Where I sit is not my chair
but on my bones stacked up my back.
The me is from shoulders down for air,
chin up for sight and speech.
Though toes curl the chair legs
for balance, my feeling is, has always
been, that life is in my hands.
Where I sit is not my chair
Drive Chronicles Avenue straight out
of downtown for three miles to the
railroad bridge, empty as a Roman
ruin, turn right toward the spray-paint
chaos of the Grass Lake rocks, right
again onto Esther Road, to 135, and
there’s tight-wound Pa sitting on the
dusk porch while nervous fireflies,
trespassers, skitter, knowing nothing
else, around the maypole of his chair.
Outrageous, abundant woman,
spirit of fire, spirit of thunder.
You sang fugues to me as a child,
rocked me to sleep with your stories,
made grand entrances and exits
in a black Russian coat,
befriended the egg lady, painted
a black Christ crucifixion for her country church.
Your presents at Christmas were books
or piano music, giftwrapped in old newspaper.
The one-seed juniper defiant
in a sand-drenched wash
grasps against wind and rain.
Earth engraved by crawling roots
broad sap-scented trunk tanned soft
like deer hide now enfolding
barbed wire. Resilience—
In the summer of 1998 I was a lantern-
I mean waitress,
but all the same
the water was freezing cold
and the pressure was pulverizing.
yet (animals) somehow survive in this most
which was the Mucky Duck Shanty (bar and grill)
after hearing some
rousing speeches from
several eloquent organizers
off the cuff, exclusively
including a young woman
who was George Floyd’s cousin
shared a heartfelt
and energizing tribute
the small solemn and intimate
gathering of perhaps a hundred
concerned citizens who’d responded
to an online call for marchers
Were you and your healthy
Were you an excess mouth to feed
in some municipal zoo?
Or were you carefully culled
from some robust family
roaming the Ruwenzoris
and in a frenzy flown
until the propitious moment?
a starter home
with kitchen and bathrooms redone,
six percent down
an unlocked car
an affordable five-bedroom
in a neighborhood
with good schools
a crowded floor
in a stumbled-upon squat
The shrubs are flush—branches scarlet
by the red brick dormitory.
Rolling past Hickory Hill park
leaves blaze into miniature suns.
In our backyard, the swing set is
as empty as a hollow gourd,
31 scorched—one week
before I went home
to London. I was lost.
7 years since I left
my childhood in England.
My father told me
to meet at King’s College,
I arrived at King’s Cross
6 miles away. Accosted
by roses, carnations, lilies,
a meadow of flowers
a conch shell emptysea-gifted
carried back to window sill
trapped voices now extinct still
in shifting sandsbreeze-lifted
sounds of surf on gentle winds
crashing pulselife’s quickened flash
mutes the tracks with ocean slash
silent ciphersexpunged suspend
Sleepy baby, sleepy baby…Drift
away with me. I’ll
take you to a place I know, it’s
called the Dreamland Sea. It
lies beyond the moon and stars, among
the silvery skies. A
splendid dream awaits you there, behind
your tired eyes. Sleepy
baby, come with me…We’ll
sail until sunrise.
Picture Rocks Canyon: Paisley
scarlet bandana caught on gray thornbush
sprouting from naked rock. Lavender-
blooming ironwood, swift
zebra-tailed lizards and always
the cactus wrens for company.
i am outside in the oven
chin ups and dips
and laps[e] in the grass
around the poured concrete
and picnic tables bolted down
with music in factory
ear buds playing loud
enough to drown
the chatter of fat, angry men
in the darkest of caves
illuminated by night
i sought answers in your shape
you sought refuge in mine.
it was lust, masked as love
the highs, worth the lows
you were broken
How unremarkable we were
in our little unities
and stubborn alliances
How little we were
in our shadowed complaints
and broken pencils
And home was the roof
where we blew smoke up to the gods we never knew
Weary sun sighs deeply.
Rattlesnakes seek solace.
Tumbleweeds bleed wisdom.
Saguaro reach deep into green pockets
of scattered water loose
in rancid blankets of arid certainty.
Scorpions seethe, swallowing sand,
each and every granule
a microcosm of the infinite.
When she delivered him, occipito posterior, the back
of his skull cradled against her sacrum,
when he crowned, face up, chin up,
it was her father’s chin, her father’s
nose, his broad strong Scotish countenance.
My father was there, wearing a hospital mask, ear to ear,
stretched across his face like a sheet spread at birth,
she would say later it was the first time
she’d seen him cry, her husband.