August 30, 2009

Where I'm From

I wrote this piece as a favor to a friend, a high school English teacher. She gave her students an assignment to write a poem describing themselves and their history, and wanted me to write one as an example of what they could do. I hope it helped her class, it helped me to write it!

I come from humble, accidental beginnings.
A twinkle in my father’s eye and
A mother too tired to save herself.
I come from a place where I was one last thought.
One more mouth around an already
stretched tight table.
But I come from far before that, too.
I come from Native Americans
Assimilated into foreign culture.
From European immigrants, coal-miners, union men.
From southern plantation owners
and keepers of slaves.

I decided early on to choose where I was going.
Not to the life prescribed to me.
The life of -“No girl needs an education”.
To reading and curiosity and educating myself.
The belief of- “You can never get ahead”.
To succeeding admirably from nothing.
The motto of -“Don’t ask for anything and expect less”.
To fighting and striving and getting what my heart desires.
From feeling unsafe and unwanted and in the way,
To being a parent who loved and was always responsible.
When I think of where I come from,
It doesn’t really matter.
What matters is what have I done so far,
And what else I can accomplish.

August 26, 2009

He's a Farmer 'Til the End (RWP Prompt #89)

We were supposed to find a news headline and write a poem about it. I happened upon the headline "He's a Farmer 'Til the End" from page 1 of the Los Angeles Times 08/21/09. I have always admired the hard work ethic and deep abiding love of the land that typifies a farmer so I decided to write from his point of view. I hope you enjoy it.

I'll be a farmer 'til the end
and the end is near upon me.
Too old and stooped from heavy years
of bending to my livelihood.
Can't count what's left in seasons now
Just hope to get this last crop in.
The wife passed on some winters back,
"to her reward" I heard it called.
But what reward could be so sweet
you wouldn't miss that rich, black loam?

This ground has been our family place
since old grandpa was just a lad.
The first bit from the free land grab
and more scraped up through long, hard years.
From countries far across the sea
we all came down from farmer stock.
To till and sow and gather up,
and love the dirt and rain and seed.
But something happened on the way,
now no one's left to carry on.

Our son took off for city life
to keep his wife who hates the farm.
One day he'll realize his mistake,
of picking something pale and small
in place of something green and great.
The girl married out, lives in town,
She brings her kids by now and then.
They sit around and play their games,
when all the fun they'd ever need
is in the barn or by the creek.

Once I'm finished they'll sell this plot,
divvy up and spend it away,
Never remembering where they're from.
I will be gone but the land goes on.
Then some other man, more like kin,
with grit in his nails
and steel in his spine
will take over and work these fields,
understanding the blessing
and the Godlike greatness underfoot.

August 20, 2009

ALL WRONG (RWP Prompt #88)

I had a brain freeze while trying to use any of the 14 words of the prompt. Then, after watching yet another press conference and nightly news broadcast, this little ditty came to me. I managed to squeeze in 11 of the words…


Hitched- up behind their podiums,
With perfect elocution.
Politicians fling out frothy platitudes
Spoon-feeding them to the gullible masses.

If you peek behind the curtain
You shall see the Puppet Masters.
Hustling and bustling and pulling the strings.
Ranting and raving and plotting new moves.

Next the Talking Heads regurgitate
With salacious grins affixed,
The now coagulated, rancid nonsense,
Co-conspirators to each coarse joke.

I for one am not amused.


August 18, 2009

Johnson Canyon

This has always been a favorite place. Only about a mile from home, part of my late father-in-law's ranch.

The deep canyon opens to a small seeping pool
ringed by cottonwood, filaree,
and wild desert willows.
Their spent purple flowers
Cover the ground like confetti.

It’s considered to be a seasonal spring
and some of those seasons
are years in between. But the
toads come here, hide in the sand, waiting
for water to rise, and places to breed.

Settlers came here when the Indians fled
and built their life
among pottery shards,
They hand dug wells, built rough wood shacks
and stone corrals to hold in or keep out.

Wandering here by those long ago walls,
we treasure found horseshoes
and bits of lavender glass. An old iron shovel
still leans on a ledge, waiting for
a past rancher with fences to mend.

Today people drive in and
dump piles of their garbage.
Old mattresses, couches and washing machines.
In next generations, will those visitors marvel
on treasures now left here to litter the ground?

August 14, 2009

Two more Haiku

I wrote these while sitting up with my sick dog!


japanese beetles
buzz loudly against windows
drunk on warm peaches


thrasher beaks flick rocks
searching for buried treasure
a feast of earthworms

August 11, 2009

Backyard Summer

The buffalo gourd
crawls along the desert floor
offering small blossoms;
deep saffron cups,
unto the noontime sun.
A clutch of bees buzz languidly
among the flowers,
drunk on syrupy nectar.
Meanwhile, the small horned toad
rests patiently in nearby shade,
watching for evening.


hibiscus blossoms
long yellow tongues unfurling
vulgarly taunt bees


arial combat
metallic colors glinting
hummingbird warfare


vegetable stir-fry
a cheeseburger fantasy
accosting my brain


horseradish assaults
smacking my face, nose running
head explodes- more please


cotton underwear
white, full coverage feels safe
no silk thong for me


dung beetle rolls up
mistakes from a former life
too late for regrets

Not Alone

The ants hurry on, oblivious
to what has come before.
Their single-minded attitude
belies their seemed intelligence.

I watch them from the sidelines
looking for a knowing spark.
A glance, a wink, to let me
know that they're with me, I'm not alone.

Rarely when that glint appears,
At Last! a kindred soul that knows.
Someone else, their past revealed.
A soul not blind, but fully whole.


The bravest thing I’ve ever done
Was show my words to someone else.
From long hard birth upon the page,
Would they understand and know my heart?
Then when praise was not forthcoming,
Grave doubts of who I am crept in.
Are my thoughts just dull and boring tracts,
And show the world my ignorance?
But I should know, there is no need
For confirmation of my work,
The greatest gift to give myself
Is just enjoyment of my craft.

Vampires (RWP Prompt #87)

This poem was written by me (under duress) for the Read Write Poem Prompt #87.
I chose the vowel sound of oo, and used as many of those dang words as I could fit!

Moonlight pools upon an empty tomb
as midnight’s Groom collects his brood.
To choose, to hunt -
wooing from the light some innocent,
a beating heart, alive, and new.
With soothing sounds and shrewd maneuvers,
they seclude into their reclusive gloom,
a tender beauty, with fullness of youth.
Proving cruel dominance
over earthly fools,
who are but food to the ghoulish troupe.

A long sharp tooth harpooning flesh -
a brutal wound. Blood let loose
as spooling ribbons of ruby fluid.
Swooping into their gruesome cocoon,
they feast upon her mortal ruin.
This luminous beauty, left bruised and blue,
drooped and swooning,
until the vampire Groom intrudes.
Looming down upon the doomed, mewling life
and removing her to his marble womb.
The next recruit - a bride - through which to live anew.