Where the Burberry Went

There are some things you just can’t hold on to:
The keys to the shed, the keys to the car,
The king of clubs in the Bicycle deck.

The cold clouds of Spokane traveled
Cross-country to find you, but an umbrella? No.
There are some things you can’t hold on to.

Your birth certificate is gone again;
You ask her where you left it. It’s just
One of those things you can’t hold on to.

And when she does not answer, and shrugs
Into your best raincoat and leaves
The screen door open, it is to you to realize:
There are things you can’t hold on to.

photograph by Suzanne


Atop the Upright

A lucite carousel of photos, always flipped
To my grandfather laughing on his birthday.

In the smallest corner, the fat white star
Of a toddler's reaching hand. The edge

Of my mother's brown shoe. And, like comets,
The eyes of all, drawn to my grandfather laughing.

On the edge near the table, one wooden elephant,
One half of a set, one yellowed tusk gone.

photograph by Trey Lominack
What was on top of your family's piano?


The House of Spirits

after Sarah Winchester, 1839-1922

When I was born this town was young;
The street lamps had yet to be hung,
The infant dust lay in the street
And slept upon work-hardened feet
In coarse boots in the sun.

Great rooms will not bring back my son
Or husband; living has become
One endless staircase, incomplete.
(When I was born this town was young.)

I sought domestic refuge from
The spirits, every single one
A victim of my husband's heat,
His enterprise, his greatest feat,
the way the West was won--
When I was born, this town was young.

Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company fortune, believed that her family was cursed after she lost both her husband and her son. She sought the guidance of a medium, who told her to move west and build a house for all the spirits--the ghosts of all those poor souls killed with Winchester rifles--and that should Mrs. Winchester ever cease construction on the house, she would surely die. Mrs. Winchester did as she was told, and moved to San Jose, California, where she began building what came to be known as the Winchester Mystery House. Construction did not stop until the heiress died at the age of 83; years of useless additions turned the house into a labyrinth of doors that led nowhere, staircases to the ceiling, and everywhere windows, steps, ladder rungs, in multiples of thirteen. You can learn more about the Winchester Mystery House here.

photograph by Shawn McClung


Nothing from Me, But a Timely Cartoon

"Please read---
If you did not purchase plums
for the icebox, they are not
yours. This means you, William.
Some of us
cannot eat poems
when we are hungry.

Married to the Sea


This is Just to Say

after William Carlos Williams

Yes, I've seen the plums,
and yes, I ate them,
and yes, I knew.

But what else
would make you
come looking for me?
The flecks of juice on my neck
are so sweet.

photograph by Frenchie Allen


The Clock of Birds

"The Kaluli people use birds as a clock and a calendar. Bird calls wake them in the morning, and afternoon calls tell the people when it is time to gather for a meal. Planting and harvesting are started when particular birds are heard singing in the forest."

-from Rain Forests of the World

Then why shouldn't I
do the same? They have
their forest of souls, their songs
to lift the spirit, but I
have a field guide, and screens
in all the windows. It will
take time to learn the hours:
the mourning dove at seven,
and I don't know what that is
just after sunset. But should
I succeed, I will know my own home
better than any. I will sleep
when the owls instruct me.
But swallows and orioles can't
keep me here. In this old world
I am too young, and my lease
is nearly up. In three months,
new windows, new birdsong,
new hours.

more on the Kaluli relationship with birds here.
photograph by Sandra.


After Three Days of Rain

The white irises
are rumpled, look like
your sheets in the morning.

iris photograph by Mike VanDerWalker

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envye template.