Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Snake come crawling
in my garden
snake come stinking
in my green
Old snake and i go way back
Don't like the way he stings

get back old snake i said get
get back where you belong

snake come crawling
in my garden
snake come stinking
in my song

cant keep on singing snake
where you  

old blue heavy on my back
snake slide by so sweet and black
pick up go on now
sing your song
cant sing my song no more

hoe hangs heavy in my hand
lay that burden down
gonna lay down in my garden
black snake wrapped around

i said get back
but now i'm gonna lay me down

look up at the bean threads
and the hot sun looking down

Saturday, July 30, 2016

birdsong breakfast

breakfast: black coffee
perched on the front door steps
in birdcrammed morning

its brash black smell steams into air
thick with sound,
curling around the stars and loops
spirals and whistles, pip! pip!s
spurts and whirrrs--

the sun smudge smiling blearily
into birdchat like seed full berry jam
thick heaped on toast

while muted insect trills and hums
pack thick the background
music crushed and sugar-sweet
buzz and rattle

Hear! Hear! Here! rawthroated cock
bragging and chortling
glad to be crowing up
the sun. The sun up, glowing
like warmed butter drips
and melts in every cranny
of (now)

Thursday, July 21, 2016


I will fill up the cupboards with coffeecups
and wineglasses
with mismatched plates

i will fill up the days
with sisters. Their children
will fill up the rooms with scattered toys,

and i will not count the days since i vacuumed
or apologise for the spiders spinning in the corners

i will go out for chairs, or linens, and come back with more books
i will dress myself and your children in secondhand clothes that almost fit
until i am grown up enough to do differently

i will cook beans and cornbread
and buy sixdollar wine
and cry because i wrote poems
instead of cleaning the bathrooms
i will save ten dollars from the grocery budget
and send my brother twenty

we will invite families anyway
to eat stories from yardsale plates
with dented flatware,
good stories

Oh, our backyard weeds will rejoice
and i will go on hoping
mopping sometimes, sometimes moping

it is a nice home you have provided
with its doorposts
its doorposts
and doorposts
and doorposts
It will hold a lot of truth
it has room for hope


My husband says, "I have provided a nice house for my family"
which is true.
I hear gratitude in his voice, and well-earned pride
He has worked hard for this.

Thanks? i return

prickling inadequacies and resentment
bunched and crumpled into a three year old's bouquet
(don't give me nice things)

Three bedrooms. A kitchen--a large kitchen. A dining room. A living room. A den. Two full bathrooms. A laundry room. One hallway. Seven closets.
Wide rooms, long rooms
yawning and looming
We have spread out our odds and ends into the gape:
a chair here, the Wal-Mart futon, your particleboard computer desk.
We have, at least, plenty of bookshelves, plenty of books,
too much plenty of what i call my junk
(mostly craft supplies i will never use
and things we might need someday, in ten years)
when i am being polite

A room for each child: daughter, son
i have folded and stacked their clothes in little plastic baskets
4 for a dollar at Goodwill

Oh, it is a delicious extravagance
to wear these many rooms, these empty rooms
The weight of them draped
(undraped) around my neck
in their long spaces.
(and worst) un-corner-dusted
 Cinderella draping herself in stepsister necklaces
preening and mocking
They are heavy,
they sparkle,
look at all that zircon!
--her fists tight around the locket
her mother's locket
which is brass--

Really, you see
(don't sneeze) i am afraid.
How can i inhabit these wide rooms, these many rooms?
As greasy smoke--
i will dissipate
Fade into their grinning spaces
into mere traces of grime i was
Too poor white trash to clean weekly

Friday, June 24, 2016


Oh God Who speaks Your Name-- to us--

Oh God! My mouth, my mind is full of straws,
To hold so fierce a fire:  I cannot plait
them thick enough -- the hunger of that Name
consumes these boxes. These cardboard shoeboxes
i inherited, or made. i decoupaged with third grade
Sunday School paper pictures: pinkblonde Jesus
reaching stiff arms toward such clean, white friends--

I read Your words, and watch my pictures burn.
For in this revelation the earth groans, and splits --
Rivers dry up. Seas tremble. Oceans churn.
Angels, radiant and fierce, shout out their joy. And stars
Turn cartwheels out of chaos, round what unspoken hinge
You only cherish. --
And justice burns. It marks the time like liquid stone
Boiling and flowing, hardly seen, until the appointed day has come --
And that day will come. --

Oh Love -- that Love that measured out the stars
In their million million flagrances -- that knows
Too, the ceaseless communings of their smallest parts --
That longhearted Love that sits outside of Time
That Love that burns, that pierces, cuts, and scrapes away  --
That wrapped Itself in particles -- in skin -- to walk
for love among us -- Oh Love Who will come again --

How can paper bear a live and burning star?
Yet may these words, burned up to smoke arise
Incense to You -- not sweet of what they are,
But sweet for what they long for.
Sweet for their Desire
Toward which, in Which, by Which they are set fire

reference: the Book of Job. Not done yet.

Monday, June 20, 2016

garden (repost, 2013)

so we come again to the garden

walking these our footworn paths
hand in hand
survey the land that now unjungled sighs,
settles into these tilled and wellsown fields

to docile groves, to humble carrot patches
the sweet rioting of vines contained and pruned

to fragrance of green breaths
to bees rejoicing anthems as they toil

what jungles may have been, what bitter thorns
now, stem by stem, and sweatbathed, all uprooted

those bones that writhed with shrill wormjoyful stink
rotting now quietly beneath their trees
sweetening the dark and tender soil

here we have cultivated love, and conversation
fed with delight, with honey and ripe peaches

let us return now to the good bread of toil, to salt the earth
let us brownarmed and strong together
let us raise our beesong too of work and rest

Sunday, June 19, 2016

First contact

So now there is a we

each hearing in our own tongue
(do you have a tongue at all? or three? Idioms
are the first to break

across the gap
of minds
stars apart

The translator gives us these words
for webs
a spiderbridge across
a galaxy

they touch our hearts like silk
or the memory of fingers)

This we!
(What you say comes to my ears wrapped
in the colours i can hear:

your words stare out
with shark eyes


my words in your mouth
are tied to something that)

i cannot understand