I don’t know what to say. Or how.
Feeling that I am on the upslope,
not close. Not wrong. I want
to be that hollowed space
in the hackberry’s trunk,
the calm of darkened light.
And more. Some honey, dripped
from the spoon. A house finch,
fluttering. I will whittle my losses,
carve out needs. She will tell me
the history of our days. She will
smile, engrave her initials on my
chest. Somehow, the birds still
sing. Somehow, dawn trickles in.
“Somehow Dawn” was first published in August 2019 at Vox Populi. I am grateful to Michael Simms for his support, and am thrilled to be a regular contributor to this lively publication.
Which looms wider, its sky or water? The birds, here, too,
reconvene in greater streaks. This morning I stomped around
Paisano, examining the grasses and soil, the rocks and various
configurations of clouds, and listened to experts discuss
prescribed burns and how the land’s contours can determine
sequence and efficacy. The mockingbird whose territory
we occupy has disappeared. Perhaps he’s just moved on.
I heard a red-bellied woodpecker yesterday, but never saw it,
and of course the rattlers at the ranch are still underfoot, just
less apparent this time of year. I looked closely, as always,
but never spied one. What else did I miss? The rich people
on the bluffs bulldoze habitat, poison creeks and erect their
Italianate villas, caring not a whit for the breeding warblers
or the landscape, although they might pony up a few bucks
for an environmental charity if sucked-up to properly. Given
a choice between the two, I’d pick the snakes every time;
they don’t smile or offer spiked drinks and stories of their
conquests, and usually warn before striking. Even a minor
deity might take offense and crack open a new fault in the
earth between this place and theirs, widening it by inches
with each presumption, every falsehood, whether shaded
in unrelated facts or illogic, until that shifting space could
be spanned solely by a bridge planked with truth and good
manners, and, yes, by mutual consent. Looking back, I
find many examples of these bridges collapsing in utero,
but we keep trying. Your story of the gulf coast storm
reminded me of weeks spent on calm water, and seeing,
no matter where I turned, blue meeting blue, from horizon
to horizon, the sky never broken by bird or cloud, born
anew each day, always looking between, never down.
“Gulf” was published in West Texas Literary Review in March 2017.
I breathe when you breathe,
and watching me,
you capture each lost molecule.
This book blinks whenever you turn the page.
I see you between the words, between the white threads.
You are the adored chapter, the one I read in bed before
sleep, and after I wake, before the first wren announces
dawn, then in the afternoon’s highest point, when shadows hide,
and later, as they emerge to stroke your bare shoulder.
What’s on the other side, you ask. What do you hear?
Your breath, I say. Your name.
“When Shadows Hide” was first published in the print anthology Epiphanies and Late Realizations of Love in February 2019.
Small, they grow in the lee stones,
invisible except when blooming.
Just as the vulture’s wings blot the sun
and the moment blinks away
in the bottle tree’s glare.
An incidental flick. A distraction.
Like every unspoken word
tumbling down that long hill.
“Lace Cactus” first appeared in Tistelblomma, a publication out of Sweden. Many thanks to editor Jenny Enochsson for taking this piece.
Roasting peppers on the grill, I inhale
the odors of freshly sawed lumber
and turned earth. My back and knees
recall the doing, as I rejoice in the memory
of the new maul pounding rebar through
the timber’s holes into the ground.
I place the blackened peppers into a
paper wine bag where they’ll steam.
The saw rests on its shelf next to the
drill. The beer tastes bitter. Perfect.
“The Pleasure of the Right Tools” first appeared in Winnow Magazine in July 2020. I am grateful to Rachael Crosbie, Tristan Cody and friends for taking this poem.