Out here, we read everything as a sign.
The coyote in its scruffed coat,
bending to eat a broken persimmon on the ground.
The mess of crows that fills the apple tree,
makes a racket, lifts off.
In between, quiet.
The winter fog is a blank.
I wish I could make sense
of the child’s empty bed,
the bullet hole though my brother’s heart.
The mailman drops a package
on the front stoop and the neighbor’s dog
won’t stop barking. I tread
down the stairs, lightly.
Because we can’t know
what comes next, we say,
The plum tree is blooming early.
There are buck antlers lying in the grass.
A mountain lion left its footprints by the bridge.
---New Letters, Vol 80, no. 3 and 4
Reading My Valentine’s Poem to Frank X. Gaspar
In the poem, I stand behind the counter,
stripping leaves and thorns from long-stemmed roses
flown from Ecuador, tossing them into a pile at my feet.
Leaving only the blooms: the ruffled pink
of “Precious Moments,” the dusky “ Black Magic,”
“Wanted,” its crisp, scalloped edge. I don’t care, he says to me
about the men who come to buy the flowers.
What I want to know is what is this woman doing
to the sex organs of these plants?
I am thirty-two, and in love, again, this time
with a man whose name rolls off my tongue
like water. I’m afraid of hope.
A husband gone, a lover buried in the waves.
And what about the men
who buy the dark petals that say
this is how I want to open you. This flower
reminds me of your flower.
I wrap bouquet after bouquet in bright tissue,
give them to boys in frayed jeans,
to businessmen talking on their cell phones,
who walk away, bearing the weight
of these intricate ambassadors, these small failures,
bred, not for fragrance, but their ability to endure.
There are pinpricks of blood
along the flesh of my palm.
There is so much we cannot say.
--The American Poetry Review, Vol. 44/NO. 3
We rode all afternoon along the barren creek bed
jumping boulders, kicking up dust, clutching the coarse manes.
I wrapped my thin thighs around the bulging sides
and hung on. It didn’t matter there were horse flies,
heat, the itch against our legs, the dry grass full of ticks
and ready to catch fire. We were ten years old and flying
past fields fringed with oak and aspen, held skyward--
the earth, its rough stones and clumps of nettle--
weightless below. For a while, we’d forget
our spiral notebooks covered in glittered stickers,
the careful shape of the words we etched inside,
the sardine can of the yellow bus where boys
elbowed us in the ribs, grazing the small cones of our breasts.
Whatever it was our fathers drank from the bottles
they kept above the sink, whatever our mothers cursed
as they soaked the dirty dishes, straightened the sheets,
we were beyond it now, crashing down into the empty creek,
only to lift back up into the summer air.
We were that light, that far outside the laws of gravity.
Nothing could touch us.
The Moons of August, Autumn House Press 2014
The Watch: American Poetry Review
Dust: American Poetry Review
Pigeons: The New York Times
The God of Numbers: The Sun
Fictional Characters: The Sun and read by Garrison Keillor
Names:The Writer's Almanac, read by Garrison Keillor
The Lord God Bird: Rattle
Insha'Allah: American Life in Poetry
Bio: The Poetry Foundation