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Willow and Pecan, Hackberry and Huisache


Not a language of grief
the well rehearsed green chorus
bends to one side. A sleek blackbird erupts.

a chainsaw. Somewhere
a leaf blower. Somewhere

a clock ticks in a room
where doves query one-two
and three hah hah over there
a pear go comb
your hair go say
a prayer oh don’t
be scared  opulent

pink flames at the window
western sky graying

shadow wants the streets

still body on the bed. Dove lusters
Go now. Go.

Oh oh oh from the trees.

Willow and Pecan, Hackberry and Huisache


The day before snow hills crest subatomic, dyed turquoise
of the Indian tourist bracelet, reactor pool
chaos. Wind rattles
coin colored cottonwood

coin of stories told to children not memory’s alloy
coin of light on still water

or when a stranger takes your arm asks tonight where you’ll sleep.
Coin of rejection coin of the quick response

holding onto the coin of silence coin of the empty room
coin of the red wine in the glass.


Country dark is not the well understood city dark
its neon and taillight. Country dark is pitch

never mind the star-gabbling sky.
You can’t buy your way out of it.


Wind ruffles black fur
as if beauty helped. Art is long buddies.

Glossy black cows give full attention
heifers with calves pulling at their tits.

A combine rakes a new mown field for the last time
scrapes a final bale or two from leavings.

Now the calves are gone.
The cows holler all night.

Country flares on the radio. I need a good man. Oh yeah.

Tell it to the highway.


Run your hand across the hillside
a pale brown nap against the palm. Soft furred
neck of a toothless horse

gumming a carrot. Not so cold today the wind dying down
small leaves of the blue alfalfa

pushing one way and another
a crowd scene by Eisenstein, the pheasant
hiding itself

as it ran ducking its body low and flat

a wake of ripple through the blue
anyone could track.


Yellow cottonwood leaves fall to earth, wealth
to kick through on a green lawn in the arid West
thick as snow falling silvery

on bronco bucking cowboys in plastic domes stacked by the checkout

of the Sheridan Wal-Mart. In the blue field

feathers spill
not from a pillow
soft brown or slightly copper where filaments
thin near the tips
and on the road the gold brown heap

greenish black head neck twisted.
Two scared up in the same place today

dun female and gaudy male. Clumsily
he ran from the field then was airborne so heavily
anyone could bring him down.

 tooke her, and lay with her, and defiled her

Yawning, she did not look closely at the skin
on the backs of her well shaped hands and wrists, that network

of concentric grooves and parallelograms
like crisscrossings on clay soil when a dry spell

follows rain. Rubbing her hands, she began to consider
time, though not yet death. He was in her dream,

turning to look at her, with eyes that looked black but she knew
their true shade, a dark, almost reddish, brown. She put

a single finger to his eyebrow, his eyelid, each corner
of his mouth,  as though to indicate a choice

of what was rarest among so much beauty. She considered
the outward form, pleasure warming

her breasts and her arms and her body’s inward parts, no voice
naming foul, not yet a thynge soyled

a mayde deflouered, the convolvulus furling
its tissue bell. She touched her lips to it

she shook her head. Remaining absolutely still she held her breath
like someone listening, then broke away,

rose and sighed, putting hand to unruffled hair. He was
prudish and half naked,

she whitely dressed by the glare of noon. Color flamed in her cheeks.
She did not yet not love herself .

The Dozen Crows Calling Blackly




White bodied woman at the window

of the brick house that rouges

a white morning. Come back to bed


from the unwound sheets. Only what’s observed

the black crow caw


not a dog’s bark

black diagonal echo

unwinding peel

knife paring

seeking pith every morning


gray squirrel shooting down a wet limb

every morning the slide down


an arm raised against

eyelids’ red scald

Soft Music

the empty, very empty, great empty, and all empty
  Highest Yoga Tantra



Lowspread the live oak leaves rattle


money in a cup. Fat whitewing doves

teeter on the power line. Soft music


having severed any relationship with

the body, she does not think

 “my body”

a fingernail ringing, four times,

a crystal rim,

a hesitation between

the first two calls and the last


a middle place

lasting seven days but these days

are very long

millions of years

what absurdity









Grapelike sparrows in the eaves

soft racheting wings. Sweet fuss.

Usually no one in the room.


The emaciated woman

hairless gaunt woman


lift of shoulderblades wings’ absence


and after death a hungry ghost exits

from the mouth. If it is to be born

a god of desire,

the navel









Bruised (needle scars) flesh puckers

breeze quivering over smooth water

rainpocked sand


She raises a skinny arm to feel fog-hovering new hair

pats her head carefully


a god of magic

the ear


Knees give way. One hand steadies on the wall.

the other feeling what must be hair. A white mist

like wet dark limbs around them green haze collects.


a human exits from the eye









Are the leaves solid black?

No the sky’s grimed gauze

tunnels into the room where TV bodies

lie oddly angled in blooming loud fire


deafness within deafness

only smoke


fireflies appearing

in the dark

she does not know

what to call them


she cannot understand

what is rough what is smooth










Silken reassurance this tangle

the final diving into deep water


very clear emptiness

mind of the clear light


black and silklike sweet

licorice mucky

earth savor

Nothing Moving




Nothing moving even skin and bones


bamboo holding breath above that euphemism

grass. Then a wavering lazily


like paper streaming. This there this not there

a body live and then a flutter


and a body still. Like burnt matches

smell of fennel comes into a room


where he readies for the tunnel with its blindness.

He lies in dark and waits for roiling orbs of light. Sometimes


a silver flutter like a manta ray.

Sometimes a woman.

Are you afraid?


Not even at the trembling bed


though someone seemed to sit down

someone seemed to lie beside him. Soon


dark again and soon the bed was still. So much coming going


the opening mouth its barking squeak. Then another.

Muscles loosen.


Everything is over now I can assure you.

There is no breath.

As if twitching bedclothes


she curved the legs and then the creature seemed to merely

sleep. This there this not there you can’t follow.

Lizard Dream




Lightning zippers the dark while the house riffs

electrified nonsense

night’s threadbare song.


A green lizard hesitates on the doorframe,

one two one two shaking its

thumbnail wedge head


grass labyrinths, wings descending.


Ease her

from her chair, walk her to the bed. White sheets feel good.


Rain-scattered bird eggs on the driveway in the morning,

needle-holed, membranes pierced. Drenched

cannas loll toward the house

red tongues blabbing.







inconspicuous flowers


the base of some leaves cupped like the bowls of spoons


the milkweed seed’s fine tuft of silk hair

the wind takes


the pulpy tissue of cholla


the touched stamens of the prickly pear flower

that curl and twist inward


the longflowered four o’clock that only lives at dusk

when the pure white flowers unfold


long purple filaments and orange antlers


the hawkmoths with extremely long tongues


madrone gingko magnolia the sacred datura also pure white

but the margins tinged lavender


the hawkmoths stumbling

from one flower to the next


stiff and succulent and armed with sturdy spines at the tip

the century plants that live much less than one hundred years


bats and hummingbirds visit

the bats’ bright yellow pollen stained heads



their fragrance

she calls it


silvery foliage and magenta flowers of locoweed


the listlessness the staggers the blindness the death



she is

large and clumsy












the shrieking jay appears at the door

diving from the coin sized leaves of the oak


a hand to protect her eyes and on the path

the still warm

blue tufted

small bird


she lifts it

its weight less than air


at the base of the tree a bed of blue vinca growing


she parts the fingertip leaves

and closes them over the small body


in her palm almost nothing


and only then is the bird overhead silent


though not too far away a black dog barks


maybe it wants water











male and female the skin so warm like velvet on the bone


claiming dominion over everything that moves


in the cool of the day they hid

damp leaves sliding around her body


now the serpent more subtil

and the small lithe lizard pauses

under his chin a red bubble inflates


a sparrow lands on a limb and then another sparrow

lands on the first sparrow and there is a sound

like bells clinking


who told you you were naked

it will hurt to bear children

your husband will rule you

the land will bear thistles and thorns


her flame gutters and in her eyes ash


his shadow falls over her he was still


bringing her food

she turns her face toward him


oh not that face he cries


you will eat your sweat with your bread until you

return to dust


she looks at her fingers

nails rippled like sand

needlelike curlicues of skin flinging themselves

away from the bed of the nail

little skin flags


everyday the leaves rust

pale tan spatters and wrinkled pink

louverings of bone


am I going to die now if so I would just like to

get it over with













hang on


trust me


you know I

love you


don’t you


sunset’s confusing shock and then the

inking in












shale limestone dolomite chert


shallow marine origin of sandstone

supporting post oaks acacias cacti

the Edwards plateau and the Riogrande plain


a hidden salt bed

moving and dissolving


the small green lizard

pausing on a rock near spiky aloe


each day hot and then wet


the soaked earth exhaling


the cool the dank the small the biting the rasp the hard


the absence that is night











she pleads

don’t make me cry


she is detaching now you must let her go


as if the black shapes named leaves

force themselves through the gauze

between her and it

whatever the it is


the air green the unstoppable grass and green water

lapping at the door where up the wall

gray snails labor



smells like damp sheets that lie

molding in a pile


at the last rough dispersal


the rankling grass of the yards whose wax smelling trees

something long hidden in all this

ugly green

the too many voices the too much

rain talk bird talk car tires

shushing a wet street


then a collision

of air


dark chorale


her dream of lizards heat birds and bristling grass

her what if

there will never be another dream


each blade at sharp angle fierce tickle



was I happy


what was pleasure

“Nothing Moving” and “Soft Music” appear in the anthology the land of wandering,
published by Printmakers Left in 2005
and distributed by University of Virginia Press.


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