Month: July 2012

Maison dieu

My maple tree, now also has died
I cannot water enough to
replace the lost
Subterranean moisture.
the needles of spruce and arborvitae 
Wrinkled, drying.

cracks large enough to 
lose kittens
crissCross the lawns

this desert was not meant
for Kentucky bluegrass
Roses, lilies, clematis nor
Swimming pools.
for sunflowers,
Sages, yucca, Indian blanket flowers.
and fire.

I scuttle the potato plants
dig a few bright red treasures
little bounty for two months 
soil is baked so,
I can barely force the blade in

yellow crop dusting planes
dive and roar in a useless battle
Against locusts in corn and wheat.

my sickly cottonwood weeps sap
100 Leaves wilting in a
Summer with 100 days

Against a backdrop
Of hazy sunset
my white oak tree
bids adieu, dropping curled leaves,
as blackbirds flock
at least a month too early.

their harsh lyrics echoing,
held in the dust
long after they disappear
Prairie, the prairie, prairie
Always, always, always
trump over spades and towers.

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chorus of quieted voices

She bowed her head
At my feet
Her thick long brown hair.
fell along the
planks of the

like unto
The sinner unto Jesus.
Pilgrims to Saints.
A Novena.

Ananda unto Buddha.
Subjects unto Pharaohs

And she wept.

We heard Them, then.
The Voices in chorus.
Voices of Ancient Ones
Crying for lost lands
Lost traditions
Lost religions.

We bow low.
But not low enough.
To hear All.

our vision swept away by noises
Of jackhammers, nail guns, air compressors

If we could still the
Cars on the interstate,
Screams of sirens,
Bombs in the Middle East.

They would return.
we could honor Them
just for the moment.

“Quiet ways bring quiet answers.”

Co-author Karen Harris from whom I ruthlessly plagiarized
And by Rachel Kellum who assisted me with research


My outside looks calm enough.
My bones twists against each other
I tie knots in my abdomen
Tendons pull ligaments 
In a fight for oxygen
And space.
I twitch and shake
At the mere thought
Of getting in my car.
I wear out my clothes from the inside.
In the doctor’s office waiting rooms
I pace, stomp, sigh, do cartwheels.
I’m immobile. Petrified clay.
My voice screams into my ears.
In silent rooms.
My insides flame with
Stored rage and 
Unsaid curses.
The hex 
Stays where it was born.
Within me.
I panic at the sound
Of the doorbell
Or the phone.
I want to tear through
The walls 
With my bare hands
And rip the tangled
Wires of myself
Adrenaline surges
Through my fireblood
Kills my calm.

Confessions of a mad recycler

I’m phobic. Everything phobic.
But mostly germaphobic.
I also fear  travel, laundry,
Big box discount stores,
Buses, trains, door knobs,
Gas stations, garage sales
Milk, wheat, eggs, 
 blue jays.

And those big thick white
China Coffee cups from diners.
Nearly every one has the faint
Form of lipstick stains
 pressed along the rim.

I’m afraid of eating out,
Take out, and delivery 
Deli, too.

I’m real nervous in all cars
 except pickup trucks.
I cling to my seat belt and constantly 
Measure the distance from my nose
To the air bag.
I fear a tire loosening,
Hear bolts vibrating loose.
Sense metal

I won’t shake hands with my doctors 
Or any medical persons.

I’m afraid to hug, 
I won’t shake hands with you
Even if I’ve missed you
And long for your hand.

I check  first to see if
 your nails are clean 
Or if you have a cold.
When was the last time you washed your hands.

I wear little winter gloves
All through the stores,
I use my knuckles to 
Put my PIN in the ATM
I wince as I use my sleeve
To grab a pen for signing.
I shiver when the kid
Behind me in the grocery line
Sneezes into my cart.

The mere thought of an
Airline flight
Sends me into an 
All day panic.

But I can’t help myself
I look into the gigantic dumpster
As I toss my trash.

And I see Them.

Dozens of pristine
Soda and beer cans
Carefully collected.
And tossed.

Then came
grass clippings.
Coffee grounds.
Cat food tins.
And some more really awful stuff.

I cannot bear it.
If the earth is killed
By our hasty waste.
We go with it.

Is our ailing planet
Of so little significance 
To us?

No one here in this whole block
Knows where the Cash for cans Center is?

I wonder.
I look around desperately
For that one homeless guy
With a rickety shopping cart
Who comes by every day.
And digs the cans out with
His filthy grabber claw.

Where is he?

I hear the trash truck in the distance.
Do I have any tools?
a stick? Shovel? Rake? Time.



Cloze Test


I have sought
From broken loves 
As if it t’were
One of the lesser gods
Long eluding me.
Searching, as you say, 
For neat wrappings, ribbons, and thus.

Some came with sand and time
Fresh from broken

As I stood on
Grassy knoll
To cold granite.

One or two
Golden transformations
Than the 
Originals loves could have been.

These, alas, be
A bit Gestalt.

a mere play on 
A filling in of blanks.

all’s fair ……. chapter two

We were Cowgirls and boys before horses were invented.

Sweaty disheveled urchins, My Identical Cousin, Goldy, and I roamed a town of 4000 on foot, bikes, skates, horseback. You might remember, similar to exercising?
Occasionally, if Cousin Maven would drive, we cruised the short main street in the dubious Studebaker. If there was a television in Goldy’s house, I never saw it. It wouldn’t have mattered; we had no interest in a stationary box of black and white pictures. We had real life in front of us.
Drama, the kids call it now.

No adult supervision seemed to be available or required; we wandered for eight hours a day without fear or concern on anyone’s part. The village grandmothers could stop us in our tracks with an icy glance, should we err. I wonder, though, if My Mother is hearing this decades old, tell-all expose’ for the first time.

Goldy was reigning royalty for me. She won barrel racing, calf roping, horse jumping, and beauty contests. She rode her palomino like a princess and she shed off admirers like muddy boots. We had no use for lads but we loved to stare at seasoned cowboys in fascinating leather chaps and hats.

Oh ya. Identical cousins. We looked alike, talked alike, walked alike. Until about age 13. Goldy grew even more blonde, beautiful, taller, and smarter. But as the Chihuahua of the group, I didn’t really notice. In the rodeo parades, I was proud be near on the Parade Route; she, astride her palomino. I walked on the scalding pavement dressed as an Native American in a gunny sack right at her stirrups, her soft rope casually looped across my shoulders.
I don’t have any pictures of that, I wish I did, for it was a genetic foreshadow, a threaded rope of Indian heritage hidden in my DNA.
I remember hearing the very Politically Correct 1970 Master of Ceremonies call out into his bullhorn , “Look, Folks, a beautiful cowgirl and her Indian pal!” We were annoyed, but it this would come true in more than one way. American Native blood runs hot in my bare feet and in my nomadic, wearying heart. And as for Cowgirl Goldy, she has rescued me without knowing, again and again.

We invented a peculiar German/Pig Latin coded twin speech so that we could communicate even during a noisy family reunion with the 50 or so of us cousins around tables. At every sunset, we promised each other we would be cowgirls forever, just as cicadas began their noisy rituals.

I have attended the county fair in every town I lived for 30 years, searching for that same kinship we shared for decades. I was poor some of those years. I hungered for those glossy prize winning, carrots, cucumbers, squash from shanties free of surveillance cameras. The farmers would have given me bushels of the stuff, if I had the country know-how to ask.

Goldy, Maven and I can still finish each other’s sentences.Because we cannot be together, we dream over email to each other about The Old Days when we didn’t worry a bit about sunburns, sugar, white bread, listeria, e coli, West Nile virus, kidnapping, claustrophobia, panic attacks, genetic backlashes.

Or cyber bullying. Goldy rides a rugged, lonely, chaotic range. She spends long circuitous days corralling wild creatures with a bitter, loco-weed addiction.
These patients roil with computerized tormentors that we could not have foreseen in the Silent 1970s, astride sweaty, saddled geldings. Now, these prevalent internet oppressors and intimidators cut into her time and energy. Rustlers on wide open cyber prairie, in these years I label the Roaring Zeros.
She horse-whispers the anguish from them; she rescues as many as she can. Sitting at her dusty desk in Kansas, she types endlessly on her worn computer. But she dreams of the old times together and of her ponies waiting in the barn for her sugar soft voice. The horses cannot resist her, nor she them.

We three talk to each other often and easily. But Maven lives in New York City, Goldy lives with a farm full of critters and her own beautiful cowgirls and guys. And a thousand or so patients.

Me? I’m living in selective isolation, still searching for my pony in Manureland, USA.

We must settle for solo dialogues echoing into silence about our good ol’ days. We conduct lonely, scattered monologues to hay bales, golden retrievers, and horses. Within our Shadowy Memories we ride and write of a time when we felt secure just being together. A new county fair ride I recommend to replace Ghost Gulch, since every one of our greatest fears has been far surpassed since our Fair Years.

We can talk ourselves back into a time eons gone by. We have only to drift back to an age where we are sitting side by side on a white warshed plank fence in Nebraska waiting for the barrel racing championships to be announced. And we talk endlessly, pretending, as if the other is there to hear.
it’s not Fair.

Life is only Fair-like in that it is the competitive collection of our finest hours and finest labors.

But life is in no way Fairish. We don’t win so often.

That’s why we must have One every year in every county in the Midwest. So that every kid can get a taste of the Grand Finale Rodeo Rattlesnake Round Up. So they know how to fight the bite in the years to come.

all’s Fair ……………. chapter 1

what’s the difference between an optimist and a pessimist?
A farmer walks into a horse barn. She sees twin girls near a huge pile of horse manure. The first, a pessimist, is angry and frustrated, kicking and shouting at the other. The second, a optimist, is laughing and tossing shovelful after shovelful gleefully in the air.
The farmer asks the optimist, “Why are you so happy about all this horse dirt?”
The optimist replies, “Well with all these horse droppings, there has to be a pony for me in here somewhere!”

That would be me and Goldy.

We were cousins. Identical cousins. Goldy and I spent two or three weeks side by side each year at Nebraska fairs. We lived for the two week Cheyenne County Fair and Rodeo.
I was from the big city of Denver so really never experienced a county fair. Malls in The City, substituted for the open markets made for an awkward and silly event, shopping in giant buildings indoors.

I switched from being a city girl to a country girl early on. To save the buck admission fee, Goldy showed me how to sneak into the grounds through the pond and the back acreage, pushing back sand burrs and barb wire. It was practice for our upcoming thorny trials.

Goldy lived for the Horses, trying to feed them dry prickly grass through the wires. Harnessed in finery or bronco busting nags, it made no difference to her; she loved their sad, wide eyes. Even now, I delight in the smell of grains pouring from gunny sack to bin and the scent of freshly cut alfalfa.
As for manure. Well, I now live 60 miles from Denver in a town where manure is the gross regional product.

The Thread Shed, a blazing barn lined with home-stitched quilts offered incandescence colors but held no curiosity for us in 120 degrees as wool aroma oozed from the stalls. I can envision rows of tables with prize roses, homemade dill pickles, jellies, acorn squash, and zinnias arranged for judgement.

We rode shaky, trembling Tilt a Whirls a dozen times a day. We clung to each other as we rode a miniature train through the Spook House, Ghost Gulch, thinking it was the most terrifying thing that could ever happen to us. Worse, it cost us our last $3. On a bad day, I can sometimes still feel her robust haybale- tossing grip as I summon her strength from my cobwebby cortex. I don’t need to call her office, I have her in my mind.

It was hot. Always the hottest days of the year. The fairgrounds were choking dirty, dusty, smelly without so much as a shrub for shade. The tin outbuildings where the animals were sheltered provided a prototype for solar collectors.

Cotton candy becomes a separate food group in Nebraska’s Augusts.
We walked barefoot on dirt paths, ate German fare of kraut and brautwurst from vendors without licenses, talked to shifty carnival workers, drank from each other’s bottles of creme soda, shared popsicles with stray dogs. We ate pie slices and hamburgers that I dropped, clumsily on contaminated dirt. And in Tornado Alley from Dix, NE to Illinois, people devoured Funnel Cakes.

We were certain we lived dangerously on a razor thin line of risk and daring. Cousin Maven showed me how to eat raw, unwashed sugar peas straight from her garden by splitting the pods with our canine teeth. She chided me for eating the coarse shell, apparently this was not part of country cuisine.

We swam in muddy, buggy, squalid ponds. We stomped around in snake country in our flip flops. I sunburned so severely I had to be wrapped in sheets covered in Noxema in order to sleep in their roasting attic loft. We got a hundred mosquito bites; ate butter and white bread sandwiches layered thick with white sugar. Yet, we appeared to have survived our childhood.

We spent hours staring from the outside of rickety fences into gaping pens. Poking at pink piglets to see if they would squeal, not knowing a sow, when properly motivated, can move faster than a bear and inflict a bite as deep. We stared at Black Angus being scrubbed, perfumed, and blow dried. The questions nagged at us, Why would anyone wash a manure machine?

stayed tuned horse lovers. Chapter 2 is well on its way. Optimists will win big at the ring toss.

mirror, mirror

Many of you pondered the posts from yesterday, brief insights into a nation in turmoil. Visible in these glimpses of rural Morgan County. I thank you for your indulgence.
As two mirrors across a room, these pictures allow us to view our situations reflected dozens of times through an age of farming, now an occupation at great risk. Similar to the sensation many may have felt in the 1930 dust bowl era.

prosperity in another age

Have you ever felt this empty?

Lost Vision

where did that river go???

an odd mix of flood in a time of famine

View 20 feet into the shell of an ancient cottonwood tree, hit by lightning and the inside burned out. The tree survived and is still fully alive. So shall we.

This border collie keeps a close eye on his family as they search for crawdads and mussels. For Dinner? I didn’t want to ask.

Very small clam shell, an invasive mussel species, possibly edible.

Mirror of the times. Ruins of a shanty. With an intact mirror visible at the center base of the photo.

hollows in a land of plenty

Empty irrigation canal normally 20 feet deepyou might wonder how people are faring in the midwest. Here is a photo essay of the people and the land around Weldona Colorado. My thanks to Crystal and her family. Click on a picture to make it full size on your screen.
The reservoirs and irrigation canals are dry. The corn shown is about 5 inches tall. I found people who wanted to hope in the face of hopelessness.
packed up and moved on

trouble in our fields

Rolling a lucky 7

it has been a season of biblical plagues
After 177 days of baked torture.
Endless Back-breaking 
corn-killing 107 degree days,
Rachel’s rain arrived in Colorado.
Such winter nor summer heat is seen 
in a land known for skiing
 white capped mountains.

I checked the new online farmers almanac.
It’s never been this hot.
Even during the dustbowl years.

Still, the rain misbehaved,
it roiled west from Topeka and Tulsa
moving impossibly uphill
leaping as far as the burned forest hillsides
Turning roads into rivers of
ash, soot, smoke, and charcoal trees

Still awake at 1 am.
I wanted to drink in rare rain sounds
Of an all night soaker.

I think i could hear

Foot tall July corn
Shortened by drought
stretch to trickle 
Every drop along razor sharp leaves.

I could hear  the robins and blackbirds
In the cotton woods on the edge of night
Impossibly nocturnal,
twirling  a beloved intraspecies   rain song
In a moonless monsoon.

in my mind, i am always 20 or less

Quietly night comes on
glory glow clings to windowsky and
Even softer the air
John Denver
So softly perhaps it’s only my memory singing
into ruddy clouds

I, leaning on myself,
Let all of yesterday’s pictures flow by
At their own pane-full rates
I turn none away as they shine
On the waning day

Of their own accord
They fold up
And drift on

As quietly comes the night
leaning on my
Smile on this.
My 20th year.

poem Written 7:00 pm July 7, 1977

la nina salvaje

this self absorbed angry child
screams for her lost brother
throws tantrums
pulls the dry south winds.
she drinks from air
bakes dirt pies in her colossal oven
stomps on rivers like ant piles
tosses the earth into dusty twisters
Scorches us ants
She does.

we bemoan
we wail
as huts of straw and sticks fall
She screeches through the wires
ghostly howls through remaining trees
She sets her glowing eyes on them
she licks her drying lips.
She puffs smoke from
Her clove cigarettes.
she hisses,
‘fly, my Little Ones, Fly’
and tosses lightning ends
to ripe, red needles