Things Poems Can’t Explain

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I searched metaphors to describe you,
the aspen’s branches beating against themselves,
waving for help, like desperate arms,

but that was the work of the wind.

The coyote, who devoured all except the head,
and what appeared to be a shoulder
of our girl cat, and left her among the weeds,

but that was the work of hunger.

Then I thought, maybe the foal,
when they drove off with his mother,
her whinnying, more distant and more distant,
as he crushed his tender body against the rails,

but that was the work of love being torn away.

No, in the end, I came up empty explaining
your helplessness against self-loathing,
our loss of hope, and leaving,

but that, it seems now, was the work of surviving–
surviving the things even poems can’t explain.

The Verdict of Trees

I surrender myself

to the verdict of trees,

better judges;

the quaking aspen,

shaking its many leaves

at me, or standing quiet,

as I plead my case—

waiting, the hardest part.

Trees, tell me

the verdict

of my life,

the verdict

of my heart

poured out in living,

where wind rattles

the bending branches,

sways the very tops

of our souls,

sometimes, snapping them off

during the darkest storms.

You, Me, and the Spokane River

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We rode dirt and mud,

through standing water,

like ponds, to verify

the sun, and life

of returning things:

Canada Geese, wood ravens,

mule deer, grazing at dusk,

and the river, surging

with the spring run off

of our souls, singing.

Dear Poet

Dear Poet,

Make them listen, with words

that rumble their insides,

and turn them outside,

fearing poets, again,

like they fear truth:

a mirror, a reflection,

a solid witness to a crime.

When you say you’re a poet

make the whole world tremble

when they hear it.

Life, Receding

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Another day, I’ve collected
over eighteen thousand
now, but none like this:
the birds have returned,
and the clouds hang low,
like the mist of what is
unknown, and I don’t care
to know, because I gave up
predicting the future
when I realized
I was always wrong.
The only thing, now,
is this poem, and how
it pulls me toward confession.
You see, a life recedes;
place a bottle in the ocean
and watch it slowly
carried away by the waves;
that is me and you,
this moment,
and this poem.

A Horsewoman’s Prayer

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Each season,
I say a prayer,
not for safety,
because want of safety
is always there,
but for Wisdom;
Wisdom to listen,
and hear
my horses speak
the magic language
of their needs;
Patience, to wait
upon the softness
of their hearts opening to me,
which is the exact part
that starts the journey of try,
without which, there’s nothing.
I pray for Courage,
when they, in communion,
ask me to fly with them,
either on the ground
at their side
or, on their backs,
where I can grip tightly
to Trust,
and Heaven,
and what it means
to be fully alive.

Christchurch

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Can you be in awe

of how much some

are expected to suffer

in this lifetime—

we are often given

more than we can—

I saw a moth

with a broken wing,

and though it struggled,

I could not crush it—

but placed him, instead,

among the leaves of jasmine,

and walked away.

The Trillium in Gig Harbor

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O, Jamie, it’s beautiful—

everything is connected,

she said, before dying.

And Jamie thought of trillium

blossoming beneath musty cedar

at the edge of the sound,

the whole world epitomized

in heart of flowers,

and spirit of ancient,

mouldering trees.

For the Tulip Who Refuses to Die

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Like the yellow tulip,

who blooms every year

in the pit behind our house,

who was dumped, long ago,

after her blossoms were spent—

yet, she screams, I’m still alive!

every spring, among garbage

and weeds; like that tulip,

you don’t belong here.

Starving Souls

Yesterday’s beauty is rarely enough for today,

like manna from heaven, it rots, decays,

disappears back, which is to say,

we do not know where, but look up, out,

beyond, and do the same again, everyday—

believe me, you are a starving soul,

lost as hell, hungry, but the universe

is a feast, prepared–

even on its worst days, it offers

up a prayer, beckons you to step

into the mystery: step through snow,

through rain, through wind, with arms

held out, eager to horde–

every bite,

every drip,

every mouth full.

My Brother, the Candle

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for my brother, Danny, on his birthday

Have we improvised too much,
lost sight of our true selves, surviving;
the world is a tough audience.
And now I remember,
when you said you wanted to be a candle,
and we laughed until we cried, and cried,
then we’d ask you again,
and again, laugh and cry,
strange, how life, with time, has changed,
and I think it’s worth a try
to be a candle.

What better man to be a light,
than one who brightens,
and who thought being a candle
was possible, and right?

Listening to Bernie’s Chimes

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He’s been dead for four years,

but I have his chimes,

and time, like wind, passes

over their wrought iron curves,

nudging the striker,

and making its voice to sing,

ring and rise up

like message from a grave,

or another sphere,

or a person I loved,

sitting next to me, speaking.

#micropoetry

Buy Yourself Flowers

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Never miss an opportunity
to buy yourself flowers.
You’ve been there
from the very first
scared and lonely cry,
and you’ll be there
until the last,
scared and lonely breath.

from the time when one is sick to death,
One is alone, and he dies more alone.

You searched through the years
for the one big love,
a soulmate, the person
who wholly understood,
but that person was always there.


Buy them flowers.
Say, Thank you. Thank you,
and, while you’re at it,
beg forgiveness,
for the moments
you were unkind–
the voice that said, no,
the voice that said, not enough,
the voice that, come to find out,
was always wrong.

*This poem is dedicated to the roses I purchased at Walmart during a long, cold February, and who inspired several poems.

I could snuggle
between your fleshy petals,
stretch my whole body
into the many folds of your mystery.
The world would be a better place
if your breasts were its universe,
your perfume, its stars and gods.

The quote “No, from the time when one is sick to death, One is alone, and he dies more alone,” is from Robert Frost’s, Home Burial.