Cali, keep taking pictures


because maybe inside the brine
these men in rubber waders,
can rescue the salty dog you
once found, who got away,
who you called for in the pouring rain
before slogging home hours later, — bereft,

because maybe somebody,
with a braided rope of twine
will pull out our magic tricks
from camp, — the ones which taught
us to be a family of six, with our own
face values, with our own cheat marks,

because maybe they’ll drag out
all the soggy strawberries
you picked from the hills, —
or the ever-living bees that never
stopped swarming because though
we tried, they sorely refused to drown

because maybe out from the dregs
they’ll return your big truth
eyes, — the ones opened two sizes
larger than dreams, the pair
which worked clearly before you switched
them out for a distracted side eye

because maybe from the rocking
ocean will come the stillness
of a hobbling hope, — that once
these sodden clothes are shed
you’ll run faster than your bout
of arthritis ever let you reach first base

Cali, keep taking pictures, —
to know yourself without confusion
to know yourself from whence you came
to know yourself from the baptismal
of lost and found
of far, and fair,


a picture for Kerry at Real Toads


the first time

the first time i noticed
i wasn’t from here
was before heaven
ever hurt anyone,
and the sun’s
music didn’t
have to break
through dark land
just to get attention

i understood filtered
fingers plucked
our hearts up one
ray at a time
through native
free-range animal clouds
who liked to travel
with us on the way back
from Milford lake

i felt God,
or an angel,
or something I didn’t know
pulling my head
out of the Bronco window
in the heartland of it all
while Cheryl sprinkled
two drops of vanilla
into our Pepsi cans,


for Real Toads

Epilogue to a Love Story

Mom used to have sayings.
I wrote some down.
‘That’s a bunch of hooey’ meant she sniffed a fib.
‘Now waiN’t a minute’ meant she was winding up
to a lecture. Or… a spanking.
Were her sleeves pushed up?
That’s how you could tell the difference.
‘I’ll tell you one thing’ was her warm-up
to a litany of other things.
And ‘You’ve got another thing coming’ was usually
her final pittance on a personal stand on any given issue,
generally followed up by a hard chuckle inside her neck
as she’d turn her back on you. Walk away.
All these things are true.
No wive’s tales.
You can also believe her when she says
a full moon makes people do crazy things,
and that her Mom entertained strange men in a
horse trough. The May Pole was some other sort of
shenanigan, just as ridiculous and disdainful.
Lots of dumb bunnies back then. Crazy bat shit.

day 29 NaPoWriMo
for Real Toads

I Remember Some Umbrellas

I remember some umbrellas had lights. Reflective beads.
How we had to wind the handles hard to open them up.
How every time we forgot to roll them down, an accidental
wind would have its way. I remember the years wicker held
us in softer lines, and the time your sister Mary came &said
our place made her feel like nothing bad could ever happen.

I remember the dove and her babies. Your strawberries.
Dancing on the concrete in my suit like I was 4 instead
of 40 to that new song about sunshine, or maybe a house.
I remember hanging curtains, because you wanted shade,
&unfolding a rug which the dog chewed-up on one end, just
like she did to the underside of my hammock’s striped sling.

I remember sunscreen, hair bands, safety gates, squabbles,
and timeouts. Tossing the girls goldfish into their mouths
like they were water creatures or mermaids. I remember that
popcorn drizzled with peanut butter&honey tastes better melted
in the sun. I remember Marco Polo pauses, reflective small voices,
that April’s always too soon to go swimming, that ice never lasts.

day 29 NaPoWriMo
for Real Toads

Low Water Bridge &Mud Creek

It wasn’t a fence we wanted to jump
but a bridge we wanted to ride.
Every man, woman, teen or toddler
in Abilene went down low water
bridge one way or another.
One time, a kid rolled his trike down
&got a spanking from his Grandma
when he got home. Bigger high school
boys tested their skateboarding skills
down low water, pushing aside worries
over washout holes &no helmets.
Another time, a man put his VW bug
in neutral to see if he would come out
on the other side without any juice.
Even I rode down low water almost
every single day on my girl’s bike
with two quarters tucked under
my fingers to pay admission to the
swimming pool on the other side.
I had my terms: I’d pull up hard
on the handlebars, gain enough speed
straight-up pedaling like a devil or else
get off my bike &walk in shame
with one of mom’s bath towels hanging
around my neck. If it didn’t rain, if
low water didn’t get washed out I mean,
I’d pedal to swim in the pool, or else
I’d swim &fish for crawdads right there
in Mud Creek. Either way, Mother Nature
wanted my feet to get wet that summer.

(for Quickly)

Things You Can Never Kill

You can never kill the monarchs
though we thought we would when
we handled &wrapped them for release
at mom’s funeral

That indelible sky
with small shadows reconciling to the wind
is another thing you can never kill

And even if our monarch memory
is mistakenly misfigured, it must live forever
because it sputtered &insisted right there
on the greenest of green, green lawns

for Quickly

That Day in the Park

 images ~ Hell if I knew Eisenhower announced his Presidential candidacy here in 1952! But it’s engraved in stone beside the flowered pergola I stood across from in ’79 where two kids pressed their lips and limbs together in the rain.

 ~ Sheets of rain.


All Is Not Lost

I’ve nearly forgotton about our late July trips to the dump, but I have muscle memory of it. lil girl

In the back of dad’s ford truck, I sat on the wheel hub, hemmed in by splintered two by fours with holes in them from the nails I pounded out, some powdery drywall puzzle pieces I helped tear apart, and the broom mom gave me to sweep it all out with when we were done.

“Get it out there, girl!” Dad hollered at me with his thumbs tucked under his overall straps just below the silver buckles. He’d feed me more wood so I could far-fling it, shot-put it, side-wind it, or swing toss our demolition into the hole we called, ‘stinking oblivion.’

I heaved everything we had into a mingled mixed-up mountain of tree branches, cut grass and splintered lumber, being careful not to put a foot too close to the edge. Always, after we finished, dad would wipe his brow with a blue bandana  folded four times inside his left pocket, and open the red ice chest to retrieve chilled Visine drops for his tired eyes, along with one fresh soda a piece for him and me.

We’d sit on the tailgate, taking swigs of orange pop.  I’d swing my legs out over the great chasm, all satisfied-like.

come~ sit at the edge

of a broken earth and see

that all is not lost


 Treading water

With egg beater legs

In the  deep end

of the pool,

My mind drifts far

and away

to a vanilla


In grandma’s kitchen

She and

I ate

from a bowl.