Sand

brown naked body
sprawled beneath the sun

scars of ritual and beauty
crossing its belly

where birds, dogs and people
have left tracks

soon made invisible
by waxing tide

Thank you to the editors of Agape: A Creative Arts Magazine for first publishing this poem.

If Bird

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you would be my loon
calling long past light,
my mourning dove, my
sweetest finch flashing
sun from black as night. 

If my bird you were I'd
feed you nectar from my
palm and plant thick trees
for you to rest and nest until
I could transform my arms
and hands to feathered limbs—
our hearts remade as song.

Thank you to the editors of The Tishman Review for first publishing this poem.

Longing to Belong

Dk in Lt

girl with eyes too large and
milky teeth fairies must wait
years for in a country that ripped
her from Mama locked her in
metal cage no laughter crosses
her howl swells into lost
others' sounds for families
babies resounds past soiled
dreams strips belonging as
those ripping teach children
how arms are weapons

Thank you to Writers Resist for first publishing “Longing to Belong.”

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 Talking…

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.

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.