays
(my mom, my grandma and i)
set one by one on an overhead projector
coming together to form
a version of whole)
the whiteglow of snow
coming in through the windows
softly illuminating
this room

in these times

signs that read we back the badge
sprouting up in yards of this 93% caucasion city
as i run along subdivision streets
and in these times, in this context
it’s difficult to not read this as saying
black lives never mattered and they never will

how i thank the day for its gray as i run through it
for the way its clouds hold in the heat, meaning
it doesn’t take much movement
in these 40some degrees
before i am unzipping my fleece and tying it
around my waist

granola snackers anonymous i joke about what the GSA acronym stands for
and nica, 16, explains the presentation she and the rest of the 
gay-straight-alliance put on for teachers at her high school
whose topics included things such as
not making assumptions about the gender of someone’s partner/date based on the perceived gender of that person and
a discussion/go-around on pronouns
which, in suburban wisconsin, is a remarkable and unexpected moment

the round and iced ring of kringle
revealed under its wax paper
on kitchen table

the shine of izzi’s trophies all lined up and
i ask her if she misses dancing

izzi and i taking turns djing a song or two
while she brushes on glitter and shadow and sometimes
tilts my head up by nudging it up at the chin
spicy she says of the gem-and-the-holograms look
and spicy i say would be a great name for your salon

the rattle of the boggle cubes
inside their plastic case as we shake and
the tick tick of the scattegories timer as we
try our best to think of words that begin with N or K or C and
the ridiculous jokes that we toss out
and how our laughter lands alongside the
redpink plastic snack bowls from which
we can’t stop picking,
mom, dad, chris and i 
at the kitchen table on doverhill


pink ribbon cloud shreds
strung across 7am sky
as i head mill-wards
where willow and i
will feed cane
to the marvelous metal rollers
of the great-geared machine

how emory notices the bright white
(spotted black) cow
through the thin swath of woods
between where we are outside the sugar shack
and where the cow moves slowly across 
the plowed-in field
that has a number that i can’t remember.
something about this fall light and how bright it makes the white parts of the cow glow.
and something about emory edging closer and just watching for a while
which he never does with creatures (always touching, catching, smooshing etc) – but this one’s size
is to its advantage
like family dean says about us
and chris agrees
while we sit around the heating-up boiler
and i want to say something
about how we value and care about them too
as emory presents the box of doughnuts dean brought
but i don’t know what/how
but hope they both know anyway
emory holding out his rainbow sprinkled doughnut
and me leaning in to chomp a bite
and me holding out a half of a plain glazed doughnut
for him to take a bite

the stream of thick syrup
(sorghum) slow-pouring out of the spiggot
where i fill cases of glass jars
with its sweetness
the glowing things we see over the edge
of the creekbridge
female fireflies she guesses
magical specks of bioluminescenty (though maybe not bioluminescent at all) light
in the darkness the night has become
manila envelope stuffed, pillowlike, with
one pound and two ounces
of amish paste tomato seed
not a bad bounty, not bad at all

the feast that fills the table

talcum morning moon easing itself
swollen into horizon
while sun gold gilds opposite
with its first breaks of light
and me standing out there in
sober morning mesa cold
directly in the middle of the two
agitating is the word i use with baigz
across the sage brush expanse
to describe what herding sheep is like
when we are trying to get them to go
where they don’t want to go
which is what we’ve just spent a good
half hour doing
such a different experience i say
than letting them go where they want

like nailing jellow to a tree baigz says later
about getting those sheep to move with us
your hands are cold says alton as we greet/shake
and i say how good it is to see him
i should warm them up he says more
with his eyes/smile than he does with his words
and sandwiches my palms
small and weathered between his own
softwarm surrounding
culminating some of our ongoing jokes into a single line:
HoTerra oils, featuring: grandmother’s wintergreen,
true/false blend,
juniper sap,
turkey grease/dishwater
and our offical HoTerra representatives:
(dish)pan (as in half goat half man)
and medusa-zeus (or mezeusa)
how alton thanks us before we eat our portions
of the feast that fills the entire table
acknowledging that we have families too
and how meaningful it is that we are here
until the clouds break themselves up a bit,
cold numb fingers, cold cheeks, and
magnificent sun-cloud streaks
contrasted against unfathomable blue
that full moon milton says means it’s already december
on the navajo calender

how it heals
to send my voice
on the colorado plateau
over and over again what words i can remember
from that sinead o’conner song
thank you for hearing me
thank you for saying baby
thanks for silence with me
thank you for breaking my heart
thank you for tearing me apart
now i’ve a strong, strong heart
thank you for breaking my heart
and including my own:
thank you for playing with me
thank you for ridiculousity
thank you for possibility
thank you for dreaming with me

something about walking in from the sobering cold
into the humming heat of wood stove +
so many humans in one room
and how my face blazes
and my spirit feels welcomed
by pualette, by tiphini, by alton, by patti,
by the sun coming through the windows and
the bouquet on the table and
all the kiddos who now know my name
swirling around