A final farewell to my pet praying mantis now brown
my favored garden mantis ages
from green to amber
that’s my preferred
her right wing shredded
from rough rocks,
but she knows me
reaches for me like a kitten
with little lobster claws
then recoils from her injuries.
i know her pain
huddled for the 200th night
i battle against my antique sewing machine
for 1000 floral print masks
my wrists and vision tunneled.
my hands match mantis religiosa
i channel Mother and her mother and hers
who made hundreds of children’s quilts at
Zion women’s group
frail fabric layers endeavoring to save one life.
as i take her place in line,
i wonder if her pain is mine
penance and prayer
penance for every cruel word i ever spoke
each unjust or undone deed I now I own?
if so, she finished decades ago while
i have thousands and thousands more to sew
before another wing crumbles
i’m willing to be wrong about laboring over masks
even as i package them in reused amazon plastics
praying the post office holds out one more day.
i can’t find what to believe in any more
but i believe in Her
whispering in her croaking voice
as she polished church pews:
Red. Yellow. Black. White.
All are Precious in His Sight.
i’m wagering on Her being right on this.
hunching when i Rise Up
from The Machine to gardens
i limp on Her same wooden, rusted hips
kneel on angry knees near senescent mantises
now crimson in an alien, smoky poison-red twilight
for EvenFall prayers:
*watch with those who wake,
or weep tonight.
give your angels Charge over those who
tend your sick ones,
rest your weary ones,
bless your dying ones,
soothe your suffering ones,
pity your afflicted ones,
shield your joyous ones,
stay with us,
to guard the innocent,
to raise the fallen,
to curb the power of the Evil One,
stay with us.
*evening book of prayers
mum in red with quilters
two of my 1000 masks
we long for the old days
you know, the ones from last week?
When positive meant optimistic
TV ads stab at our wounds.
Every pictorial, vividly ludicrous
dance troupes, live audiences, concerts in parks
kids leaping on and off school buses.
eating puffy Cheetos with our hands shoved elbow deep into bags
licking the orange fluff from our fingers.
clinging to each other while we wept in grief
hands dipped in tears gripped
we scratched our noses without guilt
washed our hands without singing
answered doorbells without thinking
opened UPS packages with abandon
longed for tropical cruises
held tight to handrails for safety
during meandering shopping trips.
the sun does not shine here despite
endless virtual, viral
For God slumbers,
Dreamless, on Ghost Nebula
just 1470 light years from earth.
Fighting mynd belonging to monkeys
I hate this has become my muse
Quiet these many years.
I pose in yoga’s Warrior II.
Aching joints roll the waterworks.
I dare not touch my face to staunch
Flowing. Settling into
all the other antiques from
The Good Old Days
Gardens are lovely in smoky fall haze
Ruby petals shrivel in winter’s sudden approach.
As darkening zinnias curl and wither
Competing with vexed wasps for last sips of nectar,
I fill every pocket with spiky thistles
Next spring’s love-on-a-mist, black eyed susan, amaranth.
For Ginny’s Glenwood hill and Andrea’s sunny spots
I hear in the wasp’s drone,
Fall brings farewells that we dread
“I feel guilty that my sorrow for my old terrier cuts
as deeply as my mother’s loss,” I confess to Maven.
She absolves me:
Our dogs hold all our tears of loss and allow us to finally grieve everything.
Their dates so close together,
I slide his service collar beside her seeded sympathy card
shoulder to shoulder in the earth
Tilling with hands unpracticed in grief’s hull
I plant resilient red faces of cold loving kale.
I realize again,
We only rent from God.
I plug in my fairy lights
So they both can see the way Home
I was 5 years old with a new green plaid dress and I was in kindergarten two blocks from my home. The world seemed full of promise as I posed with my younger sisters under the ripening apricot trees on my first day of school.
I also remember Grandma and Grandpa’s new red brick house adjacent to our white frame house. Much like my own now, it had a massive concrete basement. Not furnished but with four small windows and a walk in pantry.
Every year we canned vegetables and fruits by the ton into sealed jars. Marked by date and the proper seal noted by their creator. They were lined up in alphabetical order, holding promise for a winter’s day. From our own gardens we canned beans, corn, odd looking meats, rhubarb, sorta smashed looking peaches, and apricots. Colors of the rainbow hidden under the stairway.
I remember a year so far distant almost hour by hour. Because fifty years from these very October days in 1962 our harvest included cots, blankets, beds, pillows, clothes, and stuffed toys. Baby bassinets and food for the Little Girls.
And Dad covered the windows with tinfoil, though in his trained Navy mind, he knew that aluminum foil could not block out horror that hung across the world.
Cartoons along with the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Hour, Lawrence Welk, too were blurred by Walter Cronkite as he tried to keep us up to date with the blockade of ships circling the southeast coast.
So very little was actually said as adults tried to hide their fears. I think that is what frightened me most.
It’s not like that sudden burst of adrenaline an adult gets when they have a chance to save their child. Like my mom did when I was 16 and I froze behind the steering wheel of the old Rambler on the Boulder Turnpike.
I felt the fear. A long drawn out, anguishing adrenaline as our families who had seen war held their breath for 13 long days.
But mostly I remember the foil on the windows, even I knew it was not enough to hold back a nuclear blast.
A “Peace with Freedom” was offered by our President.
The fall air today is crisp and the wind sharp, full of the scent of harvesting corn and sugar beets.
Gifts of peace we take for granted. Gifts of promise like those jars in the pantry that hung in the balance while we stared for 13 days and nights at foil covered windows.
Waiting for a blast of radiance that was held back by a combination of the sweat of diplomacy.
Perhaps, it is just the type of day to remember that with crisis comes unity. And we can remain united without the fear of crisis and war and politics.
We stopped every day,
Yellow Dog and I, to visit giant koi in
The cemetery waterfall
Living their stagnant lives
Circling in fetid water
Under the watchful eye of
Sugar beet smoking stacks.
Some the size of terriers
Likely 20 years old
About the same amount of time I
Have circled around those same motionless towers.
I knew each by sight. Had names for them
Smoky, Gator, Fluffy…..
I told them confidences I wouldn’t dream to tell you
Made wishes into their faltering fountain
Someone poisoned the fish today
The. sight. of. such. violence. leveled. me.
I mourned for every love I have lost
As I gaped at workmen dragging their catch
Into funereal black trash bags.
I had to see.
Stumbling through tears
I stared at each of my former pals
I had to be sure
There was none wearing spectacles
Goldfish were my Valentine’s day request
No roses please
They just don’t last
12 followed Lan home from Walmart
One already floating listlessly in the goldfish sachs
From the treacherous 3 block drive
(Kenneth scandalously fished them out of store tanks, no one would help them)
I proclaimed the floater, Otis.
My loud voice echoing along plastered walls
Making crowded fish in the bag flutter.
‘Do not name goldfish’
The Boys cried in unison.
There’s no future in it.
(you know goldfish only have an IQ of 3)
Wait at least until tomorrow.
I feared a massacre in their tiny glass cage.
But, still, named Floyd the Barber with a long flowing tail
And Barney the Betta.
Ernest T Bass has a fine black mohawk.
But he’s a bully.
I am considering putting him alone in a teacup
Already, they follow me as I walk around rooms
Goddess of Flakes
I click and whistle when it’s feeding time.
Their feeding frenzy antics simultaneously
amuse and calm me.
Goldfish swim in the same water they poo in.
they die in clear, clean water
Kenneth says they have to cover foreign objects with their slime
so disaster is imminent.
tank water was so cloudy this morning
discount store filter stopped working
Otis died for reals.
Ernest ain’t looking too great
Aunt Bee has a damaged fin
Opie hides, buried in the rocks.
Still. others rush madly to greet
The Goddess of Flakes.
Do my Tiny lives matter?
The very reincarnation of our childhood dog,
Part pit bull, part beagle
She snarled at Gin and I
When we patted her in the shelter visiting room.
Made us laugh so loud
Our laughter rang between cinder blocks
Legs-barely 3 inches long and hefty mongrel body.
But how that dog could run
Shelter workers laughing as they narrated how
Two weeks were needed to catch her by baiting her with food
Fried Chicken and fired burritos
Chips and salsa.
It stuck in her mind. Those two weeks
her hunger in life, profound.
Mexican food was her mainstay for 15 years.
And she ours.
We went through an assortment of names
Oxford, Boxy, Rocks
Settling on Rox.
Which quickly evoked Roxzannnnnne.
(In deference to Sting)
As she sped without regard to danger to
Yet another garbage dumpster
Or when she ate the armrests off Gin’s new green Honda
Terriers are mostly teeth and bark
Convincing in disguise as Doberman Pinschers
And as lap dogs
Often, it seems, bred for one sterling day.
(like the day two vagabonds tried to get in Ginny’s car
And met the pit bull part)
Those two were of gyspy blood
Rox preferring car over kennel
Except for an occasional flight of will.
Our dogs become our children
When our children are absent.
To our dogs, We become gods.
They ease the lonely days
Listening to our deepest fears
All the while
an indelicate human versus dog year formula
They are merely rentals
Yet, always the optimists
We find ourselves
In animal shelter parking lots
For our hearts to heal
Ode to Roxzanne 2002-2017
1 degree on the frozen colo plains
2001 Pruis is skating on 1 gallon of gas
100 miles til home on Highway 1
my last $1 bill won’t buy coffee
Ice 1 inch thick covers everything
1% battery on cell phone
Page 1 of a Prius owner’s manual reads
100 miles to the gallon
Fuel Signal lights begin to flash
It’s all on faith in first gear.
Many are cold
but a Few are frozen
I am afraid of desolate dark woods
Where we have no words
Poets without muse.
In thistle thicket budding
From the Wild Rose that Grows in Winter.
Outside my protected plot
Thriving in expert isolationist landscapes,
Hanging from bare honeysuckle branches.
Riotous and greedy
Star-lings, grackles, blue Js, Mock-ing birds,
Searching for sanctuary in my treeless bloc.
Now feeding on black oil.
and sunflower seeds
I want quiet here, away from word woods,
Without the noise of thesaurus, lexicon, and glossary
I want to drink at the first font
To quench thirst from frost forming at my temples
But I am at a loss for Words
Photo credit to Brianna Sargent
Sighs of our tiempo.
my sisters, Ginny and Laura,
though a continent apart
in Cabo and Veracruz
together, recline on Sol’s heated stones
pacified by Del Mar in Mexico.
while flurries pad Rocky.
mountain valley walls with feet of snow .
through obstacles/ and (barriers).
to inundate faltering seas.
erasing every palisade and rampart.
oceans sing a global song
to every winter.
I’m yours. $ave me. $ave me.
save yourselves. < >
Potent comfort steams off thick blue bowls of
Seems that which is mulled, mused
Holds solace flavored seasoning
Like poems that sit overnight on laptops
Into profound silence of approaching chill
Edging mostly eastward
Swarms of Canadian and Snow Geese
Gyre as one
Undoubtedly distinct voices
Now that hushed Lawn mowers and leaf blowers
Are a muted majority
Reserved for emerging spring.
Hands cupped around the blends of Second Day Chili
We eschew cable tv
We devour nostalgia from
Name that Tune
Boggle, WordTwist, CatchPhrase
Cackling brashly over the shadows
as our old brains try to connect
Nuggets of timeworn Golden Oldies.
But mostly it about us.
Finding ties in times of disparate reasoning
Fueled by spices
Of second Day Chili
Now. We ALL know
The Muffin Man
Do we not?
Since his move to Drury Lane.
(Depends on which word one emphasizes)
Reciting his song
Repeating his chant
Drowning in brownie batter
Eating his cheap breads
(that he tied to string
To draw the hungry home)
Cooked to a pastel pink
We didn’t know his st0ry
As we blindly
Recited his song
Big Apple Turn Overs
We trip over mortar and pestilence
Death by Muffin The Pastry Diva
I have 10 rolls of aluminum foil in my Dollar Store basket
I know it’s foolish but it is my only recourse
Worried, nearly despondent
I clean out clearance Holiday candy
Like I don’t really care about my teeth anymore.
I have trouble focusing on what is real
What is fake news and which are suppositions.
What is bluster over bravado.
What is narcissism and what is buoyancy.
I buy foil just the same
Enough to line all my windows
In the event of The Event
It’s groundless and baseless.
Foil does not protect from nuclear fallout.
I know that.
Speculative news scrolls along a dozen store tvs.
A dozen different truths.
I go back into House Wares
And clean the shelves of foil.
I am a big fan of embellishing alternate truths
Shillyshallying between exaggeration and de-emphasizing
Trivialities like measurements of my weight or hips
The amount of sleep I got last night
How much water I (actually) drink
Or maybe, wind chills in depth of midwinter.
‘Course actual widths and breadths
Can’t be changed by repetition or recitation
And I can hear my mother on the phone
Empathizing in her soft, low sweet drawl
even though she doesn’t really believe me.
Some surveys say we tell two lies every day but
This strikes me as surprisingly low.
I have the feeling that people
Were insincere about the extent of lies
Accuracy & honesty wane while i stumble closer
To the approximate vicinity of Truth
It is much preferable to lean comfortably against hyperbole.
It’s quieter now that I have squelched (the Wicked) Jiminy Cricket
And the silence
Won’t bother me til early mourn.
Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket by artist Kaws
January has a voice of its own
Like the sound of Styrofoam peanuts
Rattling along edges of streets lately turned iceseas.
Odd deep resonating crunch of below zero crusted snow under foot
Can rime be colder than freezing?
Reverberations of shotguns echoing forever
Through leafless valleys
Does time slow in winter?
Sunless days and moonless nights.
Harder to be heard in the growing chill
Harder to feel in cold-numbed limbs
Achy in rapidly rising and falling barometric pressures
Decades old snow boots hurt when I march
New snow boots aren’t yet broken in.
Deep scars twinge from stiff leather trusses
Decades old teeth hurt when I eat
Because I clench my anguished incisors anxiously
Now must grind my meat in the food processor
It’s nothing new
Woes of winter
Passage of time
January has a voice of its own
Solitary gives way to solidarity
We all groan alone
I want to believe that I’ve made a mark.
I have altered lives .
Rescued some from icy waters.
Reached out. Enriched.
and, in turn, became Richer.
(we all do?)
But does the past look eerily similar to present?
This old smoky hick town
Has the same sad skyline of soulless eyes
As the day I arrived
I, for one, feel nearly as poor.
Somewhere there has to be a fail safe.
A switch that stops the rich and powerful from
Tippling poor and downtrodden.
Surely Something stands between us and
I want to find ZuZu’s Petals
Tucked from an eon past
into my pocket.
I want to go on believing
Good triumphs over evil.
That separates Futurevile
from past possibles.
I pick up nails when Yellowdog walks me.
Disregarding ice cemented by January,
Or scalding asphalt in July.
A dangerous occupation, bending to fish out a single
Dirty and foolish.
Vertigo spins my horizon madly with simple efforts.
But I pick up nails all the same.
It’s a gift I give to you.
It’s all I have.
Seems so little to do for humankind
On a day when I feel so helpless
At a loss how to ensure the survival of kindness.
It means each day there will be
Middle of nowhere
Middle of night
Middle of a dirt road
Middle of a blizzard
It seems so little
But it’s all I can do.
You will do it for me.
One rusted nail at a time.
I slug ice water in the November heat.
Mosquitoes buzz and bite while
I scrape the last seed
From a jack o lantern
Words. I never thought I would put
in the same sentence
Pumpkin carving and skeeters.
Stale sulfur slices hot north gusts
As coal fired sugar beet mountains
Fuel trick or treaters to speed through
Candy routes. Sugar coated wrappers
On their way to landfills or open sea
Rusted leaves rattle sadly.
Ghosts Of trash bags. Past
Clinging to branches.
Withering spectral fingers reach
To the zillion plastic election signs waving
Weaving in wind. whispering to the sky
I’ll be with you soon. soon
On the Day of the Dead
And Oceans Die
Check out my niece in action at home based care in Zambia through CSU
American Ideals in Zambian Culture
I experienced some of the greatest bust moments while working on the medical project. One of the first was in home based care when I visited an old woman in her home in Mwandi, one of the most remote neighborhoods in Livingstone. We were told that She was blind and unable to walk so I met her inside. (stay with one pronoun, I or we all the way through the paper) While visiting with her daughter, I saw a curtain slowly being pushed up. My first impression was that a dog or distracted child was walking through the curtain but slowly a woman sitting cross legged appeared. It displayed to me what a true lack of resources looks like. Though the woman was joyful and made jokes, she was never able to leave her tiny and stifling home because she could not go…
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