Poems from Cracked Piano
Evening tidings, the preparations,
each nestle, each cheep, like chicks calling,
the winnowing anomie, all
come to call too late, come
to call for sleep.
How a mother can change from angel
to sour mudqueen of all decay
by those who feel the sting, by those
who cry out.
Flail my heart upon the stone
in the grove near the riverbank,
rushing water to the river break.
Even the known becomes unknowable.
Their small eyes look at me like chicks
gathered against rain, staved.
Thin rivulets of fear, running-away-
with-itself fear, fearful fear.
No one can talk to you, no one
can listen, no one can touch you.
This is not stillness, this is not the keeper
of the estuary of the deep.
Don’t forget me, don’t forget
that hill the horses cantered
you down to the bottom land.
From this stone, ageless heart,
Remember your mother,
a mother who loved her children.
First published in Prairie Schooner. Also published in The Lunatic Ball, Kattywompus Press, 2015, and in Cracked Piano, Laurelbooks Imprint, CavanKerry Press, 2019.
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IDIOT’S GUIDE TO COUNTING
How do you become one
with the horse, riding and becoming
the act of riding,
and the horse becoming the self
and the other at exactly
the same second, counting strides,
counting muscle movement,
counting fences, hurtling over
them with the horse, counting
How do you count, how do you
pull a muscle turning over
in bed at night—measurements
that change everything, counting
back to everything, the everything
of one, the pulled muscles of the back
of one, the entanglement
of one, the waves of particles
counting back, the quantum?
How to become one with
the branches of a tree, a grandfather
tree in an apple orchard
that no longer exists?
from tree, horse,
counting numbers, counting
the grandfather tree
to find the solution of
Counting trees, leaves, counting
everything as no longer
trees as one with the everything
that no longer exists.
First published in Blackbird. Also published in The Lunatic Ball, Kattywompus Press, 2019; in Cracked Piano, LaurelBooks Imprint, CavanKerry Press, 2019; in the anthologies enskyment Online Anthology of Poetry, edited by Dan Masterson, 2018; and Reflections Pool: Poets and the Creative Process, edited by Laurance Carr, 2018.
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It was the thought of his entering
their infant’s room that drove her.
She remembered his face the first time
she saw him. Now, half gone from whiskey,
eyes hooded like a hawk’s,
he said he’d kill the children when he woke.
The neighbors heard it,
the screams. They heard.
His workman’s hand,
his gnarled hand dangled down.
The knife lay by the bed.
She slipped from the covers
while he slept, placed her feet
on the floorboards just so.
The dogs barked outside, snapdragons,
flowered tongues, and all the wired
faces of the past strung up. The ax
hung on the porch, woodpile nearby,
each log plotted, uneasily entwined.
The children’s tears were rain,
tears were watering the parched hills.
The wild moon foamed at the mouth.
The wild moon crept softly at her feet.
The arms that grabbed the ax
were not her own,
that hugged it to her heart
while he slept were not hers,
the cold blade sinking in his skin.
She grew up in the country splitting wood.
She knew just how much it took
to bring a limb down.
First published in Connecticut Review. Also, published in The Hudson Line, Mainstreet Rag, 2012; in Cracked Piano, CavanKerry Press, 2019; in the anthologies en(compass), The Poetry Caravan Anthology, edited by Usha Akella, 2001; enskyment Online Anthology of Poetry, edited by Dan Masterson, 2018; Poetry.Magazine.com, edited by Andreni Zawinski, 2014; and Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Garden Violence, edited by Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2013.
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