10. “i saw Her face full-on”

,and i could have died thereof
on roller coaster hill.
but my heart-struck feet
kept a padding up and over,

up and over the next mogul
threatening to come between Her
and i, and before i knew it, the blonde
field sections next to me started humming

in orchestral reaction to all the astral dust
She was throwing down in Chapman, —
where tornadoes tend to go,
where i knew if i’d get there too,

She’d take me up as Her child
of the great western plains, —
the cows weak-kneed in prayer
the mosquitoes still sleeping


5: NaPoWriMo
Kansas: the Land of Ah’s
Best state to watch sunsets/sunrises


those shoes’ll do

“But all the magic I have known
I’ve had to make myself.” – Shel Silverstein

i’ve had to lace up
many a pair of shoes
with holes in the toes
lilac purple stains
on both sides
on days i’ve needed magic
(quartz, &poppy face guaranteed)
i’ve got shoes
i’m not afraid of getting hole-y
so if you’re not afraid too,
there’s magic
in your shoe,
–  i know because i’ve seen
old dogs on hind legs drinking
from the old silver horse trough
sparkling with rainwater


playing it again for RT

Small Boats, No Ocean

Us valley folk don’t know Whitman
only an actual place, or a whiff
of salt you and I pass every day
on the way to school or on the way
home after work. We keep alive our
impulse to sing in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise
from the hard clay, from the lacy
white flowers Mama used to call
wild chicory, from the milkweed,
from the rye, and from the broom.
We don’t see the ocean, not ever,
but we believe something is waiting
7 years from somewhere — a song
beyond the Pacheco Pass in simple
diction and narrative style where
no words are noticed, because you’re
thrilled and terrified by the
mountains that you begin to believe
know everything. And we are walking
through a fig orchard we think of
as divine, we think of as blown
roses spreading their private charms,
we think of as a woman’s memory
awakening on a late Saturday morn.
If we’re quiet we might hear something,
a local police station, a bungalow,
a traffic light stuck on yellow.
You have to remember the main focus
is closer to simple song than speech.
Us ordinary folk find ourselves
in the dust, in an actual city,
in a place that isn’t our land.

All words can be found in Philip Levine’s  poems “Our Valley,”  “Homecoming,” and his biography page in The Poetry Foundation. philip-levineLevine died February 14, 2015, at the age of eighty-seven at his home in Fresno, California. He was the U.S. poet laureate from 2011 to 2012, and Pulitzer winner in 1995 for “The Simple Truth.” Levine’s valley is the same one where I live, work, and play. Prompted by Blogging U.