dirt cake

the flash of lightning so bright
that even in the morning light
it shocks light through my closed eyelids
and then, the booming/cracking open
(of what sounds like the very ground around us)
in several parts
they put one of your snapdragons
over dennis’s heart emory tells me
about returning to visit dennis an hour or so
after he passed on
which makes me think about
the times when both poems and flowers
(two things i make) are
needed/necessary/leaned on/useful,
of which death is one
there is something bigger in this
that i cannot yet name
but feel reverberating
through me
trees grow slow
and trees grow strong
and trees sway with the wind
their whole lives long…
emory and i sing in the canoe
me in front in the paddle and he in back
with his fishing pole
(with bait on it without a hook)

how i take my shirt off
at the helm and emory
strips out of his blue paisley sundress
we haven’t jumped in the water yet
but you can bet we will
it works better if you say it like a clock i say
about emory behind me pointing to bullfrogs
and turtles so he says
bullfrog at three o clock and indeed
it is at three o clock and indeed
it is much easier to find
introducing sandhill
to an improv bio of rachel tucson
i begin with the enneagram and end with the fact
that we are the same height which makes
trish smile big

 i think we need these i say
carrying the tall blue glass (candy glass) jar
filled with a sharpie and four letter words
for temporary knuckle tattoos
mo and i both committing to
choosing only two and going with it
mine: dirt cake
hers: fire feed

how i laugh at the cloud to the east
in the oncoming sunset sky
that looks so much like a snail
(round shell home with body sliding along underneath)
when i realize the round shell home
is the almost-full moon
(something about the texture of it
and the color of the cloud)
makes moon and cloud appear
as if they are made of same stuff
group of what must be at least 15 mennonite boys/teens
lining both sides of the highway
where a bridge overlooks the tracks
how i nod and wave feeling like a real
weekend warrior in my spandies
and how, i’m moving too fast
to see if nods/waves are returned
but i do hear a dog barking which
makes me wonder if it is an actual dog
or a boy in his button up shirt barking at me
and the latter is confirmed
on my return when i pass them again
this time they are walking back to where they adventured in from
without a dog and yet
the barks as the sky powders above me
i mutter a fuck off under my breath and later
have fantasies about turning to pedal into them and then
squealing to a halt within inches from their
blue-jeaned knees and standing
tall/proud/unfuckwithable and saying something like
are you fucking kidding me!?
BARKING!? i aint gonna take that
(and then pulling some serious badass ninja moves here)
not now and not ever
and then zoom off, throwing dust as i recede

into a speck up some hill along the horizon line
the screech in the sky that draws my eyes skywards

and in the very same spot, on the return ride,
the (red tailed hawk?) cruising along on the air
above me before landing on top of the electric line post

almost a glowing

in the dream
i don’t remember now if it was my sister or her husband
but one of them died
and the other had painted themselves
with face paint of grief
(maroon stripes across face and neck)

morning wakeup i rollover
to the poem on page 40
which is almost like rolling over
to a lover


red norland trish says
when i ask what variety of early potato
we are about to harvest
digging forks in our hands
hoes in the garden cart
5 gallon buckets at our sides
and the bright fuschia beauty of that
new tender skin revealing itself
almost a glowing
against the black of sandclay soil


fresh whipped cream
and a bowl of just-picked black raspberries
on the butcher block after lunch
(which i drizzle in a teacup with maple)


putting the rock back in brockelle
i say as she pulls up into the parking spot
and it is not long after that
that she’s sitting there in her green/blue dress
on the front porch telling us about
the night goat pickup
that involved a mini-van
and building a crate for it
in the middle of the woods
with headlamps


mica and i put an ice-cream trip
(soft serve, three miles away)
on our after-lunch to-do lists
(strategically placed at 3:30 pm
so motivating towards the things to do
becomes easier)


sara and i talk tomatoes
on la casa’s back porch
(yellow oblong with red stripes
or the slicer so hefty
one slice is the size of a sandwich
names i can’t remember)


i lean over to mica
(on our beanbags/camping chair setups
in the front row)
pointing to mark’s djembe
during a song about clean seeds and bodies and say
i dare you to play that drum
(which mark rocked out on
a few songs earlier)
to which she replies
i double dog dare you


i say see you later to jennifer
who was born in switzerland and
lives in germany (soon to return there)
and the possibility that we might
actually see each other again
doesn’t seem to far off


back-of-truck ride back
under night sky
lightning bugs going off and
the metal rattle of the tailgate
while we roll over gravel
has us nearly shouting back and forth
at each other
loud laughter carried in our dust-cloud wake


aleppo, i have seen so many photos of you like this
over the past few years
it’s difficult to believe
that there is still anything left to destroy

skeleton city
rubble capital of the world
a study in ash grey (official color of
the process of rubbling)

Destruction is seen following a reported barrel-bomb attack by Syrian government forces in the northern city of Aleppo. – voice of america, day in photos


from the water world:

A Muslim boy reacts as he takes part in a special prayer for better rainfall, in Mumbai, India.
–  voice of america, day in photos

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 8.26.56 AM
A man takes advantage of the heavy rain to give his Siberian husky a bath outside their house in Paranaque city, Manila.
– bbc, day in pictures



in orbit

1. i have begun streaming polish radio
and sometimes french
the more talking the better
and i wonder
if there is a word
for how familiar a language can be
even when you don’t understand it
you still took in the sounds
and you carried them
in marrow of your bones
for years

2. sometimes
poems that
rest on fixed points
reside in the doctor’s bag
do not make good friends
with poems
that reside in
the strata of bone

3. between sprinkled butter cookies
and empty staplers
i go
into orbit

4. forehead to ground
on my knees
is the gesture i’m thinking of
that resides
at the intersection
of gratitude
and grief

5. tell me some of the things you know
daphna asks
over the phone
while the timer
ticks down
from 10
to 0

6. peanut sauce
white rice
in a small pot
over blue flame
this one’s for you
not just because i know it’s your favorite
but because
you bring me things
bruised cheekbones
conversations with strangers at the candle supply store

7. speaking of momentum
i wonder
if you’ve come up
with a hankey code
for that

we are trying to move faster than time

1. dreams:
a train ride
across town
barely able to stop at the crossing
we are trying
to move faster than time
and i offer
the window seat

at the dmv/geisel library
meg shares the inside story
of poems and history
and points to a vertical
dave eggars style

2. michael dickman’s poems in my hands
on a sunday afternoon
poems like mousse
or fudge
or anything else
so rich
you can eat it
in tiny spoonfuls
and leave the rest
in the refrigerator
for tomorrow
and the day after
and all the days after that

3. when the census people
come to knock on your door
and you are
in the sun
poems in yr hands
a mug of tea on the steps
it is
nearly impossible
to cower away
or say
no, i don’t have time
for your 8 minute questionnaire

4. corinne arrives
gauze taped around middle finger
later she slips it off
in the bathroom
to show me
black stitches
six of them
holding glass-split knuckle skin

5. you
in summer pants
rolled up below knees
and me
in freshly washed hair
the popover
i forget to act
and it only takes us
an hour
to get out the door
and once we do
we take over the sidewalks
chicken coops
like a photography club field trip
leaning in

6. i can’t tell
if it’s my hand
on your back, fingers
hiking the canyon
of your spine
or your hand
slow circling
my lumbar
but one of us
is casting spells

7. sailing
the eternal wave
of fatigue
in search of

8. the only cloud
in the sky
whisped gray against blue
mustache shaped
while i take in
the day glo
the campfire smell
a thousand teeth in a tender shell


for jon,
a termination letter
fraught with
erroneous and exaggerated details
for me,
i’ll probably get the usual:
a thank you scrawled
on the schedule next to
my name
and a bouquet
a tigerlily firework
in a white sky
of feverfew
kept cool
in the walk in

and the only difference
is that jon
told our boss
to fuck off
to his face

and this restaurant
will go on
as if no one

the babies
crowded into sunday morning booths
will continue
to screech
their amazing dinosaur calls
while rolling cheerios
off table edges

the touring bands
will continue
catching breakfast
at 2pm
sucking down pots of coffee
and leaving
less than
a ten dollar tip

the dining room
will continue
a sea of need
and bodies
asking for more
than any waitstaff
is capable
of bringing

the hand-crank
salad spinner
will continue
rusted washers and screws
fresh beds
of romaine, green leaf, carrot and red cabbage ribbons
dental disasters
and lawsuits
barely avoided

our boss
will keep us
pressed low
to the greasy ground
his kitchen clogs
our swaybacked spines

chimes slice sound into silence

1. it is the kind that looks like
ripped up paper

the only kind
that ever
in movies

the thick heavy wet kind
that accumulates fast
and gentle

and it is not a snow
of heartdemolition

2. triangle pose
under skylight

slice sound
into silence

it is the first deep breath
the coming into myself
in a room full of other people
breathing deep
coming into themselves
that brings tears
to my eyes

3. triangle pose, take two:
what is the chance
two time zones into the ocean
at this moment
hold your limbs
strong and stretched
into the shape of
a triangle too?

4. the scene ends badly
as you might imagine
in a cavalcade of anger and fear

there will be feasting and dancing
in jerusalem next year

5. alberta co-op
spooning bulk cashew butter
reminds me
what lies at the root
of all this


poems that hold themselves so open, you can dive in
poems that pulse under the skin of your wrists
poems that break us open
poems that will hold you in the dark
poems that lodge themselves so deep,
they’ll never leave us

poems that other people believe in

which reminds me
i believe in them too

6. thank you note
on lined paper
ripped out of notebook
safe places
and warm dinners
six hours north

7. when the mantra was
i want to know everything about you
you forgot to provide the footnotes
such as
the definition
or the date
of expiration

8. backyard studio
an oasis
of good light
and spaceheat

my first name is intrepid

1. wind that cannot be named
picking up
and tossing
bits of wet
like spinning food processor blade

2. i see spirits
when the air
moves like this
living layers

3. you are on your way
liftoff and earthlanding
maybe this is all
i’ve needed to hear

4. slamming poems up against walls
my teeth along their necks
hot hands shoved into their jeans

5.  view from the nunnery
on this side of the fence
no grass to call greener
just miles of gold

6. tonight’s research:
aircraft carriers
the southern cross

7. arranging a snack plate
take two:
tortilla chips
shannon and i
work has never felt
so much like home

8. no one ever told me
i could do this
in my own poems
no one ever said
the world is yours baby girl
and i am finding the language
to tell myself
and if my middle name is ambition
my first name
is intrepid

the fine art of vowel removal, surgery for words

1. tulsi tea
hot breakfast cereal
cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom
almond slivers
new york times: north korean/south korean family reunions
tears in brothers eyes
who haven’t seen each other in over two decades

2. the fine art of
additions of alliteration
surgery for words

3. photocopier
hungry for my documents
my perfectionism
in this zenith moment

4. two week project
great envelope baby handoff
i can barely let go
mail clerk patient

5. burritosplosion
fork required

6. spotting suki’s volvo
ten minutes later
i buy
10 colors
of 0.3mm markers
for 13 dollars

7. steaming water
three candles
sound of world

8. towel wrapped
blanket wrapped
couch perched
like a spa
complete with pinstriped handsome lad

9. eileen myles kitchen read aloud
still towel wrapped
hair dripping
the essays
like me
more than the poems

10. nicoletta
by the power of human moments
fleetwood mac magic

11. teal sequins
slipped on wrist
bling for the roomclean
tegan and sara accompaniment

12. molly offers marinara
garden tomatoes
stove bubbling
fresh parmesan
filling belly
warming heart

13. hilarity of
an inarticulate
yeah, things and stuff
traveling by horesback
debate team