Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter Solstice

The darkest time of the year has come at last
When silent, still, and long the nights are passed
In slumbering doubt and sober, rue reflection,
A wint’ry feast of hearty introspection.

For now the sun wanes well beneath our ken
With no assurance it will rise and warm again
Our dream-spun souls. Blind, we set ablaze
The bonfires of faith and trust in brighter days;
We singe regret and ash mistaken sorrow
And burn away what thieves our joy tomorrow.

The years go ‘round, faster now we think
Than e’re before, so therefore let us drink
A cheerful toast to our wandering sun’s rebirth,
And in this darkest time, to peace on earth.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Poised to Catch the Wind

Two days before Thanksgiving
I lock my car with its
fine veneer of Oklahoma dust
in the parking lot near Harms Woods
and dance cheek to cheek with
a bitter Illinois wind up a hillside
to the top of the overpass.

The meadow once blooming
with staghorn sumac, ox-eye daisies
and stouthearted bands of milkweed
today lies barren and buzz-cut.
Not one bedraggled milkweed stalk
poses for my camera,
not one split-open pod hangs
in the balance, its silken threads
poised to catch the wind.

I tramp through moldering leaves
searching in vain for signs that
milkweed still grew here last summer
when the monarchs returned,
when clouds of the quivering
orange and black butterflies
alighted in this woodland,
when they came home like me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I offer you a song (one of fourteen) from my musical COSTUMES
opening Thursday, October 22, 2009, at the Tulsa Garden Center.

I Remember You

I remember you in autumn with leaves in your hair
How your eyes smiled at mine with the love that we shared
I remember a kiss, I remember a sigh
But most of all I remember the vow we made to not say goodbye

Time is but a costume we don't know we wear
More masquerade and make believe than those sewn with care
It's a blindfold, a mask, it's a truthless disguise
Cast it off and let your heart feel the love that I see in your eyes

I remember you in autumn when I opened the door
How your magic and your laughter soon made my heart soar
I remember that kiss, I remember that sigh
But most of all I remember the vow we made to not say goodbye

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's Time For Hallowe'en

Copper pumpkins grin with chiseled fang
And blaze a burnt sienna roguish eye.
Blushing leaves rehearse a twilight twist
‘Til branch and breath are lost in lullaby
That sighs farewell to summer’s meadow green.
Without a doubt, it’s time for Hallowe’en!

Caterpillars crawl along the road
With woolly jackets, dreaming wings to fly.
Starlings swoop the harvest fields to roost
As sunset streaks of honking geese reply
To Beldame Nature’s artful change of scene.
Without a doubt, it’s time for Hallowe’en!

Clouds unmask a waning moon that slips
On spider threads across the autumn sky.
Elfin folk concealed by darkness paint
Their ghostly frost-writ ferns to prophesy
Foreshortened days with longer nights between.
Without a doubt, it’s time for Hallowe’en!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First Mate

I have a Pirate Skeleton in my sock drawer.

In July 2006 I flew into Portland from Tulsa, rented a car, and zipped north along Interstate 5 toward Seattle, through the tallest cedars and firs I’d ever seen, when I realized I was far too hungry to drive another mile without food. I pulled off the highway.

“I’ll have the chicken wrap, small orange drink, and a pirate skeleton,” I said at a drive-in window.

McDonald’s was offering its “Summer of Happy Meal Fun” based on Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” and banking on the popularity of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. I must say the eye-lined, swaggering captain caught my attention. But I didn’t want to order the Happy Meal; in fact, I wasn’t even sure what a Happy Meal was. A chicken wrap promised the least amount of indigestion for the hours of driving still ahead of me.

“You want what?” The girl squinted through the small window.

“The chicken wrap, small orange drink, and one of your pirate skeletons, please!”

Not only was I hungry, I was in desperate need of a First Mate to keep me awake behind the wheel on my Northwest Coast adventure, even if he was only a five-inch tall felt toy with a chartreuse complexion. As I pulled back onto the highway, he stood proud in the cup holder, his big eyes and toothy grin making me laugh as he kept watch over me through unfamiliar territory. He wasn’t a lot of help when we got lost between parkways known as East Lake Sammamish and West Lake Sammamish, but we were road buddies and that made all the difference.

In Seattle, I discovered he fit neatly into the pocket of my corduroy jacket. From that moment on, we were inseparable. He joined me for hotel breakfasts, lunches of Dungeness Crab, late night snacks of chili and beer. He shivered in my pocket as I hiked along Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula in a windy 55 degrees. On an Argosy Cruise from Elliott Bay to Tillicum Village, he peeked out to look at a mystical Mount Rainier and drink in the salty breezes. When the salmon flew from fishmonger to fishmonger at the Pike Place Market, though, he ducked deep inside. On our way back to Portland, he refused, without explanation, to leave the cup holder to view Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

In Portland he snoozed on the pillow next to mine in a second-story Victorian B&B room until a middle-of-the-night disturbance in the Cascadia subduction zone fault swayed the entire building. He thought he was back out at sea; I thought I was going to get seasick. The next day he talked me into buying an armload of books, plays, and maps at Powell’s, all of which I lugged back uphill to the B&B while he stretched out in my pocket.

We continued our journey south through Oregon, past skiers enjoying a glacier-covered Mount Hood, past distant volcanic peaks known as The Three Sisters, past the Deschutes River and into Bend for a first-ever family reunion. He guffawed at the stories eleven cousins and their families shared into the wee hours, guffawed, that is, until I locked him in my suitcase. Two days later, he was back in the cup holder as we retraced our route north to the Columbia River Gorge. In Hood River he drooled in my corduroy pocket as I walked along the back roads and plucked ripe blueberries and blackberries, their purplish juices exploding in my mouth. Too soon we stood together in the mist of Multnomah Falls, returned the rental car in Portland, and flew back to Tulsa. His first flight. I worried he might barf in my pocket, but he was a real trouper.

I have a Pirate Skeleton in my sock drawer. Every morning when I open the drawer, I chuckle. At him. At me. At how he keeps me from taking myself too seriously and, at the same time, turns my sock drawer into a treasure chest of memories.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Merced River
(Part Three)

Downriver to the west, the sun sinks behind a canyon wall. Across the rapids to the north, cottonwoods rain autumn gold on the scant remains of the Yosemite Valley Railroad, a railroad defunct since 1945 when the sugar pine groves that once lined both sides of the Merced were completely logged. Jim hollers from the campground that we’ll have near-freezing temperatures tonight; it’s time to pitch my tent. He announces he’ll sleep inside his truck tonight instead of pitching a tent, ostensibly to save time when we decide to pack up, but I know he’s determined to help me learn how to feel comfortable camping solo: his agenda, not mine. This is not his first attempt. He tried it in 1993 when we backpacked in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula after Labor Day. Both my knees swelled so that I couldn’t bend them after a treacherous descent down from Grand Pass into Cameron Basin. No choice for me but to recuperate in a mountain meadow while he disappeared on day hikes into the distant peaks, heading for Deception Creek and the trails we couldn’t experience together. Not another hiker within view, not one ranger station still open. I didn’t talk to him for six months after that adventure.

I pitch my feather-weight blue Sierra Design tent all by its lonesome out in the middle of the deserted camp ring with Jim’s truck a good thirty yards away, plenty of room for carnivore or homo sapien mischief in the gathering darkness. I can’t ignore the gut feeling that I’m the one who should be sleeping in the truck and Jim in the tent, a throw-back to the not-so-distant past of my childhood when chivalrous men were expected to protect their women at all cost. But he’s not my man and I’m not his woman and El Rio de Nuestra Señora de la Merced splashes along past us on its own journey.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Merced River
(Part Two)

Along the northern edge of our campground, the Merced rushes through a series of rapids known as Chip Tooth, Nightmare, and Stark Reality. I investigate the sparkling clear water from a boulder high above Stark Reality and rename the rapids as if I, a life-long Midwesterner completely unversed in whitewater, were running the river: Body Cast, Swan Song, and Final Solution.

I once sang a Swan Song while pirouetting down a talus slope after losing my purchase, down toward what I believed was my Final Solution, memorizing my last glimpse of the astonishing beauty of a cobalt sky and yellow brittlebush, the heartache of Bill’s outstretched arms and horror-stricken face. We were camped on BLM land just outside of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona that spring of 1995 with Jim who, while I sang, was miles away back at our campsite. A passing adventurer hoisted me on his back out of that cactus-infested desert canyon, my arms and legs covered with abrasions, my left ankle screaming, my ego bruised. Once on flatter terrain, Bill and I hobbled back to camp on three good legs. After we returned to Illinois ten days later, Bill dragged me to an orthopedic doctor, and I spent the next month sporting a plaster cast on my left leg.

I suspect these whitewater rapids below me wouldn’t let me off that easily. Body Cast.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Merced River
(Part One)

BIRTHED OUT OF THE MOST RECENT ICE AGE along the 11,000 foot crest of the Sierra Nevada, El Rio de Nuestra Señora de la Merced was named in 1806 by grateful army officer Gabriel Moraga at the end of a forty-mile march through dry brush. Its waters run wild and unharnessed from Yosemite west to Lake McClure and out into California’s San Joaquin Valley.

In 1996 my friend Jim drives us in his silver pickup east from San Francisco for my first camping and photography trip in Yosemite amid the sheer granite walls, massive domes, and waterfalls. We cross the river on Route 99 south of Turlock, then meet up with it again on Route 140 north of Mariposa, my anticipation mounting of the wondrous landscape about to unfold before us. But because the late October afternoon is waning and Jim hates setting up camp in the dark, not to mention battling crowds in national parks, he decides we’ll camp for a few days of solitude along the Merced at Indian Flat, a campground five miles west of the park entrance. We rumble around hairpin curves and switchbacks past boarded-up roadside businesses down to the river and a campground deserted but for rocks, incense cedar, and the two of us. The bathhouse is padlocked for the season, but Jim says not to worry, we’re fine. He’s camped here before. We’re fine.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Black-Capped Chickadee

How many dees does a chickadee dee
when a chickadee dee dee dees?

He sings at the feeder
in the neighbor’s yard,
sings Mother home
wherever I happen to be.

And I remember how she
listened and whistled
as she hung our clothes
out to dry on a line
stretched from the kitchen
window to the American elm
where he hung upside down
watching her.

Hey, sweetie, she whistled.
Feee-bee-beee, he replied.

And I remember how she
would catch his buzzy dees
and whistling feee-beees
in the palm of her hand
and clothespin them
to the line so our clothes
could sing themselves dry
in a summer breeze.


He sings at the feeder
in the neighbor’s yard,
sings Mother home
whenever I need her.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Leaf Report

loosed launched
twirled tossed
pitched poured flown

crunched kicked
reaped raked
heaped jumped thrown

picked pressed saved
screened sketched shown

curled crisped
dulled dried
bagged burned blown

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Mexico 2009

Steaming hot pancakes as the desert sun rises over the canyon wall - life is good!

As per usual, I packed ingredients for oatmeal and pancake breakfasts in our camping gear before we left Tulsa. We forgot to pack a small amount of cooking oil and syrup, however, so we stopped at Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe and splurged on Kerrygold’s Pure Irish Butter and Trader Joe’s Wild Maine Blueberry Fruit Sauce, among other vacation-only treats.

The first morning at Ghost Ranch outside of Abiquiu NM, Bill lit the camp stove, pulled our griddle out of the trunk, mixed up the pancake batter, and discovered we had forgotten to bring a spatula. How to make pancakes? I suggested he use our small frying pan and flip them with all the panache of Julia Child. Bon appétit!

Pure Irish Butter sizzled in the pan, Johnnycakes browned and crisped on the edges, and Bill flipped. Not one pancake hit the dirt! Then we smothered the buttery cakes in the blueberry sauce and declared them to be the best-tasting pancakes ever. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of mine. The recipe makes five cakes the size of the one you see.


1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cornmeal
1 teaspoon brown sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk (I use a small box of soymilk)

Mix dry ingredients in a gallon freezer bag. In camp add egg and milk to the bag and mush around. Pour onto griddle or in pan, flip and serve.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Canyon Wren

Chee, chee, chee, chee, chee, chee, cheer, cheer, cheer.

We can’t see the tiny wren
whose full-throated song reverberates
in the steep-walled canyon. In the heat
of a desolate afternoon, his whistling trill
is a waterfall, a refreshing draught
in the dry desert of Chaco.

Chee, chee, chee, chee, chee, chee, cheer, cheer, cheer.

We can’t see the tiny wren,
creeping about his rocky outcrops,
poking his slender bill inside crevices
to gather insects and spiders
until he stops to sing again.
Descending and decelerating,
his melodious song from high above
our campsite is a welcome gift
in the last harsh hours of daylight.

Chee, chee, chee, chee, chee, chee, cheer, cheer, cheer.

We can’t see the tiny wren,
but his song inspires us to consider
cooking up our own dinner,
a somewhat different bill of fare
that will, without a doubt, attract
the attention of coyotes lurking
in the rabbit brush behind us.
We can see them.

Chee, chee, chee, chee, chee, chee, cheer, cheer, cheer.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In the Time of Falling Leaves

I have fallen among
thieves who steal days of my life
one small moment at a time

I have fallen apart
when death arrives

I have fallen asleep
during Friday night concerts
and Monday morning classes

I have fallen away
from the idolization of progress
for its own sake

I have fallen backward
over the edge of a desert cliff
and believed it was the end

I have fallen behind
in raking leaves and washing windows
and dusting dusting dusting

I have fallen down
in a snow bank and looked the fool
rather than plunge into the lake

I have fallen for
happily-ever-after endings
and promises of a sure thing

I have fallen forward
down a slushy stairwell
and damaged my ego

I have fallen head-over-heels
in love

I have fallen ill
because someone sitting behind me
sneezed all through Act Two

I have fallen in
with the crowd when it suited me
and out when it didn't

I have fallen into
a few bad habits for which I claim
full responsibility even though
I'd rather place the blame

I have fallen off
a horse that didn't trust me

I have fallen on
patches of ice with and without skates
and seen stars

I have fallen out
of hammocks
and over the hill.

I have fallen overboard
in the middle of a lake in Maine
just because

I have fallen with
my husband into bed at night
grateful to have a husband
and a bed and another night
to share

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In June, Bill and I visited Cahokia (Illinois) to experience the work of the Mound Builders. A few weeks ago we visited Spiro (Oklahoma) to experience more mounds. The Spiro archaeologist explained that to the Mississippian Culture, Cahokia was the equivalent of New York City, while Spiro was its Washington DC. My photo below shows the reconstruction of a wattle and daub house built during the culture's heyday.

I just now came across a piece I wrote more than thirty years ago after getting fed up with archaeological jargon. What's weird is that there's something eerie about my made-up tale that resonates today.

A Classic Tale (1977)

Only the artifacts have been changed.

Once upon a time as I was walking in the gallery forests, having been temporarily overpowered by subsistence stress, I encountered a Megafauna.

“Holocene!” I yelled, in an attempt to force a rapid migration.

I reached for my shell-tempered, lip-notched, rim-corded chert-shard, when the temperature suddenly began oscillating and we were all but phased out. I ran for the nearest rockshelter and waited until the climatic optimum had blown over.

Cautiously emerging, I found myself in an over-all warming trend with an extinct Megafauna. I had lost my time period. Was this still the Late Early Tradition?

I trekked over undulating grasslands, through encroaching savannah vegetation, up the interriverine floodplains, past complex mortuary sites, toward densely populated habitations in search of my origins. Just then pluvial conditions altered the environmental factors and I awakened in my own horizon in the mound I call home.

Needless to say, I was eustatic.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

East Fork West Fork
of the North Branch of the Chicago River

My daughter and I stole down
the woodsy slope of the East Fork,
sliding from elm to oak to buckthorn
until we knelt on the mucky bank
covered with night prints
of deer and raccoon.
Giggling conspirators,
we plucked slimy fishbowl snails
from a hidden cache and cast them
forth into the brown waters.
Rejoicing in freed gastropods,
as well as freedom from gastropods,
we never once considered

the river.

I always imagined the East Fork
deep with giant turtles dwelling
in bottom ooze, eyes blinking once
every decade or so, but one afternoon
a white-tailed deer bounded
out from Harms Woods and skipped
across the river, hooves barely splashing
the water like wingéd feet.
My daughter declared the river low.
I caught my breath and told her
those turtles must be a lot bigger

than I ever dreamed.

During winter, in the days
when winters were really cold,
I used to ice skate on the West Fork.
Boys in black leather jackets
and flattops played ice hockey
upstream behind a grove of elm trees
while Sue and I perfected figure
eights, sharp blades feathering ice.
The boys hollered in the frosty air
and slapped the ice with their sticks.
Now and then one of their pucks slid
into view. Our pulses raced
at the thought of hiding them.

Below a bridge over the West Fork
sat a turtle the size of a large stew pot.
He was tearing flesh from a carcass,
his bear claws gripping what had once
been squirrel, skunk, possum,
rabbit, or an unwary raccoon
groping in the shallows.
Massive jaws snapped open and shut,
his broad neck bulging with every bite.
Sue and I watched from the bridge
where long ago, in moonlight,
we had kissed the boys goodnight.
Water riffled about predator and prey,
a minor disturbance on the surface
of a river I thought I knew.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

#117 Has Her Calf

In the western grasslands of Larimer County
southeast of Bobcat Mountain, #117 struggles
upright under darkness of a rainy spring night.
Eleven hundred pounds of her black angus body
all but disappear into an invisible presence licking
blood-streaked mucus from her newborn calf.
The wind worries her with rumor of coyote.
She twirls a long tongue over her nostrils
and steps around her calf like a ballet dancer.
He must learn to stand soon and suck on her teat
to release the afterbirth hanging as an iridescent
cord of slime down from her rump.
Only then will she rest.

The bull calf inhales a sharp wind and shivers
from the first drops of cold rain on his fresh skin.
He recoils from the hard, unforgiving ground.
He buckles and wobbles, flails his limbs
like an unstrung, tangled marionette,
and collapses into a womb curl, submitting
to the long tongue that tickles his hide,
to the being that nuzzles his flanks
and shoves him over and over in the grass.
He stares up into fierce, snorting nostrils,
the spring rain misting into his own.
He’s supposed to do something soon, but what?

Concealed in the darkness, a lone coyote
lies in a shallow depression of locoweed and sandstone.
His keen senses have detected the birth, and though
his belly is filled with prairie dog, he can’t resist
waiting to see what might happen. He’s no match
for the angus cow, but her calf is another story.
No calf has ever been born that can match his sprint,
his spring, his jaws. He is, after all, Coyote!
He grows weary of waiting, yelps to let them know
he knows, and trots off toward Slab Canyon Wash,
melding into the rainy spring night.

After a day spent arguing with barbed wire,
cleaning out the horse barn, overhauling his tractor,
and digging out irrigation ditches while snowmelt runs
down through the Cache La Poudre Watershed,
the cowboy sits deep in his armchair, scuffed-up boots
on the coffee table, a pair of glasses sliding down his nose.
He hears the coyote yelp and springs for his battered
1947 International with the rusted-out doors.
He finds #117 in his headlights and climbs out
to inspect her calf. A good omen, this sturdy new calf,
this slow-soaking rain. Maybe there will be enough hay
to keep them both through the winter. Maybe now
with a calf to consider, #117 will quit jumping
over the barbed-wire fence. Maybe.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Desert Sestina

When I set off into the wilderness, I had plenty
of cookies for three days of hiking through orange
globemallow and prickly pear cactus, but a problem
arose on the very first day that caused me to stumble
and tumble backwards and down into a rocky draw
where I lost my cookies at the height of the season.

In a land of illusive rain, spring is the best season
and reason to explore the desert with its plentitude
of neon clean blossoms and secretive creatures drawn
from shadowy habits into the bright light orange
days for food and water, for the pure joy of stumbling
over each other for love, for forgetting problems.

But spring in the desert can’t last and the problem
is that foreign matter can from season to season
with dry winds and no rain. Creatures must stumble
upon my broken cookies and digest them or plenty
of chunks and crumbs will petrify in the torrid orange
scorch of summer down on the floor of that draw.

And future archaeologists would undoubtedly draw
conclusions about the odd debris, worry a problem
not knowing it was me who had fallen with an orange
backpack over the edge of reason, down that season
onto granite scree that broke my ankle while plenty
of bruises blossomed bright to prove who stumbled

on her first day in the desert. I felt like a stumble-
bum rookie, a tenderfoot, a dark-eyed fledgling drawn
from the nest before knowing how to fly. Oh, plenty
were the personal epithets I assigned, the problem
easily forgotten of crumbs scattered like seasoning
across the sand, raisin brown almond burnt orange.

When I set off into the wilderness in those orange
and black butterfly days as an artless spring stumbler
of rock, when for a very good reason in the season
of midlife I fell down, down in a rabbit hole draw,
I tasted the sharp crumbs of mortality and problems
small withered and flew but still I cursed a-plenty!

I had thought twenty was plenty but that was a problem
and very good reason in all desert seasons to stumble
and tumble down orange-varnished cliffs in a draw.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The War Against Clutter (Part 3 - A Candid Camera Moment)

In the early 1920's, Dad began a fifty-year love affair with home movies: 17.5mm, 9.5mm, 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8 which he helped develop in his film laboratory on Wacker Drive in Chicago. Scores of heavy steel film cans lined his projection room in our basement, all meticulously marked with indelible ink on fabric tape: Palace Posters and Mechanical Displays; Four Generations: Little Grandma, Mom, Ev, Alice; Around the World, Part One; Stephanie and Piano March 1947; and so forth.

After Dad died in 1973, the film cans in the basement sat untouched for nearly twenty years, but for spiders and dust motes. Then one day while Elliott was home visiting from Colorado, Mother asked him to set up a projector in the dining room so we could look at the old movies. Some films were odorous and brittle and plunked directly into a trash basket. Others, upon being viewed and deemed silly or otherwise unnoteworthy, rewound themselves directly into the trash. Mother no longer had a need to hold onto the films or the memories they evoked. The movies we didn't have the time and patience to look at that day went downstairs, back onto the projection room shelves.

Six years later after Mother died in 1998, the remaining film cans fell under my jurisdiction. The house was sold, I was moving out, everything had to find a new home.

Two dozen weighty cans moved with Bill and me into a condo in Glenview for three years, up to a condo in Wisconsin along the shore of Lake Michigan for a year, down to a house in Tulsa for the past seven years. Inside the Tulsa house, the cans have lived in the dark shadows of a high closet shelf until tornado season when they have been sequestered in hall drawers, so as not to clunk us on the head if we have to wait out a tornado in the closet. And every single time I move them I say, "This is absolutely the last time I'm moving these cans!"

A few days ago was absolutely the last time. I sat on the office floor carpet with the cans spread around me, their provocative titles like fish hooks in my heart. Should I spend the money to have these films transferred to DVD? How many times would I even want to look at them again? The prospect of spending so much money for what might be little return disturbed me. I picked up a 10.5 inch steel can marked 1927-1928 Pathex Pictures, Wedding, Grandpa, Willow Pattern, Mary Wedding, Love and Sand, Charleston, Adolph Weidig. I really wanted to see Love and Sand again, a silent movie Dad had created and photographed on the sandy beach of Illinois State Park with Mother in the role of femme fatale. I opened the can. Inside sat a reel big enough to hold 800 feet of film, but the reel was empty. Not one foot of film. I opened Second Trip to South America Aboard the Santa Maria and Paula. Another empty reel. And then I laughed out loud.

If you're going to keep it, move it around, fret over it, at least know what it is you have!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Costumes (Part 4)

We have a venue! The show will have four performances in the Linnaeus Garden Barn at the Tulsa Garden Center October 22-24. This will be the first time one of my shows has met the public and I am thrilled. My characters had a moment a few days ago - someone might not like us - but they're okay as of this writing. They'll be photographed at the end of the month for an article in the October issue of TULSA PEOPLE for which I was interviewed ten days ago.

Last Sunday while vacuuming the living room, not consciously thinking about the show, I was drawn to the piano. I shut off the vacuum cleaner, sat down on the piano bench, and composed the love song "I Remember You" for the show. I'm not sure how that creative process happens, but when it does, it's magic. The song will be a show stopper.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

So Much Depends

July 1997. The saturated air slaps my face like a smack of wet fish as I walk out the front door toward Glenview Road. Four miles to the east Lake Michigan must have evaporated into the atmosphere overnight, spirited away by an easterly wind as an offering to the clouds, the sailboats of summer washed up like silvery alewives along a dry lakebed. At least the boats won’t stink like the alewives did in June thirty years ago when they lay dead and dying in a layer three feet deep by twenty feet wide along the shoreline, their stench blown inland, our neighborhood reeking of decay.

Down the hill and north into Harms Woods. Honeybees whirl like dervishes around a thicket of wild roses. Except for a lone worker bee whose task it is to keep me at bay, the swarm pays no mind to a voyeur’s fascination with their exuberance over pink blossoms and yellow stamens. Could my observation of these nectar-drunken bees possibly alter their behavior? It doesn’t appear so, but then honeybees don’t live in Schröedinger’s sealed box in a state of superposition; they don’t live in all possible states at once until the moment I chance to observe them; they dance and drink in a macroscopic world of sunlight right here and now in front of my eyes.

I walk on. The frenzied bees may not be indeterminate, but a few calcified cells residing in my left breast are, ever since a needle biopsy three days ago. Inside the sealed box that is my body, my cells have been thrust into a state of superposition until someone, some medical establishment voyeur, observes through a microscope the six little plugs taken from my breast at gunpoint. Only then will uncertainty be resolved. So much depends upon the observer.

Lighter than air, my steps follow a gravel path to a patch of milkweed for which I’ve developed an exuberance: broad, alternating green leaves with hairy undersides; milky white latex sap; cloyingly sweet pink flowers; yellow, white, and black poker-chip caterpillars; red-orange beetles; black and orange monarch butterflies; brown seed pods with silken white filaments. The saturated morning beads on my forehead and runs in rivulets down the back of my neck. Condensation on a cooler object. Drop by drop I alone am pulling the Great Lake known as Michigan back from the clouds; it helps to have a purpose.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Glade Road

archaeological dig day one
my first wilderness camping trip
rookie tenderfoot greenhorn
at forty eight

everyone at basecamp a stranger
five volunteers me Ned Brett Doris Dee
chief cook and bottle washer Rob
intern Alice archaeologist Will
his good wife Irene

assignment for an afternoon walk
birds plants mammals reptiles
changes in weather conditions
fossils imbedded
manmade alterations to the landscape
anything unexpected
signs of human intrusion

stone artifacts already
a circle of blackened boulders
rusted tin cans empty in the underbrush
cowboys rustlers maybe railroad men
disturbing rubbish to me
a shiny beer can
grist for future archaeologists

my assignment weather
endless blue sky easy task no sweat
clipboard notes every fifteen minutes
a tiny thermometer
attached to my Swiss Army knife
wind velocity a licked finger

scrubby land pebbled buttes
here there now then nowhere
so too our little band
flat assumptions furrows unforeseen
fractures dried out gullies ankle-twisting
high desert a kaleidoscope

forward backward
horizon up horizon down
no idea direction of basecamp
no compass landmarks Ursa Minor light
no breadcrumbs silken threads
nothing but follow the leader

volunteer Ned decades older
in better shape no huff puff wheeze creak
at 8,000 feet no snakes either
walk talk casual conversation
pointed questions
nothing wrong with his memory

last night naked truth around the campfire
no need for secrets lies denial
projection repression
everyone at basecamp a stranger
me Ned Brett Doris Dee
Rob Alice Will
his good wife Irene
always forever happily ever after strangers
in five days goodbye farewell
ciao adios amigo
with not one iota of guilt

beyond the edge of nowhere
cumulus nimbus
towering premonitions
rip of wind
temperature drop
scribbles on the clipboard

daylight gone
in a rush now new rain gear
all thumbs quick hailstones
Ned experienced considerate hands
thunder sharp rain lightning
wavy white hair soaked
wet shirt pectoral deltoid bicep
saturated knight by my side
visibility under three feet
unbidden surprising surge of desire
swallowed intact

ten minutes later sky luminous
bright blue only a memory of cloud
peeled wet gear shaken stuffed stowed
perspective restored
our little band off in the distance

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Trash Cans:
An Excavation of Family as Midden Heap
(Part 5 - Elliott)

Elliott’s trash can sat in rumpled gray Dickies, flannel shirt, and horn-rimmed glasses with thick lenses. His lid was stuck. I yanked until it gave way with a sticky ripping sound. Mother’s marshmallow frosting! I knew I was never getting my fair share. Cached in the gooey mess were Dagwood sandwiches, Rocky Mountain oysters from the ranch where our brother-in-law was the foreman, school-yard bullies, USGA maps, a VW microbus filled with camping gear, the violin he crafted at the Dushkin School of Music, worn-out excuses, Heathkit components, short-wave radios, cameras, and developing baths. A sudden fissure in the marshmallow frosting revealed a girl with summer-blond hair waving goodbye out a car window as her family leaves the campground.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Costumes (Part 3)

We've lost our second Gypsy.

By that I don't mean to infer that I've misplaced either the first or the second. I know perfectly well where they are, it's just that family obligations in October will keep them from "singing, dancing, tending to the fire ablaze with mystery" along with the rest of us. The Pirate waits ever so patiently. So far.

I do have a lead on possible cast members for the three roles remaining open.

The morning after our second read-through of the script last Thursday night, I awakened knowing the script had developed a major flaw. The powerful promise of the opening was not matched by the ending. In fact, the show lacked an important connective thread throughout. I immediately went back to work while my insight remained fresh. Now to let it simmer for a while without me.

The Planetarium is out as a venue for us. I investigated the Elks Lodge last Friday. The space looked very workable, but as of this afternoon, the Elks and I are unable to coordinate appropriate dates for a production. Tied to Hallowe'en, the show has a limited time frame. It's still early in the game.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


When 19 good years had come to pass,
Melissa lived by the sea, did she,
in a quaint little house by the sea.

We all felt someone should visit the lass
and witness her life by the sea, thought we,
but who, pray tell, should it be?

As her mother I knew what I had to do
and flew to my child by the sea, just me,
to her quaint little house by the sea.

We danced and we sang, grew tipsy with brew
and walked hand-in-hand by the sea, did we,
in the moonlit sand by the sea.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Trash Cans:
An Excavation of Family as Midden Heap
(Part 4 - Mother)

Mother’s trash can graced the foot of the table wearing a royal blue silk dress, a string of graduated pearls, and Chanel No. 5. Her lid was warm to the touch. Black-capped chickadees flitted inside in the summer light, their two-note song evidence for her of holiness. Below were white sand beaches with sanderlings skirting the foaming surf, vases of yellow jonquils, bone china teacups, aprons for every occasion, floor-length satin gowns, Girl Scout newsletters, Robert’s Rules of Order, Rudolph Valentino, winning bridge hands, ballerina dreams, and the irrepressible heart of a Flapper. Embedded in a layer rich in buttermilk and graham crackers were the ashes of regret, shards of hope, points of insecurity.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Too Bad I've Never Been to Kampsville

What if I had lived in Horizon Nine
And you in Horizon Eight buried
Through charcoaled fragments of time,
Preserved through drought and flood
For future men-of-the-spade?

Would you have known that I existed
Compressed beneath your prayers and fires,
A captive audience while they burned?
Would you have cared that I existed,
Precursor of your fate?

Or perhaps when you arrived
You thought this site unoccupied.
So, unearthed, I am as new to you
As I am to these shovels and picks
And laboratory specialists.

No matter—we both lie exposed.
A few telltale bones and seeds
Proclaim our existence.
Betrayed by Carbon-14, we remain forever
Prisoners of our own horizons.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Trash Cans:
An Excavation of Family as Midden Heap
(Part 3 - Grandma)

Grandma’s trash can perched between her daughters in a rose-flowered housedress, rolled-down stockings, and sensible black shoes. I felt guilty opening her elder lid as she was always so discreet and proper. Hidden in mounds of glutinous peelings from the red-skinned potatoes she prepared every night for dinner, no matter what Mother was serving, were hairnets and tissues, croqueted afghans, Art Linkletter, African violets, pillow candies, widow hands that had washed and cooked to keep five children together, Lawrence Welk, Sergeant Schultz, and a fluttery syncopated heart. Deep in her Germanic core, a buried Mother Tongue choked on its diphthongs.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Costumes (Part 2)

THURSDAY NIGHT - Our producer joins us for an exciting script reading. We have found a powerful Ragman, poignant Jasmine, and provocative Gypsy to accompany the Pirate, Lily, and Tom. We still need to find actors to play Skeleton and Ghost, but we have three months before serious rehearsals begin. "Who Will You Be?" works well as the new opening song; the ending is very close to satisfying. With a bit more revision and composing for the Overture, "Wenches," and "Don't Let Time Come Between Us," the show will be ready for rehearsal. Maybe this year I'll be able to sleep nights during September and October.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON - Our producer leaves a message on our answering machine. At a 9:00 am staff meeting at the museum, she raved about the show; as of 2:00 pm she is no longer connected to the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium. She has lost her job. She doesn't know what that means for the show.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Unlike the Moon

Unlike the moon
born of the collision
between space-time and matter
and instantly flung across
a dark dispassionate void,

I was a child
born of the collision
between a man and a woman
and instantly embraced
by the harsh light of delivery.

The moon and I
were both drawn in time
by forces cosmic and cultural
into orbits where we learned
to reflect another's light.

This went on, in my case,
for many years.

Unlike the moon,
I am ill content to remain
a mere reflection, so I stalk
the dark dispassionate void within,
searching for the source
of my light.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Trash Cans:
An Excavation of Family as Midden Heap
(Part 2 - Aunt Florence)

Aunt Florence’s spinster trash can wore a housedress of violet pansies buttoned to her throat, a cameo pin, and an embroidered hankie tucked in her side pocket. Her lid clanged against the can when I opened it, setting off an echo from deep inside. I peered down into the sparsely furnished core. Three stenographer pads, one Smith-Corona typewriter, two carefully pressed business suits, one slice of burnt toast, one bandaged heart, five quarters for the bus ride to work, one swimsuit, one sweet tooth, a host of blushes, and one dapper young gentleman in seersucker and straw disappearing behind a blizzard of scriptures from Science and Health.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mourning Dove

Coah, cooo, cooo, coo.

The insistent cooing of doves
perched inside our chimney cap
penetrates the not-to-be-disturbed,
can’t-you-tell-I’m-working attitude
I’ve been trying so hard to nurture.

The coos tumble down
through blackened brick and mortar,
all the while overlapping, multiplying,
gaining resonance until they echo
boldly in our hearth and undulate
across the living room carpet.

I lift my bare feet, but not soon enough.
Already I can see the male puffing out
his throat, bobbing his long pointed tail
as he woos his chosen female
with quiet, mournful intimacies.

Coah, cooo, cooo, coo.

Can he be describing the sunrise?
How he evaded hunters on the ridge?
Where lie the tastiest water, seeds, and grain?
Or is he just some four-ounce, sweet-cooing male
overcome with her buff-colored belly,
her iridescent beauty mark?
Does she hear the boasting of a master
twig collector? A faithful partner willing
to help incubate and preen their squabs?
Or is she simply smitten with the bluish ring
of bare skin around his eyes, blinded
by the rose wash on his chest?

The hearth whistles with a burst of flight.
Perhaps the shadow of a red-tailed hawk
interrupted their courtship and now my doves
are sweeping the sky, gliding to safety.
Perhaps now I can get back to work.

Coah, cooo, cooo, coo.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The War Against Clutter (Part 2 - The Cold War)

“If this had been an actual emergency . . .”

I was a yearling when the United States dropped “Little Boy” on Hiroshima and “Fat Boy” on Nagasaki in 1945.

While my sister Alice was falling in love with her handsome cowboy in 1949, the Soviet Union tested its first nuclear weapon and I played “up in the air so blue” on my swing. While Alice was choosing her wedding gown in 1950, the North Korean army marched across the 38th Parallel and I played “The Fairies’ Harp” on the piano. In 1951 while Alice was nursing her firstborn son in Colorado, President Truman established CONELRAD and I played a new game at Lyon School called “Duck and Cover.”

While Alice and her family were continuing their struggle as ranchers along the Front Range in 1956, the United States continued its testing of hydrogen bombs in the Nevada Test Sites, its production of plutonium at the Rocky Flats Plant northwest of Denver, its processing of uranium and vanadium ores at the Old Rifle Mill southwest of Denver. That was the year I fell in love with Elvis Presley. But no matter how hard I leaned against the high fidelity speaker while he crooned “Love Me Tender,” he could never be mine, so I set my sights instead on the tinsel-toothed boys in junior high. From then on, every week when the air raid sirens blew, every time WJJD paused for a test of the emergency broadcast system, I wondered what the point was of being “good” in a world that was going to end at any split second. I wanted to live long enough to kiss a boy.

In 1971 while I was shopping in the vacuum department of a Sears Roebuck store in Illinois, an air raid siren screamed through the building. The long-awaited nuclear attack had come at last! I clutched my two-year-old son and mourned that I would never again see my husband and parents. I saw all of us facing the mushroom cloud alone. When I opened my eyes to gaze at my child, I saw everyone mindlessly going about their business buying and selling vacuum cleaners. Was it already 10:30 on a Tuesday morning?

Yesterday the air raid siren blew as I walked across the Target parking lot on a cloudless Wednesday noon in Tulsa OK. I’ve grown accustomed to hearing the siren blow for approaching tornadoes, but just like Pavlov’s dog, I still and always react with my conditioned response. While the enemies we face in 2009 don’t play by the old thermonuclear world rules, I am a product of the Cold War fallout that continues to contaminate my life. I’d like to let it go, but then again I’m not sure if I can or want to. It’s one of the strongest threads that weaves me in and out of Alice’s life.

Alice died in 1961 from leukemia.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cave Painting

Dark and dank, alive with beasts
that whistle and hiss as they doze,
this is the cave I choose to paint with my life
for you to recompose.

Red ocher have I for the fires of passion
burning unchecked in my heart;
charcoal have I for the dread of nothingness,
for galaxies spinning apart.

Goldenrod I mix with elbow grease
to picture affairs of the day;
and blueberries I crush to stain the rock
with dreams you can’t rinse away.

I paint with branches, sticks and twigs,
fingers, moss and bone,
I stencil my own primitive hand,
incise the rock with stone.

The pigments bleed off every wall
and stories streak the floor
as in a fevered pitch I draft and smear
my life in metaphor.

The beasts awaken when I’m through,
their throaty murmurs rise;
I flee the cave and let them wait
for you to theorize.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Trash Cans:
An Excavation of Family as Midden Heap
(Part 1 - Father)

Father's galvanized steel trash can presides over the dining table in his gray pin-striped suit, monogrammed white shirt with opal cufflinks, and Art Deco tie. I open his heavy lid and recoil from the aroma of half-chewed Coronas, lunchtime martinis, and secret shots of Old Crow. Inside are his black patent leather dress shoes, Hawaiian shirts, Mittenwald viola, red trap-door underwear, Martin ukulele, applause and laughter, slices of rare roast beef, reels and reels of Celluloid, curly sharp copper shavings from his metal lathe in the basement, sketches of Vargas girls, long-buried dreams of Hollywood, and architectural drawings. I hear the whistle of commuter trains as he hops aboard, taste the sweaty brow of the city he inhabits by day, and smell the elm leaves blazing in our drainage ditch out by the road where he stands every October at dusk, cigar and leaf smoke curling up toward Orion.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Costumes (Part 1)

October seemed a long way off when I agreed last January to produce my Hallowe'en musical COSTUMES at the Tulsa Planetarium this year, my first opportunity to have a show Off-33rd Place. Now suddenly it's May and I realize I need to get serious about revising the script and composing music for the new songs I've added since 2006 when we last produced it at home.

Agonizing for weeks over dialogue that didn't work, I was finally ready to hear the truth two days ago from characters who have been, up until now, reluctant to speak from the heart. When I printed off the revised script and set it on my desk, I experienced a moment of intense loss. I would no longer be privy to their innermost feelings. I had been cast aside, the door shut.

Yesterday two actors joined Bill and me to read through the script. I felt encouraged by what I heard, but after a restless night, I woke up understanding at last what my show is really about and realizing my opening song is all wrong. I walked out into the morning light and with each step around the neighborhood a new song began to sing itself.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bog Woman

I am bog woman
richly tanned from the acid waters of my sleep,
stretched out on a bed of sphagnum moss
beneath a compact quilt of peat,
waiting to walk into your nightmares.

I feel your weight
upon this sacred grove of Thor
which claimed me for its mistress, a sacrificial lover
with an empty womb, forevermore,
buried in these marshy depths.

I know you’re near
gathering fuel to feed the fires burning on your hearth.
You crush the scrub of mountain ash and thorn
and cut the peat above my heart,
exposing my watery berth.

I remember you—
you thought the bog would drain my memory,
slowly leach out in time the pain of betrayal
but instead it festered, like knotweed inside me
trapped in a cauldron swamp.

I hear your voice cry out.
You stagger from the sight of my umber toes,
you who would not let me live or die,
not fossilize, not decompose,
you, clamoring now in dread.

I am bog woman.
Touch my leathery cheeks and comb my hair.
Go on, open my eyes while you excavate.
Your nightmare walks about everywhere,
determined to seek revenge.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Initially attracted by the iris along my walk this morning,I can't stop thinking about Michelangelo Antonioni's first English language film Blowup from 1966. I have no interest in being accidentally or incidentally involved in a murder, as was the photographer played by David Hemmings, but the shadows are what attract me now.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Curious how you come to mind suddenly
amid the flotsam and jetsam of ordinary days.
You, a wild, unexpected plunge out of nowhere,
a gannet strike swift and sure into waters still
turbid in the aftermath of your leaving.

And me, a creature grown comfortable in the murk,
taken again by surprise, humbled and scared to be
reminded just how much our lives flowed along together
amid the flotsam and jetsam of ordinary days.
Curious how you come to mind suddenly.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The War Against Clutter (Part 1 - The Lana Effect)

If you don't know it exists, can it be clutter?

Seven years before I was born, Lana Turner sat at the counter of the Top Hat Cafe on the southeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and McCadden Place and ordered a Coca-Cola. She was a 16-year-old skipping her typing class at Hollywood High. Thanks to the publisher of the Hollywood Reporter who liked what he saw sitting at the counter, she was discovered and cast in her first film within the year. So began her journey to stardom. It was the kind of Hollywood lore repeated often in my childhood, the fairytale magic that feeds fantasies and caused my mother to urge me never to appear in public without looking my very best. You never know who might be out there, she'd say before I walked out the door.

During the 1950's, I frequently sat at the fountain of Huerbinger's Drugstore on the northwest corner of Glenview Road and Waukegan Road and ordered a Coca-Cola. I watched the soda jerk in his white bib apron and paper hat fill my glass with syrup and soda while every cell in my body tingled with anticipation. Someone might be out there. But if the publisher of The Glenview Announcements was sitting in a booth admiring me from afar, he never came forward with an offer I couldn't refuse. Like Lana, I too took a typing class, but not knowing how to skip class in a suburban high school so far from town, I learned to type. It came in handy when I had no other marketable skills after graduating with a liberal arts degree in anthropology.

I was out for my usual early morning walk last Sunday, musing on how it felt to shake the hands of aspiring actors after a local production of The Fantasticks, how it felt to look them in the eye and say a few encouraging words, how it feels to be onstage myself and have audience members congratulate me after a show. Someone might be out there. That's when Lana Turner wrestled her way up out of my unconscious and, no fairy godmother, confronted me until I admitted to myself that I was still waiting to be discovered, whether as an actor or writer or simply someone out in public looking her very best. I was still waiting, as if my journey to stardom had yet to begin. Sixty-five years old and my psyche was still paying ransom to the Lana Effect.

If you don't know it exists, it can still be clutter. Once you see an outworn message for what it is, though, you can let it go. Adios, amiga.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Leaving Home

For the better part of 53 years,
I called a single house home.
I had the same address, same phone number,
and watched streaks of sunlight
move in and out of south-facing windows
with the same slow precision from
one equinox to the next.

Three times the 17-year cicadas returned
while I grew up, argued with a brother,
lost a sister, fell in love, married,
birthed a son, lost a father, birthed a
daughter, earned a master’s degree, divorced,
discovered the wilderness, fell in love,
kept company with cancer, and cared
for a mother until she died.
And then I left.

Whenever I return, memories
dash across the lawn to greet me.
They chat in the front hall,
play duets on the piano and viola
in the living room, dance,
bake apricot upside down cakes.
They jump out of cupboards when
I look for what I once knew was there,
laugh in the basement over martinis
and a rousing match of ping pong,
hide under blankets in the coat
closet and set off smoke alarms
with their cigars.
They are quite unwilling
to leave me alone.

These days I call a new house home.
I have a new address and phone number,
but still I watch streaks of sunlight
move in and out of south-facing windows
with the same slow precision from
one equinox to the next.

The 17-year cicadas returned to Illinois,
but here in Oklahoma, we count time
with wind and tornado, fire and ice.
We hold parties in safe closets,
go to sleep by candlelight, rake acorns
until we go nuts and the next year,
worry there are no acorns.
And in the meantime,
I gained a daughter-in-law and two
grandchildren, lost a brother,
broke a foot, started my own theatre
company, married, shattered my right knee,
and fell in love
with new memories.

It took a while after I left home
to make a new home, but now that I have,
the old memories have found me.
I greet them with affection,
baggage and all.

Mother, Alice, and Elliott years before I was born.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

No Handsome Cowboys Yet (Part 1)

Alice was already fifteen years old when I was born in 1944. A baby sister was not on her teenage agenda. She was busy dreaming of horses and cowboys and the Wild West, of living her life somewhere other than in the comfortable northern suburbs of Chicago. She couldn’t wait to get out of the house. I’d like to think of my presence in said house as not so much of an annoyance as a dream catalyst.

Not long after my arrival, Alice talked Dad into buying her a horse that she kept at a stable nearby in Harms Woods. Family lore has it that when she was sixteen, she announced she was going to marry Harry, the stable boy. This news apparently didn’t sit well with Mother and Dad, so they whisked her off with them to a film convention in Hollywood and on down to Mexico City to broaden her horizons. She spent all her time in hotel rooms writing lovesick letters to Harry who reciprocated by having a new girl friend when she arrived home. That’s probably why she was so mad when I hid her lipstick in the clothes hamper. How was I to know?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Walking in the rain this afternoon, I hear through my rain gear the swishing of each step I take, the water swirling down the streets and into sewer drains, the soft pelt of raindrops on fresh green spring leaves not yet ravaged by insects and the summer heat to come. The rain is capricious, but there is no wind. Down at 34th and Atlanta, a gangly duckling is running back and forth across a bridge over the sewer drain, up and down a sloping lawn, in and out of the euonymus under an oak tree, back to the drain. His little peeps are as poignant as those of any lost child. I stop to watch him. He stops to watch me, then continues his frantic search. My heart aches. At 34th and Lewis, I turn around to thunder and lightning. My pace quickens. I don't relish the idea of being struck down by lightning. I remember reading THE ICE QUEEN by Alice Hoffman, learning about Gretel Ehrlich being struck by lightning out on the range in Wyoming, hearing many versions of the afternoon my cowboy brother-in-law was out checking his irrigation ditches in Colorado during a summer storm until he was felled by a secondary ground strike. My nephews found him crawling back to the ranch house, his clothes torn and singed.

Sestina for a Hawk

A hawk silhouettes on a barren limb,
his eyes keen into the glum sullen sky.
Common, Cooper, Ferruginous, or Gray
I can't say--my eyes not so keen as his--
but I do know the cottontail below
on the lawn might want to forgo clover

and, leaping side to side past the clover,
race to safer places under scrubby limb
or even to his warren warmth below.
Death before breakfast, a dive from the sky,
a mortal struggle appeals not to his
hare taste or mine on this April day gray.

But what of the hawk? He studies in gray.
His rapt appetite includes no clover
green or tulips red and pink beneath his
lookout perch on a crow's nest oaken limb.
He hungers for songbirds sweet in a sky
slow lowering down to the ground below.

At least that's how it feels, standing below
Common, Cooper, Ferruginous, or Gray
this heavy-pressed morning of somber sky.
Why can't I consider fresh spring clover
instead of being drawn out on a limb
by this bold hawkish intention of his?

All around me grows silent still as his
clever sharp burnished eyes--if from below
I could see them--calculate lift from limb,
arc, acceleration, pursuit on gray
streaks of decision. With reckless clover
luck, he will seize and surprise from the sky

songs to feed the gnawing glum-hungry sky
that seeps onto his shoulders, drips off his
tail, nourishes white-flowered clover
where cottontails in season mate below.
I blink, recoil from stiff wings of blue-gray
beating within feet of my head and limb.

The hawk hunts the raw sky for prey below.
I'm not his songstress, just poetess gray.
That hare in clover keeps his lucky limb.