I Had…

assemblage horse by Dickens44; photo by Elizabeth

Collies, gold and white                         fist strikes
Running beside me                                palms slap
As I explored                                            foot slams
Orchards of oranges and owls,          me against the floor
Beaver dams                                           hands rip
Abandoned in summer.                        heads off my dolls

Polished maple posts                           legs spread
Stretched sheer white lace                 forced apart
Over my head,                                        by arms wider
A walk-in closet                                     than my thighs
Held handcrafted horses,                   I can't speak yet
Stuffed elephants and bears.            can't say no

Chestnut horse,                                     nurses jab needles in wrists
Flaming in the sun,                               cold fingers bruise me
Neighs soaring in the wind,               asthma restrains me
Swift as a kite                                         muscles tear
To ride away                                           as I lunge
On.                                                             for air

Thank you to the editors of The Sonoma Mandala: Literary Review for first publishing this poem.

Cardinal

poem & photo by Elizabeth

MASKS OF CARDINAL FEATHERS

                                                                             Drape
                                                       Me in
                 Crimson rOse petals,
                                                          garnets,
                                                                          coral,
                                                Rubies,
                     and feed me
                                              dragon's Blood,
                                                                                     cherries,
                                                              straWberries,
                                         plums,
        salmon,
                              meRlot,
                                                      then make me
                                                                                        glow,
                                                             flush,
                                   blush,
                                                                             BlooM
                                              till I'm 
                                                         Rubeous,
                                         carnLian,
                                                     verMilioN,
          as ScarLet hummingbirds
                                                                    SOAR from our
                                                                                                          Mad
                                                         voRacious
                                                                                          heartS.

Thank you to the editor of Absinthe Revival for first publishing this poem.

Blood Root

poem & photo by Elizabeth

BLOOD ROOT

Blood blossoms burst
forth in war zones
as roots stretch deep.
I feel them when we fight
and I want to burn your tongue
black with hot rock
rather than hear
words opposing mine;
engorged roots strike through limbs -
my hand, your face.

Thank you to the editors of Hard Love for first publishing this poem.

They Hold

poem & photo by Elizabeth

THEY HOLD THE SEA

Contagious as your hummingbird smile may be,
it is your hands...

hands that sculpt ki into a dragon's mouth
with arcs of mother-of-pearl framing
rainbow flames that smell of warm
milk and nutmeg, while your touch
draws the breath of muscle to bone,
then deeper.

Too few lines cross your hands,
large, almost too large,
they hold the sea.

Thank you to the editor of Something Like Homesickness for first publishing this poem.

Ki–Japanese word meaning energy or life force.

Woman Talks

photo by Elizabeth

In researching other poets in preparation for the Community of Writers, I’ve been especially impressed by an interview with Dawn McGuire, who is living one of the paths I would love to have lived. A neurologist, McGuire used to read her poetry with Judy Grahn, about whom Ani di Franco states, “When I was nineteen I discovered the poetry of Judy Grahn, and I was so moved by “A Woman is Talking to Death“, it’s still one of my favorite poems.”

Grahn’s poem illuminates where we rise from as a people and where too many remain stuck. I don’t understand bigotry, cruelty, or a lack of empathy, but do know when someone finds a way to clearly expose and trace its ripples. I’m relieved I couldn’t write “A Woman is Talking to Death,” because I wouldn’t want the experiences; however, I’d be grateful to write with this brilliance and power.