They Hold

poem & photo by Elizabeth


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.

Mother’s Day


How she watched him turn me on the stairs, force his tongue in my nine year old mouth as she basked in the warmth of fire and merlot, and left me for weekends with his Marine Corps son though I cried, begged her not to, his crew cut head telling me to lie down, stop crying, spread my legs. And the Mother’s Day when she slapped my face, kicked my ribs, ripped the head off my doll because I was still making her gift when she woke—she screamed you worthless shit after all I’ve done these seven years. Even now I would forgive the nights from the time I was five that I pressed the cold glass of her bedroom window against my cheek while he beat her, waiting for her to tell me to run next door, call the police, forbidden to run before ordered, forced to listen to her pleas, his fist, the breaking chair. Forgive if she didn’t wish me dead or could engage in dialogue, but instead she remains three, six, twelve years old simultaneously, unwilling to approach maturity or sanity. I too have crawled the edge of madness, felt its sweet vortex as if cauterizing pain, but I keep stepping back from her outstretched arms, reaching always to pull me beside her.

Thank you to the editor of Writing Our Way Out of the Dark for first publishing this poem.

poem & photo by Elizabeth

Desert Rain

poem & photo by Elizabeth

                                                             DESERT RAIN
                                          mud seeps
                                                                    between bare toes
                                                        almost naked I walk miles
                                                                                      soaked in desert rain
                                                and catch it with my tongue

                                                                                       laughing as my mother
walks the balance beam of stone walls
                                              while her husband and I point at Catalina cows
        and shout Buffalo, buffalo! and she so nearsighted
                                                             believes us

                                               wrists held tight as Geno soars me
                                                                                                           round &
                                                           parallel to the ground

                chimes        bells         ice cr
                                                                   eam delivered by truck
                                                   treasured pink          green
                                                                             yellow plastic dogs
                                                                               tigers buried in
                                           chocolate  strawberry  vanilla to be lipped
                               sucked away

                                                                                        curled like a sow bug
                                                   belly aching as a finger waving in air
                                       tickles as effectively as one would

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

Gravity’s Haiku

“Gravity” ink, haiku & photo by Elizabeth

I used ink for the first time when I drew this and fell for ink’s fluidity, speed and versatility. I also used a Chinese brush and bamboo stick, so chose haiku for the words, which were for my spouse since that day was our anniversary.

in palm's wings, spring-breath, spirals
heart-bind me and you.


poem & photo by Elizabeth


How his crew cut head froze, poised above the place I could not see between my thighs, his short rodent hair arcing from my hairless mound, my mind providing the anesthesia of amnesia as if a spinal block flowed through a slender needle, numbing my body clean. And now that you’ve cut your long wheat field hair, he is the one I see near my belly, holding a switchblade against the rivulets of warmth that run from your tongue through my lips, radiating out hips thighs breasts arching back outstretched fingers. Remembering till now only my hatred of him, but as your fingers touch my inner thigh, images slice through muscle of his hand on my throat, palm in my stomach, head pressed into the opening I could not see, and I want to run from your arms which have held me warm against your chinchilla skin. As your pomegranate taste hits the back of my throat, his rancid stench catches, numbs my body clean.

Thank you to the editor of Rising to the Dawn for publishing this poem.


poem & photo by Elizabeth


I saw this car's hand letter sign
in its back window yesterday:
Funny, it appeared to be parked.
And I'm surprised this car attends 
church at all unless it's saying that
under this starlit sky
whatever/wherever we are,
we are sacred and always
attending church.

Thank you to the editor of Marin Poetry Center Anthology VI for first publishing this poem.

Night Snack

poem & photo by Elizabeth


Tonight we plucked that apricot moon
and ate it,
not in a gulp,
but with long laps of tongues,
carving of teeth,
squeezing nectar against palettes
till it trickled

Thank you to the editors Linda Watanabe McFerrin and Laurie McAndish King for first publishing this in HOT FLASHES 2.