• Bowls Full of Paper Whites (Narcissus papyraceus)

    Muriel said she would climb out of the hulking 
    and the bulk 
    and the unrecognizable aging
    through the throat 
    to sit 
    on top
    of her very own chin 
    which she would 
    stick out
    She said truly
    it was all a blur.
    You won't see it flash by in any meaningful way
    she explained
    as slide shows go
    if the art is meant 
    to be 
    As a matter of fact
    You would have to 
    contort your face
    distort your feelings
     and purport courtship
    to conjure her 
    mythological creature
    and all her best features.
    Lying to yourself
    isn't good for your health  
    She insisted
    Stop fogging up the mirror
    your breath smells queer
    I fear
    you've become drunk 
    on pumpkin beer
    and equally 
    by Gin
    a seer
    see through
    every layer
    Eggs for the poacher
    Thighs for the fryer
    you've tossed all your seeds 
    into the brine
    to hear how they crunch
    and let everyone munch
    one hole punch
    to a Senior Citizen 
    at the Kings Table
    place set with bowls 
    of paper whites
     from home
    that once sown
    could only have grown
     by bush fire.
  • How a Planet Changes Orbit

    Nicole liked to shoot 
    marbles with Nickeline
    the moment she saw her thumb
    her boulder 
    bolder than Denver's bonker 
    to smash Spud's masher 
    causing Biggie to pull out his plumper 
    and threaten Nicole's popper.
    Nickeline drawled, Not So Fast
    each of them 
    by the other 
    due to the similarity
    in height
    she claimed 
    My Pile's Bigger than You 
    mostly in name 
    they thought 
    they might be
    the same
    Anything smaller than the majority 
    a peewee...
    like sisters 
    separated at birth 
    and each one would build 
    on how
    it came to be.
    Nicole would darn their stockings
    and wonder what luddites did
    for Christmas
    She'd hang them beside the sooted stove
    and stand back
    to admire
    her hands.
    Just look at my thumbs! 
    Nicole flexed them like prize fighters
    but they were nothing
     when compared 
    to Nickeline's
    that bended
    into right angles
    and hitched rides
    all the way 
    and even to 
    the Canadian border
    after Yakima was stifling 
    hot potatoes
    and cabin ants drank all their lemonade
    and a midnight owl almost died on the windshield
    wings weighted by a sudden falling snow.
  • The Lotus Among Pondweed

    Opal with the song stuck in her head
    Blue Hippos
    buck toothed
    and pigeon-toed
    holding open
    she sings along when the chorus
    Begging to burn
    she's Begging to 
     her long arms above her head
    it is said
    are confused
    with horseshoes
    over doors
    for good luck
    even when the iron rusts
    as long as they are pointing up
    which she does
    open to the  bundles 
    that drop 
    from beaks
    and talons
     she hurries to hide them 
    among the cabbage. 
  • Cliff Diving

    Bellybutton Pearl undulated 
    her infectious
    to part her 
    candy apple
    fire engine
    stop sign
    She flashes
    her pearly whites
    when she tips 
    to laugh
    like cartwheels
    She pulls her thin veil
    over her eyes
    it drapes and sails
    she trails 
    side to side
    to see 
    what if 
    I am peaking
    when I go down. 
  • After Wishing On a Star

    Quin is purposeful at the sea
    locates the perfection 
    of a littered broken shore
    to plop down
    she sews the smallest shells with holes
    along her hem 
    dangling and clinking
    chimes in the breeze 
    like her perfume 
    when she walks
    inviting voyeurs
    to imagine 
    her on her 
    Why does quintessential have Quint in it? 
    Quin is latin for Five. 
    T is the glint in the eye. 
    So quintessence 
    shimmies the shine in presence
    some believe they see her aura
    protective as coral
    is the fifth element. 
    She dives like an elephant
    a cannon ball splash
    breathing by snorkel
    in search of the bones
    belonging to Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
    Surfacing to wave
    she insists 
    Jethro Tull serenades 
    by way of 
    called Aqua-Lung 
    How the fifth element was an ancient philosophical theory 
    of a substance that permeates 
    all nature and all celestial beings. 
    It was the purest essence of a being.
    Now we use it 
    To denote the purest and most refined example of something.
  • And Then the Swamp Rose

    Roxie splashes water on her face
    the bathroom sink is hair-clogged
    two kinds of toothpaste-clogged
    and the swamp is rising
    under the patting of her eyes 
    with nothing to dry them
    she squeezes to avoid 
    the sting
    of peppermint suds 
    to run 
    over the basin brim
    In the tide 
    in the shallows
    where a crocodile 
    mile after mile
    that's how it scratched against her legs
    when she dropped her combs
    clattering on the tiles
    bouncing off her toes
    until she was the expiration date
     for thistles
    turned white webbed
    yarn balls
    unravelling down the hills
    Roxie spills. 
  • During the Avalanche

    Sylvia woke me up with her 
    still sleeping 
    she screamed 
    I hated being pinned by her
    hypoallergenic pillows
    the stuffing
    behind zippers
    like clouds
    and I was
    the witness
    of my own suffocation
      spread across the ceiling
    until I pulled them all apart.
    Sylvia sat up suddenly 
    in the middle 
    of torn cotton and tiny white polyester puffs.
    Did it snow? 
    She asked 
    and I answered,
    Looks like you slept through another blizzard.
  • After the Volcano

    Twyla's fingers are in the pots of soil
    up to her knuckles
    she pokes holes
     for seeds
    she talks about needing
    how usually I would keep that 
    not anymore 
    she says, I wondered if it would 
    before it happened 
    so in the middle of looking into it 
    I stopped
    I ignored it
    until it happened
    there are some regrets 
    the should have 
    and if only 
    but they aren't so bad 
    it could have been worse
    mostly letting go is a relief...
    Twyla says, she thought I would get something out of it.
    She chews the lines of dirt under her fingernails
    says her mouth is a mudpie
    and I can't help talking full
    of crushed pumice
    she opens wide.