Christmas Traveling

Early dark - December dusk;
headlights cocoon us,
still - we want the welcome which lies
just out of view:

The old home place - oil lamps -
delicate curtains and crocheted doilies;
Ghost scent from the coal stove;
Sunday dinner still on the table
beneath the checked cloth;
A hall tree laden with coats,
boots and gloves piled just inside the door;

A stairway which waits to be climbed,
waits for the exhale,
the purr of bodies beneath winter quilts,
waits to bestow the 2 AM creak.

December dark evening -
headlights and home enclose us
but we still want
what lies just out of sight:

Mystery, magic, excitement, romance;
Solace for the tears;
Bounty for every child;
A gift on the table
wrapped in cotton cloth
tied with silk ribbon;

Here the dilemma -
Will a mystery opened bring disappointment?
Do we want answers
or only the constant desire?

May you never loose

the wish for magic,
the allure of Bethlehem.


December Villanelle

Here, in the near blue light
The holiness of happiness happens,
Leads us toward a blessed night.

While universes spin their own delight,
We lean toward that which beckons.
Here in the near blue light

Beside us now the birds takes flight
Soar gently – linger at the margins
Lead us toward a blessed night.

Where questions hold us tight
And answers promise options
Here in the near blue light

Falling now toward twilight
Anxious to embrace this season
Which leads us toward a blessed night.

This journey joins us – is our birthright
Moves us out beyond all reason
Here the near blue light
That leads us toward a blessed night.

pine tree
whispers a green
story of hope.  Cold wind
mummers a white song of grace.
Cardinal shouts a red promise of truth.
The solstice has turned time, and minute
by minute we move toward the light of joy!

Peace & Light To You!

Wind blows in the Hunting Moon of December.
Snow moves out beyond Pocahontas County,
spreads the shawl of Winter across West Virginia.
Those in the eastern mountains
learn early, in the slate of this month,
the love for spruce and cedar,
the scent of things not dead.
Daily farmers go out to feed,
break ice at watering holes,
this is their task till spring.
Days are cold and silent,
we search for light and heat.
The paradox of winter tells us
that life is death, and death is life,
there is little separation now.
The sun wanes into the Winter Solstice
the shortest day surrounded by the longest nights.
Logs blaze in this Holy Month as we
watch shadow of pine on ground and snow,
shout an emerald blessing.

Solstice Poem - This poem came from an Exquisite Corpse exercise.

Mid-Winter Solstice

Sanctified as the golden child,
the dawn-walker rises
from her balsam bed,
strolls the waning dark,
as a winter sky gathers every molecule
of memory into the shimmering universe.
Gaia sings her lullaby,
we draw ourselves toward
moving promises of light
and whisper something ancient,
more than sacred.
Salutations in a language
of frankincense and pine,
psalms hidden in the stone bones
of mother’s long and languid embrace.
We orbit round the sound and celebrate,
let this solstice night sustain us.

The Place of Forgetting

The Place of Forgetting

Name me what you wish,
healer, crone, wise one,
elder, shaman, recluse, druid,
sorcerer, charmer, witch,
it matters not.

My body carries chant, incant, enchant.
Orpheus taught me poetry and song
communication and communion
far beyond mortal being.
Animate and inanimate all respond.

Call it what you will,
root cellar, cupboard, pantry,
they store apples, walnuts, parsnips,
bulbs of garlic, root of burdock,
blackberry, ginseng, sassafras,
seeds of mugwort, milk thistle, mustard.

Bundles of sage, yellow root,
yarrow, devil’s claw and dandelion
hang from hand-hewn rafters,
gathered when the moon and signs were right.
For all of these you will return
when black wings spread.

I have been here always.
Watched as you lost the language
of tree, grass, soil, animal,
insect, sea and wind.  Still my
left hand holds fast to sacred space.

October carries the last leaf down,
earth embraces, blesses
that which you do not.
I place the elementals
and your ignorance
into the oubliette of time and wait.

New poem (first draft)

Singing From The Earth

This is the last place my mother
asks me to take her.
She is ninety years of age.
We pass through the water logged field,
the tall grass pasture and climb
the rutted pathway up.

Here is the country cemetery – few gravestones,
only flat standing rocks,
etched by long gone hands.
Here is the grave of her mother,
beside her father
and next to their youngest child.

Mother tells me she always wanted
to place a lamb monument here,
to remember the little sister she
does not remember.  The one she
could have mentored – could have led to Christ
the way her Sister Merle did for her.

Merle died young in childbirth
is buried somewhere in a California
grave my mother will never see.
This is the last stop on the cemetery circuit today
her last call with sisters, brothers, family,
a lifetime of memories singing from the earth.

One more edit of this poem (now I'll let it rest for some time).

Mountain Progeny

I am from the aprons of Sevilla, Rosella, Perdella.
From suited men twirling pocket chains
While their children churned earth.

From farmers like Robert, Jess, Isaac.
Sunup to sundown laboring the narrow hollows
And steep hillsides of Appalachia

From the dirt scrape of a woman
Who walked out of her poverty
Into the thick books of possibility.

From the lanky boy who, at fourteen
When his father died, hired himself out,
Fifteen cents a day, all to his mother.

I am from dusty corn cribs,
From crawfish and ancient stone axes
Hiding in the streams of August water.

From I incantations of lamentations
sown by bloody heels into
the furrows of summer afternoons.

From my Grandmother’s snuff tin,
From tattered hymnals
And 22’s filled with buckshot.

From the scratch of chickens,
the taste of fresh raw milk,
delicate home-canned peaches in December.

I am from pockets full of purple hearts
Where bronze stars, deep in the cedar chest,
Guard the nightmares of midnight.

First Revision - Fragments


My earliest image:
long rows of tall corn
a dainty white dress
clean in the sun
I can’t see the face.

Perhaps, when I’m much older
my childhood will come back
and like my elders
I’ll repeat the stories until my family
turns glassy-eyed and numb. 

My childhood is
only fragments -
some may be real
yet others perhaps
simply from the books
which consumed my youth.

Second grade is only Mrs. Stephenson -
the blackboard -
a congested cloak room
where a boy named Stephen kissed me -
Suzanna with patent leather shoes,
a brief memory of “S’s”.

Rural Roane County,
A road called Steele Hollow
where we perched like mountain goats
in that small house.
I still cling to hills and mountains
for solace and protection.

There is the summer of birth and fire.
of glorious oaks and sassafras
across the road, flaming in July.
My sisters and I watched
as men dug ditches and threw dirt -
no running water or fire department this far out.

Six brown eyes flicked between
the burning woods and
the stoop of a front porch
where our calico cat
lay quietly and
birthed three kittens.

Most of my memories
are peopled with moss, bluetts,
a grape arbor,
an elegant apple tree,
goose berries brown with ripeness
and mud leaching its rusty red into my life.

No Need for Words

No Need for Words

Epigram:  “Imagine the time the particle you are
returns to where it came from.” - Rumi

Oh Mother moon, teacher of mysteries,
you brought me here in your light,
they brought me home in you fullness.
Now, I come each night to greet you.
I praise your fingernails
growing long and round.
There are such stories sewn into
your black, yellow, white,
red and orange robes.
Robes you change as often
as your tales.
In the tower of midnight I sit
as you sing your secrets into the universe.
What the night knows,
the moon knows,
and more!
What we each know is what you tell us.
What we remember is sown into the robes you wrap around us.

we are here to remember – to join you and dance.
Your sister moons across the cosmos
also call to us to remember –
we are not alone – we are not separate – we are one breath
inhaling, exhaling, spinning, remembering, celebrating,
growing our fingernails long and round,
scratching names and stories into the clay of earth.
The stories I remember cannot be told
except in your presence –
And then, only in the language of youth, the language of the womb,
the language of the universe,
when there is no need for words.

Boy Walking On The Road

Boy Walking on the Road

Today I saw young boy
walking at the edge of a country road.
His body misshapen
yet his gait firm and determined,
an MP3 player plugged into his ears.

Was he shutting out a world
of stares and schoolhouse taunts?
Was he orchestrating, choreographing
a life beyond the twisted body?
Was he the prophet for this day?

I wanted to take him up -
wrap him in my arms –
fly him away -
baptize him in the lake
of straight-boned boys.

I wanted everyone
to see only his soul.
To have each of us
touch his body
with tenderness.

I wanted a world of grace
and blessings for those
who teach us, by their presence,
what each day can hold and that
a prayer lies always waiting on the skin.

There Were No Circus Tickets

There Were No Circus Tickets

when I was a child.
Poor is what my neighbors were.
I thought everyone lived this way.
Christmas 1953 we got a television
but my younger sister was so sick she
wouldn’t even get up to watch or open her presents.
Later I watched the circus from
the box in the living room
and began to dream.

My father never denied us what was free
or that he could make.
Soon, a swing set sprang into the back yard
made from discarded pipe he painted green
complete with a hanging bar from smaller pipe.
I became a traipse artist
hanging first from knees,
then ankles
and soon from just one ankle –

Oh, I was glorious swinging
one foot wrapped around the chain.
I was performing, the trees applauded
and the chickens sang.
Elephants and the exotic animals
from “Jungle Boy” on Saturday morning TV
all paraded through our yard
as I would swing-sway, then
tight-rope across the top pipe.

There was no stopping me
in my own amazing circus
as I wrapped myself in cotton shorts –
a daisy chain halo circling my hair.
Singing calliope music in my mind.
I even perfected the bicycle - first with no hands
later I could stand on the seat my arms outstretched and free
no small task on a country rock based road.
It was the best free circus anyone ever saw.

It Seems You Have Forgotten Me.

It Seems You Have Forgotten Me

It seems you have forgotten me,
and I toil each day with your memory
coiled deep in my body as you once were,
a gentle spark leaning toward a moving.

I should have known
when you walked early,
it might also be far,
yet I never dreamed it would be away.

I remember, your small small hand
curled around my finger;
how you stumbled room to room
looking for something I could not fathom.

I remember your dark hair,
foamy with shampoo,
how you laughed when I spiked
and curled and rinsed it in the tub.

I remember dresses and boots
and coats in every size and color,
summer shorts and pants
and pleasure in your eyes,

I remember, gifts and giving,
how, when you finally had real money
you bought me a birthstone ring,
rubies spiraling the finger you once grasped.

Everything you are echoes through
the blood we share
your gentleness, indignation, caring,
always always, always your red and robust laughter.

I am walking, motherless now,
toward another birthday
anxious for your voice or presence, any
indication that you have not forgotten me!

New draft poem

35 Random Facts About Me

I once shot a neighbor and his dog with rock salt,
my father had loaded the shell;
I like old houses and old people;
Most days I feel androgynous and am quite comfortable it;
In spring and fall, I drive the back roads with all the windows down;
I feel at home with sassafras, ferns and gnarly apple trees;
I have systemic lupus arithmatosis;
For my favorite cousin, music notes have colors and numbers.
I like to do laundry but am very tired on doing everything for everybody;
Smoking is a joy I indulge in frequently;
The poems of Tennyson always sing to me;
My grandmother was in an insane asylum and couldn’t remember my name,
even though I am partly named for her;
I get five o-clock shadow on my legs;
I love the evening ‘tween time especially when the light is yellow;
I don’t like the city;
My father could play the jaw’s harp, I use to try to do it myself but always hurt my teeth;
Rainy days are a comfort to me.
As a teenage I stole Camel cigarettes from my Father and Lucky Strikes from my uncle;
Death seems like a new exciting adventure waiting for me.
I have my own religion with roots deep in dark loam, and it has never failed me.
I buy white cotton socks and I always wear them without shoes;
I like to be invisible and am sometimes so good that I being to resent the ability.
I don’t remember my childhood.  I like good West Virginia moonshine.
I see invisible people all the time and they talk to me.
I still miss the child from my miscarriage in 1970,
even though, as a rule, I’m not that fond of children;
The smell of fresh green marijuana sends me somewhere wonderful,
I don't like to smoke it, only smell it.
When I hear good music I accompany it with dancing in my head. 
I always wanted dance lessons;
I am a little afraid of cows.
I understand the language of violets and buttercups, it’s convoluted fairy speak.
I was once married to a habitual liar who was also crazy.  He’s dead now.
I am a collector of useless information and gadgets.
I am so much shorter than I think I am.

Under the Milkweed - After "Under the Milkwood" by Dylan Thomas

Under the Milkweed

It is summer on Clover Ridge,
the new-mown hay lies green and fragrant
rowing to its own rhythm across the sloping hills.
The tractors and rakes have paused for lunch
as the black crows, call back to their own kind,
and the back-blacked vultures gather
at the death of rodents and rabbits
caught by the swath-black of the swinging scythe.
There rises into the day,
that stuck in the back of the throat,
mingled, fresh-cut, drying, dying
rye, alfalfa, timothy and sweet grass scent associated
with summer and the too soon coming of September.
Only the crows and the singing mocking birds
break the stillness of this afternoon
while the sun hangs hot-silent,
beginning its westward slip.
The farmers, their aproned wives and hayfield-tanned children,
are busy with forks, knives and eager stomachs.
But listen, dusk is stealing toward this day
as Laurel Run and Clover Lick flow slow
toward the Great Kanawha, the Ohio, the Mississippi
and their ocean of unity.
Babies begin napping on home-made quilts,
the hands of the housewives have tidied the lunch clutter,
and begin the boiling of water.
Jelly the berries, stowing away the labors of their husbands,
stowing away their winter hunger and endless days.
It is the seasons that swing wide each day, daring the dusk
to change what is coming, running toward the humble stubble of night.
 “Time passes, Listen.  Time passes.  Come closer now.”
At the bottom of the ridge by stream banks,
the light is has gentled, monarch butterflies and hummingbird moths
sip the sugared nectar lying languid in the milkweed blossoms.
A breeze has bent itself down toward the ground,
stirring round wet-nosed deer,
the whiskered calico waiting in the barn,
and the short-tailed shrew
watching for the wide-eyed owl.
Everyone’s eager journey
toward silky, milky evenings and feathered pillows
draws the dusk close, then down into darkness,
humming the coming of rest, the silence of possibilities
flying, sighing, soaring into other worlds,
and you, lying under the milkweed,
enter into the stillness of night,
from where you are,
you can hear their dreams.

Spam Poem

NaPoWiMo - Day 26 - As for today’s prompt, well, Tooth For Truth has reminded me of the fervent and wonderful world of spam-poems. All those horrible emails you get asking whether you would be interested in the enlargement of various parts of your body? Well, they are primordial lingual soups, just waiting for you to extract a carbon here, an adjective there, and create poems.

Dear Sisters in Christ,

Mrs. Sussan Rodaine and Mrs. Rose Manase,
I am in receipt of your personal e-mails
and I send my condolences
upon the deaths of your respective and reputable husbands,
your recent diagnoses of terminal illnesses,
and for your dilemmas regarding
the large sums of money you have on deposit in the
reputable banks referred to in your correspondence.
I must however respectfully decline further contact with you
and the possibility of gaining unimaginable wealth because
as stated in your e-mail
The Bible made us to understand that
blessed is the hand that giveth”.
I wish also to be a giving hand.
This is to inform you that by separate e-mail, on the same day
I received your correspondence, I also received
and email that Ivanka Trump Has A Baby Bump
I am attaching that e-mail to this correspondence
and encourage you to contact Mrs. Trump
in the belief that she will be most benefited
by your generous offers.