Upcoming Events

Tuesday, October 25, 2017, 7 pm

Stories, Stories
The Mercury Cafe 
2199 California St.,
Denver, CO 

 

 

Legal Studies Forum, Vol. XLI, No. 1 & 2, 2017

Restraining Order 

I am watching the freckles

on the back of my fingers

multiply and divide like

lovers under the lens.  The

speaker at my podium

says:  He's my pimp.  Tore

a branch from a tree.   Beat

me.  The branch broke.

I am lifting the law books

down, a  browning obsolete

boulder older than I am,

the weight of a witness

of losses.  The letters of the

law chew on my fingernails,

and now she is saying:

Choked me  . . .  can't

remember the rest.

I am skin closed in

this chair in this black cloth

swallowing more water these days

staying tempered, staying cool,

a surgeon dusting her hands

for powder burns, and suddenly

I look at her, wide-eyed, broken: 

He shouted he'd

kill me.  I don't know if he will.

I am blotting the battered  bench

with a clawed Kleenex, aligning my

pencils just so.  She says justice.  She says

justice.  She says:  He dragged me by my hair. 

My head broke the mirror. 

Do you need to see the pictures?  

 

A Mother's Advice to her Children

 

If you ever get the chance, live with an artist.

Live with an artist and you begin to notice

the shapes of things. 

Even the air around the enormous

sprig of forsythia

in the beer bottle,

the way its presence

makes the room fade away,

its relationship with the white wall,

its simple canvas.

 

Live with an artist and expect food

to slow cook all day

just for the odors of chiles,

the moisture in the kitchen

the falling apart of the meat inside the pot.

You needn't gather the cats.  They will find you.

 

Move in with an artist at least once.

Plant plenty of daffodils,

whatever you can afford. 

And study the light

all day and in every season

before you decide to do

much else.

 

Live with an artist. 

Stay as long as you can. 

Leave if you must, then live with

an accountant.

 

Poetry Is An Act of Love

To love a country is to know its poets.

Is there the soul of a human being in there?

Pure uncertainty yearns in a minor key.

Going out to get a poem is like hunting.

Is there the soul of a human being in there?

Miles said: Don’t play what you know, play what you hear.

Going out to get a poem is like hunting.

It is what the mind takes hold of.

Don’t play what you know, play what you hear.

It is what the mind takes hold of.

To love a country is to know its poets.

As if poetry were an act of love.

 

Zazen

It is a beautiful thing to wake

in the dark chill of October

and go out into it

where a crescent moon

and two stars appear both ahead

and in the rear view mirror

before you even leave home

to sit on the floor

kneecap to kneecap

inhaling the dark clarinet

of your body

only the breath of the tires

the train’s long choo-choo

your pounding throat

a bratty knee

a molecule of coffee still clinging

to the root of your tongue

your eyelids lower now

and in front of you

wrapped shoulders of a robe folded

with empty hands

those hands, that you, that teacher

with the one-word lesson.

 

Quincentenary Poem:  Civic Center Park, 1992

One by one they circle the park,
Eagles facing east from
Courthouse columns
Capitol dome
Museum fortress
The glass rectangular offices of industry.

These are the closed edges of architecture,
This law, this art,
This swallowed literature,
The politics that burn
This island of seeds laid out like tiles On which we march. 

It's another turn of another century,
stage-blood covers the globe,
Stains the pool of buildings
And the books of bones

That do not burn

 

Selected Poems from What Remains (Turkey Buzzard Press, 2016) "Zazen" was previously published as "A Beautiful Thing" in Sage Green Journal and "Quincentenary Poem: Civic Center Park," was published in Colorado Women News July 1993 and Montelibre, 1993.

 

Newest Published Works

Recently published in Mycoepithalamia: Mushroom Wedding Poems, 2016

Autumn in Five Parts

 

            1. 

In early autumn, sunny gusts signal a shift,

            the kind of mystery neighborhood crows warn about.

In the garden, the last zucchini lies down with the cucumber,

            under an enormous frond. 

In its corner, the pumpkin drinks and fattens, drinks and fattens,

            While hailstones pock its holes of memory.

Seeds of armyworms under curled leaves of baby kale

            carry more futures than remains. 

            2.

Across the street, my neighbor cranks a long piece of metal

            under the hood of his pickup. 

For years, he’s never spoken or waved or made eye contact,

            except last January first, when he was shoveling snow.

At the moment he stood to catch his breath, I shouted

            Happy New Year and he lifted his hand, kept shoveling.   

This time, sunlight catches a long filament flying

            from the eave of his house.  Now is time for serious work.

            3.

Drops of water light on silvery cobwebs stretched across mushrooms

             to blades of grass to mushrooms to blades of grass. 

A slow bee probes the yellow mum in the terracotta planter

            just the size and shape of a rabbit. The wind rises. 

My mind rakes the ground under the tall ash while the leaves

            continue to fall one by one, as we do.

 A single crow slides in and out of view. 

4.

How like spiders we are, we aging ladies refusing to go gently,

            grabbing at the forearms of our bossy daughters,

We smile at the neighbors and stomp our feet at doctors,

We are planning our escapes—one will take a bus

            to Dallas and see what happens.                        

One will find the now grown child lost so many years ago,

            and one of us thinks she will stay put. 

5.

Last week, the tangle of planet, sun, and the evenness of days

            Aligned as they should.  Now they begin to unravel. 

Yesterday when I opened the garage to grab the rake,

            a six-sided spider web filled the doorway .

When I stepped in, the web snapped.  I felt the force of it

            against my forehead. 

I heard the sound of the trap.

 

 

 

In 2016 my first book of poems, What Remains, was published by Turkey Buzzard Press http://turkeybuzzardpress.org.  

I published 250 copies of my poem book, Re-stitching the Sky, signed and numbered, handset, designed, letterpress printing with sewn binding done by Tom Parson.  This book is not for sale, but may be used for educational purposes.  


Thirteen Poems

Links to each poem posted on the site

 

Ten Ways of Looking at the West--SageGreen Journal

a beautiful thing -- SageGreen Journal

Glenn Miller Was Missing -- War, Literature and the Arts

The Drama of the Long Distance Runners -- Thinking Women:  Intro to Women's Studies

Red on Her Fingers -- Tumblewords: Writers Reading the West

Quincentenary Poem: Civic Center Park -- Colorado Women News and Montelibre

Just Ice -- Texas Journal on Women and the Law

Dead Baby -- The Denver Quarterly

Restraining Order -- The Colorado Lawyer

Cold Water Wash -- Texas Journal on Women and the Law

A Mother's Advice to Her Children -- The Colorado Lawyer

White Rain -- Ms. Magazine

Letter to Muriel Rukeyser at the End of the Twentieth Century -- Denver Press Club Poetry Award, published in Chokecherries, SOMOS, Taos, N.M., 2012.

 

Glenn Miller Was Missing

Glenn Miller was missing.  Somewhere over the English Channel,
his plane went down in December 1944.  You'd been drafted,
even with a wife and two daughters to support and
day work in a defense plant and night work in the clubs,
your teeth clamped onto the reed of  a saxophone,  chin tucked in,
neck thrown back under the black and silver clarinet.
Even in your tuxedo, you were slated for war.   
If Glenn Miller could die, you could die.
I don't know what it looked like,  you two too scared to be
separated.  They say your bags were packed for months.
You had to be ready to go.  Even the birth of a third child
couldn't stop it now.

By Springtime in Berlin Hitler was dead, or so it was reported. 
The war camps were being emptied of some, and filled with others. 
The boys were coming home, but no one was sure
whether to celebrate or not.  No one knew if you might still have to go
or not.  The war with Japan continued. Scientists were speeding their experiments. 
Khaki uniforms crisscrossing the globe.  Drop the bomb.
Alternative plans on the political front. Pressure from the Allies. 
Hurry before they do it first!  Americans were sick of war.  
In August, there were Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I was born
forty days later.  In the hospital my mother counted all
my  fingers,  all my toes.  A baby whose father never had to go. 

It's as though it was set like a bomb fifty years ago,
and now it goes off  when the phone rings and it's my mother
calling  to hear my voice and she asks me if I know
that she is leaving by air transport.  She says,
I'm leaving for the war, and her 85 year old voice begins to tremble.
Will you take care of my children? she begs me,  warning,
it's a big job.   She is making these last requests of me,
This woman forever in fear of what the neighbors would say
this woman whose  sins I am sick to death of listing
and won't.  I think

how brave she is, this warrior, packed for the end, ready to give her all
for her country.  So I lie to her, and I tell her
of course I will take care of the children, they are such good girls.  I wish her luck 
and thank her for the sacrifice she is making  for us all. 
I pray you'll be home by Christmas, I say over the phone,
 and I mean it.  Her voice sounds so sad. I hope so, she whispers.
I imagine her head is down, phone at her ear, talking into her breasts,
loose now in a loose gown.  And then it is quiet.
I am lost in this when she starts to laugh.
I've been sitting here with the other girls, she tells me. 
Jane had a date last night.  I just don't know why Daddy
hasn't come to pick me up.  She begins
talking about you,

You over there on her dresser in the white tuxedo
with the black bow tie, your wavy hair so light,
your  green eyes young in smoky shades of sepia,
and folded in the other photo next to you
As you two were in the mahogany bed,
is this delicate young dark-eyed woman,
a farm girl pretending sophistication, a studio portrait,
something taken in the thirties, hinged there forever
looking out, not at us, not at each other, you have become
not even you, but Youth, so sweet
So strange to hear my mother now asking for you,
when the last time I saw you, your neck muscles
were finally surrendering to the pillow.
Anita wrapped your dentures in Kleenex.
I tried to tie my silk scarf around your head
to keep your slack mouth shut, but the weight was too much
or the scarf was too narrow, or my will to force the act was too weak,
and we dragged home to tell our mother. 
We lied to her that your death had been painless. 
Now we conspire again to protect her
and I wonder if that's what you did
when she says she saw you just the other day and
you acted like you didn't even know her.  I would never
cheat on Jimmy, she says to me now, I love him so much,
but now I don't know if he loves me.  Why doesn't he
come and get me?  I love him so very much, she repeats, more and more desperate. 
So I tell her you are nearby and she is safe right where
you want her to be, and she agrees that it's all for the best.
She calls me by her sister's name, lifts her voice, pauses and asks me,
and how are the children? 

One thing I can't explain is how I feel when people say
it must be so hard to see your mother's mind fail,
when I feel like finally, finally,
all of her places and years come pouring out to me.
And I think it is me she tells these things to
only because I am here, and because
when Glenn Miller was missing and
she was afraid of war and so were you, 
you comforted her all night long.
So that now, nine months and fifty years later
when I walk through the door
with my trench coat folded over my arm,
she looks long into my green eyes,
and she thinks I am you.

"Glenn Miller Was Missing," was published in War, Literature and the Arts, 1997 and in Thomas J. Cooley Journal of Clinical and Practical Law, 2001.   It won a Clincal Legal Education Association poetry award.

The Drama of the Long Distance Runners  

--Dedicated to workers in the battered women's movement

I watch you in the court
House coffee shop.  Sitting next to
The angry young woman.  The one with
A newborn tied to her chest.  Fear
And despair criss-cross her back.  You

Listen to her insults.  She storms away.  You
Chase after her touch her
Cold shoulder, her tears on the brink.  You
Hand her a card your
Home number on it.  Her
Link to hope on
Some other day
Some other day.  Some

Other day she calls you
Her lawyer and sets a date and later
You rant about her she
Didn’t show up she
Didn’t even call.  At night you

Sip your bourbon and seven you
Empty your pockets you
Search for change you
Search for change you
Have to know:

Is she safe?  Is she still
Alive?  On your way home you

Check the back seat, look over your
Shoulder form your card to our
Door.  At midnight you
Search for keys you
Rattle the kitchen lock one more time before you
Climb the stairs weary
To bed.

I watch you
Her therapist prepare your
Testimony your
Expert psychological testimony  you
Review the research you
Draft the report with your
Clinical observations you
Substantiate your opinions
Bear witness to corroborate her
Reality with your colder, calmer
Objectivity.  You try to balance her
Accounts, reconcile your perceptions with
Those of your science and those of the law.

Sometimes you stare at the wall and you
Cry.  You sit there cradling her fate
So carefully in your learned, aging hands.

I swallow
The Sunday news with my coffee.
Yet another women killed by her
Husbandwhoshothimselftoo.  But
This one,

This one might have been mine,
This one,

Had I not been book up
And had to say no,

This one,

Had she had the money on Thursday
Instead of on Monday,

This one.  I enter the funeral
Home to see her dead body
Dressed like a bride in a box

This familiar stranger I
Talked to over the phone
Once.

This one

Whose Monday appointment Ia
Can now scratch from my book.  You
Sign the book at the funeral for this one
And open this book to write a poem for

This one.

Published in Thinking Women:  Introduction to Women’s Studies, Kendall-Hunt, 1995.