Your Words Still in This Place

soon after we parted
but then against the General’s command
we drove the boy out beyond the salt flats
to the northern edge of the mountains
where he said for a thousand years
no one would wake him

you spoke you remembered
how he could not grow a mustache
not like the revolutionaries and caudillos
he could not clear his lungs
in the desert air
we stoned him for taunting the Chihuahua
stolen from Arango himself
but he loved his family name and honor
more than all men

Read more "Your Words Still in This Place"

Collateral Damage

Mother died. Father fled. Chaos ensued
as though I were swarmed by hornets

unloosed from a nest hidden high above.
His second marriage magnified the buzz

and stings, my hands tied behind my back.
After seventy years, there’s still a gallery full

of fierce memories. The debris of the natural
disaster that divided self-before from self-after.

I fold and refold the blanket of experience,
unable to make the whole lie flat again.

Read more "Collateral Damage"

Open Carry

Babies, ice cream cones, umbrellas, cell phones, walking sticks,
Groceries, the newspaper, a fresh pizza, flowers for the one you love,
Car keys, a purse, pen and paper, a snack, reading glasses,
A book, two books, a Bible, a pair of gloves, lip balm, a lipstick,
Bicycle helmet, a hairbrush, gum and breath mints, a hand mirror,
Earbuds and a pocket watch, a penknife, nail clippers,
Camera, screwdriver, hammer and pliers, a wrench,
Flip-flops and a towel, a folding chair, a handkerchief,
Which is a very strange word when you look at it,
A Leatherman, another strange word, but we got used to it

Read more "Open Carry"

Garden

The dad plants a garden
in tiny yard in front
of six family
digs up dead rose and forsythia.

In school the kid
gets a box of seeds
to sell for PTA.
The kid don’t know anyone with land
for growing all stuck in apartments.

The dad buys four packs,
marigolds, portulaca,
zinnia, balsam.
The dad finds old bricks
makes a ring in center of garden
to fill with flowers
and all along front border,
tomatoes, cukes, peppers
all fit into little yard.

Read more "Garden"

Ingredients

They say salt
was once so precious
that soldiers were paid in it—a salary.

A common, bitter thing
I add salt’s tear-tang to the dough
and feel my wrist and bicep work

(the ingredients of my life
are not measurable things
though I feel them pulse just out of sight)

now I see the sight I always see
out the kitchen window
as I knead and knead and knead

Read more "Ingredients"

What the Snow Covers

is the witnessing grass
pressed down by boot
in joy or fear and
cut by dangerous blades
and neighbor’s gazes.

What the snow uncovers
is the secret parade,
the pawed passage
of shivering midnight
moonlight scavengers.

What the snow covers
is its own white with
further white, soft light
made heavy after its
nomadic fall, the flakes
ache to settle, nestle, wait.

Read more "What the Snow Covers"

Homework

In science class we learned
the hottest point of steam
is at the tip of the teapot spout—
where streams of swelling heat
rupture the cooler air.

After school, I do my homework
upstairs in my room.
My kid sister murmurs
somewhere,
playing family on her own.

When the clock clicks four
the stacks of the factory moan,
and the sky
gets smudged with smoke.

Read more "Homework"