Paintings with pale sky, wind-buffeted pines and loaded pack horses with wide rumps and blonde manes – ones just like these decorate ten thousand tavern walls. Or curl as calendars in filling stations in blow-away towns. Men in chaps slump over dollar-size belt buckles; their hats fold into conventions of cowboy. This artist painted a Navajo-red thunderbolt on one saddle blanket, an accent to trail-dust hues of boredom. What the armed horseback renegades who occupied the Malheur Refuge had in mind when riding out with an American flag for TV cameras.Read more "Cowboy Art in the University Library"
The cowboy entered on a gray horse. Wearing a white Stetson,
with tan hands, and tight jeans. He rode up to a Walmart
in Eagle Point, Oregon to buy dog food. He heard
a woman scream, pointing to a young man riding off
on her bike. The cowboy cantered after the bike thief,
threw his lasso, brought the kid down, tied him
to a tree and called a policeman who thought
the capture was totally slick.
No trinket nests inside my bra, no metal impress
squishes into blood-red wax, not the otter’s
footprint in the river mud.
Neither ring, clasp, cartouche,
made visible as a jeweled chain
of grief or transient parchment of pain.
Come out of the night of wandering
and settle where I may give you warmth
bound in memory of a naked day
on a mountain full of golden weeds.Read more "The Seal on My Heart This All Soul’s Day"
I feared it would be like pulling teeth,
all hide-and-seek to avoid betrayal, not easy
like removal of a five-year-old’s wiggled incisor.
Then the miracle that my cupped hands
in hers hold water, no leaks,
no protruding river veins or age stains,
they look prayerful rather than begging.
My pointed toe could be bold, an arch
to perfect the gymnast’s leap in open air.
How did this happen?
Did the poet really say she hates commas –
on a lake on a wind-free day or
stepping stones so even your foot
takes for granted a perfect landing
until your ankle turns a way
it was never meant to
and you must wait by the lake
to watch water rinse pebbles
Out of flower now,
yet I smell it and so
must the dogs who
know where the cardinal
was at noon and the red squirrel.
Who knows which
trace is truest –
this one as if someone took
a torch to pearled sugar,
crust on custard,
almost too sweet.
We, or at least I, rely
certain in seeing.
The moon is a firefly
in the pine, a silver flash
above the greenish
flare of beetles.
I’ve waited seven days for this dogwood
to unfurl its white cups, to drink the light
it gathers. Other flowers have passed
their season, our path matted
with pink rhodie remnants,
but the dogwood shows off
in open space between cedar
Sun fills each cup as I witness
from shaded days steeped in protests
heated to burning, to melting,
to truth yelling and tears.
Look for it close to the Amazon warehouse district,
not race tracks or the railroad station.
Don’t expect auto-vacuums or auto-lawnmowers,
it’s a fur-ever home for snuggle pups that don’t grow
into rambunctious black labs and for calico cuddle cats
that purr at any touch and home in on shoulders
in bed. Admission fees are need-based; declare
your loneliness on a scale of one to ten. Best
to come alone for the cheapest price, and best
deals are on Friday just after work, advertised
as Thank God I Feel Friday when you have one hour
for free. Leave your striped tie at home; the goat
teases by trying to chew on ties but gladly accepts
carrots. Shoelaces are sometimes a problem.
the clouds hinted of old bedsheets
left on too long
and then the fog fell clammy
in a downing with the sun
and we were so cold
the wet seemed like wind
and the turns in the road
like twists in a tortured gut
until the steam rose with bravado
from the lonely sugar shack.
Each quarter-turn carries an invitation.
Spring’s on-again, off-again wind calls for séance,
candlesticks and musky incense, perhaps sage.
My mug of coffee cools fast. I do not fight
in-between-ness, transience set in scarcity.
No angels, fireworks, zombies or astronomers’
star stampedes. The clay pots hold slime browns
of marigolds and geraniums that bloomed
last August. The glass table for al fresco July
dining is spread in algae scum. Alder catkins
clog the birdbath. A one-inch Japanese maple
sprouts from the pot that once waved gold feather grass.