30 November 2009

oneword #30 transparent


Every time it rains
I want to be
a child again.
I want to believe
that I can dodge
the starting drops
and not get wet.

I open my arms
to the sky
and soak it in.
I conjure
the days
before experience
made magic

29 November 2009

oneword #29 cello


Many years ago,
Freeman Butts canvassed nudes
in his loft above Bozeman’s Main Street.
Forty years of practice heralded
this outlining of bold young
women in minutes
for gallery shows,
for commissions,
for sale.
Forty years
of legs, arms, heads and torsos
necks going this way, tilting just so.

He called Kate’s back a cello
while painting her yogic form
in bold cyan strokes.
Her brown hair curled
beneath a bowler
and a smile slowly spread
between her cheeks.

Freeman’s wife Daisy
brewed cranberry tea
and served cookies
halfway through
each sitting.

That day,
her eyes twinkled
as she revealed
Freeman’s expertise
with the cello,
giving surface
to the depth
of their love.

28 November 2009

oneword #28 slipper


The storyteller fabricates
a fairy godmother
to make dreams come true.
Readers believe in magic
as Cinderella is swept to the ball.

Everything runs smooth as silk
until the clock strikes midnight
and our princess loses a crystal pump
in a rush to catch the coach before it
reverts to its squashy self.

Suddenly the story turns peculiar
when the Prince tempts foot after foot
across the kingdom into this glass slipper.

It is tricky to believe in a Prince who
hopes to recognize his one true love
not through her magic pulsing presence
but by perfect fit of foot to shoe.

What is a girl to do?

27 November 2009

oneword #27 pumpkins


Pumpkins are coaches
and poor girls wed princes.
Mermaids grow legs
and mice clean the dishes.

Fairytale females
need fixes and wishes
to take them away from
a life that is princeless.

Fairytale males
use powerful kisses
to wake feeble girls
and make them their Mrs.

26 November 2009

oneword #26 thanksgiving

the past is part of the present
the future is part of the present
~John Trudell

It was during the week of my 48th Thanksgiving
that I read about English colonists
digging up a basket of Wampanoag corn
and taking it home with them.

My education brought
brown construction paper headbands
sporting colorful feathers.
Black buckled hats topped
the heads of the conquerors.

Consider this:
Pilgrims seek religious freedom.
English colonists impose rule upon a people.
Aggressors or persecuted seekers of freedom?

Guilt incites indignance.
It’s not our fault, it happened over a century ago.

English colonists intentionally began a process of elimination.
Its insidious residue poisons and persists.
Kill the Indian, Save the Child!
Turn them into the shadows of white kids
copies of the ethnic rich.

It lives in you. It lives in me.
Listen for it. Be aware.
The past is part of the present.
The present is part of the future.

Colonists, dirty corn thieves, pilgrims, you, me.



25 November 2009

oneword #25 banjo


Rojo plays a banjo
his talons pull the strings
and every time the music starts
young Maria sings.

Rojo learns a new song
as Maria combs her hair.
She hears a twang of sorrow
from a bird inside a lair.

Maria feels the pain he plays.
She slowly lifts the latch,
then opens doors and windows
setting free her catch.

Rojo looks her in the eye,
his pupils shrink and grow.
He says hello, I love you
and then he says Freak Show.

She closes up the windows
and she closes up the doors.
She loves Rojo, he makes her glow,
he snores her papa’s snores.

Rojo plays a banjo
his talons pull the strings
and every time the music starts
young Maria sings.

oneword #24 needle


Roost inside your quilt of love
hide deep within its folds
the quilt will start to fill you up
and resurrect your soul.

Needle me a quilt of love
to wrap around my breast,
craft it from the articles
inside my cedar chest.

Jackets from my childhood,
the dress you used to wear,
when Joseph was a soldier
and you taught me about prayer.

Clothing that we wore through
days we never thought we’d see,
days of fire and brimstone,
days depleted of all glee,

days we loved each other,
days we walked the trails,
deep into the forest
where the deer and fox prevailed.

Use some of the hair I saved
from Joseph’s long black braid
stitch it in the batting
of the quilt you never made.

Take pieces of the red dress
the undertaker used
to lay you in your casket
your rouged cheeks looking bruised.

Thread them in the center
of a radiating sun
to wrap me up in silence
when another day is done.

This is what you told me,
this is what you said
about the power of a quilt of love
and now you lie there, dead.

Roost inside your quilt of love
hide deep within its folds
the quilt will start to fill you up
and resurrect your soul.

23 November 2009

oneword #23 stripes


Rows of bugs
rise in rainbow stripes
splicing the draw up
highway 87
with yellow red arcs
the wipers spread.

22 November 2009

oneword #22 windmill


The body’s windmill
is a soul turbine
swirling a cadenza
of zephyrs and tornadoes
that spin out from
solar plexus centered blades.
they rotate
life's resonance.

21 November 2009

oneword # 21 overflowing

               for m. l. smoker

The Poet moves
through the room
wearing a glove of numbers
devastating to her people.

Again and again
her hands hit the mic
clipped to her neckline
bumping words
as she weaves a trail
of misery and injustice.

Some words cannot be spoken.

Her tears cover us
with American Indian suicide statistics
for children in our state.
Eighteen, last year.
Totals arrived at
in rooms behind doors,
take shape in faces
forgotten, not seen.
Lives swept under rugs.

Visages swim
through the room,
diving into the saltwater sea of guilt
held at bay with centuries
of deliberate diseducation
designed to drown voices,
designed to make dead.

The Poet glimmers
beneath numbers,
opening channels
for hope to flow.

20 November 2009

oneword #20 handle


Banish that bulging love handle!
Debag those eyes!
Wish it! See it! Be it!

Fashion a physical facade.

A beauty drug—
an empty aesthetic
that sculpts on demand.
The canvas approaches genius.

Reflections’ impressions weld mirrored eyes,
transforming imperfections.

Go ahead,
focus on frivolity.
Supplant self with appearance.

19 November 2009

oneword #19 eternal


practice optimism
to salve adversity
disseminate it
through your pores

positive thoughts
plague the pessimist
illuminating darkness
reverberating deep in bones
unleashing the eternal

17 November 2009

oneword #18 lane


lane becomes leap
when rocks crop up
sending lovers over the edge
relinquishing the other
in hopes to cruise the lane again
with a brand new lover

15 November 2009

oneword # 16 sugar


sugar and spice
and a throw of the dice
circumstance comes with a price

fate and chance
a push-and-pull dance
actions transform happenstance

14 November 2009

oneword # 15 chicken


Cheryl’s constant attack on the others
made wringing her neck easy.
That left sweet Sheila, Gita,
funny little Francis, and Mabel.
Yadi did not have the heart for more slaughter.

Gita’s eyes held reproach,
Francis ran circles round his feet,
Sheila shuddered on the passenger seat.
Screeching, Mabel charged Yadi.
She was the next to go.
Grabbing her by the neck
with both hands, Yadi
stepped out of the bus
and wrung it.
Two down, three to go.

Five years earlier Randy, Jim and Pryor
converted Phil’s old VW bus
into a coop for the chickens
each roommate purchased
and named for his mother.
Since that day, Randy and Yadi
turned cooking eggs into art.
Every day the men devoured eggs.
Strata, soufflés, quiche, and frittatas
scrambled, over easy, and baked.

When the city condemned their house,
they chose to make a meal of their momma hens.

Randy, Jim, and Phil held the three remaining girls.
Yadi and Pryor sang a whacked out version
of the Ozark Mountain Darevdevil’s Chicken Train
while three necks twisted then
simultaneously snapped.
The men settled in to plucking the birds
and telling tales
about these five feathered friends.

Too much wine with dinner
led to turn-taking
with sledge hammers
to bash the bus in.
Randy squawked
a fine imitation of Francis,
flapping his arms
and dancing circles
through their yard.
Yadi chanted and started a fire in the pit.
The five of them sat
facing flame, feeding it,
filling it with wood and stories,
watching one another
drum the earth
until dawn
colored the edges
of the sky.

Two days later,
right before dusk,
the fire department
burned their house
to the ground.

From across the street,
the men watched it disappear.
Yadi said,
“If I was God,
I would be fire.
Fire keeps people humble.
Fire leaves only ash.
Fire annihilates with no remorse.”

Then his voice broke.
Yadi grabbed his head in both hands and said,
“I cannot tell my mother I ate Gita for dinner.”

13 November 2009

oneword #14 kraal

This is a piece that I wrote last November. I'd love to know what you think of it, so I thought I'd send it for a ride on the Monday Poetry Train.
For this oneword, I let my trusty purple dictionary fall open to a page, and blindly placed my finger upon an entry.


Seven elephant calves
came together in Mboro’s kraal.
Rivers ran from eyes
through day’s dust
on rough gray skin.

Men who smelt of salt and shit
pulled and pushed them miles
with talk of a traveling circus
running along the beaches of the Indian Ocean
away from their vanishing parade of female Elders.

Who would teach them to be elephants?

The young ones’ trunks
snaked each other’s hides
ears flapping to the wind-garbled
trumpet of the Matriarch
as she gathered a battalion of Cows to rescue
the children of their murdered cousins.

The Ladies encircled the grass hut
in which every man was sleeping off
a wild night’s whiskey—dead to the world

The Madams moved in.
They stomped the men
until their carcasses combined
with soil, and thatching grass,
becoming one flattened mass.

The oldest Cows freed the seven young elephants
pulling boards from the walls of the kraal.

Stopping miles from men,
the Crons' trunks caress
every inch of the seven rescued ones
liberated this night the wind
carried stories through the sky.

12 November 2009

oneword # 13 virtual


This blog’s fish are not actual fish.
Virtual fish don’t need food

yet some of you find yourselves
furiously clicking the waters
of the feed the fish app
where virtual fish
rise to the surface in virtual ripples
as they virtually devour
the little black specks
your clicking creates on the screen.

What is it that makes you keep clicking?
Virtual gratification?

11 November 2009

oneword #12 cone


disown Simone
lone roan Cone

bone tone alone, drone

postpone lone
telephone zone
groan, Cone, moan
condone cologne

Simone shone
throne Simone

10 November 2009

oneword #11 gallop


ecto my hyster
take my womb from me
its wander is a gallop
and its bleeding is too free

09 November 2009

oneword #10 headband


Jenny ran her hand through her hair.
She was late, again.
Rummaging through the bathroom drawer,
she found a leather-tooled headband
and ran out the door.

Driving across town, she considered and reconsidered
her decision to love Jason until the end of time.

She parked at the group home, turned off the car
and felt the headache launch.
It intensified on her way into work.
Marnie Zent noticed her first.
“You!” she said, flinging a claw-like fist in the air.
Marnie got up real close, and peered into Jenny’s eyes.
She backed away, then thrust her arm out again. “You!”

With her head in her hands, Jenny said,
“Something’s wrong. My head feels like it going to explode!”

It was determined that Jenny should not drive.
Jason arrived 15 minutes later,
“You”, Marnie Zent said, flinging her fist toward Jason.

Jenny collapsed into Jason’s arms,
lamenting the excruciating ache.
She worried about the future,
and if she would even live to see it.

Maybe she should stay with Jason,
Maybe this was a sign.
She settled into the passenger seat of his BMW
and procured the comb from her visor.

The moment that Jenny
took off her headband
to run the comb through her hair,
the searing pain ceased.

After some time passed,
Jenny and Jason split the sheets.
Jenny won the coveted title of Miss Gay Missoula,
and later married a long hair
with small holes tattooed on his jugular vein.
They moved to Las Vegas
where she currently teaches third grade.

08 November 2009

oneword #9 incense


In one section of Mysore, India, sandalwood intoxicates.
Orange brown carved statues are sold in shops
and on blanket covered sidewalks
laden with incense and trinkets—
by street vendors with betel worn teeth
treasures and relics of Indians’ lives.

The shops hold a dazzling display of carvings
along with soap, oil, perfume, and lotions
incensed to lure travelers deep into the store.
A man puts his hands together in greeting,
bows, and says, “Change money?”
He ushers us into a hanging maze of carpets
and offers a rate far surpassing
the current exchange
from dollar to rupee
obtainable in government banks.

My heart beats wild
in this room behind rug walls
sandalwood seeping into my pores.
Money changes hands
and I leave the shop
after purchasing
a serene sandalwood Buddha.

Filthy feet carry the child
of a street vendor to my side.
A monkey wearing a dress
dirtier than hers
hangs on her shoulder.

She wants to see my purchase,
and share with me the wares
spread out on her piece of ground
Nodding a figure eight,
she inspects the sandalwood Buddha
then laughs when she hands it back to me
and I close my eyes to inhale deeply
with Buddha pressed against my nose.

Her monkey screeches
as I pull bananas from my bag.
He jumps from her shoulder to the ground
and eyes me suspiciously as he peels.

oneword #8 towel


With smiles in his eyes,
he handed me
the smallest towel in the bunch
for our day at Wake ‘em Up Bay.

Grandpa and I practiced our snapping the night before….

Kneeling on the end of the dock,
I dipped one corner
into the waters of Vermillion
then pretended to dab at my face
like Grandma did whenever the day was hot.

Kent and Kevin ran by me jeering
Girl are made of greasy grimy gopher guts!
Their momentum carried them out over the bay
creating simultaneous water walls
that spread into droplets as they fell.

Then I dove into Wake ‘em Up,
a fish peering down
at the bottom blowing by.
I surfaced looking up at the sky—
no clouds today.

Grandpa polished a spot on the wagon
with the corner of his towel,
catching my eye.
With a wink he waved me in.

My towel soaked up
every drop of water on my body
then I twirled it on top of my head.

The boys soon tired of swimming
and joined us on the shore
they repeated themselves
with a disgusted glance at my headdress
What are you, the Queen of Sheba?

The boys dried themselves off,
and Grandpa started snapping.
The boys came at me,
like Grandpa said they would.
My right hand grabbed
the dry corner of the towel
from my head.

A whip in my hand
it twisted flinging out
until the end
almost straightened in the air,
then I snapped it back
and cracked it in Kevin’s armpit.

Grandpa engaged Kevin
and my weapon searched for Kent.
Contact again.

They both came at me,
when Grandpa pulled himself up tall
between us and began—
The Queen of Sheba claimed
the heart of King Solomon,
the wisest man in all lands!
His thick hands
drew hills and plains
in the air.

The Queen remains nameless in history,
she is referenced in literature
only through Sheba,
the land that she ruled.

Grandpa turned to me,
Queen Lila!
He picked up his towel
and twirled it between us
in the air as he bowed.
permit me to be a servant unto you.

I picked up the stick
we planted for this moment
and put it on one of Grandpa’s shoulders.

I knight you . . . Sir Solomon,
the wisest of my knights.

I raised the stick high,
and brought it to rest
on Grandpa’s other shoulder.

He rose, turned toward the boys,
and lifted a fist in the air.
Leave her be, or answer to me,
Sir Solomon, humble servant and
protector of Lila,
the Queen of Wake ‘em Up Bay.

07 November 2009

Drums into Dawn

I thought that I had made it through a September blue moon without mishap, or mayhem, when at 3 a. m. I woke to pounding at my apartment door. The peephole exposed my neighbor Jimmi, wild-eyed and jumpy. I turned the knob, and she pushed through the open door coughing, exuding the essence of smoke. “You’ve gotta,” Jimmi coughed, “my room…” I pushed through the door past her and saw the problem. She had tried to stuff her burning mattress out the window onto the tarred roof of the Bon Ton building next door. It was stuck. Half in, half out. Her room was filling with smoke. We shut the door and went back to my place.

The windows in my apartment looked out at a four-foot wide canyon between our building, the Lovelace, and the Bon Ton. Jimmi and I closed down the Haufbrau more than once together and walked home to retire to that roof and talk under Montana stars. To make it accessible from my place, we angled a seven-foot plank, about 12 inches wide, from my window to the roof. The first time and every time she used it, Jimmi walked across quickly, with a dance in her step, while I always crossed on my knees, hands gripping both sides of the plank, eyes on the blackness below. Jimmi waited until I was safely across to berate my fear of walking upright. “What are you, a cat?” she’d laugh, and we’d settle into talk, KGLT pouring out of Jimmi’s windows into the night.

Jimmi wanted to cross from my place and try pulling the mattress out. She was tanked. I insisted on walking the plank. Jimmi pushed, and I pulled until the mattress let loose onto the roof. We drug it away from her window. Jimmi’s apartment was a single room, mine had a kitchen with a sink. We carried pitcher after pitcher after pitcher of water from my sink through her room, to the roof drenching the mattress before the smelly smoldering ceased. Then we set up fans to blow the smell from Jimmi’s room. We drug the mattress to the ledge on the building's backside and balanced it there. We looked up and down the alley. Nothing. We got the mattress in position to drop it, looked long at each other thinking our own private thoughts, then let it loose. The mattress landed with a splashing thump in the alley below. It was when we were sitting in our lawn chairs later, that Danny Choriki was on KGLT, laughing about some story he’d heard about the mayhem of blue moons and I remembered. Here it was, my very own mayhem, a blue moon story waiting to be told. Jimmi and I laughed and rolled Drums into dawn.

06 November 2009

oneword #7 oven


Pizza in the oven
the remote is on the fritz
surfing through the channels
shouldn’t be as hard as this.

05 November 2009

oneword #6 frog


The frog,
that hedonistic
eater of flies
sits in wait
for its prey.

One after another,
its meals fly by,
catching the tongue train
into the gaping
cave of death.

04 November 2009

oneword #5 shield


Shield me.
Take me under.
Keep everything at bay.
Pour me another tall one.
Eradicate my day.

03 November 2009

oneword #4 identity


is wrapped
in things

who we are
what we have
masking truth
with possession

02 November 2009

oneword # 3 amber


This poem is
a mosquito stuck in amber
a word denied
a phrase returned
an object of

01 November 2009

oneword #2 click


Something clicked
when he told me
that I reminded him of his mother—
the way her hips would sparkle
in the glistening wet
as water from the pool
slid down her side.

His eyes disappeared
beneath quivering lids
as he outlined her curves
in the air
with his hands.



Your Aunt Jo's camera
the very moment
I knew
that your father
was most definitely
the boy for me.