The Salton Sea

It is an hour before sunrise on the western edge of the Salton Sea. The moon has set this early January morning and the stars are either falling in or away—depending on how long you look.

To the east the horizon seems two-dimensional, like black gauze draped over a thin line of light in pale yellow and salmon. In the foreground, silhouettes of long dead trees add the illusion of dimension and mark the drowning of a former shoreline. Where I stand, a foot of water covers two feet of soft, silty mud.

Silence, like a downdraft from the cosmic void above, creates an auditory setting that is equivalent to white noise. Then, from a mile away, a dog’s barking arrives with such clarity that I can tell which way he is facing. When silence resumes, my self-awareness comes into question as I am without sensory input—save the fantasy of vision.

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Summer Lusters

I.
Lace things in a hotel room, on a pier.
Your grainy bangs.
Neck, shoulders, pyre-light time of day.
Whisper of ocean in your mouth, the wish for a breathing horizon.

II.
My old capacity
to trust: it was a gift. Speechlessly I waited.
Ideas were ovoid and hostile.

Where was she?

III.
Even now, while you’re far off, I feel you touching me
as in the making.
Moth-like kisses on face and hands
as space opens
where the rapine of waves dispersed the grains.

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On Losing It All

Having fingers guarantees
nothing, I found out.

It was in a cave near
Sils im Engadin that
I learned this,
the unflagging dark
a rocky womb open
as a way of closing in.

I pinch at the tiny rocks
on the ground for hours,
until going backwards

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When the End is Near

I don’t know what to expect
because I never died before.
Maybe I will be greeted by
A pair of blue unicorns or
a rainbow and a waterfall
or colorful birds singing my
favorite tunes or I might see
a night sky filled with stars
I once saw on a summer night,
only now I will finally get to see
the man in the moon releasing
all those silvery shooting stars.

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The Girl Who Wanted Soup

She rose at 3:15 from her plastic chair,
the wooden desk carved with curses.
Her bones began to sing.
She ran home to unwed shoes,
lost socks, and blue shadows,
chores to complete until dark,
criticism swallowed like bites of tough meat.

She focused on the bright stars,
the winter air, crisp as a white shirt,
and soup.

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Cowboy Art in the University Library

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.

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Say The Word

today come around to telling me
and I will believe

you say you’re better in email
but a word
is hollowed and lost
blazing through starry cyberfields in the night hours
constellations overflow, echoless
a dipped arrow lands nowhere, pierces no heart
the would-be elixir never encounters the throbbing soul

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Summer Ended Long Ago

I was the woman going home
after a hard day.

I took the long way
across the soccer field,
no one was playing,
the clouds tasseled.

If there were still good things
in this world
I wanted to feel it in the ground
that holds me up,

catches me when I fall.

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A Clandesence of Angels

I live in the lavender gut of a horse, a beating heart just beyond the wall. And beyond that two old ladies sip tea on a white porch in the crabapple South, hoping for something that might squirrel up out of the ground, the age-old ground, the Southern ground, the ground at the top of a hill: a thin line of angels listening all boneless and hospitable from above, managing nothing with their tiny, modest, angel hands, hands that might just as well be days of the week. The long-gone Civil War is wearing a small red-and-gold cap once worn by an organ grinder’s monkey.

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